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Indie chamber musicians mend listeners with the four steps of healing

Chris Pringle from RICE says, “There’s good music, and then there’s bad music, and we just follow the inspiration.”

Jacksonville’s quartet of mood music creators doesn’t even know how impassioned they really are. On a Saturday afternoon in a neighborhood in Arlington, Paige McNullen, Summer Wood, a UNF graphic design senior, Michael Martin and Pringle (all dressed in blue) managed to flood an entire backyard and all of its occupants with the most gorgeously galvanized music Jacksonville’s heard in a while.

With only a lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drums, a much exploited tambourine and overwrought vocals, RICE literally involves any soul that consumes their sound.

When it comes to their music, it’s been described as poppy, western, jam band-ish or just flat-out random. Whatever it is, they make excellent use of drawing in listeners with an initially charming melody which builds with every hit of the drum and bash of the tambourine.

Once the sound has grown so big it’s about to topple over, RICE adds stimulated vocals into the offbeats which create a pulsating effect that wills everyone in the crowd to lean into every beat with much vim.

“So, our name originally just meant rice, as in the food,” said Pringle. “But then Paige, our guitarist, came up with this clever acronym. RICE stands for the four stages of healing: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.”

Up until a few weeks ago, they were more or less a revolving band, with temporary keyboard, violin and bass players, but have recently decided to stop being fickle and make the member list official.

Wood, drummer and Jacksonville native, is a recent addition to RICE. The band’s temporary keyboardist introduced her to Martin, Pringle and McNullen.

“We needed a new drummer,” said Pringle. “Summer just came over one day and really complimented our music.”

Wood is a classically trained pianist and has been playing drums for about five or six years now after taking only a year of lessons. In addition to playing in RICE, she also drums in Matrix Infinity, an all-girl, avant-garde drum-synthesizer duo.

In RICE, she’s been able to seamlessly blend her drum parts with their pre-existing parts by focusing on the feelings of the songs.

“I think most of the lyrics are about love,” said Wood. “And I try to incorporate those feelings with the music.”

McNullen comes from a punk background but can write extremely smooth leads, Pringle said.

“Paige writes the guitar leads,” said Wood. “Chris writes the guitar rhythms, Mike writes almost all of the lyrics and I write my drum parts.”

It’s a collective effort, and they’ve really unified as a band as of late.

“We always have a mini five to 30-second meditation before any performance,” said Pringle. “And I think it works.”

This summer, a possible tour is in the making with local group Opiate Eyes.

“This Friday, we’re recording at the storage unit with Tom Essex from Skinny Records,” said Pringle. “We plan on bringing a handle of whiskey and some cranberry juice along to keep hydrated.”

They met Essex in a park in Riverside. They were just drinking red wine, playing music and cloud-gazing when, through serendipity (never having met Essex before) began making plans to record and play together.

“It’s such a small, little artistic community,” said Pringle. “It’s so awesome to make connections like that.”

As for Wood, after graduating, she hopes to travel and continue to play music, she said.

“A lot of people in Jacksonville have so much talent, and I hate to see amazing bands play a lot locally and then see people get sick of it,” said Wood. “I hope that bands here will eventually tour and bring their music elsewhere.”

RICE plays the Sinclair May 1 with Opiate Eyes.

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