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Interview with RiotGod/Monster Magnet Drummer Bob Pantella

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Riotgod has to be near the top of a growing list of “new favorites.” The brainchild of drummer Bob Pantella and bassist Jim Baglino (both of whom are members of Monster Magnet), Riotgod released their self titled debut which was a sonic psychedelic rock face melt that was reminiscent of bands like Soundgarden and Captain Beyond. I was lucky enough to catch Bob at home during a rare break in a busy touring schedule with Monster Magnet. Bob’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever talked to and we discussed his plans with Riotgod, his appreciation of Captain Beyond and all else in between. I hope you’ll read this and go check out some Riotgod. Enjoy this one!

Bob, thanks for taking the time to do this. I have to say that the debut Riotgod album is spectacular. It made my top albums of 2010.

That’s really cool man. Thank you.

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How was the last run with Monster Magnet?

It was a great run. I’ve been home for a while. It was a six week European run but it didn’t seem short [laughs]. Six weeks in the winter time in Europe is pretty brutal.

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Riotgod is a side project for you outside of your gig with Monster Magnet but it sounds like so much more than just that. Would you say this is more than just a side project?

I don’t really consider anything I do a side project. I try make whatever I’m doing my priority. Lately with Riotgod we’ve been in the studio recording for a new record. I also play with Atomic Bitchwax and Cycle of Pain but Monster Magnet does take up most of my time at the moment. ****************************************************************

I can totally hear that in the music. Riotgod doesn’t sound nearly like just a side project.

Yeah, we put a lot of time and thought into it. We didn’t know where it was going to go and we just did whatever we were doing. We didn’t even start out saying, “This is what we want to sound like.” We just started writing music and just went wherever it took us.

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How would you describe Riotgod’s music to someone that has never heard you before?

Hm. [laughs] I mean, it’s just rock n’ roll to me. It’s the kind of stuff that I liked listening to while growing up. There’s some Zeppelin-isms in there and some of the Aerosmith stuff. Definitely a little Soundgarden in there especially with the vocals. There’s definitely a Monster Magnet influence in there with the space rock kind of stuff.

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When I first heard your it, the first thing I thought was “These guys are the Captain Beyond of this generation!” Is it safe to say they are an influence?

[laughs] Wow, that’s a huge compliment. I really appreciate that. I love Captain Beyond. That first record is great. We recorded a cover of “Mesmerization Eclipse” back in 2004 although nobody has heard it. I gotta dig it out. It’s buried somewhere [laughs].

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The metal world is full of genre tags like thrash, death, grindcore, etc. I’ve heard people lump Riotgod into the “stoner metal” genre. Are you guys comfortable with being placed into a genre like that?

Eh, it’s not stoner rock. Not that I have anything against stoner rock. I love stoner rock but I really hate all those sub genres. To me it’s just hard rock. It’s not metal. Just hard rock.

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My head swims when I hear all of these sub genres. I’m not old but probably 90% of these sub genres didn’t exist when I was a teenager.

Exactly. Look at The Who. Back in the day they considered themselves a pop band.

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2/4 of Riotgod also perform in Monster Magnet. How does playing in Riotgod compare or differ from playing in Monster Magnet?

Well now ¾ of Riotgod is Monster Magnet so not very much [laughs]. No, it’s really a different thing especially because the singer is different. It’s a different energy with one guitar in the band so that’s a different, more free feel live. ****************************************************************

Do you have more creative freedom in Riotgod than in Monster Magnet? Absolutely. Monster Magnet is Dave’s (Wyndorf; guitarist/singer). In Riotgod we all write and it’s more of a band kind of thing. It’s definitely an equal shared venture.

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How did you guys write for this album? Did you just jam in a room together and write songs?

Actually, I have a recording studio in my house. Jim and I had been talking about putting a band together or years. I recorded a bunch of stuff at home by myself and I didn’t let anybody hear it [laughs]. I called Mark (Sunshine; singer) up to come over and do something with it and come up with some vocal melodies and lyrics. It all came together really quick once he jumped into it. I played the guitar, bass and drums on it but didn’t do any leads. I called Jim over to check it out and he was blown away. The first song we did was “Light of the Sun” which is the first song on the record.

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How did you guys manage to find a singer named Sunshine? That shit is just plain awesome!

I’ve known this guy for 20 years and that’s his real name. No joke. I’ve always wanted to do something with him but it never came together. He’s just out of his mind. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re getting Mark or if you’re getting Sunshine [laughs]. He was obviously the first choice and the only choice. I can’t think of anyone else who could sing like that.

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this album straight through. It’s an amazing listening experience. When you guys were putting it together, did you sequence it this way intentionally to have that flow to it or did it just happen that way?

No, it didn’t happen that way. It was definitely intentional. I wanted it to start heavy and kind of mellow out and then come back up again. A kind of ride you know? Not too many people listen to an album all the way through any more but for those that do that’s why I did it like that.

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Riotgod is already planning a new release for 2011. What can we expect from this album and will I get to see you guys on tour? I need a Riotgod show.

Where are you at? [laughs]

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I live in Atlanta.

Oh that’s cool. I’d love to do some more stuff in the states. We’re doing a tour in October in Europe for about 3 weeks. The new album is going to be a bit heavier but we’re still writing for it. I’d love to do some shows in the states but we don’t have a booking agent here so we’re pretty much on our own at this point but that could change over the next couple of weeks or months. I’d love to do a tour down south because we haven’t done anything there at all. We have to have the album done by July. That’s the deadline so we’re kind forced into it [laughs].

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Where can people go to hear some Riotgod and maybe buy and album and other merch?

Well, you can go to the website (www.riotgod.com) or the MySpace page. You can also pick up the album on Amazon.

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Besides the new album, what can we look forward to from Riotgod heading into 2011?

The next record. I don’t know what it’s going to be called yet but it’s going to be heavier. We just really wanted to something a little more heavy. We need to tour it a lot more. We’re going to South America in the fall but we’ve got to put together a States run. Some good rock and roll!

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That’s funny that you say that. I tend to interview a lot of European bands and they are always talking about how well received music is there. Why is it that in the States they don’t seem to get it?

I think that people here are just bombarded with so much entertainment you don’t have to leave your house [laughs]. Internet, video games and all that stuff. People don’t really do that in Europe like they do it here. Some people are just afraid to go out. They don’t want to get in trouble for drinking and driving, not that you should do that, but people just seem to be afraid to go out. People don’t want to spend money when they can stay home and have just as much fun. I just think there are so many options.

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It’s just insane to me. For instance, I saw Exodus here last year and was shocked to see only about 200-300 people there. It just killed me that they can’t get the support from fans here that they get overseas.

Oh wow. I love “Bonded By Blood.” I saw them in New York when that album came out with Paul Baloff singing. It was great but nobody was there [laughs].

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I talked to a guitarist from Germany and he said that he felt that the American audiences were a little spoiled in that we are so over saturated with entertainment and concerts that people don’t go out to all of them. In Europe they don’t get as many shows so the reception is always so much more intense.

That’s true. Europe is great for us as it is more most bands but I also think it’s kind of a generational thing too. Maybe I’m sounding old but when I was a kid we used to go outside and build a tree fort [laughs]. Kids today don’t seem to go out much. When we were kids we were hiding in the woods, getting a barrel of beer and smoking pot [laughs].

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Oh I do that now!

[laughs] That’s funny.

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Bob, thanks so much for doing this interview. It was really fun talking to you.

Thank you very much Don. I really appreciate it man. Talk to you soon. Special thanks to Bob for taking the time out to talk with me. If you want to get your face melt on with some Riotgod, check them out here: Official Website: http://www.riotgod.com

 

You need more schoolin’?  Professor Don has other classes available at http://www.thegreatsouthernbrainfart.com

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Fear Factory at the Masquerade

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© 2015 Ann Bodan
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Fear Factory destroyed the Masquerade on September 4th with an amazing set.  Fear Factory was one of the first bands to pioneer industrial metal. It was great to see them back in Atlanta after a long absence.  Fear Factory is on tour promoting their new album Genexas, which lead singer Burton made sure we pronounced correctly (ha). Their show was great and I found myself singing along while I took pictures of the band.  The only thing I didn’t like was the fact I could hardly SEE the band.  Once again the Masquerade didn’t bother to turn up the stage lights for the bands.  This of course makes it very hard to photograph.  Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed watching this band play some of my favorite tunes live like Shock, Edgecrusher, Damaged, and Demanufacture!

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2015 Rockstar Mayhem Fest

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Photo: Ann Bodan
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The 2015 Rockstar Mayhem Fest visited Atlanta on July 26th, with amazing bands like WhiteChapel, and Slayer!

When I walked into Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood it was like a ghost town.  In past years, the Mayhem Fest is usually packed with people, but this year was different.  The entrance I walked into had no venders, no food venders, and no people hanging out between band sets.  I walked clear across to the other side of the venue to find a much smaller side stage than the previous years.

After seeing, maybe a 1000+ people watching the side stage bands, I knew the Rockstar Mayhem was coming to an end.  Also, the beloved Metal Mulisha motorcycle stunt riders were not present at this year’s Mayhem Fest. As for the bands, some of them just were not for me, while a few were amazing to see perform.  It was a sad sight to see the Rockstar Mayhem Fest scaled down to almost nothing, but I still had a good time taking pictures.

Enjoy the pictures for the last Rockstar Mayhem Fest.  Hopefully, some brave soul will pick up the torch and revive the festival!

Victory Records Stage


Check out pics from the Main Stage on the next page!
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Friday @120 Marietta: Metal Invasion

Pathfinder Promotions and 120 Tavern and Music Hall Present MARIETTA METAL INVASION a night of Hard-hitting, in-your-face heavy Metal

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Photo: Adsila Chyann Atlanta Metal
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Pathfinder Promotions and 120 Tavern and Music Hall Present “Marietta Metal Invasion,” a night of hard-hitting, in-your-face Heavy Metal from Atlanta’s Rigorism with their special guests Paladin, and on tour out of Florida: Sons Of Ragnar and Lacerate!

Rigorism formed in 2012 setting out to make music that doesn’t have a million genres, Metal is what is written, played and the adrenaline at a live show is definitely a must see. Strong vocals, powerful riffs, odd syncopated bass and drums make up RIGORISM \m/

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