Cleveland, Ohio’s Ringworm is one of the most chaotic hardcore metal bands on the market, and has been since their beginnings in 1991. All gaps in their performance history aside, the Relapse Records act continues to punish and pummel the eardrums and senses of their listeners with their trademark aural assault. There’s just something about Cleveland that does that to bands.
Touring in support of their latest EP release, “Bleed,” Ringworm also promises a new album to come in early 2014, and we’re ready for it! I caught up with vocalist Human Furnace to discuss the group’s long history, the detail of the new album, and where they’ll find themselves in the coming months.
G- Hi and thanks for speaking with us today! It’s good to have you guys down here at CMJ this year on such a stacked bill. You guys were a last minute announcement… How’d this all come together?
HF- Yeah, it was a great time no doubt. We were asked about the show a couple of months, or so, ago, but we were unsure we would be able to make it out there for a one-off gig and also we would have just played the same venue 2 weeks prior. Maybe that’s why we were “surprise guest.” I dunno, but it all turned out quite excellent.
All the bands slayed, and the place was packed. Personally, I like playing in front of a new audience and turning them on to what we do. The other acts were mostly slow and heavy, so I definitely think we woke them up from their stoner trance sleep. Ha!
G- You are currently touring in support of your latest EP release, “Bleed.” How has the reception been to the new songs, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record?
HF- I always make jokes about fans not liking new material. Partially joking really, just to loosen things up, but there’s also a bit of truth in there. You’re always going to get people that will only like “old” songs and slag on “new” material. So, I make sure to let them know that they can like the new stuff in about 3-4 years when it’s “old” and they are aloud to like it. We’re patient like that, ha.
But the new material was very well received, so I guess I should stop making that joke. And that’s a very good sign because we have a whole new record ready to spring on everybody real soon.
G- And speaking of that, the new album is in the works for 2014. Have you determined a title yet, and how many songs should we expect?
HF- Yeah, it’s entitled HAMMER OF THE WITCH. 12 songs. Vicious as all
G- Can you tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time around, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release?
HF- It’s pretty simple really. Matt or John will write a song, they bring it into practice. We learn it or, if any of us have any other ideas about what to do to it, we might mess around with it.
We record it.
I write some words for it.
Record them, and that’s that.
We had Ben Schigel recording us again. He’s done our last few records. He’s really easy to work with. He knows how we operate and, in particular, him and I work really well together, as far as vocals go. I think we were in the studio for about 3 months, although we took days/week off here and there. The art took a little time, but I did a piece a while back that I knew I wanted to use for the cover.
H- How about with Gluttons or HolyGhost… Any touring/recording plans happening with either of your other projects in the near future?
HF- GLUTTONS stays very busy these days. When Ringworm isn’t out, Gluttons usually has a lot of gigs going on. We plan on recording a full length in December.
HolyGhost has been on the back burner for quite awhile, although I’ve never really stopped writing songs for that project for years now. I literally have about 12-13 songs done and the framework for about 10 more. That’s more of a solo thing at this point so, when the time comes to record these songs, I’ll basically have to recruit guest musicians to record. But that’s kind of the thing I’m looking forward to… A large collaboration with many different types of musicians. It will see the light of day eventually.
G- So being in a band so long and doing as many interviews as you do, you’ve probably heard every fucking question in the book at this point. Are there any questions you haven’t been asked that you want to inject and/or answer, or what do you wish you’d be asked in an interview?
HF- More often than not, you get asked questions like “Who are you and what type of music do you play?” That usually gets a big “Aaarghh” and sigh. I have stock answers that I cut and paste into interviews like that. How many times and different ways can you answer “How’s the scene in your town” or some shit like that?
I take every interview seriously for the most part, but I could do without those types of questions most of the time. If we were a new band, I could understand it. But, after 24 years, it can get old. I do enjoy interesting outside the box questions though. The more interesting the question, the more time I’ll take to provide and interesting answer.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
HF- That’s tough, man. I dig a lot of our songs. Some I get tired of playing, but there are some songs that we’ve never played live that I’d like to do someday.
To pick one song is too hard. Next question, ha!
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
HF- Well, the term “make it” has different meanings to most. If you’re looking to make tons of money and sell a million records, I dunno if can help, as far as personal experience goes. But, for any young band that is looking to stick it out, keep your integrity, and make good honest music.
And I’m sure I can throw some street knowledge someone’s way.
First, I think it’s very important that you have fun at what you are doing. Let’s face it, most likely you are not going to be making millions or hell, even a living off playing music, so it has to be fun. Many times it can get rough out there, especially the older you get and the more real life responsibilities get thrown at you.
Secondly, I think its important to surround yourself with creative people and people that you can spend a lot of time with. Being stuck 24/7 with other people in a van, club, hotel, etc. and not having much personal space/time can be rough for sure, so it’s very important that your band mates are tolerable. After a while, it’s easy to just hate the way someone breaths or the way they eat. Anything at all can get to you, like nails on a chalkboard. So, its nice to be in a band with friends that you can be around a lot, and you’ve gotta have thick skin and never sweat the small stuff.
Also, be true to yourself about what’s important to you, that goes from the music you’re playing and if it is really that important to you. Sure, you’re only young once, so go nuts. But have a backup plan on what you really want to do with your life, because odds are your band isn’t going to “make it.” There’s nothing wrong with having a Plan B, so to speak. Being in a touring and traveling band, you sacrifice many things: Jobs, credit, relationships, friendships etc. So make sure you know what you are willing to give up, as you will be forced with a decision like that eventually.
For us, it’s never been a question… We’re lifers. But some people want the straight life ie. kids, marriage, family, steady job, and that type of thing. Not to say that you can’t have that AND be in a traveling band for years and years, but it takes a lot of work and understanding by people on many levels, especially if you can’t support said family from what you make in the band.
I’ve never questioned anyone for wanting those things instead of driving around in a smelly van, playing crappy clubs for no one, making no many etc. haha. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought of that, but I know I’ll be doing music in some form till I drop dead.
Anyway, thanks for the interview. And keep a look out for the new record HAMMER OF THE WITCH in early 2014.