This week we’re shining the Meet The Band spotlight on the groove metal group Death Rattle. Their latest album is Volition. Guitarist Ryan VanderWolk introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Death Rattle.
Ryan VanderWolk: Death Rattle was formed in 2009 when I met Chris Morin at a Lamb of God show in Boston at the House of Blues. As we were based in two different states and three hours apart, we commuted for more than five years to make it happen until I relocated to New Hampshire to be closer to the band almost three years ago. We particularly lean toward groove metal and and standard heavy metal with aggressive vocals throughout.
Describe the songwriting process for Volition.
It was very up and down. During this period we dealt with a lot of inner struggle with members coming and going, financial struggles that were stopping us dead in our tracks at the time as well many recording issues to a point where we scrapped an about 60 percent complete album and started recording over again.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Having Trey come into the band and being an absolute force not only vocally, but also professionally, and being a major contributor to the process.
How has your sound evolved from your debut album?
I feel (standard cliché) that we have grown and improved much as a band as well as expanded upon our influence in writing this album. We also feel the quality all around is better: musically, vocally and production wise.
What lyrical subjects do you tackle?
All kinds of things from political discourse to getting ready for battle. From losing loved ones to addiction and disease, to living with a sociopath. A lot of things that a lot of people can identify with.
What led you to go the independent route for the album release?
We like it because we can dictate the terms as well as produce 110 percent the type of metal we want and love to do.
What has the response been like so far?
Very good and we are tremendously grateful for that. We’ve had a lot of support and that is the fuel we run on. The metal scene, worldwide, is a giant family and there is a beautiful connection there, a love that is nowhere else. A passion you can find in no other place!
What has been your most memorable Death Rattle live show?
Summer Slaughter at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. We are big Lamb of God fans, so that show was special.
Tell us about the all-Pantera set you played earlier this summer. How much preparation did that take?
Pantera is by far my favorite band of all time and my biggest influence as far as writing goes, so when we were asked to play a full Pantera set, I didn’t need to be convinced. We worked very hard, but we love to play covers so it comes naturally. It took many practices but it was a lot of fun. One of our favorite things to do on tour is play a cover each night and not have it be the same one. We can do almost a different cover every single night on this tour.
After your current tour, what’s in the pipeline for 2018?
We plan to get right to work on a lot of things, including a new album!
What’s your favorite way to kill time on the road?
We do all kinds of things, but mainly sightseeing and visiting people. We also watch movies when on the road.
How did you get started in music, and what drew you to metal?
We all got into metal from either our fathers or uncles or brothers pretty much. For me personally, when I was 12 I started listening to Rage Against The Machine and then Metallica. Metallica was definitely the band that inspired me to want to play guitar. I can still play almost ever riff from all four of the ’80s Metallica albums. They are in my DNA at this point.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Collectively – Metallica, Tool, Alice in Chain, Aerosmirh, Pink Floyd, The Haunted, Down, Pantera and Diecast.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
For me is was Pantera/Slayer/Morbid Angel. It was one hell of a way to start off.
What’s the heavy music scene like in the Cape Cod area?
It’s not like much at all, actually. Hasn’t been in a very long time. There are metal fans there but no venues for it, sadly. We have always had to travel.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Gojira, Fallujah, Revocation and Mastodon.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Please check out our new album Volition! We hope to see you at a tour date!
(interview published November 11, 2017)