Q&A: Rick Buhr of the band Rare Monk

This is the first Q & A on natflad.com and I am so excited it is with the dope drummer from Portland’s psychedelic indie rock band Rare Monk. These talented fellows have been together since college and continue to evolve and rock on. I met Rick during a trip to Portland a few years ago when their tunes captured my interest and I have been following the crew ever since. Check out their website for music videos and tour dates!

At once of Rare Monk’s concerts with Rick and my friend Sarah!

So nice of you to do a Q & A for me. I hope that your fans will like this as much as I do!

Q. When did Rare Monk form?

A. 2008-ish? A couple of the guys had been jamming together since high school and then we all met up at University of Oregon. So many house parties! For those interested in a glimpse of that insanity, search “Lorax CASL Promo” in YouTube and go to the 5 minute mark.

Q. How did the name Rare Monk come to being?

A. The name came from our friend’s drunken misquote of a scene in “Zoolander”. I would give more details, but it really wouldn’t make any more sense.

Q. What are your musical inspirations?

A. Growing up, pretty much anything loud. A lot of At The Drive In, Brand New, Trail Of Dead and a ton of bands I’m too embarrassed to admit to here. In college I was all about the drumming of Stanton Moore (Galactic) and Dave King (The Bad Plus). Nowadays, pretty much any new music I can get my hands on.

Q. At this moment, do you have a favorite song?

A. Currently have Royal Canoe’s “I Am Collapsing So Slowly” on obsessive repeat. Also, “Robot Stop” by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

Q. What song of Rare Monk’s do you feel most connect to and why?

A. Probably ‘Splice’. I vaguely remember that song just falling into place so naturally when we were writing it. I also think it marked a new level of songwriting for us as a band, like we were finally figuring out our sound in a way. (Watch Splice here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O66H08eIF_I)

Q. How did you establish your fan base?

A. Lots of touring. Loooooooots of touring.

Q. What was your most memorable performance?

A. In college, we played a show that literally almost brought the house down. We were playing in our buddy’s living room and as the set went on, the floor was moving so much the crowd looked like they were bouncing on a trampoline. After the set someone went into the basement and found out that the floor was basically about to collapse. I’m pretty sure the house was condemned a couple weeks later. Almost so many seriously injured hippies…

Q. Why drums?

A. They’re insanely fun to play; it’s like being able to dance while sitting down. In retrospect, if someone had told me I was going to spend the better part of my 20’s lugging drum gear all over the country, I probably would have chosen differently.

Q. What is the toughest thing about touring and being a musician in general?

A. Waaaaaay too many to list off, so I’ll just say it’s all totally worth it.

Q. How does Rare Monk collaborate to create their songs?

A. Usually someone comes in with a rough idea or even just a riff, and we start jamming on it and trying things out. Once we have a general structure for a song, Dorian (singer and lyrist of the band) will write lyrics for it and we start fine-tuning. Since people rarely come in with all the parts written for a song, everyone usually gets to put their individual stamp on every song. 

Q. What is your favorite drink to imbibe?

A. Probably a good Old Fashioned. Or a cheap beer. Alcohol in general.

Q. How is Portland related to your music?

A. I think the Northwestern environment has played a large part in the atmospheric and sometimes dreary undertones in a lot of our songs. Songs to be cooped

Q. What is your favorite movie?

A. “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is definitely up there on my list. It’s like visual/auditory comfort food.

Q. What is your favorite book?

A. Probably “Imagined Cities” by Italo Calvino. It’s often been my go-to read for touring and recording sessions.

Q. I recently listened to your first album, Astral Travel Battles. I love the song Teak. What is it about?

A. Teak is basically the personification of human beings shitting on the environment and the consequences of pissing Nature off.

Q. What was the greatest reaction to your music?

A. Pretty much any love given to us on the road. It’s always awesome getting support locally too, but a few kind words after you’ve been driving and eating gas station snacks all day definitely goes a long way. Always very humbling when someone digs your music thousands of miles away.

Q. Do you have a new album in the works?

A. We’re currently have a new full-length in the works which we are extremely excited about. Have about 6 songs tracked and working on some brand new ones to add to the mix. Some of our best work to date in my humble and extremely biased opinion.

Q. Rare Monk’s album art is very intriguing. How did you find the artist and how do you feel it relates to your music?

A. We met Chris Bigalke while booking shows in the early days, he worked for a couple of venues in town. We saw some of his stuff online and asked if he could do our album cover, and we’ve been working with him ever since. Super talented guy; we usually just send him the new music and he always cooks up something awesome. I personally have a couple of his other pieces up in my house. Showdeer.com, check his stuff out and support local artists making rad shit!

Q. Anything else you would like to mention to your fans?

A. New music is coming very slowly but very surely! Also, listen to the new Warpaint album.

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