Having been described as a mixture of XTC, Bob Mould, The Damned, The Who, and The Replacements, Rubber Clown Car is an amalgamation of sounds, textures and ideas. Guitarist and vocalist for the band Dirk Prysby spoke withes today to discuss the band’s latest album “Let’s Pretend,” the meaning behind the title track, and their plans for the near future.
Rubber Clown Car is a rock trio consisting of Dirk, Fred Beasley on drums, vocals, and guitars, and Tony Pantalones on bass, keys, and everything else. They are from Oswego, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. The band met up at a party around 2005-2006.
“Tony, Fred and I had a lot of musical interests in common like The Beatles, punk, hard rock, and a lot of things the other two guys hadn’t heard of,” Dirk said. “We got our name based on a near-fatal car wreck in which the car we were riding in bounced off a few other cars and a guard rail. We had a pile of people in the car and escaped with only minor injuries. So we were riding in a Rubber Clown Car, and we had a name. This band is Tony, Fred and I and I can’t see it changing. It wouldn’t be the same band.”
The band’s newest album is “Let’s Pretend.” They originally had about 25-30 songs, then said, “Let’s give someone a full CD of songs, whatever that length is.” The result was a collection of 17 songs, 14 original and three covers.
“Most of the basic tracks were recorded at Fred’s place, as he can record drums without pissing off his neighbors,” Dirk said. “We all have little studios so we work together and independently, whatever is needed at the time.”
The album took about one year to complete, with some of the songs having been in the works for years. Dirk said the band goes through two types of songwriting processes – keep pushing until you finish the song or let the songs come to you as they want.
“We never force a song to come out,” Dirk said. “We’ve got one that’s been in the works since we got together! Still not ready yet.”
Rubber Clown Car is always in search of the perfect pop song. The title track from “Let’s Pretend” was based on Dirk’s time in a Beatles cover band.
“I had gotten to a point that I wanted to do original music and the other guys in this band just wanted to pretend to be The Beatles,” Dirk said. “Nothing against ‘tribute’ bands, but that’s just not for me. They couldn’t understand why I wanted to move on with my own music, and I couldn’t understand how they could want to just keep repeating themselves over and over. The line ‘Let’s pretend we’re John, Paul, Ringo / I’ll pretend I’m a circus clown’ is basically the situation. I haven’t looked back.”
Dirk said some of the themes on the album revolve around loneliness, betrayal and being stuck in an abusive relationship. However, he still considers it to be a hopeful record, and wants the listener to figure out what the lyrics mean rather than telling them what a song is about.
“We don’t start out by saying ‘Let’s write a song about this,’ rather the songs just kind of tell us what they’re about over time,” Dirk said. “Sometime we don’t realize until after they’re recorded. I had a particular song, with two people with completely different interpretations. I told them, ‘Yep, you’re both correct, that’s what that song is about.’ It’s not up to me to decide once the song is out there.”
When recording, Rubber Clown Car generally has many directions it can go to at once. Currently it has a psychedelic record, a hard rock/metal record, a concept record, and another general collection of songs record all in the planning stages. As for playing live, Dirk said with work schedules and families it has become impossible, though the band did tour for its first album on the “Make the Noise” tour. The band is more focused on writing and recording rather than performing live. After the release of their most recent album, the band is now working on some video ideas as well as songs for an upcoming project.
Having the chance to refine his sound over the years, Dirk offers advice for musicians who are starting out and looking to develop their own sound.
“All the music you love will come through in your sound, you can’t help it,” Dirk said. “Try not to copy another sound slavishly, but let it happen naturally. Take a song you know and twist it around, change things. Find out what you want to say and you’ll find your own voice.”
For anyone looking for power-pop, punk, rock, pop, and anything else with great lyrics, be sure to check out Rubber Clown Car on their main website, Soundcloud, Twitter (@rubberclowncar), Bandcamp, YouTube, CD Baby and iTunes. It’s pure pop for paranoid people.