Profile: Brooklyn’s Psych Metal Trio River Cult

River Cult
River Cult

Back in 2016, psych metallers River Cult made a splash with their self titled EP, even though you may still be unaware. Thankfully, that’s about to change as the band will be releasing their debut full length, Halcyon Daze, this week. Metallic fuzz reminiscent of Blue Cheer meets the heavy doom sound of early Pentagram while in a jam session with Ufomammut should give you an idea of what to expect but these five long players are no coat tail riders of anyone. They take what came before and create something that constantly surprises, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out they pull out a cosmic riff (“The Sophist”) or a beautiful, knife edged classic rock vibe (“Point of Failure”). Just ahead of the album’s release we had the opportunity to ask the band our set of Profile questions to get acquainted. Head inside to see what they had to say and be sure to pick up a copy of Halcyon Daze from the links provided at the end.

River Cult - Halcyon Daze

How did each of you first get into playing music?

Sean Forlenza (guitar, vocals): I just always had an interest in music.. its hard to pinpoint exactly. When I was younger my mom would buy me albums and then I grew into my own taste. Local shows while growing up in NJ were big for me. I loved the small crowd and intimate setting at local VFW halls. I remember being very confused at my first big concert at Madison Square Garden and not really getting the point of being so far form the stage you had to look at a screen.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

Sean: Ironically, my mother bought me my first metal album when I was around 12, Paranoid, by Sabbath. I was hooked from that moment. The irony is, my mother was not at all happy when I took the route to where I’m now with my lifestyle and music, but I blame her for starting it! FYI, she is (relatively) cool with it now. 

Anthony Mendolia (bass): I got into metal when I was young from watching MTV. It may sound weird now, but they used to actually play music, and yes, metal included.

Tav Palumbo (drums): I first got into metal from seeing shows at Club Diablo while growing up in Buffalo and from Iron Maiden album art.

What’s the most you’ve ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, tell us any funny/embarrassing story about the band.)

SF: I’m pretty bad at self promotion.. I tend to not do enough because it makes me feel like a jackass. In terms of the most embarrassing moment for the band, that would have to be when we trekked across Canada to play a show in the middle of nowhere, in a HUGE venue that ended up just being the sound guys and the other bands. The “saving grace,” though, was there were like 5 sound guys, for some reason, so at least that was sort of a crowd. The worst part, was when we were loading the van, locals saw our NY plates and were asking about the show and wished they knew about it! It was such a weird night though, it was worth it for the experience and to play with Familiars out of Toronto, who rule.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal right now?  What are some of the worst?

SF: Metal is a very exciting genre right now because it is going in all these different fringe directions. Extreme metal is really wild and there is so much experimentation and weirdness going on now than ever before. The worst part about the metal scene now is the regurgitation of the same format over and over again, but that happens in every genre. I also really dislike the machismo element in some metal and I’m happy that is lessening.

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?

SF: We aren’t really a band with a strong, unified, political message, but we all believe in equal rights and freedom for every type of person. You mention humor though, which is very important. Today, people forget that, and get way too caught up and serious about everything. We definitely believe its important to keep a sense of humor and not take oneself too seriously. It’s also important not to lash out on people with the opposite view of yours, because that only serves to perpetuate animosity and stifles growth and understanding.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

SF: My advice to people starting up blogs, review sites, bookers, show promoters, etc… take a chance on a local no-one band that you think is good. This just doesn’t happen enough, especially in NYC. Everything is so competitive and lots of great opportunities just go to friends or the obvious choice.. it feels like a lot of people aren’t just listening to music and going with their gut. I’d like to see this more in general.

What’s your goal?  You guys thinking world domination?  Saving a continent, or maybe invading one?  Any interest in starting a cult?  Tell us what you’re aiming for with this band.

SF: As obvious as it sounds, our goal with this band is to make music we would love to listen to ourselves but aren’t hearing, and have as many people listen to it as possible.

Day jobs or hobbies you want to share?

SF: I’m a dog walker in Brooklyn. I love French literature and lately have been obsessed with my Nintendo Switch. 

AM: I’m a designer by day and have a personal interest in vector illustration.

TP: Apart from making my own music, I’m really into home recording, video art and interaction design.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

SF: Right now Im really into fringe electronic music. I’ve been really loving Chicago based Fire-Toolz and her album, Drip Mental and The English Beach, by Broken English Club. 

AM: Lately I’ve been really into, The Dusk in Us, by Converge who I am a long time fan of.

TP: Right now I’m really digging Static Migration, by Tribes of Neurot/Walking Time Bombs and the Bonehead Crunchers compilations.

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band?  Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

Right now we have been obsessing on getting the new album Halcyon Daze out to the world. Now that we have all the outlets covered it’s odd that it’s behind us, because it has been our focus for so long. In terms of the immediate future, we want to book some tours and we have been talking about getting back into the studio to do a 7″. Maybe a split.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)


Many thanks to River Cult for their time!

Halcyon Daze will be available February 9 on vinyl via Nasoni Records, CD and cassette via Blackseed Records and digital via Magnetic Eye Records. For more information on River Cult visit their Facebook page.


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