Canadian metal band Ritual, who released their debut self-titled 11-song album on November 18, 2015, is the brainchild of former Dead and Divine vocalist, Matt Ryan Tobin. Long story short, when Dead and Divine’s 10 year career came to an end, Tobin was nowhere near done expressing himself through music. He gathered some talented musicians, formed Ritual, and is now gearing up for a tour supporting the band ’68, and the above-mentioned debut album. Check out our recent email chat with Tobin wherein he helps us to understand Ritual’s beginnings and what they have in store.
For those not familiar with your band, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Tobin: We’re a couple Canucks, with a French mutt, and two Asian sensations.
Your new self-titled disc, Ritual, has just been released. Now that it is complete, how do you feel about it and what has been the response so far?
Tobin: It was a long process. This album culminates 3 years of songwriting and the overall coming together of Ritual. To us, these songs aren’t new at all. Which is strange because we had thought we’d be tired of them at this point, but with the release, it turns out there was new life breathed into these songs. Now we’re more excited than ever to perform. The response had been majorly positive. It seems a lot of people are really hearing the album as we do. They’re reading into it and listening versus just hearing it.
You guys are an extremely heavy band. How does it make you feel when that power and energy you channeled in the studio comes to life in front of a crowd?
Tobin: Honestly, it’s a really positive sort of… alignment. You feel a connection both with the band and the crowd that you just don’t feel in the studio. We tried to be as free in the studio with this album as we try to be live, but there is no rush like performing. That is our favourite moment. The 30-ish minutes we get to let go is what we live for.
When you write, do you do so with the live setting in mind or do you write a song just for the song’s sake?
Tobin: Everything we write is very honest and personal. We just write music. We don’t write a song around some choreography or anything if that’s what you mean. We write the music and we play the music. I think if anyone writes music (within this genre at least) purely to coincide with a light show or a guitar spin or some nonsense, they’re marketing and selling a product. That’s not what we do. I’m sure people would beg to differ.
Along those same lines do you take advantage of technology and email riffs and parts back and forth, or do you get together in a room in a more traditional sense and write together?
Tobin: For this album specifically – and being a new band – we haven’t locked in a “method” yet. As it stands, I will write majority of a song and Aaron and I will sit down with it and he will bring ideas to the table in-person, always. Towards the end of the album’s writing process, it started opening up a bit more as everyone got to know where this band and album were going sonically and it allowed for more ideas to flow in.
What do you think of the current state of the rock/metal world?
Tobin: Everything comes and goes in cycles. Old becomes new, new becomes old, fads fade in and burn out. Right now I’m noticing a big resurgence in metal and rock that pulls a lot of influence from ’90s alternative. “Grunge” is cool again. There’s so much homage these days – which I can’t complain about as ’90s rock/metal is the largest influence of Ritual by far. It’s what we all grew up on. A decade, which for the most part was given a lot of shit over its music and fashion, is actually and finally being recognized for its influence. It was a decade of a lot of “great lasts.”
Check out the song “Pisces” here.
What is the heavy metal scene like over there in Canada?
Tobin: For the most part Ontario has become the melting pot of the country. Everything flows into here like a funnel. I’ve spent 10 years touring through this country from one end to the next. The West and East ends of Canada sometimes feeling like appendages for Ontario sometimes; those ends tend to go numb as far as thriving music scenes go… which is sad. You can always rely on Ontario for a consistent flow of new music and metal. But I’m not negating the coasts entirely. Music exists everywhere.
Do you receive a lot of support from your local scene and fans in general?
Tobin: The local scene we hail from (Hamilton, Ontario) is probably the most supportive community of music and the arts in general. Hands down #1.
Do you have any touring plans in support of the new recording?
Tobin: The new year holds nothing but promise and we’re looking forward to getting on the road and out of the country. Taking Ritual as far as it can go and back again.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take 3 CDs with you for eternity, assuming there was a solar powered CD player, what would they be?
Tobin: Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness (trick answer – it’s a double disc), Silverchair’s Neon Ballroom and Deftones’ White Pony.