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Dubious Ranger '11

  • BAND
  • SHOP
Jonathan EcclesJonathan EcclesGuitar, Backing Vox, Bass, Pan Flute, Video Games
Alexander D EcclesAlexander D EcclesLead Vox, Piano, Guitar
Aaron SankinAaron SankinBass, Glockenspiel, Business-Horn
Gabe TurowGabe TurowPercussion, Guitar, Backing Vox
Brendan AhernBrendan AhernDrums, Backing Vox, Flute, Hambone
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Listen—this is pretty much how it went: Dubious Ranger all started with Alexander Eccles. Alexander was a classical piano prodigy who dreamed of nothing more than writing music like Robert Schumann and owning his own amusement park. Everything was going swimmingly until about 2002, when two very important things happened. First, he got real bummed out about stuff and junk and dropped out of the institution of higher education where he was currently enrolled on a strenuous curriculum of staring at the clock and patiently waiting for whatever he was currently doing to be over. Second, out of the blue, he found himself in possession of two albums: Beck's feel-good Sea Change, which he bought at Tower Records in some sort of daze; and David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which his brother Jonny gave him as a birthday present. For Alexander, who had never given the fool's pursuit of rock and roll a passing thought (other than "ow, loud"), Beck's soundscapes and Bowie's ode to ambiguous sexuality, cocaine and being the coolest guy on the face of the planet were nothing short of revelations. Alexander quickly bought every album Bowie ever made, even the crappy ones that Bowie himself doesn't have copies of, and listened to them over and over non stop for a year. (Kids, don't try this at home). At the end of the year, he emerged with a new dream: to make rock music so good that it opens up a hole in the space-time continuum back to 1984 which he will travel through to kill Sarah Connor. You know, metaphorically speaking.

Over the course of the next couple years, he (along with his brother, who produced) made two attempts at this. The first, To Begin With, They’re Very Tall, is an album full of dark and brooding piano ballads about high school reunions and serial-killing astronauts. The second, Even These Things Tell Stories, is a Romantic song-cycle masquerading as a day-glo pastiche of scenes from a drugged-out forest . Now, they were getting somewhere but they had a problem—two guys does not a rock band make. Luckily, years earlier, Jon played in a band called Dr. Def & Sexual Educators (a furiously high-energy garage rock quartet hell-bent on blowing people’s minds by taking early Beatles songs, covering them in battery-acid distortion, and forgetting to tune their guitars) while in high school and knew that the old rhythm section (bassist Aaron Sankin and drummer Brendan Ahern) had nothing better to do. Voila, Dubious Ranger was born.

The four-piece performed all around San Francisco and the Bay Area and recorded several albums, the high water mark being Uneasy Truce At The Watering Hole, which is a sprawling wild-west art-rock fun house of an album. 

In 2009, this permutation of Dubious Ranger decided to go separate directions. Alexander began writing and performing music with percussionist extraordinaire Gabe Turow. Together, over the course of just 18 months, they recorded four amazing and amazingly different albums with a host of the best musicians around. The name they gave this project was King Baldwin, which was based on Alexander's insane youtube character of the same name. 

The most recent product of the Turow-Eccles collaboration is Found Recordings From The Panda Valley Mining Company c.1931. Alexander, jumping head-first out of his comfort zone, had became enamored of Tom Waits' Mule Variations. He wanted the album to sound rusty and unpolished-- a far cry from his classical roots. The sound he and Gabe concocted -- with a million weird percussion instruments in lieu of a drum kit -- worked so well as an aesthetic on both old and new songs that Alexander decided to stick with it going forward. And, darn it, didn't that new sound just beg for a band name like, I dunno, Dubious Ranger? 

And so, here we are: back with Dubious Ranger. Live performances going forward will be predicated upon communal involvement. Want to perform with Dubious Ranger? No problem. Grab this metal pipe or that ceramic udu and hop on stage. Music is supposed to be communal and it's supposed to be fun. You can expect that from Dubious Ranger along with, as always, a fertile imagination raising a glass to creativity and a nice big middle finger to whatever was just playing on the radio at Quiznos.

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