With the debut album “Trials of Torment” on CD a chat with RITUAL had to happen. Juan Ricardo answered my interview questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2018 <!–more–>

 What kind of vision did you have when you started and how has it changed over the years?
-When you are young, you really just want to make music…. to follow your dream and be like the musicians you idolize. You want the fame, the glory, the girls… especially the girls. Everything looks possible and easy…. but as the years go by you realize that it’s not easy but exceedingly difficult to make it in the music industry. After i joined Ritual, (called Torment at the time), we were signed very quickly, flown to Germany and recorded Trials of Torment. The album was released, did well and we thought success was a easy… we didn’t realize how lucky we were…. we are more mature and focused now on not wasting opportunities to make great music.

 Does location mean anything today? We used to hear about how it was all location, location, location back in the days if you wanted to make it big? That you had to come from a certain place to be sure to make it.
-I’ve heard my entire life that in order to make it you need to go to Los Angeles, New York or Nashville here in America. I decided very early that moving to a big music location was not what i wanted to do. I loved my hometown of Cleveland that always had a great metal scene and i wanted to raise a family… i couldn’t see myself doing that in New York or L.A. Could i have become bigger, more of a star or household name if i have moved? Possibly…. but i do not regret my decision. Especially now in this wide open digital age, where i am able to record anywhere and send my vocal tracks to any studio in the world….

   What is it like to be a in a band and to get to tour all over the world? What kind of feelings do that bring about?
-To be honest, I love touring…. it is difficult being away from your family and friends but i believe it’s harder on your love ones that wait for you to return. I love traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people. I really enjoy talking to the fans and i especially enjoy performing. I love to sing and began very early at around the age of 10 to perform in front of a audience and after more than 40 years, averaging 100 shows a year, I still can’t wait to get on stage every night…. I truly love it.

What kind of feedback have you had on your music, your latest album and in general? How important is feedback?
-The response has truly been amazing…. 9 and 8 in all the reviews of the reissue. We really enjoy all the great feedback. Ritual broke up shortly after the release of the debut album and only got back together after 25 years because of an invitation to perform a reunion concert at the Pure Steel Metelfest in October of 2018. The Trials of Torment went to No 1 in Germany in 1993 and we never did a concert there and this year we are performing at the Full Metal festival in Niederjossa…. really a dream come true for the band. For me…. who has performed in Europe many times and has always been supported there, there is great pride in finally bringing the band to play here.

 How do you know that you have written a “hit” song? Is there a particular feeling you get when you know that this is the one, this is the big “make it song”?
-Actually the feeling that this is the best song i have ever written happens every time you write a new song…. there’s always a sense of pride and accomplishment… Something new is always exciting. It’s really after you stand back and hear all the songs that one or two stand out as being exceptional. It’s only in a very rare occation do you write a song that from creation becomes the focal point, title track or single to an album.

 As I am no musician I will never got to know the difference of analogue and digital. Can you explain the difference to me? what are the pros and cons of analogue V/S digital?
-I am old enough to have recorded on 24 track analogue tape and now digital…. There is a touch of natural warmth to the analogue that is missing in the digital but i remember the painstaking task of recording by tape. Editing a section actually meant slicing a section of tape off with a razor and splicing the two ends of the tape together…. Now we can lay track after track until we get the performance we want…. When you think of the talent of the pioneers of metal that had such limited resources, it makes their music even more incredible. We are spoiled by technology but i am at the same time very grateful.

What is it like to have people you never met liking your music and singing along to it at gigs?
-One of the greatest joys is of course meeting the fans of your music. Their passion and excitement equals your own sometimes…. There isn’t that barrier that usually happens when you meet someone. It’s almost like they have known you their whole life. They bring thier favorite albums for you to sign and we talk about their favorite songs. It’s always interesting to hear their prospective of the music or how my lyrics have motivated them or made them feel. Being on stage and having people sing along as i sing makes me always extremely happy and i try to make it extra special for them.

How important are lyrics to you guys? Do you have any messages that you want to get forward?
-As a singer, lyrics and melody is my main songwriting job and i’m very serious about it. I try to relay a story or an emotion in a short time. Similar to poetry, lyrics are purposely made in a way that is trying to make feel a certain way. I don’t just write about base emotions like anger, sadness or love, i also like to write about great people who done amazing things or events in history or even things that never actually existed like legend and myth.

 I love a really cool cover but I get the feeling that today with all this digital uploading/downloading people aren’t that concerned about artwork. How do you feel?
-Artwork is still extremely important, sometimes it could make or break an album. I know many people will ask how is that possible but alot of people decide wether they will give an album a listen based on what the cover looks like…. a cool cover is a must. The other question is should the cover be drawn or painted or done digitally…. i have had both and tend to lean towards hand drawn or painted.

What does the future hold?
-That is an important question…. As a reunion, originally there wasn’t an idea of what comes after…. Now that we have the reisssue and shows, there’s a sense of excitement to a possible future. Will we record a new album? Should we extend or start a longer tour? These really are unanswered questions…. I feel there will be more. There is something really special about this band that was left unfullfilled so many years ago and now’s the time to see what the future holds for us.

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