1. We're Uncle Ray from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. We play powerviolence/grind mixed with hardcore/punk and consist of four members. Alexa on vocals, Steve on Guitar, Sean on Bass and Phil on Drums. The band originally formed in late 2012 as Rat King with just Alexa, Steve and Phil (no bass). We were pretty active locally and released one EP before “disbanding” in the summer of 2013. The band (somewhat unexpectedly) reformed as Uncle Ray in late 2013 when Steve and Alexa returned from some summer travels, inviting Sean in on bass, bassist of the late RAID, a Windsor project which Phil was also a part of. We have been locally active since then.
2.Recently you have released your first ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?
2. We have a lot of different influences that come through in our music, so it's hard to describe. We like to keep things short and powerful. Our buddy Rob Maslanka of Dynamic North Audio definitely captured the sounds we were looking for on this release.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
3. Alexa: My writing is about my outlook on life, mostly a positive one, as well as animal rights and how we has humans are sucking this earth of everything it has to offer. I don’t like to force myself to write. I like it come naturally.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name'Uncle Ray'?
4. Uncle Ray was originally suggested back when the band was still Rat King. Rat King, based on some internet research, was a fairly popular and somewhat overdone band name and we wanted to get away from that, so we were looking for alternatives, the band still being in its somewhat early stages. Uncle Ray was suggested based on the brand of potato chips based out of Detroit, Michigan. They are cheap, rad chips and no one can deny that. They come with a different story on every bag, life lessons and morals told through childhood stories and life experiences of Uncle Ray himself. They are usually pretty cheesy stories, and rather humourous in an unintentional way, so we thought... we can spread good words through power violence, a different story with every song, just like Uncle Ray! At the time Phil was not down with this as a band name, so we decided to keep Rat King knowing the project was going to be done soon. Time passed and when the idea of starting the band back up came about who other than Phil to re-suggest Uncle Ray as a name, Steve and Alexa not letting him think twice happily agreed.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
5. Our release show this past July at The Windsor Beer Exchange was super hype and we really enjoyed it. Also grinding the basement of the late Holden House was always a good time, and The Coach and Horses is a classic spot in Windsor to get down. As for stage performance, we consider it to be raw, loud and noisy. This is the music that we love and gets us stoked, and we want to share that stoke with everyone.
6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
6. We have a few local shows in the month of August and are touring at the end of August, playing in Ontario and heading east towards Nova Scotia. We are really stoked because we have yet to play out of town as Uncle Ray. We definitely want to remain active locally and get out of town as much as possible in the future.
7.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
7. We are not actively looking for any labels at the moment, and have not received any interest in this matter. We are very big on DIY ethics and like to put out all of our own music and merch along with the help of our friends and local talent regarding printing, artwork, recording etc. If any label opportunites were to arise, it would be something that we would discuss as a band, and move forward with based on our decision. We are definitely supportive of independent record labels helping the underground music scene grow positively.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of grindcore and power violence?
8. We've only released one album so far, so we are still in the early stages of the amount of material we have out there, but anyone we've been in contact with so far seems to enjoy our music. We feel like we have a very strong supportive local vibe that's always present that we very much appreciate, and we hope that positive feedback will continue from other fans we may gain elsewhere.
9.Are any of the band members involved with any other musical projects?
9. Currently, Sean plays bass for three local projects varying in style, Wasi'chu and Spice Boys in addition to Uncle Ray, and was also the host of the late radio show Poison City. Phil plays drums in a 2 piece bass and drum side project, Deer Birth, and snare drum for Thick as Thieves, a local street folk band. Phil also is the brains behind Putrid Magazine, a local zine keeping people up to date on local shows, bands, and everything DIY and independent. Steve plays drums for Blank Wall, another local project, and Steve and Alexa are in the very early stages of Distension, another bass and drum side project with Steve on the bass/vocals and Alexa on drums.
10.When can we expect a full length album and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
10. We are keeping very active as a band, always writing new material. Besides the 11 songs we have recorded and released thus far, we currently have 7 unrecorded songs that will definitely be put towards our next release. We definitely want to make the next release more of a full length and thoughts are leading towards vinyl for sure. Arguably this EP did have 10 songs, but they were all really short, and new songs we write continue to be, for the most part, rather short. We want to keep fast raw aggression in all of our songs, and keep things the same, but different, with all our future material. For now, we just released an album, so the next release date is unknown, but were not done yet.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
11. Steve: Toxic Narcotic was definitely a staple that lead me towards more aggressive styles outside of hardcore punk/street punk. Getting into more and more heavier styles and bands over the years just kept getting me more and more stoked. Capitalist Casualties was definitely the band that opened up the world of powerviolence to me, and I knew I always wanted to play that style of music at some point. With so many genres, influences and bands out there I appreciate, it's a combination of all that, the day to day, and what I love that reflects in my music. Again, so much fucking music, but recently I've been spinning Toxic Narcotic, Trash Talk, Six Brew Bantha, Pizza Hi Five, Violent Restitution, Catharsis, White Widows Pact, Nails, Hatred Surge and Hellmouth.
Alexa: I was more into metal and screamo as an adolescent. Then I started going to more punk shows and listening to more power violence and the list goes on of all the bands that have put me where I am. I love doing vocals for this style of music as much as I do listening to it. There are so many bands that influence me, it's hard to pick and choose. Right now I’m really into Sex Prisoner, Trash Talk, White Widows Pact, Hellmouth and Maneurysm.
Phil: In all honesty I draw influences from many different kinds of music. I rock alot of thrash, doom, hardcore, mathrock, hip hop, folk music, jazz, grind, and old school punk, i guess also. I try and take from tons of different sources when im learning. Even local our local acts. Uncle Ray, "Rat King" was the first band i've ever played drums for. I bearly knew how to play drums when we started out, so i learn mostly from watching others at shows and drummers from other bands i've been in. But to name drop some music i listen to lately: Earl Sweatshirt, Kids Like Us, Hellraiser, The Bulletproof Tiger, Weak Ends, and Rape Revenge.
Sean: Though Uncle Ray is noisy, groovy, and chaotic, and is influenced by powerviolence and grindcore, I think there's more than a certain musical style that influences what we play and how we play it. Part of it is where we're from and being good homies. Steve's guitar playing and the way that he structures songs definitely contributes to our sound as well. Live, we just like to play as loud and as raw as we can.
These days I've been listening to the new Shabazz Palaces, Lower and Pallbearer records but also Lust for Youth, Brotman and Short, DIIV, Hoax, Ceremony, Water Torture, Sea of Shit, The Wake, Thou/The Body collaboration, Lebanon Hannover, Iceage, S.H.I.T., The Smiths, Acousma. I'm really all over the map.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
12. Steve: Homebrewing, hops, skateboarding, craft brews, board games, hops, posi vibes, the colour black, meals and drinks with friends, traveling, and vegan food.
Phil: Aside from music, I like to skateboard, ride my speed bike, get stoned and play video games. Also, like stated before, I make my own zine in Windsor called “Putrid Magazine”. Check it out on tumblr.
Alexa: Im a hair dresser by trade. As well as that, I like to skateboard, sew, garden, home brew, screen print, ride my bike and travel. There’s probably more I forgot to name, I like to do a lot of things !
Sean: I'm interested in photography, cinematography, writing, cooking, bikes, cigarettes, and coffee. I want to start making my own beer soon too.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
13. Thanks for having us in your zine, we appreciate your interest and support, and what zines are doing for the underground community. And to anyone reading this feel free to get in touch. Cheers!