Two years ago, I had the opportunity to check out Righteous Vendetta as they played in Purgatory at the Masquerade in Atlanta. I had never heard of them until that night. I have to say, they caught my eye and more importantly my ear from the very first song of their set. After the show, I spent a few minutes talking with the guys from Cody, Wyoming. I was just starting out as a concert photographer at the time and had some aspirations brewing about trying my hand at interviews and writing to accompany my photography. During the course of our conversation, the topic of doing an interview the next time Righteous Vendetta were in Atlanta came up. The guys were more than agreeable at the time and as it turns out, it took two years, but we made it happen.
For those who don’t know Righteous Vendetta, you owe it to yourself to check them out. These guys are energetic, heavy and, in their own words, at times “poppy”. Their music makes you want to move (at times last night, I found myself forgetting to take pictures, but only for a second or two). The other part, for those who don’t know, is that these guys are non-stop. They have to be one of the hardest working bands I know of. I have been following them for about 2 years and during that time they seem to have been on tour almost constantly. If talent and hard work is what it takes to get somewhere in the music world, Righteous Vendetta have got that covered in spades.
As they were getting ready hit the stage in Heaven at the Masquerade, I sat down and got the scoop on Righteous Vendetta with vocalist, Ryan Hayes.
HHM: How did you guys come together as a band?
Ryan: We came together about 6 years ago, me and the guitar player, Justin. We met at college and had similar interests in pursuing music, just kind of for fun or whatever. We started playing in a band, playing local shows, here and there every couple of weeks and honestly it all just came together and we ended up starting a band and going on tour and here we are now.
HHM: I know when I saw you guys here at the Masquerade downstairs in Purgatory, I liked you instantly and I’ve been watching Righteous Vendetta and watching you grow. I know you guys are relentless about touring, you seem like you are always on the road. Sometimes I question whether you guys even have a hometown (laughs)
Ryan: It’s so true, we are never there
HHM: Where did the name Righteous Vendetta come from?
Ryan: Actually our original drummer came up with the name Righteous Vendetta. There really wasn’t this in depth thing in choosing a name. We were trying to do a name that was different and that had a kind of catchy ring to it and that was one of the one’s that popped up. It’s kind of like Led Zeppelin, it doesn’t make sense, you know, you can’t have a “Led Zeppelin” obviously so Righteous Vendetta is kind of the same. It’s an oxymoronish name. We did a Google search and there it was.
HHM: Who or what would you say had the most influence on your music?
Ryan: Definitely, I grew up listening to underground hardcore music, so I am heavily influenced by bands like As I Lay Dying, In Flames, Impending Doom, and Whitechapel, you know really heavy stuff. That’s what I grew up on and that’s kind of where my heart is. I’ve always been into really heavy music, but I also like Pop music too.
HHM: You can definitely hear those influences in your music.
Ryan: We kind of wanted to pave our own road. Dude let’s be a heavy band, but let’s have these “Poppy” sing along choruses and singing parts where we can. Those would be my main influences, it’s mostly heavy, but there is also some modern Rap influence as well. I pull things from that, like melodies and ideas that I can put into my music and make it rock.
HHM: You definitely are no strangers to touring, what have you learned in previous tours that you are doing different now?
Ryan: We’ve focused a lot of attention in our “merch” displays because that is what keeps us alive and we’ve learned ways to sell merch on the road and actually come out on top. It’s an expensive game to be in. We have to focus on things like merchandise so that we can keep touring like we do. You know, if we didn’t sell a lot of merchandise, we wouldn’t be able to tour like we do. As we progress we try to step up our live show with every tour, you know, do something new, push ourselves physically and just bring the best show we can.
HHM: Staying on the road topic, what’s the funniest road story you’ve got?
Ryan: (Laughs) Aww man, there’s tons
HHM: If you can tell it…
Ryan: One that we always resort back to is from when we were on tour in Europe two years ago. We did a European tour through seven countries and I ahhh, I actually crapped my pants while I was on stage in Poland and I had to be taken back to the hotel so I could change. Of course, I had to be taken back by like the hottest girl in Poland. She was man, she was the hottest Polish chick I have ever seen and here I sit in the car with her. I was like wow, I am literally in a vehicle with the most gorgeous girl from Poland ever and I have crap in my pants. I was thinking “this sucks”. She knew what had happened, so it was not a good day…
HHM: Indeed. Do you have any unique preshow rituals?
Ryan: Honestly, I don’t. Before I play, I’m just on the couch like this (blank stare into space) and they go “Ryan, Ryan it’s time” and I go “K” and get up and do it.
HHM: What are your plans after this tour with Trapt?
Ryan: We are actually taking a little break after this. We are going back home for a few weeks, which is weird for us. We are going to go home and just take a breather and chill for a little bit then we are doing a two week run with Like a Storm. After that we have like a week and a half off and then we start a tour with Nonpoint.
HHM: Very cool. Nonpoint is another band that I really like
Ryan: Yeah, they’re great
HHM: You played Rock on the Range this year, how was that experience? I know what it’s like to be there as a fan, what is it like to be there as a band?
Ryan: It was a lot of emotions. It was extremely fun and an amazing time, but it was also really stressful. It was our first time ever doing a festival that size. We played for about 5000 people, which isn’t a lot at Rock on the Range, but for us, 5000 people is like holy crap that’s a lot of people and this is happening. That part was cool. The thing that was really rough was all the people in the industry watching us from side stage. Literally all the big guys in the industry were there standing on the side of the stage with their arms across their chest and straight faces and we had to perform for these dudes. So that was really nerve racking. We spent the first two days of Rock on the Range doing radio. I spent 5, 6, 7 hours each day going from radio tent to radio tent talking to literally every radio station in the country, one after the other doing interviews.
HHM: Did you actually get to take in any of the shows at all?
Ryan: I really didn’t get much of a chance. I saw Gemini Syndrome and I saw Danny Worsnop’s (Asking Alexandria) new band (We Are Harlot). Those were the only two I got to see.
HHM: Of all Righteous Vendetta’s songs, which is your favorite to play live?
Ryan: To play live, that would probably be “So Long” or “What You’ve Done”, just because they are heavy. I like the heavy stuff. I like the screaming a lot. Those two give me a chance.
HHM: If you could take the stage with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Ryan: Killswitch Engage. I’d love to sing for that band. As I Lay Dying, obviously now that there singer is gone, that could be something I might be able to do. Man, this is a tough question. Probably, Anberlin, I don’t know if you know who that is. Those would be my top three.
HHM: When all is said and done how do you want Righteous Vendetta to be remembered?
Ryan: I want Righteous Vendetta to be remembered not only as being a great band, great songs, great live performance, but I want people to remember the conversations they had with us and the way they were treated when they were around us and our crew. I want people to remember the things that matter. In the end, the music is going to fade and people are going to forget about who we were as we made music, but they are going to remember who we were as a person. They are going to remember how they were treated and how you treated them and the way they made you feel. So we want fans to be left thinking it was a pleasure to meet those guys because they were down to Earth, they were respectful and that’s how we want to be remembered.
HHM: Anything else you would like to add?
Ryan: Definitely. Please check us out on line and follow us on Facebook and all that stuff, Twitter, Instagram. A lot happens on there and a lot of people don’t catch it, so keep checking back with us. Come see us at a show. We are everywhere all the time and we just love to meet people, so come on out.
- photos: Righteous Vendetta live at The Masquerade in Atlanta 7/10
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- photos: Shaman's Harvest at the Masquerade on 12-13-14 photo credit Gary Flinn