Rivers Of Nihil have taken the metal world by storm with their debut full-length The Conscious Seed Of Light, which came out last year. They have ascended the ranks, going from a relatively underground band to being known as the next great thing in death metal music. I caught up with Brody Uttley at their Fort Lauderdale stop on their tour with Whitechapel, Devildriver, Carnifex, Revocation, and Fit For An Autopsy, to chat about getting naked, the new album, and why St. Louis is horrible for touring bands.
Thanks for doing this interview man! First question is the most obligatory one: How’s the tour been? You guys are coming up to the final few dates.
Well, it started off kinda bad. We got robbed in St. Louis, on the first day of the tour. Not our gear or anything; it was mostly our personal stuff. They broke into the cab and took laptops, passports, cash, headphones, all kinds of stuff. Luckily the computer they stole wasn’t my “good” computer, so to speak, like I have all of my music and files backed up on my computer at home, which doesn’t go anywhere, so it’s more of a material loss than anything else at this point. I brought it out with the expectation that it was going to get stolen since I hear all these horror stories, so before I left I backed it up and then completely wiped it, except for Cubase and Superior Drummer. Luckily, the tour’s been amazing so it’s made up for the bad start. We made it into Canada, you know, because that’s always a scary thing. Bands sometimes can’t get up there, but Canada was insane. We sold so many shirts up there, kids were just crazy in Canada. But all of the bands have been really cool, there’s no freaks or weirdos that aren’t down to hangout and talk on this tour. Everyone’s been great. All the bands are cool. Getting to see a band like Whitechapel every night and just seeing the level of professionalism that those dudes have is just inspiring. Whether or not you like the music, you have to respect what they’re doing because of how they carry their band, you know, since they do this for their living.
It seems like it is a good experience for you guys especially, since you’re all in your mid-20s and some of the guys from Whitechapel and Devildriver are in their 30s and have been practically doing this their entire lives.
Oh, yeah, definitely. It’s a real good tour to see how successful bands really carry themselves and operate.
You guys have been playing a 25 minute set each night, which is enough for around 5 songs. Are we going to hear any new music that you guys have been working on?
Unfortunately no. We’re writing for the next album now, though. Actually, after we get back from this tour we are going to resume writing. I have about three songs done myself, I think (Jon Kunz, guitars) has two or three songs, so we’ve definitely got some headway done for the next release, but as far as this tour goes there won’t be anything new.
It’s gotten a lot easier to write music now with the availability of various DAWs. When you guys write, is it collaborative, or will it be something more similar to, let’s say, you writing a song, and then Jon writing a song, etc.?
Well I have a studio at my house, so it’s really easy for me to demo entire songs by recording guitars and programming drums and then laying down shitty bass parts just to get the idea across. Then what I’ll do is send the song out to everyone and they’ll kinda, like, give me their input about it, like ‘this riff should be changed, repeated’, or whatever, and then organize things based on the feedback I get from them. Jon pretty much just brings entire song ideas and we pretty much just go with it, and then it’s the same thing; if there’s anything we want changed we just tell him. So, really, we write individually, but critique and alter the songs as a group. That’s pretty much what we did for the last album, too, so it seems to be a good process. I mean, we’re still a band! [laughs]
That is true! I regards to writing individually, I know that there are countless band who say they only listen to the music they are writing when creating a new record because they’re worried that they might be too influenced by outside things, and may end up changing the sound of their writing as a result. Do you do the same or do you just kinda write without really caring about hearing other music?
I think for the most part we aren’t against the idea of listening to other bands while we’re writing, especially because we’re always in the van listening to music while we’re driving anyways, so it’s always going to happen. At the same time, we don’t listen to bands and actively try to be like ‘Oh, yeah, this part should be a Decapitated part’ or whatever. We end up just writing songs and looking back and saying ‘Oh, that may have been influenced by this’ or whatever. We’re not actively listening and worrying about it sounding like the bands we’re jamming. You’re always going to sound like your influences, no matter what, regardless of whether or not you’re listening to music at that point in time. You have your roots with certain bands or genres and you like to kind of stick to them while doing your own thing. But yeah, we’re always listening to music.
What’s been on your rotation in the van this tour? Anything new?
Well, it hasn’t come out yet, but I’m really excited about the new Fallujah album. We’re good friends with those guys and we actually stayed with a couple of them when we were on the west coast and we got to hear the whole new album, so I’m stoked for it to come out. We’ve been listening to the new Misery Index a lot. Jon listens to a lot of obscure doom and black metal. Panopticon, I know he really likes that band. I know Deafheaven have become a naughty word when talking about “trove death metal or black metal’ but we all like Deafheaven’s newest one. Our bassist (Adam Biggs) listens to a lot of Mike Patton, a lot of Primus. We’re always listening to Decapitated because that’s one of our favorite bands. Lots of stuff, really. [laughs]
At least you guys keep it diverse.
Yeah dude, for sure. Like we’re not against putting on Coldplay or some obscure post-rock band after playing a metal show, because the last thing you want after playing a metal show and wing around metal all day is to put on, say, Dying Fetus or something. Sometimes we’ll jam Muse, Radiohead, more radio-rock. All those bands.
Nothing wrong with that! Going back a bit to discussing the new material, is it going to sound similar or different o The Conscious Seed Of Light?
Well, the way I think of it is that the first release for any band is kind of like the culmination of all of your years of playing as a musician in one album because, well, it’s your first album. So everything you’ve ever written that you thought sounded cool has probably gone into that album in some way or another. But now we have to craft and entirely new eight to ten songs. Luckily we started writing almost immediately after getting out of the studio last year, and we’ve had a lot of time to kinda sit down with parts and tweak them and add to them and stuff. I’d say the next album…it’s gonna have that similar sound, but there’s definitely going to be a lot more attention to detail, there will be a little bit more layering with the guitars, a bit more going on. With TCSOL, for the most part, it was just: rhythm guitars, lead guitars, and atmospheric stuff. Like it was just those 4 things. Whereas this album we’ll be experimenting with more textures and stuff so it’ll have a similar sound but since we have more time there will be more attention to detail overall.
Have you guys ever played with the idea of releasing an EP in between to kind of hold people over until the full-length comes out?
Personally, I’m always for that. I think it’s really cool when bands do that. Unfortunately, some of the other guys in the band aren’t for that, so I don’t really see it happening unless something drastically changes, I don’t know what. But yeah everyone will just have to hold out until next year for our new record!
Well you guys only have a handful of shows left on this tour. Are you planning on going straight into the studio to write and record or are you going to take some down time, or possibly even hop on another tour?
Well for right now the plan is just to go home, work, save some money, spend time with our families before we really hit writing hard. We’re really not scheduled to go into the studio anytime soon, but I’m always at home writing. Because I got my laptop stolen on this tour I just have a whole wealth of riffs and songs in my head that I haven’t been able to get out because I have no way to record it, so when I get home I’m just gonna hit it really hard in regards to writing, so I can get these songs and parts out and recorded in rough form.
Have you guys ever toyed with the idea of self-producing and self-recording the record?
I have, for sure. With the recording industry, there’s a pretty split market. Like 50% of the people think that home recording is just taking the easy way out, like ‘OK, you have a Mac and an interface’, and then there’s, you know, big studios, so it’s kinda split. But I’ve definitely entertained the idea, not with this next album, but maybe with one of our later releases or something just because it would be a really good experience to be able to say I wrote it, played on it, and produced it. But our next album we’ll be going to a recording studio.
True. So what interfaces do you run at your home setup?
I use Cubase 7.5, I’m using a Focusrite Liquid Sapphire 56 and a Focusrite MkII Octopre Dynamic. Then I use Superior Drummer and EZDrummer and a Line6 pod for demoing.
Luckily all that did not get stolen!
Yeah, that would be awful. [laughs]
So, I’ve watched some tour documentaries about not only this tour, but tours the other bands have been on, and one of the things I have come across is that, apparently, Revocation get naked around everyone. Have you seen them all just naked just because?
Yeah, I’ve seen…I’m trying to think. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen everyone but Dave naked at some point or another on this tour. And it’s not like they’re just getting naked and running around or anything, like everyone will be just hanging out in the dressing room and, well, Phil’s just changing his pants, so he’s naked, so I don’t think it’s an intentional thing. But yes, there has been nudity! [laughs]
So besides the nudity, do you guys get the chance to bond with other bands, like going around town and doing stuff?
Yeah, it’s really awesome. Sometimes if there’s stuff to do around town we’ll go and do that, or we’ll go grab food together. Just joke with each other. There’s literally nothing else to do out here besides hanging out, so it happens all the time, and I’m fine with it because everyone has a good time.
For sure dude. Alright, final question for you before you guys go on and play! When your new album gets released, you’ll obviously be doing a ton of touring in support of it. If you could think of a tour that you’d want to hop on, what three or four bands would you like to tour with.
Oh, man. I’d love to tour with The Faceless, Meshuggah, and maybe Cannibal Corpse. Oh, and Cynic, too. Those are four bands I’ve always wanted to tour with, so I’d hop on a bill with any of them on it in a second. That would be killer. The Faceless, especially, because Planetary Duality was a huge landmark in my musical experience, that changed the way I saw death metal and death metal guitar playing.
It can definitely happen man! Thanks once again for doing this interview, and have a killer set!
No problem, dude!