Have you ever been so excited about a new release you’ve been working on that you just have to be a Moshville Times Headline Act? Hey, it’s not as uncommon as you think. Today we have Return To Earth assailing us with their new single (a precursor to an album out in 2022) – and some words to accompany it…
Chris: We’re all originally from the New York/New Jersey area.
Brett: Planet Zoltar.
How did you meet?
Chris: We were in different bands in the same music scene. We eventually ended up coming together and forming RTE through those bands.
Ron: Brett was my boss at the radio station we both worked at a few moons ago. He liked my Chemical Brothers t-shirt. He asked me to play keyboards in his band. A year or two before I met Chris, I saw him play drums in Dillinger Escape Plan. I was there to see Mr. Bungle. Dillinger opened. I was blown away by his playing. I was pretty stoked to eventually have the opportunity to work with him.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Brett: 15 years.
Ron: With just about a decade of downtime somewhere in between.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Ron: When we came together to make our first album, Captains of Industry, we were all recovering from one thing or another. Chris had left DEP, Brett’s previous band had sort of dissolved, and me, I’m always recovering from one thing or another. “Return To Earth” reflected a desire to become more grounded and focused in our career and musical choices after the typical disappointment and disillusionment that comes from trying to ‘make it’ in the music industry. Fifteen years later — at least for me — the name is still apt. I’m still looking to “return.” Sometimes you never return!
What are your influences?
Chris: Metal to jazz to electronic music…
Brett: Iron Maiden, Slayer… Hall & Oates!
Ron: Mike Patton, Trent Reznor, Metallica & Anthrax. Danny Elfman and Ennio Morricone. Definitely Hall & Oates. Mostly Oates.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Ron: Atmospheric. Metal but not metal. The sound of Hans Zimmer and James Hetfield wrestling in an industrial warehouse. I feel like when we released Automata (on Metal Blade Records in 2010), critics pointed to our music not being easily definable. Good or bad, we agree with that critique. We strive for that. I think all three of us are uncompromising with intention. These new songs fans are about to hear are testimony to that.
Chris: We’re not tied to any scene or label or any outside trend. That gives us freedom to create what we want and enjoy the process of taking however long to craft something that we enjoy making.
Ron: And sometimes ‘however long’ has been… a decade!
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Brett: The end of the human race.
Ron: Ah man. Where do I begin? Anger. Horror. Isolation. Grief. Regret. Confusion! Despair! Writing for RTE has been an outlet to cast out personal demons, but also to kind of stew in the darkness. On this new album, especially. Laying down vocals felt like an exorcism at times. But what’s touched upon feels like a proper present-day soundtrack.
You’re not a touring band as things stand. What, if anything, would convince you to fire up the tour bus and hit some stages?
Chris: Not touring is fantastic. I have no desire to do it again. Being home, working on and trying things that I wasn’t able to because I was on the road for fifteen years is a beautiful thing. Touring is becoming an unpractical, bleak, unsustainable reality. I’m thankful that all of us are not in a position to be beholden to it.
Ron: Personally, I would love to tour. Even do a couple of one-offs or local shows opening for a veteran band I love like Faith No More or Ministry. I can do ‘bleak and unsustainable’ most anywhere, why not in the back of an Econoline van gazing at Brett’s handsome face every night for three months? I get Chris’ perspective tho, it’s been a known quantity in this band for a long time haha! I’ve done ‘on the road’ for about fifteen shows, not fifteen years. Maybe if someone hands us a huge bag of money…
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show (as a musician or an audience member)?
Chris: Watched my singer take a shit on stage and then eat it.
Ron: I don’t think I can top that. Just want to make sure everyone knows that I’m not the singer Chris is referring to.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Chris: Native Instruments Kontakt.
Brett: Sully Guitars and Victory Amps. Both used exclusively on the new record.
Ron: A Bluebird SL to record most of my vox, and the reliable Shure SM-57 for the screams and whispery parts.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Chris: Our new album.
Ron: Our first album to be released on vinyl! The kids love the vinyl. That’s out in early 2022. We recognize we’ve been frozen in carbonite for a good part of the last decade, so we just released a new song — “Big Ideas” — on Bandcamp [embedded below, lyric video on Youtube – Mosh] — along with two more originals to sort of announce our return. “Big Ideas” is the sound of RTE hitting the reset button. It’s the perfect trailer for the new album.
What are your plans for the next 6 months or so?
Chris: Keep working, learning and being thankful for growing up in an era of unsaid greatness. From here on out, it’s all ‘bonus time’.
Brett: Enduring a long winter waiting for the album to be printed.
Ron: I can’t wait to hold our new music babies. Our friend Josh Liner from Culture Glut was really thoughtful about the artwork and the packaging. Vinyl collecting metal heads should be pleased.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Ron: I want a four-band bill: Manowar, Helloween, Return To Earth, and One Hundred Thousand. OHT is a Jersey-based hard rock band that I’ve admired over the past few years. They’re not well-known but they should be. I really dig their recent album, Zodiac. It’s kinda like Deftones meets King’s X, and they — like us — do it all themselves. Oh… and one condition: Helloween needs to invite me onstage to sing “Eagle Fly Free.”