They had just finished mooning Pet Symmetry on the highway when they got pulled over by the police. Ratboys — songwriter and guitarist Julia Steiner, guitarist David Sagan, bassist Sean Neumann, and trumpeter Cody Owens — have long done the deed as a tour prank.
“I was driving and behind two other cars and we’re all going the same speed,” Steiner says. “It felt like I was going the speed limit when I see the cop going the other direction about half an hour after the mooning took place, look behind to see if he turned around, kept going.”
“Fifteen minutes later, the cop tries to pass our group and I slow down to let him in the group of cars. He pulls over the two cars in front of me; I tried to go around him to let them through and he yelled to pull over two and pulled us all over for speeding from fifteen minutes before. He was a supercop.”
“Dave says he’s not gonna moon anyone anymore because of that, but we’ll see.”
Pet Symmetry holds no grudges to the mooning (though their drummer claims the speeding ticket is justice), still inviting Steiner to do a Joey Ramone imitation for a cover song each night of their tour, but the moment encapsulates Ratboys style perfectly: Goodhearted with the edge of showmanship, more youthful than immature. The post-country quartet’s new album, GN, comes out on Topshelf Records on June 30.
They are a quartet not by trade but by necessity, going through a Spinal Tap-esque parade of drummers. Steiner longs for The Final Band Member, but touring drummers are generally Chicago stalwarts like Brother Nature’s Evan Loritsch or Pet Symmetry’s Marcus Nuccio. “Each different person we play with, there’s always one different song where that person does it best,” Steiner says. “It’s cool in a weird way. But we always kick ass no matter who plays drums.”