MusicMakers

Vincent Gallo's Grand Experiment

RRIICCEE, from left, Rebecca Casabian, Eric Erlandson, Vincent Gallo and Nikolas Haas.
RRIICCEE, from left, Rebecca Casabian, Eric Erlandson, Vincent Gallo and Nikolas Haas. (By Vincent Gallo/rriiccee)
By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 7, 2007

What do you get when actor-director-writer-musician Vincent Gallo, best known for his indie films "Buffalo '66" and "The Brown Bunny," teams up with Eric Erlandson, co-founder of and lead guitarist for '90s rock-grunge band Hole?

We don't quite know -- and that's just what Gallo and Erlandson, who call themselves RRIICCEE, are going for.

The band kicked off its tour last week and will stop at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Saturday. So, what's the sound? "It's more a gesture of composing and performing at the same time, always hoping to avoid musical cliche or jamming," Gallo says.

But doesn't that sound a lot like improvisation?

"If I didn't tell you everything was improvised, you would never assume that from listening," Gallo says.

In fact, RRIICCEE seems better at saying what they're not. According to the band's manifesto of sorts, the group has "chosen not to go into a studio in a traditional way like other bands have done in the past: to make recordings, cut them up, dub on them, fine-tune and mix them, and then release them as an album, then later, go on tour, pantomiming those recordings over and over each night as a form of cabaret."

RRIICCEE ("as a brand -- as a chrome badge or stencil -- it's very beautiful and very timeless, seems very esoteric and futuristic," Gallo says of the name) also includes drummer Nikolas Haas and bassist Rebecca Casabian.

Gallo is best known for acting in more than a dozen mostly independent films, and the pair he wrote, directed and starred in. But growing up in Buffalo, music was his motivator: Gallo played bass and sang in garage bands before moving to New York City at 16 and forming the short-lived no-wave band Gray with not-yet-famous visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Besides the soundtracks to his films, he has released several solo albums.

It took a long time for Gallo to hook up musically with Erlandson, though they've known each other since the early '90s, when Erlandson was in Hole, the band he co-founded with singer Courtney Love.

Last year, Gallo, 46, ran into Erlandson in a New York health food store and asked if he was "doing any music." (After Hole broke up in 2002, Erlandson pretty much disappeared.)

Erlandson wasn't, but that soon changed. The duo found that together they were "making work that was better than your technical abilities, immediately moving to things that were more interesting than you in your own capacity, both collectively and individually," Gallo says.

Not that RRIICCEE's members actually practice together, Gallo says, "but we prepare in other ways that will make us more open on stage rather than less open."

Still wondering what the sound will be once they take the stage?

In a moment of weakness, Gallo, calling from New York, says the music may be a little "like jazz but not abstract or avant-garde -- you'll be hearing an interpretation of a growing musical vocabulary. Whatever we play will remind you of things, not things that you've heard necessarily, but it will sound familiar because it's music."

RRIICCEE Appearing Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE. Doors open at 9. $20 at the club or athttp://www.ticketalternative.com.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company