Righteous Vendetta has proved time and again how hard working, talented, and faithful a band they are. In between moving out of the metalcore genre, touring extensively, and starting preparation on new material, I was able to chat with the band about where they’ve been, where they’re going, and why the change in sound.
Lee: First off, I just want to thank you guys for “sitting down” with us. Tell us a little bit about the next EP/LP, how that’s coming together, and what fans can expect from it.
RV: Absolutely, thank you for having us! This next release is just going to be a full-length of the ‘Volume 1’ EP, so it is going to be along the same lines. We will re-record those 6 songs and add 4-5 more to that. The EP was originally recorded as a test run for the new Rock style and was going to be used primarily to pitch to management/labels. Fortunately we were able to pick up a great manager before committing to anything, allowing us to stay independent for the release, so we just released the EP on our own to solidify with the fans this new direction before heading in for the full-length. We are heading to the studio with Joel Wanasek in Milwaukee on June 24th and hammer it out in a little over a week. We have a great selection of songs to choose from for the remaining tracks. What fans can expect: tons of catchy, and a MASSIVE hard-hitting mix!
Lee: How does this next LP connect to Vol.1 thematically, musically, and conceptually?
RV: Musically the new tracks are going to be a little faster and heavier. We are still trying to find our exact mix of Rock and Metal that we are going for, and really focusing on bringing something new to the table. Conceptually, the full-length is going to revolve around the song “The Fire Inside.” It will be about standing firm against the sins that relentlessly attack our faith and integrity, and completely claiming victory over those sins rather than slowly giving into them and accepting them as a part of ‘the times’ or ‘modern Christian society.’
Lee: We had a fan question on Vol. 1. “Can fans ever expect to see the release of “It Was Love,” since it didn’t make it into Vol. 1?” (He went on to talk about our glowing review of that song :-)).
RV: There is a definitely a chance that will get released at some point! We are glad that it was received so well by you guys! It will not end up making the cut for this record, though. It wasn’t fitting musically with what we are hoping to accomplish with this record, which is an exciting, high-energy, riff-driven rock record. However, it is probably our favorite chorus we have written to date, so it might just have to reveal itself on the next record!
Lee: Another fan wanted to know, “Who is the ‘you’ that ‘The Fire Inside’ addresses in the lyrics, or are there different ‘yous’ at different points?”
RV: We get that question a lot! In fact there were a few radio stations who wouldn’t play that song because of that specific lyric. The “you” refers to (in my case) (Ryan)… Other people holding me back in my walk of faith. Basically “with or without you” is referring to a person who I walked in faith with who really brought me down in my faith walk. These walls cannot contain the fire inside me…Nothing they do or will do will stop me from fighting to get closer to Jesus. NO I was not referring to God with “you.”
Lee: Now, one of the big things getting buzz is of course your transition and evolution in musical styles. Can you talk a little about why you moved from the metalcore genre, how that transition has been received, and if this is something you plan on sticking with or if it is “just an EP thing?”
RV: Of course. It has definitely been a roller coaster, with feedback hitting both extremes! After “Lawless,” we began assessing our strengths as musicians, as well as our goals, and set out to decide what would challenge us the most. We came to the conclusion we really wanted to focus on songwriting and dive into the radio market with something fresh and new. We recorded “This Pain” in March 2012 to test out our potential in this market, which proved to be a huge step up in the work behind the writing process. It was released in July 2012, and it was actually received really well.
Most people just assumed it was a one-off radio release and that we were going to just make another “Lawless.” The song ended up staying 15 weeks on the Christian Rock charts, and a ton of new doors immediately started opening up for us. Considering the rock stuff came fairly natural and we felt like we had a sound that was unique coming from a metal background, that we would just go for it. It was the best thing we could have ever done. We absolutely love the challenges behind creating solid appealing songs while still pushing ourselves as musicians, and we have that same joy and ambition back that we had when we first started making music.
Now the fans’ emotions were a little different when we released the first song from the EP, “Defiance,” and they figured out that we were sticking with this sound. But after the first wave of disappointed fans, the reaction has been incredible. It was just that first wave of die-hard metalcore fans that just needed to let loose on us and get it out of their system, which is understandable. Fans want their favorite bands to be exactly what they want to hear, so when it takes a turn in left-field, it catches them off-guard. Now that everything is leveled out, we are blown away at the kind words from new and old fans alike. And lastly, music is something we want to make into a long lasting career. We want it to be our full-time ministry for years to come.
It’s easy for listeners to disagree with band’s decisions to figure out how to start making it places financially, but they don’t see what goes into it. Everything we do, from our non-stop touring all the way down to our gear expenses come out of our own pocket. Anybody who has toured knows how it is. The typical thing for bands to do is play it safe, keep putting out the same record to avoid any backlash, and then break up when they can’t hold up financially. We plan on doing this the rest of our lives, and we would love to be able to eventually support ourselves and future families, just as anyone else does with their own careers.
Lee: Along these lines, we had a few reader questions: “Are your tastes/influences changing?”
RV: Honestly, they haven’t. Our favorite music has always been pop radio. Obviously, when we were writing metal music, we would lean a little more towards metal bands for influence such as For Today, Impending Doom, Killswitch Engage, etc. Musically, we really haven’t changed very much. We still use a lot of the same methods we used as a metal band, now just focusing a lot more on context and placement of musical ideas. But seriously, even though this is a rock record, we still have influence from those same bands we always have.
Lee: Another fan asked, “Will you still be playing songs from the first 2 cd’s in concert?”
RV: We play a couple of songs from “Lawless” occasionally, depending on the crowd. But we don’t want to confuse fans, especially those who see us without hearing us before. We are excited to move forward with this music, so we won’t regularly play old stuff.
Lee: Another asked, “Is this opening doors to a broader audience?”
RV: More than we could have ever imagined! It has been so amazing seeing all these new opportunities pop up in such a short amount of time. We have been on a bar/club tour for the last two months with Hurt and Smile Empty Soul, and the difference between how we were received as a metalcore band to now is unreal. Our new music has a little bit for everyone to take from it, and that’s exactly what our goal was in the first place.
Lee: Now, let’s talk a little about your faith. You guys are very outspoken about your faith in Christ. How does that shape your music and the direction each album goes?
RV: Yes we are outspoken. We are taking a bit of a new approach in our ministry at this point. Our faith lies in Jesus and our lyrics reflect what He has done in our lives. We want our band to be a walking light… Literally. We don’t want to have to tell people what we are about but we want people to already know when we walk in the door! The world has heard about Christ but very, very few have seen it! We are sick of seeing “Christian” bands talk a huge game, and have absolutely no walk. We are literally trying to be the change we want to see.
Lee: Since you’re on the road a lot, how do you maintain your spiritual growth?
RV: Matthew 4:4, we maintain spiritual growth by staying in the Word and keeping our identity in Christ! This is probably the most difficult part of touring. Staying in the Word is the key to spiritual growth. Not just on tour but any career.
Lee: What do you do for accountability (if you can share)?
RV: Well besides the fact that everyone in the band is with each other 24/7 there aren’t really any times for anyone to go astray. Everyone in the band has a solid head on their shoulders and it’s just a fact we are all grounded in God and just don’t do those things. Ever. Basically our accountability lies in the fact that if you slip up we aren’t hesitant to send you home the next day. It’s just not something we worry about.
Lee: Aside from the Bible, what are you reading right now to challenge your walk with Christ, or that is inspiring you?
RV: Personally I used to read lots of books about Theology and other peoples perspectives but i began reading those books more often than I did the Bible! I try to stick in the word. But…As of late I really got into The Lost World of Genesis One as well as a new book called Under the Banner of Heaven.
Lee: If you could tour with any band at their zenith from any point in history, who would it be and why?
RV: To be honest, and I know we are going to get haters for this, we would love to tour with Nickelback. Who wouldn’t want to share your music with 15,000 minimum people a night? Definitely hope to be hitting the road with Skillet as well as Killswitch Engage. Honestly we just want to tour with bands who are going to get us in front of more people!
Lee: If you could have one musician (current) do a guest spot on your next album, who would that be?
RV: Celine Dion! Straight up! If anybody has kept up with interviews from our Facebook page, Celine Dion was the reason for our keychange in ‘The Fire Inside.’ She is the jam, and we want her voice on our record. Celine, if you’re reading this… Also would love to have Mattie from For Today, Howard Jones (ex Killswitch Engage)
Lee: Now, I always end with a silly question, and you guys get the honor of being the first band I’ve asked since Man of Steel came out, but… Who’s better, Batman or Superman?
RV: Easy, Superman… Batman isn’t a superhero…Just a really smart dude. Superman could actually protect us…and completely WRECK Batman.