The Memories, if you didn’t know, make music that’s both tongue-in-cheek delight and thoughtful, sometimes whimsical sincerity, thrown together in a heap of lo-fi garage arrangements that can make you laugh and cry at the same time. Their lyrics are simple, yet expressive and compelling. I first fell in love with the Memories years ago at a Burger show, when I saw them perform “Dad’s Not Home,” a song about unsupervised sex set to a doo-wop tune. “Dad’s not home, it’s safe to bone.” It doesn’t get much better than that.
Hundreds of songs about getting high and falling in love have poured out of these crackerjacks. And now, on their 8th full-length Royal United Song Service, The Memories have some new tricks up their sleeves. Originally conceived as a way to fund their European tour, the album was marketed on social media as a “hit-making machine for real people willing to pay $100 for a private gift: a fully-customized song.” “Every song was based on other people’s memories,” says front man Rikky Gage. “There’s a song about an OK Cupid romance. Someone’s dog. A guy named Rivers. Stuff like that.”
Packed 28 songs deep, Royal United Song Service presents a new platform for the band, while maintaining their trademark vibe. And to wrap it all up, the Memories compiled each song into an epic five-minute, one-shot video “sampler” of the album, premiering exclusively on WY. It’s a whirlwind, and one of my favorite videos I’ve seen all year. So sit back, twist something up, read our interview with the band, and then press play. You won’t be disappointed. —Maya Eslami
Buy Royal United Song Service here
WHAT YOUTH: Sup Memories. What are you guys doing right now?
The core of us (Rikky, Izak, Funkle, and Jimmy) are at the Gnar compound right now. Izak is asleep on the couch in the record store, which is the front building, and I’m (Rikky) at my desk in the studio building, which is across our small parking lot behind the record store. We just got back from playing shows in Europe. I’m not sure where Colleen is today. Lucas I think is still in Texas for some family stuff.
Tell me about Royal United Song Service, and how did you guys come up with this genius operation?
The Memories’ Royal United Song Service is an idea inspired by a trend that happened decades ago called Song Poems. We call ours a Song Service because we do our songs a little different. With the old song poems regular people would right a poem or lyrics and send it into a production company with a studio band who would cut these songs for people for a fee. With our Song Service, we take ideas or stories from regular people and write our own lyrics, as well as the music. Our main studio band is the core Gnar group, but most of the songs only feature 1-3 members of the band at a time. Colleen also sings in the back of a few songs, and Lucas has a whole song to himself. (I’m the only original member of the band, and I come from the school of folk-style family bands; where members come and go as they please and songs are made with who/whatever is around.)
The idea came in February 2015 when The Memories needed to make flight ticket money for the Gnar crew’s 2nd European tour. We reached out to our fanbase entirely through social media and received far more submissions than we expected almost immediately. Pretty much starting then we knew it was going to be an album and we knew we had to make each and every song as good as any we would release to the world. These are very special songs, haha. Each track has a reason to exist beyond the artist’s whimsy.
You guys are called the Memories. And now you’re making songs about other people’s memories. What is it about “memories” that inspires you guys to make music?
That’s a deep question with many deep options to answer but I’ll try my best to answer. Memories are all we have to go by to assume we are who we are. In that movie “Dark City” everyone’s memories are changed every day and the people are different every day. We are the same (as much as we can) person every day because our memories dictate our reality. Also The Memories is primarily a romance band; our songs are almost always love songs or romantic in some way. And when I started the band (Portland, Oregon, 2010) I was listening to a lot of 50’s music and 80’s music that was trying to sound like 50’s music.
Your new video for the album is amazing. Whose idea was it to do a sampler?
Mine and the director, Nesto. I had the initial idea as there was so many songs, and we’re not a very well known band, it would be better and funnier to do as many as we could in one go. I had originally thought a cheesy infomercial style video but Nesto came up with the continuous shot idea. He was inspired by the set where he’d done a sci-fi horror short a few weeks prior, which actually stars Funkle and Jimmy. Nesto also directed the video for “Drugs I’ve Taken” by our other band White Fang.
The whole thing is one continuous shot. How many takes did you guys have to do to get it down?
We did maybe a dozen practice runs and then shot it once, maybe twice. It was a really fun shoot.
Where did you guys shoot it? And who is the cool old dude in the beginning??
We shot it at a set studio building thingy in Burbank. The cool old dude is Graham Mackie; he’s in the iPhone 7 portrait mode commercial, a few Wiz Khalifa videos, a bunch of other music videos, the CHIPS movie, and a bunch of other stuff. He’s also a star in the “Drugs I’ve Taken” White Fang video. He’s rad. He pops into the Gnar compound from time to time.
What’s next for you guys?
Tonight is the Season 3 premier of the Gnar Tapes Gnetwork and our flagship show Gnar Tapes Gnight Live. When we aren’t tour we are doing live video streaming from the Gnar compound almost every day. We have a green screen and really cool graphics. Lots of guests and crazy shit. We have a cooking show, a karaoke show, a paranormal show, etc. etc. Season 3 starts tonight.
We also have a bunch of tapes coming out on Gnar Tapes. Particle Kid is next. That’s the lo-fi project of Micah Nelson, who’s daddy is the one and only Willie Nelson. We also got another R. Stevie Moore reissue. We got Jimmy’s new album “Raspberry Radio” under his Jerry Rogers name very soon. I got another solo tape; my 27th I believe. Lol. No joke. We just released Jimmy Whispers, Jib Kidder, White Fang, etc.
The Memories have a new album “Single Player Game” coming early 2018 on Bufu Records, which comes with a board game.
Our record store GnarBurger is always open 12PM-8PM at 3436 N. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles.