RITUAL HOWLS is:
Paul Bancell – vocalist, guitarist
Chris Samuels – synths, samples, drum machines
Ben Saginaw – bass
One thing that is really striking about this album is the wonderful guitar tones. From a production standpoint, how was this blended with the electronic beats so well and how did the sessions for this album differ from the sessions for “Turkish Leather”?
Chris: We spent more time on Into The Water standing over the engineer’s shoulder as he mixed, tweaking almost everything.
Paul: Yeah, I think we tweaked a lot of the mixes. Glad you like the guitar sounds on the record. I got a new pedal before we started recording and I really cranked the reverb/chorus. I’ve been layering more and more effects recently. I used to like raw guitar sounds but now find myself messing with a lot of delays and reverbs to make shit sound like it’s swimming. My rule is that it should sound like you’re on drugs, even if you’re not. Also, Adam at Hamtramck Sound Studios used ribbon microphones on the guitars which helped them jump out in the mix.
Ben: I tried to be a bit more dynamic with the bass on Into The Water. I did more overdubs of sounds and swells, especially on “Going Upstate.” And for the first time had bass sounds that were wet rather than fuzzed out. I think we just try to have more fun making each new album. We become a little more familiar with our identity as a group and as what feel we can bring as individuals each time we record. This inevitably changes the character of the album and the energy in the session. It feels more unified and clear every time.
“Turkish Leather” seems to have found you in a darker place, while this album strikes me as being more reflective and in line with classic storytellers like Nick Cave and Tom Waits. What do you attribute this maturation as a songwriter to?
Paul: Not sure if I’ve matured much as a lyricist. I still don’t read enough to write very well. I do think I’ve found a formula that works for Ritual Howls, though. The band connects on a very gut level, the struggle/intrigue with the darker/primal side of ourselves. We grind out existence together, moment by moment, demon by demon. I try to capture that tension/anxiety, that struggle, with words. Of course it’s not always so serious, there are moments we like finding a good melody, or drum sound. For these songs I just try to compliment the feeling with some interesting imagery.
What would you say are some of the other lyrical themes of this album?
Paul: Transgression, the origin of the will, loss, incarceration, death of the spirit.
I find darkwave to be a success if it doesn’t sound like “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive. Your music shares a similar shadowy space sonically with darkwave. Is darkwave an influence, and where do you see your more electronic side meeting with the more organic nature of what you do?
Paul: Yeah, I don’t know much about darkwave. I’ve worn down a cassette of Some Girls Wander By Mistake to practically dust. Does that count?
Chris: I don’t listen to too much dark wave. My background is more in the industrial / noise stuff. I think once that mixes with Paul’s guitar tone and Ben’s bass tone the result is something we didn’t anticipate or try to force in any one direction.
Ben: I was lucky to have an older brother and other brother figures that put me on to most of the music that influenced and still does influence me. NIN, Nirvana and Pharaoh Sanders filled my heart long before I knew what darkwave was. The thing I love about the band is that there is an incredibly wide range of influence and at this point darkwave is definitely one of them. But not any more than Alice Coltrane, Gucci Mane or Moodymann.
David Bowie died earlier this year, what did his artistry mean to you?
Paul: Unexpectedly, Bowie’s passing hit me pretty hard. I listened to him a bit when I was younger, but really got obsessed when I lived in New York for a few years. I was working with Simon Hinkler of the Mission at the time. One day he started talking about Bowie’s lyrics and songwriting. How complex and crazy those songs are – the stories, the imagery. Think I listened to Hunky Dory on repeat for a few months straight after that. Bowie’s loyalty to his art is very inspiring.
Ben: David Bowie was a beacon of comfort, hope and inspiration. He influenced so much music and so many musicians directly and indirectly. He made so many weirdos feel like it was cool to be a freak. He completely changed his persona from one album to the next but it was always obviously David Bowie. He chose incredible bands that fit the sounds he desired and was an innovative mastermind in the studio. It was incredible and inspiring to see someone be capable of all of that.
RITUAL HOWLS Into The Water Pre-Order HERE!
When I interview metal bands I always try to find out if they are closeted Joy Division fans or have leanings in darker nonmetal direction; so to flip the coin, were you ever into harder music growing up, like industrial?
Chris: For sure Industrial. I was raised on Industrial.
Paul: Fuck yeah, I have a tape of Reign in Blood I play all the time! Also, we just played with a great band in Indianapolis called Kvlthammer.
Ben: I grew up on NIN but I didn’t really know that much about industrial until I met Chris and Paul. A little after high school I got really into assorted metal like Mötörhead, Burning Witch and Sleep because of my friend James Tatum, who actually used to be in a musical project with Paul called Vultures Circle that was hard as fuck.
How’s Detroit these days for dark music?
Paul: There’s always great music/art being made here. It’s why we stay. A friend of ours has been throwing sick shows and releasing music lately under the name Industrial Detroit. industrialdetroit.com
Ben: One thing I love about Detroit is how interwoven the music scenes are. It’s great for dark music, but what’s even better is that you may run into the same people at a darkwave show and a Gay Marvine show or at 6am at dance leaning party No Way Back during DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) or some rock show at Jumbo’s.
You guys are playing the Murder of Crows show which is the post-punk goth festival in New York; what other plans do you have as far as live outings to support the new album?
Chris: We are planning a record release show in September in Detroit. Also, in October we are going on a west coast tour with Black Marble.
Paul: Yeah, that tour will be great! Black Marble rules.
09.09 Detroit, MI @ El Club (Record Release) ~
10.16 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
10.17 TBA *
10.18 Modesto, CA @ The Shire *
10.19 San Francisco, CA @ TBA *
10.20 TBA *
10.21 Portland, OR @ The Secret Society Ballroom ^
10.22 Vancouver, BC @ TBA *
10.23 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey *
~ w/ Silent Servant
* w/ Black Marble
^ w/ Black Marble, The Soft Kill