Hail, welcome to Sick And Destroy. Before we start the interview, I would like you to introduce yourself to our readers. To begin with where are you from and a brief history about your band?
I’m Andrew Lee from the Bay Area, California. Ripped to Shreds originally began in early 2016 as a collaboration between me and BW of Draghkar, with him on vocals and me handling the instrumental duties. I wanted to create crushing Stockholm death metal and tell grim tales of China’s bloody history as I felt that was a completely untapped topic in the West. I ended up putting Ripped on hold when I formed Disincarnation with AK, but after we put out a demo with Unspeakable Axe Records, I felt like the album we were working on wasn’t artistically fulfilling, so I quit and started working on my vision alone.
How would you describe your music? And what bands have influenced you the most?
Crushing Bay Area death metal with a good sense for knowing when to grind and when to slow it down to doom tempos. I’ve talked at length about Horrendous and Terrorizer before, so going way back, the most important death metal band to me is Dismember. I was just getting into metal at the time and mostly listened to ‘wimpy’ bands like In Flames, Slaughter-era At the Gates, or Dark Tranquility. When I put on Like an Everflowing Stream, it was blew away those other bands in terms of raw energy and harshness, yet still tempered with dark melody. I don’t think I could’ve gotten into ‘real’ death metal without having listened to Dismember.
How many and which albums/demos has Ripped to Shreds released so far?
So far just 埋葬, but about half of it was material I had originally written for a Disincarnation full length, so I consider ‘By the Old Gods and the New’ to be a demo for Ripped to Shreds. With AK, there was a lot of Finnish and NYDM influence on the demo. I’m coming more from the Stockholm perspective with Entombed, Dismember, Nirvana 2002, and I love grindcore, so I was stealing Insect Warfare and P.L.F. riffs left and right.
Which ones happens to be your favourite songs? of Ripped to Shreds and personal.
From 埋葬, I think my favorite solo was the one I played on Bone Ritual, but for a whole song it would be Yellow River. In addition to my obvious Paul Gilbert and Yngwie Malmsteen leanings, I’m a big fan of Allan Holdsworth. His really fluid jazz-fusion style doesn’t exactly fit in this type of raw death metal though, so it was pretty difficult for me to find a place to shoehorn in a couple licks of his, but I think I managed to bring it out some in Bone Ritual. Yellow River was the first song written for Ripped and the first song I wrote that I didn’t completely hate.
Favorite death metal song is an impossible question to answer, so I’ll just go with “favorite DM song of 2017,” which would be Butcher ABC’s Darkness in the Dark. The riffs are so dumb, the bass is farting out everywhere, there’s this massive Bolt Thrower groove, and then it starts going into Carcass goregrind blasting. That song and the whole “North of Hell” album was a highlight for 2017 death metal.
Do you feel that Ripped to Shreds’s music has changed over the years and how?
The material that makes up 埋葬 is only about a year or two old and the new music is pretty much in the same style. It’s too early to say yet.
How much time does it take for Ripped to Shreds to record an album?
It took me around 7 weeks to record drums. I’ve been playing guitar the longest at almost 12 years, bass and drums around 4, and have been doing vocals for around 2. Drums are by far the most demanding when it comes to performance as they’re very hard to punch, so it was a real slog getting through them. I write all my songs by recording riffs to a drum machine, then rearranging and tweaking until I’m satisfied, so I have all the arrangements and tempos worked out by the time I’m ready to rerecord everything for real, so doing bass/vox/guitar is pretty quick, took me about a week to record all that.
Tell us something more about 埋葬 ((Máizàng) is chinese for “bury”)?
God Worshipping Society is a song about the Taiping Rebellion. There was a Hakka schoolteacher named Hong Xiuquan who repeatedly failed the state civil service examinations, meaning he couldn’t work as a government bureaucrat. The last time the he failed his exams, he fell into fever dreams and became convinced that he was the younger brother of Christ, meant to save China from demon worship. The Hakka were often at odds with Cantonese natives in the area and banded together for protection, and bandits were always raiding their villages. Within a couple of years Hong had converted around 10,000-30,000 followers, and government troops attempted to disband his “God Worshipping Society,” but were repulsed. Soon after that they marched on Nanjing and took it as the capital of his Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Eventually due to military mismanagement his kingdom fell, but they controlled a major part of South China for around a decade.
Whats next? Working on any new album? If so, some details please.
I’m working on a couple of new songs with a yet-unnamed drummer for a split or EP. It’ll still be mostly Bolt Thrower and Entombed influenced, but I’ll be throwing in some Finnish riffs as well. I’m not really planning to experiment too hard on this release, just trying to refine my songwriting more.
Any tours, gigs for promotion of latest album?
Unfortunately, haven’t got a live lineup, so no.
Any future plans for playing in Europe or USA?
I’d love to make it over to Europe to do a tour in the future. It really depends on how the next year goes for myself, and the personal situations of whoever I can put together for a band, that determines how soon I can take this project out the studio and to the stage.
What do you feel about the Metal Scene there in your country?
I feel like American death metal, and in particular Bay Area death metal, is in a great place right now. There’s a ton of exciting music coming out of Oakland. Maybe financially not so great and good gigs are in short supply because the US is so spread out, but there’s so many new bands coming up all the time. Plus we have the best grindcore bands in the world: Insect Warfare (RIP), Cloud Rat, PLF, Gridlink, Cryptic Void, Repulsion, Terrorizer, Hummingbird of Death (alright, that one’s fastcore)…
Any messages for the readers?
Thanks so much for reading this interview, for supporting me, and thanks to Necrolatry and Craneo Negro Records for putting this album out on tape/CD! Check em out down below: