Artist Interview: Rear Naked Choke
Tell us about yourself and your music
I am the rhythm guitarist in Rear Naked Choke. In addition to that I am also a professional comic book artist/colorist, husband and father. I’ve been playing guitar on and off since I was around 13 but didn’t really get serious about it until after my art career kinda took off. At that point my main focus had been developing my art but once it became my job I needed a different outlet for fun, so guitar became that outlet. Most of my foundation was taught to me by my cousin Mike, who was a amazing self taught guitarist, other than that I have learned through many sources including friends, lessons, videos and just experimenting.
While I like many types of music my preference has always been hard rock and metal. The band that really got me into music would have to be Metallica, when I was a kid my cousin bought Ride The Lighting and from the moment I heard it I was hooked, I had never heard anything like it and it just resonated with me. I’m definitly a rhythm player, I often joke that if I didn’t love the guitar so much I’d probably be a bass player. Solos just never apealed to me that much, I was always attracted to the meat of the song, so rhythm and vocals were what always caught me first, still to this day if the rhythm and vocals don’t catch me I’m not really interested in the song. Now don’t get me wrong, solos are great and I do play an occasional one but they are just not my priority. Some of my influences are James Hetfiled, Alex Skolnick, Michael Poulsen, CJ Pierce, Pepper Kennan, Jerry Cantrell, Dimebag Darrell and I could go on and on.
As far as Rear Naked Choke (RNC for short) goes we kinda have our own thing going. We definitely fit into the Hard Rock category and we straddle that line into Metal and we have some southern swing kind of vibe mixed in as well. There’s no doubts that our influences show through at some points be we aren’t trying to be or copy any of them, we just play what we enjoy. If I had to quantify it I would say that we’re somewhere between Pantera, Alice in Chains and Down, with some hints of Metallica, Nirvana and Clutch, among others, thrown in to the mix. RNC was formed in 2009 and though there have been a few lineup changes the heart and focus has stayed pretty solid. The name comes from a submission move in Mixed Martial Arts. Most of us in the band are big MMA fans and the band kinda started through watching fights at my cousins house, in between the fights we would go and jam in his back room he had set up.
Talk to us more about your latest release
In 2015 we released a EP called the Prelims, a UFC/MMA reference, that contained 6 songs. These were a mixture of studio quality demos, rough demos and a live track.
Since that point we have been working with CJ Pierce, guitarist and founding member of Drowning Pool, on a full length album. Right now the plan is for the album to have 10 songs, including the re-worked and finished versions of the songs that made up The Prelims EP along with several new/never recorded ones. We are almost finished with the albums recording, While it’s taken a bit longer than we had hoped originally, it has been worth it to get to work with CJ. Our goal is to have that new album out late spring or early summer of this year.
What inspired you to write this release?
The inspiration has come from a lot of different place. Our songs touch on everything from having a good time to personal relationships or conflicts to War, so it’s pretty diverse.
We have a song called Suicide Betsy, which is about a Motorcycle with a “suicide” shift. If you aren’t familiar with what a suicide shift is, basically you have a foot clutch and a hand shiftier much like you would have in a manual transmission car, so you have to take you hand off the handle bars to shift gears.
Another song is called Better Man (yea there are a few songs by that name out there) which our singer wrote about a time when he was in a bad place in life and wasn’t able to have the relationship with is young son that he wanted. Thankfully that’s in the past and his son now lives with him and they have a great relationship.
Another song is called Mike’s Song and it was written for our original lead guitarist and founding member, Mike Morgan, who passed away a couple of years ago from cancer.
So you can see that we have a pretty big range that we cover.
Any plans to release a video?
We have a video for the demo versions of both Better Man and Suicide Betsy now, but once the full album is done then we will be filming a video for the first single, we aren’t sure what that will be yet though. You can stay up to date with what we have going on at our website www.RNCtheBand.com
Any plans to hit the road?
Currently we are only playing some regional one off shows while we are finishing the recording of the album. Once it is done and released we will be hitting the road to support and push the album.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
That’s pretty tough to do these days. We just try to make sure that we go out and preform well every show and that we leave a positive impression on any place we play. We have a logo and a theme that we tend to follow on our merch as well, to try and help create a visual brand that we hope our fans and others will recognize when they see it.
Who have you been listening to lately?
Metallica, Ghost, Chevelle, Nothing More, COC, Johnny Cash, Volbeat, Faith No More, Bobaflex, Drowning Pool…list can go on and on.
Tell us about your passions
My wife and son are a big and important part of my life. My art and comic work is my other big passion. As I said earlier, before music I focused on my art and guitar was just a backseat hobby. Music has always been a part of my life though, even when creating art I listened to music to help me get into my creative mind-space.
What else is happening next in your world?
Other than normal day to day life, just trying to get this record finished and put out. I will probably be a guest at a few comic conventions this year, which is always fun to do. They are great to get to meet fans and recharge some creative batteries by seeing other artists and their artwork.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Chris!
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