Track Marks: Ruadhan Ward
Track Marks is a weekly music questionnaire for people who make and or love music. The people change but the questions remain the same.
This week we catch up with Ruadhan Ward, 16, who since picking up the guitar at age 12 has played a string of shows at places like the East Side Open Market and the Hideout in Chicago.
She's spent the last two summers participating in Girls Rock! Chicago, a week-long volunteer rock and roll band camp where girls form a band, write a song and then perform it live, and was asked to return as a counselor this summer.
Jim DeRogatis, former Chicago Sun-Times music critic and co-host of "Sound Opinions" on Chicago Public Radio, gave a glowing review of her band Zombie Masquerade's performance at last year's camp writing, "Zombie Masquerade gave us a tune so powerful that it brought to mind the much bigger musical assault of Arcade Fire, thanks in large part to the potent talents of front woman Ruadhan Ward."
Ward will join Chicago music luminaries like Tim Kinsella, and Wilco's Nels Cline at Lincoln Hall Saturday to perform in Double Nickels on the Dime: A Tribute to the Minutemen to benefit Girls Rock! Chicago.
That's a pretty cool achievement for a musician of any age, but it's all the more impressive coming from a girl that still has homework.
OnMilwaukee.com caught up with Ward and talked about driving your parents crazy with ABBA, the ridiculousness of spelling your name with a dollar sign, and what band got her to pick up a guitar in the first place.
OnMilwaukee.com: What was the first tape/CD/record/8-track you ever owned?
Ruadhan Ward: The first CD I ever owned was "Gold" by ABBA. It's a compilation album with a bunch of their more popular songs. I'm pretty sure I heard "Dancing Queen" in a movie somewhere and fell in love. I got the CD when I was 7 or 8 and drove my parents crazy singing to it any chance I got. To this day, whenever I hear an ABBA song I sing along.
OMC: What was the first concert you attended?
RW: The first concert I ever attended was Avril Lavigne when I was 11. I'm not particularly proud of it, and wish I could have something cooler as a first show. Nonetheless, she was a big part of my life at the time and the experience as a whole was pretty amazing.
OMC: What was the last concert you attended?
RW: The last concert I attended was the Big Snow Show 5. This was my third time going and each time has been a blast! OK Go was the opener, and they killed it. I was really surprised by Switchfoot, who I'm not a big fan of, but put on a excellent show. The headliner was Cake and that was just mind-blowing. They're another band I grew up with and seeing for the first time was beyond cool. They were really talented. Plus, being front row is always awesome.
OMC: Who is one popular musician or music act you just can't understand?
RW: Ke$ha. All of her songs sound the same to me. I don't understand why she spells her name with a dollar sign. And I still don't understand what it means to "wake up feeling like P. Diddy." She totally loses me.
OMC: Musically what are you into that you're embarrassed to admit to?
RW: I'm not easily embarrassed by my musical choices, because I believe a well rounded person gets into music from all genres. Also, I think it's a really cool thing when you know an artist isn't world changing, but you still enjoy listening to them. When you're a musician, a lot of time there's this vibe that you have to be into the coolest, hippest music, but to me that's not being cool or hip. That being said, I don't frequently mention the fact that I own and love two Rihanna CDs.
OMC: What are you listening to right now?
RW: We've got Sirius Radio on our TV at home, so I've got the alternative station on. Beck's "Girl" just finished up and ... oh! The Airborne Toxic Event's new song "Changing" is on. I love this band.
OMC: What song do you want played at your funeral?
RW: I've never really thought about this actually. I think I'm going to have to go with "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie. This is just off the top of my head, but whatever it is, it's definitely a Death Cab song.
OMC: What artist changed your life and how?
RW: There's a good handful of artists I could talk about here, but one of the most prevalent would be My Chemical Romance. I saw a video from these guys in 2005 and decided I wanted to play guitar. They kind of jump started my need to play. Without that I might not have ever picked up a guitar. I saw them play a couple of years back and I've never been to a show that's felt more like hanging out with family. I want that for my music. Their music, style, work ethic, all of it has been so influential to me.
OMC: If you could see anyone perform past or present who would it be?
RW: Hands down, Queen. They were an amazing band and I would have loved to have seen them live, with Freddie Mercury. I know they tour now without him, but it's just not the same.
OMC: If you could spend one day with any artist living or dead who would it be?
RW: This is a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service. He's my idol, and has influenced me to be the songwriter I am today. I would love to spend a day and just sit and chat with him, play some music, and try and learn as much as I can. I'd need to take notes, ha ha.
OMC: If you were stranded on an island with one record for the rest of your life what would it be?
RW: "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab For Cutie. I wouldn't travel anywhere without it.
This is funny, because the one act that lots of people are REALLY into, but I don't understand is...... Deathcab for Cutie. I mean, the guy's a great lyracist, but I just can't listen to it all day; I'd get too depressed. I also think that sometimes he crosses from the sincere into the cheezy, but hey... this IS Wisconsin.
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