Interview with The Ritzy Kids
Australia's The Ritzy Kids got their start during the pandemic when Sean Frazer, who had been a solo singer-songwriter for over a decade, decided to pick up the electric guitar and play some punk music. After initially recording a few tracks with his longtime producer, the project has evolved into a full-fledged four-piece. Here's a recent interview I had with Sean.
Can you give me a little background on the band and the band members?
Sure! I sing and play rhythm guitar, Andrew Renfrew is the backing vocalist and lead guitarist, Jarrod is on the bass and Scotty on the tubs. We’re all originally from the Central Coast, Scotty and I were in the same year in High School, Jarrod was a few years below us. Andrew is from the northern end of the coast.
You started the project at the end of 2020, which was right in the middle of the pandemic. Was that much of a motivating factor in starting the band. What kind of impact did covid have on things?
The pandemic is the reason for this band really. I feel like the band was born out of boredom. I bought an electric guitar during the first lockdown and started pumping out songs. Then I bought some recording gear. I just sat there for months in lockdown churning out music while trying to figure out how to record it. It was such a fun time and an incredible learning curve.
I listened to some of your solo stuff and really like it, but what I heard is definitely different from what you are doing today in The Ritzy Kids. What motivated the change in direction? Do you think you might ever incorporate some of that sound into The Ritzy Kids or even play any of those solo songs?
Thanks! I still love singing and playing the acoustic guitar. Those songs you’ve heard are still very close to my heart. Before The Ritzy Kids, I was a solo performer for over a decade. I love that singer-songwriter style, but I felt an itch to play punk music again and you can’t beat playing in a band with your best mates.
From what I’ve read it sounds like the four songs on the first EP were recorded without the band being in place. Is that correct or did they play on that as well as the new EP?
The first couple of songs were recorded with my longtime producer Mitch Willard. I sent him a few tracks that I'd written from home and helped shape them.
Do you still do all the songwriting or is it more of a group process now?
It’s mostly me but I’m open to collaboration!
“Wide Awake” on the first EP has a bit of a different vibe than the rest of the EP. It’s slower and a little heavier. Can you tell me a little about that track?
Yeah, ‘Wide Awake’ is more or less about my inability to keep still. The opening line “Waking up tired without sleep” sums that one up pretty well. Spending all night thinking of ideas and in the morning forgetting whether you got any sleep.
You released the song “High” last year and it’s not on either EP. It has a touch of a power pop vibe to me that is different than any of your other songs. Was that why you left it off the new release?
I think that one sits on its own. Although its similar to the other Ritzy Kids songs, sonically it sounds a little different. It's definitely more commercial.
This isn’t a question, but kind of a strange observation on my part. I really like “Hollywood Famous” and while the song doesn’t remind me of The Police, for some reason the blasting guitar and really prominent bass line at a couple points kept reminding me of them. Any thoughts on that observation?
[laughs] Well, I haven’t heard that about the song before. I will take it as a compliment though. The bass line in Hollywood is one of my favourite parts in any TRK song. Jarrod and Scotty create a really cool groove in that song.
“Hey Son” is another great song that has what sounds like some deeply personal lyrics. Can you tell me a little about it?
Yeah, it’s a song about my Dad. We lost him five years ago. At the time I was writing the song, one of my brothers was going through a hard time, we spoke about the regrets and some of the things we didn’t get to do with Dad. I’m not religious at all, but the song is from Dad’s point of view, the things I think he'd like to say to my brother right now and how proud he is of him.
You have quite a few videos out there. How involved are you in the creation of those?
The Ritzy Kids are the most DIY band of all time! [laughs] We’re doing EVERYTHING. I love videography and playing around with cameras and editing, so all of the videos are created by us. We’ve saved a mint!
Speaking of videos, “Dark Blue Sky” is another great track and has such relatable lyrics for so many people. The video for that song addresses it perfectly but in a humorous way. The lyrics for the song “Medicine” have a great storyline for what could be another hilarious video. Do you have any plans for a video for that song?
Funny you should say that. Scotty and I had a brainstorming session at the pub just recently and came up with a concept for the ‘Medicine’ video. We just need to get it into action and hopefully release it soon. It involves a hospital gown and a whole bunch of running.
You recorded a version of “Paradise City” for the Central Coast Mariners soccer team. What can you tell me about that?
Yeah, we were approached by the club just weeks out from the 2022 season. We were asked to do our own rendition of the song. At first it was a little daunting, but we knocked it up quick smart and sent it off. It’s been incredible hearing that people have heard it down at the stadium, but even more so that we got that opportunity in a year where they WON the comp! I’m not saying we’re the Mariners good luck charm… but…
I also heard a really great acoustic version of Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” that you played for a podcast. Do you play any of the band songs acoustically and if so, how has that been?
We actually did that for 107.7 Triple M Central Coast. On Fridays they bring in local artists to play an original song and an 80s cover. I’ve always respected "The Boss" and I’ve always loved that song. That was the only time The Ritzy Kids have played acoustically. But we do have a show coming up at Wamberal Surf Club in December where Andrew and I are going to strip it right back and play an hour acoustic set.
Do you have any other covers up your sleeves?
No not really at this stage.
How is the pop punk scene in Australia?
I think it's much better than it was say 5-6 years ago. The Australian Pop Punk scene really blew up in the late 90s and early noughties. Bands like Frenzal Rhomb, Bodyjar, Grinspoon and even local bands like One Dollar Short, Something With Numbers and Best Kept Secret were all blowing up at the same time. After that explosion I felt it went adrift, but I reckon it's on its way back, bigger than ever. Bands like Luca Bars, Dear Seattle, Sly Withers, Teenage Joans, Stand Atlantic have really put the genre back on the map.
What are your plans now that the new EP is out?
We have an EP release party coming up at the Link and Pin in Woy Woy on Friday, September 22 which we’re pumped for. After that we might go on a tour around the east coast, but nothing is in cement just yet.
You have a podcast called the Street Press Podcast. Can you tell me about that?
Yep. It’s the highlight of my week! The Street Press is how I continue to learn about the music industry and stay connected to the scene. I started my journalism career interviewing bands and going to see gigs - the podcast allows me to continue this while talking to awesome guests each week. I’ve had the chance to speak to some of my heroes too; Frank Turner, Erik from Millencolin, and Darren from Kisschasy which has been a bonus!
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Yeah, if you enjoy punk rock and a good time, come to a Ritzy Kids show! We make sure it's very inclusive and worth leaving the house for, who knows, you may even be called on stage to drink out of a shoe!