Sound Bites Interview: Ribbons


Ribbons have been going for about three years, mostly as a duo of Jenny Logan and Sam Roudman, though lately they've added bassist Jeff Ciprioni to the mix. Their brand new EP is called Love is Mysterious. I think their sound is mysterious too, kind of like early Throwing Muses, dark and tumultuous but also beautiful.  

MP3: Ribbons – Love is Mysterious

Ribbons are playing the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series down at Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport this Wednesday. They're on at 1PM (and you can hear me spin tunes for an hour before that). They'll be performing as the classic Jenny/Sam duo. As Jenny's moving to Portland to further her education, this could be one of their last ever shows. (You can see them as a trio at Bruar Falls on June 26 which could be the last ever ever show.) It's sad, but I'm happy they could play my series. 

Like I'm doing with all the bands playing the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series, I'm quizzing them about food.   

You'll be playing across from the Fulton Stall markets. What's your favorite vegetable?

Jenny: Broccoli. It's delicious and looks like a weird flower. I'm also a fan of asparagus, kale, and brussel sprouts. Pretty much anything I'd run screaming from as a kid.

Sam: Spinach. It makes you invincible. 

What's your least favorite and why?

Jenny: Cauliflower.  What the fuck, cauliflower?  It's the albino vegetable. That and baby corn, if that counts as a vegetable (I know that, technically, it does not).  It doesn't even taste like corn, it just tastes like the part of a plant that you throw away.

Sam: Baby spinach. It makes you a baby. 

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

Jenny: Not that I know of.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

Jenny: Um.  I got food poisoning from Ethiopian food in DC while we were on tour and threw up twice in the green room right before we went on stage.  I had to cut the set short and run off the stage after six songs.  I threw up my entire soul that night.  I couldn't even drink water.  That's a sad food anecdote, maybe Sam will think of something better.

Sam: I have never heard such wretched sounds as that night in DC, it sounded like a minute into this.

On a similar note, over two years ago we were making tacos at my apartment, and I thought it would be cool to listen to Ministry while I was talking to Jenny and cutting some avocados. This song was blasting when the knife went through the avocado and –schhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiinnnnnck!!!– sliced up the lower phalanx of my index finger. Blood sprayed across the fridge and leaked hot drops on the floor. I went to the bathroom to run water over it, but red kept spitting out of the gash at regular intervals. The Ministry started me on the path to a panic attack and I felt like I was going to faint. I worried that I might have slashed a tendon and wouldn't be able to play drums ever again. I worried that the tacos would not come out right.

With Jenny's help we wrapped my perma-bleeding finger in tissue and ate our tacos like civilized folk. After I went to the bathroom to peel off the semi-coagulated half inch of cotton wrapped around my finger, but it just kept bleeding, glugging out of my finger like an upturned gatorade bottle. It was so awesome that I got to go spend the entire night in the emergency room where I made friends with a woman who seemed like a regular. She had been stabbed recently "You can read about it in the papers," she bragged. She also might or might not have been having a miscarriage. She thought I was being weak, but finally the doctor came by and gave it a look, un-dressed the wound, and the woman, the life of the ER looked at it and said "Aww damn, you can see the meat!" I got four stitches, and a lesson to last a lifetime: no Ministry in the kitchen. 

Who is the most finicky eater in the band? Who is the best cook?

Jenny: Sam is historically the finickiest.  I will let him field this question.  Although I am the best cook.

Sam: Historically I am the finickiest. I am also the best cook.

What is your food secret shame?

Jenny: I eat every part of the apple except for the seeds when no one is watching.  And orange peels.

Sam: 90% of my diet was peanut butter and jelly, pepperoni pizza, pasta with pesto, or cereal until I was 19. I am ashamed that society and the prospect of diabetes have since forced me to eat like an "adult."

Did any one food fuel the making of your new CD?

Jenny: Sam eats a lot of cliff bars.  He always has one after a show.  It just magically appears in his hand.  In the studio we drank a lot of weird juices from Urban Rustic. I think Alex, our engineer from Headgear, turned us on to that.

Sam: I am fuel.

Jenny, you're moving to Portland soon. Did you have any secret NYC spots that you can now tell us about?

Jenny: Kemmie's Caribbean Restaurant on Gun Hill Road at Bronxwood in the Bronx.  It's not really a secret, just no one wants to go up there. They serve awesome jerk chicken, and ox tail which I have yet to try. [Ed: oxtail is awesome, get it!] It's right across the street from the high school where I work so you have to go before school gets out or it's swarming with kids.

What will you miss, food-wise, about NYC. What won't you miss?

Jenny: Diversity, cheapness.  Probably bagels too although I was never into them before I came here.  I won't miss waiting an hour to be seated in some bullshit restaurant, or really tiny bathrooms.

Do you think you'll cook more in Portland than you did here?

Jenny: Yeah, although I've been cooking a lot lately here too.  Since I live in Williamsburg, I'm surrounded by restaurants, so the incentive to cook is significantly low, especially when it's 1000 degrees in my apartment.

Sam: I would not cook any more in Portland. I would subsist off of craft beer made locally by a variety of top tier brewers. In fact, many people fail to realize that beyond gorgeous scenery, a low cost of living, and all those crazy bridges, Portland is home to some of the finest small scale barley-pop makers in the world.

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?

Jenny: I'm thinking of a stew with very few ingredients. Sam?

Sam: Hunger.

Let’s Do Lunch


Free for lunch next month? How about coming down to South Street Seaport for some free rock shows curated by this moi? The Fulton Stall Market launches its second season in the old Fulton Fish Market space on May 30 and to help celebrate, the folks behind it asked if I wanted to help put on some daytime shows the first month the Market is open. I said yes and now we've got the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series, which will happen every Wednesday in June. In keeping with the "go local" aspect that is so intrinsic to farmers markets, I stayed with bands from NYC, mostly Brooklyn.

We'll kick things off Sunday, May 30 — the Market's opening day — with a performance from up-and-comers North Highlands, and then the next five Wednesdays. I'll spin some tunes at noon and then bands go on at 1PM. It's free. Here's the full six-show line-up:

MAY 30 (Sunday kickoff): North Highlands (MP3: "Collar Bones")
Lovely orch-pop from one of the nicest, best new bands in Brooklyn. Their live show is pretty magical.

JUNE 2: Air Waves (MP3: "Knock Out")
Gentle jangle somewhere between Neil Young and Loaded-era Velvet Underground. Great songs, great stories.

JUNE 9: The Austin McCutchen Quartet (MP3: "Honey Don't Be Sad")
A talented songwriter from my neighborhood, playing bluegrass in the single mike style just like olden days.

JUNE 16: Ribbons (MP3: "Total Loss")
Dark and mysterious indie rock. This is one of their last-ever shows so don't miss it!

JUNE 23: The Beets (MP3: "What Did I Do?")
If Eddie Haskel formed a protopunk band, The Beets would be it. Bratty, but always leaving you with a thankyouverymuch.

JUNE 30: Toys and Tiny Instruments Band
The name kind of says it all. Serious pop music, but played playfully. And in miniature.

Again, I DJ for an hour at noon, then the bands play at 1PM. The Fulton Stall Market has local purveyors in addition to farmers, and I'm told they're getting cool food trucks under the FDR, so grab some grub and come watch the bands. Sounds idyllic to me. Sets won't be too long, so if you work in the neighborhood you'll be back at your desk checking Facebook in normal time. If you're not encumbered by a job, I can tell you where the cheep beer is at the Seaport.

The Seaport is one of my favorite places to see shows in NYC, certainly my favorite outdoor space, and I always look forward to the Seaport Music Festival every year (this year's schedule looks great, btw), so I'm honored and pysched to be a little part of it this season. And that it's also promoting local farmers (I try to be a locavore as much as possible), it's even better. Come down if you can, I think it's gonna be a good time.