Jeff Ramsey and Luke Ertman grew up together in Millet, Alberta, starting their first band in 1998 when they were in Junior High. Several reincarnations later, the duo is celebrating the release of their first full length record with a highly ambitious, theatrical show. Their formal training (Luke went to the U of A for Composition and Theory, and Luke studied music at MacEwan) along with Luke’s theatre background, made them want to venture beyond the sounds of Edmonton’s rock scene.
Tell us about this latest venture?
Jeff: This project has been going since 2006. We work as duo and hire other musicians to perform with us [live], but we always write the music. Everything you hear on the record besides the female vocalist (Cassia Schram) and the children’s quoir we did ourselves, so for this live show we had to bring in a bunch of great musicians; this is what makes us different from other bands. This album is a concept album; we decided that we wanted to tell some kind of story with this, so in a way it’s like a play and we wanted to design it that way.
What drew you to this particular style of music?
Luke: I think the big eureka moment was when we were working with a drummer who decided he wanted to be a writer. Before we were like full on rock/folk-rock, just like “band” music: bass, drums, guitar, and vocals, so that stopped. We were like, “Well, what the hell are we going to do? Should we look for another drummer?” That felt kind of frustrating to look for someone else, so we started to listen to some of the stuff I did for theatre, and it had a lot of Middle Eastern, world influence to it. We thought it was cool and decided to do this kind of world inspired love story/ Alice in Wonderland album.
Do you find it hard to not fit into a specific scene in Edmonton and have that support?
Luke: Yeah, that’s the hardest thing for us; finding that target market and finding that support. If you’re a rock band or a Sonic Band of the Month there are all of these things that are open to you that are established ways of bringing your music to a certain audience. I mean, there’s probably more competition, but those options are there. Whereas for this CD release show, there’s nothing; there’s no established way of helping us so to speak, so it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of convincing people that’s this is a new thing; it’s tricky.
Jeff: Since the beginning we always tried to be a little bit different than just straight rock and we always found it hard to find the right people to help us with it, but I think even after graduating we started to do more research and I think finally we just started seeing the results of our hard work.
Do you think that has more to do with your sound or being in Edmonton with this sound?
Luke: I work in Vancouver a fair bit for theatre and it is a more eclectic city, no question about it, and it’s bigger so maybe there’s more room for this kind of thing. It’s not that there aren’t people in Edmonton who like the music we’re doing, because we got some great responses. I don’t think there are a lot of places n Edmonton to do that you know, and whether or not a place like Vancouver or Seattle would be better, it’s hare do say
Jeff: The cost of living would make it impossible [laughs].
Fool’s Tongue will be playing at the Capital Theatre in Fort Edmonton Park on February 22. Doors at 6 pm. Tickets available through YEGLive.
By Brnesh Berhe
Photo credit: Fenton Photography.