THE RANCH: EUROPE CALLING!
Their debut album Cuckoo Island was by far one of the most enticing works to come out of the Maltese music scene in recent years. Their love of penguins has (indirectly at least) made the news, and they have a penchant for churning out engaging tunes that simply refuse to be categorized (even if at its core, their music has more than a hint of jazz). They are The Ranch, and MikeBugeja.com spoke to Benji Cachia, their only remaining original member for an update on what the band has been up to and what lies ahead.
Despite not being around for too long, you made a huge impact on the local scene. How did The Ranch draw such a loyal following so quickly?
Well, it may have been a few things. To begin with, the original line-up, namely Kyle (Drakard), Dean (Montanaro) and myself had already been active on the scene with other projects, so people already had an inkling that the three of us together might come up with something unusual and were curious to hear it. Then there’s also the fact that our music is primarily targeted at people who genuinely love music, not your ordinary mainstream music fan. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but this is The Ranch, and we’re about keeping it interesting, fun and real. We love to stay in touch with our ‘fans’, as we consider them to be a part of the band too. People who like The Ranch know what we stand for…and one more thing… we are also ‘super-active’, in that we meet at least 5 times a week, even if it’s not to rehearse but simply to discuss our gigs and plans. To us playing is fun, whether it’s a little jam or a huge event, and I guess that aspect connected with people. We really make it a point to send out great energy to our ‘penguins’ and as we want them to go home feeling a hundred times better than when they came in!
Cuckoo Island was an eclectic, energetic body of work – did you expect it to be so positively received given its eclectic musical spectrum?
Actually, no - I didn’t think we would make such an impact, but I must add that the album is still a long way from where we’re heading. As I said earlier, we target people who love good music, who appreciate the creativity and technique, and this is not linked to any specific style, because in the end, good music is good music, no matter what.
How have the recent line-up changes affected your music? Is it a case of that was then, this is now – a new chapter, or will the same ideology that drove The Ranch before remain intact?
For sure, The Ranch is hell-bent on moving forward. The concept behind the band will of course remain the same, but The Ranch is not just about its band members. While they are of course important, the band is the product of all who are and have been involved in The Ranch. All the people who have given us support and feedback, all those who have influenced us, all the ‘penguins’ – all of this makes The Ranch all that it is! Naturally, there will be new flavours in our music, and we’re super excited to explore them. The present line-up is on fire, as they say, and we’re working really hard as there’s a lot we want to do. People who join The Ranch aren’t just people who are amazing musicians – yes, that’s an important quality - but the important thing is that we all connect and work on the same wavelength. Personally, I think a good band is much more than the music it creates! On that note I just want to say that working with Dean and Kyle was super fun. They are great guys and musicians and I wish them the best for their future.
I imagine you’ve been working on new material with the present line-up…
Well, the most recent member, Patryk Cutajar, has only just joined the band, so we’ve been focusing on a lot of other stuff first, especially because we have a lot of things coming up this year We have started writing new material, and there are a few tracks taking shape, but since our focus is elsewhere, we’re not pushing too much that way. What might be new and worth looking out for on our upcoming material is possibly lyrical stuff, rhythmical structures - The Ranch's playground ... I’m definitely looking forward to that!
What’s next for The Ranch?
We've been filming a live studio session, which footage will be used to produce a video, and that has been a lot of fun to do, of course. Then we’re going to be touring Europe throughout October and November for around four weeks, during which we’ll be playing 15 shows in the Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland and the UK. We’re trying to fit in more, details of which we’ll be putting on our Facebook page. After that, we’ll be focusing on writing the new album and hopefully release it sometime next year. Meanwhile, we've had some cool The Ranch t-shirts made, in case you want to get one and show the love!
The Ranch will be performing live with Ferret at The Funky Monkey on Saturday, September 17, and on Friday, September 23 at The Bubble Festival.