Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Real / Absurd Questions with Michael Roche: An Interview with The Two Tens

The Two Tens, and if you haven’t heard of them yet, there’s good reason. This amazing Garage Punk band is only a year old, featuring Rikki Styxx on drums, and Adam Bones on vocals and guitars. Success already includes their song “Sweet As Pie” on Showtime’s series Shameless, and playing SXSW in 2015. And in this past year, The Two Tens have released their debut album Volume. Now it’s time to get familiar with Rikki and Adam of The Two Tens. As the title implies, every now and then there may be an absurd question out of the blue, so just go with it.

Michael: How did the two of you connect? I know Rikki was the drummer in Adam’s band with two other ladies, Tracy Lambertucci, and Breanna Fields. But how did you meet before that band formed? 

Rikki: I’m going to let Adam take this one. 

Adam: We actually didn't meet before that. I knew of Rikki from seeing her in photos with some of her previous bands. But I didn't personally know her until we jammed for the first time for my solo band. It's kind of funny, it was just the two of us in the beginning and it's the two of us now.  

At what point did you decide to form The Two Tens, with just Rikki and Adam? Was it in a diner? At a party? Or did one of you have a vision in the middle of the night about this not developed band, and immediately texted the other?  

Rikki: After our last show with Bre in the band, Adam called me and said “Hey, could we grab dinner?” I thought for sure he was going to tell me that he was going to switch stuff up in the solo project.  And that’s when he pitched the idea of the two-piece.  I wasn’t completely convinced at first but then he took me to his car and showed me some of the demos and I instantly said “HELL YEAH”.  A few months later we spent the weekend locked in the house learning songs so we could go record them.  Things were moving very fast and still are. 

Adam: I had been doing a solo band for years. I simply got burned out on it all. It wasn't going the way I wanted it to go and I was pretty unhappy playing my own songs. So I wanted a fresh start. And that's when I approached Rikki with the idea of this project.  

The Two Tens. When you were coming up with names you just figured, “yeah, we’re awesome. I’d give myself a ten”. And that was it? The Two Tens were formed? 

Rikki: We let everyone come up with their own concept of the name but let’s just say mine is “We take everything to 10”.   

Adam: And sometimes we even turn it up to 11.  

Romantic Comedy or Horror films, which do you like more? And what’s your favorite film in that genre? 

Rikki: Horror films combined with romantic comedy.  Beetlejuice 

Adam: Romantic Comedy for me. Not sure if it's my favorite in the genre, but I really like "Kissing A Fool."  

You wrote and recorded 12 songs for your debut album shortly after forming The Two Tens. What was this process like? Was is very collaborative, or does one work more on lyrics while the other creates the music? Have these songs been in your mind before you met? 

Rikki: Adam is the genius behind the song writing process.  He records a demo and then we get together and work out the drum parts and any other parts of the song, etc.  We recorded “Volume” at Kitten Robot with Paul Roesler, where we just did guitars and drums and then did all the overdubs and vocals at Tone Duff Studios with Bruce Duff.  Then it was mixed and mastered by Jim Diamond.  

Adam: I was writing some of the songs on the album months before I approached Rikki to start the band.  

Do you have a new album in the works? If so, will it be Garage Punk, or will you explore any new styles? 

Rikki: Right now we are writing for our next album.  We recently signed a record deal with Man Della Records out of Portland.  I think for the next album we want to capture a similar sound, like the first album, but we are different players than we were when we recorded the first time.  Our sound is evolving and we have more people on our team to make it even better.  I am loving the new songs and I can’t wait to get them all recorded.  It’s going to be BADASS. 

Adam: We've definitely matured as a band and I think this album will reflect that. It's going to sound similar to "Volume" but we're experimenting with some different sounds and expanding on parts and layers. It's been a lot of fun so far.  

While recording, you chose to record in Los Angeles at Kitten Robot Studios. What made this studio stand out to The Two Tens?  Were there any songs that seemed better on paper than you recorded, and vice versa? Or did you try these songs out live before recording them in the studio to get out the kinks? 

Rikki: Kitten Robot is our home.  I have never felt so comfortable in any studio or had more fun.  Paul has recorded a lot of bands that we love so it just made sense.  Since we started recording before we started playing out we really didn’t have a chance to show them off yet.  But we did release them digitally in groups of 3 songs over the course of a year just to give our fans something new until the album was completely finished.  So even though we had recorded them already, we started playing them live before they were actually released.    

Adam: Our producer, Bruce Duff, has known Paul for years and suggested we record at his spot. Working with the two of them in the studio was a really great experience. They're a good team. All the songs ended up sounding great. No complaints, believe it or not.  

You both seem pretty comfortable performing in front of a live audience. What was your experience growing up in middle school and high school that led you to be performers?  

Rikki: I actually hate being the center of attention as far a performing.  That’s why drums always fit me.  I like being in the back hiding behind my cymbals. Ha!  Now that we are a two-piece I set up front next to Adam, which is totally different for me.   But, I will say that I’m having a blast getting crazy up-front and just letting loose.  Adam and I have the same energy on-stage so it works.  Plus, give us a few whiskey shots and the roof comes off. 

Adam: I actually started as a drummer and I always enjoyed performing in front of people. I don't think I ever had much of an issue having people's eyes on me during a show. But then after I moved to guitar, it opened up a whole new world of performance. I always made and still make sure to put on a show. People want to be entertained. Hell, I want to entertain myself while I’m performing. So that’s something I make sure to do.

Cold Pizza vs Spaghetti & meatballs from a can? 

Rikki: Cold pizza all day long.  Even over hot pizza.  I used to order delivery and put it in the fridge and eat it the next day.  No joke. 

Adam: Cold pizza. 

Do you see yourselves adding another musician to The Two Tens? If so, will you still call yourselves The Two Tens? Or perhaps The Two Tens and a Seven 1/2? 

Rikki: There is someone at almost every show that offers to play bass for us. Ha! And we have had guests come up and play a song during a show but The Two Tens are Adam and I and it will probably always be that.  If there are any additions it will be guest spots so that we can play with our favorite artists for special occasions for example.  Why fix it if it ain’t broken?  It’s working pretty damn good at the moment. 

Adam: No. Sorry to break your hearts, bass players.  

What was an influential album you listened to growing up that had one of the biggest impacts on you? 

Rikki: The Queers, Love Songs for the Retarded was probably my favorite album as a young punk.  It addresses everything from rebellion and breaking the rules to awkward crushes and being in love.  I still listen to it today. 

Adam: Ramones Mania was the first Ramones album (even though it’s a greatest hits) I was ever turned on to. After falling in love with the music and then learning about who they influenced and what they influenced, I soon became addicted. They’ll forever and will always be my favorite band.  

Videos. Who comes up with the ideas for each video? Is there one person filming them all? Also, in the videos Life and Can’t Pull Through, there was an eating theme. Will your next video include food, whether text or eating actual food? 

Rikki: All of the video concepts came about differently.  Some Adam came up with, some me, some the directors of the video itself.  A reoccurring theme has been food but really it’s been all about just having fun.  That’s really been our biggest overall concept of the band.  I think our videos are one of the biggest draws to our band because of that.  

Favorite place to hang out as a teenager? 

Rikki: The punk house.  I was into music and there were a lot of bands coming up when I was in high school and we would throw house parties and get crazy.  Nothing has really changed honestly.  Now we just have nicer venues and bigger PAs.   

Adam – My basement. Watching TV or playing guitar. Mostly watching TV.  

You seem to really enjoy each other in the videos. How have the two of you clicked as a team, that you may not have clicked in other bands? Or is it a facade, and you really despise each other? 

Rikki: Adam is hands down one of the best friends.  That’s why we started this project together.  We have the same taste in music.  We like doing the same activities and we work really well together as business partners.  What Adam is good at, I’m not and vice versa.   

Adam: Yep. We clicked right from the start. We liked the same music, made each other laugh and just enjoyed hanging out together. Which is why I wanted to start this band with her.  

Where do you see The Two Tens five years from now? Are there any bands you would like to tour with? New styles of music you want to create? Or upcoming bands you may hope to promote? 

Rikki: One of the biggest goals that I had personally for this band was to get a support slot for a tour from our favorite bands.  I know someday we will tour with The Queers and Screeching Weasel (at least I really hope so).  But I hope that in five years, we will have a big enough following that we can return the love and take one of our newer favorite local bands on the road with us.  I also hope that we will have 3-4 albums out and can make a full-time living.  

Adam: In 5 years it would be nice to headline our own tours, have more albums out, play festivals and all that stuff.  

Of these people whom never won an Oscar (but were nominated), to who would you give an Oscar to? And you can only choose one. 
Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Gary Oldman, Robert Downey Jr., Liam Neeson, Will Smith, Bradley Cooper 

Rikki: Michelle Pfeiffer/catwoman.  I am a huge Batman fan and I remember how much she influenced me in that role just dominating everyone around her.  Meow!!! 

Adam: Will Smith because he’s the Fresh Prince. 

Any parting thoughts you would like the readers to know about The Two Tens? 

Rikki: Come see us live, you won’t be disappointed.  Come say “HI”, we love meeting our fans.  

Adam: And if you’re lucky, I’ll give you a hug.  

Well thank you for your time. It has been my pleasure to interview you. Next time you visit the East Coast I’ll be sure to have cold pizza in the fridge, keep the bass players at a distance,  and we all look forward to hearing more music from The Two Tens.

Visit for more information, music and upcoming tours. 

 “And remember, absurdity is the most real thing in life.” – Michael Roche

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