Randy Randall was caught up in how good he and Sean McGuinness were feeling about starting their new project, Rat Fist, to the point that while laying the music, they’d looked past a crucial part: vocals.
“Sean and I were driving back to recording one day and we were saying, ‘Well, now all we have left to do is the vocals,’” Randall says. “So I asked him, ‘Do you want to sing?’ and he’s like, ‘No, do you want to sing?’ And then we’re both like, ‘Uh… well, let’s both do it. We can both give it a shot.’”
It’s the first time Randall and McGuinness – best known for being the guitarist in No Age and drummer in Pissed Jeans, respectively – are singing in a band, so it’s taken a little bit of adjusting. They’re splitting lyric writing roles too, another first for them both. And the lines on “Disrupt yr DNA,” “You smile and burp while your insides are rotting/ The stench of your decay is… offensive,” are Randall’s doing.
“But it’s an equal collaboration,” he says. “He came up with some songs, I came up some songs. That song, ‘Disrupt Yr DNA,’ I’m singing on that one and I’m not really a trained singer but it has a punk feel to it so whatever. It doesn’t really matter too much what sounds my mouth makes when I open my mouth.”
Even singing and playing guitar simultaneously is something new for Randall. He says that since his bandmate Dean Spunt writes the lyrics and sings in their experimental punk-leaning two-piece No Age, he generally refrains from it entirely. So the prospect of taking his song, “Disrupt yr DNA” out on the road is exciting.
“I was actually really psyched for this song and taking it on tour, so I’ve been practicing singing and playing guitar along with it,” he says. “And it’s hard not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I keep thinking, Damn this sounds really good. I’m not the right critic for it, but I sort of amuse myself by it.”
The leading two, who have known each other for about 10 years are bringing Mike Sabolick in on guitar and bassist Jelle de Cremer. However, Cremer is from Europe and may not be joining them for their first string of shows because of potential immigration issues. But without being too worried about Cremer, Randall’s letting this just-raw-enough post-hardcore project bent on power and dense guitar sounds turn into whatever it may be as these longtime friends taken Rat Fist on the road for the first time.
“It’s just been really fun working with Sean and starting from scratch on something again,” he says. “It feels like those early days of first starting a band and you’re just going out and having fun playing show. There isn’t a big tour and a big record label; it’s just guys getting together playing some shows.”
Despite being both McGuinness and Randall’s other bands being signed to a major label such as Sub Pop, there’s a carryover of ethos that Randall takes away from playing in No Age. He says that because No Age has always been conscious of playing certain spaces that are all ages he like the idea of just playing out and having something to prove as a band.
Randall’s role on guitar in Rat Fist may be comparable to that of his in No Age. So he’s confident in “letting the drums shine through and providing different guitar textures.” It also helps to be playing with McGuinness too, saying “anyone who has listened to Pissed Jeans before knows that Sean’s a monster of a drummer,” as if making his case to anyone who is unfamiliar with the new four-piece. However, Randall sounds like he wouldn’t mind losing the association with their other acts and is hoping Rat Fist will stand alone.
“In time I hope it gains enough leeway,” he says. “Because when you’re in other band and you start a new project you can’t help but compare it.”
With time that can easily happen though as Rat Fist is clearly separated from their other projects. And time is on their side to start blazing their own path as they’re just planning their first run of west coast dates now and are still prepping a full-length release for the fall. Until then Randall’s sounds like he’s accepting how people will find the new band and show them how Rat Fist stands alone when they play out.
“I mean when you hear a guy from No Age and a guy from Pissed Jeans started a new band, you probably want to be surprised,” he says. “And I’d say it’s right up that alley.”
Rat Fist is playing Space 1026 Friday, June 27 with Dark Blue and The New Dreamz at 8 p.m.. More details here.
No Age, Pissed Jeans, Rat Fist, Space 1026, Sub Pop