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INTERVIEW: NYC’s The Ritualists

Pic by Sam Keeler

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, thanks for chatting with us. We’ve been very busy preparing the release and playing shows.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Ice Flower”?

Yes, it is the first single off our upcoming release. We think it is a pretty successful representation of our sound.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

In writing Ice Flower, I had a few separate inspirations. In one sense, it is about a failed and/or failing relationship. And I’m basically promising never to write a song about this particular issue again. However, as I sorted through my feelings further, I was faced with the realization that negative events in an artist’s life, naturally lead to strong emotions/feelings, which then can translate into great song fodder. This is where I turned to Coleridge, a favorite poet of mine. I thought of this relationship as sort of an inversion of his Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. My albatross (failed relationship) is no curse, because it has enabled me to write.

The single comes off your new album Painted People – what’s the story behind the title?

So, we have a song called, “I’m with the Painted People,” which is about my experiences performing and simply “being” in NYC. It is about the people who’ve inspired me, as well as the detractors. We thought it fitting that our “Painted People,” to whom we owe so much inspiration, would be also serve as the album title.

How was the recording and writing process?

I usually write in two different ways. The seed for a song either comes via a guitar/keyboard/bass riff that I’ve put together, or I come up with a vocal melody/lyric and then find the proper chords/accompanying melodies. Many of my vocal melodies come to me in the shower, I guess because when I’m occupied doing something relatively repetitive/mundane, my mind starts to relax and wander, which allows interesting things to percolate. Once the basics of the tune are recorded, I usually add the main guitar solo lines or signature keyboard tags.

What role does NYC play in your music?

As we talked about, it plays a huge role. I’ve learned so much from so many talented/creative types in the city.

What made you want to capture a strong 80s driven vibe on this record?

I assume people catch the 80’s vibe b/c I love both guitar AND keyboard melodies. I absolutely love bands like Duran Duran, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Cure, as they weren’t necessarily “guitar-driven,” but still featured strong musical hooks and melodies, which were played on both guitars & keyboards.

How did David Bowie and Marc Bolan get to influence the writing on this album?

Those guys are two of my heroes. They were both fearless songwriters and were very willing to experiment with sound, subject-matter, song structure etc. I’m not sure there are many artists today who can claim no influence from David Bowie. If they say that, they are likely lying. LOL Both of them also had a particular knack for writing multiple, complex vocal melodies over the same, repeated chord progression. Its something I’m still trying to wrap my brain around entirely.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

People. Alive, dead, famous, infamous and “painted.” Mythology, poetry, and occasionally, current events.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, we’ve currently been bouncing around the metro-area, with some Philly, NJ & DE sprinkled in. We are performing at the annual Johnny Thunders Birthday Bash at Bowery Electric, NYC on July 14th, put together by Steve Krebs. That man knows how to throw a party! We played it last year and were joined on stage by Lenny Kaye. He came up, sang a few tunes and shared some amazing stories about The Dolls, as well as The Velvet Underground. Later in July, we will be hitting the road and heading south, we are will doing shows in North Carolina at Beale Street Barber Shop, Washington DC & Atlanta, possibly adding a few other dates.

What else is happening next in The Ritualists’ world?

Always keeping busy. Believe or not, I’m finishing up demos for the 2nd record! We will also be shooting a video for our second single, which will be released prior to the full album release on August 2nd. We’re seeking inspiration from the old Stones promo video for Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It should be a gas, gas, gas.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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