You’ve read of some of Chris Latta’s reviews, but that’s not the only thing he brings to our Indy metal scene.
Latta is the vocalist and bassist of Spirit Division, who, along with drummer Jace Epple, and new guitarist Andy Bowerman (who replaced the departing Stephen Hoffman) are preparing for the release of their new album No Rapture.
This blues metal band hit the Indianapolis scene starting in 2013 with a self-titled full-length after a year of forming. With this new release, Spirit Division plan on introducing a whole new type of sound onto the metal heads in our city.
For fans of Black Sabbath, Danzig, High on Fire and Pentagram, be sure to check out Indy Metal Show’s interview with Latta. Get to know him, the band and make sure to preorder No Rapture.
Indy Metal Shows: Tell me about yourself. What’s your background in music?
Chris Latta: I really started getting into music about 8th or 9th grade. The first big band that I was into was AC/DC. Back in Black. I think a lot of people have that experience of going through their parent’s record collections and seeing what they can pull out. That was one that I recognized from my dad’s collection and I got my own copy. That led to stuff like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden. Originally I wanted to be more of a vocalist than a bass player because I did choir during junior high and high school, so I have that experience. And then I picked up bass when I was about 16 to get taken more seriously. I actually tried guitar when I was 15 but it didn’t really catch on. I’ve only just been getting back into that. I picked up bass to get better with writing but I didn’t get serious with it until the end of college, about 5 years ago. That’s when I really started dedicating time to it. It was the easiest to get a feel for. Not just because it was the easiest to play. It’s the trickiest to feel. You have to have the rhythm, the groove to it, and that came easier to me than trying to figure out how chords work. I think it’s been a good confidence booster.
IMS: Who is Spirit Division?
CL: I started this project early 2013, so its been going for three years now. For most of its existence it’s been a three piece. A couple times it has been a four piece with two guitarists, but I don’t plan on revisiting that again. We’ve had our share of lineup changes in that time. We started gigging pretty quickly, just small stuff I was able to book for us. We got our first demo recorded and released in 2014 and had some people come in and out in that time. Things really got to change when we got guitarist Stephen Hoffman. When he came in, it was really just that tone we’ve been looking for. That really organic tone you see with Saint Vitus, Pentagram. I’d been trying to reach for that sound for a while, but with him is when we really got it. When he came in everything clicked. We released our first album shortly after he came in.
IMS: Why do you think he made such a difference to your music?:
CL: The biggest thing that everyone always references is that he was the first person to bring in legitimate vocals. Early on I was doing the vocals exclusively but when he came on, he actually started doing some as well and it made a big difference. It shows on the first record, but it really shows on the second one we’re putting out this month. And also just his guitar tone and he also had a lot more invested in it than people we’ve worked with before. Truly, pretty solid partnership. He had found out about us from a friend of mine. He was interning at Azmyth [Recording] at the time we were recording with him, so he could get his experience up. He had gone to a house show we had, we gave him a copy of the demo to let him know what he was in for. We actually had a 12-hour session with him recording with the lineup we had at the time. Nothing was really usable from those sessions but it was a good time. When we ended up losing the guitarist we were working with during that session our drummer at the time ran into Hoffman at a show and he offered to fill in. And sure enough he came out for a practice, learned some stuff and clicked. We just had a really good connection. A lot of dumb luck really.
IMS: Andy Bowerman is now your guitar player. What are your feelings about him stepping in for Stephen?
CL: Well, since he’s joined this past May we have actually made three new songs with him. A couple of them were things I’ve been working on before he joined that we polished together and then the newest one was purely ‘I have these riffs lets put them together,’ but I’m looking forward to see what else he brings to the table. I know he can write. With the second album it’s really collaborative especially compared to the first and I really want to keep that spirit going for sure.
IMS: You guys call yourselves blues metal. Can you explain it?
CL: The albums I compare it to class blues metal a term is Danzig’s first three albums. In particular his second, Lucifuge, is one of my favorite albums of all time. It was definitely metal for sure, it had some of the doom elements to it but it also had a certain swing element to it. Everything is really authentic, raw, organic. It has that charisma to it. All of that connected really gives it that rockfish feeling while still being pretty heavy. I ended up calling that blues metal. It kind of became a bucket list for me to have a project like that. AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, early Sabbath, they all had that blues edge to them that not a lot of bands channeled. There are plenty of bands that have the influence but there are not many that go all into it. So that was my goal in the early days.
IMS: Are you continuing this sound through upcoming album No Rapture?
CL: With the guitarist we have now, Andy Bowerman, we really stayed true to what we have in mind with this project. He’s learned really quick and we’re writing new material with him as well. It’s still sounding about as heavy and still has that groove to it.
IMS: What do you each bring to the band musically?
CL: My earliest influences are more of the early power metal side. Which can be tricky to work into this. Stuff like Iron Maiden, Dio. But we work more on the side of Type O Negative, Motörhead, even stuff like Alice In Chains. Our drummer Jace is older than Andy and I so he brings more old school influences. He’s really into 70’s rock. We kind of have a thing where we all have different enough backgrounds to bring in some more diversity but have a common ground to really get an understanding.
IMS: Lyrically what can we look forward to in No Rapture? What is your writing process?:
CL: Most of the lyrics are written by me. Not all of them though. For this coming No Rapture there are seven tracks. One of them is instrumental. Four were written just by me. The title track, ‘No Rapture,” was a collaboration with everyone in the band. We all just threw lines out there and I put them all together. Another song, “A Dark Request,” was kind of joint. The music is completely all us. With this album, something I noticed, it is a lot more based on sci-fi and supernatural. I kind of noticed that most of the lyrics tend to revolve around the end of the world in some ways. There are Armageddon themes. There’s one on there called “When the Sun Explodes,” which is based off of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, where someone witnesses the time going out hundred and thousands of years until there is nothing left. “A Dark Request” is about this figure who dies and destroys the gods. It’s this god of war sort of thing. It reaches all over. I’m a massive dork. Jace actually writes sci-fi books on the side. He put out a sci-fi collection last year and its pretty good. That’s probably more of a coincidence but it’s kind of funny to bring up.
No Rapture’s single “When the Sun Explodes“
IMS: What are some of the Spirit Division’s future plans after the release of No Rapture?
I really want to get out and play more often. We play our share here in Indy. We’ve gone up to Lafayette a couple times and Bloomington. Went upstate once. I’d like to play Nashville, Chicago, Cincinnati and even St. Louis. We had a show scheduled in Nashville that didn’t pan out but I’d love to get back out there. That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to in the future but I definitely want to get out more promoting for this release. We’re still writing too. It’s early to tell if there’s a time frame on another album but I think that there’s a lot of opportunities.
Spirit Division’s next show will be Tuesday, August 2 at the Melody Inn with Caustic Casanova and The Creative.
Show starts at 8 p.m./21+
Check out the event’s Facebook page here.