Ricky Schmidt is a San Diego local legend who plays in the bands Western Settings and Hey, Chels. His solo project Ricky released the debut LP Palm Trees on November 13th, 2020. We ducked into the alley behind Lancers in University Heights to hear some songs, and talk about his experiences in music.
Photo: Eric Caballero
1. What was your first musical project?
My first project was a band called Beside Myself. It was this guy named Ziggy, and my friend Todd. And that was the first time I wrote music. It was the first band I was singing in and writing in, and actually toured. We did a bunch of tours up the west coast, and east from here.
2. What was the hardest thing about getting started in playing music?
No one in my family really played music, so growing up there wasn’t much encouragement. I remember my dad asking me when I was a kid, “what do you wanna do with your life?” I was getting closer to being done with high school, and I was like, “well, I want to play music.” He kind of just shot that down because my dad was super supportive of everything, but I just don’t think he understood how that would be a possibility. Just that – figuring out how to do it, not knowing how to do it, and just having to dive in.
3. Of all the places music has taken you, which was your favorite?
Definitely Europe. Just all over Europe. Berlin, if I had to pick a city.
4. What is it that you REVOLT against with your music?
Probably a lot of the traditional things any punk kid would say. In the past I’ve sang about weird political ideas a little bit, but also just doing your own thing and not caring about social norms. Being true to yourself.
5. When you write a song, do you write for a specific project, or do you just write and decide who the song goes to later?
For instance, I’m in a band with my partner, Jackie. Sometimes I’ll write something and show it to her. I’ll be like, “do you like this?” and she’ll say yes or no. If she says yes, we’ll use it for Hey, Chels. A lot of times, I’ll be like, “Ok I’m going to make this record now,” so I’ll be writing for that specific thing.
6. What’s something music helped you get through?
Lots of things. Writing music, you’re going through whatever you’re going through. You’re going through a break-up, a big change in your life, or if you’re super depressed, and you’re going through a lull like that, then music is therapy in a sense. You get those thoughts and feelings out, and then you go play, and share that with other people. That’s really cool. I think that’s one of the hugest things about music to me; being able to do that.
7. What’s something you’re excited about for each project?
Making stuff for my solo stuff just under the name Ricky. I’m wrapping up my second LP right now, so I’m excited to finish that, and get that out. With Hey, Chels we have an EP coming out. I’m excited about that. We’re playing The Fest in October, assuming it doesn’t get cancelled. Who knows, right? Also, with Western Settings we’re playing The Fest, too. That’s about it. We’re waiting for 2022 before we start booking tours again.
8. You have a show at Casbah coming up, right?
We do. Actually, next Thursday, September 2nd. For my solo project, it’ll be the first time we play all these songs live with a full band.