Frontier Ruckus returns to Lansing, studio
|By Rich Tupica|
City Pulse checks in with Matthew Milia of Frontier Ruckus on inspiration for the next album
Friday, Dec. 13 — The members of Frontier Ruckus cut their teeth in the Michigan folk-rock scene while attending Michigan State University, though today they spend much of their time on the road or flying overseas playing gigs. The band, formed in 2003 by its 28-year-old chief songwriter Matthew Milia, is in the studio working on a fourth full-length album.
The band headlines an all-ages show tonight at The Loft. Milia checked in with City Pulse to recap 2013, discuss touring and inspiration for the new album.
What has Frontier Ruckus been up to in 2013? Where did you tour?
Can you tell me about your collection of art and “Song Illustrations?”
The record after the one we're working on is already written. So I like to draw or write poetry to experiment with how expression changes within different formats and where that can lead my fancies. I started this art “brand” called Sitcom Universe which is really just my outlet for any art that is primarily visual — whether it be drawing fan art for my favorite episodes of “Cheers” or “Frasier” or 15-foot wide polyptychs adorned by childhood POGs and grotesque depictions of the female form or this new series I'm doing of “Song Illustrations.” The people that buy my art are basically Frontier Ruckus fans firstly, so I like to incorporate that universe as well — it being so chief to my artistic life.
Is the new record underway?
What record have you been listening to the most these days and why do you dig that particular LP so much?
I’ve been obsessed with basically all of the records of Teenage Fanclub for the past few months. Only recently got into them, but I fell hard. They write just such pleasing and incredibly melodic pop songs. And there being three different singers keeps it fresh for longer. I think I prefer the bass player’s tunes though.
How has the band’s sound changed/grown since the “I am the Water you are Pumping” days? Has it?
We were limited to acoustic, folky sounds then, but we also had a certain purity and rawness from being young and a little rough around the edges. As we've developed, we realized what interested us was being as diverse as possible, while still retaining and being faithful to the intrinsic parts of our identity that should remain un-tampered with. That said, we've become more interested in entertaining the environmental influences of polished pop ‘90s radio that we grew up with, yet doing so by mixing it with our love for lo-fi, or our love for the more organic sounds of ‘60s and ‘70s folk rock.
What are the best and worst parts of touring the country and beyond?
Best: checking in with faraway friends on a regular basis, well-balanced partying, cool used-book shops, meeting fans, playing music, regional foods, pretty girls. Worst: losing touch with the intense sense of locality that spurred the songs I’m out singing in the first place.
What is next for Frontier Ruckus?