Those who say that metal is dead in the US should really open up their eyes and ears because there are tons of cool bands to discover, like WRETCH. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
When the band came into creation what was the main purpose for it?
NICK: We were a bunch of young like-minded musicians who loved metal. We were just trying be a part of that scene. And in doing so, we actually became a pretty big part of our metal scene in Cleveland.
How hard is it to come up with a sound that is all yours? What bits’n’pieces do you pick up from other stuff to make it your sound?
NICK: To be honest we don’t even think about it, so I’d say it’s pretty easy. We have our individual musical preferences, but a lot of that overlaps between the members.
MIKE: Yeah, we listen to a lot of the same stuff. But I tend to favor heavier stuff, like Testament and Exodus. Nick likes the prettier stuff. But we all like the classics, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Helloween. It creates an interesting dynamic because I tend to pull towards the heavy and Nick tends to pull towards the melodic.
I have no idea what kind of creative process you guys go through but how hard is it to record and release new songs?
NICK: Writing hasn’t been much of a challenge over the years. We typically write music and record it at home on the computer and then e-mail our ideas back and forth. Sometimes we write songs while we are practicing together. Either way, it’s not much of a challenge. If anything, we end up having too much material to pick from – which is a good problem to have. However recording – up until recently has been difficult. It’s expensive to buy time in a recording studio, and often difficult to get a time when all the band members are able to get in. And knowing every minute is costing you money, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right.
MIKE: For instance, when we recorded the album “Warriors” we booked a studio for a whole weekend to just record bass, drums and a rhythm guitar. That weekend we had a terrible snow storm in Cleveland and we lost a few hours just trying to get to the studio. Because we lost those hours, we ended up powering through and recorded the drums and bass guitar simultaneously for every song on that album over an 8 hour stretch with no breaks. It was exhausting. But we knew we had to knock it out to be able to have enough studio time left to record guitars.
NICK: Yeah, that was brutal — after that experience, we decided to invest the money and built our own studio at our practice space. That’s where we recorded “The Hunt”. So much easier and we are in control of how much time we’d like to spend on recordings. There’s no pressure to hurry through things – so you naturally get a better product.
Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release only single songs because that is what is demanded to stay atop and therefore you end up killing the album for example?
MIKE: When we are creating, it is normally with an album format in mind. We don’t really record with the intent of releasing a single. We’ve discussed maybe putting out a 7” vinyl with a single on one side and a cover tune on the other, but that has yet to materialize.
NICK: I don’t think the Metal genre in general favors singles – not that they don’t occur – but we know that fans generally favor an album and a single is more of a novelty item.
I for one feel that the change in how people listen to music today, by downloading it and expecting to get it for free, will kill music as we know it. What kind of future is there for music?
NICK: Well, I have to agree with you that people expect to get it for free. We get it. People don’t want to part with their money.
MIKE: The danger is that you may end up driving your favorite bands out of business. We have yet to make enough money to cover what we’ve paid to make it. We love doing it, so we keep doing it.
What kind of responses do you get to your music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
MIKE: When we play live, we usually get a pretty great response. European fans seem to be more in tune with our style of music than the fans in the U.S.. The scene for our style of music in the U.S. is much smaller than in Europe.
NICK: The song “Make this Garden Burn” seems to have gotten a lot of attention. I suppose because they play it between bands at Headbangers Open Air over and over? That’s usually the question we get when people find out we are in WRETCH – you mean the “Make this Garden Burn” band?
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
MIKE: Your comment about distance not really mattering much is true on a lot of levels. For instance, I live about 250 miles away from the rest of the band. That means I might get to see them once a month, but because of the internet, skype and the ability to record with a computer, the band is still able to write music and share ideas. 20 years ago, we couldn’t have done it.
NICK: It’s also great for connecting with fans. We were playing the Ragnarokker Festival (in Chicago) a few years ago and very few of the locals that attended were familiar with us even though Cleveland is only a half-day’s drive from them, but I struck up a conversation with a guy visiting from Belgium from ½ way around the world and he turned out to be a WRETCH fan.
Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of a greater community? What has music brought with it that you would have otherwise missed out on?
NICK: Being in a band definitely brings you into a larger community of both fans and musicians. It’s great, we have pockets of friends (both bands and fans) from all the different places we have had the opportunity to play.
MIKE: It’s a great feeling when you pull into a town and there are familiar faces waiting to greet you. You’ve got staff and venue owners that try to make things run smoothly, other bands that are there to share stories, beers and friendship along with the stage and the fans that make it possible to keep getting invited back.
What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
MIKE: We’ve slowed down a little with the live shows, but it’s just due to the fact that we’ve been in the studio recording. But we really love to play live – we always feel like it’s an opportunity to prove ourselves.
NICK: We pride ourselves on being high energy and performing our music with precision. And I do think that we collect fans every time we play. We hope they tell their friends about us and bring new folks along the next time we come to play.
What plans do you have for the future?
NICK: Well, we have the European tour in support of our album “The Hunt” in March of 2017, but I expect we’ll do some U.S. dates after that. Everything seems to be going our way right now, so we plan to just keep doing what we are doing!
MIKE: Definitely! Things are really taking off for us. We are also writing our next album – hopefully that goes as well as “The Hunt”. Let’s hope we don’t have anybody leave the band again – I think we have the potential to write some great fucking metal!
NICK: Hell yeah!