After the release of their cult favourite debut album and now their second full length release, I sat down and talked with Sam James, guitarist of Bristol’s own Ramona Flowers about their synth fuelled second album, Part Time Spies.
There’s a big variety of themes going on in the new album. What should someone who hasn’t listened to you before expect?
The big thing that the album centralises on is the new wave of internet revolution and the way in which we live our lives where we’re all connected, and how that affects everyone. But there are a variety of themes there as well.
There’s a big theme of social media obsession and the problems in our society related to that. Do you think bands interacting with social media is a good or a bad thing?
I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad thing. We’re all connected now. As a band, we can go and tour in all different territories around the world; everyone’s talking to each other and you can build up a really great network of fans, and there’s loads of advantages to being able to reach out immediately to a global fan base. You could never do that before, you would have to go and visit every single territory, so as touring musicians it’s great. But for our generation who knew what it was like before the internet and know what it’s like now, we know it’s never going to be the same ever again. So we’re the only generation who’s going to have seen both sides. It’s an interesting theme and it’ll be interesting to see what the future will hold. Its exciting but it’s also sort of terrifying… we don’t really know where it’s going to go. It just seemed like the right thing to be talking about.
To talk about the sound of the album for a minute: you’ve said you want to evoke the feeling of a great 80’s film. What exactly did you mean by that?
A lot of us grew up watching brilliant 80s movies. Top Gun, Breakfast Club… just absolute classics. Some of the beautiful leading sounds you can get with analogue synths, we just got really into. It sort of sucks you in. It’s emotive and we just wanted to get into it.
The album blends nicely together as one, almost as if it could go without breaks. Was this deliberate?
With our first album, a lot of people said it was a little too eclectic, and it kind of was. We’d written it over a stretch of time as you do with your first album. It was quite disjointed at times, and we wanted to make sure that this one felt like one album. They were written kind of together and so they sit well together, and we wanted to use similar sounds and similar synths across all the songs to make sure they were cohesive and they worked together as an album.
You explore a lot of contemporary themes while also going for an 80s vibe. Would you say overall you’re more of a modern band or more of a traditional rock ‘n’ roll band?
When we first formed the band we were very traditional: there wasn’t a lot of electrical sounds going on. We’ve always been a live band so when we go out, we go and play as much as we possibly can, so we’re all playing guitars and basses and stuff. But it’s also taking influence from all the things that we loved from music and film when we were growing up, so I hope it’s more of a modern take on it. I don’t see us as being a retro band at all. We’re a modern band that’s influenced by certain sounds and equipment from those periods. When you see the band live, you can see them actually performing with the energy and the power, and you get the luscious sound you expect from that gear and the 80s.
What’s next for The Ramona Flowers?
We’re going to finish this tour with the White Lies, which takes us up to December. Then we’re working on a new track which we’re hoping to release in March next year. We want to go back out to America after a really successful run back in September, we’re going out to Japan and then we hope we can come back to the UK and do a load of festivals followed by our own tour at the end of next year.