Haunted past, bright future

The former drummer of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti is suing the band for $1 million. New drummer Ryeland Allison is still too excited to care.

Griffin Fillipitch


What: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

When: 9 p.m., Saturday

Where: Fine Line Music Café, 318 N. First Ave., Minneapolis

Price: $15


Days before their ninth album, “Mature Themes,” was released on Aug. 21, members of Los Angeles band Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti received some startling news. Former drummer Aaron Sperske was suing them for, among other things, $1 million in punitive damages. Sperske claims he, Ariel and the rest of the band had a verbal contract to write and perform music together, and that contract was breached when he was kicked out earlier in the summer.

Pink, the founder and creative force behind the band, is no stranger to turmoil like this. His live performances are known for being tumultuous. Last year he stormed off stage in the middle of a show in front of thousands of fans at Coachella.

Ryeland Allison, the new drummer for Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, is less accustomed to the anxiety that comes with being in the band, but he welcomes it.

“We’re all going through different things, whether it be drama from relationships, women, drummers, family or whatever,” Allison said. “I don’t think it ever impedes the progress of the band. If anything, it propels it.”

Still, he is not interested in talking about the lawsuit.

“It’s gotten pretty ugly. It’s not fun, but they’re dealing with it,” Allison said. “I think they’ve gotten a better deal with me, but I don’t know.”

Sperske’s difficult departure aside, Allison was actually underwhelmed by the level of drama within the band.

“I thought there might be egos and weirdness, but it’s not that way,” Allison said. “Sometimes it might be a little disorganized because people are dealing with personal stuff, but that’s just life. It’s not like we’re Fleetwood Mac or anything.”

For him, the level of excitement and anxiety that comes with being in a touring band is a welcome change. Allison has been working for over 20 years as a producer and musician for film and television. His credits include “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man.”

“I used to walk 20 feet to my office, sit down in front of a computer all day,” Allison said. “That was my world — always admiring my friends going out and touring. I just never had the chance to do it.”

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti are now on a tour that will take them all over the United States and Europe, including a stop at the Fine Line Music Café on Saturday. The scale of the tour signifies Pink’s ascent to a new level of success, despite (or because of) his eccentricities.

“It’s interesting to see how it’s grown. I think the band has gotten bigger in a good way,” Allison said. “A lot of people think of it as selling out or abandoning his lo-fi roots or whatever, but I think it’s just a natural progression so he’s happy to do it and make it a bigger show.”

As a part of that show, Allison has little to give Pink other than praise.

“He’s quirky. He’s an artist,” Allison said. “He slips from time to time. He’s very particular about what he wants, but that’s the way it should be. … He’s not nearly as bad as some people I’ve met in the film industry.”