With a new single and video on the way, death metal trio Rip VanRipper revel in a spirit of DIY and a determination to “learn and grow” while unleashing their crushing music.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY AND TO LISTEN TO A RIP VANRIPPER TRACK
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West Michigan Music Scene
West Michigan’s music scene is robust with a wealth of characters and flavors to suit almost any music lover.
A genre that tends to fly under the radar here also carries with it one of the most tight-knit and supportive communities – one that includes determined three-part death metal band Rip VanRipper.
For those who may not be grounded in the subgenres of metal, a listener will easily latch onto the melody and groove that beautifully complement a dark heaviness, influenced by musical acts such as Cannabis Corpse, The Dillinger Escape Map and Wormrot.
Describing the band’s approach to sound, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Knol (also drummer for country band The Bootstrap Boys) describes VanRipper’s tracks as “music that crushes you under the weight of feeling infinitely small, yet allows you to know that you are a God of the universes.”
As damnable as it sounds, upon closer inspection, Knol, bassist/vocalist Sean Burrows and drummer Andrew Stork show a refreshing sense of hope and appreciation after four albums, line-up changes and a grueling pandemic.
Formed in 2015 and paying homage to American heavy metal band SLEEP, musician friends Knol and Burrows jokingly named their new project after Rip Van Winkle, the legendary story of a Dutch-American villager who falls asleep drunk. for 20 years.
Knol admits the two may have also been a bit intoxicated at the time of this decision, no doubt setting the band on a path of indulgence and fun. Stork joined the two in 2019, emphasizing a common goal: to ensure that every movement of the group is aimed at the success and pleasure of the trio.
Drunk jokes aside, the group’s goals go beyond a superficial level of partying: creating and connecting go hand in hand in everything they do. After playing their first gig at the Pyramid Scheme in 2015 with the now defunct Fine Fine Titans of Grand Rapids, the affectionate milestone for the band set a precedent and they have since retained the fragile motivation that usually waxes and wanes in all musicians.
Continually striving to entertain at a higher level than before with a stronger set, the group emphasizes supporting local artists and businesses while cultivating strong harmony between musicians and fans.
This was evident during their last Pyramid Scheme performance with local bands Drink their blood, Fedaykin and hold the blood. (Scroll down for photo gallery.)
“There was a real sense of camaraderie between the four bands playing that night, which made it all go really well,” Stork recalled. “With the bands all playing killer sets, the crowd that came out was amazing.
“There is always a possibility for local shows to give the impression that each group has its people who might not be interested in the rest of the lineup, but at this particular show each group had a large crowd to support them. . Since we put this lineup together, it felt like a huge win not just for us, but for all the bands involved.
NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC; IMPROVING THEIR SKILLS AND APPROACH
While striving for the sometimes impossible balance between songwriting, rehearsals, performance and self-promotion, the band had to adapt to bigger changes in 2019 and 2020.
While navigating personnel changes and concluding that the band functions better as a trio (as opposed to the four musicians they used to be), the arrival of COVID in the US quickly put a halt to performances and at rehearsals. Determined not to let a pandemic hinder their progress, the band took the time to hone their existing skills individually, recorded remotely, and continued to share ideas with each other.
Along with this also came the drive to build a live platform incorporating in-ear monitoring to rehearse and perform more effectively and perhaps most importantly: protect their hearing. Acknowledging their strong work dynamic, it seems like their shared love of music, close friendship, and collective desire to have fun while creating music only strengthens their future goals.
Last April, Rip VanRipper released their fourth studio album, “Cosmic Death Worship.” Conceptually, Knol explains that the album is “a psychedelic journey of a metaphysical nature about introspection, encountering aliens, them coming from the void boxes to harvest energy from our sun, extinction/death and bad grass”. [sic].”
With Stork as the newest member of the band, the drummer transformed previously written tracks with his influence by limiting his exposure to demos just enough to lay out the songs while performing live with Burrows and Knol. This overhaul allowed for increased syncopation, a tighter rhythm section, and in general, more room for creativity to ultimately refine their sound.
The latest EP also marked an important turning point for the band: they made the conscious decision to do everything in-house between writing, recording, mixing and mastering.
LISTEN: “Electric Seas,” Rip VanRipper (from “Cosmic Death Worship”
While Knol laments the copious list of learning curves caused by self-production, he saw the pandemic lockdown as “an opportunity to learn and expand what we are capable of”, including the piano learning and the use of digital abilities and virtual instruments. to complement their live performances.
Stork adds: “We decided to invest our time and our money in ourselves. An obvious advantage is that we were able to record at our own pace and make changes as the songs evolved. When you pay for studio time, you’re really locked into a schedule and may not be able to get that perfect take on the arbitrary day you’re booked with a producer.
“As Jeff noted, there are too many hurdles to list, but with each stumble, we learned how best to fix the problem or avoid it all together in the future.”
The group stands firm in the value they have found in their DIY ethic while continuing to hire local artists and screenprinters such as Ty Dykema, Aaron Adams and Transfigure Print Co. to help support the community for which they have immense gratitude.
While the three don’t see themselves touring much outside of regional weekends in the immediate future, they look forward to digging deeper into self-producing their next album to maintain consistency in their sound both on stage and live. studio.
With that in mind, fans can look for a few more local shows to round out 2022 as well as an upcoming single and video release for the track “Will-O-The-Wisp.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Rip VanRipper, Drink Their Blood at the Pyramid Scheme (March 2022)
Photos of Katy Batdorff and Live For The Show – Antonia Enos Burrows