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19th February 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Thanks for taking time out for this interview Bob.... Hope all is well with you. ‘Invisible Empire’ is a great album. What have the responses to the album been like from both fans and press?
BOB: So far, the response has been extremely good. I'm really happy with what people are saying about it; from both fans and press alike. They seem to like it even better than the debut release, and that was a great moment for us as well!
(Bob Pantella on having more creative freedom with Riotgod than with Monster Magnet)
"It's our own thing. It's something new and fresh for us. The sky is the limit….!"
Interview by Jason Guest
Official Riotgod website:
Riotgod (2010)
Thanks to Mike Exley for arranging the interview.
Born from a desire from Monster Magnet's rhythm section, drummer Bob Pantella and bassist Jim Baglino, to have an outlet whereby they could express their own creativity and musical autonomy, the idea for Riotgod was initially conceived back in 2006 although their eponymously titled debut album didn't appear until four years later. And 2011 saw the release its successor, 'Invisible Empire', another collection of groove-driven songs loaded with 70s retro rock idioms and a more contemporary stoner/alt-rock vibe. The band's sticksman answered Metal Discovery's questions on the new album and future plans...
Riotgod - uncredited promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2010
Official Riotgod Facebook:
Invisible Empire (2011)
MD: Are you pleased with how the album turned out? Does it sound how you envisioned it when you started writing for it?
BOB: Yes, I am very pleased with how it came out. But, as far as it coming out how we envisioned it when we started? Well, that's kinda of a strange thing! You have a vision, but it does change as you go on….! I don't think that’s a bad thing though, because a lot of times, things start turning out better than what was expected and there is no reason to force things one way or another. I would say there is sort of a vision, with room for experimentation and “happy accidents”!
MD: How do you think the band has developed between your debut and ‘Invisible Empire’?
BOB: Well, it has certainly gotten easier to create and perform….! We've gotten the bugs out a long time ago. Plus the fact, that we’ve known each other for years; so that’s really no big surprise!
MD: There are a lot of influences – and musicians, of course – that are common between the two bands – Riotgod and Monster Magnet. How do you ensure that Riotgod’s sound remains its own and doesn’t resemble Monster Magnet’s?
BOB: That’s not something you try to do….! It's just the way it is. The biggest difference is the vocalist… Mark's style influences so much of the sound. It really inspires the writing to a huge degree!! Plus, the fact that we all have a hand in the song writing, which has a big affect on the sound as well.
MD: The songs have a live, organic and jammed feel to them; they sound like a band playing together rather than playing one person’s songs. How does the band write songs? Are they the product of jams or are they written beforehand and brought to the band?
BOB: Well, both really... Most of the time, I'll just sit down with a guitar and start playing riffs to a click track; and if something sounds interesting I'll press record and just start making shit up. Little by little, a loose arrangement of riffs will come out and I'll stop and send it to Mark to see if he can do anything with it. If he’s OK with it, we expand on it some more. If not, we'll move on to the next thing…. It's really as simple as that. Then, other times, someone else will have a complete idea, either from a past project or something like that..... And again it goes to Mark to see if he can come up with a good vocal melody...?
MD: How do you work together? What is it that each member brings to the band (and the songs)?
BOB: Well, I think that everyone is pretty much on the same page as far as music is concerned! We all come from the same school, basically….Which makes it really easy on the road when it comes to listening to music. We all have a pretty eclectic taste. From jazz to early 70s funk; old country, southern rock and then the obvious stuff; Sabbath, Zep, early Thin Lizzy, Captain Beyond, etc, etc…All that stuff comes into play when it comes to writing....It's also more than that though; it's about the artwork, what guitars and amps we like; a really good work ethic…., all of this and more...!
MD: Do you feel you have more creative freedom with Riotgod than with Monster Magnet?
BOB: Well, of course… I think we all do. It's our own thing. It's something new and fresh for us. The sky is the limit….!
MD: Do you have a favourite track on ‘Invisible Empire’?
BOB: For me, at least at the moment, it’s ‘Hollow Mirror’. I really like the drums in that tune….Next week, I might have another favorite though?
MD: It’s early days, I know, as the album has only recently been completed and released here; but do you have any new material written and, if so, is it in much the same vein, stylistically, as tracks on ‘Invisible Empire’?
BOB: Yes!! We actually have a 10 inch vinyl that’s gonna be available on the forthcoming tour here and in Europe….. It's got some new stuff on it. We’re probably just gonna release it on vinyl only; we are not gonna print too many of them. It's called ‘Beg For Power’.... The music is a little more experimental for us...
MD: What do you see in the future for the band? Do you see the band’s style developing?
BOB: Sure... I see a lot for us in the future. We're having a lot of fun at what we’re doing. As far as the sound developing, I think that is inevitable. One gets influenced and exposed to different things as time goes on, and that really affects everything you do. I'm looking forward to the next record already!
MD: Because of the band’s involvement with Monster Magnet, how do work around your schedules for Riotgod?
BOB: It gets a little hairy at times, but we manage to work things out OK. No real clashes have happened yet. Just good communication between everyone, and things work out. I also play with Atomic Bitchwax and Cycle of Pain as well, so there are 4 bands to balance!
MD: Any plans to tour in support of the album? USA? Europe? UK?
BOB: Well, we just finished a small US run and we’re going to Europe in late February and March. Then we’re doing another US tour in May, before, back to Europe in August for the Wacken festival and a few other festival dates as well.
MD: Which do you prefer, the live or the studio experience? Can you explain why?
BOB: I really love both, the same. I have my own studio, so when I’m not touring, I pretty much live in it. I have to say though, it's nice to get away from one or the other after a while…… It's a good balance for me!
MD: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers to encourage them to check out Riotgod?
BOB: Well, if you have anything you want to know, check out riotgod.com for all the info….. and thanks a million!!!!