RITUAL will live forever!
Once at the very beginning of far 70s the very young guys, almost teenagers, took in hands of guitars and have risen on scene, surprising audience with unusual music with unique sounding and passionate romantic songs under heavy metal. In it there was their difference from the bands which have followed them as they were one of the the first. And they weren't bent under glory rushed on scene considerably after them Iron Maiden, and continued to sing and play their unusual, but classical style and to release albums. All it guys do till today. And though set of bands, also from native to them Great Britain, have stolen at them the band name, it hasn't made band RITUAL of less unique.
Alina Katalova(AK:) Hello mr. Re Bethe! Knowing about that band RITUAL prepares new number album it would be desirable to set to the band some questions. Do you agree to answer them?
Gypsy Re Bethe(GRB): Hi there, hi Alina, yes of course... my pleasure...
AK: Can you tell us about exact date of band creation and what was an incitement to its foundation?
GRB: RITUAL was formed in 1973 in the September,to give you and idea of that time,AC/DC were formed in the November -same year and Motorhead around the same time...I had the idea that four piece bands sounded a little "confused" and sometimes they were chasing commercial success a bit too hard.even FREE who were very good were still chasing the singles market,thats why AC/DC and Motorhead etc,were really not interested inn commercial success but aiming to create something different,for myself i had a vision of a powerful and majestic sound that had a haunting quality..with space for the players to work in. Three piece bands like Cream and Jimi Hendrix had used the formula in numbers of musicians but in a more bluesey way,as all the bands then were not termed rock but "progressive Blues"...i just wanted a more hard and powerful rock sound,even bands like Deep Purple,as rocky as they were,were still too Soft edge for me. It seemes to me there were not many guitar players around then that could lead the sound by the sheer dominance of the playing,perhaps Tony Iommi [Black Sabbath] was about as near as you could get,but his guitar work was always to distorted foe me..i dont use effects or pedals and never have,the fingers do the work,and i have the devil in my fingers and rock in my blood. haha..so really RITUAL was my vision of how rock music should be..not the same as other people,but mine. and i think unique in its own way,because of the simplicity of arrangements and songs.
AK: What structures band had and who were its former members?
GRB: RITUAL was formed initially as a four piece with a vocalist, Graham Fox, and we worked in this format for a year .He suffered a lot of throat problems,and was not happy so he left....and i reluctantly took over the singing,and its been that way since. during the settling down process of the band in the firsr year although John Gaster was playing drums other drummers would fill in,also during the eighties John O leary,filled in for about a dozen gigs..but other drummers were Steve Smith,who did all the original rehearsals while i was forming RITUAL. Replacement bass players Steve Audsley , Les Hains,John Frost,and Mick Loughran all did short stints for the band..but none worked for me for more than a couple of months...the present line up is as it has pretty much always been. Until his Death in 2001 John Gaster had always been the RITUAL drummer live ,and in the studio.
AK: Each name of band can be described with the words from song Living For The Night: "Every little conor has its tail..." So what has defined the name of band - RITUAL?
GRB: well thats a hard question as there are too many things that define music and musicians... and i think others would be more qualified to answer than i...but i suppose what has defined RITUAL is the album "Widow" i think it set the tone and mood and the style of which has become the trademark..
AK: It is known that you were in band from the beginning of its foundation. Whether the band had any difficulties at the first stage?
GRB: Well all bands here in the UK at that time playing rock were having difficulties.as the radio would not play the music and there was a lot of hostility towards rock and the people involved..and no financial help from the greedy commercial record companies,that were only interested in making a buck and not promoting anything musically worthwhile... so it was hard, and the only way to survive was to play every gig we could get, even places where others would not consider playing..this along with no chance of a record deal or any financial support made life very hard..it costs a great deal of money to run a band and make recordings,..so we had to work very hard to make enough money to survive.as bands such as AC/DC and Motorhead who were in the same situation....We used to play a pub called The RED COW in 1975 ..[ Hammersmith] London near the Apollo.. AC/DC were on Saturday we were on Friday and i think it payed very little,...and AC/DC had five members,so beacuse there were only three of us,we made slightly more money.but not much . and thats how it was...i think i got paid 10 pounds for that gig...haha...
AK: What basic subjects of songs and whether you are going to change something in music and in lyrics?
GRB: No The music will be typical RITUAL style with some instrumentals and the usual leaning towards.i think ..a more hard hitting album than the last haha....thats the aim. i can't say too much as my contract prevents me saying too much..here...[its a good get-out] for interviews yes? haha but seriously on the new album there will be reference to the past while looking to the future. THe only track i can tell you is "Fall in the dark" will be on there as it has not been released previously,and was recorded in 1990..it may come as a bonus vinyl.
AK: RITUAL there is very long time and it is considered classic and even Legend of NWOBHM. Can you tell about full discography of the band, all production let out by band?
Here is complete discography what I could remember:
AK: Why you have decided to re-publish albums "Widow" and "Valley Of The Kings"?
GRB: OK a US Record company - Shadow Kingdom - approached me initially through a friend of mine and expressed their wish to release the original "Widow" album and "Valley Of The Kings.." they had of course heard of the problems we had had with the original release of "Widow"...after some negotiations i agreed to a re-issue of all the original tracks with some bonus tracks.....on vinyl and CD...it really gave the albums a second chance for people to hear them,as the first time around there was only a limited number made,and Valley of the kings was not on vinyl... so they produced a really good packaged product,and Tim at shadow Kingdom is real professional, so it was all done properly,with great new artwork and masters,history great sleeve notes and interviews etc..so in retrospect although the financial rewards were never going to be substantial,i think the decision to re-issue was the right one.
AK: What band's album you consider as the most successful?
GRB: It depends on how you define success?..well if its financial none of them ha ha..thats the rock biz im afraid,but successful in terms of accomplishing the goal of making a good album i think "Valley Of The Kings" because it really is a good all round album completed within the time we set and has stood the test of time...however as you know managers and record companies define success rather differently. The most successful record in terms of airplay was the single "Burning"
AK: Whether the band has videoclips, concert videos?
GRB: no not really we did not video any concerts but intend to in the future..there is of course the video to Naisha, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0DxMpYSjyE but it's a promo not a live video... I don't understand why but somehow the management we had just never bothered with filming....bad management over the years I suppose.... something which has affected many things... that if course I am now left to explain haha.
AK: With what record companies you worked earlier?
GRB: We were with Legend Records in the eighties, and our own label Romany Records through the 1990s We were almost signed to Jet Records in the eighties but they signed Mamas Boys instead. RITUAL were turned down by at least 12 record companies in the eighties. So in the end we decided to release in future on our own label Romany.
AK: And with what record companies you are going to to work today?
GRB: Sorry, unfortunately i'm not at liberty to discuss that as negotiations are still not 100% complete. with the proposed record company but i can tell you its a major company in the business. and i am sure they will promote RITUAL in a new and bigger way.
AK: Let's talk about forthcoming album. What has induced you after long rest to renew the vigorous activity and to undertake record of new album?
GRB: haha i never rest,RITUAL is always in the wind..and over your shoulder......we have had a lay off for a while, i needed to complete some solo stuff and really just take stock of where RITUAL is now, and i think with the renewed interest in Nwobhm stuff,although we were around before that even, it's time to move forward. RITUAL is as much a part of British music History as any type of music. Bands of our era the 1970s such as RITUAL or Motorhead/AC/DC will be around for a long time yet... we will keep at it as long as we can...why not? its what we do best. we still have much to give.i have the devil in my fingers and rock in my heart as i said.
AK: I have such question to Gypsy with Devil in fingers and Rock in the heart (Rocker Gypsy Re I am afraid for you, be more cautious with expressions :))). Inquisition time has left, but the world is full of fanatics, I don't want, that such musician as you, have appeared into the fire ;). ) And the question is such. You consider as the most successful album in any sense "Valley Of The Kings" * by the way I think so too*, but why the greatest popularity was received by album "Widow" ? *to be honest the great album too*. And what problems were with release of "Widow"?
GRB: The "Widow Album was ahead of its time, and encompassed the original sound and style that i wanted for the band,it was raw and almost live, and gritty, and i think people like the honesty and basic production. the track "Widow" was recorded in only one day at PSL Studios in London on 16 track analogue and was one of the first recordings to use the then "new " Lexicon reverb ,,the rest of the album was recorded in five days at Wickham Studios in Surrey on 24 track analogue, this is the key to those old recordings they were all on analogue 2" tape not digital...and we continue to record this way. The initial problems with the album were finance but when the album was packaged many of the albums we received had no "Ritual" logo on and some were sent mistakenly out to press and other destinations...so it caused great confusion people thought the band was called "Widow" and not Ritual. so the rest of the albums were kept back. there are still a few of these in circulation,and are now deemed illegal copies. but greedy collectors still get the occasional one and sell it for a ridiculous price..i have a few copies myself. but we had rest destroyed. as they were useless, the really bad press the album received prevented us from getting any distribution... and the confusion surrounding it only added to the mystery of who it was so the album gained a reputation...for 25 years no-one was quite sure who the band were who recorded the album but of course now everyone knows at last due to the re-issue. I'm glad that at long last the album is receiving the attention it deserves because it is a classic album of that era and really sums up the music that was coming from the Nwobhm at the time. One thing is for sure it set the name of RITUAL in stone forever,and for that i'm grateful.
AK: What album subjects will be, whether there will be in album together with tool guitar compositions also bass solo, drumms solo? Or it contradicts to RITUAL style?
GRB: RITUAL albums usually follow a theme,and this one will be no different we do not make a big thing out of drum or bass solos or even guitar solos,only in their place and not for the sake of demonstrating the best musician...too many bands spend far too long with endless solos and indulgent guitar effects etc...so i lhave always preferred the honesty of a good solid melody,it is difficult for many bands to attain the hard rock sound without compromising the harmony of the song volume does not equate to power,style does, and its not what you play its the way you play it... RITUAL music will always lean towards artistic and creative themes and song but of course by the same sword they will always be within a structure that is powerful and haunting.There will be instrumentals we always put one or two in but the rest will be easlly recognisable as RITUAL material most of my writing os done on acoustic guitars so there are some beautiful intros to some,as i have said one must mix the beauty with the power they go so well together.its the male and female of music. all good music has both elements.
AK: What today's band structure?
GRB: Same as always for the foreseeable future too,we have a new drummer Steve West thats the only change for the moment.All the rest without changes: Gypsy Re the Bethe-vocal, all guitars and Phil Mason-bass...
AK: What can you tell about the new drummer?
GRB: He been around for a while,and an old friend. and an amazing Drummer...he used to be Johns drum Tech for a while and has been to many gigs with us,so he knows our set very well...he has been playing for many years and played drums on "Fall in the Dark" this was a test run and we decided to use him. He has worked mainly in sessions for about 25 years.and played on many good rock albums for other bands..too many to mention.
AK: There're only 3 musicians in the band. Do you wish to increase band structure?
GRB: Not at the moment i would never dream of more players as Phil and i work very well together and we dont want to lose that chemistry ......perhaps a vocalist?....but it may be possible in the future to perhaps have a RITUAL that is a four piece,if we found a vocalist that was right -who knows we could be tempted to return to four-but he would have to be good as i can do the job already hahaha....who knows,,never say never ..vocalists are replaceable, but i dont know how the fans would react to it...i have been lucky with no throat problems but its always an option if i did.
AK: When album release is planned?
GRB: We will begin recording in June for three weeks,and of course then another month at least with all the cover design post production packaging etc.. it will probably have a release date in the end of July or beginning of August...if it takes more time...well we will see but at this point its hard to give exact dates but the schedule is pretty tight. so it should be on time...
AK: Whether release of new album will be accompanied by concert tour to its support? If yes then in what places or countries?
GRB: The UK and Europe have planned dates but again this may change ,record companies and agents have a habit of adding dates or places as they go along,but the UK is certain and Germany..its a while since we've been on the road but we're ready to go the warm up gigs will be in the UK..they will release dates nearer album release time.
AK: In what countries the band had concerts?
GRB: RITUAL has played in Germany, Sweden, France, Belgium, Italy, and the US but mostly in the UK. With the advent of the internet there is not the need for so much touring. you can pick the countries more specifically. In Fact the other day,i was looking a some of the gigs we did in the 1970s..it was nice to remember we played at the Red Cow in Hammersmith, london in 1974-75-76 same time as AC DC and other bands like the Jam....Also every other famous london gig we did,like the Roundhouse,chalk farm,the Greyhound, Fulham and of course our regular gig at "The Cafe Des Artistes" ah nostalgia...
AK: Where most of all it was pleasant to you also what countries band would like to visit with concerts?
GRB: I like the gigs we do in the UK as its my home,and when we travel around this country we get a great reception,but i love all the places we gig and all the people we meet are really great... I would like to visit Russia,and more of Eastern Europe. As I admire the culture and the people.
AK: You are known as the guitarist-virtuoso. What guitars you prefer to use and what guitars you have in stock?
GRB: I have two vintage SG Gibson standards,, which i use for regular RITUAL work...a 1967 and a 68 which is my back up spare guitar...these i use on stage for RITUAL and in the studio i also use my acoustics again they are vintage Eko 12 strings 1973 and 72 dont keep a lot of guitars as i get very attached to using one, that i get comfortable with.... i always laugh at guitarists that have many guitars,as you can only play one at a time hahha ...why? most virtuoso violin players only have two excellent violins. vintage instruments are too expensive to have too many hahaha..i have had my same guitars for many years. i have built one myself,and used it for the album work but it was a bit too fragile and heavy for taking on the road.. i dont believe the value of a guitar is important. a cheap guitar is just as good,if the player is committed. We all started with cheap instruments. It's not important.
AK: You write all music for band. There is no song written by someone another. And can be all the same there's songs in which creation someone else has brought some contribution , the bass player or the drummer?
GRB: No not really i always write the material,and there is no other reason other than i always have plenty of new songs and ideas,my Bass Player Phil Mason is invaluable as co-producer and is a great second pair of ears in the studio. also he is very good at choosing which songs work on albums so its makes it easier that i have help in that way....but i am the boss and and they are happy to let me make the decisions and take the helm. I'm always open to ideas and i always insist that the Drummer and Bass are allowed exactly to play as they please therefore allowing artistic input,and it works well this way- their contribution is what they play because in that-they have complete freedom......the bass lines although basic are a key ingredient . also the way we approach tuning,and pitch are vital and i believe quite unique. This creates the "Ritual " sound.
AK: You are known as the guitarist-virtuoso. At what age you took guitar in hands and at what age you have written your first song?
GRB: I started playing around nine years old when my Father who was a theatre impresario would take me to many different UK theatres where he was running a variety show and i would play during the 10 minute intermission between shows..And i think i wrote my first song around the age of 12 just simple little instrumentals on the guitar.which my mother would give me a shilling to play for visitors. The first real song i wrote,with lyrics for RITUAL was "Carmilla" but i never recorded it.
AK: Whether there were any bands and executors which have made certain influence on your creativity? It would be especially interesting for knowing, because your music isn't similar to someone's another.
GRB: Not really bands but friends that were in bands that i liked who were around in the seventies...who i admired as performers and as friends Bon Scott [AC/DC]is a good example, i met him in the seventies socially and i admired him as a performer and front man,he had amazing charisma. and Paul kossoff [ FREE] a really inspired player,and lovely guy... i am not influenced by their particular types or genre of music or even certain songs... but in the way they are performed or the spirit in which they are performed. I do not like those which sound entirely different to what they have sold on a record,the record should be a true and honest reflection of the live sound.These performers which i like you cannot tell if its live or recorded.-thats just sheer professionalism not studio trickery. I was brought up listening to a wide variety of music and non of it i really liked. so i just played what i liked,.as i said the friends who enrich your life shape your memories and for me my music is merely a reflection of my me.i hope it also serves as a fitting tribute to those who are no longer with us.
AK: What kind of activity you like more: concerts or creativity of music creation?
GRB: Both of course but performance are the moments in time when you can enjoy the actual live experience..Creating music is a long and arduous task ...so when you get to play it live.,its usually already been recorded, and the live presentation is a chance to run the song and connect with your audience,the two dont really compare,but i like both. Both have their rewards.
AK: Tell one of especially cheerful cases wich was at band at the concerts.
GRB: Canterbury College in 1984 we were playing and the back part of the stage collapsed. Our drummer and the kit slid five feet lower so all you could see was his head hands and sticks haha but he kept playing and we finished the number...And the very next gig in Wales,was in the middle of nowhere and we were in the coach and lost in the fog,and we saw torches,,,in the distance and were amazed to see many people the whole village had marched out with torches in the fog to come and find us....it was unreal...hahahaha-wonderful...
AK: Whether you keep friendly relations with somebody from with whom you communicated at the beginning of RITUAL career?
GRB: Yes a few people,friends are still around from those early days, our first manager John Marley is,and fans who have followed us from day one..but because of the nature of the rock business many friends and business associates are not with us or around now.I dont think any of us expected RITUAL to last as long as it has
AK: Whether there were sometimes at band such unpleasant cases when the band didn't receive advance payment for concert, didn't receive money for concert when concerts unexpectedly have been broken for various reasons?
GRB: Well all bands experience this at some point hahah but we had the occasional problem in the early days,when we were playing pubs,clubs in London..some of the people running them were unscrupulous characters,but my Road manager John Usher is a big guy,and usually they didn't argue. He is still with us. the only major problem we had with this kind of thing was when we recorded "Cry In The night" an album we did at EZEE studios in London,the engineer made a really bad job technically of the actual recording and i asked for another one engineer to be brought in,So Guy Bidmead [Motorheads engoneer] Came and tried to sort it out but by this time i had walked out in disgustand refused to work with anyone there....so they took us to court for the costs.We won the court case and they were ordered to hand over the 2" master tapes which they did after they had wiped them clean of all music.....a months work destroyed...but we put it down to experience.
AK: Gypsy Re! Everyone remember you as classical rocker, dressed in all black and with long black hair. Last time you act at concerts with invariable hat on the head. On the one hand it shows the high status of Gypsy! But on the second hand this's disrespect for ladies.:))) Gypsy Re, and what it's means at you: new style, the high Gypsy status or... Don't you respect ladies? :)))
GRB: hahahahahahahahaha ok well yes of course i do,i love them..but the hat is a reference to my culture,and its only a recent thing..left over from the solo gigs i did,,.Jimi Hendrix wore a hat,so did Stevie Ray Vaughn,Carlos Santana,Angus young and many more so its not that unusual.....i have a fedora which i wear a lot...i have always worn hats but only recently worn them on stage.....i was wearing a top hat when slash was still in short pants....hahaha....
AK: Let's pass to new album. What can you tell shortly about coming album?
GRB: only what i've already told you,its very difficult to predict everything,often things can change in the studio, i do fair amount of pre-production before i go in so i have a good layout of the work to be done,however as and musician will tell you some songs however great they sound in rehearsal do not record well,so some songs you may have planned to use you don't,and others which you never dreamed would work do. so i like to keep an open mind and try to keep a live feel which means not too much planning and keep it loose.We work very fast once we are there. That helps to make it fresh and spontaneous. Yuo have to have the overview and thats difficult when you are close to it,so often we will take a couple of days off as we go along to review what we have done and give the ears time to rest.Everyone tends to work at my pace,so i try not to overwork them hahaha
AK: What guitars will sound in album and in general what tools there will be?
GRB: There will be the usual 12 string intros which i use a lot,and perhaps some on flamenco guitar, and the usual instrumentation arrangements Although i think this album will be harder and heavier than before, the instrumental parts will be sweeter, so to effect a greater dynamic,...there wil also be percussion in one song...not drums. and sound effects.
AK: How you think, what role of this new album for the band?
GRB: I think with the re-issues finally the story of the "Widow" album was revealed and at last it has received the attention and great reviews. Being heralded as one of the seminal Nwobhm albums was indeed a bonus that i never expected. At last everyone got to hear it, and despite the collectors,who were selling rare original copies for high sum, anyone can now buy it, this new album signals a new era for The band in the 21st century. also its a chance to get some new stuff out there for the loyal fans who have waited a while for a new album..Also its difficult to make albums like "Valley of the Kings" as its very well done, so i have hopefully risen to the challenge of making the new one in the same sentiment of quality,and innovation.
AK: Question to rocker with the long-term experience. What your opinion about today's rock music, that which broadcast everywhere?
GRB: MMM haha well thats a really tricky one,i'm not a huge fan of thrash or Black metal,but then again some of it is good,generally i like many of the newer heavy metal bands coming through,as long as its hard and heavy ROCK its ok with me,i just dont like the rubbish studio-created POP music we hear all the time in the UK its just trash, sung by record company puppets,who eventually end up as bad TV actors or usleless celebrities.
AK: How you consider, style NWOBHM still expects repeated blossoming and especial splash of popularity? To be honest, it is my favourite style of music and I would like it very much! And I'm assured that it's not only my desire.
GRB: Good music is timeless and not subject to trends or change, Nwobhm has survived many changes and trends..and is now set in history as a popular genre,and will always be around,of course like any genre it will have ups and downs,but remember people still like blues ! how long has that been around? well i think Nwobhm is now here to stay after a long an difficult history its a special alchemy of rock which was created in a few short years,thats why its special, this movement will echo in time.people will be listening to Nwobhm bands long into the future,long after we are all dust..
AK: And summing up. What would you wish to all listeners?
GRB: Thanks,i wish all your listeners and readers worldwide, good health and happiness, and to keep the faith!.Dont let anyone steal your dreams.or put you down , keep rocking for 2010 ! and way beyond.
AK: Thanks for the interview.Very pleasant and interesting to talk to you.All the best to the band and to you personally!
GRB: No thank you! its been a real pleasure,i would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the great RITUAL and Nwobhm fans out there for their support...!
your pleasure here goes RITUAL song "Into The Night"
RITUAL on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/ritual1973
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