Meet The Band: Red Temple Pray

Ohio alt/hard rockers Red Temple Pray step into this week’s Meet The Band spotlight. Their debut full-length Can It Get Any Worse? was just released. Vocalist Josh Richter introduces us to his band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Red Temple Pray.
Josh Richter: Red Temple Pray originally was just a side band of myself, Nicky and John from years and years ago, like, almost 10 years ago. We played a few shows, couldn’t find a dedicated drummer and recorded some demo songs that never really saw the light of day. We ended up just shutting it down and after years of attempting to re-start it with zero success. We almost gave up completely until Nick and I gave it one last shot and recruited Jordan. We wrote and tracked our first EP Violently Lush and got great feedback on it. We recruited John back into the picture and started writing our full length immediately. It’s wild to think a band I thought was dead and gone ended up coming back out of nowhere and becoming my main project. To be honest, it’s some of my proudest and most heartfelt work out of all the stuff I have done musically. It’s funny how things work out like that sometimes.

Describe the songwriting process for Can It Get Any Worse?
The writing process for us is usually very authentic. Nicky will come up with a riff or idea and he and I will demo it at our studio then shoot it to the boys to get feedback. The real artistry happens when we get in the room together and really write. We come in with those demo guitar ideas then us four, depending on the season here in Ohio, sit in that cold ass or hot ass storage unit and write it together as a team. Just riff by riff, beat by beat.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
For me personally I have always been self conscious about clean singing even though it has been a major part of my life since I was a kid. It has always made me so vulnerable so I would never do it in front of people. 99 percent of my music endeavors have been based around extreme metal, so it was always easy for me to be loud and sound rough because I knew I was supposed to. So, with our first EP, I started to gain a lot more confidence in my ability but hearing back those initial takes of the very first song we put down on vocals with the rest of the band and seeing them be stoked and light up made me feel so good. I’ll never forget that. I didn’t feel like a one trick pony anymore and I’ll cherish that forever.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
To be honest, the only challenge we faced with this record was deciding how many songs we were going to record. This was the smoothest writing and recording process I have ever been through. So, the challenge of deciding what tracks to keep and what order they would be in was probably the most difficult but difficult in a good way, if that makes sense? It was like putting together a really cool puzzle that could shift the vibe with different options.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
Riff heavy alternative I feel best describes this record. Big riffs, clean vocals.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
Falling In and out of love right as the world is about to end.

What led you to go the independent route for its release?
We didn’t get any bites to be honest. (laughs) We sent the record out to a handful of labels but I think we fit in that category as too hard for the softer labels but too soft for hard labels. We aren’t a heavy band by all means, but you know what I mean. Kinda just don’t fit anywhere. Which is alright, we like being the odd weirdos.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We hope people just jam it. We hope they listen, dig it, tell their friends, come to shows and see us. We play out all the time and tour so hopefully that opens more doors for the live shows for people. Live is where we thrive.

How were the video shoots for “Bottle Rocket” and “Down The Drain,” and what has the response to those singles been like?
The video shoots were super easy. I do cinematography and Nicky is a video editor so we do everything in house. With the help of our friend Nathan Hirschler who was behind the camera for all the performance sections, we filmed those both in just a few hours time then I got back on shooting for more of the storyline based stuff for “Bottle Rocket.”

The performances were filmed at my friends Brian and Tara Robertson’s bar here in Chillicothe Ohio (where Nick and I are from) called The Wobbly Ghost. They are always down for the coolest stuff so we all just hung out, shot the videos, they helped out and hung around and had a good time. Was such a fun and cool atmosphere. It was such a cool teamwork experience. Best goddamn bar in Ohio. The reactions we got were really cool, too. People really dug the gritty, low key, easy to watch storyline we put together. We didn’t want to go super artsy or weird with it we just wanted people to watch and cruise along with Andrew (actor in Bottle Rocket) as he left the bar and skated around the streets of downtown Chillicothe. The whole vibe is supposed to be easy going for that specific song so we are glad it came across to the viewer that way.

What has been your most memorable Red Temple Pray live show?
For me specifically this last time we played Columbus Ohio I think. We just felt so in tune with each other. The crowd dug it, our friends were impressed, we played tight, and we had fun. It’s not some crazy story or anything it just really felt good at that show for me specifically. It’s always sick to play live together because we are all so used to playing in death metal bands and hardcore bands and stuff like that, that we get to be loose and just have fun with each other on stage. No knock to those heavy projects, we are all still in them and love them dearly it’s just a nice vibe change or like, emotion change.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We have our album release tour starting March 1st with Porch Dream from Texas. It’s 11 days, starting here in Ohio and heading down to Texas and back. We are looking forward to it. Everyone needs to check that band out by the way. They are so damn good.

How’s the heavy music scene in Columbus these days?
The Columbus scene has been loaded down with heavy bands over the last few years. It’s impressive. So many good bands coming out of that specific city.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I’m super into photography. Have been for about ten-ish years now. I’ve been compiling photos from the road over the years for a photo book that I’m hoping to release this year. I also host two comedy based podcasts called “Riffin’ Ain’t Easy” and “Crazy From The Heat.” I’m an idiot, you should check them out.

What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
I been watching the hell out of old Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes from the early 90’s. Straight geek shit but I love it.

What’s in your current heavy musical rotation?
I’m on my low and slow since it’s winter so, a lot of Crowbar, Weedeater, Eyehategod mainly. I also have had “Hot To Go” by Chappell Roan in my ears literally on repeat for hours a day since our drummer Jordan showed it to me on our last tour. If you’re into hooky pop music check that out. I listen to it in the gym and shit.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Come see us in the road this March with Porch Dream, follow us on Instagram to see all the pictures I take of us all the time and to keep up to date on shows and new music and everything. Help us spread the love, tell everyone you can about us and this record. We hope you love it as much as we do.

(interview published February 10, 2024)

Watch Red Temple Pray – “Bottle Rocket” Video


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