Every so often a mesmerizing young beauty emerges from the downtown music scene of New York City and catches our eye. A few years back we stumbled upon a band that was managed by the legendary Andy Animal, dubbed Animal Show. Raw, punk and very simple in their style of music, all three members of the lineup were young, stylish and seemed rather unaffected. The female lead singer, with the stage name Reiley Ugly, caught our attention. The then 19 year old beauty had crazy wild and curly hair; her style of dress was simple in jeans and t-shirts. We knew we had to photograph this beautiful creature and feature her on Ponyboy. And this is Reiley Ugly…
PONYBOY: Reiley please tell our readers where you’re from?
REILEY: I was born in Fort Meyers, Florida, but I was raised in Raleigh, NC. I mostly grew up on my mom’s farm a little ways out into the country.
PONYBOY: What was your upbringing like?
REILEY: It was a really funny mix between rural and urban. We had horses and chickens and all that on the farm, so I’ve been riding horses for a long time. I used to do barrel racing, which is the most redneck horse sport you can imagine. Pretty fun stuff though. Then later on I went to high school in Raleigh in the middle of the city, so I spent most of my teenage years wandering around there and having after school band practice at my dad’s apartment downtown.
PONYBOY: How did you get into music?
REILEY: I’ve always had a passion for it and started playing guitar and piano when I was young. Before moving up to NYC for music, I actually almost went off to the science program at UNC Asheville. I was really interested in that for a while. I just never believed that being a musician for a career was realistic or even possible. But then I came to the realization that it doesn’t matter if it’s practical, it’s what I want to do. And so here I am. We’ll see what happens.
PONYBOY: Tell us about your band, Animal Show.
REILEY: The band has existed in various forms for a few years, but not that long as the Animal Show that it is now. It used to be pure 70s style punk, but I’ve just been adding more and more layers of other stuff on top of it over the years, so now it’s like some punk/glam/disco 8 layer rock and roll circus. And particularly in the past few months I have to say I’ve been pushing it and experimenting even more than before and I’m excited about that.
PONYBOY: Your band has gone through changes, as far as band members as well. Tell us your most recent lineup.
REILEY: We’ve been through a ridiculous number of lineup changes. It’s kind of insane. The list of people who have been involved and contributed in the past is pretty long. We have a really killer lineup now. I front and cover guitar and then we have our bassist Julian, pianist Jessie, and drummer Dylan. Occasionally we have our friend Eli join us on second guitar and he always gets wild. It’s a great group, and half of us even live together, which makes things really convenient.
PONYBOY: Do you write your own songs?
REILEY: Yeah, I write the songs for Animal Show. My general process is that I write the lyrics and guitar parts and have the entire concept in my head, then I bring it to the band and we all fill in our parts. Then I might tweak it; however, I need to match up with my original idea. It’s really nice this way because everyone adds their own personal touch to the song, which is how you develop your sound as a band.
PONYBOY: We were introduced to you by Andy Animal, who at the time managed your band. How did that come about?
REILEY: I reached out to Andy a couple years ago, before I really knew him too well, to see if he would let us play Meltasia 2017. He ended up giving us a lot of ideas and advice and it kind of just happened naturally that he started managing us. Oakley from Black Lips/manager of Nude Party helped with this whole process a lot too. They both really took us in and helped us get it together and become a lot more professional.
PONYBOY: Andy is such a fun character. What was it like working with him?
REILEY: It’s always been a crazy time. Andy is a really good friend of ours, so it’s very causal and fun to work with him. Of course, that also means we have frustrating moments because when we disagree on something we’ll just argue to no end. But I love arguing, so it’s really actually pretty funny. Andy is great. We wouldn’t be where we are today without him.
PONYBOY: What musicians/bands inspire your own work? Who are your favorites?
REILEY: My first love was and always will be David Bowie. His music covers just about everything, so I can draw influences from so many different Bowie eras and styles of work. There are plenty of others, as well. Alice Cooper is very important to me and the rest of the band. That’s actually thanks to Andy. He made us watch the documentary about him when we were at his house upstate and we fell in love. I love the insane theatrical element he brings to his performance. I’m a huge Doors fan as well. Jim Morrison is basically my god. There’s so many others, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, Prince and Blondie. I can’t possibly name all the people and bands that I’ve drawn inspiration and ideas from, but those are a few for you.
PONYBOY: If you could collaborate with any band or musician (famous or unknown), who would it be?
REILEY: I want to write a rock opera with Alice Cooper.
PONYBOY: That would be incredible, we’re sure! Looking back, what would you say was the most fun or memorable show to play so far?
REILEY: Wow, there are too many to count. We’ve been lucky enough to have played some amazing shows with incredible people. I suppose I would have to say that playing Meltasia 2017 was just such a massive and surreal experience that it would be really hard to top that. It’s always great when you manage to gather so many extraordinary musicians and people for the same event. That’s never gonna be a bad time.
PONYBOY: Of course we have to ask, describe your own personal style of dress.
REILEY: Everyone always says I look very 80s, which I suppose is true. But what I’m really going for is a kind of ‘70s classic punk (some of my early fashion inspiration was taken directly from the photos in Please Kill Me) mixed with 80s New Wave, and then throw in some glam and disco. Also cowboy.
PONYBOY: Tell us about your Animal Show “The Magnificent Fireball Tour 2018” and any new upcoming releases.
REILEY: Yes! We just embarked on a month long tour for the entirety of October. You know, driving all the way to LA and back. I can’t wait to see the desert again. We also just released a long overdue EP and a video to go with it. We’re moving into new territory soon, so it’ll be nice to put a cap on some of the old stuff with the release of this record. Animal Show has a lot of new stuff in the works after that so stay tuned!