Zealot R.I.P. is a Washington D.C.-based punk/metal supergroup, which features guitarist Mike Schleibaum (Darkest Hour), drummer Jason Hamacher (Frodus, CombatWoundedVeteran), vocalist Blake Harrison (Pig Destroyer) and bassist Peter Tsouras (Fairweather). The band was originally started by Schleibaum and Hamacher as a project to merge their love of punk and metal. But, with Schleibaum’s constant touring with Darkest Hour and Hamacher’s documentary work in Syria, it sat on the back burner for a while.
That is, until Harrison entered the picture.
“Well, about five years ago I moved from Baltimore to D.C. and was looking to do a new band,” Harrison says. “I ran into Mike and Jason at a show, and was trying to talk them into doing a Dwarves-style punk band, where we dressed in ski masks and all the songs were about robberies (note: I hope no one steals this idea, as I may still try to pull this off.). I love being in Pig Destroyer, but kinda was looking to scream for a band again, and for something a little more ‘punk.’ Jason and Mike talked me into coming over, they loved my scream and some of my lyrics, and Zealot in its current iteration was born. Since the band had been around, but never played, the name Zealot had been taken, so we added the R.I.P., then added Peter, and here we are.”
Their debut LP, The Extinction Of You, drops September 10 (following a self-titled, three song EP) on Three One G. It’s a fast, brutal exercise in punkish metal that splits the difference between Entombed, Born Against, and the Dead Kennedys. It sounds a bit different from the other bands its members are currently in or were in.
But not too different.
“Well, I mean, I do think there are some things here and there from our ‘main’ bands, but there is no real direct correlation,” Harrison says. “If it was a conscious decision, it was made before I was involved. I mean, who would want to do another band that sounds like one they already do? Not me. In general, I just think we kinda sound like a post-hardcore band, or a more modern punk band. Schleibaum has referred to us as ‘death punk,’ and I think that fits.”
When it came time to write the music for the new album, the band used very organic methods to come up with the songs. They did a lot of jamming, although these jam sessions were not necessarily done with every member in the room at the same time.
“Mike and Jason jam a lot,” Harrison says. “We basically take ‘jam sessions’ and kinda separate some ideas out and build on the songs from there. For example, I think Mike and I wrote ‘Worship The Serpent’ from a couple of cobbled together jam sessions. Then we all get together and whittle down or add what we think the song needs. So, it is a collaborative effort, but it all starts out as jamming, although not always all together.”
Lyrics were handled by Harrison. He took a twisted, yet interesting approach to his lyric writing on the album.
“I’m always open to the idea of the rest of the band helping out, but so far that hasn’t happened,” Harrison says. “The lyrics mostly deal with alienation, death, despair, corruption, things like that. I kind of intentionally have been trying to make the lyrics more ‘violent’ lyrically without coming across as a meathead.”
When they first decided to play out, their first show was in a very unique place for their kind of band: the Swedish Embassy in Washington D.C. The embassy hosted a concert and discussion on Swedish metal. In fact, the whole thing was their idea.
“Jason had been in touch with the embassy for a while, and we were looking to do a show that was not just a band playing in a bar,” Harrison says. “We came up with this idea and once the Swedish Embassy signed off on it, away we went. We kinda wanted something that was a little more ‘eye catching,’ so when the EP was ready, we figured it was time. The whole thing was a blast, it was free to the public, we got Mount Desert Ice Cream, D.C. Brau, and Craft Kombucha as sponsors. The whole thing was surreal, the embassy is a beautiful space located on the Potomac River in D.C., and watching all the people come in and have to go through metal detectors was kind of funny to me. The space we played is an event space, so aside from that, and it being our first show, the difference was it didn’t have a ‘bar’ feel. We even tried to get the Swedish Ambassador to perform with us.”
That’s quite a first gig, though those people expecting to see the band on the road following the release of the new album might have to wait. You see, the band members have other concerns, and while those concerns take front and center, it doesn’t mean that Zealot R.I.P. is necessarily going to stop functioning.
They plan to keep the Zealot R.I.P. flame burning while working around their main projects, which look to be busy in the upcoming months.
“We have some new songs that we’ve been working on, and have been in discussion about doing a split and some West Coast dates,” Harrison says. “We currently have a record and beer release show scheduled at D.C. Brau. for which they are making a Zealot R.I.P. beer, on September 22, which should be a wild time. But, aside from that, no plans are super solid, more to the point of you mentioning that we all have a lot of other things going on. Jason owns like three businesses, Pig Destroyer and Darkest Hour have some stuff lined up, and Peter is releasing a full-length with his band, Fairweather. But you never know, just hopefully playing some killer shows and working on new material.”
Buy The Extinction Of You Here