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 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. 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.”
Fans expecting to see the band on the road following the release of the new album might have to wait, unfortunately. The band members plan to keep the Zealot R.I.P. flame burning while working around their main projects, but these all 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 on September 22, which should be a wild time. But, aside from that, no plans are super solid. 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.”
Watch the video for “Ambush Predator” here:
For more from Zealot R.I.P., find them on Bandcamp.
Photo courtesy of Zealot R.I.P. and Three One G Records.