Interview with Ricky Singh of Backtrack!

Through the sticky summer heat, hardcore heavyweights Backtrack voyage across the country to deliver their groovy and heavy brand of music to the fans. Guitarist Ricky Singh recently sat down with us (our friend Alex Hernandez and I) to discuss his musical discoveries and ventures.

The name Backtrack actually comes from the name of a song by Killing Time, “and we’re heavily influenced by them and bands of the same era,” Ricky reveals. Being a band from New York, Backtrack takes a lot of inspiration from classic New York Hardcore, bringing back old sounds with new flavors. Ricky feels that the New York scene is as passionate as the Southern hardcore scene, scenes that are both expanding rapidly. “They’re both good hardcore scenes and they both have great bands…they’re both sick to me,” Ricky says. I noticed that hardcore in Dallas has grown tremendously in the few years that I have been following it, and Ricky’s comment about the similarities in the interest in hardcore between regions affirmed my observation. New York has always been a reputable place in terms of the bands in the genre that come from New York, so it is great to see Dallas’s notoriety grow at the same rate.

I comment that my discovery of the ever-growing scene was through mid 2000’s metalcore and Epitaph Records groups. Ricky’s discovery of the genre follows a similar pattern to my discovery. “Nobody comes out of the womb, and they’re listening to Madball,” Ricky says to put things back into perspective. Hardcore is something that is discovered and not born into. “I also learned about hardcore through Epitaph groups. One of the first things that I got was this compilation called Punk-O-Rama 3,” which got him eventually into hardcore. Ricky also stressed that people should not be ashamed of what they listen to, especially if that music served as a gateway into hardcore. He says, “Who cares what you listen to…it doesn’t matter what scene you came from…hardcore’s for everybody.” There should be no elitism or judgment when it comes to accepting people into hardcore. What you are and where you come from should be celebrated, not berated. In fact, Ricky still listens to the bands that he grew up with: “I only put like 10 records [on my iPhone] because I never have any space, I don’t know why I don’t have space and it’s pissing  me off. If you’re reading this, help me out, send me an email to clear up my phone. I always have Pennybridge Pioneers by Millencolin. I think that record’s so good.”

In the van, Backtrack actually listen to a lot of Epitaph bands in the van, bands whose sounds are “inspirations” for Backtrack’s music.

Ricky has a much broader musical taste than just hardcore and punk rock. “If I like it, I like it,” he states simply, “It’s a silly thing to be close-minded in life, because if you’re close minded…you’re gonna miss out.” He doesn’t believe in the term, “guilty pleasure.” Everything that is enjoyable is a pleasure, no matter what band, TV show, etc.: “The best advice I’ve gotten…is be open-minded…also my parents telling me I could do whatever I want in my life if I work hard.” This mindset is what helped him immerse himself into music. While working as a teenager packing groceries, Ricky “would spend every dime [he] made on records. [He] wouldn’t even know that bands, [he’d] just look at the album covers, then look through the liner notes to discover more bands in the Thank-You section.” Now, it’s even easier and less expensive with the Internet, but the same curious and open-minded attitude is necessary to discover music.

However, Ricky doesn’t show love for all music that’s floating around the world today. After he talked about his love for Katy Perry, I asked him if he had heard the new Lil B song, “Katy Perry.” Through a dramatic facepalm, Ricky states, “I actually can’t stand him…there are some people that are ignorant when they rap, and there are some that are just dumb to me.” However, there is enough good quality rap out there for him to enjoy: “I love Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Mobb Deep…I saw Nas recently with Dave Chappelle.” Although he may not be a fan of BasedGod, the excitement and importance of Ricky’s musical adventures are courtesy of his tolerant mindset.

Watch Backtrack perform at Outbreak Fest in 2013

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