Introducing: Ritual King
Darker, grungier and more compelling, Renegade & Retrospect, reincarnated as Ritual King, are back with a better image, an improved sound, and a reinvigorated passion
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
Renegade & Retrospect are changing their name because they want plunge deeper into the depths of the miusic industry.
After nearly three years together, the blues rock trio’s sound has become darker, grungier, all the while maintaining that intrinsic catchiness that has earned a respectable fanbase, in Manchester, nationwide and even as far as Holland. Manchester Rocks sits with the band, empty glasses and plates littering the table, as we meet the band in Joshua Brooks shortly before the band heads across to mainland Europe to play a handful of shows.
Not only does their new sound represent their evolution into moodier, meaner and altogether more irresistible pastures, it underlines the band as a more focussed professional entity.
“It was before Christmas that we decided to make this step after talking to our producer Alex Miller at Castle Rock Studios,” explains guitarist/vocalist Jordan Leppitt. “As soon Stret, the studio owner heard our name he hated it straight away and he’s someone who’s deep in the industry so he knows what works and what doesn't. It says a lot.”
“You have to be open minded to criticisms,” adds bassist Dan Godwin. Their new image, complete with a logo that drummer Rodge Hodges says “has a lot more personality to it”, a video single and an EP that completes their transformation (due late May and June respectively), it shows a band willing to adapting to criticism. As we talk, they seem rejuvenated. A lease of new life breathes through them, animates the way the talk - excitedly and passionately - about their band.
Says Leppitt: “It’s also our desire to release an actual product. Our EP is nearly ready and we’re looking at every little detail of the band and how we can tie it to our name, logo and image.”
“People can be very fickle as people when they see a logo, we can all be very quick to judge. You’ve gotta think about everything and we’re really taking the time to bring it all together. We started recording this EP in August, but the long wait has been justified.”
Godwin feels that the band has learnt from the mistake of rushing their first EP. Having written their material, a young eagerness drove them to get their music out there as soon as possible, but as time wore on and as the band’s evolution intensified, the pride they felt for that recording diminished.
“We weren't confident showing it to people to explain what we were like,” he sighs. “We’d end up showing them live videos. Our sound is definitely evolving. We’re darker now. I think we’re becoming slightly more intricate too because we’re getting better at our instruments.”
That is all about to change now though and Miller has been a huge instigator in advancing the band to where they are now, the driving force behind the band’s spectacular reincarnation. As Hodges tells us, “with Alex, we wanted someone else on the outside looking at our songs and giving us genuine feedback. He has taken us under his wing and given us a lot of guidance and a sense of security to push on from. His expertise and experience has been great.”
“He suggested we played the solo in Detachment in a different key which is a technique Guns N’ Roses do, it’s really effective. It makes it stand out,” Jordan continues as a waitress comes to collect our empty plates and glasses. It leaves a fresh table, fittingly representing this band’s fresh start.
“I feel so much more confident to tell people about us now, I'm proud and excited. It’s not like starting from scratch, we’re already at a certain point, we have a decent fanbase we've built up from playing so many live shows, so it won’t be the same uphill battle as before.”
Godwin too is keen to point out that bands like Heck – and Ghost fleetingly – have been in the position of changing their name after establishing themselves - their's due to copyright issues rather than a personally driven re-branding however. While they are now frantically trying to gain Facebook likes off of people for a second time and so on, it may prove to be hard work, but it is far from impossible. Conversely, the quality of the band now gives people more reason to have on beady eye fixed on them than ever before. “Now the product is finished and we’re very happy. It’s very satisfying now we’re getting to the end of it,” Jordan says, his band mates nodding and smiling in agreement.
Changing your band’s identity after three years of endless gigging, of shoving yourselves in front of as many faces as you can, is brave. It’s a risk. But they knew it was a case of now or never and regret it later on down the line.
The video for Unorthodox Satisfaction, a grunge smothered song pertaining their signature pomp and darkness – a wholly intriguing and enjoyable juxtaposition – is imminent, and from here, you can see the band are finally in a place where they have been striving to be for a long, long time.