Does this one-man band look like the smartasss he says he is?

Photo: Claudia De Simone

Samurai cuts up mainstream

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By Amanda Factor

Evan Jones likes to throw a wrench into people’s work.

The Houston native, Ryerson film student and one-man noise-rock band goes by the name Ronin King, which itself is an oxymoron. Ronin is Japanese for “masterless samurai,” king is “the head of a monarchy.”

His songs, when they have lyrics are made out of striking words and phrases stuck together like a little impressionistic painting. A favourite among fans is “I’m Ever So Pissed,” a fake disco song.

But wait. There’s more in Ronin King’s bag of tricks.

If you click on “bio” on the Ronin King website ( you’ll find, besides the usual influences and background stuff, a recounting of the time he was royally screwed by a fellow Ryerson film student.

Someone named R.J. Peterson allegedly offered to pay Ronin King, Evan Jones, $80 to do a soundtrack for one of his films, then backed out when it came time to pay up. As the story goes, Jones and a friend broke into his office and stole back the tapes.

Upon interviewing Ronin King, it seems somehow necessary to apologize for this incident, on behalf of Canadians or something. That sucks, man. Sorry that happened to you.

An “oh, that” expression spreads across Jones’ face.

“To tell you the truth, that was a hoax. We were bored. I figured we should put something mean spirited on the site about someone who doesn’t exist. R.J. Peterson, you dick!”

Naturally, at this point it’s not clear whether anything he says should be taken at face value. This is a guy who, besides stressing that his name is spelled with an “a” even though it’s spelled with an “i” on the website he made, arbitrarily refers to himself as “I” or “we.”

“I thought about it and I realized it’s to downplay egotism. When you see the phrase ‘I’ repeated so many times you’re like ‘Get over yourself, you fucker.’ I like alluding to a collective front that doesn’t exist.”

Ronin King briefly became a duo when, after completing his first year of film, Jones went back to Houston and teamed up with Matt Hall, purveyor of synthesizer breaks and samples.

However, Hall’s career with computers took precedence over being in a band, and RK was once again a one man show.

“Matt’s in the band in spirit at this point. It’s kind of dick-like for me to say ‘I realize you have a career and a girlfriend but come over and we’ll practice for three hours.’”

The first thing that toys with people’s expectations about Ronin King is, of course, the music. A year’s tuition at Ryerson says you’ve never heard anything like it — a bass and a Dr. Rhythm 660 drum machine creating ball-crushing black metal that Jones bills as bass-heavy post-punk minimalism with electronic touches.

And the private concert he puts on in his constricting bedroom, doffing his Doc Martens so as not to piss off the tenants downstairs, is tame compared to a club gig which might find him leaping into the audience or deciding at the last minute to play all his songs without lyrics. “Predicting what will happen live is a really hard thing to do.”

He played for his classical music class last year.

“I dedicated the second song to all the fashion students right before I realized it was called ‘$lave$l’.”

Since then he’s played at art spaces, Internet radio stations, and a converted department store (he said more like a coffee shop/ art space) with 20,000 pairs of women’s shoes upstairs. “If you see a band in an interesting place you react differently,” he explains.

Up to this point, Jones hasn’t been adverse to playing free shows, considering the most he ever paid for a concert was $20 to see the Melvins.

“I talked to this guy who was like, ‘I saw Radiohead for 50 bucks.’ I was like ‘Are you an idiot?’ I want oral sex from the band for $50 to se a concert. I want the guy to wash my car.”

Booking his own shows and selling RK merch means Jones can continue to play for free, or at least dirt cheap. After playing a series of shows in Decembr and recording an EP, Jones will play a date at Reilly’s before settling back into school-mode for the remainder of the semester.

Even though everything else seems to be a joke to Jones, the music is not.

“I’d be willing to give up a lot for my music and don’t feel the burden to convey it’s importance to anyone else but myself,” said Jones.

However, when film school needs attention, it’s the music that gets put on the backburner.

“My friend Dwight came up with a good quote about movies. ‘Movies are important but I’d rather have penicillin than movies.’ That’s sort of the way I feel about music. It’s important to me, but…”

But you’d rather have penicillin?

“Well, actually I’m allergic to penicillin. There’s the irony you’re looking for. I’d fucking die.”

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