Cassie Ramone happily spends her time with the Babies
Given the jangly strumming that powers most of the songs on the Babies’ sophomore album, Our House on the Hill—to say nothing of the trains and graveyards that provide the settings for the songs—you might guess that the Brooklyn act has an affinity for country music. You’d be right, but you probably wouldn’t guess exactly what brand of twang singer-guitarist Cassie Ramone sheepishly confesses an appreciation for.
“I do like new country, unfortunately. Sorry,” says Ramone, reached at a tour stop in Madison, Wisconsin. “One time I was on this drive, and we were in New Mexico or something, and the only thing on the radio was contemporary country. And we just listened to that for two hours. And once you listen to a lot of contemporary country, you get really into it. At some point you just succumb. It’s not my favourite genre of music, but it’s a really interesting type of music to me.”
Mind you, no one is likely to mistake Our House on the Hill for the latest from Rascal Flatts or the Band Perry. Led by Ramone and her fellow singer-guitarist Kevin Morby, who actually handles the lion’s share of the lead vocals, the band sounds more like a particularly well-rehearsed garage-rock band, albeit one that prefers vintage reverb and boy-girl harmonies to fuzzed-up scuzz. At their best—as on the ringing rocker “Moonlight Mile” and the cello-burnished campfire meditation “Wandering”—the Babies keep their songs uncluttered and their melodies straightforward.
Our House on the Hill doesn’t really sound like the work of a part-time band, but that’s what it is. Ramone is better known for her work with Vivian Girls, and Morby for his with Woods. Still, Ramone isn’t eager to dismiss the Babies as a mere side project.
“Vivian Girls was kind of more like my life, in a way,” she says. “It was more of who I am, and more like the blood that runs through me or something, you know what I mean? The Babies is just a really awesome, fun band to be in. Right now, it’s what I’m focusing most of my time on, so it’s definitely not a side project. But these things are always fluid. Right now, the Babies is what I’m doing mostly with my time. It hasn’t been that way forever; it probably won’t be that way forever. But you never know. I don’t want to say anything too defined about it, I guess.”
The Babies, it seems, will continue to occupy Ramone and Morby, along with bassist Brian Schleyer and drummer Justin Sullivan, for the foreseeable future. The quartet will be on the road in North America well into December, and has a string of European dates booked for the spring. Beyond that, though, Ramone won’t speculate.
“I never like to think too much about the future, because whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen, and if you plan too much, there’s more that could go wrong,” she says. “So I guess we’re all going to see where we’re at after we finish this tour, and after we finish our next tour, and then take it from there. But either way, I’m not really worried about it.”
The Babies play the Media Club on Thursday (November 29).