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Speaking From A Post Punk World of Their Own! RITUAL HOWLS In-Depth Interview

Photo credit: Caroline Bonarde


Take us back to your childhood—what music did you hear around your home, booming out of the cars in your hood, or your headphones?

Paul: I mostly remember hearing a lot of Beatles, Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. Also, my mom was into some new age stuff, so there was never a shortage of Native American flute music in the house. 

Chris: Lots of classic/hard rock, 50s rock, and Motown coming out of my house. My dad played guitar and sang. He’d always play Neil Young, Cream, Yes. My mom was huge on Elvis, The Everley Brothers, Temptations.

Ben: I grew up with an older brother who definitely helped shape what I was hearing as a child. Lots of Nirvana, NIN, Rage Against the Machine. Also a lot of 90s and 2000s Hip Hop, like Blackstar, Common, Tribe, Pharcyde, and Dilla. My mom and dad were big on classic rock and jazz (which my brother, who records as Shigeto, played growing up and into university). So I heard a lot of Pharoah Sanders, Coltrane, Hendrix, and people like Janis Joplin. I also remember my dad always playing “Smiling Faces Sometimes.” He was from Detroit, so there was definitely some Motown in there.

What four albums have had a major impact on your creative spirit?

Paul: PJ Harvey – Dry
Bauhaus – In the Flat Field
Rowland S. Howard – Teenage Snuff Film
Nico – The End…

Chris: Skinny Puppy – Too Dark Park
Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar
Sonic Youth – Bad Moon Rising
Fugazi – 13 Songs

Ben: Cybotron – Clear
Arthur Russell – World of Echo
Alice Coltrane – Ptah, the El Daoud
J Dilla – Donuts

If you could put three of your songs from your discography in a time capsule to be opened in 2062, what songs would you put in there, and why? 

Paul: “Keep Those Stones Up,” “My Friends,” “A Manifestation of Time.” Why? They’re just some of my favorite tracks.

Chris: “Final Service,” “Going Upstate,” “My Friends.” I think those songs perfectly encapsulate our sound.

Ben: “L’atlante,” “Hell Fuck,” “My Friends.” Definitely some of my favorites and, aside from “My Friends,” less known so they would be fun to uncover.

Outside of creating music what other ways do y’all express yourself creatively?

Paul: On occasion cooking, I guess? I have two little girls so not much time for anything else creative. Ritual Howls is it. 

Chris: I like making visual work; sculpture, video, photography, etc.

Ben: I make paintings and ceramic work with a collective called Hamtramck Ceramck. I also run a record label (Portage Garage Sounds) with my brother and friend Vinnie, music related but not creating it.

Describe Ritual Howls  debut album  as a weapon of mass change or a superpower—what impact do you want to see it have on culture or our society?

Paul: Not really sure how to use those metaphors but I’d like to think we’ve added a little to this earthly existence. Maybe a few kids will find our music digging for records in the metaverse someday and it will help them find comfort in the madness. Other than that, I can’t hope for much more.

What was the creative process behind y’all’s song “The Year of Fear”? (The opening riff is sublime! )…What kind of emotion did y’all want to evoke with this song?

Paul: It was one of the first songs I wrote for the band. It came from a pretty dark place when I was finding it difficult to get out of bed. Chris put a great beat to it, and Ben added the fuzzed out bass line. It came together nicely. 

Ritual Howls (10 Year Deluxe Edition)

Label: Felte Records

Felte To Reissue 10 Year Deluxe Edition of Ritual Howls’ Self-Titled Debut Album

Remixed, Remastered, Deluxe Packaging & Reimagined Artwork

Ritual Howls (10 Year Deluxe Edition) Insert Photos

Hell fucking yes, “Rosabelle Believe” is one of my jams! Can y’all give us the 411 about this track?

Paul: I think this was one of our first tracks to come from us jamming. Or maybe I had a melody that we flushed out in rehearsal. The lyrics are about Houdini and his wife, Bess. They had a plan to communicate with each other from beyond death. It’s a pretty amazing story — as Houdini died here in Detroit. 

I got to keep it real — I hear some spaghetti western vibes from some of y’all songs. Am I tripping or do y’all have a love for spaghetti western tones?

Paul: Yeah, I’ve always loved the western sound of a twangy, tremolo/reverb guitar. I’ve found my take on it from playing a telecaster for a long time, and listening to a few Lee Hazlewood records.  I think it’s more of a surf tone at times, but I do love those Morricone sounds! 🙂

Chris: Yes.

Paul, your vocal delivery has a sexy and romantic vibe about it…Are you a hopeless romantic?

Paul: I guess so. The more experience I have with the hard work of true love, the more I realize that romance mythology is pretty shitty. I wish I had more sense as a kid to see how I was being affected by some terrible movies — they really pull on the teenage heart strings without you even knowing it. Chasing meaning in romance is exhausting, and can keep you delusional and lonely for a really long time. 

Do you have any favourite Romcoms?

Paul: No. I do enjoy films about love, though, one of my favorite movies is “A Woman Under the Influence.”  

Ben: I really like “Adam & Steve.”

When y’all we’re creating y’all’s debut album did y’all realize that y’all we’re creating classic material that would stand the test of time?

Paul: No, thanks for the kind words though!

Chris: Not at all.

Ben: Definitely not.

Talk to us about your relationship with Felte Records?

Paul: We’ve been really lucky to be able to release so many records with Felte. Jeff has always believed in what we do and helped us to share our music with people. We will always be very grateful to him. 

Ben: Yeah, having someone put belief in your music enough to release it is amazing. Jeff has helped get our music out to a lot more people and made a lot of connections for us that has helped us last so long and keep writing music together. It’s kind of crazy to realize how many records we have done together and how everything has progressed. Thankful for Jeff and his friendship and support. We are also forever thankful to Urinal Cake in Detroit who initially put out the first record and took the biggest leap.

Can you break down your creative arc from your debut LP to Rendered Armor?

Chris: I had a simple gear setup in the beginning. Before Ritual Howls I mostly made hard industrial music, but I didn’t want to overshadow the guitar driven songs with tons of beats and complex sequences. I think over time I’ve removed that barrier 😉

Paul: I agree! I really like that the beat driven elements of the band have become more central to our sound. It has helped keep the creative process moving forward. 

Top 5 MCs, dead or alive? 

Chris: KRS-ONE, Lil’ Wayne, Kool Keith, Rakim, Q-Tip.

Paul: Don’t really have a top 5 but I really like the work of Gucci Mane and DMX. Also, before the kids Cardi B had some heavy rotation in our house.

Ben: Really hard to do a top 5. So here are a few favorites… J Dilla, JunKi, ZelooperZ, Bby Mutha, H31R.

Any DIY or underground Businesses in the Detroit area y’all would like to big up?

Paul: The owners of the performance space/gallery/cafe called Trinosophes have always been supporters of our music, and the legendary Peoples Records is right next door. We also played an amazing show this past April at City Club downtown. The club is classic Detroit at its best!

Ben: Underground Music Academy. Wajeed, the director, is an old friend of my brother’s and they will be doing so much for the community and music community worldwide when they officially open in 2023. 

Cairo Coffee in Spot Lite, is a wonderful place for a coffee in Detroit.

Paramita is drinks and records and music.

Definitely People’s Records, Hello Records, Detroit Threads for records.

Mobile Fish pop up for sushi, but they may change name and get a brick and mortar soon.

All the events Jeweltones and Blueprint do in the city are great.

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