Zealot R.I.P. are in the Meet The Band spotlight this week. They are a relatively new group, but their lineup includes members of well-known bands such as Pig Destroyer, Darkest Hour, Battery and Fairweather. Their full-length debut is The Extinction Of You. Vocalist Blake Harrison (Pig Destroyer) introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Zealot R.I.P..
Blake Harrison: Mike (Schleibaum) and Jason (Hamacher) had been working on Zealot for years. After a couple of false starts, brought me in as a vocalist after I moved to the DC area. We added Peter (Tsouras) on bass and off we went. There’s a TON of other bands named Zealot even though we were the first, so we added the “R.I.P.” to stand out, and I think in today’s crazy times, it’s a unique name.
Describe the songwriting process for The Extinction Of You.
It’s really not that complicated. (laughs) We kind of just get together and jam. These sessions are recorded, and we go back and listen to what sticks out, and start building from there. As far as the vocals go, once I hear a pattern, I fit the lyrics around the music. I write a lot so the hardest part for me is deciding which lyrics to use.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Well, we did it pretty quickly in Mike’s (guitar player’s) home studio, so since we were practicing, we weren’t all together recording at the same time. My strongest memory would be tracking my vocals suffering through horrible seasonal allergies. You know I’m never happy with how my throat sounds, but I do feel that I pulled it off (kinda).
Did the pandemic affect the process?
Only in the way of new material that hasn’t been tracked yet. All of the songs on The Extinction Of You were written and recorded pre pandemic.
How has the band’s sound evolved from your EP?
The Extinction Of You is a little grittier, nastier.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Man, this is a tough one. In a general sense, most of the songs are related to death in some way. Topics such as greed, destructive people, annihilation of ego, you know, fun things like that.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We just wanted to put out a record that we felt was good. We’d also like to sell some, but the idea of being “career musicians” with Zealot R.I.P. is not really something we’re looking at.
What has been your most memorable Zealot R.I.P. live show?
Definitely our first show at the Swedish Embassy in DC. It was wild, we were the only band, and there was a book reading and panel discussion beforehand. It was kind of surreal watching all these scuzzy punk rock types roll into this beautiful space on the DC waterfront.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Right now with the Delta variant, there’s not a lot going on. We are having a record release show at DC Brau in Washington DC on 9-22-21 where they are also brewing a beer “Ambush Predator” in conjunction with the release. We’d like to get out there and get some more shows under our belt, so who knows?
How did you get started in music?
I’ve always been interested in music. While other kids were playing video games or competing in sports, I had absolutely zero interest in that. It just never appealed to me. I play a couple of instruments pretty poorly, so venting my anger and frustration by screaming at people is not only fun, but a little therapeutic as well. (laughs)
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
The first band I absolutely fell in love with was The Misfits, I loved the darkness of it. Growing up I was a big Metallica, Iron Maiden fan. It’s kind of funny, as a kid “cock rock” was more pervasive, and I hated it, but now I dig it. (laughs) As far as the band is concerned, our influences for our music are Entombed, The Misfits, Slayer, Born Against, with a healthy dose of Steel Pole Bath Tub thrown in.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
I have an older brother so I was exposed to music at an early age. My first was Kix at a local high school. Funny thing about that was they were on their second major label release and they were playing in a high school. The first metal concert I went to that I really wanted to go to was Iron Maiden on the Somewhere In Time tour.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I’ve been deep diving a lot of Alice Cooper lately. Special Forces and Raise Your Fist And Tell stick out as ones I missed the first time around. I’ve also been listening to Devourment, Satanic Planet, Full Of Hell.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just check out our new record “The Extinction Of You” on ThreeOneG records, and thanks!
(interview published September 11, 2021)
Watch Zealot R.I.P. – “Ambush Predator” Video