The UK’s Grief Ritual are a band that fits perfectly in the state of the world right now as they wield charred metallic hardcore along with death and post-metal on their just released debut EP Spiritual Disease. The EP’s title is “a metaphor for the mental illness brought on by the despotic state of the world…” and between the savage lyrics and even more savage five tracks contained, it’s a warhead of grim aggression. We recently posed our set of Profile questions to vocalist Jamie Waggett to gain some insight and background surrounding the band and what drove them to this EP. Jamie was more than gracious with his replies so head directly below to see how it went down and be sure to grab your copy from the links contained within.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
It’s been quite a long process for me. As a kid I loved singing along to random tunes on the radio and I’ve been in and out of bands since I was a teenager as a vocalist, apart from one project where I ended up on the bass. But generally I’ve found that it’s bands where I’ve wanted to make a certain type of music, so I found members to try to achieve that with varying levels of success and failure.
Pretty much every band I’ve been in has just been to make some music and play some shows with no outlying motives for success. With Grief Ritual, it started in the same sense of a couple of friends coming together to have a jam and potentially play a show or two, so I feel incredibly fortunate that we’ve since managed to grow to the point where we’ve played amazing festivals in 2000trees and Bloodstock, as well as played with some incredible bands like Knocked Loose, Terror, END, Gatecreeper, Ithaca, Heriot and Pupil Slicer.
What’s the most you have 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, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
With my first proper band I definitely overly bugged some promoters for slots (which I’d never do now) until I think they essentially gave up and just to shut me up gave that band a show. With that band I was also known for being quite expressive and something of a handful on stage, which definitely gave us a reputation locally, and myself a lot of cuts and bruises. There was one embarrassing incident during that band’s lifespan where I was performing and somehow managed to knock two teeth out with a microphone, whilst trying to take a t-shirt off myself, dropping the microphone in the process, then recovering to finish the song and the set. Which I imagine for people watching was probably pretty weird. I was a stupid kid though and thankfully I’m a lot different now.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
I’m happy to see that there appears to be an increase in visibility and opportunities for women, trans, non-binary and gender-fluid musicians and artists over the last twelve months or so, especially at some larger festivals, as I think this is well overdue and that equality, inclusivity and safe spaces need to be pushed and increased as a priority to allow for this to be the norm. It’s also heartening to see a lot of these artists getting the recognition they deserve and the growing fan-bases that allow them the chance to perform in front of big crowds and with bigger artists.
Counter to this, and for me, one of the worst things in modern music/society in general is however, I feel the reaction to this that I see online in bigoted trans/homophobic and misogynistic comment threads about some of these artists. Or when promoters/venues downgrade these types of artists to the outdated notion of ‘female-fronted’ bands. But I do think the industry is changing for the better and I see and speak to a lot of people who are happy that inclusivity is growing, and that these awful opinions are being challenged more and more.
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?
I have quite strong views socially and politically and that’s informed Grief Ritual’s debut EP Spiritual Disease, which is all about how twelve years of Tory government has completely stripped the UK of economic and social growth and impacted the physical and mental health of our UK population due to cuts to social and healthcare funding. I feel like this decade and more of time has been one of the worst in the history of the UK, due the capitalistic greed that we have enforced on us by this Government and their backers/paymasters.
I don’t feel that the UK should be governed by a Prime Minister that we haven’t voted for. They may change the figurehead every few years, once they’ve completed whatever hatchet project their backers have wanted, but it’s all the same party and I’m sick to death of hearing nonsense sound bites about “levelling up” and “rebuilding the economy,” as if it’s not down to their actions that we are in this situation.
I feel that we need major political reform in the UK, to fully fund health and social care so that people can get the treatment and support they need, and that basic human rights, such as water, food, fuel, a place to live and a decent living wage, should form the tenants of our society. It also sickens me that human, and especially LGTBQIA2S+, rights and the right to protest are being eroded by laws they are passing.
Counter to this, I’m also deeply saddened by the way the Labour party has consistently failed to stand up for the rights of workers in recent months and that, as an opposition party, they should be hammering this failing government at every attempt as a left of centre alternative, not attempting to become a right of centre party themselves. We need a viable alternative, that stands for the needs of everyday people and not the rich, otherwise this country is doomed.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Probably Napalm Death when I was about 17/18 but that was via a weird route. They aren’t a metal band, but I’d say Placebo were the first band that I really got into who were a little bit different and began to change my outlook on music and moved me away from the indie and brit-pop that I was listening to when I was about 13/14. From them, it moved through The Smashing Pumpkins, noise-rock bands like Scratch Acid, the PaperChase, Lightning Bolt and Shellac onto post-hardcore and screamo bands like The Blood Brothers, Ex-Models etc.. until I found myself looking for more extreme stuff like The Locust, Dillinger Escape Plan, Genghis Tron, Godflesh, and via that Napalm Death.
My family has grown to accept their loss of me to music, although back when I used to dye my hair a different colour every week they were so tolerant.
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?
I think it’s important to respect the artist and the idea they are attempting to get across, unless that idea is alt-right, NSBM, or bigoted. For upcoming bands, sometimes a good review can go a long way to helping them establish themselves in the eyes of promoters and fans, so although I think it’s important to be honest with reviews, I also don’t think anyone needs to hear how bad a band is. As an example, that happened to a friend of mine recently – they were criticised for what they wore on stage in a review – which just felt utterly unnecessary. Sometimes I think it’s better to keep an opinion to yourself. I guess what I’m trying to say is – it’s better to be positive or give constructive criticism, rather than a hateful opinion.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Grief Ritual has pretty much smashed every initial target we had, which to be honest was only to play a few shows and see what happens. So for us everything we achieve now is a huge bonus, but we’ve always adjusted our sights as we’ve grown. Right now, we’d like to see how Spiritual Disease does and really hope that it will allow us to continue to progress in the way we have done over the last twelve months. We all work full-time jobs, but do put a lot of effort into the band outside of that, so if we can continue to get the opportunities we have been doing, and can tick a few more festivals off our list, then we’ll be alright with that, I think.
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)
Currently I’m utterly obsessed with the new Chat Pile record God’s Country, which I’d recommend to anyone with a love of angular heaviness like Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard, Godflesh and Sonic Youth. I also really love the album Prioritise Pleasure by Self Esteem, which came out last year, but I can’t stop jamming and seem to listen to it at least once a week. The album Pale Swordsman by Këkht Aräkh, which also came out last year, is also incredible and such a beautiful piece of ice-cold black metal. Other than that, I always go back to Isolation by Harms Way, The Sickness of Eden by xRepentancex and God’s Hate by God’s Hate for some hardcore goodness.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
Our debut EP Spiritual Disease will be out on September 9th, from there we have a release show or two planned (which are due to be announced) and also a few other shows in the pipeline that we can’t speak about yet. We’re also currently in the process of recruiting a new full-time bassist and will be beginning to flesh out some ideas we have for another future release soon. Longer term, next year included, we’re hoping to push forward to see where we might end up.
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 Jamie and Grief Ritual for their time!