Stage Times: The Ramona Flowers

The Bristol dance-pop outfit take us on the highs and lows of their touring journey so far

Emerging out of Bristol’s indie-pop scene in the early 2010s, The Ramona Flowers quickly carved a name for themselves with synth-fulled euphoric pop, keeping one eye on the dance floor. Their latest EP, Gotta Get Home, builds on their founding sound with glossy and crisp edges, its rhythmic pulse driving escapist melodies (and even a cheeky cameo from Nile Rodgers).

As they enjoy the recent release and gear up for a huge 2023, the quintet talk us through their touring journey so far, from the lows of an unenthusiastic Mexican restaurant to early morning Japanese surprises.

The First

Our first show would have been The Louisiana in Bristol. It’s an amazing venue, I don’t think we’d fit in it any more because we’ve got too much equipment and there’re too many stairs. The guy that runs it is this mad Italian guy, he’s always been good to us. For a band starting out it’s a perfect entry level gig. I think there was a lot of vodka. Nearly all the songs we played that night we didn’t even record, they were a work in progress. 

We’ve written a lot more since that are much better. I think the real moment it all clicked was when we were lucky enough to get on a tour supporting Bastille. That tour was when they blew up and they got No.1 and it all went crazy, there were screaming girls every show. But a lot of the fans were coming up to us saying ‘How have we never heard of you guys?’ We were like wow, we’ve never had this response from people who actually wanna see us. But I do remember when we got off our bus once and all the girls started screaming but then suddenly stopped when they realised it was us and not Bastille, ha!

The Best

I think it would have to be Fuji Rock in Japan. Our tour manager was like, “By the way you’re on at 10:30 AM,” and we thought, why would we come all the way out here to play so early? We’d only played English festivals at this point and seen that noone goes to see anything at 10:30AM. When we went out there were five or six thousand people completely filling out the tent and singing our songs back to us. They knew all the songs, and were singing them back to us. At that time we were signed to Warner out there, so there was publicity happening out there but we just weren’t aware of it.  

We went back once, but then lockdown happened, so we want to go back soon. We did get offered to go back to Fuji Rock this year but decided not to and to go back next year instead. It didn’t make sense for us to go this year at a point we’d only released a couple more songs. 

The Worst

How long you got? There’s enough of them. The worst gig we ever did was when we went to Australia. We were chatting to some guy over there who was gonna book us some shows, and it kinda transpired after we landed that he was a bit full of sh*t. We had a couple of shows, and one of them was in a Mexican restaurant, it was supposed to be Australian Music Week but there was nobody there. It was just full of people eating and not paying attention to us. It was a long way to go for a shit show. 

There was once when we played a vodka distillery, and we were headlining the show. We had a couple of drinks before we went on, but there were technical problems so it got delayed and then delayed again, and they kept giving us more and more vodka. So by the time we got on we weren’t in the best state and the crowd was really pissed off because it was so late. They were taking it out on us. I don’t think we went on until midnight, we were hammered, the crowd was hammered, everybody was out for blood. 

We massively take our energy from the crowd, and you can quickly realise whether the people are up for it and if it’s gonna be a good show or not. It’s when you do support shows that you really know; you get some crowds at those shows where they’re really up for listening to new bands and are really interested, but you also get some that are so hardcore for the headlining that they give you dirty looks.

The Weirdest

We did a show inside a plastic box for Deezer in Manchester, it was probably the smallest too. We were inside the back of a lorry with a perspex screen over it. It was super hot outside and we were inside this big sweat box. But it was like a silent disco kind of thing, we had headphones on and all the punters outside had headphones on. You just had to look at people who weren’t really sure what was going on.

The Biggest

That was recently, actually. We played Firenze Rocks to about 150,000 people I think. It was basically like Glastonbury but instead of having a hundred bands on, they have three of four on, so everyone’s there to see you, basically. It was insane. I think the bigger shows are easier than the small ones, as everyone blends into each other. The intimate shows are harder, when you’re looking into people’s eyes, you’re right in the spotlight. The bigger the crowd, the more we’re up for it. Let’s have it.

Gotta Get Home by The Ramona Flowers is out now – stream it here