by Tatiana Ryckman
Frontier Ruckus would hate for you to get the wrong impression because of its rural, meandering sound. Frontman Matthew Milia doesn't feel that a banjo and a singing saw means rolling hills and whiskey.
"There're many misconceptions." Milia says. "It's no reviewer's fault. It's natural to be confused by the many contradictions that make Frontier Ruckus
what it is, in a lovely kind of way." The band started with Milia on guitar and Dave Jones on banjo. "With that instrumentation comes a slew of connotations … that [we're] obsessed with an anachronistic version of the past."
But Frontier Ruckus draws inspiration from a much more modern backdrop.
"Modern in a sense of my lifetime, like '90s, ford Aerostars — not Oregon Trail wagon trains." Milia says of his hometown in Michigan, "I am obsessed with Detroit in its current condition, and it's endlessly inspiring to me in terms of writing material."
His imagery comes from his suburban neighborhood and childhood nostalgia. One need look no farther than songs with names like "One-story-carport-houses" to see the lilac-lined streets and whitewash that fill FR's landscape. You can take "Dark Autumn Hour" for an example of sleepy town lyrics and a glimpse of a melodica and singing saw in their finest hour.
Finally able to quit their day jobs, Milia says not to think of his life as the free artist as too romantic.
"Once you do take this on as a full-time job a whole other side of frustrations and insecurities [come on]. It's not all fun and games, but in the end I couldn't be more grateful. It's my dream, but certain minutes of the day are nightmarish."
Looking forward, Milia says, "Good things are happening behind the scenes. New music is what I'm most excited for."
For those of you who will get to see Frontier Ruckus in your own town, you can get as excited about new songs as the band is. After zigzagging across the country the band plans to turn the new material into a new album, so those of us who wont be able to catch the show on the road can listen from the soft comfort of our living rooms.
"It's a continuation of the same project, I don't want it to be a departure — it's never going to be a departure," he says. Instead, it's just "differing levels of zoom. Either close in or broad."
It sounds like we can all look forward to a focused album this time, and studying the intricacies of his Northern landscape through the band's quieting melodies and nostalgic lyrics.
About the tour and their stop in Nebraska, Milia says, "We're excited to return to Omaha … we've always had good shows there. I wish that we'd played more there in the past."
(Hear more of the interview with Milia here.)
Frontier Ruckus at Slowdown Jr. Tuesday, April 5 with Midwest Dilemma and Kyle Harvey. The 9 p.m. show costs $7.
Tatiana Ryckman is in a long-distance relationship with Nebraska. Although writing from Austin, Texas, she is keeping an eye out for all things the good life. This week she's planting strawberries, collecting other people's trash, and pretending to finish a thesis. Leave glowing praise here, and send all other comments to Tatiana.Ryckman@gmail.com.