Interviews

Questions For RLYR

Photo credit: Michael Vallera

 

RLYR is one of the best new bands around. I fucking love these guys. Made of up Colin DeKuiper (Bloodiest), Steven Hess (Locrian, Pan-American, Cleared), and Trevor de Brauw (Pelican, Chord), their debut Delayer landed at #2 in my 2016 year end metal list. When they toured that record, they played a bunch of songs from the then-untitled follow up record. They’re already at work on the third record but now the second one is titled (Actual Existence) and coming very soon via The Flenser on April 13th. DO NOT MISS THIS. It’s fucking incredible and uncategorizable, like some sort of heavy power-pop math-metal emo post-rock mutant. This is so much better than Delayer, it’s more intricate, loaded with more hooks and more surprising climaxes that reach higher levels of transcendence. Take Delayer, run it through an intensifier, a tightener, and an identity solidifier, and you’ve got Actual fucking Existence.

These three dudes are unbelievably talented on their own and know exactly what they’re doing here. I love em to death. I’m super psyched to have them contribute to my Q&A series. Go pre-order Actual Existence first, then come back here and read about the time Steven almost fell to his death, the time Colin was almost robbed inside his own house, and why Trevor thinks death is so annoying.

 
What is an ideal death?
Colin: The bishop/priest/father (forgive me) in Caddyshack.

Steven: Something pain-free or damn close too pain-free. Sudden death when I’m not expecting it. Possibly a heart attack that happens just after I reach the summit of a mountain I’ve just spent the day hiking to the top of. I just cracked open a good beer (and have a drink), take in the amazing view, and POW!… I drop dead. I just don’t want a death that involves fire or sharks.

Trevor: I don’t know that there is one. Death seems hopelessly inconvenient, there’s more than a lifetime’s worth of things to accomplish and I can’t imagine not being irritated by death bringing everything to a premature end.
 
What makes you happy?
Colin: I think it might be purpose, but unfortunately that hasn’t always come as a singular ingredient.

Steven: Many things, but right off the top of my head… Friends, loved ones, and the surprise of what will happen tomorrow and every day that follows. Music makes me very happy, and that I’m able to play music with others, both friends and strangers. I consider myself very lucky that I’m able to do that.

Trevor: Coffee, music, hugs from my family.
 
How can you die happy?
Colin: Hmmmm.

Steven: Painlessly, at the end of a long and full life.

Trevor: Probably only way for this to happen is to die completely unexpectedly. As I referenced before dying is a real annoyance to me, so I hope to be blissfully unaware when my life ends.
 
How close have you come to death?
Colin: It has always been transportation related. A few times I have felt in control with the acknowledgement that things could go south fast. These have always been weather related in brutal storms. They induce adrenaline and a little bit of crazy.

I can also think of at least two instances of incredibly close calls that could have ended me in horrific car/bike accidents within inches. Those didn’t have any feelings of control. Those moments do go into slow motion, but you walk away from those with the ability to process that you couldn’t have exercised any escape other than luck.

Steven: I’ve had a couple close calls. One I think of from time to time is when I was in my late teens and living in Colorado, a group of us would always go up to the Colorado National Monument to hike around, get high and drink beer. One day we all climbed up on this rock formation that looked like a giant breast made of sandstone (I think we even called it “the nipple.” Genius, I know) that was on the edge of a canyon. You could gain access to this formation from one side, climbing up and zigzagging your way to the top, but on the other side it was a straight drop down for about 500 ft. This particular time everyone made it to the top and I was working my way around it and I lost my footing and started to slide down the one side that went nowhere but 500 ft down. I remember just staring at everyone as they rolled a joint or something and thinking this is it, so long. Then all of a sudden my sneaker grabbed onto a little rock that was sticking out and I stopped sliding. A couple friends formed a short human chain and pulled me up to safety and we sat there and had a beer. Ah… Black Label Beer, truly one of the worst.

Trevor: There have been some pretty harrowing drives on tour where it seemed like we might be close. I remember one time driving out of Denver in a blizzard – we were on the highway doing between 15 and 20 mph just barely maintaining enough traction to stay on the road when a truck sped past us in the left hand lane, apparently unaffected by the snow. About a mile later we passed that same truck, which had lost control and flipped over on its side. That was a long, anxious day.
 
How can you make your life better?
Colin: Trying. I feel like that gets more intentional over time too.

Steven: Get as far away from people as often as you can. Be creative. Focus on the simple things in your life that bring you joy and learn to repeat those thoughts or actions as often as you can. I’d imagine therapy helps as well.

Trevor: Being self-aware and living more inside the moment would be a start. The current era and its overabundance of information is a real stumbling block to simply being able to step back and contextualize one’s place in the world, which I think is pretty essential to living a decent life. Here’s hoping we all work through it.
 
What does kindness mean to you?
Colin: Generosity, authenticity, and empathy. Truly kind people genuinely want to understand.

Steven: Understanding, listening, and being willing to lend a helping hand when others are in need.

Trevor: Being aware of others and their feelings and respecting them.
 
Where do you find love?
Colin: It’s family and friends, but also the things that I love to do. Dogs too. I can’t say that I always believe them, but they do a good job of putting on a show of affection most of the time.

Steven: All around: in nature, in music, in art, but mostly at home.

Trevor: At home.
 
When were you most afraid?
Colin: A few weeks ago my wife and I were about to fall asleep on a Saturday night close to 2am after being out at a bar with friends when we heard our front door slam. Both of our dogs were with us upstairs and they went into high alert. We live in an older house with the typical noises, but nothing like this. This was aggressive. We have both seen our share of home invasion thrillers and it felt like we were now in one. Just like a character you’d yell at in the movies, I had no real weapons to grab (it was a golf club, no bullshit) while my wife called 911 and we both moved downstairs. I quickly scanned a few rooms before moving outside into the expanse of our street and surveyed the house from the road. Lying in front of the door was a particularly thick edition of the Sunday paper.

Steven: There have been a few in my life so far, but I’ll just give you this one weird experience I had. When I was 25 I was living in Portland, OR with some friends and band members in this creepy-ass house in the SW area of the city, just off of Burnside Street. This was definitely a house that could have been in a horror movie – old, dilapidated, uneven stone steps leading up to the front porch, a three-floor old gothic style home with a coach-house/garage in the back. Overgrown weeds and a yard that never seemed to grow.

Anyway, it was late at night and everyone was asleep and I went up to my room – which was pretty much a large closet with a window. I turned off the light and got in bed and I’m laying there on my back for several minutes and all of a sudden I had the sensation of someone pushing on my chest and head holding me down on the bed. There was also this feeling (and sound of) a strong force of wind blowing straight down on me (the window was only cracked in my room and it was a still night). I couldn’t see anything or hear anything for 10 or 15 seconds, but if felt much longer. As soon as it stopped there was a loud crashing sound in my room and I jumped straight out of bed and hit the light switch and found that the posters were ripped down the center, and the couple other things I had hanging on the walls had been knocked down and were on the floor. I got the hell out of my room and started banging on my friends bedroom door. I told him all about it, calmed down, and stayed up the rest of the night.

Trevor: I watched the ’70s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers at some unreasonably young age and was definitely freaked the fuck out by it, which set off a lifelong love affair with horror.
 
How do you listen to music?
Colin: Anyway that I can, but I’m not a huge fan of live music at restaurants. This seems to be a thing where I live now and I don’t get it.

Steven: Live is the first choice for listening, enjoying, and discovering new music, but I can’t do that everyday or as much as I would like to, so I listen to a majority of my music at home in the evenings and weekends, and it’s usually LP or CD format. During the weekdays it’s mostly mp3s through headphones, or through a car stereo.

Trevor: Any and every way I can.

Album Review

Top 20 Metal Records Of 2016

I did it! I made another list. I didn’t think it would happen, but it happened. No more lists, though. This is the last one for 2016.

Lots of black metal this year. And I mean lots. But it’s all A+ Amazing. I didn’t hear too much doom (or rather too much premium doom) this year, but, again the doom that was good was really fucking good. There’s tons of weird shit in here that pushes the limits of metal that you should come to expect from my metal lists. Also, I gotta say I’m surprised at the amount of color found on these album covers. 10 of them feature full multi-colored artwork and even more toss in some non-greyscale-but-still-monochromatic flair.

I did something that some of you may find treasonous. I have 2 records tied for first place. So, technically, this is a Top 21 list, but whatever. I spent way too long (like, weeks, maybe even months?) trying to decide which of the two I loved more and just couldn’t settle on one answer for more than a few days. And when I was putting this post together I realized “fuck it, there’s no reason I need to choose one over the other” and thus the Tied For Number 1 spot was born. I’m happy about it and you should be too.

As usual, I try to keep the big names/labels off the list because I’m definitely not a metal blog and I’m sure you all know that The Body, Ash Borer, SubRosa, Cough, ColdWorld, and Primitive Man put out truly outstanding records this year. You don’t need another site to tell you how good they are.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.

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