9Electric frontman talks debut record and tour
These days, there’s an influx of new rock bands. It’s the most real and honest form of art and music today and, with as many new bands emerging as there are, some bands make it and some just fizzle out. When a band just has “it,” though, they tend to stick around for awhile. Fans latch on for life and the rest is history.
One of those bands is 9Electric and their debut record came out this summer. We had a chance to sit down with frontman Ron Underwood shortly after the record released. At the time, they were on the road with Stitched Up Heart and Gemini Syndrome- the latter of which they are about to hit the road with again, along with Drowning Pool and Red Tide Rising for a winter tour party you’d be wrong to miss out on.
FRR: Overall, it’s a two month tour. Overall, tell me how this tour is going. You’re right in the middle of it. You just stopped through our area not too long ago. It just seems like it would be fun tour.
Ron Underwood: It’s been good, man. Because of the fact that we all have new material coming out. Our merch sales have been just going ape shit. It’s been awesome.
FRR: You guys all have new albums. You and Stitched Up Heart have albums coming out. Gemini has an album coming out almost exactly a month from now. I feel like when you’re on a tour, when an album releases in the middle of a tour or right before a tour. I feel like it adds just an extra sense of excitement, energy, adrenaline to a tour. Is that the feel of this tour right now?
Ron Underwood: Yeah. I mean, like I said, it’s all our buddies from L.A. We’re all label mates. We’ve worked together in the past. Toured together. Actually, I directed Stitched Up Heart’s first single for their music video, for “Finally Free.” So it’s like we’re old buddies at this point.
FRR: Oh, man, that’s awesome. And your guys’ album released about a week ago tomorrow, July 15th.
Ron Underwood: Yeah, exactly.
FRR: The Damaged Ones, which, dude, the album kicks ass. Oh my god.
Ron Underwood: (laughs) Good to hear, man. Glad you like it.
FRR: Yeah, a killer record. I sense a lot of – there’s a bit of an industrial feel to the record from time to time. I sense a little bit of a Powerman5000 influence here and there on it.
Ron Underwood: Yeah, it’s got a little bit of that bounce.
FRR: It does, it does. Especially when you get to the heart and soul, the meat and potatoes of the record.
Ron Underwood: When we first started we were regarded as kind of the L.A. party band, ’cause we would throw these crazy parties and promote these big shows. It’s a rock beat. And a lot of it was just that high-energy music. So people are a little surprised about this debut album having a little more introspection in it, too. So we’ve definitely got the party jam. It’s the four-on-the-floor dance beat pumping, but, you know, we got a little more heavy and introspection on it too, so I feel really happy with how things turned out. So were able to fill the whole emotional spectrum.
FRR: Yeah, you talk about emotional spectrum and there are some emotional songs on this record. I mean, lyrically, it sounds like a very personal album. You guys have had, what, five years to write and release this record?
Ron Underwood: Yeah, so we did two EPs and we did rehash maybe one or two of the songs from those EPs because we felt that they always worked so well live, but they still spoke for what we do now. Like “Goodbye” is a good example. It’s funny because it’s like your debut album is the one that you have the most time to get the material together. So hopefully we can keep up that energy on the next one, but you know, you take it one step at a time.
FRR: Yeah, enjoy the ride with the debut and we’ll look at the sophomore record a year or two down the road when it’s time to do that. But this record is so good. There are so many gems on this record, whether it’s the title track, “Beautiful,” “Live,” you mentioned “Goodbye.” I think “Filthy,” I don’t know what it is about that song…
Ron Underwood: (laughs)
FRR: It’s just – oh man, it’s so good. But the intro to the title track, let’s talk about that a little bit. You talked a little bit leading into that track, talk about the “Damaged Ones” as not just a song and not just as an album, but as being means for you guys.
Ron Underwood: Well, Casey, our bass player originally brought the idea to the crew. He just had this really rough demo on an acoustic guitar and he was singing. He actually broke his throat while he was playing college basketball, so if you could imagine his limited vocal abilities. And he’s like 6’6″, too, so it’s basically like Lurch laying it down, you know? And it was fucking – so the other guys, they couldn’t really hear the magic that was hearing. I was like, no, if you just kind of ignore the production and just listen to the elements.
So I kind of fought for them to look more into that song and I’m really glad that I did. It developed from there. But to me, we are the damaged ones. It’s such a perfect – it’s a simple statement that connects with all. It’s like we all, no matter what we’re doing, we’re all going through some struggle. Whether you’re born with money or not with money, there’s always something you’re striving toward and something that at some point is going to damage you. But it’s basically just the simplest form of the human condition, where, at some point, we accrue some damage, you know?
FRR: Yeah, definitely. As far as music and rock, I feel that’s what makes rock so special is fans are able to connect so easily to a lot of the songs because being damaged is such a strong theme in rock. It’s simple, but yet it’s also very complex at the same time when it comes to music. It’s so easy to talk, but fans connect with it so well. But on this tour, interacting with the fans, how has that been for you guys so far, especially with songs like this out?
Ron Underwood: They really – that one really grabs them and early on when we started playing that one, it was reaching people. It got their attention. You could see. Like I said, we had that party jam, obviously high-energy songs that go well live, where people – it’s just kind of a different level, where you just kind of let loose. And then we would hit ‘em with “The Damaged Ones” and you would just see the room change, and they start to listen, and they’re making eye contact with you, going, “Okay, this guy is talking about something. I wanna know.” How many layers of the onion I wanna peel away to get to an actual cerebral approach to that.
FRR: Yeah, you guys really put yourselves out there with this record with a lot of these songs. I want to talk about the song “Beautiful”, which is another one of my favorites.
Ron Underwood: I love how that turned out, you know?
FRR: Is that song, writing about it, I assume that it’s a very personal song. Is that about a personal experience that you had? Or where’s that one [come from]?
RON: Yeah, that one is definitely….like all the members of our band have, like, probably a specific person that they could apply that to. And if random dudes who get together to join a band can relate to that, it seems like it’s a pretty universal thing. And it’s like, you know, it goes back to that theme of a damaged person and but in that specific sense, it’s a specific type of damaged person. You know, someone who’s beautiful on the surface but is just basically a veneer of that, and the inside has a lot more chaos or a lot more disorder than needs to be put back together.
FRR: I really feel like “Beautiful” goes hand in hand with the album title. It fits so well. I feel like we’ve all dated that person at some point.
Ron Underwood: (laughs) I just wanna help ya! I wanna help you! Why do I keep adopting these damaged puppies?
FRR: Yeah, it’s like, god you’re so beautiful, but god you’re so fucked up. God damn.
Ron Underwood: (laughs) At some point you just gotta cut your losses and move on. That really is what that song wraps up.
FRR: After you get off the road Gemini – I mean, are we touring more after the Gemini tour or hitting the road more? I mean, what are we looking at?
Ron Underwood: The best case scenario is that we just keep touring and it looks like we’re always building. It’s like we’re building this slow and steady organic build with our familiarity on the street. There’s been talk of us going to Europe for a little bit, probably in the fall. So that will be pretty amazing for me, at least. I took German class for some reason. I guess now I can redeem it umpteen years later.
FRR: There we go. Do you remember any of it?
Ron Underwood: Actually, our crew member, he’s ex-military, he lived in Germany for like three years, so I’ve been talking with him on this trip. It’s been pretty rad.
FRR: Oh man, that’s awesome. You guys gotta hit Amsterdam. We hear so many stories.
Ron Underwood: (laughs)
FRR: I just feel like that could inspire some more songs down the road.
Ron Underwood: (laughs) Well, you know, we live in Hollywood, so there’s pretty much an Amsterdam on every corner if you’re willing to look for it.
FRR: That makes sense. You have to look for it.
Ron Underwood: (laughs)
FRR: Or maybe you don’t have to look for it. I’m not sure.
Ron Underwood: You have to know when to say no in Hollywood. It’s pretty wild, man.
FRR: That’s why I live in Indiana. I feel like that could be bad. (Laughs)
Ron Underwood: Well it sure gets out of control. At some point you go, “I gotta get some work done, man.”
Ron Underwood: You’re inspiring me to intake, it’s exceeded its time limit. So, I need to go back to work mode.
FRR: People aren’t supposed to consume this much stuff, you know.
Ron Underwood: Yeah, yeah. But yeah, any kind of stuff like that is, it’s a necessary thing if you’re trying to feel some inspiration, but everything in moderation, you know?
FRR: Yeah. So after the tour, hopefully some more touring in Europe. Hopefully you guys can lock that up and get over there. That’ll just be killer, dude. Hopefully we can catch you again in Indiana sometime soon. We weren’t able to get to the South Bend show, unfortunately.
We tried so hard. But hopefully we can catch you down the road. This album out now, The Damaged Ones, absolutely killer record, dude. Thanks for talking with me, I really appreciate it.
Ron Underwood: Yeah, thanks for having me man.
FRR: We’ll catch up soon, I’m sure.
Ron Underwood: Alright, take care brother.