I honestly don’t know what a REAR NAKED CHOKE is, beside a band. Anders Ekdahl ©2018

You have one of these names that do not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-We get asked that a lot, especially with some raised eyebrows because it sound like it could be a lot of things. But the truth is we’re all big MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fans and in the early days of the band we would get together at Mike’s house (Mike Morgan was our original lead guitarist who passed away in 2014) and watch the UFC fights. In between fights we’d go back and jam in the room he had set up. So we were sitting there watching a fight and Joe Rogan was commentating the fight and said “Oh he’s going for a Uma Plata (which is a submission in MMA)” and Mike and Mick were like “Oh that’s kind of a cool name” and the Joe Rogan said “Oh he’s transitioning to a Rear Naked Choke, that’s the number one submission move in MMA” and they looked at each other and said “That’s it, Rear Naked Choke!!” and so that’s where the name came from.
As far as how it relates to the sound of our music, it has a interesting sound to it, which we think our music does as well. We tend to ride that line between hard rock and metal, and like the way a rear naked choke can be slipped on an opponent suddenly, we can change up from a groovy southern hard rock song to an all out metal riff and song.

How do you introduce the band to people that are new to your music?
-Our live shows are usually peoples first introduction to our music. Basically if they’re a fan of our musical influences we fell like they will enjoy our music. We have a bit more variety to our music, much like many of our influences, while maintaining our own distinct voice, so that it’s obviously RNC. Because of that we feel that the diversity allows people more of a chance to find something in our music to grab on to and enjoy.

We all carry baggage with us that affects us in one way or another but what would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-With 5 guys in the band there are quite a few influences. Some of the strongest would be Metallica, Pantera, Godsmack, Clutch, Black Sabbath and Corrosion of Conformity. Really the list could go on and on but those are some of the main influences.

What is the scene like in your area? Is it important that there is some sort of local scene for a band to develop or can a band still exist in a vacuum of no scene/no bands?
-Abilene TX is a small city, about 120,000 so the scene is pretty close knit. There is an enormous amount of talent in a very small area. But just like any place there are ebbs and flows to the bands and venues. The down side of being in a smaller talent pool is that many bands don’t seem to stay around very long. There have been a few exceptions to that but it seems like too many bands stay content just playing the local scene, but eventually they get burned out and that’s the end of the band.
Having other bands is important, in our opinion, because other bands help to push you to be better. There is a bit of a friendly competition and that always is beneficial, as they say, Iron Sharpens Iron.

Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-In a way, yeah. I mean for us there are 5 guys so each member is 1/5th of a whole unit. So in that way we are each part of something bigger. Then when you add in the audience that become something else and now you are just a small part of that. When things are going great and the crowd is really into it then suddenly it’s like there’s this huge wave of energy that passes from the band to the audience and then back.

When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
– Haha, true…but that might be a challenge for the future to see if we can make Birds and Bees work on a Metal Album, lol
Every Iron Maiden cover ever would have to be at the top of the list for sure. Album art was one of the first things that ever attracted many of us to music, especially those of us old enough to remember going into record stores and just looking through the albums.
A good cover should have a really cool image that attracts attention. That’s probably the main thing, after that if it can have some kind of tie into the album theme or one of the songs, or helps to tell a story then that’s definitely a bonus.

What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-Both are just different forms that you can use to get your music out. Personally I always like having the Physical media because it’s cool to have something solid you can hold on to and look at. You can look at the album art, read the lyrics, the liner notes and all that kind of stuff. But digital is convenient and easily accessible now, so it’s really easy to hear a song on the radio or somewhere and get on your phone and find that song, artist or album and get it right then. So really they’re both just formats and one isn’t really better or worse than the other.
Digital isn’t killing music but the slowness of the industry in figuring out how to work with the digital world has definitely hurt things. Digital has also made it easier to get music free, which has made a lot of peoples perception of the value of music decline. Again this goes back to the music industry not being ahead of the curve and being kind of blindsided when things like Napster, Limewire and other file sharing sites and services popped up. I think that many labels are still struggling to figure out what the right or best way to embrace digital is. So far there doesn’t seem to be one right answer that works for everyone.

What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
-There’s still a good scene for live music of all kinds. Hard Rock and Metal are on a little bit of a down swing at the moment but that’s always been the case with music. There are peaks and valleys for all genres of music, sometimes Rock is on the up swing while country or pop is on a down swing, then in a few years it reverses. So I think there will always be a healthy scene for live music, at least I hope there will, because even as fans of music and not just a musicians, I’d hate to live in a world where live music didn’t exist.

When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
– It’s a bit of both really. We’re pretty much a no frills band, Mick is very high energy. If you see us you can see elements of our personalities on stage. We really try to engage and involve the crowd, sometimes we’ve even had the whole crowd come on stage with us at the end of our shows, especially when we do a cover song that everyone knows.
We’re perfectly at home on a bar floor as well as on a stage with full lights and FX. Obviously we love to have more of a “light show” because that can really enhance some aspects of a performance but those small, hot and personal shows also have a special place and are oft times the most memorable shows. In the end we just want everyone one to have a good time with us, make things one big party!

What would you like to see the future bring?
-In 5 years we would love to be working on album 3 or 4 and able to support ourselves with our music. We’re realistic and know that the days of the Multi-Millionaire rock stars are gone but to be able to make a solid living through music would be amazing.

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