By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
The Rockford area hard rock band Ript first made their debut in 1986 and quickly rose to the top of the city’s live music food chain with original songs like “This is your brain on Rock-n-Roll”, “She loves it loud” and others. Their high energy, no nonsense live act unequivocally left no doubt that they were playing for keeps, and then some. By the end of the decade the band had earned a reputation for fast living, fast playing and the uncanny ability to attract trouble both on and off the stage. They would go on to release their self titled album RIPT in 1991 followed by more line up changes and an extensive tour.
Sadly by 1993 grunge rock had crashed the party and The times, they were a changin’. Like it or not the boys ultimately had to say goodbye as the record companies were looking for doom and gloom and the days of good time, in your face rock ‘n’ roll had all of a sudden taken a backseat to Eddie Vedder soundalikes.
Throughout the last 20 years the band has gotten back together for several reunion shows and every time they are greeted by a packed house with die hard “Ripsters” yelling out their favorite songs in hopes they will be played.
On February 4, 2017, Ript will be reuniting for a 30th anniversary show at Whiskey’s Roadhouse, 3207 North Main Street. It’s a show you do not want to miss.
We caught up with guitarist and founding member Mike “Ringo” Nelson to share his thoughts on the bands history.
Rockford Rocked Interview: You guys are getting together in February to celebrate Ript’s 30th anniversary. Is it difficult getting all the guys together in the same room these days? Are you all still in the area?
Mike Nelson: Yeah, it can be a bit difficult, especially with me living in south Alabama and Utley (bass) living in Florida. When we decide to do a show everyone does what it takes to make it happen. We still love doing it and always look forward to getting together. I guess you can say Ript is in our blood and always will be.
RRI: Does it surprise you after all these years that so many people still remember the band?
MN: Yes, it is surprising. But looking back, Ript and its fans have always been like family to each other and families stay together through thick, thin and time. It’s good to know we made at least some kind of mark, be it good and maybe sometimes not so good (laughs).
RRI: Do you plan on having any former Ript members come up and play this time around?
MN: To be honest that hasn’t been discussed yet. You’ll just have to show up and find out.
RRI: I was recently asked where to find Ript music. Will there be any Ript merchandise available at the show?
MN: We were pulled from iTunes and Amazon after a dispute with our company and distributor (obviously royalty checks were the issue). Hopefully that will be worked out soon. Our songs and CD have been found from Sweden to Thailand. You just have to search the internet but you can find it. As far as the show goes our longtime manager, Chuck Stout, is putting all that together. There will be T-shirts, CDs, etc.
RRI: How much time do you guys usually have to rehearse the old songs before hitting the stage?
MN: We get together just one night, maybe two, before a show. Most of that time is spent drinking and a little is spent jamming (laughs). We have played so many of these songs so many times it’s second nature. The songs are such a part of us you just never forget them. For this show we asked (on the Ript Facebook page) what people would like to hear from some more obscure back catalog of songs. We have chosen some of the songs people picked to play at this show. We will have to spend some time bringing those songs back to life.
RRI: Is there anything that you would like to say to the fans in closing?
MN: This is really going to be a big show! Huguenin will be kicking the night off followed by Prowler then Ript. We can’t wait to see all the Ripsters tearing it up again. I promise it will be a loud, fast, kick ass night of rock and roll and I’m sure a wee bit of mayhem! Some things will never change.
Photo credit: Tom Leu