Every week we introduce you to a new or up-and-coming band. This week we’re featuring the Wisconsin group Rig Time! Their latest release is War. Vocalist/drummer Bryan W. Fleming introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Rig Time!
Bryan W. Fleming: Rig Time! began in 2014 from the ashes of a former band I played in with our bassist, Mark. Our guitarist, Rebecca, used to travel with us and handle the merch duties as well. When that band ended, the three of us didn’t want to stop and decided we all wanted to write music and continue traveling together. We started Rig Time! With full intent to tour, and push it as far as we could. We’ve stuck to that and have performed in 31 states in the past three years, and we’re still kickin’.
Describe the songwriting process for War.
War was written a bit differently than previous releases. A lot of the songs were written, chopped up, moved around, put back, and spit out again in many ways. We spent a lot of time finding the right groove and feeling on these songs. Some were more natural than others, and some were adjusted over a period of a few months. We have always focused on the groove and what I call the “human” aspect of our songs. We’re not putting out symphonic, game changing, Dream Theater-esqe masterpieces, and we’re okay with that.
We try to create raw, tribal, gritty sounds with a natural groove that feels human and almost instinctive. Sometimes, in our writing, we chose to simplify certain parts because it felt like it was the right choice to make. We’re not trying to show off, or change the world, but to give ourselves and the listener the right vibe for what we felt at the time of these songs. We’re dirty, loud, noisy, angry and we know it. War is a collection of songs that represent how we feel at this time. They are very straightforward and bold songs.
How did you decide to work with Pete Grossman?
We first worked with Pete on our 2016 album Sick Of It. Before that, we recorded two EPs on our own because we weren’t sure of a studio that would capture our sound how we wanted to be captured. After some research, I found Bricktop Recording in Chicago and some of our favorite records had been recorded there. When Rig Time! began, we were listening to the albums Still and Worthless by Weekend Nachos a lot, and that studio is where all of the Weekend Nachos records were recorded. The list of amazing bands and records that have gone through Bricktop Recording is huge, and they really handle the sludge and doom style amazingly well.
We approached Pete about recording Sick Of It and had a great time in those sessions. When it came time to record War, we already knew we wanted to return to Bricktop Recording and work with Pete again. He is an amazing engineer, with a solid ear for detail and incredible patience as well. He keeps the recording atmosphere positive and flowing. Having worked together before, we knew what we wanted out of War and we felt confident he would know exactly what we were going for this time around, and he did. We’re very happy with how it turned out. Pete also provided the mixing on War. It was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege in Portland, OR and he absolutely killed it on bringing out that final punch.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I think that we knocked it out in a one day session is pretty crazy. We booked a single day session, and added a few overdubs the next morning, and that was it. That’s kind of an undertaking to do, but we practiced a ton to make it happen. I have a weird idea in my head that if I can’t record an album in a day, then I shouldn’t play it live (laughs). I probably think that just to push myself toward perfecting my playing.
How has your sound progressed from your debut LP?
These songs on War feel more focused, dynamic and tight that those on Sick Of It. We still love the old LP and we love playing those songs live, but the tracks on War feel more aggressive, punchy and I even have a more emotional connection with them lyrically. I am a very blunt and ‘to the point’ style lyricist. I say what is on my mind and I don’t sugar coat it typically. However, on War it felt natural to more metaphorical phrases to convey the feelings I have. For example, in the song “Garbage” I use the line “Garbage piles up every time you open your mouth.” That song is about all the hate and uneducated “garbage” that people word vomit across social media and in conversations, and I imagined literally garbage pouring from their mouth every time they speak these disgusting and naive things.
The song “Blister” deals with a similar topic, but feeling like these types of people and their negative energy is growing on me and following me wherever I go. I interpret it like a blister. Something that’s annoying, living on me and causing irritation. It makes sense in my head (laughs). I hope people read the lyrics and can relate or understand where I am coming from on this record. War is a loose concept about being at war with a lot of different subjects. It’s a no bullshit, in your face, bold record lyrically and musically. If Sick Of It was a polite way of saying “Hey, I’m disgruntled” then War is a straight kick in the gut (laughs).
How did you come to sign with Innerstrength Records?
We were interested in looking for a label that would suit a band like us, and when we got in touch with Innerstrength Records, it felt like a good match. We’re still a very DIY based band and do a lot of things on our own from merch designs, to booking, to our websites, videos, tour laminates, flyers, van repairs, etc. We’ve learned how to do a lot of skills just to keep becoming more efficient at keeping the band afloat on our own, the best we can.
Working with Innerstrength Records is a great fit because we still have freedom to be ourselves and be the band we are. They help us get our music to new places and give a great amount of support. I like to say that they are a record label for bands that like to work hard. We sat in discussion for few months on it and here we are now. We’re happy we chose to work with a great label.
After self-releasing your first LP/EPs, what are you goals and expectations for War?
We hope to reach more people that we had before. I think it’s a goal of every band to have their new album heard by as many people as possible, and we’re no different in that fact. With every album, there is always those certain people who don’t catch on or dig it. I hope with War that maybe we’ll catch their attention and turn them around. If not, then we’ll try next album (laughs).
I look forward to reaching reviews, good and bad. It’s always interesting to read how an album of your feelings put into audio format in interpreted by another person. I’m very curious to see how it’s perceived by others. Not so much in a way that I crave them to like it, but just out of pure curiosity. I’ve said for years that I create music that I want to hear, and that when other people like it too, that is just the bonus.
What has been your most memorable Rig Time! live show?
There have been so many shows to choose from. We’re at almost one hundred shows in 2017 alone. It’s hard to forget the house show we played where the basement was destroyed during our set by request of the tenant. There was also no electricity and they sawed open the electric company box, using a saw that was powered from the neighbors house with an extension cord, and flipped the breaker to have the show. That was definitely a wild show (laughs).
After your upcoming tour, what else do you have planned?
We’re heading out with Nihil this October/November for about three weeks along the eastern US. After that, we have a few random shows planned and are figuring out upcoming tours as we speak. We plan to keep hitting the road as much as we can. There will be a run with Pickwick Commons and The Obnoxious Boot coming up in January. We’re hoping to get back to the west coast again in the spring as well. Mostly, we plan to keep touring and keep spreading War as much as possible.
How did you get started in music, and what drew you to metal?
All of my earliest memories as a child are tied to music in some way. I associate what I was doing with certain songs a lot of the time. I used to stand in my mirror and sing boy band songs when I was 8 years old, wishing I was musician (laughs). I finally got a guitar when I was 12, and became obsessed with it very quickly. At the time, I started embracing bands like Drowning Pool, System of a Down, Linkin Park, Nirvana and Staind. Not too long after that, my brother showed me some punk bands like Screeching Weasel, Propagandhi and Guns N Wankers. Eventually I evolved into finding more and more styles of music from death metal, black metal, to grindcore, to even jazz, and hardcore, and so on.
I think the main reason I was attracted to heavier music was the emotion pouring out of it. I could relate to the sound and the lyrics. It felt real and passionate to me. I also enjoy harsh noise and things that might be called “anti-music” because I feel emotion and reality in them. They feel natural and not something that is produced to a pattern. Sometimes, the sound of a screeching, hissing tape delay pedal screaming through a distorted speaker matches the feeling I have inside. I embrace sounds and their purpose. Even if I don’t like something, I like to understand why it exists and what the artist was feeling.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
I remember I started writing lyrics as a teenager because of Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. That album changed my life. Musically, as a teenager, I was really influenced by Prince, Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl and a lot of multi instrumentalists. I started on guitar, picked up bass, played with piano, and now I tour in a band as the vocalist and drummer. I just always liked songwriting, and being able to play a lot of instruments has helped with that.
What’s the first metal concert you attended?
The first big metal concert I ever went to was Ozzfest 2003. I remember seeing Motograter, Killswitch Engage, Nothingface, KoRn, Shadows Fall, Marilyn Manson and a ton more. I fell in love with it. I also got lost on my own in thousands of people by myself for hours. That wasn’t as much fun (laughs).
What’s the heavy music scene like in La Crosse, Wisconsin?
We have a pretty cool heavy music scene here. There aren’t a ton of local acts here right now, as I think we’re in a transitioning period of new bands forming again. There some awesome bands like Absolutist, Misadventures, Delinquent Youth and more. The heart of it is an all ages venue we have been lucky to have since 1991 called the Warehouse. I recently just put on a two day fest there called Wisconsin Hardcore Fest that featured only Wisconsin based bands from across the state, and it went amazing. La Crosse has a welcoming scene and some great down to earth people in it. No judgement, or bullying. Mosh how you want to mosh and scream how you want to scream. The scene is a strong community all about having a good time.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
The new Primitive Man album. The new albums from My Ticket Home and The Ongoing Concept. I am looking forward to the new Converge and Cannibal Corpse albums too. I won’t deny that I am definitely listening to War, too. It must be good if I like listening to my own album, right? (laughs).
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Keep supporting the scene. Keep supporting all ages shows. #AllAgesOrNothing
(interview published October 21, 2017)