Kane Ritchotte and Malcolm McRae are two music savants based in L.A. that recently combined their talents to form a new band called more*. Against a backdrop of rock and roll, the duo flexes their ability to write clever and thought-provoking songs over a two-part EP aptly titled 1/2. I can’t understate: it is a powerful album. The first half will be released on July 17th (stream below), and the second part is slated for October with Warner Records. We caught up with the indie rockers currently quarantined in L.A. by phone.
Mark Benjamin: Hi Malcolm and Kane, I just finished the first half of your new two-part EP titled ½. This is a great first EP. I’m sure it’s been a long time coming. When did you start writing this album?
Malcolm: The writing process span over three or so years. Kane and I were doing solo projects individually and had a few songs we had written and recorded separately. We met up and decided it was fun to write and bring our songs together. So we finished ten songs over about three years.
MB: Why two EPs?
M: It was suggested that we release music this way as a new band. We do still consider it one album. But nowadays, it’s more palatable for people to get to know you over a few doses of releasing music.
MB: Yeah, it’s not like pop music where you release a single and then another single, and another, and by the time the album comes out everyone’s heard it all.
M: We’re still figuring it out. We’ll find out.
MB: Malcolm is from Alabama. Kane is from L.A. How did you guys meet and decide to make a band together?
M: We met through a mutual friend at a bar in this area called Beachwood Canyon. It’s a better-preserved part of L.A. In fact, my mom used to live there when she moved out here and she says it’s precisely the same, culturally, too. It’s a type of bar where you can go and run into a bunch of your buddies there or meet new people. It’s our second favorite spot.
More, more, more!
MB: Where did the band name more* – no cap – come from?
Kane: We tried compiling a long list of what I can now recognize as the world’s worst band names of all time.
MB: So it was a process of thinking about what you wanted to call yourself?
K: Yeah. We were thinking, well, we’re going to be done with this album soon so we need the band to have a name. It’s hard these days because a lot of names are already taken. You’re a google search away from realizing a name isn’t an option.
I saw my girlfriend, who is an actor, sending an email to someone with a movie poster reference. I was looking at this email, and one of the movie posters was called ‘more.’ It had a similar font and was all lowercase, and so I showed it to Malcolm, and we thought it would be a cool band name.
M: You know it’s egotistical to announce yourself as more* but the lowercase set that’s off.
MB: More and more and more!
M: Or no more. We set ourselves up… all the headlines of the reviews will be like, ‘Please, no more.’
MB: Haha. I don’t think so.
MB: You guys have this great song called “God’s in the Details.” There are a few music videos for it, but I love the one on the cell phone. I guess it’s a relationship coming together and then falling apart dramatically?
M: It is. Our good friend, Riley Keough, and her partner, Gina, write and produce together – they do several artistic ventures. They came up with this idea in quarantine, and we just followed along with them. The entire concept and execution were all of them. They did absolutely everything. They showed up, did a couple of bits, and told us what to do. We love that video. It’s cool.
MB: I love the ending where she’s crying; her makeup is all smeared.
M: Riley is a phenomenal actress. A great talent. We love her very much.
MB: That song is pretty dense, too, in terms of lyrics. What was the inspiration for this song?
M: Kane’s life has been about music from age three, so it’s a rumination on his idol, which is music. There are all these little hidden references to his influences in there. There’s John Lennon and Bob Dylan; there’s Crowded House. The title reflects exactly what’s happening.
MB: Are you guys religious, or is that a metaphorical God?
M: I grew up religious. I think both of us have an undefined religion. I’m not an atheist. I’m pretty agnostic.
Have you heard that Mel Brooks and Carl Ryner are comedic bits? The 2000-year-old man? Mel Brooks acts like he’s a 2000 old man getting interviewed and has this New York accent. It’s hilarious. He’s asked, ‘what are your thoughts on God?’ And Mel Brooks responds by saying, ‘One day I was outside, and a lightning bold struck Robert, and we thought, ‘Oh, there’s something bigger than Robert.’
MB: I also want to ask you about “Elaborate Attractions.” It’s a great song, and the music video is trippy.
The lyrics, too…
I got messages you sent me
Back when you were educating
Eight-pound hammer, hedge fund boys
With Alabama-Ivy toys
I don’t think I’ve heard hedge fund in a song…
M: My dad was an investment banker. He passed away when I was eighteen, but that song revolves around and is based on some of his life. He studied classics at an Ivy League school, so the reference to Joseph Campbell that’s what we took the video from. We wanted it to be an antihero’s journey. For all 17 points of Campbell’s hero journey… we wanted to make them super menial tasks with an incredibly small reward for each task. It symbolizes what the song is about, which is nature versus nurture.
MB: It has that L.A. gloom feel to it, too. Like that chewing-the-fat feeling to it.
You mention some of your references as Jeff Lynne, Tame Impala, and Kendrick Lamar, which I thought was an interesting, if not bizarre, trio.
K: We grew up on many sixties and seventies pop and rock. It’s ingrained in our sensibilities. I feel like what happened, what is more often the case with people who are raised on the music of a different era, is you kind of it becomes difficult for them to identify with contemporary music.
We feel like there’s a ton of contemporary music that not only we identify with but also inspires us. I think that our influences ended up being all over the map. I think the conversations we have most about what people are doing within the context of our times, what technology they’re utilizing, and how they’re recording themselves.
Living in the moment
MB: You have to live in the contemporary moment, right?
M: You have to be a well-rounded artist, too. I feel a lot of time, musicians become very hard and niche and end up pigeonholing themselves due to the lack of influence outside their zone.
MB: There’s a lot to say about playing your instruments. I was watching an interview with Prince not too long ago. He said, ‘ah, the sampling has got to stop, you know, pretty soon they’re going to be sampling the sample.’
I think we’re living in that now.
M: Yeah. It’s funny how I feel. I’m always nervous whenever I have some rejection of a contemporary kind of method or trend. I always worry that I will take out myself as a dinosaur or a purist. I try to avoid it.
MB: Did you guys get to do any live shows with your new music before COVID?
K: We planned to play live and tour as much as possible this year. We squeezed out a couple of shows before we all got locked away and sent to our rooms. But, yeah, we ended way too soon. And we were just getting into it. We managed to get a couple of small shows out before quarantine.
I don’t know what it’ll look like when live shows come back. I don’t know what, when, or how people will come back to doing concerts. I’m curious about it. I’m worried about it, too. But I’m also very excited to hear the recorded work that people will be doing in the coming months as a response to the world and music and everything going on socially and politically right now. I’m hoping it will breed a lot of new, great music that is less superficial than the standard we brought into this mess.
MB: Are you guys working on music during quarantine?
K: For sure. We’re demoing two songs. We’re trying to find a vibe for a demo, which is challenging to pair down all those elements, but I think we have the most fun with writing.
MB: It’s an introspective time, and I think many people are getting things down that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
M: Yeah. And also, I’m grateful for the outlet, and you don’t need many resources to write music, you know? If we didn’t have that in this quarantine, I would be morbidly depressed and unfulfilled. I mean, I don’t know how anybody’s survived. I don’t know how not everybody is writing an album right now.
MB: Well, but you guys have the sun in L.A. You have great weather all the time.
M: Yeah. But it can be a pain in the ass. You know how hot New York gets. It’s like that forever. In L.A., it’s like a perpetual dead heat. It can stall your work ethic sometimes.
The first installment of 1/2 is out now with Warner records. Stream below.