Frontier Ruckus

Interview by Aline Giordano

Frontier Ruckus“Dealerships is an example of juxtaposing things directly next to each other. You’re listening to all these desperate items that create a different totality in their collaboration with each other. I was driving around in the winter in Michigan, maybe going to the bank or something very mundane and I just became obsessed with all these very banal places that meant a lot to me.”

… And that’s when my recorder decided to stop working. Unaware that my SD card had reached maximum capacity, I listened, charmed by Matt Milia’s natural ability to turn mundane facts into a captivating story.

“Suburban Detroit is much different than what everyone sees in the news and Time magazine. It’s like the decay of American industry and stuff like that. We’re in the decaying suburbs that’s around the centre of the decay of the industry and that’s what I like to write about. It’s a very sprawling kind of place to be in, the suburbs, the spaces, the malls, the movie theatres, etc...”

Maybe it’s Matt’s obsessive bent to catalogue everything he sees that gives Frontier Ruckus’ lyrics their defining style: A delicate juxtaposition of the past and the present. The copious amount of lyrics in the songs form a symbolic collage - images juxtaposed with each other, interacting in singular and exciting ways, in a flowing continuum of images.

Matt is aware of the universality that his songs contain, for which he feels grateful. He also admits writing for himself “in a sort of an indulgent way to convey particulars”, adding that “the nice thing is that those particulars; people can relate to them; even though every one differs there are universal things that can connect us.”

As band mate Davey says: “Matt and I have known each other since we were kids. When I listen to his songs I find instances in which he’s talking about things that were very specific memories to him and they just hit this note with me that makes me feel the same thing that he was feeling at the time. There are some similar experiences there. And it’s amazing that people that are far removed from us geographical or in terms of age, it strikes the same chords with them sometimes and it really can emotionally affect people.”

How true this is. Take ‘Dealerships’ for example – a song I fell in love with instantly. The descriptive narrative is distinctively American. You see, ‘the community college’s dusk parking lot’ should mean nothing to me. And in all fairness why would it? I am French. Yet, the image takes me back to those disparate memories of American movies. Matt is able to transcend cultures by taking very specific objects and scenes from his entourage and giving them universality. Take the simple word ‘VHS’ – those three letters conjure up very precise memories in me: the first VHS tape I ever bought was The Cure Live in Orange (what else could it be?!). VHS also takes me back to more unsettling feelings – those of my teenage years. I think you get the idea. The very precise descriptions turn the song in poetic abstractness that confuse and envelop my senses. I am in the present and in the past. I am in the here and now, and suddenly thrown back in the 1990s and 80s in one swift breath.

The mood of the music complements the lyrics. Perhaps this is because Frontier Ruckus spend a lot of time with each other, they’re from the same kind of origins and been on the road for the past five years straight, making music. As Matt confides: “it’s got to a very implicit place”.

Listening to Frontier Ruckus takes me to a very implicit place of my own and in many ways reminds me of the time I experienced Brion Gysin’s dreamachine: it takes me back to moments I had forgotten ever existed; it reconnects me with my childhood and people as they were. It makes me feel the past again in a succession of colourful, evocative, and beautiful images, in whatever shape or form: VHS, real-time or imaginary.

For more details, visit… Frontier Ruckus website

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Photograph © Aline Giordano 2013