It sounds foreign to hear that a band is releasing a new album these days, but Charleston-based punk rock band Blue Ricky will do just that on March 17. Nearly a year-to-the-day after most Charleston venues shut down, the crew will celebrate the release of Aversion Therapy at Tin Roof.
The band consists of Ben Somewhere on guitar, Scott Brawner on bass and Roger Mindwater on drums, with all three contributing vocals to varying extents (Aversion Therapy is full of punk harmonies and in-unison choruses). Blue Ricky is very much a punk band, but it makes a point of not carrying the anger and aggression that comes with the punk-band label.
“Since the beginning, we’ve never wanted to be angry or tough. For us, the point is to have fun, and sometimes, fun is loud and raw,” Brawner said.
“It sounds angry, but in early punk, I feel that it was really just about moving past the bullshit in your everyday life,” Mindwater said. “It can be just raw enthusiasm.”
Aversion Therapy is the band’s second release, the first being the 2019 EP, Let’s Go to the Show. Both projects run heavily on late 1980s and ‘90s punk energy and style, with a straightforward missile of electric guitar, bass and drums. Simply put, it’s no-frills punk music that doesn’t exist within any of the genre’s many subcategories. It’s a niche that’s somewhat reflective of Charleston’s music community.
“You have so many people from so many places here that there isn’t really a definitive sound,” said Somewhere, who originally hails from Louisiana. “Charleston itself is a welcoming place where you don’t have harsh winters and things like that, unlike really punk cities like New York and D.C.
“It’s environmentally laid back here. People are really supportive here. I remember right off the bat when we first started this project we had people asking if we wanted to play shows with them. That’s not something that you can expect in a lot of other environments where it can be viewed as competitive.”
That joining of a traditionally aggressive type of music with a warm climate, tourist destination city like Charleston is really the crux of Blue Ricky’s style. It’s the same punk that you know from your old Ramones cassettes, but it comes with a clear intent to have a good time while rapidly bobbing your head back and forth.
Aversion Therapy was a self-driven project for the trio; it was recorded entirely in the band’s practice space at Mindwater’s home and was mixed by Brawner. The decision to record there was born out of necessity, after canceling their tour last year.
“It didn’t take us very long to do because it was all at our own pace, and it sounds exactly how we wanted.” Mindwater said. Specifically, they recorded 18 songs in two sessions in addition to a little added time for overdubbing. “We never wanted to sound too big; we really just wanted it to sound honest and kind of raw,” Brawner said.
For folks who hope to hear that “honest and raw” sound, you can stream a handful of tracks from Aversion Therapy on the band’s SoundCloud page, but to experience the whole album, you’ll have to get a physical CD.
“We want people to experience it physically,” Somewhere said. “It has full liner notes, artwork, photos, and we wanted to take it back to that original framework that we all had growing up.”
“I remember as a kid getting records and unpacking it all and looking at the liner notes,” Brawner added. It made you realize how much effort went into it.”
Some will be less comfortable about venturing back into cozy Charleston dives like Tin Roof, but Somewhere said it’s been a trustworthy place in his experience. “I’ve played some solo shows since the beginning of the pandemic, and the Tin Roof is the one place I’ve been where they will seriously tell you to leave every time if you’re not wearing a mask.”
But if you prefer to stream the new music online, the guys in Blue Ricky are perfectly cool with that too.
“Anyone listening to it online is gravy,” Brawner said. “If we sit around in a room for the next 10 years and play music, that’s cool with me — just as long as we’re doing what we want to do. There’s no ulterior motives to it for us.”