Interview with Robert Cruz of RYATT
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
RYATT released their debut EP ‘Sleeping At Pannikins’ last November, played their kickoff show at Skinny’s in NoHo, and then embarked on a Southwest Tour with Fantazzmo. Things are moving FAST for RYATT! They have already written and recorded a follow-up EP and plan to get back out on the road this November. It was great to have a chance to dig a little deeper into what RYATT has been up to, what’s behind the music, and what they have in the works.
Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen: Hello Robert! I’m so happy to be working with you and RYATT through MBM Music. Let’s start off by talking about who is in the band and how you came together.
Robert Cruz: The band consists of Charles Wiley on drums, Sean Silas on guitar and myself on bass and vocals. Charles and I first began working together in The Sonia Harley band back in 2015 in preparation for her performance on the Motörhead Motörboat Cruise. I met Sean on the Southern California Christian Music Scene of the late 80’s. We played in various Inland Empire bands from that era.
Metal Babe: Very cool. I would love to hear more about your first RYATT tour. You played Arizona, New Mexico, and several Texas dates. How did it go? Do you have any road stories you can share?
Robert: The World War Tour was amazing. We opened the tour by playing our first show at Skinny’s in North Hollywood. Then we went on to join Fantazzmo for the remainder of the Southwest dates. The crowds were really receptive to us. While in Dallas, the crowd began singing along to our songs during our set. That was the very first time I had ever experienced that. These absolute strangers knew our songs and we were having this moment together…It was such a wonderful feeling. It was also on this tour that we played our biggest venue yet: The Prophet Bar in Deep Ellum, TX.
Stories from the road…
The highlight of the tour for me was visiting Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the sight of the Kennedy Assassination. This was the event that ushered in the age of the United States Military Industrial Complex that had such a profound effect on my life. It was this turning point in American history that led to the events that became the central themes for our upcoming EP “Loch Leven.” On that day we would become the Sons of Vietnam and what was born at Woodstock would die at Altamonte. It was awe inspiring to see where it all had begun.
Metal Babe: I bet! How has the response been locally so far?
Robert: The response has been amazing. We are a band from the North Side of Hollywood and being able to play our first show as a band at Skinny’s in NoHo was a dream come true. On behalf of the band I would like to thank MBM for making that happen. We appreciate and are very grateful for those that have chosen to support us.
Metal Babe: You are welcome. I am happy to have helped with your first show. You released your debut album ‘Sleeping At Pannikins’ on November 17th, 2017, which I absolutely love. What can you tell us about the album?
Robert: ‘Sleeping at Pannikins’ is our debut release that was recorded at Clearlake Recording Studios in North Hollywood CA. Pannikins is a Coffee House in San Diego that I had spent a great deal of time at in the days following my son’s death.I would be there so long at times that I would fall asleep, hence the title of the EP. The songs chronicle the events that would unfold in the wake of my son’s death. The album was featured in Guitar World Magazine and on Tattoo.com. We have two tracks that have appeared on the Australian Independent Music Charts. “Pills for Free” came in at #6 and “Monday Mourning” came in at #4.
The writing/recording/touring of that EP was the culmination of events that began with me being homeless in Riverside CA, to being approached by an A&R Agent from Universal Records to start this band and embarking on our first US tour.
Metal Babe: Wow, that’s quite a whirlwind! I have to tell you… And you know this already. “Pills For Free” is my favorite song on the EP. What’s the story behind that song?
Robert: “Pills for Free” is about a point in my life where I had to make the decision to get on with living or get on with dying. I was living in Trinity/Humboldt County at the time and I was severely depressed. I was at the bottom and suicidal. I checked myself into Sempervirens Psychiatric Hospital in Eureka, CA to begin the process of putting my life back together. The lyrics to that song are the story of that time in my life.
Metal Babe: Your songs tend to have a lot of variety to them, in a sense, where there is ‘something for everyone.’ Where do you think this variety comes from?
Robert: For me, that variety comes from the blending and re-blending of experiences that are common to the human condition. It could also just be my attempt to articulate those feelings that are difficult to put words to in my attempt to connect to the greater consciousness
Metal Babe: I understand. Music is the best medicine. What is your main influence genre-wise?
Robert: My main influence genre-wise would have to be Grunge. I came up and cut my teeth musically in that time and space.
Metal Babe: Gotcha. Have you always played bass and sang? Which came first?
Robert: No, I have not always sang and played bass. I began playing bass in 1988 but didn’t seriously play until 1991. I never really sang until I started singing with RYATT.
Metal Babe: Are there challenges singing and playing bass at the same time? Would you rather just do one or the other sometimes?
Robert: There are definitely challenges to singing and playing bass. Its a complete different articulation on bass when singing and connecting with the crowd. It is without a doubt a daily learning process. I love doing both. Choosing one or the other is like
trying to choose between my children.
Metal Babe: What are your next steps for RYATT?
Robert: We have written and recorded our follow up EP “Loch Leven,” and will be going back out on the road to support it on “The Dias de Los Muertes Tour” kicking off November 1st. We will then head to Europe in the spring to tour both EPs.
Metal Babe: What final words would you like to say to our readers?
Robert: Be kind to each other and look out for one another along the way home
Metal Babe: Thank you for your time, and for working with MBM Music. You rock!
Robert: Thank you so much MBM for all the support you have given us. It has been a pleasure working with your company. We will see you all along the way.
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