For immediate release… I am delighted to share the bio that my publicist Bobby Cleveland drafted.
The gap-toothed, Mojave Desert cowboy and cinematographer, Jerrold Ridenour, who promenades as King Nobody, is poised to ride off into the sunset with a pair of newly minted singles, “Three Birds” and “Long and Dusty Road.” Both will appear on his forthcoming EP, Space Cactus, on which cult hero Kool Keith will make a guest appearance, adding novelty bars to zest Ridenour’s tin can talk-speaking and signature cigar box guitar: “Let the guitar make me happy, go through struggles/Big rock star more hustle/Lifting weights with Unity and gettin’ bigger muscles.” Chasing stories by way of the absurd, King Nobody seeks to allegorize and proselytize the ego by proxy of his characters, strapping in with a giant, howling harmonica that springs from a lo-fi well, nested in Americana and psych folk, with a vocal timbre akin to Damon Albarn and temperament abreast of Les Claypool.
Donning a handmade, origami steer skull – representative of “desert steez,” in Ridenour’s words – this is exactly the kind of narrator one can expect from Nobody on the set of “Three Birds”: one who becomes a part of the landscape, ostensibly a mirage, but ultimately a prism, shining light on peripatetic birds, as the migratory creatures coalesce and joust the psyche in dizzying heat.
The music necessitates the accompanying visuals for Ridenour, who filmed on a desert ranch, on one long, hot day before the master was completed. “‘Three Birds’ tells a story of self-discovery amidst the adventure and migration of life,” says Ridenour. On the track, Saul Good provides the groundwork for the beat, accompanied by washboard to complete the loop, and glued together by vocals that were laid down with a tin-can microphone. Rounding out the track is Aaron Bakker, lacing it with spacey slide guitar before the final touch, compliments of Sabrina Rose, whose vocals are featured on the hook.
“Long and Dusty Road” – a Leonard Cohen-inflected number with a moseying gait – winded up being the precursor to “Three Birds,” beholden to Hunter S. Thompson and psychedelic culture, as the narrator endures arid weather and suffers through to enlightenment, grasping for the reflection he needs, on his own personal 1000-mile journey: “Blowing sand like thousand darts, hitting me in the neck/Where I go, I never know, but alas I never ask/Wandering and wondering, which one is the mask/The one I see or the one I show on the long and dusty road,” Ridenour growls with gravelly might, on the “bittersweet song of a seeker, sauntering down the dusty trail,” as Ridenour puts it.
“Moving at the speed of thought is a common phrase that I’ll utter amidst the chaos of creation,” says Ridenour, whose idiosyncratic talents – not only as a songwriter, but also as producer and filmmaker – have led to Emmy awards, having been associated with productions such as Bob the Builder, The Simpsons, the CMT series Music City, the annual COLA Awards, NASA and more. Now, Ridenour dedicates his time to music and all the corresponding footage he conjures up: “I write a song so that I have something to make a music video for,” says Ridenour. “I’m trying to get at the heart of something where the song is not just a byproduct of the music video, but certainly contingent upon it.”
Whereas his debut LP Desert Life thrived on a heavy, sludgier-than-thou aesthetic, not worlds away from Melvins or Thee Oh Sees, Space Cactus finds Ridenour re-imagining himself, amidst the “Edward Scissorhandsing” of sounds in his garage-converted studio. There, you can find him cutting cigar box guitar takes with a cassette walkman, “in order to bake in that lo-fi tone,” one minute, tinkering with his tin can microphone in one hand and a joint in the other, the next. “I want the record to have a story and a voice and have that take center stage – let the music be the backdrop – so that’s kind of where I’m heading,” says Ridenour, when asked about the marriage of narrative and visuals, taking precedence.
Ridenour perks up at the thought of his soon-to-be-heard, live sound arrangement, in a post-COVID world where he imagines there will be “a DJ aspect, controlled feedback from vocals and guitar loops, and a more challenging recreation of the songs as we ‘em.” In discussion of his current mood and leanings with Space Cactus, Ridenour describes it as “a little bit dark, with an embittered step to the long journey ahead, but not one deprived of hope.” Ridenour is not without humor, either, comedic by nature while painting a scene complete with FX: “It’s the wandering minstrel through the desert, and what’s that? Oh, ting (pointing his finger toward the sky), the heavens open up for a minute, but then the rain comes pouring down.”
*Photos by Martin Linss Bio by Bobby Cleveland