Until I was about 20, I didn’t listen to a lot of music outside of punk and hardcore. College and girls evolved that eventually, but that’s where my roots sit. In the last few years specifically, crossing over into my late 20s, the amount of new hardcore I listened to filtered down to near zero, until about a year ago when a friend told me to listen to Ceremony‘s Still Nothing Moves You. Straight up, I thought it was an incredible record, bringing the hardcore of bands like Negative Approach or Infest into the 21st century. And then they made Rohnert Park. Honestly, I was totally shocked by that record. I loved it. But it was so remarkably different. What had happened to them in that time that they got meandering, despondent? Had that anger been replaced with a general malaise? Songs like “Sick” or “The Doldrums” illustrated a lack of interest in the outside world as much as hatred towards it. Not to mention there were guitar solos. And the album’s cover was the perfect metaphor for some bit of suburban nothingness, a kid wearing a Minor Threat sweatshirt, skating in front of a generic white house with an American flag. It was taken in Rohnert Park, California, where they all grew up. After the jump, Ceremony’s Ross Farrar talks about about the record and his future.
Did you want to change Ceremony with Rohnert Park?
A lot of people in the band, well, actually everybody in the band, has been going in separate directions right now. JD is studying math at Berkeley, that’s pretty big. Anthony, I’ve kind of watched him grow up for as long as I can remember cause he lived down the street from me and I was friends with his brother. And he’s making big changes right now, things are kind of going crazy in his life, he’s trying to figure out what he’s doing, yadda yadda. Jake also is doing the same thing, veering towards other things in his life right now, same as me. I wanna do school, and I wanna study English and I wanna do all this stuff outside the band. So I think it was kind of natural for us to do something that sounded a little bit more grown up, I guess you could say. Or sounded not as violent or as abrasive as we did in the past. That kinda comes out with “Doldrums” and other songs that are obviously slower and more mellow than Still Nothing Moves You. And I think it’s just that we’re getting older and we can’t play as fast as we did before. No, that’s not true, but I don’t know, I think we’re just growing up and we’re not as angry as we used to be.
Did you replace that anger with boredom? Anger is a key and easy word for hardcore—and I think pretty appropriate for a lot of it—but I don’t view Rohnert Park as an angry record, I view it as more fed up.
I think a lot of that just came out from the writing and all of us coming from Rohnert Park the suburb. It’s kind of a boring place to be in. You’re like, Oh what am I gonna do? Am I gonna go spray paint or go skateboarding? You get involved in stupid shit. But now that everyone’s older and everyone’s moved away… I think it was more of a looking back record. Like, Oh, we never really did anything that involves Rohnert Park. We never wrote about our past or our childhood or made songs that had anything to do with where we came from. So that’s what we did on Rohnert Park, kind of like a throwback record to like, hardcore. A lot of hardcore bands came from the suburbs.
But with a song like “Sick,” it seems like you are sick of hardcore.
Yeah, I think if you do anything for a long period of time, there’s gonna be moments when you get tired of it, you kind of get sick of it in a way. And when I was doing that song, I was actually painting a house, I was painting Santana’s house with my dad. My dad’s a house painter. And, Santana just moved out of his house, and this other couple bought it so we’re painting Santana’s house, and I was like fuck man! This sucks, I don’t want to be painting houses right now, this is boring. So I just came up with “Sick.” It was a humorous song at first, I was just writing down stuff I was sick of, and that can be a very funny thing. There was a time when I was writing a song I was gonna say I was sick of UFOs. Whatever it was, eventually it was gonna be something that wasn’t so humorous, like there was humorous stuff in it and there was also stuff that I was really sick of so it kinda came out that way.