By: Greg Scharen
Ned Russin of Glitterer during his set at Rowan Alt, Feb. 23, 2019. (Photo by Tori Balik)
This past Saturday, Feb. 23, Rowan Alt had the chance to have a sit-down conversation with the frontman of Glitterer, Ned Russin. Ned talks to us about the start of Glitterer, his influences, small shows v. big shows and more. Check out the Q&A below, and be ready for more coverage of the show to come.
Ned Russin during Rowan Alt Q&A Feb. 23, 2019. (Photo by Chad Wittmann)
Where did the name Glitterer come from, is there any specific story?
Glitterer is the rejected title of a book that never came out, It’s a David Foster Wallace book. It was his final book that turned into “The Pale King” that was never finished.
How did Glitterer start and what influenced you into doing it?
There’s no specific origin point to the band. It was just like I got some new equipment. I got a mini-keyboard, and it came with the free version of Ableton, and blah, blah, blah, you know, I was like, messing around with it. I was trying to write some songs, I had these ideas and I kind of scrapped everything and then came back to it like two years later. In a similar situation where I had this thing, it fit nicely on my desk, I was screwing around with it. I had no real purpose in mind.
The first batch of songs that I wrote, I felt like I couldn’t figure out how to put vocals to it. I was really struggling with this idea. Then I kind of put everything away didn’t touch the keyboard for like, two years, came back to it, and then I just kind of cut the songs in half, dumbed it down a little bit. Then I kind of felt like I understood what the project was calling for, kind of, I figured out the songs mood, I think, and so I was able to sing over it.
I wasn’t specifically going for anything at that time. As I started to figure out, what I wanted to do with it was kind of out there bands like Electric Light Orchestra that really blew my mind because they were doing like, Beatles kind of stuff on steroids. Kind of corny, with synths, really wacky. I was into that. I realized, oh, I should try and do that. I was like, I’m not good enough to do that, so I also found influence in Guided by Voices where I could do like a minute song, and thought that’d be cool.
Ned Russin during his Glitterer set at Rowan Alt Feb. 23, 2019. (Photo by Tori Balik)
Kind of looking back at it, it’s been a few years, what do you hope people get out of the music you’re making now?
Um, I don’t know. I just hope they get it, that’s the hardest part. Like they actually, are able to physically listen to the music. For some reason, it’s extremely difficult.
The way that social media works, and the way the distribution of information works right now, it’s so difficult to get your stuff out to people. That’s what I’m finding and it sucks. Just for example, when Title Fight started, that wasn’t the way social media worked at that time. It wasn’t directly like, we know better than you. We would go on tour, put out a record, do something like that then we would post something. The people who wanted to access it were able to access it easily. Now it’s like the same people who I think would be interested in this I can’t access because there are so many hoops to jump through to get to them. I don’t want to play that game because that game sucks.
Yeah, no, totally. That’s, that’s so interesting, too. Because you would think because so many people are on social media, it’d be a great way to get all your stuff out there. But maybe that mix of so many people makes it so hard to get the people who you really want it to get to?
Yes, I’m not in-tuned with that world. It’s very difficult for me to understand. Not that I live in a cabin in the woods but I actively try not to receive my news that way. So it’s difficult because I realized when I do that, not only do not understand it, but it’s like, I do something. And it’s like, oh, would you like to boost this post pay? $5? Like, no, I don’t wanna pay $5. So yeah the hardest part is like getting it out there.
So going way, way back when you first started learning to play what was a big challenge, like growing up strumming a guitar or something like that?
Yeah, I feel like playing music was something that clicked easily with me, and I could, I think that’s why I gravitated towards it. But there are certain things, when you’re learning, specifically, I don’t know, like playing bass, bass isn’t my first instrument, but learning how to play bass, which is what I wanted to do, you had to figure out how to make what’s in your head and make it come out of your hands. I was able to hear something and maybe not exactly be able to recreate it. So there’s a lot of frustration there, I understand what I’m trying to do but I don’t know how to do it. Which is why I think I never clicked with sports or other things. Yeah, I understand, okay, in order to win at baseball, I swing the bat, and I hit the ball, and it goes over the fence and I win. I can’t, for some reason, I see the ball coming, I swing and it’s nowhere near the ball. It’s like, my brain just doesn’t work that way. But with music, I was able to pick it up and hear something and be able to get it out quick. The beginning stages were difficult, but I liked it enough and I felt like I understood enough to like, keep working on it.
Now it’s to the point with piano. It was my first instrument and I took lessons my parents put me in lessons for years, and then I completely forgot everything. Now I’m back trying to relearn how to play the piano again. I’m in that same stage, I know what this thing in my head but to figure it out I have to sit here for like, 30 minutes, press every single key until I get the right one.
Ned Russin of Glitterer with Rowan Alternative Music E-Board (front row left to right: Gabi Bruckner, Ned Russin, Lily Stabile. Back row left to right: Gerren Sayco, Ryan Farmer, Matt Kyle. (Photo by Chad Wittmann)
Tonight obviously is a smaller show, compared to the ones you played with Title Fight. What’s more nerve-wracking, playing in front of a large scale audience are playing in front of, maybe, 100 people?
I think they’re both equally as nerve-wracking. Honestly, in a situation like this, I could look every single person in the eyes. And that’s weird. with Glitterer, specifically, because I have nobody behind me and I feel very naked. Getting up there and just having to sing is something I’m not entirely comfortable with and that’s kind of why I wanted to do it. Because it’s just like, putting myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t know, I get nervous every single I show ever play. It sucks. I hate it. It’s like, really, like agonizing. But, I decided I was going to do this and so I have to do this. The five to whatever, 25 minutes before the show I’m, like, crawling out of my skin, like, super nervous.
But yeah I don’t know it’s equal nerves. But the thing is, it’s almost, I don’t know, I would never say a small show means more, but a small show, like, makes more sense to me. My interest in music spawns from feeling a connection to it. I feel like when you are able to realize that connection, in an actual way, it’s that much more meaningful. The shows that got me excited when I was a kid and made me want to do this, like forever, where shows with like 50 to 100 people. You know, you could make eye contact with a band and you could see them and it was a real thing. That’s not to say that big shows aren’t important or cool and it’s like I’ve seen big shows, I played shows, that felt really, I don’t know, amazing and great. They were fulfilling and I like to think that people were fulfilled but there becomes a disconnect when you can’t look everybody in the eye.
Just wrapping up, what are you listening to right now? Do you have any cool recommendations maybe outside of the box stuff?
I really like from the end of last year, I like the new Tony Molina record a lot, Girpool put out a record like the beginning of this month. There’s a band called One Step Closer from my Wilkes Barre, where I’m from, and they put out a new record on triple B that’s really cool and I’m excited for those kids. I don’t know there’s a lot of music going. Those are the hardest questions there’s a lot of really cool stuff going on right now.
Greg Scharen (left) and Ned Russin (right) after their interview for Rowan Alt on Feb. 23, 2019. (Photo by Chad Wittmann)