Phoenix Indie Punk Band Ring Finger No Pinky Keep Rocking Toward a Bizarre Future

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Phoenix Indie Punk Band Ring Finger No Pinky Keep Rocking Toward a Bizarre Future
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Of the many new bands to emerge in the Valley over the last few years, Ring Finger No Pinky feel decidedly special.

It’s their young, uber punkish ways. Their robust mix of self-awareness and heady angst. But mostly it’s the sheer sonic joy and spontaneity that permeates their sound, including 2020’s excellent Chlorine Bomb EP. Those sensibilities have developed further in the weird and wild years since, as their regular gigging and singles releases have tempered their creative output.

Now, RFNP have reached another fairly big milestone of sorts: their second big release, the awesomely-titled Edibiles and Pneumonia. (Super fun spelling aside, it’s still pronounced “edibles.”) And so the question begs: can they maintain the robust hype, or does RFNP still have some more growing up to do?

And the answer is… a solid “Yes!” on both accounts.

Because, in the ways that count, the band are still very much developing including now sorting out life and a career as a duo (comprised of singer/guitarist Griffin Brown and drummer David Erickson).

And when asked about how the realigned the band’s structure, it’s then we see that RFNP are fully prepared to keep this train blasting forward.

“Pretty much nothing changed,” Erickson says. Adds Brown, “Most musicians will, like, leave a band because they had creative differences and then they make stuff on their own. It’s just usually not as good as when they were in a band.”

Because, at their core, Erickson and Brown have always tried to operate as a singular unit, like some indie punk version of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

“I think we have a pretty healthy creative relationship. I feel like we almost work as just one person,” Brown says. “We’re never married to one thing Or, ‘I’m never going to change from doing it this way because that’s the way it should be.'”

Erickson says that working as a pair has some distinct advantages..

“You don’t have two members together and one member off doing his own thing in the song,” he says. “If we’re more in lockstep, we have a more powerful sound with just the two of us. We might do, like, sound effects that we can’t do live, but [shows and albums ] are supposed to be different experiences.”

Yet that doesn’t mean other things still haven’t changed. Each member has taken the time to hone their craft individually, and to add to what they can do both on and off stage.

“So we’ve learned more about making music, and that reflects in the EP itself,” Erickson says. “I feel like I’ve traversed the spectrum from being on one end, and not knowing anything, and then almost going too far, and thinking everything has a rule or something.”

Brown says he’s had a similar experience, adding, “I’m sort of seeing the other side, where I’m not thinking too hard about the rules of everything.”

A large part of that growth means that they’ve had time to more meaningfully dissect their efforts and rework these tunes since mid- to late-2020.

“The songs are just an extension of what our lives were like those last couple of years,” Erickson says. “I’ve been able to digest some of it more by taking a small break.”

He adds, “I’m just thinking about the songs, and I’ll start to hear more stuff. I might say something like, ‘Shit, maybe Griffin’s right.’ And then when we reconvene, we can maybe try doing the song again.”

It’s in that extended process that the two attempted to negotiate their respective ideas and energies. (Even as they both study under the same music teacher, Charge Michael, who runs the Desert Ridge Music Academy.)

“[Michael] suggested Tool,” Erickson says. “And then I got a little too into each member following each other exactly.”

He adds, “And that shows on something like ‘Cacophony Pills’ I tried to be as efficient as possible and not add anything else. But also hit every important note, which is every note.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s found himself obsessed with the same group for some time now.

“I’ve been listening to Death Grips for a minute,” he says. “They’re what I’ll mention when I talk about what I want things to sound like in the recordings.”

If it sounds like a dichotomous prospect, it is and that’s mostly the point.

“We definitely fill in each other’s cracks, if that makes sense,” Erickson says. “We’re like complimentary colors, but we’re on the exact other side of the spectrum.”

But, as Brown mentions, what ultimately helps the process is that despite different lives and ideas and the like, RFNP is fully aligned under one core mission statement.

“I think we approach our recorded tracks by just trying to make the best songs possible,” he says. “I remember we had this vision of, ‘We want just some gnarly sounds.’ They [album tracks] sound heavy, but not, like, orchestral. There’s just a lot going on in the underlying songs.”

It’s often about distilling it down into a language that they can fully understand together.

“When we make songs, we come up with, like, four cool parts or cool ideas,” Erickson says. “And then we just try to connect them. Your ego has to vanish if you’re going to work with someone else.”

And while it’s a wholly uneven process, and one that’s taken time to fully take shape, there’s no denying the results. The nine tracks that comprise Edibiles and Pneumonia are a marked step forward for the band. Whether it’s the snarling otherworldly hardcore jam of “Drop D,” the ’90s-inspired post-rock of “Fever,” or the metal-tinged assault in “Cacophony Pills,” the band’s matured without leaving behind those jagged imperfections and burning passion.

It’s a record that shows maturity doesn’t mean being any less daring or expressive, and it embraces the weird tension of growth as a kind of existential celebration.

Adds Erickson, “I think as we continue to grow, we make different songs, but we still have the same roots.”

Plus, the project features some utterly bonkers subject matter.

“The song ‘Space Bronto’ is about the Bronterians and Omnikriks,” Erickson says. “I think the Omnikriks invaded the Bronterians.” Brown quickly chimes in by adding, “They’re giving this, like, Mussolini speech or pre-war hymn.” To which Erickson replies, “I think it shows a layer of our personality as a band.”

With the record’s release looming, this is likely the end of the pair’s reflection and contemplations.

“We’re definitely paving more of our sound out,” Brown says. “Like, showing people this is what we’re going for at least for this record. I’m sure we’ll look back for, like, a day. But then we realize we have stuff that we still need to do and to show people.”

Because the past is ultimately just a distraction. For RFNP, the future is the only thing with value, and they’re constantly trying to see how far they can push themselves and their sound. It might not always be the most thoughtful way to live, but it seems to suite this young and extra hungry band.

“I’m just excited to keep going and to see what else we can make,” Brown says. And Erickson’s right there, adding, “But it never feels like we’ve accomplished enough. That’s what keeps us going.”

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