Interview: Cristal and Alisa Ramirez from The Aces

Written by Zoya Raza-Sheikh

21 Nov 2018

As a small band from Utah, The Aces' presence wasn’t much felt, but within a couple of months the band have gone from being quietly successful to touring with 5 Seconds of Summer and selling out shows across their first UK and EU.

It was only mid-July when I last sat down with The Aces to discuss their debut album, Volcanic Love. As a small band from Utah, their presence wasn’t much felt, but within a couple of months The Aces have gone from being quietly successful to touring with 5 Seconds of Summer and selling out shows across their first UK and EU headliner tour. Before their opening show in Birmingham, I had a quick chat with the Ramirez sisters, Cristal (lead vocalist) and Alisa (drummer), in their dressing room about what’s changed since we last spoke.

The Aces have been touring non-stop and with that in mind, I start the interviewing asking them how they found supporting 5 Seconds of Summer and if they’re ready to kick off touring again. “It’s been awesome!” Cristal replies, “it’s a very different experience touring with 5 Seconds of Summer versus doing your own headliner. We just made friends with those boys and they were really sweet and super awesome and made a really cool environment for us.”

L to R: McKenna Petty, Alisa Ramirez,Katie Henderson, Cristal Ramirez (Credit: Clture Mag)

No longer touring as a supporting act, I wanted to know if Cristal and Alisa felt this tour was different to supporting 5 Seconds of Summer. “This tour has been obviously different. Smaller and it’s like our fans and it’s our shows. Just getting to see kids across these different countries show up for our band, you know, it’s really cool,” Cristal tells me. Alisa also agrees, admitting the experience has been crazy. “We were talking about a couple shows ago like even though it’s amazing to play in front of 10,000 kids with 5 Seconds of Summer, that’s such a cool feeling, but nothing compares to playing in front of your fans,” she tells me. “Even if it’s 200 kids that came to scream the words to your songs it’s just way more of a feeling.” Cristal nods and continues where Alisa left off. “It’s just so special because they’re there for you and to hear your music. It’s crazy for me to look out in the crowd and see whoever in Cologne, Germany, singing every single lyric to our music, she says. “You know we’re from Utah, in the States, and we always dreaming about touring in Europe. Since I was 10-years-old I’ve dreamt about it, so getting to see it in real life it feels pretty surreal.”

With the band always on the road, I’m interested to know if the Ramirez sisters have encountered any embarrassing moments or awkward stories. “It’s pretty funny like when we went out touring with 5 Seconds of Summer that was like the first time, we really knew who they were before the tour,” Cristal explains, “so, like, I remember when we first saw them in catering. We saw them in person on the first day. We weren’t like huge 5 Seconds of Summer fans that like followed their every move or anything, but we knew who they were. I remember us going back and being like “wait, we’re kinda starstruck!”. Despite their own growing fame, it’s interesting to hear the young musicians talk about getting caught off guard by 5 Seconds of Summer. “I wasn’t expecting being star struck by them. We made jokes the entire tour. Anytime we’d pull up to the shows and you’d see them sound checking, we’d be like “Oh my god it’s Luke! Oh my god it’s Ashton!” she laughed. “We were fucking with each other like what if we were fangirls that started a band to get on tour!” Laughing, Cristal joins in with her sister’s humour, “what if the premise of our band was to get on tour with 5 Seconds of Summer!’

Moving on from 5 Seconds of Summer, I ask the sisters how they felt about the upcoming tour dates in here in the UK and EU. “We’ve only done little one-off shows. The only shows we’ve done in Europe and the UK, we’ve done Paris, Berlin, London… and Hamburg! But it (Hamburg) was for a little festival. We’ve never been to a bunch of these cities – this is our first proper European and UK tour.” Alisa also explains how past UK or European shows were “based around something else like a radio promotion tour”, but this time around the tour felt different. “This time it has been much different because it’s been a proper tour. It’s been crazy to go places we’ve never, ever gone near and have fans show up.”

Being on the road must give the band a lot of free time. As one of my favourite ways to kill time is discovering new music, I ask the sisters if they’ve uncovered any new favourite albums on tour. “I don’t listen to as much music when I’m touring just because if I’m not on stage or if I’m not running around, I’m trying to meditate or listen to podcasts, or get that self-care in - that refreshment,” Cristal tells me. “I feel like when you’re playing music all the time you don’t want to listen a ton,” Alisa agrees, “I’m the same, if I listen to much, I have two records. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ariana Grande and Jhene Aiko, and, honestly, a lot of podcasts.” Instead of new music Cristal offers a podcast recommendation instead. “I’ve been listening to this, ‘Happy Face’. It’s an NPR podcast on a serial killer. I’m like a dark-ass motherfucker and need to chill,” she laughs, “it’s really good. It’s about a serial killer and it’s really interesting because the whole podcast is being done by his daughters. So, he was a serial killer when his daughters were in high school and they didn’t know. At this point Alisa audibly gasps, “you don’t assume your dad is murdering people – it’s so weird!” Unbothered by her sister’s comment, Cristal continues with her explanation, “this guy is the ‘Happy Face Killer’ because he was sending in ransom notes and he would always sign them with a smiley face. So, a detective named him the ‘Happy Face Killer’ – that’s what he’s infamous as. He killed 8 women in the 90’s and he’s in prison now. The whole thing is crazy because he wanted to be caught. It’s insane.” I wasn’t quite sure how our upbeat interview went from Ariana Grande to American-Canadian serial killers but the conversation seemed to naturally flow.

The Aces and Lynn Gunn (credit: The Aces' Instagram)

Closing up the interview, I ask Cristal and Alisa about their on-stage feature of Lynn Gunn. I don't know about you but this was a story I wanted to hear. During a set in September, Lynn Gunn, Pvris’ frontwoman, stepped in to cover The Aces’ guitarist Katie Hendy. Moment after it had happened, the news broke across social media with a bang. Following this, I ask Cristal and Alisa if The Aces would ever consider touring alongside Pvris. “That’s so funny because we met in the summer, but so many of our fans are their fans as well,” Cristal tells me, “I didn’t really know them super well until I saw our fans be like “tour with Pvris, tour with Pvris” or seeing a bunch of Pvris fan accounts liking our band. It’s been in talks and we almost kind of went on a tour. It was so pre-pre-pre-stages of anything really happening, but we were talking about opening for them about a year ago.” While Cristal re-highlighted that the bands met in the summer, neither of the members gave an explanation on how or why. So, naturally, I asked. “We met in the summer and she is…” Cristal began, but then pauses looking over to Alisa, “I can’t really say, can I?”. “I feel like we met her, because, oh, I can’t really say,” Alisa also realises. After a few shared glances between the sisters, it’s clear they’re deliberating on what else they can and can’t tell me. In so few words, it sounded like The Aces and Pvris were working together. Before they could get in trouble, I save them the effort and put forward my assumption that the bands are working together. “Yeah, yeah. She wanted to collaborate, essentially,” Cristal confirms, “we’re big fans of her band so it all kind of synced up and we’ve, you know, been good friends since.”

Since last talking to The Aces it’s nice to see how the band have become more confident and comfortable in themselves and their music, and I look forward to seeing what The Aces do next. Oh, and their collaboration with Pvris – I’m definitely looking forward to that.

Edited by Tony Nguyen |


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