By Emily Eveland
By Sarah Stanley-Ayre
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After three years of taping his no-holds-barred, liquor-fueled talk show Drinking With Ian in First Avenue's Mainroom, host Ian Rans is in the midst of a few major transitions. Not only will his show be moving across town to the considerably smaller Northeast joint Donnie Dirk's Zombie Den, but Rans and his team will begin airing the show live—a first in its eight seasons on cable access channel MTN.
We recently caught up with Rans at a dive bar in Northeast to chat about his long-running show.
City Pages: What led to your decision to transition out of First Ave's Mainroom and into a smaller setting?
Ian Rans: We're transitioning out, but to a live set-up. It's the show we should have done in the first place—it always should have been live. Because a lot of it gets lost in translation, you know, you have this raucous event that happens, but then when you put it on video tape and you edit it down, even touching it at all, you become removed from it. Luckily, we're at a point where technology has caught up with us, so once we could do it live and it wouldn't cost a billion dollars, we were like, let's give that a shot. And let's do it somewhere small, where it has more of a cavern club feel, not just a cavernous feel, which is what doing it at First Avenue is sometimes like.
City Pages: Are you nervous about adding the live element to the show?
Ian Rans: It's always been my fear to be killed live on television, like end up on Faces of Death, so maybe that's how this will all play out.
City Pages: What do you have on tap so far this season?
Ian Rans: We're doing nine episodes. I'm really happy—I'm having Robyne Robinson back on, she's going to talk about running for lieutenant governor. I asked her, and she wrote me right back and said she'd love to do it. So it might be almost kind of exclusive. I was really hoping that Robyne Robinson would become lieutenant governor. The more people you have in high places, the less likely you're going to end up spending much time in jail. If I really screw up or if I get railroaded by the system or the man tries to hold me down, I've got somebody in my corner. Red Pens are gonna be on, like a billion bands. The problem is, it's such a small room, they only have a license to have a three-piece or smaller. So we're going to have Kristoff Krane on, more hip-hop based stuff.
City Pages: Are you active in the local music scene?
Ian Rans: I was a lot more when I was younger. I kind of fell off. It's depressing to even mention. I used to be the guy who was out every night. I would like to say that I got old, but I don't know. I ended up finding Thin Lizzy, and getting really into vinyl and old rock.
City Pages: There seems to be an innate relationship between rock music and socialization and alcohol. Do you ever think about how much the music scene is fueled by booze?
Ian Rans: I don't drink much when I'm at home, I'm a social drinker. Unfortunately, I'm a very social person (laughs). If there wasn't booze involved, there'd be no shows, because there'd be absolutely no reason for anybody to put a band on. If anything, we owe the liquor industries and unscrupulous bar owners a lot of credit, because without that, we never would have had not just our scene, but any scene in history. Nobody would have put Charlie Parker on if they weren't selling booze on the side.
City Pages: Have you ever done a show sober?
Ian Rans: When I first started, I would get nervous, and I would drink faster. So there'd be episodes that I didn't remember, or I was a little foggy on the details. Later on, it got to the point where I would just have a beer and nurse it throughout the night. Because I spent two months planning this—I spent all this time having this night happen, and if I fuck up, everything goes to hell. If I'm not on, we don't have really anything to show. So then it got to the point where I would maybe have a drink or two throughout the night, and it'd be over and I'd be stone sober. It's a great gimmick. It's a talk show that involves booze. And it was great for me when we were first starting, because I had jitters, horrible. I was really nervous about this stuff.