In many ways, the trio is the most timeless formation that a band may take. Stripped down, raw, dynamic. If you throw ‘heavier than a supermassive black hole’ onto that list of adjectives, the odds are you would be referring to RIG TIME! These La Crosse, Wisconsin natives have endured a busy year. As if being signed to Innerstrength Records and embarking on several small tours wasn’t already enough, the band is also preparing to drop their sophomore album WAR on October 20th, and trek across the eastern U.S. alongside Nihil for almost a month’s worth of insanity. Known for their intense live performances, hard work ethic, and uncompromising wall of sound, we’re glad the band was cool enough to sit down and answer a few questions.
Indy Metal Vault: Hey, man. Jared here – I play drums in Syneresis. I don’t know if you remember or not, but we played with you at Player’s Retreat in North Carolina a couple of months back. Thanks for agreeing to the interview.
Bryan W. Fleming: Absolutely! That was an awesome show. We’re actually trying to come back there soon. Thank you for interviewing us!
IMV: First of all, I’d like to say congratulations on completing your second album, WAR! I’ve done a lot of listening to the promo, and can say without a doubt that it obliterates your previous release (a statement that should speak for itself). Have there been any huge differences in working with Innerstrength Records this time, or has everything remained a relatively DIY affair?
BWF: Thank you very much. We’re incredibly proud of this album. It’s a reflection of how we felt during the writing process. We’re still a very DIY band, and working with Innerstrength Records has been an excellent experience because we are still able to be the band that we are, but with support and help to get our music to new places. We like to have our hands on everything we do, and working with Innerstrength allows us to still be the hard working band we like to be.
IMV: There is obviously just as much, if not more, of a punk influence involved in your music as there is metal. I’d say it’s basically the ideal combination of total heaviness and the hardcore/punk mentality. Did you all start the band with the same M.O. or did it take some time to figure out how to play around each other’s styles?
BWF: We knew when we started that we were going to be heavy, and that’s the only guideline we’ve put into our writing. RIG TIME! will always be a heavy band, but whether it’s hardcore, punk, doom, black metal, industrial, etc. is entirely up to how we feel when we write. We’re a very, very eclectic band when it comes to what we listen to, and we have no desire to be a straight “hardcore” band or a straight “metal” band, or in any other type of genre box. We’re heavy, and that’s a good enough label for us. I’ve said so many times that “we’re a punk band, that plays metal songs for hardcore fans” (laughs).
IMV: What’s your songwriting process like? Are you the kind of band that gets together and jams everything out in the rehearsal space, or does someone usually bring in a mostly completed song that you then refine together? Or is it a little of both?
BWF: It’s a little of both. We all contribute little bits here and there, and tweak it out in practices. I present song ideas and riffs to the band as well, usually in the form of short demo recordings and see how they feel about it. If they dig it, we jam it and make it fit for everyone’s playing style and feeling. One of the new songs on WAR called “Succumb” was a complete group effort. Rebecca wrote all of the riffs, Mark wrote the lyrics, and I arranged the vocal patterns and drums. We all made suggestions as we jammed until it was solid. It’s definitely a favorite of the band and it has been a favorite of others when we perform it live.
IMV: After seeing you guys play live (and blow everyone that was there out of the water) I have to say I fell in love with your stage presence. Ominous red lighting and sonics out the ass - straight to the point. Did you ever try experimenting with any other set-ups for a while before going with that choice? And I also have to ask whether it inspired the new album cover, or vice versa?
BWF: We have been known for the red light since our very first show. It was an idea I had to take focus off of who was in the band, by using only backlighting and no front lights. The red light just seemed appealing to create an atmosphere that fit the sounds we were producing. It’s dark, angry and unsettling. We usually fog up the room, and create a disorienting atmosphere that helps us disassociate as we play, and we hope effects the crowd to feel more loose with less light and more raw, human instinct in the air. The red definitely played a role in the artwork for WAR. Once we started playing live, the red and black vibe felt synonymous with our sound and aura. It may change someday, but for now the red is something we relate to and feels fitting.
IMV: Speaking of your live sound, what do your setups look like? The guitar and bass tones on WAR are sharp enough to draw blood. Are your studio and live setups essentially the same?
BWF: For WAR we used some different studio setups than our live setup, for sake of time and experimentation. On WAR the guitar tone was just a Sunn O))) Model T head through a Mesa 4×12. We tried it out, and it just sounded perfect. When we recorded Sick Of It we had a blend of heads, pedal and cabs, but on the new album, we wanted to try something straight forward and strong. You can’t go wrong with a Sunn O))) head. The bass tone on the new album was similar to the last record. It was also Sunn O))) head through an Emperor Cab with a little dirt added. Our live tones are something we put a lot of thought into though. We try to balance everything really well. We are known for being really, really loud and it’s very important to cut certain frequencies or boost others to come through clean even when pushing a monstrously loud dirty signal. We’re always changing stuff out of our live rigs. We don’t use anything digital. That sound works really great for some bands and records, but for us, we like traditional amps and pedals. We embrace volume, noise and feedback as well. Our current live rig (no pun intended) for guitar is a Pro Co Rat distortion through a Crate GT3500H 350W Guitar Head into a full stack. The cabs are a Crate 4×12 and a Peavey 4×12, which compliment each other well. The Crate is warmer and the Peavey is brighter. Rebecca has a whole bunch of pedals, but that’s the basic dirty sound you’re hearing. Mark is running his bass through an overdrive into an MXR M-80 through a Hartke head and into a Carvin 2×15/2×8 cab. His tone is pretty huge right now. It cuts through really well and still shakes the venue with those 15’s.
IMV: You guys tour A LOT. You have an upcoming stint on the east coast providing support for Nihil (from MA) - which is a dangerous pairing if there ever was one! Are there any specific venues or cities you are excited for?
BWF: We definitely do tour a lot! (laughs) We’re so stoked to head out with Nihil. Their newest record Foundation is so damn good. Super fast, crushing and aggressive. I am really excited to see those songs night after night. I hope to lose a couple pounds circle pitting for three weeks. (laughs) I am excited for our first date with them in Falls Church, VA. We played there last March and it was an awesome show. We’re playing so many cool places on this tour, it’s hard to pick. We’ll have a few days in Florida, which is always nice to be in. We’re from Wisconsin, so hopefully Florida in November is nicer than at home. (laughs)
IMV: Is there any counsel you and Rebecca can provide as to maintaining a healthy relationship on the road? And does it have anything to do with blowing out people’s eardrums almost every night?
BWF: When we are on the road, we’re a band. When we are at home, we’re a married couple. Most of the time, no one even realizes we’re married until we tell them. Writing music, touring and all the things that come with it are something that we enjoy doing together, so it’s still easy. Our relationship is strong, so we don’t need to hang on each or let the world know we’re together. We know, and that’s all that matters. We’re in a band, and on the road, we know why we are there. To play heavy ass music, meet new friends and have a good time, so that’s what we do. To anyone looking for advice on being in a band with a significant other, just remember, no one wants to see you making out at the merch table with anyone. (laughs) Keep it professional, and enjoy what you’re doing together. It’s a special thing.
IMV: I saw that a venue in your hometown, The Warehouse, has recently been dealing the possibility of being shut down by the local government for what, I’m sure, are shitty reasons. Local venues like that are treasures, and to say that one of them closing its doors is a shame would be an understatement. Any way to shed some light on what happened, and how people can help?
BWF: The best way to keep up to date with the Warehouse is on their Go Fund Me Page. It is regularly updated with info and the current status. Thankfully, at this time, it’s still operating but it’s still not in the clear. You can read up on it here: https://www.gofundme.com/
IMV: Lastly: your name. I know the question pops up a lot, but the story of its origin makes me crack up to this very day. Would you mind sharing with the world, once and for all, how the mystic title of “RIG TIME!” was brought about?
BWF: The mystery makes it so much more intriguing though! We’ll just leave it at that for now. (laughs)
WAR was released on 10/20/17 and is available for purchase on digital and CD formats through Innerstrength Records’ Bandcamp.