To say that I am a fan of what Revered and Reviled Above All Others hath wrought is, erm, a bit of an understatement. This drudgery of this reviewin' life has led me to seek out music that tries new things and creates new listening experiences, and the briskly sludgy doomviolence of RRAAO most certainly scratches that particular itch.
If you want to hear me proselytize further, check out this review of Toppling The Rotten Pillar. But speaking to the more immediate matter at hand: working with this duo over the past few months to bring you their (excellent, obviously) split with Cyttorak has been a dream. To that end, I'm happy to present an interview with AS and DB regarding the split in question, their approach to music-making, the general RRAAO ethos, and so on. Without further ado: enjoy these (particularly thoughtful) answers!
Mandatory plug! Once you're done reading, check out Revered and Reviled Above All Others' Split EP with Cyttorak here. It's available for the low, low price of Name Your Own Price. That, dear readers, is a damn bargain.
SVR: Right out of the gate: how are you both doing?
AS: Doing great, thanks! Staving off isolation jitters by doing a bunch of long overdue household projects and relearning long division so I can be a helpful tutor.
DB: Trying to stay busy to distract myself from the general state of the world. Pretty much constantly in a state of creating music in between work and playing legos with my kid. How are you doing, Ian? Tell us about yourself.
(Let the record show that I am decent, albeit Very, Very Tired, which I suppose is a fairly average state of being.) - Ed.
SVR: Thank you for agreeing to be part of this project! On that note, what can you tell us about yer two tracks?
DB: Oh, just moving on to the next question? Ok.
AS: Right? So selfless. Thanks for having us--these splits are a killer idea! We pulled “In Porcos Laqueo” from a batch of songs that are finished or mostly finished being considered for the next album. It’s RRAAO in a nutshell: primitive and suffocating drums & bass with a vocal vortex whipping it all together. As for the cover, DB suggested that one earlier in the year, and it’s just lucky that you gave us a place to air it out.
DB: Not sure where along the process it was decided that each band would do a cover, but it seemed like a great idea. I felt like “Gut Feeling” has this ambiguousness to it where, depending on the context, it can refer to a lot of different people or things. We have a common theme of anti-cop/anti-state control and this is the angle I’m coming from here.
SVR: "Gut Feeling" was certainly not the track I was expecting when you mentioned a cover, but time quickly proved that you absolutely nailed it. What's the significance of DEVO in your music-listening careers?
AS: First of all, thank you for that! I admit that I’m still really only familiar with “Whip It” DEVO, but when DB suggested “Gut Feeling” and pointed me to the lyrics, it struck me as one of those serious-subject-to-upbeat-music songs and seemed perfect for both the moment and what RRAAO is all about. I see you. I do not like you. I do not trust you.
DB: I’ve been a big fan of DEVO since I was a kid. My older brother had Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! vinyl and I would listen to it a lot. When you’re young bands you like can get imprinted on you. They just become a part of you. As I got older I started to understand a lot of the messages behind their music and it definitely affected how I viewed the world. Something to point out is they would also take cover songs, strip them down and completely make them their own. I like when bands do that. Makes it interesting.
SVR: Unlike a variety of genre tags that hit the ol' inbox, "doomviolence" is a pretty damn accurate description of your sound and aesthetic. For people unfamiliar with what you do: what is doomviolence?
AS: Doomviolence is slow songs for short attention spans. I should say that we’re not the originators of the term, but I hadn’t run across it when I hatched the idea for the band, so it’s an honest case of multiple discovery. I was going back and forth between World Peace and Primitive Man and thought: “what if you played really short songs really slowly?” It’s a great challenge to experiment with brevity in a genre that is known for the opposite…we’d rather leave the listener wanting more than overstay our welcome. I liken listening to our songs to watching slow motion footage of sudden, brief, violent attacks.
DB: AS is a genius and perhaps he didn’t invent the term, he did it the loudest and that’s everything.
SVR: In a typical interview, there's the inevitable question about influential artists. In your case, that question becomes a little more interesting, given a tendency to draw and combine elements from seemingly disparate genres. Are you fans of artists within both doom and powerviolence arenas, or does one genre tend to to supersede the other when it comes to your own musical tastes?
AS: We both have pretty deep wells of experience and influence, but for me the aforementioned World Peace and Primitive Man specifically started the stone rolling, and beyond that a hate-marriage of the concepts of PV and harsh, heavy doom adds the moss. There’s always a risk of accidentally creating unpalatable garbage when you mash genres together like this, and we avoid that by INTENTIONALLY CREATING UNPALATABLE GARBAGE.
DB: Both doom and powerviolence are big favorites of mine which is one of the reasons I basically begged AS to let me join the band. Chris Elder from Despise You is a big inspiration both lyrically and just his delivery. I’m doing my own thing with it, but the way you can just hear his intensity in his voice. I strive for that. Another band that really influences what I do in RRAAO is Plutocracy. They would just go all out. It sounds like they are throwing everything into their voices, just overloading their vocal chords.
SVR: Given the "Improvised May 1-5 2020" note on The Atrophy of Empathy, as well as the quick turnaround on "Gut Feeling," I would assume you move pretty quickly. How does the down 'n' dirty doomviolence ethos impact your songwriting process?
AS: AoE was entirely improvised and everything was done in a maximum of two takes. It was a case of the idea lighting a fire under me and I wanted to capitalize on the fact that I had time to spend banging around on my drums. The material on Toppling… was more considered, but I feel like it still retains the urgency of AoE. The writing process is purely reductive. Each idea is whittled to the sharpest point possible and then stabbed into the song. I record drums and bass and then send it to DB, where he polishes the turd to a surprising lustre. I still one-take almost everything because ornament is undesirable in this band. “Gut Feeling” was a more challenging cover thanour first (heh), but all I had to do was distill an already fairly simple song down to its foundation and hammer through it. I suspect DB had some ideas already, so when he added his magic touch, it really became something special. Honestly, thank goodness for DB. RRAAO is what it is because of him.
DB: I’m blushing now, great. But seriously, thanks. I genuinely enjoy what AS lays down for the tracks so he makes it very easy for me to do my thing with it. Other bands I’ve been in could take quite a while to get lyrics and vocal patterns going, but the ideas come to me a lot faster with this project. Something just clicks. In the spirit of the thing I also try to keep everything to first or second take. Just make as abrasive and intense as possible.
SVR: Perhaps similarly, RRAAO had quite the prolific 2020. Is there a larger method to the pace, or do you just make stuff when the mood strikes?
AS: 2020 was a great year for both of us, musically. RRAAO went from DIY demo stuff to a proper, collaborative band in like six weeks. Unfortunately for DB, it starts with me, and my muse is kind of flaky. I’ll go through periods where I have both the inspiration to create and the time to capture it, but as an adult human, it’s tough to predict when those will hit. RRAAO is always churning around in my head, though.
DB: AS and I are on the same page, hell even the same word sometimes. It makes things go really smoothly when the ideas hit. We seem to have a fairly unified vision of how this band is supposed to be. In my experience that’s pretty rare.
SVR: Reception to your work thusfar seems to be pretty great, with one notable exception--you handled a (hilariously) negative review with a grace that, in turn, ended up being a major selling point (for me, at least.) Is the ability to shrug off negative criticism a result of a confidence in your creation, or is it a confidence that the reviewer just had no clue what they were talking about? Or perhaps a third option I'm not considering?
AS: Ha! There was a time when that review would have made me seriously think about putting the project to sleep, but that review a) was hilarious and b) took issue with everything that made the music what it was, and that I had clearly and honestly stated about it. “This sounds improvised and amateurish…” My dude it says that it was improvised and I am 100% an amateurish drummer. I play a five-string bass like a guitar--in fact I chose not to use guitar in this music because that’s my primary instrument and I want to think outside of that box. None of this is faked or forced, it’s the most honest music I’ve ever made. And the great thing is that IT WORKS. That particular reviewer just didn’t care for it…I think there’s another at least semi-negative review out there, but it’s behind a paywall so even I haven’t seen it. Plus, how could I have passed up the opportunity to put “ASS WIPE DOOM” and “TOTAL MEDIOCRITY” down the sleeves of a shirt? Everybody else who has commented on the music seems to get it, because they say things like “this hurt my ears and I loved it” and “listening to this album was like getting beaten up in an alley” and that’s what we’re going for.
DB: It's an amazing stroke of luck, because I think that person was just browsing bandcamp looking for things to write about. Seems like in this day, just having someone listen to your music and writing about it is a really hard thing to do, but to get something gold like “ASS WIPE DOOM”!? You can’t pay for that kind of inspiration.
SVR: Given what has been released thusfar, do you have favorite RRAAO tracks, or ones that stick out in your mind as particular accomplishments?
AS: I really love how “Eroding Immunity” off of Toppling… came out. Sarah Allen Reed delivered an epic vocal, and DB made the whole track sound like you’re sinking in a silo full of drywall screws. It’s disorienting and compelling. Doing our first cover, “You Suffer,” was also awesome because that was the first and only song I’d considered covering as RRAAO just because of how absurd it would be. We did a mind meld thing where we both suggested it to the other at the same moment, and the result is a sprawling 10-second epic.
DB: To say something different I’ll pick “A Spoiled Orchard.” That song starts like a bomb going off. Just tries to pummel you right away. I’m also fairly proud of my lyrics on that one. A couple of lines just came to me as a vision. Good job, me.
SVR: Cyttorak are obviously excellent split-mates, but if you could put out a split release with any band(s) or artist(s) in the History of Ever, who would you choose?
AS: Cyttorak are indeed an excellent split-mate, and we’re glad to ride their wake into greatness! I’d love to do a three-way split with a pure PV band first, then us in the middle, and then a pure crushing doom band (WP/RRAAO/PM hint hint). A band like WVRM, Hellish Form, or Holy Death would be cool to work with.
DB: You did a great job of putting the two bands together, Ian! It really does fit perfectly. In the history of ever? Probably SPAZZ. They are one of my favorite bands ever, so that would rule. Pessimiser/Theologian records used to do 7” compilations called Cry Now, Cry Later, it would be just absolutely incredible to time travel our way back on to one of those. As for current bands there are tons! Too many to list so I won't.
SVR: Thanks for taking the time to stop by the Village. I'll leave the last word to you--anything you care to add?
AS: Thank you for putting this split together, and for giving RRAAO your time and energy to listen to and review. Thanks to Misha Mono for the killer RRAAO logo, Tommy Wilson for the artwork on Toppling…, Sarah Allen Reed, Bigg Sluggathor and Diabolical Conquest for the tape release, and everybody who bought a shirt or tape or listened to our stuff. We genuinely appreciate you. RRAAO has much more in store for 2021 and beyond. Oh, and thanks especially to that one shitty review that gave us the ASS WIPE DOOM shirts (TY Forest Passage Printing)!
DB: Yes, thanks! We love you all
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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