The Wheelbarrow, London
April 17, 2011
It’s easy to love Ramona, even though everything about them is so flawless and en pointe, unheard for a scruffy bunch of Brighton by-way-of-New-York rockers. Picks in hand, they transform a handful of chords into polished punk perfection, fronted by the coquettish bleach-blonde tomboy Karen Anne, a second generation Edie and Debbie who knows how to hang from a mic stand like she was hanging from your shoulder. Absent from the stage this year so far, they cycle through their set in a brisk half hour, including encore, and you’re crying out for a flubbed note, an unrehearsed run through a song they just wrote in the van, or general indifference to whether anybody is listening.
For a band still technically in their infancy, with only their Ramones-aping debut single “How Long” as their calling card, Ramona should still be a band trying to find out which way is up. Given the management weight behind the band in the form of Sharleen Spiteri and Johnny McElhone of Texas, you feel you’re watching a band who’ve already been coached for the big time. Such contrivances shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying the music, because that’s what you’re there for and that’s what Ramona do — dishing out a ragged grab-bag of punk-pop influences per song, stacked with smart pop choruses — but when you’re watching the band play a low-key gig to about 60 people in a tiny pub of Camden High St, watched on by Spiteri and McElhone, you sense a band in limbo.
The problem with Ramona is they’re streaks ahead of any gutter-standing, star-staring punk-pop band around, yet they’re practically unknown, and even on the tiny Wheelbarrow stage, look like they’re slumming it. They’re just waiting for that moment for the world to pay attention. Credit to lank-haired guitarist Charlie Snelling, with the aloof “I’ve-just-woken-up” look of the unbothered rocker, as their saving grace. Singing songs about being from New York City may sound like wishful thinking, but for Ramona to find credibility amongst the hipsters or glide into the graces of the mainstream, they might have to decide which side of the fence they’re on.
Post-show Ramona talk with Karen Anne…
Last we heard from you was back in December with your Ramona advent calendar madness. Did you enjoy putting that together?
The advent calendar was so much fun and we knew we were going to take a break from touring to get the album finished so it was good way to stay in touch with our fans. It’s quite a challenge coming up with 25 free downloads but the response was so great it spurred us on.
I take it all this silence means you’ve been off recording an album. Can you tell us more?
We have been writing and recording in New York, London and Brighton with Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence and The Machine), Dan Grech (The Vaccines) and Emile Haney (Kanye West) and will be out later this year.
The show was your first appearance in quite a while. You looked like you were all happy to be out and playing again.
Very happy! I love being in the studio but all this adrenaline builds up and you’re just dying to get out and play the new material to people.
So, what’s next ? Is there a single lined up? More shows?
Our next single “New York City” will be out in June, and we play The Green Door Store in Brighton this Wednesday and we are also confirmed for the Great Escape supporting Jezabels.