Photos by Jeff Fasano
Interview by Scott Preston
Ludlow Garage, 342 Ludlow Ave, Cincinnati, OH
7pm doors, 8:30pm show, Buy Tickets
Founded in 1981 in Jamestown, NY, 10,000 Maniacs is one of the most enduring bands from the early “alternative rock” movement having released close to 20 albums, including 2015’s Twice Told Tales and 2016’s Playing Favorites, while consistently touring the U.S. and abroad. All told the band has sold over 10 million albums, with 8 Billboard Hot 100 singles, and has made countless appearances on national TV, including Saturday Night Live, The Late Show With David Letterman, and more.
While 2017 marked the 30 year anniversary of the release of 10,000 Maniacs’ critically acclaimed, break-out album, In My Tribe, which Rolling Stone Magazine included in their “100 Best Albums Of The Eighties”, 2018 marked 3 significant anniversaries for the band. It was 26 years ago in 1993 that Mary Ramsey began her tenure as lead singer for the band. It was in that same year that 10,000 Maniacs made their iconic performance on MTV’s “Unplugged”; the released recording would go on to sell millions of copies. 2018 marked the 35th anniversary of the release of their first full-length recording, Secrets of the I Ching, which caught the attention of BBC radio legend John Peel, who brought the band to the attention of millions of listeners worldwide. 2019 marks the 30 year anniversary of the release of Blind Man Zoo. (from press release)
Cincy Groove: We are winding down to the end of the year, have there been any highlights for you and the band?
Mary Ramsey: Going to Hawaii was our big highlight, it was beautiful there. We went this past September and played at a place called the Blue Note. We played four shows there on the island of Oahu. I also visited the island of Kauai.
Cincy Groove: Has the band been working on any new material?
Mary Ramsey: Yes we are, its just a matter of getting the time to record the music. Some songs are done, some are still in development. After the 1st of the year we will start working more diligently. Because of the holidays we are taking a short break to spend time with friends and family. Its also a good time for writing, especially if you live in a snowy area like we do.
Cincy Groove: Do you get much writing done on the road?
Mary Ramsey: There will be song ideas that come about. But so much about being on the road is about getting from here to there, getting the soundcheck done, finding something to eat, performing, trying to get to bed at a reasonable time and then getting up early and doing it all over again. I do takes notes about people and things I have found interesting.
Cincy Groove: 10,000 Maniacs was formed in 1981, How do you think the band has been able to stay together for so long?
Mary Ramsey: One of the key factors seems to be that there is still a common interest in keeping it going. Another thing is that we all live relatively close together which in our case helps. Steve, Dennis and Jeff live the Jamestown area and then John, Jerry and I live in Buffalo. It makes it easy to rehearse. We all still love to make music and there is still enough variety in it to keep us interested. For the most part its fun to be on the road.
Cincy Groove: What do the band members do when they are at home? any other occupations?
Mary Ramsey: Yes, I teach music, Jeff has a t-shirt company, Steve was running a local theater company, Dennis works with a radio station. Its best to keep yourself busy. When I teach my students, it also helps to keep my playing fresh.
Cincy Groove: Are you involved in any side projects or collaborations outside of 10,000 Maniacs?
Mary Ramsey: Yesterday I did a show with the Irish Classical Theatre Company that my friend Vincent O’Neill started here in Buffalo. Vincent and I also just finished a cd of music and poetry and of William Butler Yeats. Joe Hassett who is also a Yeats expert, gives a commentary before each poem to give the historical background of each piece.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about how the music industry has changed since you started with the band?
Mary Ramsey: Its really a matter of just accepting it and finding your own way to navigate through it. There is still so much for me to learn, I mean I still have bunny ears on my tv. I really like having something that is simple, not complicated. There are so many choices out there now, it can be overwhelming. But at the same time the whole world has opened up for me. Its really easy to discover new music and bands. I love searching on Youtube for a particular band and it will include other bands in the search results I didn’t know about.