News from Jim Styring (PopDogs, B-Leaguers)
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Jim Styring of PopDogs and B-Leaguers (I just now realized the word play!). You’ll remember PopDogs for one of best albums of 2013, Cool Cats for Pop Dogs and the killer single, “Kissing Alicia”. B-Leaguers were equally as engaging with 2016’s “Rock and Roller Toons”.
Perfect timing too, as he’s got a new band, Ego Ritual. Along with William James Ward (guitar) and Gaz Wilde (drums), Jim is in the studio recording brand new material as we speak. So, without further ado:
PPN: I understand you’re recording again, this time with a new band. What have you learned through your experiences with Popdogs and B-Leaguers that you’ll apply to this new Ego Ritual EP?
JIM: Yes, that’s right. I have a new band, The Ego Ritual, and we’re currently in the studio recording what will be our debut EP. The Popdogs and B-Leaguers were both great bands, I’ve been very lucky to work with such talented musicians and songwriters. The Ego Ritual are still writing those big melodies and choruses, but we’ve thrown some new influences and sounds into the mix. Anyone who enjoyed those two previous bands should definitely check out The Ego Ritual, but be prepared…expect the unexpected. It’s a trip.
PPN: I heard the upcoming single, ‘Chakra Maraca’ and was immediately excited for the new EP. The song is inventive and really catchy. Completely different yet accessible. What was the genesis of this song?
JIM: Thank you. Like most songs we write, the initial idea comes from the guitar. William sent some guitar demos over, and I was immediately drawn to the riff that would become, Chakra Maraca. We weren’t looking to write straight forward songs, we wanted to do something different and take the listener somewhere else, some place new. There would be no point re-writing The Popdogs/B-Leaguers songs, those bands did just fine.
I approached the lyric writing differently this time. They’re not as direct and to the point and are open to interpretation. Nothing’s black and white. They work on a surface level, but you can dig deeper. I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard on the words. We were also instructed by a Ouija board to write it. It told us the song would be 4 minutes, 45 seconds long, and strangely enough, it is.
PPN: William James Ward’s guitar work has a great psyche-pop feel. How did he come up with this intro?
JIM: I believe he’d been reading a lot on Eastern Mysticism and soothsayers etc. He was channeling some of that vibe, and was in that head space, I guess. He’s also a member of a Saturn worshipping, psychedelic, UFO cult, so that helped.
PPN: There’s a brief pause immediately following the intro, after which the song catapults forward like a bullet train. It’s a wonderful surprise. What other surprises can we expect from the new EP by The Ego Ritual ?
JIM: Wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you! There’s definitely some twists and turns in there, some textures and sounds we’ve not experimented with before, some light and shade.
The songs dictated to us where they should go and how they would get there. We just kind of held on. There’s big guitars in these songs and big drums, but in the next breath there’s calm, quite moments. You just go with it and trust you’ll make it through…
PPN: Is there anything else we should know about the new EP? When can we expect recording to wrap up?
JIM: We’re hoping certain planets align, so we can release middle to end of summer, with Chakra Maraca being the lead off single (with video) sometime very soon. The EP will be available from our bandcamp, in both CD and download versions. All up to date info can be found on our facebook page.
PPN: Gaz, your past work with metal bands suggests that The Ego Ritual is a bit of a departure for you. Change can be inspirational. What’s different about drumming for The Ego Ritual? Is the experience more or less enjoyable…or no different at all?
GAZ: It’s great to be apart of this project. Not only the recording side but drumming for it as well. Jim gave the brief to do anything I like, which for me was great. I was able to kind of take it where I thought the record should go. Playing in a lot of the type of rock bands I’m associated with, can sometimes put certain constraints on what you can and can’t do with creativity and styles. So it’s quite exciting to be able to try different things.