Super pumped to catch up a bit with the boys of River Cult who are making some noise out of Brooklyn with their record “Halcyon Daze.” The record is out today and the boys were kind enough to tell us a bit about it. So thank you, Sean Forlenza (Guitar/Vocals),
Anthony Mendolia (Bass) and Tav Palumbo (Drums) for taking the time to do this!
WH: First off, congratulations on the album!! It’s a very impressive debut. You mind telling us a little on how the writing process went?
Sean: Thanks! Basically one of us comes in with a riff, or a partially finished song, and then we all work together to complete it. We always try to record while we write, and then listen back before the next rehearsal. Sometimes things spontaneously come together perfectly during a section we are just jamming on, so we go back and try to recreate it, perfect it, and then set it in stone for the final version. The lyrics and vocal melodies usually come much later once the music is totally done.
WH: How WH: did the title “Halcyon Daze” come to be and what is the meaning behind it?
Sean: Its a pun on the phrase, “halcyon days,” which refers to a sort of, “golden time period,” of the past, implying that things were much better then than now. I believe this to be a flawed way of thinking and serves to distract people from dealing with the present, and puts them in a sort of dazed state. The song, “Halcyon Daze,” touches this subject, but is more specifically about constantly seeing shocking and violent images from far away places in the media and the disorientation that it causes the viewer. In the song, the protagonist starts to question the reality around him and feels he can’t trust what he is seeing in the news anymore because it is so starkly different than his immediate situation that he cannot relate to it at all.
WH: The Sophist is probably my favorite track off the album. You mind telling us a little about the lyrics and how you approach writing your lyrics?
Sean: Thanks, that was a tricky one to put together! We had a lot of ideas going on but were finally able to refine them into something that flowed. “Sophistry,” was an ancient Greek school of so called philosophers that would use fallacious and deceitful rhetoric in order to win arguments. True philosophers of the time, like Socrates and Plato, spoke against the sophists because they valued deceitful rhetoric over truth. The song, “The Sophist,” is comparing that idea to people who talk way too much and argue about things they don’t really know, simply for the joy of winning arguments. As for my approach with lyrics, I start by just singing random words at rehearsal to get the vocal melody and structure together, and then I think about different themes and slowly start writing the lyrics. Its kind of a long process that I can’t rush, even though our lyrics are sparse.
WH: The tones on “Halcyon Daze” are stellar. What kind of gear are you all using?
Sean: I’m playing a heavily modified ’02 Les Paul R8 though a Cornford MK100 and an Orange PPC412. I used a ton of pedals on the album.. so I may be missing a few: Swollen Pickle fuzz, MASF Wata Fuzz, CAE Overdrive/Boost, CAE Wah, Earthquaker Devices Disaster Transport analog delay, and Boss CE-2W, DM-2W, RV-3 and DD3. I also used a Death by Audio Echo Master for some of the vocal tricks.
Anthony: I play a 91 Gibson Thunderbird through an Orange ob1-500 head into an old ampeg 8×10 cab. I run a couple pedals including a black arts toneworks pharaoh fuzz, blackout effectors whetstone phaser and a boss rv-3.
WH: Which one track off “Halcyon Daze” is your favorite to play live?
WH: Speaking of playing live, are you guys planning on doing any touring?
Sean: Nothing solid right now but we are planning on focusing on playing outside of the NYC area and doing a string of shorter tours. We would also love to be able to book something in Europe, but that is a long term goal at this point.
WH: What sort of approach do you all take to your live performances?
WH: How long have you all been together?
Sean: We formed around August of 2015, so about 2 1/2 years.
WH: Tell us how the name River Cult came to be?
WH: Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
Sean: So obviously Sabbath/Sleep, etc. I also really love how Boris structures their songs and take a big influence from Wata. But for my guitar playing I love Keiji Haino, Daniel Ash, Robert Smith, Michio Kurihara and Takashi Mizutani just to name a few in a broad spectrum. John Coltrane has also had a life changing impact on me. Lyrically I’m more inspired by literature, but I love how Bobby Liebling sings and the subject matters he touches upon.