Listen: New Band Ridgewood Reinvigorates ILM’s Music Scene
WILMINGTON — Concert season has officially arrived with more national acts touring the region on a frequent basis. But Wilmington’s music scene goes beyond the headliners. Local musicians add wit and liveliness, with many performing on a weekly basis, sometimes even for free.
Port City Daily is launching a five-part series that will bring local sounds to viewers in support of new artists hitting the scene. “Listen Up” will feature five artists who have just started playing local clubs and venues, performing a variety of styles from surf rock to soft rock, indie to garage pop, to classic rock. and grungy.
READ PART 1: New group Free Drinks energizes ILM music sceneand
READ PART 2: The new group NARAH electrifies the music scene of ILMand
Third in line is Ridgewood, a four-piece, punk-rock band that first hit the Barzarre stage just over a year ago and will return this weekend. The band experimented with a genre of music they coined “burger rock”.
“Our friends from Cancel and NARAH, two of our favorite local bands, came up with the [genre]said vocalist and guitarist Elliot Stanford. “I think that sums up our style because most of us just work, play music, eat fast food and surf as much as possible.”
Alongside Stanford, Matt Dauphin is on bass, Bennett Hair on drums and Charlie Peters on guitar.
Influenced by popular rock bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, with similar sounds to punk-pop bands like Simple Plan and Lit, Ridgewood originally collaborated in the spring of 2019 with drummer Pierce Rickman. The four UNCW students separated in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, each returning to their hometowns.
“I moved back to Wilmington to a house with Charlie on Ridgewood Heights Drive,” Stanford explained.
Meanwhile, Rickman tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a sports injury and decided not to return to Wilmington.
“We were going to play our first show after Spring Break in 2020, but that never happened,” Peters said. “I don’t know if either of us knew if anything was ever going to come out of the group.”
Dauphin lived nearby on Ridgewood Heights. “‘Ridgewood’ seemed to connect us all and pay homage to where we started,” Stanford said.
Peters had planned to join the Airforce during Covid due to the school’s undetermined future – unsure if classes would stay online permanently. Once the band started making music, they decided not to call in the military.
“We started jamming in Charlie’s awesome little bedroom, and I remember after the first time we all played together, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,'” Hair said.
Stanford, Dauphin and Peters met Hair through their UNCW Phi Gamma Delta (commonly known as FIJI) fraternity and asked him to step in as their new drummer in September 2020. Overcoming the early hurdles of Covid and Rickman’s departure, the four honed their melodic Midwestern power-punk sound, with hardcore, distorted guitar riffs and fast tempo transitions. The band’s skate-punk influences are evident, complemented by suburban teenage angst.
Ridgewood wrote 12 songs, recorded and released a 10 song album. The band pours all their energy, emotion and frustration into the music, with verbal confessionals ranging from sweet and poetic to emo-punk. Amplified by their performance, the spectators do not hesitate to launch mosh pits.
“We just want our audience to have fun, get a little hustled and feel an electric feeling while listening to our music,” Dauphin explained.
The band’s most streamed song, “End of the Year Bash”, was featured on their debut album “I’m Glad We’re Doing This”. It’s a nostalgic punk vibe from the early 2000s, starting with soft guitar that quickly transitions into a heavier indie-rock sound. The song features carefree, unapologetic lyrics and “feelings that can follow a rough night, or a series of nights,” Stanford explained, referring to a hangover.
“I’m sorry / I’m not coming / Until I’m ready / To get better,” he sings at the end of each chorus.
Inspired by the lyrics of “End of the Year Bash” and encapsulating the collective nonchalant attitude of the group, the album cover of “I’m Glad We’re Doing This” shows them drinking beers on the lawn rear of Ridgewood Heights, seemingly without a care in the world.
“We went to take a picture with Elliott’s phone outside of us drinking and hanging out because we felt like that really summed up our relationship with each other and the sound of the album,” Peters said.
Ridgewood released the album a little over a month ago. Most songs are between 2 and 4 minutes long. “Jane” is the longest track on the disc at just over 4 minutes.
“I’ve always been a fan of short, fast songs because I have a short attention span,” Peters said. “I like to go in, out and move on to something new and fresh – leaving listeners wanting more rather than skipping out halfway through the song.”
Although “End of the Year Bash” focuses on party culture, the band writes about such topics as feeling comfortable and safe around someone else (“Jane”).
They also tackle finding better influences in “Bad Ideas” and dealing with dissatisfaction with routine in “Calm and Collected.” The latter stems from the group’s experience with isolation in 2020.
“‘Calm and Collected’ is meant to be, lyrically, a representation of that state of boredom and anger of sitting too long in one place, becoming frustrated and acting on impulse, too raunchy or violent in her spirit at that time,” Stanford said.
The band recorded at the local Loud Music Company studio with producer Michael Cole in mid-December 2021. Loud Music Company is owned by Cole and his wife Tina Landon, both of whom have been in the music industry for decades.
“They recorded the whole record live on location – no overdubs, no punch-ins, just raw, dirty rock ‘n’ roll, like before,” Cole explained. “They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; they just play great rock music in its true essence and spirit.
Calling Ridgewood’s sound “refined chaos”, Cole and Landon have recorded with other local bands such as Lowland Blues Band, Exploding Math Lab, The Girls, Marley Aliah and Lilly Triolo.
“[Michael] had a lot of strong opinions about how we should record songs, like, where we should place our microphones, how we should record our particular sound, and post-recording advice,” Stanford explained. “It was a huge learning experience.”
The band worked on all 10 songs in one day. They split the recording of the album into two sessions – one for the first five songs, the second for the last five.
“We recorded everything in about six hours,” Stanford said. “The album was recorded live without multiple vocal takes, so what you hear is pretty much what you get when you see us live.”
The marathon recording session was a feat for Stanford, given that a week prior he was in the hospital for three days.
“[My] oxygen levels were at 70% and I didn’t have pneumonia, my lungs weren’t filling, doctors didn’t know what was wrong,” Stanford said. “Then a week and a half later I’m carrying my amp to go record and I couldn’t believe what I was doing.”
Cole and Landon plan to record with Ridgewood again in the fall for the band’s second album — with the goal of “pushing them a little bit further out of their comfort zone to go a little deeper into the process,” Cole said.
The group confirmed that they wanted to explore outside of their box. Peters likened their new, unreleased music to Nirvana’s “Bleach” album, with indie-pop aspects a la Peach Pit.
“It’s fun to get weird and experiment – I never play bass the same way twice,” Dauphin said. “We want to get softer, heavier and even somewhere in the middle.”
“We want to get silent, lyrical, but also super poetic, and explore crazy new concepts,” Stanford said.
The band plans to release a second album by the end of the year.
With over 1,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and over 3,500 followers on Instagram, Ridgewood has proven that time is not a factor when you have a dream, a goal and a shared love for hardcore music. “I’m Glad We’re Doing This” can be heard on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.
Ridgewood performs up to five shows a month statewide, but will take over a local stage on Saturday, April 30 for a benefit concert in Barzarre beginning at 3 p.m. All proceeds will be donated to the New Hanover County Animal Shelter. The band will perform alongside other local bands such as The 2000’s, Hyperloops, Free Drinks, Pleasure Island, Beach Tub and many more. Admission for 18+ is $12 and 21+ is $8.
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