Power of Pop is always on the lookout for new music that stays faithful to the 60s/70s template for melodic pop-rock or rock ‘n’ roll or power pop. Ransom and the Subset – one fine example of this – is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist RanDair Porter. It’s latest album, No Time to Lose, was released in September 2014 but it’s always better late than never when it comes to great music. For Pop Underground fans, this is really a no-brainer – from the opening Jellyfish-referencing power chords of the infectious “Anna”, it’s clear that Ransom and the Subset has got what it takes to hypnotise like-minded fans of The Cars and Weezer. In particular, the single “Million Out of Me” is an effective ear-worm that will have melody junkies hitting repeat. Read what RanDair has to say about the band and the music.
How did the band get together?
I had a cover band together for the last few years – The band was called “Subset”, because the members were a subset of a band I had in High School. The bass player lived in San Diego and me and the drummer up in Seattle. I had become interested in recording some of my originals but, for whatever reason the project wasn’t something the of the other members were able to participate in. I called the project “Ransom and the Subset” – I did this because I wasn’t sure who would be singing on the project and I did not want to name the band after a single individual. There is no one named “Ransom” in the band.
Why the focus on 90s power pop?
There was not intentional effort to target a decade with the songs on the album. I imagined the song “Leaving with you” being a bit more rocking and energy with perhaps a 90’s feel like Feeder or Bob Mould. The goal of the album was to avoid any of the overdone cliché powerpop structures and just record great pop rock songs. While there are touches of various references to classic pop rock, me and the production team tried real hard to avoid making an album that that was trying to be like Big Star, or Beatles, or retro this or that. It’s interesting to hear people speculate the influences on certain songs. In many occasions comparing it to stuff I wasn’t even aware of. In a few instances they get it right.
How did you manage to work with Jody Porter (Fountains of Wayne) and Mike Musberger (ex-Posies)?
With Jody – He was finishing his album “Month of Mondays” . He was nearing the dead line for his Kick Starter campaign and had not reach the target amount (He eventually exceeded it). I decided to participate in funding that album, and through that process ended up sending some demo to him. From that we became friends and we decided to spend a day in the studio in New York with him playing some bass and guitar, and his studio guys doing some drums and production on the song “Sticking onto you”. We talked about doing more on the record but neither our schedules made it possible. I’d send him the other tracks as they were completed to get his feedback.
Mike got on the album because in the interest of time and schedule I decided to record “Leaving with you” in Seattle at Joe Renke’s studio Orbit Audio. Joe was in a pretty cool band called alien Crime Syndicate in the late 90’s. Joe uses Mike regularly for session work at his studio. Mike thunderous drumming style was perfect for that song.
What is it about power pop that inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by great pop songs. I love great melodies, big choruses and witty (but not too cheesy) lyrics.
Who are your biggest influences?
I’ve never really been one to pick individuals or groups as inspiration, there are just too many to name. Generally, I have always been inspired by people that make well-crafted pop songs. There have been many. I have been impressed by artist that fill albums with one great song after the other without making the songs sound the same.
What are your future plans for the music?
We’re preparing now to play live. We will do that for a bit then get back in the studio and record another Ransom and the Subset record.
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