**This interview was done last year for a magazine called Hails & Horns. It was an honor, because I’m a HUGE fan of Rwake and C.T. was incredibly gracious to do this interview with me before the show, in fact, this was my first in-person interview with someone I’m a big fan of and I think it turned out well.**
While at a show in Little Rock, Arkansas that featured RWAKE, WEEDEATER, NORSKA, YOB and SAINT VITUS, I took some time to catch up with RWAKE vocalist C.T. regarding his many various projects. On top of singing in RWAKE, he’s also the vocalist for Little Rock-based classic rockers IRON TONGUE, who have a new record coming out on Neurot Recordings in 2013. He also directed a documentary on southern metal bands called Slow Southern Steel, as well as a record label called Mutants Of The Monster, that he runs with David Hall of Handshake Inc. On top of his bands, record label, and movie, he’s also a father, and he has his own radio show, so it was nice to chat with him about each of his various projects.
The lineup for the show tonight is incredible, what does it mean for a town with a smaller scene like Little Rock getting a band like SAINT VITUS in town?
I honestly don’t know if most of Little Rock probably appreciates what it is. Let’s just say there are a lot of kids out there that play doom, and they don’t even what know Saint Vitus had to do to get doom for us to play. This is a big show even for our town, but even for the people in there that really know what it’s about, I mean, it’s pretty heavy. Usually we have to see them in other towns. I got to see them at Maryland Death Fest, and Henry, their new drummer is a buddy of ours, so it’s kind of weird and surrealistic.
On top of bringing in cool touring bands, Little Rock also features quite a few awesome local bands like PALLBEARER, DEADBIRD, and your bands RWAKE and IRON TONGUE. What is it about this area that breeds such awesome music?
I think it’s a small town thing. With some people, if they lock in, and it really ends up getting good, then it’s real good. Stuff like DEADBIRD is amazing to me, but PALLBEARER, those kids have been around the scene for a while just doing experimental stuff, all kinds of stuff. Joe and Brett, and even Devin their other guitarist were in a lot of bands, so watching them come together is cool. I’ve seen their first show, their second show, and watched them write their songs, and I think it’s just something special about a different place. I’m not saying that we’re special; it’s just that, some kid out in the middle of nowhere might sit and work with something, because he has more time on his hands to sit and work with stuff. It’s not more or less like a job, like a driven force, it’s more like, I just do this. But, with some folks in New York or bigger towns, they are machines, and they do their business, and you don’t fuck with it, they’re hardcore. But I think with us, we have to work harder, but it’s not like the work they’re putting in, it’s a little different. I think it would be the same thing as like, a band from a very small town in England or Europe somewhere; my key is the small townness of it, even the small mindedness of it. With RWAKE and PALLBEARER, people like it, but there’s not really a scene going on around here, and what you’re seeing is one our biggest shows here and that doesn’t happen all the time. I mean, RWAKE plays to way bigger crowds in other towns, so I think that has to do with it all, just being a small town.
One cool thing about the show tonight is that three of the bands playing also played Maryland Death Fest, speaking of which, what are your thoughts over the publicity you guys got over the video of you vomiting mid-song at MDF?
I don’t really know. I didn’t dislike it, but I thought it was funny; it’s just like “aww man.” It’s intense, we don’t hold back and that’s a part of it, I mean, we’re not a band that comes out to vomit because we like to vomit, it’s not like that. We’re not like KISS, you can’t expect us to come out and do something. That’s just what we are at the time that was going on. It’s either…throw up everywhere and keep playing…or run off the stage and throw up and have it look like shit.
One thing I noticed when watching you guys at MDF is just how much emotion and energy go into the RWAKE live show, is there any difference in the energy you have to give when performing with Iron Tongue, or is it more laid back?
IRON TONGUE is way easier. RWAKE is like a totally different thing, and I play with a lot of other different bands and I don’t even consider it like being in a bunch of bands anymore. It’s like someone that likes to make a bunch of movies, I don’t just want to make one movie with one group of people, I like to make a lot of stuff, and being from a small town, you see a lot of people who want to start bands. So, it’s like “I like music and you like music, let’s see what we can create”.
Is that how IRON TONGUE came about?
Honestly, I was in a bunch of other bands, and the dudes from IRON TONGUE approached me, it was all their thing. And some other bands I was in were kind of failing, and I didn’t want to join IRON TONGUE, but I look at it like if I just turn these dudes down -they’re writing all these songs and I’m being closed minded, then I don’t really wanna do art. So I listened to the tracks and I was like “I like these, but slow em down and do this here” and they did it, and I was like “that sounds awesome”. And it started unlocking when they were doing things, and taking suggestions, and they were all writing, we just kept going and like, I have a lot of long opuses and things, and IRON TONGUE was not one of them.
Speaking of IRON TONGUE, you guys have a new album coming out through Neurot Recordings right?
Right, it’s coming out in February. In RWAKE, we know the dudes in NEUROSIS, and we’re friends with em, so it wasn’t like “hey sign my band”. Me and Scott Kelly had a radio show together on Combat Music Radio on the internet with Joe Preston and a bunch of people, so we were always trading music off, like “what can we play, we need music to play on our show”. So I was like “this is my new band, play this on your show”, and that’s how he got the first IRON TONGUE seven inches. And we got to talking, and Neurot was going for a whole new reboot, and they were like “we want y’all to be on board.” So for like a year and a half, that’s what our goal was, then it finally happened.
Another project I know you’ve been working on for a long time is your documentary Slow Southern Steel when will that be coming out on dvd?
It’s being worked on now, where before it was not being worked on. So we actually have two guys, Mike Ledford and Mike Poe, and they’re awesome with the local film scene around here, and they came in and helped us when I and David Lidke had been butting heads because our resources are tapped. It’s like we made a movie and that’s all we really know how to do, like from there on we’re kind of fucked. So we had friends from the local film community step in, and they were like “your film is awesome”. To me it’s a scene thing, it’s about the bands, but the film people are like “this is a good film”. It’s been in a lot of film fests, and the film fest people here love it, and they treat me with a lot of respect-like the respect I get from RWAKE -just for making this movie, and they don’t know a lot about the years I’ve put into shit like our fans and the music scene do. So those two dudes, the two Mikes stepped in, and they were like “we’re gonna try and make everything legal for your movie, so you can release it”. So long story short, I mean, this is something we could have had done a long time ago, but we really did not know what we were doing. We had no idea, we knew how to make a movie and make it look incredible, but we didn’t really know how to do anything else, like we don’t have Phil Anselmo’s signature saying it’s okay to use this, and he’s seen all through the movie. So it’s really a friend thing, it’s like “I’ve driven an hour and I’m in your house, so that’s kind of the signature”. It was like “you’re letting me in here”, and that was not cool. But honestly, I’m not messed up about the musicians signature as much as…say we interviewed this guy at this club…we have to get that stuff, that stuff is like totally legal that you get the club owner to say it’s okay. It doesn’t cost money; it’s just something you have to have legally, that’s all the shit we’re working on. I would never even want to give anyone a date, but know that we have people who know what they’re doing working on it .
On top of all that you’ve got going on with the documentary, plus IRON TONGUE and RWAKE, you’ve managed to start a new record label with David Hall of Handshake Inc. How do you guys know each other and how did that come about?
Honestly, you know, we’re just internet buddies. We started talking a whole bunch back and forth, I’m trying to think of the origin of it all, I know we both love TODAY IS THE DAY.
I know he’s a big fan of RWAKE.
Yeah, but it was really before that. He’s been working on a RWAKE video, and it isn’t done yet, and we’ve accomplished so much more, and it all started with us trying to make a RWAKE video. It’s like “we’ve put other stuff out, but what happened to that first goal?”, and then we’ve finished like four other goals. We started this label called Mutants of the Monster; he came up with the name for it. It’s the name of this fest I throw here once a year, and it’s an awesome Jim Dandy (BLACK OAK ARKANSAS) quote. And (David)’s like “that’s kind of the essence of this, why don’t we call it that”, and I thought it was a horrible name cause it’s long and big, but I’m the one getting the community together, and he’s the one doing the legal part of it. And where I’m like “I don’t think this is cool” he’s like “yeah it is cool”. Stuff that I would probably let pass by to people, he’s like “no, that’s what people want”.
With record labels falling by the way side nowadays, what plans do you have for the label to offer something unique and creative that people will want to actually purchase and not just download?
First of all, we’re not making that many, so you’re gonna have to download it, but the people that want to buy this, are gonna be buying it from the artist’s hand. There’s not gonna be much distributed and I like that. It’s more like…it’s not about the selling of records as much as what you do in between to sell it. Just to roughly do it, like when you see a black motherfucker in the ghetto with his cd’s in the trunk, and he’s fucking trying to sell it to whoever. I look at it like “I know who I sold it to, there’s one gone, there’s only 99 left”, I know who has this shit. We’re making minimalist shit, but also I think certain folks, they know who’s backing it and what we’re doing, because it’s like, we’re doing shit that costs money and people in the studios are involved, and they’re recording and not charging. This is all people working and it’s a real thing and you know what, if someone wanted to download it that’s cool, but the work we’re gonna put into it is worth what it is to be bought. It’s like you want to buy it; if you can’t buy it from the band, try to buy it off the internet. We’ll have a distributer, but we’re not making that many, it’s a minimalist thing for sure.
Finally, I did an interview with Mlny Parsonz from ROYAL THUNDER recently, where she mentioned that “Crooked Rivers” is a song that she wishes she would have written which has to be flattering, but in your opinion, if you could have written any song ever, what would it be?
Lyrically, maybe “When the Music’s Over” by THE DOORS. I like THE DOORS a lot; they’re not even like my favorite band, I just like how Jim can control an audience. Maybe that one, but, a song that I like that’s really kind of horrible is called “Diffuse”. It’s by this band called HUM, and it’s like a hidden track on their cd (Electra 2000). It’s one of those songs where I don’t even have the cd, I just have that one song on my iPod, and I just listen to it over and over and over.