INTERVIEW: Rituals | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“Holy shit! I’ve just realised why they call it a bucket list; it’s because you do it before you kick the bucket. Never! Jesus Christ!”

Rituals’ drummer Matt Dix nearly falls off his perch, askance at vocal dynamo Lewis MacRae’s baffling bucket list revelation as they reminisce about the band’s triumphant set at Download Festival.

“It’s crazy to reflect that one of the top three things on my bucket list has been ticked off,” Matt recalls. “I saw eight and a half thousand people as we walked on. I couldn’t hear the backing track because of the sheer force of the crowd screaming,” Lewis remembers, “and it felt like it made sense for all of us. It felt like coming home.”

By winning Kerrang! Radio’s The Deal competition earlier this year, Rituals secured the chance to perform at Download and record new EP I Found Myself In The Dark at the iconic Marshall Studio, pushing themselves farther than they ever have musically, tackling grief, selfishness and alienation.

“It’s very angry,” says Matt. “It’s the most complete we’ve ever felt with a record,” says Lewis. “The whole thing is so cohesive, the most visceral we’ve ever sounded.”

Formed in 2018, Rituals have accelerated significantly throughout 2023, careening around dealing with broken down vans, missing merch, bollocks Brexit-induced headaches for their upcoming international shows, and nefarious tech breakdowns.

“Somebody unplugged the PA ‘accidentally’, so I decided to send it,” says Lewis, “and I jumped into the crowd and started crowdsurfing until they put the sound back on!”

For Matt, all the bellyaches are worth it. “In no other job in the world would you put up with 95% shit for 5% reward. You travel all this way and go through so many obstacles and sleep deprivation to play for half an hour,” says Matt, “but that 5% you get makes up for the rest of it.”

The whole thing is so cohesive, the most visceral we’ve ever sounded

“Whether you’re playing at a tiny dive bar to forty people, or a festival to thousands, the energy and the feeling you get is the same,” agrees Lewis, “we’re still the luckiest fucking people on the planet to be able to travel all that way, put up with all that shit, and get to do such a fucking cool thing.”

A capital-M Moment for the band, the new EP is eleven minutes of pure Northern chaos that Lewis recognises as a turning point in their career. “It’s the perfect ending block to everything we’ve had going on with The Deal, with Download, and these three songs; we’re more than comfortable with turning around and saying it’s the best three fucking things we’ve ever done. Each song is absolutely fucking stellar, the whole record sounds amazing, production-wise it sounds absolutely incredible.”

A sonic cocktail of sheer brutality perfectly blended with soaring melodies, the record is a send-off to what Rituals once was in terms of their work ethic and ethos.

“This whole Kerrang! deal has blown everything we knew as a band out of the water,” says Lewis, “we’ve had to learn so much and become a new band in terms of survival to be able to make it work, and that’s more clear than ever with the sound of the record. It sounds like a really fucking hungry, angry band ready to take these three songs and rattle everybody round the head with them.”

Rituals release I Found Myself In The Dark EP on 3rd August.


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