1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?
Sure thing. The album was actually recorded about a year ago, so we've had plenty of time to go about our lives. Since finishing recording, one of the big things was starting to work with Greg and Southern Lord to get this thing released - which has been fantastic. Kind of a shot in the dark to start working with Greg when our previous plans to get the record out fell through.
In reality, though, most of us in have real lives that involve some sort of small business - either owning one (I own a gym - www.southloopsc.com - and Dan owns a restaurant - www.thesweetandsavoryspot.com/), working as a recording engineer (Andy - www.bricktoprecording.com), working for a small business (Drew - www.chicagomusicexchange.com/), or working for a large business and doing some freelancing on the side (John - www.destroydesigns.com/)
So, the band is a nice thing to do on a weekday night and a place to get the ol' riffs out, you know?
2.Your new album was released in March, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Like Rats is essentially a Celtic Frost worship band. In terms of influences and goals, we want to sound like bands like Incantation, Immolation and Morbid Angel without actually *sounding* like them.
In the past, we've trended more towards the punker side of Celtic Frost, but, on this record, we pushed the songs in a longer, more death metal direction based up on the riffs and melodies that we were writing.
3.This is the first album to be released in 4 years, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time span?
Well, four years ago I opened up a gym in Chicago which has pretty much destroyed my life in many ways - both positive and negative.
After our last LP came out on A389, we played some festivals like A389's annual bash and Maryland Deathfest while doing a few weekends here and there with friends.
We continued to write riffs and songs until we had enough for an LP, booked the studio time, and knocked it out.
There's also been some stuff in Syria.
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
The lyrics on this particular record deal with personal, political and fantastical subject matter (dealing with death, depression, ancient beings, propaganda, planetary/human rights etc.). However even the Lovecraftian type lyrics still have a political agenda to some extent. I don’t mind hearing lyrics in songs about the misuse of the earth and all, but when it can have a spin where the earth will just start eating us; I feel this is a better way to express those hippy feelings.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Like Rats'?
First track off of Godflesh's "Streetcleaner" album.
"You breed, like rats."
You'd have to ask Justin Broadrick about the meaning there - we just wanted to copy Godflesh since we think they're cool.
6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Well we definitely do a lot of synchronized stage moves so I would describe it as "choreographed" and "bombastic."
I had a great time at Berserker Fest in Detroit since we played in an awkwardly shaped room and people flipped out. We also "technically" played with Incantation, so that is nice as far as I'm concerned.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
Right now, we're playing with our friends in Disrotted in Milwaukee and Chicago 4/30 and 5/1 respectively.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of underground metal?
We have one pretty good review of our last LP on Metal Archives, and a guy on the Southern Lord Instagram said that we sound like an "opening band in a bar."
9.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Weekend Nachos is breaking up, so that's a big relief to everyone who wishes powerviolence could just get back to its roots and get away from this corny, beatdown nonsense.
However, some people on the internet seem to think that Weekend Nachos is breaking up to form Like Rats - which is funny and wrong, but has resulted in some extra attention to our new LP, so I'll take it.
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Probably into a variety of dead-end musical sub-genres appreciated only by nerds with social problems.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Our biggest influences from a riff-writing and song-structuring perspective are Celtic Frost, Slayer, Sepultura, Incantation and Immolation. I've also been known to lift riff ideas from composers like Prokofiev and Strauss.
I'm certainly not as much of a music freak as I used to be in terms of obsessively listening to tons of stuff, but the most recent things I've listened to off the top of my head have been:
Obituary - Cause of Death
Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Immolation - Dawn of Possession
Koopsta Knicca - Skrewged (RIP)
Dead Rider - The Raw Dents (ex US Maple members)
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
I am a massive jock and own a gym called South Loop Strength & Conditioning. I coach several people to compete in the sport of CrossFit as well. So, based upon this, I spend a lot of time researching and working on the following areas:
Exercise program design - In theory and in practice. The FitzGerald brothers at OPEX and OPT Calgary are my mentors here.
Physical therapy and Movement correction - I learn the most when putting myself in situations where everyone else is massively more qualified than I am. I've had great experiences recently at courses like GRIP Approach and Shirley Sahrmann's Movement System Impairment Syndromes. I also am taught a lot by folks in Chicago who work on me and answer my questions like Evan Osar, Robert Lardner, Liz Yerly, Roy Settergren and Shawn Allen.
Nutrition - Understanding best practices here for athletes and general population folks is a massive rabbit hole. Love the work of Precision Nutrition and Dynamic Nutrition (now Driven Performance).
Psychology of behavior change - Coaching isn't about Xs and Os - it's about understanding how to create buy-in and change outlooks over time. The book on Motivational Interviewing is huge here, as are Ramit Sethi's blog posts and courses as well as all the pop psychology books like "Switch" and "The Power of Habit."
Marketing - I didn't get into business to become a marketer, but that's what happens when you have to figure out how to get people in the door. Jay Abraham, Ramit Sethi, Seth Godin, and Robert Cialdini have helped me massively here.
Meditation and mindfulness - I struggle here to remain consistent with this as a habit, but I love Sam Harris and Tara Brach's work here.
Physiology of stress - I messed myself up pretty good trying to train like a serious athlete while running a business in survival mode, so I've been very interested in how human beings tolerate and adapt to stress. Robert Sapolsky's work is great here: "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" as well as some of his Stanford courses and lectures on YouTube.
Oh yeah and I also love memes. Can't get enough.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Have a kick-ass summer and c ya at the pool.
Dave Brenner // The Earsplit Compound