RIOTGOD Interview – Drummer Bob Pantella
By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Despite a long career that includes Monster Magnet and Atomic Bitchwax, veteran sticksman Bob Pantella’s spirits have not been dampened when it comes to making music as he bangs the drum for Riotgod’s upcoming new release…
As we all re-adjust to normal life again, how was the festive period for you?
Bob Pantella – “OK thanks… We just want to get back on the road… I gotta say, festivals are always a blast for everyone in this band. It’s nice to play in front of 50,000 drunk and stoned, crazy mother f*ckers……! It really feels like you can’t do anything wrong on stage. I look forward to it every year!!!! Backstage it’s a bit chaotic, and sometimes a mud bath, but it’s always fun….!”
We’re right at the start of a new year… any particular ambitions or wishes for the months ahead?
Bob – “Well, things are pretty much sewn up for the next six months…. Lots of touring for Riotgod, recording with other guys, etc, etc.. There really isn’t any end in sight as far as I can see; but that’s a good thing…. I love being busy!”
I believe this month sees the launch of your new album ‘Invisible Empire’ in the US, following its debut in the UK and Europe at the end of last year. Does the reaction to your music differ from country to country?
Bob – “Your right… The album was released in the UK and Europe in the November of 2011 and January 31st 2012 in the States. The reviews really don’t differ that much from country to country. They’ve been really great so far. Much better than I expected! I’m already excited about recording a new album actually….. I can’t sit still for long. Right now, I’m really focused on the live show and being able to have the album come across in front of an audience.”
In that respect, how has the album been received to date?
Bob -“So far so good!!!!! A lot of weird comparisons here and there, but I think that’s normal?”
There’s certainly a theme behind your album artwork – what’s the thinking behind that? Do you have a lot of influence over this?
Bob – “Well, that is really the department of Mark Sunshine, our vocalist… It started a long time ago and I think we’re really just having fun with it more than anything. Read what ever you like into it cause your probably right…..”
I noticed that you had posted the lyrics to “Invisible Empire” on your official blog – how important is it to you that people can interact with and relate to your lyrics?
Bob – “Ya know; I have to say, a lot of the time I don’t know all the lyrics myself until I see them on the blog.? Which seems funny I guess, because I mix all the music and have to hear it 6,000,000 times?”
“But I’m not listening to the lyrics as much as I am the feel of things. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of the lyrics, but not all of ’em. I’m always surprised when I do get a chance to read them, because Mark’s lyrics are really amazing to me!”
How are you working to promote the new record? I understand that you will be embarking on a US and European tour this year – will this be your longest tour to take?
Bob – “Yes, you’re right… We are doing a short U.S. tour in February, about 2 weeks full of shows; then we’re off to Europe for about 3 weeks. This will be the longest tour Riotgod has done to date, with more dates coming in the summer (U.S., Canada and Europe again, as well), but that’s cool. Plus, we’re doing a radio and press campaign also.”
It’s certainly a hefty itinerary – how are you preparing yourselves for this?
Bob – “Lots of rehearsal and washing clothes!”
Are there any new stops for you this time? Anywhere you’d particularly love to play?
Bob – “Well, most of the stops are new for Riotgod of course; we haven’t really toured that much overall……; so we are going into new territory everyday almost. But, if there is anywhere I would love to play, it would be Hawaii… I hate winter!!!!!”
Are you looking forward to giving the new tracks a live airing?
Bob – “Big time…..! I think it’s sounding pretty good. The music takes on a different energy live, even though we only have one guitar. I mean, the album has a lot of layered guitar tracks which is something I love to do in the studio, but live we had to figure out what would work to try to compensate for that fact? And we did. VOLUME!!!!! Hey, it never hurt Zeppelin….?”
What does a Riotgod tour usually entail? Are there a lot of wild antics or are things a little more sedate?
Bob – “No matter how you slice it, things seem to just get crazier and crazier the longer you stay on the road? I don’t know what it is, but I’m guessing it’s the lack of real sleep and way too much alcohol consumption, night after night after night? In the end it really is a blur….. Until you see the photos….UUUGGHHH!!!”
Once your touring commitments are over, how will you be looking to kick back and relax?
Bob – “HUH!!!! YEA RIGHT!!!!! Next…. It’s back into the studio! I play in four bands these days. There is no kicking back. That’s what touring is for! Most of the day, all you do is sleep on tour but at home its non-stop! Sometimes I feel like, I can’t wait to go on tour to get some rest and catch up on the 2 years of movies I haven’t seen yet.”
As we all know building an empire takes some time, but if someone gift wrapped one for you today what sort of rule would you impose?
Bob – “I would be King Of The World!!!!!! I mean, who wouldn’t, given the chance? Your lying if you say you wouldn’t!”
On that note, why did you choose that particular title for the album? If you’ve already got yourselves an empire – where do you go from here?
Bob – “Well, it was either that or ‘Riotgod 2’………… Any ideas come to mind for the next album?
Bob – “Pleasure!!”