Let me welcome you to Metal Invader and please introduce the band to our readers.
Hi, I’m Andrew from Ripped to Shreds, a death metal band from California. I do everything in the studio with session drummers, but I have two live lineups with some friends; one based out of San Jose, California, and one based out of Taipei, Taiwan. We just put out a new record ‘Luan’ on Pulverised Records.
What is the album title and the lyrics about?
‘Luan’ means chaos. You might have seen the same character in the title of Kurosawa’s Ran. Warfare and destruction are never pretty, clean, nor glorious. It’s ugly and dirty and chaotic. The lyrics reflect the foul realities of war by examining the history of China. I also incorporate some folklore tales, like the classic Journey to the West or the fox spirit empress who created the lake of wine and forest of meat.
What would be different on this album comparing it to your debut?
Songwriting is much more mature and I have far more capable hands than mine performing on the drumkit. I brought in Justin from Trenchrot because I use his style as a reference for programming and writing drums all the time, the last Trenchrot record is a top 10 for the decade, so it only made sense to have him play the drums here.
Tell us more about the writing procedure as long as we are talking for one-man’s band
I usually have a good idea what kind of song I want to write when I sit down to write a song. I rarely have previously written riffs that I’m trying to incorporate into a new song, I always look at how the song currently exists, imagine in my head where I want the song to go, and then come up with new parts on the spot. I record these scratch tracks onto my computer and program some drums to make sure it sounds like I imagined.
Which are your main influences?
Entombed, Autopsy, and Bolt Thrower are obvious mainstays. Some more recent bands that are inspiring include Funebrarum, Horrendous, and Reptilian. Honestly I’m not super picky what kind of death metal I allow myself to be influenced by for RTS. Pretty much any death metal I listen to, I might hear something that makes me go “shit I want to do something like that,” and I’ll do it. But on the grindcore side, I’m pretty picky what kind of ideas I use. I think it has to be more crusty Repulsion style to really fit death metal and create the same sort of death metal/grindcore hybrid that Bolt Thrower used to play on Realms of Chaos. I don’t have stop starts sections, I don’t really like to use goregrind d-beat sections like Regurgitate in RTS, or skronky/weird grind like DxAx, even though I love those bands and use those ideas in my other bands.
How you organize your live shows? Do you have permanent members that help you with that?
Yeah, I’m very lucky to know some extremely sick drummers who can play this tough material. Chris from Bloody Tyrant, a popular folk metal band in Taiwan, blasts like no one can, he destroys the grind sections. Brian from Spinebreaker (I’ve been a fan of this band for a long time) has a super punk feel, his d-beats are disgusting, and he can keep up with anyone for speed.
Is there a certain type of audience that makes you feel more comfortable, or do you just want to show to everyone what RTS is all about?
I want to introduce the music of RTS to anyone who is willing to come to a show. I also want to inspire other Asian Americans to come out to our shows, and start their own bands. The Asian population in my area is 30%, but when I go to shows it’s almost only white people. Us Asian Americans can also make sick heavy music, and seeing a familiar yellow face on stage can help make them feel more comfortable to come to shows and know it’s possible for them to do metal and punk, and not just adhere to stereotypes.
Some words for the artwork?
It was drawn by a painter from Beijing, Guang Yang. It depicts the battle of Lugou Bridge, the first battle of the Second Sino Japanese war, and by extension the start of World War 2. The song Opening Salvo is also about this battle.
Is there any new from the other bands you are involved?
My other band Azath put out a new record the same day as Luan, also on Pulverised Records. I also recently put out a 3 way goregrind split, with my bands Houkago Grind Time and ExExGxDx, and also drummed on Hit-Run Drivers side of that split.
The closing is yours.
Thanks everyone for reading! Stay safe and wash your hands. I hope to be able to bring RTS to somewhere near you soon, check out our new album Luan from Pulverised Records and grab a copy!