Interview with Steve Rice of IMAGIKA & Kill Ritual

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Imagika & Kill Ritual Guitarist Steve Rice

Interview by EvilG


To start I have to say, it’s a nice feeling to be talking about NEW Imagika and to get to talk about new stuff from this band once again. It feels to me like Imagika and are somewhat intertwined in that your first album was one of the first I reviewed way back in 1995, the same year that I started this zine.

Yeah amazing! Seems like yesterday, but also a long damn time ago. We’ll we’re both still kickin’ and rockin’ so let’s keep it that way!

It’s been almost a decade since Imagika fell apart.  Without dwelling on the negative too much, can you explain why you decided to end the band rather than find new members who wanted to keep the flame burning?

Well it had run its course and quite frankly I was burnt on it. The band had way too many changes and it felt like I was beating it to death. It was just time to rethink stuff and go on different road and change colors a little bit.

I vividly recall Imagika’s first album with a lot of fondness. It came out at a time in the mid-90’s when most new bands from the USA were terrible. lol Or to be fair, maybe most that were being promoted.  Imagika rekindled a melodic bay area thrash style that I had been missing. What is your take looking back on the beginnings of the band today?

We’ll it was a good take on what we wanted to do. A little thrash, a little classic metal, some good old Euro metal thrown in for flavor and there you have it. We all dug stuff like Overkill and Queensryche and Maiden and Dio and just wanted to blend it all together with our own sound.

Do you keep up with long time past member’s like drummer Henry Moreno or vocalist David Michael?


How much of a gap was there between Imagika and your launching of the band Kill Ritual?

That was about a year to get it together and another year to get the debut CD out. So not too terribly long. I was determined to not waste time.

Did you deliberately strive to make sure Kill Ritual wasn’t Imagika part II?  To me, it was a totally different band even though the guitar style and solos were still recognizable as you.

Absolutely. Why do Imagika Mach 2? I wanted to grow and write different stuff. Kill Ritual is my baby and in my control. Imagika was always more a writing team with Norm and I. Both work. Both are productive.

Over the Imagika-less years, how many times did you consider firing up the Imagika band again?

Zero to tell you the truth. Jim our bassist who lives only a couple minutes away was the bug in my ass always saying c’mon bro let do it again. I did it just to shut him up! HA!  Seriously I put that shit to bed. But life makes you reflect and hey if it came together easily and quickly I’m not going to fight fate.

I read that it was a meeting with Imagika vocalist Norman Skinner while Kill Ritual was on tour with Iced Earth and Sanctuary that led to the reformation. What did that conversation go like?

The usual, drink some booze and all of a sudden we’re talkin’ old times. Truthfully after the tour I thought about it a bit and start working on the material and got Matt to lay down drums and then I started presenting shit to Norm to see what he thought and before we knew it we had 8 tunes in the bag.


When you both agreed to reunite the band, what process did you go through to fill the bass, drum, and possible 2nd guitar position?

Like I mention, Jim was already ready to go. Matt had already tracked everything so Norm was the last to get the stuff. I did this without telling Norm. I wanted to present it to him as a pretty well completed package and a surprise.  2nd guitarist? WTF is that? HA!

I recall that Imagika had a lot of “second” guitarists that didn’t stick around. As you’re listed as the single guitarist now, will you keep it to a one guitar band to avoid any unnecessary bullshit? Lol

Yeah though it sounds cool live if you got the right guy, but I’m way too big an asshole to deal with. Well that’s what everyone tells me. Can’t argue…that’s my wife’s pet name for me also! HA!

As many know, you have King Diamond’s amazing drummer, Matt Thomson, on board as a studio musician for the upcoming album “Only Dark Hearts Survive”. He also did some session work with your Kill Ritual band.  I am assuming this came together as a result of you doing studio related stuff for your bands in Andy LaRocque’s studio?

Yep. Great guy, super humble, all biz and no BS. That’s why he’s in KD.

Did you hope that Matt would have time to join or play some live shows or was it always as session drummer?

He’s too busy and quite frankly too expensive. Just a reality. I wouldn’t play with us either if was him! HA! Plus I don’t want King putting a Hex on us or something for distracting his drummer!

So when Imagika was reunited, how much time did it take to write the album? Did you have riffs and song ideas already put aside that you had came up with that were just not suited to Kill Ritual?

Bingo. I had a ton of stuff hanging around that didn’t fit what I want to hear from KR so I kept it in the files and knew that if I wanted to do a thrashier project again I’d have a head start. Well I guess it worked out that way didn’t it!

Did it take long to sign with Dissonance Productions to arrange the release of the album or was it super easy as a result of the Kill Ritual association?

It took a minute. They thought the stuff was good; KR didn’t make it super sellable for them as it was more a matter of me making it happen on a business level. KR has management where Imagika does not. We are currently handling shit on our own. So it was just a different approach.

Imagika “Only Dark Hearts Survive”
Imagika “Only Dark Hearts Survive”

Does the new album title “Only Dark Hearts Survive” have a deeper meaning about yourself, or the band?

Yeah pure evil right here boss! HA! It just says to me that you can’t approach life thinking its all love and happiness and good times. If you want to survive you have to know your dark side and it’s ok to acknowledge that. I don’t try to lie to myself too much and I’m a man of many flaws. So sometimes evil wins.

What are some of the songs on the new album about, do you have any favs?

The usual variety from the twisted mind of Norm. Where Our Demons Dwell the CD opener is some perverted sex thing. The Spiteful One is about some chick losing her shit and killing her boyfriend. Fire fight is about a guy going postal and taking whoever he can down with him. The usual cheery Metal shit! HA! My fave is the title track.

I hear you are making a music video for a song? Has it been revealed for what one yet? What is the concept for the video?

Yep it’s going to be for The Spiteful One and Jim is the boyfriend that gets murdered. Fitting since he made me reform the band! Fucker!

I know you have a couple of Imagika shows coming up soon, have you been rehearsing a lot?

No. The band will spend 2 long days rehearsing and we’ll be good to go. Lots of independent work though riffing.

What is picking a setlist like and re-learning older songs you haven’t played in so long?

Hard man, but it slowly started returning. Weird to go back in time and remember who you were then. Sadly I found out I was an asshole then too.

What touring plans do you have or hope for Imagika in 2019/2020?

I think we’d like the CD to be well received and would love to tour Europe if possible and obliviously do some US stuff too. We’re open to it. Hopefully it hits a spot for us that works.

Kill Ritual was super lucky to land the coveted opening slot for Sanctuary and Iced Earth. How did you swing that one and did you garner a bunch of new fans for the band?

Our management pulled that off. Both bands were like who the fuck are these clowns, but we got it done and didn’t make easy for them to kick our asses. Wasn’t going to ever happen. All involved were chill and we didn’t have issues with anyone. We scared them a bit because my buddy Chris (who played bass on the tour) are full on 24/7 and they were a little like “WTF?” They were semi-impressed! HA! The fans were cool for the most part because we look like we’re having fun and mean business. That kind of attitude is infectious.

It would be amazing to get Imagika onto a tour with bands like that, something that could get you a lot of new fans!!

Of yeah I agree. Let’s see what we can do.

After the tour, Kill Ritual parted ways with your vocalist – I thought the timing odd as the band just did a wicked tour. What happened?

He wasn’t made for this shit. He did his job, but when it came down to it he wasn’t believing it in his heart. Not a metal baller. Plus he couldn’t hold liquor for shit! HA!

Did it take long for Kill Ritual to find a new singer, it seemed to happen quickly.

Fairly quick. The new singer Chalice is 100% more metal than Dave the old singer. No shit the guy has got some serious metal pipes so the new stuff definitely reflects that. Aggressive, melodic, and can hit the classic high notes.

How will you split your time between Kill Ritual and Imagika now that you have 2 active bands? Will it be mostly dictated by opportunities that come up for tours and album sales?

That’s kinda of the rules ain’t it? KR is my deal from top to bottom so I’ll always be on it 100%. Imagika is all the guys and we’ll have to agree on stuff and how it all goes down. So I know we’ll juggle shit and make it work.

When exactly is the new Kill Ritual album coming out, is a date set already? Any tour plans, videos etc news share?

Yeah CD is wrap, videos are being put together as well as future dates etc. Lots of planning and staging. This CD is loose concept based on The Omen and is titled “The Opaque And The Divine”. It’s pretty involved and progressive this time, but also the most commercial thing I’ve ever written. I wrote every note top to bottom. Lyrics, music, etc. Should drop in early 2020.

What else is happening in the busy world of your bands and yourself that you would like to share with our readers?

Just still riding this Metal Crazy Train! Haven’t jumped off yet! Hopefully we’ll see you guys somewhere!

Thanks for your time, all the best to you and to both bands!

Thank you G!

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