Wednesday, January 15, 2020

interview: Rat King

This January 2020 the Washington State, U.S.-based band Rat King issues its second album Vicious Humanity. If before they were considered a sort of sludge doom band, people are going to find a different animal, so to speak, this time around. Let’s get some details on the changes.
The new album changes the preconceived notions about your band. What has happened that the band has taken some new turns towards fast, headbanging extreme metal?
(Ricky). Hello, thank you for taking the time to talk about our album. I think there are 2 reasons our sound has evolved into what it is. 1.The addition of our new drummer (Carlos Delgado). Our first practice with him we ended up playing all the Sepultura songs we could, and it felt great playing fast! And I think we bonded on that. So it was just a natural step forward. 2.The music was just getting more and more aggressive and fast. The song title ideas we were coming up with just demanded it, I think.
Another change: you now have some Spanish lyrics (“Matanza,” “Borratanico,” “Chaleco de billetes,” “Soledad,” and “Chanchito”). Living in the Seattle area, how was the process of arriving at doing some Spanish in your music?
(Ricardo). Again, I think this started with Carlos being in the band. At practice, we speak Spanish and English to each other. Song titles in Spanish started popping up and we just embraced it! The only song that is all Spanish is “Soledad.” Once I wrote the first verse in Spanish it just went that way. We’ve never done this before and it fell amazing to scream in Spanish! It gives us “rock en español” vibe, but obviously metal and much more aggressive, so that’s definitely something we would like to expand on. We weren’t worried at all about screaming in Spanish, Seattle is a pretty diverse place, and people seem to have taking a liking to that aspect of the band. It’s just natural to us.
Who is in the band in 2020? Does everyone speak Spanish? Did anyone of you grew up listening to rock and metal music in Spanish? Mexico and Argentina have had scenes for decades and decades, but nowadays Central America has quite a few scenes, too.
(Ricardo).The band is: Ricardo Racines (guitars, vocals); Daniel Racines (bass, vocals); and Carlos Delgado (drums) and we all speak Spanish. Daniel and I are brothers. Rat king was formed by us and our former drummer Tyler when we met after moving to Seattle from Arizona. Growing up Daniel and I listened to some rock in Spanish, Soda Stereo (Argentina), Sal y Mileto (Ecuador) and metal in Spanish for sure. ANIMAL (Argentina), Brujería (Mexico, USA) Rata Blanca (Argentina), Criminal (Chile), Transmetal (Mexico), to name a few. I’ve seen the rise of metal bands in Central America, and bands touring there as well. Latest one I remember was Noisem going to Guatemala. I thought that was great! Hopefully we can get down there. Carlos parents are from Nicaragua.
Your 2016 album Garbage Island’s dirty, grey, marine album artwork gave the impression of environment concerns. Now in 2020 in the artwork there seems to be the theme of a big, angry octopus bringing death. Where is your head for lyrics at this point in the history of the band?
(Ricardo).We didn’t have many lyrics on Garbage Island, I think because Daniel and I had just started screaming and finding our own voices. Our lyrics on Vicious Inhumanity are about frustration with the current state of the world and what we are witnessing. Poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, suffering, greed, racial hatred, and there are so many things that come with that frustration, like pain, sadness, solitude and I think that’s another reason why the music evolved to this unhinged visceral release. I know my vocals aren’t the greatest, but the emotion is priority number one for me. That release is something I treasure now.
Do your lyrics take sides between the twin parties of capitalism, the Democrats and Republicans?
(Ricardo). We don’t really go into politics, and the different parties, and which is better or worse. Honestly it seems all the same to me. It’s a game they play. Our lyrics deal more with personal struggles, and relating to the suffering that we see around us.
What is Within The Mind Records? How many bands area there in WTMR? What are the advantages and disadvantages of WTMR?
(Ricardo). Within the Mind Records was formed by Daniel and I in 2012. At first it was an outlet to release projects that we were involved in. that slowly changed to us releasing music by friends and people we’ve met along the way. For 2020 besides the Rat King release, we will be releasing the debut album by Seattle Metal band Izthmi, which we are really excited about. It’s amazing! We usually do a few releases a year, if we are capable of doing it. It’s just Daniel and I so it’s a small DIY thing, nothing more than putting music out that we love. We’re not paying the rent with this. The advantages of it are being able to control every aspect of our music, from artwork to recording, promotion, etc. The disadvantages would be the financial part of it, and probably the contacts and experience that more established labels have. But we’ve been working with PR people that we like and have helped us spread the word.
Rat King is now sometimes speeding up to blast beats and also doing more melodies. Exploration seems to be on your agenda, like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in the 1970s, going all over the place, from folk, blues, psychedelia, heavy rock, classical and more. How do you feel about categories and genres at this point?
(Ricardo). I personally love when bands experiment and go on a trajectory and evolve. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know if we’ll go on a path as diverse as Led Zepellin, or Black Sabbath. I think for now at least the music will stay aggressive, with different styles of metal seeping in. Between the 3 of us we listen to a wide variety of music, but right now the energy that I feel and love in these songs is the most important thing for me.
Will there be shows in the West Coast, other parts of the U.S., and outside of the U.S.?
(Ricardo). For now we are planning a string of dates in February with Izthmi. Just PNW dates that we’ll announce soon. We’re also working on a West Coast tour in the spring with our brothers in Rhine, another Seattle band which Carlos plays drums for as well. We’d love to play outside of The United States and it’s something we’re gonna work on. Hopefully with the release of this album we can get some interest in having us play in other countries. That would be a dream come true.
Thanks for answering the interview!
(Ricardo). Thanks so much for listening to our album and doing this interview. We really appreciate it. We can’t wait for people to hear the new album.
Instagram. @rat_king_seattle
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