RWAKE are definitely a connoisseur’s choice as far as pounding southern agression goes. Put sludge, hardcore, death’n’roll, and whatever into Baba Yaga’s cauldron and you’re all set for a wild trip. We had a small discussion with CT (vokills) a while ago, a propos their latest album release “Voices Of Omens” @ Relapse records.
Interview by Panos Agoros
I liked your first two albums but this one is your best until now, for sure. How did you end up on Relapse. Do you plan to live from your music from now on?
We would like to. It’s just a matter of hard work and touring. I hope the music speaks for itself.
During a large part of the album, there is a background layer which sometimes sounds like low-mixed vocals, some other times like noisy stuff. What is that exactly? Did you want to have subliminal, almost hidden layers?
It’s really hard to say because we try to do lots of things that sound subliminal. It could be vocals but, it’s probably the moog. There’s definitely times when you can’t tell a difference between the subliminal backward vocals and the moog. Sometimes they sound the same, they’re so fucking satanic sounding. For instance on the first song, we purposely made the vocal tracks very fucking decrepit to where they just sound evil as fuck; very ghastly, ghoulish, black metal, which the music isn’t a whole black metal sound but, the vocals definitely are on the first song until they kick in, obviously. There are other underlining parts like that all through out the cd but, like I said I don’t know if you can tell the difference between the vocals and the moog in certain parts through the cd. We purposely made them subliminal and reverse like that.
With who from the next bands are you friends with and/or acknowledge as influences: Neurosis, Eyehategod, Down, Crowbar, Kylesa?
We’re definitely friends with the dudes in Eyehategod and Crowbar and Kylesa mainly just because they are all southern bands that we have played with. Those bands really represent the south and the fact that they’ll play the shittiest towns in the south just because the town is hungry for metal. Especially Kylesa and Eyehategod. And to me in the south that is really representing because not a lot of the smaller towns get bands coming through there and they are starved for metal. Definitely Neurosis is a big influence to us especially back in the day. Starting our band, they had an influence on our music. Not so much to where we wanted to sound like them but, we felt like they knew what the fuck they were doing. They were going musically and metallistically in the route we were wanting to go; spiritually feeling right about our heavy music. As far as Down, Eyehategod, and Crowbar being influences to us. Again especially back in the day like Neurosis was. Those are just bands that we really looked up to and helped us to get to where we are at now just because of the inspiration they were to us. We had to have someone to listen to and we were lucky enough it ended up being those bands.
Why did you chose this name for the band?
I would definitely say the band name chose us. Probably not one of us wanted our name to be Wake with an “R” before it. It was Wake before and it mutated into what it is. It came from a bad(meaning good) robo trip and trying to say the band name and I couldn’t really speak at all and it came out real slurred and caveman like and so Jeff heard me trying to say the bands name and he said we should go with that. The only reason we were trying to change it any way was because there were 50 million other bands with the name Wake. They kept sending us this e-mail with there copyrights and saying they would sue us if we didn’t stop using it. We didn’t give a fuck about getting sued as much as just having the same band name as a lot of other really shitty bands out there playing shit rock. We are totally different bands representing totally different styles of music with the same name. We didn’t want to be lumped in with those fags. We had to get away from that. We kept trying to come up with ideas and nothing felt write. In 98 we came up with the R to represent primordial man trying to speak and say our band name. Some people call us “R”Wake but most of the old school people call us Wake. We just figured a long time ago that the music was more important than the band name so, we just kind of went with that.
Is that a fly in your logo? What does it represent, decay or something?
No. It’s a cicada. We were just looking for something cool to go with our logo way early in the band. I found a picture of a cicada that just fit under it perfect. A lot of people call them locust because they are these big, fat fucking evil, apocalyptic bugs. Really they only representation for me is from when I was a kid their shells would be everywhere, see there life cycle is real fucked up where they go in to the ground for about 5 to 7 years depending on what kind of cicada it is. I guess they are down there harnessing there power and they get out of there and they eat and they go and stick on a tree or some kind of surface where there claws can dig into it. They de-shell this hideous, ghoulish, demon creature which is them but the shell and the men also have these membranes that rub up against each other and make this loud shrieking noise that really pierces your ear if you’re close. Usually, if you hear one, you hear thousands of them because they are all trying to get laid. After getting laid they instantly die. It’s just a really fucked up life but, they are really cool creatures or bugs. When you’re a kid down here and you go to your grandma’s house out in the country, there are usually cicada shells everywhere and you pick them off and stick them on girls so they will go around screaming.
Does your music have to do with being wasted in the wilderness?
Not in particularly, being where we are from we have all been wasted in the woods before. Even if any of us grew up in the city, ten minutes away is the country. We can get to it with no problem. Growing up as a teenager that is where you go. You go to the woods to have a good time whether you are going to explore with cool drugs or going to party by the lake with beer on the back of your truck, you know like tailgating with loud jams, or taking a girl out there just to fuck. It is very much Arkansas.
In what kind of environment do you live (urban, countryside) & how much impact does it have on you artistically?
Right now I live in an apartment with my wife and baby and it fucking sucks as far as environment for inspiration except for it being up on a hill and there is this really cool park down the road that is really righteous and you can see all of Little Rock and the river. The other way you look you can see all of Levy. Other than that it’s not really cool as far as inspiration. Jeff, on the other hand, Jeff and B, they live out on the side of a mountain by Batesville and Pleasant Plains. He’s written more musically on the Rwake album than he ever has. I don’t know if it has to do with that but, it’s cool either or just having a righteous environment. The city sucks, well I guess it’s not that bad if you need to get to Wal-Mart in 5 minutes. But it sucks other than that. I would much rather live further out away from people and their opinions.
To what extent is your music related to drugs?
Not greatly. I mean in the beginning we thought it was cool. We thought we’d always have to be messed up to play. We grew out of that through the years. Just because the music became more important than substance fun. I’m not saying no one does drugs anymore or anything like that, it’s just not a focus. There have been so many times when fans has come up to me and said “I have taken all these mushrooms so that I would be peeking while Rwake was going on stage”. Those actions are still an honor to me.
What feelings & images do you want to feed onto the listener’s mind with “Voices Of Omens” ‘s music, artwork, song titles & lyrics?
Just the south and Arkansas in particular can be a scary place at night and in the woods. There is evil shit going on down here. Stay the fuck away. Stay in the city, you don’t want to come to Arkansas but, we love it here. We want to live here forever. As long as we can keep it that way. We have all grown up around small Arkansas towns like Traskwood, Bald Knob, Woodson Lateral, and lots more. Those are all places around here, that we write about in our music and they mean a lot to us. The fucking woods around here are haunted and it’s an evil place. For the last few years, for a lot of members in the band, have been fucking sad you know, we’ve had lots of bad things happen in our lives, it’s real shit you know. You have family members, best friends die in really fucked off manners. It has something to do with your life and it affects your music big time. You want people to feel the hate and hurt that you’re feeling even if it’s a sad opus of music that you’re passing off to the people that listen to you. That’s just what we’ve chosen to do. It’s just what’s been going on in our lives and it shows in the music. Nothing good is coming out of it as far as positive but, that’s ok music is evil. Metal is evil.
I don’t have the lyrics, tell us a little bit more about them. From what the song titles suggest they must be quite psychedelic/majestic.
More like sad, triumphed, majestic, darkness. The first song, The Finality, is very fucking decrepit, creepy, possessed. We are trying to make it the most evil track. That song and the last song, The Lure of Light, are what we tried to make our most evil tracks and we tried to sandwich the album with those two tracks like that. Crooked Rivers is about the paths that people take cause not everybody has to be an evil mother fucker. You can fight that shit even though it is hard not to take that path when it is all that you’re dealt. It’s a song about fucked up choices. The whole album is just about fucked up meanings; death, sadness, depression, possession, evil shit that happens to us here in Arkansas. The only song that has nothing to do with Arkansas shit is Leviticus which is about the battle between science and religion. Basically how Christian scientist believe that the earth that we live on now is earth two and there was a first earth and the only people that survived the first earth turned into the angels we know of in Heave, Gabriel, Lucifer, so on. Super Christian Science and sorcery.
There is a certain versatility in the vocals. Do you treat them as if there were roles to be played?
I guess I never thought of it like that. They are really spontaneous. I write a lot of shit and B writes some shit but, it really depends on what’s going on with the music. I do like certain songs to sound shouty and preachy like some whacked out hollering preacher man is telling you the end of the world is happening and you can’t do anything about it and being in your face. And B usually just coats everything I do, in and out, here and there depending on the songs and the lyrics. That’s just the way we work shit out. We really just luck out with all of that stuff.
You hail from the American South. For some reasons “southern” bands from all over the world, whenever they are from Arkansas or New Orleans, Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Greece), South America, South Asia or even Australia, have quite often special exotic vibes. Why do you think is that?
I don’t know really about any of the other places other than the south here just because I never really been there. I probably know a lot of bands from those areas and just don’t know that they are from those areas. Probably just because we are underneath everybody. The south in America is a really fucked off place. The mentalities from everybody, everyone from the civil war. Racially everyone’s attitudes are fucked off, and it goes both ways. The hills of meth. Methamphetamine is growing strongly here with the redneck mother fuckers. Meth is the new Moonshine. The south is a fucked off place in America. I don’t know if it will get better. The capitals in each city might get nicer but as far as small ass towns in Mississippi and Alabama and even Arkansas there is no hope. I fucking love it.
Something for closers?
Don’t kill yourselves before you have a chance to see us live, and listen to more black metal. Thank You. Goodnight.
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