Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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RRIICCEE: Vincent Gallo Wants You to Know What He Knows.

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By: Justin Bland and Elizabeth Nolan Brown
Jan 17, 2008

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It’s hard to know what to make of it when Vincent Gallo says the biggest insult one can hurl at him is to

call his films or music “art.”

Gallo is touted as the seedy descendant of such art house luminaries as John Cassavetes and Jean-Luc

Godard; in the ‘80s he played in the no wave band Gray, alongside the king of pomp and Warhol

protégé Jean-Michel Basquiat.

But “art is something that is done without purpose and I have a very clear purpose,” says the 46-yearold

musician, actor, writer and director of such films as Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny. “I’m making

music and films for enjoyment. I would never do something without purpose.”

RRIICCEE write-up/Vincent Gallo interview

By: Justin Bland and Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Jan 17, 2008

It’s a surprisingly grounded statement for the likes of Gallo. After all, this is the same guy who offers

himself for sale under the merchandise link on his website (www.vgmerchandise.com) for the paltry

sum of $1 million, and cast himself in The Brown Bunny receiving a real-deal on-screen blowjob from

actress Chloe Sevigny. Post-modern megalomania is his calling card.

Gallos’s new musical project, RRIICCEE (not pronounced like the food, but spelled out), is a free-form

ensemble that performs spontaneous on-stage compositions absent of any pre-written words, melodies

or genre allegiances. Sound pretentious? It wouldn’t bear the fingerprint of Gallo if it didn’t. But this is

not experimental music made for the sake of experimentation, Gallo insists. The aim of RRIICCEE is to

capture a pure, beautiful and in-the-moment musical experience.

“When you see bands on stage … no matter how cool they began or no matter how sensitive they may

be, on some level they let themselves become unconscious, to allow themselves to play this cabaret

act,” he says. “And the minutia that they get caught up in and repetitive variations that they get

caught up in are all very personal to them. But it’s not authentic.”

RRIICCEE may be striving for authenticity and spontaneity, but Gallo shies away from the word

“improvisation.”

“Improvisation means committing to a musical form or vocabulary,” Gallo says. “We’re creating

composition, which means we need to be conscious and reflective. We are spontaneous and we are

inventing, but we’re not wallowing in scales. We’re trying to organize structures that we recognize in

the moment, that make compositional sense and build upon those. ‘Conscious’ is the best word for what

we’re doing.”

Beauty may be the best word for what they were doing the night we caught RRIICCEE at DC’s Rock and

Roll Hotel. Even if that night started auspiciously—a strict no-camera policy (posted as “titty-bar”

rules), t-shirts salvaged from the street and stenciled with RRIICCEE’s logo selling for $50 and a room

full of claustrophobically close chairs in a space normally found open and designed for dancing—it all

didn’t seem so bad the moment Gallo’s falsetto soared off the stage. “I want … you … to know … what

… I know,” Gallo sang/whispered over band-mates Eric Erlandson’s electronic gadgetry, Nikolas Haas’

drum machine, and Rebecca Casabian’s on keyboard ephemera. And yes, at the very moment, we

found ourselves wholeheartedly wanting to know exactly what RRIICCEE knew. That night, RRIICCEE

knew how to make the most beautiful and liberating music possible.

The set started like a tune-up session and meandered into over an hour of comprised of grooves

winding seamlessly into one another. Gallo moved from his melodic signature guitar sounds to keys and

even broke out a wind instrument. Eric was master of the surreal effects with all sorts of twisted

feedback rhythms, and knob turning vibes. Rebecca’s trance-like synth maneuvers enveloped every

tune with a keen sense of direction while Nikolas drove the beat from soft sweeping patterns into hardpounding

jams and even picked up a flute at a couple points himself. This was art and music as one and

the synergy was unmistakable. It was hard to believe nothing that transpired in the set was

preconceived or committed to memory. It all unraveled in that time and space and will never happen

again.

RRIICCEE has no plans to record any material for public consumption. Gallo is delicate with his words

when he explains this, being careful not to employ that dreaded “a” word. He stands by the group’s

drive not to be musical contrarians but to create beautiful music as a proactive band.

“It’s so hurtful when people write me e-mails and try to relate to me like that,” he says. “I wish

Michael Jackson would write me an e-mail, instead of someone who sends me a tape or a reel of

something that’s very dark and hard to watch and says ‘I’m an artist like you, man. Fuck the Hollywood

scene and all of that.’ That’s not where I’m coming from. I’m not reactionary like that.”

RRIICCEE write-up/Vincent Gallo interview

By: Justin Bland and Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Jan 17, 2008

“The goal is always to make work that is better than yourself,” he adds. “I am trying to be as open as

possible. If I’m not making music that is better than me or beyond me being the asshole that I am, …

eventually I will create my own cliché and I’m hoping to avoid that as much as possible.”

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Written by Elizabeth

January 17, 2008 at 12:11 am

Posted in The Best Things

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