I’d been promising to interview Dorset Doomers Ramesses for well over 2 years now and what with one thing and another, it just never seemed to happen! But with the recent release of their landmark album ‘Take The Curse’ which features horrific artwork from the Chapman Brothers sculpture ‘Fucking Hell’ plus a string of live dates both in the UK & Europe planned, now seemed like a perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into the horror that is The Ram Family.
So how’s life treating The Ram Family at the moment?
Mark: Pretty much the same really, just taking it easy in our stride. It is good to have our new album out, ‘Take The Curse’. We have been doing quite a few gigs and just enjoying it really.
Adam: Everything is pretty cool, and like Mark says, I’m enjoying that the album is at last out, it took so long to get this out but now it is seemingly worth it, in horrific hindsight! It is good, we are thinking of going in the studio again very soon…but that is another story I guess!
In 2010 you’ll have been together as a band for 7 years, so what have been the high and low points over that time?
Mark: Basically when you are in band you can’t really calculate these sorts of things, cos that is what happens when you are in band. All the highlights could basically be low points. It is good to get this album out now, it has been such a long time coming, and to be doing stuff again. Not that we haven’t but it is goo to get out there and play gigs to get our point across.
Tim: The lows are waiting for the albums to come out. The high is when it does come out!
Adam: Playing gigs with Om, Church of Misery, Obliteration, Julian Cope-and having him as a kind of mentor – amazing shaman…spending time with Jake and Dinos and being allowed to work with them!!…Lows apart from general bad health/illness/blackouts/etc, we’re probably topped by the painful birthing of ‘Take The Curse’..a fully ‘legs bound’ affair of utter terror!!…but it now being a reality is another high!
Mark: highs are playing gigs, lows are waiting and lugging stuff around to do gigs.
And after 7 years are you sick of being branded with the ‘Ex-Electric Wizard’ tag?
As let’s face it, the 2 bands deliver completely different sonics so do you think over the years, this has helped or hindered Ramesses progression, or is it simply something you’ve just ignored?
Mark: I think it has helped Ramesses as band because I have grown up as a musician playing with Tim in a band, so it brought our fact forward a lot more in Ramesses, than it would have reached with EW. We now carry on with Adam now. When people brand EW, and I don’t listen to it these days, but I don’t mind what they are doing. It is just the fact I, personally and not alone, think that Justin shouldn’t have continued with Electric Wizard on his own, cos that was him, me and Tim. So when they still brand that now it is not too good really. We have moved on from it now.
Adam: Yes. It is so boring to keep hearing that tag. As you pointed out there is nothing in common sonically between us. We couldn’t care less what that band are up to.
You’ve just unleashed your 2nd full length album ‘Take The Curse’ so can you tell us a little bit about the 10 tracks on offer, where it was recorded and how the 3 tracks that feature on the ‘Baptism Of the Walking Dead’ EP differ to those featured on the album?
Mark: They are different mixes on the ‘Baptism’ EP, early mixes. Because the album took a while to release, we thought maybe we should get some of these tracks out so people could hear them. Same recording, but different mixes. They are good songs and we wanted to get them out.
Adam: We wanted to make a limited edition tour EP, but with complicated packaging which the record company (Feto) couldn’t afford to pay for. They didn’t have any money, as they didn’t want to do ‘Take The Curse’ for the same reason, they couldn’t afford the packaging which we definitely wanted to do. We were going to be playing those tracks live on our tour in Europe, so it made sense. It sold out, and it was a great preview to the album. But we still had to wait nearly a year after that to get the album out. And even now with ‘Take The Curse’, I don’t regret having the same songs on the ‘Baptism’ EP and album…in fact it is just about to be released as a limited 12″ version in the US by Hydrophonic Records with a massive version of the 3″ fold-out inverted cross with all new artwork – but still featuring the artwork from ‘Fucking Hell’ by the legendary Dinos and Jake Chapman…. It is what it is, we do whatever we fucking like, all the time, if no one’s noticed. We work in Ram Family time, and not to anyone else’s schedule.
The CD version is also the debut release for the newly formed label Ritual Productions, so firstly, you must be quite excited to walk down this, as yet, relatively unknown path and how did the idea come about to have 2 alternative covers and a die cut inlay as its sounds like quite a complex undertaking?
Mark: Basically we had to use the artwork to its extent.
Adam: Mark is right, we were so amazed to be able to use these images and do this collaboration with Dinos and Jake Chapman, who let us use images form their sculpture ‘Fucking Hell’ brilliantly photographed by Hugo Glendenning. We didn’t want to disappoint them with what we were going to do with the artwork, so that is the reason why it was so painstakingly worked out, it was a real headache as well as an obvious massive expense, but that is what we wanted to do, and it’s meant a lot to us to honour the fact the we were able to use this artwork, so that was the reason we went to town with it. It is killer to have an alternate cover as well, especially when it is ‘Fucking Hell’!..it was a way to showcase more (well double actually!!) of the gorgeously horrific images available to us…
Just like the idea of us using a studio and an engineer with no link to/knowledge of heavy music, The Ram Family have continued our voyage into the unknown with a brand new label that is effectively our own label – and our now permanent home!..which is the real excitement for us…we can continue to work in Ram Fam Time!..forever to bend the laws of time and space to our own means!!…we start recording our next release on Ritual in early July…check out www.ritualproductions.net or our nospace page for updates…
The first 200 copies also come with a limited edition collector’s art card set so can you tell us a little bit more about these?
Adam: Yeah, it is another celebration of the artwork, they are limited cards which feature the two alternative covers, with black and white Ramesses logos on the back. It was something that Ritual Productions did for their first 200 ‘Take The Curse’ orders, as far as we know, these are all gone!
We also have to talk about the artwork which features images from the amazing ‘Fucking Hell’ by Jake and Dinos Chapman, but how did Ramesses become involved with this deranged duo and can you tell us a little bit more about the ‘Sonic Installation’ that was planned for last year and whether it’ll happen this year?
Adam: Well, I met Jake and Dinos after the sacrificial spellbound art piece containing our back catalogue which i hand made was handed to them by a mutual friend…They digested the package and seemingly immediately asked me over to meet them and discuss the collab!..we got on like a house on fire and have never looked back…we had scheduled a Sonic Installation with them at Selfridges last year – but the London store panicked when they heard we were involved – and the title of the show was ‘Music to Shoplift By’!!…to be honest I think we would have destroyed the shop, so its lucky for them they did cancel!…We have talked about doing the Chapmans vs RamSS installation in a gallery space(far better suited) …but all concerned have been overwhelmingly busy this year…it has not been forgotten and will be staged in due course – its gonna be SICK!
I also heard that At War With False Noise will be handling the vinyl version, is this still happening and have you any news on when it’s likely to be released?
Adam: Yeah, it should be out in July 2010. The packaging is insanely luscious!…more exclusive Fucking Hell images and die cut gatefold dbl vinyl with ltd coloured vinyl and embroidered patch of the RamSS logo!
And while on the subject of vinyl, you’re also going to be releasing a 12” version of your 3 track EP ‘Baptism of The Walking Dead’, so can you tell us a bit more about this, who’ll be releasing it and when it’s likely to see the light of day?
Adam: US label Hydro-Phonic Records, we should have them in stock in a few weeks!…SEE ANSWER 5….
You recently played a blistering live set when you headlined the PHD stage at this year’s Deathfest, a festival you must have been chuffed to ask to play and how did you feel the day went considering overall it was quite a diverse line up of bands?
Mark: It was just a gig but it was good to play there, I enjoy playing festivals like that.
Tim: It was alright, good gig but we had a few technical problems.
Adam: Yeah technical hitches on stage…which is always a cunt when you are playing live. We tried to not let the howling feedback affect our performance. I couldn’t hear anyone on stage…or my vocals, which kept cutting out…I don’t know what happened out the front, but lots of people seem to have enjoyed it. We just carried on playing. Unfortunately that happens a lot to us, it is the way it is…But we do enjoy the Damnation and Deathfests…
You’ve also got a string of gigs coming up including dates in France, Italy, Spain along with an appearance at the Fenriz curated Live Evil Festival in London, so how important is it to the band to get out and play shows, not only in the UK, but also in Europe and isn’t it about time Ramesses headed over the pond and played some shows in the US?
Adam: We like to get out once a year, stretch the legs! (laughs!) Tim likes to stretch his talons and leathery wings! (laughs!) Mark likes to out the bristling wolf hair and massive fangs! (laughs!)
Tim: I hate playing gigs! Nah I don’t, the 40 minutes I’m stood on stage are brilliant, the rest of it is just waiting around, rubbish.
Adam: It would be good to go to the States, no?
Tim: Yeah, it would be great!
Mark: Yeah, one day…again…
Adam: So we would like to go to USA, we love playing in Europe, and we are very excited about going to southern europe next autumn, instead of north where we usually go, and where we’ve toured 3 or 4 times. It is a big thing for us. Plus we are going to be going on our own and that is exciting as well. We are looking forward to playing with some cool local bands!
We are looking forward to Live Evil and the gigs we will be doing leading up to that with our brothers Obliteration from Norway…
How did the collaboration with visual artist Hans Lo come about and will we start seeing more of his projections at your gigs, or is this something you’ll just do from time to time?
Mark: It would be nice to see more if it cos it gives a good feel to what we are about.
Tim: He’s busy now, isn’t he?
Adam: Yeah unfortunately we will be seeing less of him live. Although we do love the work he has done with us. But it is up to him really and what he can do. But at the moment he is choc-a-block.
Tim: It will be a once in a while thing I guess.
Your music could be described as the soundtrack to the walking dead as ‘horror’ obviously plays a major influence on the overall vibe and feel of Ramesses not only from the music, but also lyrically and the samples you use, is this a statement you’d agree with & can you give us your 3 favourite films from the genre and why?
Mark: I don’t really like zombie films. But the Exorcist could be known as a zombie film.
Adam: Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, Zombie, and probably Plague of Zombies, the only Hammer zombie film….all depict impending terror and sealed fate doom perfectly – which is why we look to these films for sample inspiration and horror drenched atmosphere…
Tim: Zombie Vampires, Braindead, Evil Dead.
Adam & Tim are both endorsed by Ashdown Engineering so how’s it been working with them and how much are they accredited to giving you your unique sound?
Adam: Definitely! These are the only amps we want to use, the cabs as well. It is our signature sound. As soon as we use other gear, it is virtually impossible to emulate it. It is pretty intrinsic to our sound.
Tim: Ashdown are great! I don’t really want to use anything else now we have used them…
Adam: Everything else sounds inferior…in tone and power.
Adam: We are very happy with them since we started using them, and we still are now. They have supported us a lot since our very beginning 7 years ago, they fix our gear when it blows up, and they have fully customised our gear so its much louder as well as harder for us to blow it up!! Plus we recorded ‘Take The Curse’ at their HQ!..and now it seems our next recording session is there too!!…They are fucking amazing!!!
What else does the future have in store for Ramesses?
Adam: We are about to record new material in the next few weeks – we got an ep plus another full length to record – plus a few more surprises in store!!…We got a few gigs lined up for the second half of 2010.
Thanks for the interview, any final words….
We are all doomed – Some of us more than others.
Cheers Lee – you are legend!
Keep up the great work Brother.
The Ram Family salutes you!
More info on Ramesses at: www.myspace.com/ramesses666
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards
Recorded & Transcribed by: Cristiane Richardson