Aleks and the Ramps
Way back in 2005, Aleks Badham took a year off studying film to record an EP of meandering and blippy psych folk. 'There should be a band to play these songs live', someone remarked. This advice was heeded and the Ramps were formed, ostensibly to perform only one 'launch' show. For whatever reason, further shows were booked and more songs were written, like what a proper band does.
In 2006 they set up a temporary studio in a far-flung Scout hall on the Victorian coast and returned with an album called Pisces vs. Aquarius. This debut long player was 9, 10 or 11 (depending on how you count them) songs ranging from stoner jams, indie spaz-outs to morose country singalongs. It was released in 2007 and audiences were delighted and/or confused. Later that year their drummer left the band and moved to Perth to get married and write dense and long-winded fantasy novels. Fair 'nuff. Jon swiftly replaced him, and in 2008 they ventured out of the country for a DIY tour of Canada, with a showcase performance at NxNE in Toronto.
Upon their return they went into an actual real recording studio to commit songs to hard disk with Chicago-bred ex-pat Casey Rice. Additional tinkerings were undertaken in a Brunswick shed and voilá! Midnight Believer was born, a critically lauded 40 minutes of strange and addictive pop. The album's first single, Antique Limb, was played on the radio extensively, and its psychedelic video clip was seen on TVs in Australia and YouTube far beyond.
2009 was spent touring the country a few times (plus one trip across the Tasman) in support of the album. In 2010 the band started work on a new record, creating 'demos' that slowly morphed into 'the actual songs' in their studio space in a Fairfield. One of the fruits of this labour was Bummer, a single they released on the cusp of a Japan tour. Shortly thereafter, Janita left the band to concentrate on Denim Owl and her knitwear collection. A new Ramps membership card was made with 'Sez Wilks' printed in 24pt Helvetica and promptly put through the laminator.
Jon also left the band in 2011 to attend to his other bands, ii and Speedpainters, the online radio show Paper Radio and the billion other things that he manages to occupy himself with. The bedroom pop wunderkind Pascal Babare high-fived Jon in the lobby of ramps HQ, and thus his status as 'drummer' was solidified.
The Ramps' incredible third album, Facts, was finished in late 2011, and released on Valentine's Day 2012. Facts is the band's most rounded, immediate and satisfying lp to date, a shimmering pop gem full of sudden hooks and strange charms, all of it presided over by frontman Aleks' wonderfully dry, dark wit.
It's strange, wonderful, addictive stuff; a true album's album in an age of throwaway singles, full of deep cuts and hidden treasures. Have a listen here, pick up a copy here, and watch the wonderfully warped video for second single Middle Aged Unicorn on Beach With Sunset below.