Ardent Magic

Riddlin' Kids' studio thrill

Rating: NNNNN

I can only fantasize what it would be like to record in a legendary place like Memphis’s Ardent Studios, a place with a selected discography that reads like a who’s who of rock and/or roll, from Anita Ward and Afghan Wigs to ZZ Top and Zeppelin. I imagine being overcome with reverence, sucking up the leftover energy of greats both past and present, dizzy with the knowledge that Al Green walked the same floors and Bob Dylan used the same toilet. Now that’s makin’ it.

Not so, says Clint Baker, vocalist and guitarist for the Austin, Texas-based punk outfit Riddlin’ Kids, who recently recorded their rookie release, Hurry Up And Wait, at Ardent.

“What matters is that it’s a great studio,” he says. But then, despite himself, he launches into a list of all the cool and groovy folks who cut records in the hallowed Ardent rooms before him.

“Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, R.E.M. recorded Green there, and that was one of those records for me. You know how there are some records whose every single sound you know, every single nuance, because you’ve listened to them so many times?”

(Yeah! Like Thriller! And the soundtrack from Annie… oops. Did I write that or just think it?)

“Well, Green was one of those records for me. When I was a kid I used to daydream about singing for R.E.M. I couldn’t help thinking that (Michael Stipe) probably recorded vocal tracks in that same room. So yeah, it was definitely cool.”

That’s what I thought.

It’s no surprise, then, that Hurry Up And Wait features a cover of It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, even if the tune is from Document rather than Green, revved up with the Kids’ pop-punk stylings.

“I’ve known all the words to that song since sixth grade,” says Baker. The rest of the tracks are a collection of hard-pounding, fuelled-up new punk with a dose of classic kick, with lyrics centred on relationships gone wretched. Their lyrics might not seem so clichéd if they weren’t set against It’s The End Of The World, a great lyrical masterpiece.

“My mom says I need to write a nice song about girls since a lot of my songs are mean and I talk shit,” muses Baker, “But a lot of them aren’t even about my girlfriends. They’re about friends I see going through all kinds of shit, and I think, “How could you put up with that?'”

These days, Riddlin’ Kids (named, incidentally, for the drug that might calm their hyperactive stage shows, but craftily spelled so they don’t get sued) tolerate almost continuous touring and rarely see home soil for any extended period of time.

“I love it. I love touring,” enthuses the former pizza delivery boy. “I have a little pizza with a slice taken out of it on my key chain. Whenever I get tired or grumpy, every time I start my car I can look at it and think, “Hey, I could be delivering pizza.'”

riddlin’ kids with Face to face, brand new and Moneen at the Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne), Sunday (October 6), 5 pm (all ages). $21.50. 416-870-8000.

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