By Richard Provost
As the high resolution image he provided us with indicates, it is very difficult to spend time around Ted “The Red Ranger” Richards and remain serious for too long. We managed to get an interview in despite the hilarity, and found that underneath the quirky facade is a wealth of knowledge and introspection. Richards, lead guitarist for DateNight and lead singer of the new Provo-based emo revival/punk project Doris Day, has opened for Streetlight Manifesto, The Supervillains, and The Wonder Years. This is part one of our Up The Punx Series, where we examine the Provo Punk scene.
Thanks for letting us reach out to you for an interview.
Thanks for inviting us to be interviewed. We are stoked to be involved!
You’ve played in several bands in your music career – most recently DateNight and Doris Day. But you’ve been playing shows for a long time. Five Kids Down was your ska band in high school, right?
Yep. We started playing in 2009. When the band began it was actually called “Skank Race.” We realized that name was horrible and changed it. The new name was lifted from the title of a song by an awesome ska band called Big D and the Kids Table.
[Laughs] Skank Race. That is terrible on a legendary level. What got you interested in punk and ska? Who are your biggest influences, and what is it about punk that appeals to you?
Growing up, I was always pulled in by emotive music. Particularly blues, jazz, etc. Ska has some elements of jazz, with the horns and all, and is just SO MUCH fun. Once a friend introduced me to ska, I was hooked. Ska is a music that predates reggae and comes from Jamaica in the 1950’s. More modern American ska is usually cut with punk. Once I got into ska I naturally was led to punk.
Early on I got into ska punk and very mild metalcore. Bands like Less Than Jake and A Day To Remember were some notable ones. These were sort of gate keepers that led me to my current tastes. The most abiding influence on my taste and writing is probably The Wonder Years. They mean a lot to me.
Punk music just has so much power. It’s raw, emotional, and almost always has something to say. I get sick of music that is disingenuous, or boring. Punk is neither of those things.
What was it like being a part of the Salt Lake music scene in high school? Do you have a favorite memory?
The Salt Lake scene is awesome. I made some of my best friends in the world playing and attending shows during those years. There was sort of a feeling that you needed to prove yourself as a band back then. At the same time, it was super inclusive and loving. I played shows with all sorts of bands. Anyone who wanted to play was welcome, and you’d usually have at least 50 people there dancing and having fun.
A favorite moment: our last show had so many people there for us – dancing. And they knew the songs, meaning 200 people were singing along. That blew me away. I still think about it sometimes.
How does the Salt Lake scene compare to Provo?
Provo’s scene is a bit more homogenous. Not a whole lot of variety. While the bands and members of the bands are generally very friendly, there seems like there’s too many “competitions” pitting bands against each other. In general I’ve had a good experience in Provo, but I haven’t been to a show where I’ve felt as at home as I do in Salt Lake’s scene. There’s a lot of talent and potential for these types of relationships, but I think all the battle of the bands competitions get to be a bit much. I don’t mean to be negative. I love the Provo scene. I just see that it can improve.
Do you feel that Provo has room for Punk?
Provo has so much potential for growth in the scene. Punk can fit in here, but currently it feels like a bit of an outsider – though it could be argued that punk music thrives in that environment. Some venues discourage dancing or talking during shows. Not ideal for rowdy punk shows, but this kind of culture can change.
Are punk shows well attended here?
There’s not many punk shows in Provo. We’ve done one DIY show at the Provo Bicycle Collective with Pop Warner. That was awesome, and packed. There are fans of the genre here, and they’re willing to come out to shows. We just need to book more and see how it goes from there.
So what needs to change in Provo in order for it to really thrive and take off?
A spirit of openness around the Provo scene, among the promoters and show attendees, will lead to great strides in improving the scene. That, and being inclusive of genres other than pop and folk.
Let’s talk Doris Day. As a ska and punk afeccionado, what would you classify Doris Day as?
Doris Day is attempting to fit into a movement called the emo revival. This is a rebirth and revisiting of what made emo in the 90’s great. Doris Day has some elements of pop punk and twinkly post-rock and emo of the 90’s. It is real, and says something I need to say. Plus we got a trumpet. So that’s neat.
That trumpet is pretty great. It seems like emo was in its heyday in the early to mid 00’s. What do you think is the reason for the lack of public interest in emo currently?
Emo (or perhaps we should call it proper emo) really began and was born out of hardcore and punk in the late 80’s, early 90’s. It was exposed, emotional, and cathartic music. It got momentum in a few different ways through the mid 90’s, and grabbed hold in a significant way in the midwest. The idea of emo was expressing strong emotions through intense music. This idea was co-opted and repurposed by record labels and bands in the early to mid 00’s. The contrived music they created was more like radio friendly pop punk and screamo. Now, the point of all that explanation is that emo’s name has been assigned to the wrong genre, and all the people who hear that name cringe and imagine pretty boys in eyeliner. I believe the kitschy, Hot Topic genre makes people feel embarrassed and uneasy with the idea of liking music claiming to be emo.
What constitutes a proper emo band, and what sets emo apart from other genres?
Emo bands are all about sincerity and emotion. Often the instrumentation is simple, but sometimes is rather unique/complex, employing elements of post-rock, shoe-gaze, and other effects-heavy genres. Honesty is probably the best word for emo. You don’t have to be an amazing singer. You just have to truly mean what you’re saying, to the point of catharsis. Emo is set apart because it is music being made for the sake of emotional release and relief. We sing sad things so that we can feel better.
Do you feel that it will make a comeback?
Emo is on the rise in the punk community, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Who are some of your favorite genre leaders on a national level?
Some great national emo revival groups to check out are: The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Foxing, Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts, Sorority Noise, Tigers Jaw, and many more.
Some classic emo bands to check out: American Football, Mineral, The Promise Ring, Braid, and many more.
Who are some of your favorite local punk and emo bands?
RedSleeves of Lehi, Utah are frequently seen performing at Gezzo Hall.
I’ve seen RedSleeves on a number of occasions. They’re absolutely fantastic.
I was watching RedSleeves play after opening for them in my other band DateNight. They are a really cool indie/emo/alt band, and I just felt this pull to start playing punk again. I leaned over to Reed, DateNight’s drummer, and said, “Hey, do you want to start playing the songs that I write with me in a side project?” Reed said yes. I walked over to Sandro, our bassist, and asked him too. He responded “Sure, but on one condition. We call the band Doris Day.” We had discussed the name as a great band name earlier that day. And that’s how it started.
That’s such a great formation story. So who are all of your band mates and what is the culture like within the group?
We recently added two members to the lineup. The current roster for the band is:
Ted Richards (me): guitar/lead vocals
Alessandro Improta (Call him Sandy. He prefers Sandy.): bass/vocals
Rick Thornton: Trumpet/guitar/vocals/keys (Swiss Army Rick)
Kyle Cornwell: guitar
Reed Perkins: drums
Honestly, we just goof around a lot. Everyone gets made fun of a lot. We hang out all the time. We love playing music together, in front of people or otherwise. Just a lot of fun basically.
Doris Day is recording an EP. What was your inspiration for the album? Is there an overall theme or message you want to get across?
I’ve been writing the songs for this album for about 3 years, and really picked up the pace in the past months. The theme of the album I guess I’d say is coming to terms with change, and trying to get over myself. I get in my own way a lot, and that comes through in the music. The message is that it’s ok to not know what to do, or why things are happening. It’s ok to be sad and confused, but to keep pushing. That sounds much more uplifting than my lyrics, but that’s how I feel about it! [Laughs]
Where is the EP being recorded? What has that process been like?
We are doing the whole thing DIY. That means living rooms, basements, and anywhere else people don’t complain when we get loud. We might do some drums in the studio, but we already tried that once and it wasn’t what we were looking for. I’m really proud of how it’s turning out. These sounds have been in my head for years and it’s amazing to finally see them becoming real. Everyone is working hard. Reed deserves a special shout out here. He is the engineer, producer, mixer, masterer, midi programmer, and drummer for the EP. He’s the man. It’s been a pretty methodical process. We spent 2 full days doing my guitars. Locked ourselves in a house and just went ’til we got it right. When you do it yourself on these things it sometimes takes some trial and error, but the process is so much fun, and the end product is going to be fantastic.
When does the first Doris Day EP drop? What can we expect from it?
The No Complaints EP drops at our album release show February 5th at Kilby Court. That show is going to be so awesome, and you won’t want to miss it. As of right now there are 6 tracks. There might be some fun li’l surprises added yet! The album is sad, funny, self-aware, loud, and fast.
When is the next Doris Day. show?
Our next show is January 8th, at Muse Music with Winchester and Melting Rain. That show has some serious talent on it, so don’t miss out. Plus, Sandro will be offering “father-daughter” style wedding dances to anyone who comes. Don’t want to miss that business.
Last question. Would you rather wrestle a man in a bear suit? Or wrestle a bear in a man suit?
That depends. If the man suit is tight and restrictive, I might want to wrestle the bear just so I could say I did. If not, I’d probz take the man in the bear suit, ‘cuz I’m confident in my skills for dominating plushies in wrestling matches.
For more information about their January 8th show at Muse Music Cafe, visit their Facebook event page here. For updates on the album release and its accompanying show, like Doris Day on Facebook and follow them on Instagram (@Dorisday.music). Listen to their song “Jim Braddock” from the upcoming EP below.