Interview: Ritual King

Our influences have changed considerably over the years as we’ve adapted and matured as musicians. Generally, we've always been influenced by anything that is powerful and has a lot of energy, not specifying a genre because collectively we appreciate all music.

With the debut release of their self-titled album on Ripple Music, Manchester’s Ritual King prove power and melody can be mutual bedfellows. A recent standout LP from the stoner doom heaving crowd as rich fluid-flowing earworm hooks and melodies weave for an absorbing heavy psych rock experience. Guitarist Jordan Leppitt explains how Bolton University, ‘dedicating time to jams’, and ever-evolving changing influences all helped to form the band and which feeds into the debut’s compelling textures.

E&D: How did the band get together? 

Jordan: We were all studying at Bolton uni where we got to know each other. We started jamming in Rodge’s basement with a number-of other musicians before Ritual King was formed. Eventually after a few years of getting familiar with each-others playing styles through working with other musicians we decided to come together as a three piece.

E&D: From having seen you live and hearing your self-titled debut album debut album, sounds like you haven’t just started learning your respective musical instruments. How long have you all been playing and what inspired you to pick them up and learn? 

Jordan: I’ve been playing for 12 years now, picked up the guitar back when I first heard ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ back when I was 14. I was heavily inspired by Slash’s playing style and from then on became obsessed with Guns N Roses sound, which led me on to discover the world of heavy rock. Dan (Godwin) also started playing back when he was 14 so he’s been playing for 14 years. His idol was Steve Harris from Iron Maiden because his playing style and live performances were unreal, and because he only used his fingers, he pushed myself to do the same thing. Now though he pinches different licks and tones from all kinds of bassists. As for Rodge (Gareth Hodges) he’s been drumming since he was a kid, the longest out of all of us playing for over 20 years. It was when he saw Green Day that he became transfixed with the drums. Tre Cool ripped a drum solo at the show and Rodge knew that’s what he wanted to do from then on.

E&D: The band’s sound is quite varied and unique. What are your main influences? 

Jordan: Our influences have changed considerably over the years as we’ve adapted and matured as musicians. Generally, we’ve always been influenced by anything that is powerful and has a lot of energy, not specifying a genre because collectively we appreciate all music. But recently our influences have come from progressive, experimental and psychedelic influences, for example Elder and King Buffalo. I would say our main influences today are Earthless, Elder, King Buffalo, All Them Witches, Fu Manchu, Clutch and The Atomic Bitchwax.

E&D: You have just released your debut album on the Ripple Music label, it has an excellent production – great guitar textures etc – can you tell us a bit about its recording? 

Jordan: The recording was done by our friend and local Producer Luke Clarke. As he knows us well he understands what we’re looking for on a level that no producer we’ve worked with has done yet. He had a lot of patience and dedication to this record which we can’t thank him enough for.

E&D: Are there any particular songs you are most proud of in the finished product? 

Jordan: Personally, I’m very happy with ‘Restain’ due to the dynamics, depth and meaning behind the song. Headspace is a personal favourite for similar reasons.

E&D: How does the song-writing process take shape in the band? 

Jordan: We tend to form most of our songs through dedicating time to jams and seeing what comes naturally. With that we tend to build everything except the lyrics, which we then look at in our own time and bring together when we have some ideas.

E&D: Can you tell us about the album’s striking artwork? 

Jordan: The artwork was designed by Steven Yoyoda, from Indonesia. He’s a well-known artist on the stoner rock scene, has done loads of work for bands we know which is how we discovered him. Incredibly talented guy with a very-unique eye for psychedelic art. We had an idea of what we wanted before we approached him. It was something we developed after listening to our music back and allowing ideas to come to mind. That way we felt the artwork would resemble our sound well.

E&D: The album has been met with very good reviews and has entered the Doom Charts straight in at number 2. Only being denied the top spot by Lowrider’s return after a 20-year absence. Also, the song ‘Headspace’ has been played on the excellent Mojo Rocks show hosted by Phil Alexander on Planet Rock Radio. This is very impressive. Has the response taken you by surprise? 

Jordan: Definitely. We were always hoping it would help push our recognition but we didn’t think to this extent! Truly honoured by the response.

E&D: Has this led to re-adjustment of any future planning? 

Jordan: To be honest this would only adjust our plans if we were to be offered shows off the back of this response, fingers crossed on that. We still have the same goal for this year. And that is to tour the album around the UK and northern/central Europe and work on new material.

E&D: On the future planning note, you have a bunch of dates already announced in March through to July and a few festivals lined up including the Stone Baked Festival in Leeds. Are you hoping to continue adding dates throughout the year or do you have any other plans? 

Jordan: We will be adding shows, we have plans to head over to Europe in September with a show scheduled in Berlin on the 25th. Shows will be planned around that.

E&D: As a band, or individually, are there any ambitions you really want to achieve? 

Jordan: I think our main ambition collectively is to truly break onto the festival scene now the album’s out. Playing festivals such as Desertfest, Freak Valley, Roadkill, Boomtown, Roadburn, Black Deer fest to name a few. We feel doing this will really boost our exposure as a band as well as just be a hell of a lot of fun. I’ve always loved attending festivals growing up so to be a part of them would be a dream.

At the time of this being published, the spread of the Covid-19 has forced many tours to be cancelled. Please check the band’s or the respective venue’s websites before heading out.

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