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The Ready Stance (Cincinnati)
The Ready Stance’s origins were a “right place, right time” slice of serendipity. Guitarist Wes Pence, member of popular Cincinnati band Middlemarch in the ’90s, hadn’t played music seriously in years outside of jamming with friends, but one day he glanced inside one of the houses on his block in Newport, Ky., and saw guitars and fliers for Rock shows by some of his favorite bands. The home belonged to Chase Johnston, a singer/guitarist who had recently returned to Ohio after years playing in the Athens, Ga., scene. Adding Pence’s former bandmate in Middlemarch, drummer Eric Moreton, and (later) bassist Randy Cheek of Cincy music legends The Ass Ponys and The Libertines, The Ready Stance’s chemistry is evident on their debut release, Damndest, a rootsy, melodic collection of well-crafted Rock tunes that made fans out of some serious music heavyweights — Chris Frantz of Talking Heads and Stan Demeski of The Feelies.
YDIIYD: The Dream Syndicate, Green on Red, early R.E.M. (MB)
“This is great, great rock and roll, told with honesty, energy and skill. ” It’s really friggin’ good”
-Marc Phillips, The Vinyl Anachronist
”Packed with reflective lyrics and subtle, introspective arrangements, this record is a masterful work of honest, gimmicks-free rock & rollfrom the heart of it all.”
-Jennifer Farmer, The Agit Reader
“Damndest, elicits comparisons with the most venerated Americana…unforced and energized like the work of barroom virtuosos”- Matthew Lindsay, Vulture Hound UK
“Songs that make you feel glad to be alive and makes you realize how lucky we are to be listening to music as good as this” - Steve Tay, AMP Magazine
“The Album really has a timeless quality, something that’s hard to achieve, but The Ready Stance manages to pull of naturally”- Mike Breen, CityBeat
"Great guitar sounds and really nice songwriting"
-Stan Demeski, The Feelies
In rock ’n’ roll some tales are just too perfect to make up. And the back story of The Ready Stance is definitely one of them. A truly perfect storm that unfolded within one square block of the historic district in Newport, Kentucky, just across the Ohio from Cincinnati.
“I hadn’t been in a band in years but was still writing songs and jamming with friends on weekends; really just a therapeutic thing after running a manufacturing business and having a family,” recalls guitarist Wes Pence, the creative force of 1990s outfit Middlemarch. “I was walking home one night and happened to glance in the open window of a house on my block. Inside were a couple guitars and fliers for shows by the Replacements and other bands I loved—really out of place for the neighborhood. Then this guy walked out on the porch…”
That guy was lead vocalist and guitarist Chase Johnston, an Ohio native and alumni of the Athens, Georgia, music scene who’d recently moved back to the area. An animated conversation between the two revealed an uncannily simpatico musical vision and still more shared touchstones: Big Star, Television, VU, The Band. They recruited a bassist and old Middlemarch bandmate, drummer Eric Moreton and started working up Pence’s backlog of tunes. Before even playing a show, they began recording Damndest, The Ready Stance’s astonishingly solid debut, in the basement of Pence’s 1880s house. Mixing was completed on the same block, at Audiogrotto, a newly converted church housing a world-class studio.
Much like the saga of the band’s formation, the yarns in the album’s 11 tracks—all set to sweeping, melody-rich hooks, raw, ringing guitars, and driving rhythms—are rooted in fact and stranger than fiction; literate, image-laden observations with a penchant for classic, bent Midwestern arcana. There’s “Steamship Moselle,” the calliope-infused account of an 1838 maritime explosion catapulting an ill-fated minister to the riverbank; and “Marathon,” an amusing local legend of a confused fistfight between a speech-impaired gas station attendant and a customer with a similar affliction. More timely themes include “Real America,” a chord-crunching, poetic look at divisive political punditry, or “Longarm”, a poignant reproach of U.S. foreign policy leading to the Iraq War.
Soon after recording, the group added bassist Randy Cheek, an old friend and veteran of seminal Ohio bands the Ass Ponys and the Libertines, whose famously solid bass work melds perfectly into their sound and feel. With Damndest hitting the shelves this spring, the new lineup is already at work on their more collaborative follow-up release, which thus far promises to be a masterwork.
In these days of gimmicky indie projects, the Ready Stance’s time-honored sound is rare: just four guys in a room knocking out earnest, urgent rock, much as it could’ve been done in any decade. “We all can tell after one take if it’s any good—we don’t even really talk about it,” says Johnston. Such timeless stuff has already drawn praise from some legendary names.“When I was a kid growing up in Kentucky,” recalls Talking Heads a