[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e’re told to get pissy when Boston bands move to New York. But have we discussed how we feel about bands moving to Richmond, Virginia?
Throughout much of their six years living in Boston, masters of rapid-fire thrash RAMMING SPEED found themselves trapped in a smelly, smelly van — sometimes insulated with empty potato chip bags jammed in the ceiling cracks — en route to everywhere but here. A sexy new three-album deal with Prosthetic Records (Skeletonwitch, Holy Grail) should lead to even less time at home. Hence they plan to depart for the River City and its lower overhead come September, because this town is too friggin’ expensive.
“For the longest time, we made it work by living in our practice space, working as janitors, and doing basically everything we could to not pay Boston rent,” says drummer Jonah Livingston, explaining how the unruly quintet survived on an unsigned metal band’s salary for so long. “We were paying $200, per month, each, to mop vomit-covered bathrooms and live in squalor.”
The story of a band roughing it like whoa while touring on its own dime, then catching a long-overdue break has been told before. The same can be said for tales of individual and global ill will scrawled across towers of filthy, seething, up-your-ass thrash that end up crushing your bones and organs because those towers are being demolished and you can’t get out of the way of the scattering debris in time because its falling too fucking fast. Such are the songs on Ramming Speed’s latest, Doomed to Destroy, Destined To Die, out June 25. But stories like those are usually worth retelling.
On Sunday, Ramming Speed shall form a Megazord of brutality with Valient Thorr, Gypsyhawk, and Dumptruck to show Great Scott what’s what. We caught up with Livingston and guitarist Kallen Bliss on the overpass between Allston and Lower Allston. Then we moved to the Regina Pizzeria parking lot ‘cause the traffic noise messed with the voice recorder.
Barry Thompson: Lots of musicians go on tours, end up miserable, and quit their bands as soon as they get home. You guys obviously haven’t had that problem. What’s the secret?
[pullquote align=”right”]“All I want is a hot shower and a hot meal, and it’s the greatest Christmas ever.” — Jonah Livingston[/pullquote] Livingston: You have to be a glutton for punishment to really want to sleep on floors for two months straight, and not mind eating gas station food. You just have to be a really low-maintenance human being. If you can get yourself in that mindset you’ll start having a great time. We played in Florida during Christmas last year — and this is the perfect example of how you have to give up on life. I woke up on the floor behind a drum set, and the first thing I thought was, “Okay, it’s Christmas morning. I can take a shower. The kids we’re staying with offered to cook us dinner. I am so happy.” You get the to the point where the kinds of things that make a homeless person psyched — that’s you. You’re literally like, “All I want is a hot shower and a hot meal, and it’s the greatest Christmas ever.”
BA: What other underground metal bands should we be listening to?
JL: There’s this band Meth Valley that our singer started with some of our roommates recently. They’re doing this Thin Lizzy meets Judas Priest meets, like, Maiden… everything you want out of old school metal rock ‘n roll. There’s this band Battlemaster from Richmond. I think they have a new record coming out this year. There’s this band Locusta and this band Artillery Breath from Ohio. They’re both doing real awesome, dirty death metal thrash kind of stuff.
KB: Plague Dogs from Philly. They play crusty metal that rules.
JL: There’s a ton of good shit going on. It’s amazing how many good bands there are that no one’s heard of outside of their state or their scene, just because it is so cost prohibitive and life prohibitive to hit the road full-time.
BT: You guys used to do songs about pizza and beer, and now you do a lot of political songs. Politics, beer, and pizza are all real things. A lot of metal bands prefer to sing about goblins and all that.
JL: Our first record definitely had some ridiculous lyrical content, but I think it’s where the songwriters are at. Some bands might be more of an escape for themselves, so they sing about dragons and do their invisible grapefruit pose onstage. We just toured with 3 Inches of Blood, and they used to have a lot of songs about goblins and stuff. For us, we’re at a place in our lives where we’re in touch with everything that sucks. I don’t really want to escape. I want to address issues and talk about solutions, or talk about things that seem unsolvable. There are plenty of other bands doing the power-metal dragon thing. I don’t think we need to get in on that.