Interview || The One With Ricky Singh from Backtrack

Shortly before Backtrack took the stage of The Sound Of Revolution and played an explosive show, guitarist Ricky Singh sat down for a quick interrogation about the band's forthcoming album and how it came to life, and shared his views on the current state of the world.

U: You just finished the Life & Death tour, how did it go?
Ricky Singh: The Life & Death tour was great! It was around three and a half weeks across the US. Our singer, James, has been booking the tour -it’s his idea- and this was the 4th edition, I think. The bands on the bill were all really cool and we’re all friends with everybody. It was great to be able to go on the road, hang out every day… And Backtrack hasn’t done a tour in a long time so that was the first US tour we did in maybe 2 years. It was cool to get back on the road for a little bit, see that people are still into our band, you know? (laughs) And to help promote the new record.

U: That would be the next question. You are dropping your new album, “Bad To My World”, on November 17th. What should the fans expect?
R. S.: I think they should expect a Backtrack record; what you would imagine to be a Backtrack record on steroids. 3 years writing this record, we wrote probably 30 songs, we cut whatever we weren’t into and we had about 15 before we went to the studio; we recorded 12 and ended up with 10 on the record. It’s a Backtrack record that sounds like NYHC, it’s very much influenced by early bands, in the aspect of early in our time of listening to hardcore music or that inspired us to listen to hardcore music. It’s definitely inspired by that, early 2000’s stuff, and we are very stoked on that.

U: What will be the differentiation point between this album and the previous releases?
R. S.: For this record, everybody was more involved instead of one, two, three people; it was more of a collaborative effort in all aspects of the album whether it be writing the music or the lyrics or vocal approach. Everything that goes into making a record, we were all very much a part of. Other aspects that are different are that there’s new people in the band. Danny Smith, who’s Chris, our guitar player’s brother, who plays bass, and Steve DiGenio who plays drums. There’s a new element in the band. We also live pretty far from each other; Steve lives in Jersey, I live in Brooklyn, the Smiths live in Long Island and Vitalo lives in California so it was more of an effort to get things done, that’s why it took such a long time but I’m happy we took it slow and made sure we put out the best that we could.

U: What about the lyrical themes? What’s the story behind “Bad To My World”?
R. S.: That’s more of a question for Vitalo, he can chime into it, but I think that, as we were able to take more time off, he was able to spend more time being a normal person, being at home and dealing with whatever he has to deal with. The vocal approach is a little bit different in that regard; he was able to live his life off the road a little bit. But you know, social issues, hardcore shit, there’s a lot of cool topics on it and it’s definitely a very pissed off record. I think in 2017 it’s really good to be pissed off because the world is not a great place at all. It’s good to have that approach.

U: Angry music for angry people. 
R. S.: Angry music for angry people, exactly. That’s what we do.

U: If you were a member of the Spice Girls, what would be your Spice name?
R. S.: You know what’s insane? I thought you were gonna ask me which one I would be but somebody just asked me that question, as in which Spice Girl I would be! That was like last week. But, to answer that question, my own question, it would be Baby Spice, but if [I had to choose what my Spice Name would] be… That’s a tough one. I’d be… Joe’s Pizza Spice. I love Joe’s Pizza, New York City is great.

U: They should name an honorary Pizza after you. I think you should work towards that.
R. S.: That would be great, it would be my next project. I’m gonna quit Backtrack and start doing that.

U: What is the worst trouble you ever got into?
R. S.: Trouble? That’s a cool question… I’ve never thought about that. I’m sure that getting arrested for extended periods of time would piss me off and bum me out super hard but I’ve never been arrested. The most trouble I ever got was when I let someone I love down, in any way, shape or form; a relationship, my parents, my friends, a band mate… That kills me because I don’t want anybody to be unhappy with my words or my actions. That’s what I would image is the worst trouble I’ve ever been in, upsetting someone I love.

U: What is it about punk rock that keeps people young?
R. S.: The youthful energy in the music. It’s a rebellious thing and I think teenagers are drawn to that, rebellion. And when you’re a teenager, you kind of face a lot of things and you want to be yourself and punk rock is all about that, you know? I think that’s what keeps it you, the rebellious aspect of it.

U: What is the best tour prank you’ve ever pulled?
R. S.: Oh I prank people a lot! There’s a couple. This is not the best one at all but it’s the first that popped into my head. There’s this band called Mizery that I love. A member of Mizery I think was playing with Downpresser at the time -my friend Taylor, he’s an incredible guitar player by the way- we were on a tour with Mizery, Xibalba, and Comeback Kid. Every day, the very first thing he would say to me when we were loading to the show, every single day, he would ask me for a lighter. There was one day where we went to the mall before the show and we were at Spencer’s Gifts, which is a shitty novelty store that sells like dumb hats and dumb shirts. They had this electrocuting lighter. I had to buy it just to see his reaction, just to kind of fuck with him. It literally worked like a charm too. We pull up to the show, he was already outside the van. One of my friends, Ruben, said we should videotape it. I told everyone he’s gonna ask me for a lighter and he’s gonna get electrocuted, and exactly that happened.

U: If there was one issue you could swipe off the face of the earth, what would it be?
R. S.: That is a crazy question. There’s so many problems in the world I would love to swipe out. I think right now racism is a huge issue in the world and it would be great for people to understand that everybody’s equal person, colors shouldn’t matter. It’s sad to see especially in America right now there’s a lot of division and it’s unfortunate to see it. I would force everybody to be what they should be, a normal person understanding other religions, other faiths…

U: Tolerance.
R. S.: Very tolerant, yes. That’s the word.

U: If your life had a soundtrack, apart from the band, what would it be?
R. S.: “One Voice” by Agnostic Front, it’s a great record. I told somebody one that if I was a wrestler and I had a theme song, that would be “Infiltrate” by Agnostic Front, from that record.

U: If you could have a one-minute phone conversation with a younger you, what age would you choose and what would you tell yourself?
R. S.: This is a really good question! I think I would choose maybe 14-15 years old [when] I was in a weird, dark place in my life but it’s not something I ever talk about. I would tell myself to keep going forward and that things will work out.

U: Final question: what do you want the band’s legacy to be?
R. S.: I think there’s a lot of bands who kind of ruin their legacy sometimes, where they play a little bit too long or start forcing things and I never want Backtrack to ever force anything.,

U: I think the only way for Backtrack to force anything would be if you consistently released a new album every other year.
R. S.: That’s most bands, and I think it kinda happens naturally. By forcing I mean putting out music that we don’t put 100% into and I don’t think we ever have but I don’t want it to ever happen. Looking back, I would want people to think that we were an important band or a band that maybe helped them get into hardcore or punk music, and not to fuck up our legacy by putting out shitty music. That’s all I could really want; I’d be stoked if people liked our band in the future when we’re not around anymore. That would be great.

Backtrack's new album, "Bad To My World", drops on November 17th via Bridge Nine Records and is available for pre-order.
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