The Promise Ring's Dan Didier: "Never say never" about recording new material

Categories: Interview
Promise_Ring_Chrissy_Piper.jpg
Photo by Chrissy Piper

The Promise Ring are largely considered standard-bearers for the 1990s "emo" movement, if you want to call it that. But listening to their albums alone -- to say nothing of the other bands lumped in under that title -- mostly unravels what that word might actually mean within the scope of creating music. It was a label used more blatantly than most in an attempt to move units off the shelves and hardly means anything today.

The guys moved on to other things after quietly breaking up just after the release of 2002's still sometimes misunderstood Wood/Water, but played a single show at the Metro in Chicago in 2005. Then, as quietly as they had left, they reappeared and began playing a series of one-off shows around the country. TPR's drummer Dan Didier spoke to Gimme Noise about whether they left a legacy, how this is different from other bands' reunions, and still seems a little conflicted about which album was his favorite to record.


So, how are the shows going?

The shows are going great. We've done these one-off or two-off shows on weekends or whatever. We fly in, play, fly out. It's all been low pressure and really fun.

Any plans to record?

No. I don't think we'll record anything again. [pause] Well, never say never, I guess, but as of now it's unlikely.

This seems different, less like a money-grab and more sincere. Care to comment?

Well, we got back together for Flower 15 [Festival in Chicago] in '05 and we enjoyed it. Our problems had passed; it was water under the bridge. We kept saying "There's interest, we should do it [get back together] when we can be on the same page -- not policed by anything." So yeah, it's different, the weekend shows, one-offs.

How is the band different?

It's weird, almost like we're not even a band, like we're playing someone else's songs -- just, like, a bunch of dudes playing songs, you know? It's more enjoyable this time, for sure. There's no pressure and you just get to hang out with the guys like you used to.

Is Wood/Water The Promise Ring's Paul's Boutique? Not in a sonic sense, but in terms of public reception from then to now.

[Laughs.] Maybe? But there will never be our Check Your Head, there will never be a rebirth. It does age like fine wine, but at the time, yeah, people were like "What is this?" But now at Maritime [Didier's current band which also features TPR's Davey von Bohlen] shows people always want to talk to us about that record and tell us it's their favorite one. But our Check Your Head isn't coming. In 2013 this will be done.


Is there a legacy to the Promise Ring?

Does it apply? We took it as far as we could take it but there were bigger bands doing bigger things. We probably would have sold more records if we had one. I don't know if we do.

What was your favorite album to record and why?

Nothing Feels Good. We went through a lot of recording "firsts" on that record. Recording with J. Robbins for the first time was great. It was the worst in a sense, too, because I was not getting along with our bass player [Scott Beschta] at all and there was a lot of tension, but we just put into the record. I mean, recording with [legendary British producer] Stephen Street for Wood/Water was amazing but Nothing Feels Good had an air of excitement around it that the others didn't. With Wood/Water we were on this farm in the English countryside and it was a great experience but with Nothing Feels Good we were in Memphis and we were young and a lot of things were happening but we had this emotional distance and it ended up with sort of this dual-reaction thing on the record.

The Promise Ring. With Mark Mallman and Grant Hart. 18+, $25-$40, 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 27 at Varsity Theater, Minneapolis. Click here.



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