Rwake Interview with CT: If You Can Fill the Unforgiving Minute with 60 Seconds’ Worth of Distance Run…

Of the various kinds of heavinesses they emit — sonic, emotional, temperamental, etc. — where Arkansas post-sludgers Rwake are heaviest of all is in atmosphere. There’s something about their new album, Rest, that, in its most biting moments, reaches down your throat to pull the air from your lungs. It’s not just oppressively loud. Even quiet stretches like the opening introduction “Souls of the Sky” enact a kind of hegemony for the threats they contain.

Rest is the fifth and most realized Rwake (pronounced “wake”) album. It follows four years behind the band’s Relapse Records debut, Voices of Omens, and, like that album, was produced by the careful ears of Sanford Parker. That’s important to note because, as Rwake has stepped beyond their past work in so many ways across Rest‘s six tracks, there are still some consistencies of sound that work greatly to their benefit, and Parker‘s production is undeniably a big part of that.

But then, “big” seems to be the word all around when it comes to Rwake. The guitars of Kiffin Rogers and Kris “Gravy” Graves alternate between piercing leads and riffs that seem to be made of block cement, broken through only by Jeff Morgan‘s ultra-adaptable drums, Reid Raley‘s rumble and the dual-vocal assault of Brittany Fugate‘s snarled screams and CT‘s shouts echoing over the abyss like cliffside incantations yelled to gathering clouds.

As the frontman, CT has shown marked growth in his vocals, moving beyond the screams of Voices of Omens and earlier records like 2004’s If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die and 2002’s Hell is a Door to the Sun (reissued earlier this year by Relapse) to more controlled and overall cleaner shouting. It’s not exactly melodic, and he’s still able to match Fugate for ferocity on cuts like “An Invisible Thread,” but there’s no question that in the four years between Voices of Omens and Rest, he came into his own as a singer and as a central figure in the band.

The album is 53 minutes long. My interview with CT was 55. We spoke before the band’s short tour at the end of last month about the strange and protracted process by which Rest was recorded and how it ultimately helped in undertaking the aforementioned maturation, the move to longer songs, their current position as regards touring and much more, and even had some time at the end to bring in how he — as the director of the sludge documentary Slow Southern Steel — views Rwake within the expansive creative milieu of the American south.

You’ll find the complete 6,200-word Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

Talk a little bit about the time between Voices of Omens and Rest. I know you toured, and did Slow Southern Steel, but tell me about going from one album to the other.

Well, it has been forever, but honestly, the first two years, we were still touring off of Voices, pretty much. It’s hard for us to really get into anything else when we’re focusing on that kind of stuff. We usually don’t mess around with writing or anything. After about two years – that’s kind of around the exact same time I started messing around with the movie – and Jeff had gotten really back into work where he was working, at this distribution center/huge warehouse thing. I would say around that two-and-a-half-year period, we definitely started to get lost again (laughs). And our bass player, Reid, had left the band, so we’d gotten another bass player, so we were teaching him all those songs during that. But then, right in the middle of that, that’s when we started writing all together. We were teaching him, and then at the same time, we started writing, so it worked out perfect that way. We were playing fests, recouping on all that, just getting back into the game. We played the Scion fest, and did a round of those first Shrinebuilder shows, and right after that, played Hellfest and went back to Europe again. In between all that, we had recorded the album, probably about a year ago. Half of it. About a year and a half ago. Then, like a year later, went back and finished the rest of it. Even working on the album has been like the last year and a half, so… We just kind of took our time and spread everything out, you know? Especially writing songs. We would write ‘em, then take parts out, add stuff to ‘em, stuff like that.

Was that something you specifically wanted to do after Voices of Omens? Did that album feel rushed to you?

No, it didn’t feel rushed. It actually felt perfect. Those songs came out really smooth, and the recording was definitely not rushed. It was just something we were doing. We were just focusing a lot more on the songwriting. We knew we wanted bigger songs this time around. We knew we wanted them to be very epic. We knew we wanted the songs to be like twice the size of the other songs. It’s something we’d been talking about, and it’s something that – even when you talk about it that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen when you write the song, you make some choices. We don’t ignore it. If something sounds bad, we won’t do it. But the fluidity of the songs – it flowed really natural, and we kind of knew what they were going to turn into. The other songs were shorter, and when they were done, we just focused on getting them tight, but these were way different. These songs are definitely different than anything we’ve written. I think it had a lot to do with us taking our time with them.

What was behind wanting to make the songs longer?

Honestly, we just talked about it, because we wanted a concept without having a concept. We wanted the songs to sound like they’re their own concept, even if no one knew there was a concept behind it. We knew we wanted them to be massive, like a rock opera song (laughs). Something really huge. But even just wanting that, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna end up that way. But it did mean that this time, because the songs just kept going. It felt good. There would be times we’d written a 15-minute song, and we thought it was only eight minutes. We were like, “There’s no way it’s this long,” and then we’d time it, and we were like, “Whoa,” because it was longer than we thought. That’s a good feeling, when you’ve written something and you don’t think it’s that long, just because – I don’t know why – there’s just so many changes in it and it goes by fast when you’re playing it, and you like it so much, I guess – and then you find out it’s way longer. I like that. That happened on every song, pretty much, on the album. We would honestly swear to ourselves they were way shorter, and then we’d time them and they were five minutes longer than we thought. We ended up trimming them down a lot, honestly. They were way longer than they are on the album.

And the recording process, breaking it up like that. Was it that drums and bass were done, then you went back later and did guitars and vocals, that kind of thing?

It was honestly – and we’d never done it like this – but all the guitars and drums were done first. They went in February of ’10, which was really good for me, because between then and January of ’11 and I already knew exactly what I was doing, I’d already taken those tracks and put my vocals on them at home. I was really comfortable with what was going on by that point. I was able to write lyrics and decide if it really fit it, or if it was supposed to go there. I enjoyed that a lot. I doubt we’d do it like that again, but it was easier for me that way (laughs). But yeah, then in January we went back and did everything else. All the vocals, the Moog, the bass, and all the other little things, and mixed it down also.

Can you tell me about that process of fleshing the songs out? There’s a lot of, like you say, the Moog, and samples, and these ambient, spacey parts. When did that stuff come into play?

Usually afterwards. The vocals are like that, too. Me and B. will usually step back and let them – we’re there at practice – but we usually let them come up with the overall, the huge groundwork. The skeletons in the song. I write all the time. I have a million notebooks. But I don’t try to force everything I write onto a Rwake song. I usually like to have the structures, because I can start to work with a pattern that they’re working with and totally different lyrics will come out because of the way it feels, or something, and it’s the same thing with Brittany. She might be working on some kind of different sound going on with the Moog, but it might not fit the song, especially overall when they’re done with it. So we sit back and let them finish that stuff, and then usually, about the time right when they’re about done, that’s usually when we step in and start singing over it and start playing over it – unless it’s something very specific, like if we’ve written a part, and JeffJeff writes a lot of our parts, the drummer. He’ll specifically say, “I wrote this, and in my mind, the Moog is doing this on top of it,” because it’ll be more of a quiet part of the song, and we go right away for it. We’ll look for that song and add it to that, just to create the picture in Jeff’s head, to see what he was trying to pull out of there and whatnot. The same thing with the vocals. The last song, “Was Only a Dream,” there’s a quiet part in it, and the vocals are real predominant, almost poetic or something, and Jeff right away when he wrote that – it’s guitars only, some drums – right away, he was like, “I want you to do something there. I want B. to do something there.” That was the reason he’d written the part. I don’t think I was gonna do something, and he was like, “No. I specifically want something there,” because he thought the part sounded empty without it. So yeah, right then, I just instantly started throwing poetry over the part, just to paint a picture. We usually, honestly, step back and let the boys (laughs) do what they’re gonna do. To me, it’s so hard to write songs and do what they’re doing. Not that we’re special, but I don’t write that stuff, so I would think it’s hard anyway. If I was screaming on top of it and trying to learn a song, that would be a headache, so we usually try and wait till the end.

So do you feel like you benefitted from the extra time you had to focus over those basic tracks?

I wish I could do that all the time. It was so helpful. Every time, on all the albums, I always double my voice, my tracks. I double them up. This time I didn’t do it. Not on even one word. I didn’t double it one bit. And it was because of that. I felt so comfortable with what I’d been doing that I knew I wanted to go that route this time, because I’d never done it. But I just knew it. I felt comfortable. We had so much time to work on it. I just talked to B. and said, “Anything I’d double, instead of me doubling it, I want you to sing it with me,” and loved that, of course. Usually, when we’re in the studio, it’s almost like us working on it for the first time. Even though we’ve sang the songs live before we’ve taken ‘em there, it’s still not like being able to dissect something or hear something the way it is when you’re in the studio. Every time I’ve been in the studio, I usually lay a track down, and then lay another one down, and Sanford loves it. He’s always very honest with what he likes about us and what we should focus on or whatnot. He’s always really honest with us about everything, and he’s always been open about me doing that. I called him up ahead of time and told him, “I only wanna do one vocal track, and me and Brittany have worked on this specifically. We know what we want to do together,” and he loved it. And usually, he works the hardest on doing those double tracks, making sure that it’s always perfect. The same with the guitars. He spent so much time on the guitars. He liked it both ways, is what I’m trying to say. I came in and said I was only doing one track, and he was like, “Yes! Let’s do it,” where I thought he might be against it, thinking, “That sounds so awesome on the other albums, don’t stray from it.” But he was really open to it, and he made it that awesome. It was real comfortable, doing that. Especially Brittany doing that also. It helped so much. Like I said, I really don’t see us doing that again (laughs), but it would help.

That wait must have been a little frustrating too, though. That’s a full year.

Yes. It was a full year. But that was only because, I would say, the first bit of the year, Sanford was busy and he couldn’t get to us. Also, Reid, right at that time, had gotten back into the band, and he didn’t know any of the songs. He couldn’t have went to the studio anyway, because he didn’t know any of the songs, so we had to pretty much go that route, and say, after about six months, when Reid got the songs down, well then Sanford is booked up for five months or something. It worked out that way, and yeah, it was very frustrating. It was very frustrating (laughs).

I’d guess the extra time is part of this, but it seems like your vocals really developed a lot between Voices of Omens and Rest.

In between the last two Rwake albums, I’ve been in about five or six bands other than Rwake (laughs). Just locally, for the fun of it-type things. I’ve really purposely tried to do vocals that didn’t sound like Rwake. Here, recently, like in the last year and a half or two years, I joined more of a hard rock band, and the guitar player of the band – it’s called Iron Tongue – the guitar player has his own studio, so I’ve just been going in there. That’s where I first decided – I doubled my vocals on the first tracks for that band, and I hated it. It just didn’t work. It was more a hard rock thing. I started just doing the single vocals there, and honestly, I would say that helped a lot, singing in that band for the past two years. Because it’s not the same as screaming, just yelling as hard as you can. It’s a lot different. I’ve went up on stage for them trashed and not been able to sing as well. It’s totally different (laughs). You have to concentrate more – I have to, to sing and not sing off key – as opposed to just screaming all the time. Just going in and working with that dude in the studio a lot, I think, really helped develop the vocals. That’s where I got the original idea, that I was like, “Well you know what? I wanna only do one track, and I feel way confident about it,” and that’s just working with this guy so much. I’ve been in the studio all my life, but our band owns the studio, so it’s like we’re just constantly making demos all the time and working on stuff like that. You hear yourself so much more clear in the studio. If you’re messing up, you hear it, is what I’m saying. It’s a lot more predominant, to hear your mess-ups. I would say that – just playing with that band a lot – has helped that a lot. It’s not like I took that style over into Rwake, I just think that it helped me grow all around, vocal-wise. It made me way more confident, even in Rwake, just what I was doing and what I wanted to do. Even the stuff that’s different on the new Rwake album, I felt like now was the time. And I feel like that also has a lot to do with the songwriting too, the kind of songs that came out on the new album, I was like, “I wanna sing like this,” or “I wanna do this on there.” I’m not trying to say it’s so much more original than the last albums or anything, but the feelings are conveyed a lot different. To me, when I hear those songs, the personal feelings coming out either from the players, the musicians in the band, it’s way different from the last album. It’s a completely different vibe. I think that helps a lot to what came out of me could go on there.

At what point did Reid come back in? Had the recording already started there?

Yeah. That was kind of like the straw with it. Our bassist. We hadn’t really decided he was in the band, but he was a really good buddy of ours, and he had learned all the old songs, and he’d even learned a couple of the new songs, just because we were playing them live, but Jeff had not really – I keep saying Jeff just because he’s very much an overlord of the band – he puts so much into it, it’s his band almost, so his vote counts for double as the rest of our votes (laughs). We could tell he just wasn’t comfortable with moving forward with Alan, our buddy. Reid was actually, at the time, playing in Iron Tongue, the rock band that I was in. We needed a bass player, and Reid joined Iron Tongue. So Reid was around a lot at this point in time, and it wasn’t even so much that Jeff was like, “Oh, we gotta get Reid back in the band,” or this, that and the other, he just knew that it would work. He was like, “Well, I know if Reid could learn these songs, he can play on the album, it’ll work,” because of what we’d been dealing with all the rest of the year. Reid quit the band right before If You Walk Before You Crawl came out, and when he did, we wrote all the songs without him. And then he joined the band right before we were gonna go record the album. That’s kind of the same thing this was. He quit the band, and then got back in the band right after we went into the studio the first time, when we just went to do the guitars. But I don’t know if he learned any of those songs until the summer or something like that. That’s what we spent the whole summer doing, just learning the new material for him to get down, so we could figure out how to get into the studio (laughs). He was out of the band a year, year and a half, and after he got the songs down, about six or seven months later, that’s when Sanford didn’t have time for like three more months or something, so we just waited for him to have the time for us to get our asses up in there.

Will Reid tour with the band?

Right now he’s not. He lives in Cincinnati, and that’s kind of the whole thing. He lives there. We’re a smaller band. We put a lot of our own stuff into it, so for Reid to get back with us, we have to pay for him to come down here, you know, and we’re just not gonna do that. We don’t have the money, for one, and yeah. He doesn’t have the money to get down here, so I think he’s kind of marooned in Cincinnati living with his folks right now. He said he was gonna move here three weeks ago, but it didn’t happen, and he said he was doing the tour. The bass player that we have, John [Judkins], Reid picked him out. Reid was like, “Let’s get John to do this because I’m in Cincinnati.” Reid’s baby was being born when we did our European tour, like the third day in the tour, so he was like, “I can’t do this, let’s find someone that can do it,” and we found John. He had lived in Cincinnati at this time, but at the time, he was like, “I’m moving back” and all this, but it honestly looks like he’s not moving back (laughs). We really don’t know what’s going on, because we sense he wants to do the tour that we’re doing coming up, but we’re really sticklers to stuff like band practice, and we’re like, if he can’t get down here to have band practice, then he can’t really do the tour. It kind of leaves it at that until he moves back home.

I know you guys are doing the run of dates in a week.

Not much, really. That’s kind of where we’re at. We’re not really doing much these days. We’ve all got so many kids now and we’ve already come to a point where we’ve turned down so many good shows and tours, that it’s not really a big deal anymore when some awesome band is like – I mean, we turned down a lot of really good tours. We know what we’re gonna do. We know what our focus is, and it’s not getting out there and touring like maniacs. We just can’t do that anymore. We just try to focus on making the shows that we do the best shows possible, so that people really get what they want. When we play now, it’s a lot more people driving to come see. Even though we play this town, there’s people driving from the states that surround it, just because they know we’re not coming there. They know we’re not going to go on tour there, and so our shows have gotten a little bit bigger in that aspect, just from the more diehard fans. It’s not like they’ve grown hundreds and hundreds of more people, but the few people that really, really were cult-like fans of ours, they just all drive over to come see us now. That’s how it is. We’ll probably tour Europe anytime we get the chance, because that’s almost like starting over again, playing towns that never got the chance to see us, where we’ve toured over here a lot, so I’m not saying it’s not a big deal, it is a big deal – I would love to tour – but there’s no reason in being mad about the fact that we can’t do this, just because we can’t. It’s kind of like Neurosis. They never tour. They just fly out, they do this, they get back home. That’s kind of where we’re at. We’ve figured out how we can do little patches of tours, like we’re doing in a couple weeks. We’ve figured out how we can do that a bunch and we just have to stick to that plan. We’re not really out there trying to be rock stars (laughs). We’re not trying to do that. Lots of people want us to do stuff and we don’t do it, and if we don’t do stuff because we personally can’t, at least it’s cool that we can’t do it for that reason instead of not doing it because no one wants us. It’s at least good to know that everyone wants us to come, we just don’t do it, we can’t do it, so when it comes to a point that we can do it, we know that people will want us more. As opposed to playing the same town four times that year, or something like that. I see people not getting tired of us this way. They appreciate us a lot more this way too.

It’s funny you mentioned Neurosis. I was thinking the same thing.

We don’t do it on purpose like that, but when we see how they do – because we definitely don’t find ourselves at the level that they are. They’ve earned the right to do that (laughs). But, us, we just kind of have to do that. It’s where we’re at right now. It’s not even about the jobs as much as it is about the family. Jeff and Brittany, in the band, they have a kid together. They have another one on the way. Brittany’s about to have a kid in February, so she’s pregnant as fuck right now. When we do these shows in September, that’ll be it until March so Brittany can rest her pregnant ass (laughs). That’s all there is to it. Gravy, our lead guitarist, he’s got like four kids. He’s got four kids and a wife that doesn’t work, so Gravy is the family. He brings everything in. So for him to fucking take a break and do Rwake – which you don’t get paid for – we’re not, again, rock stars. And we’re not even a little bit of rock stars. When we go out, we don’t get paid for it. And even if we made a lot of money, it would be going into something that’s not our pockets, and if it was, we would figure out a way to do this more, because it would help out the family more that way. But it’s not. We pay for our food and that’s it. We get a daily per diem, and then they feed us at the club, and that’s what we get out of it, besides getting to play. There might be a fan at the end of the night that, if you’re into it, gives you pills or something, but that’s not really what it’s about. You’re not out there to get free food and some free drugs every once in a while. That’s not a reason to put your family on hold. Any time we do it, you can rest assured that we only do it because we love it. There’s never a time where you’ll hear Rwake say, “Oh, we’re gonna do this because we need the money,” or “Hey, let’s do this one-off gig in this town because they’ll pay us a lot. We can get a good cut from it.” That’s not in our mentality or vocabulary whatsoever. If we’re playing your town, it’s because we’re playing this music that we love, and we want to be in a cheerful mood about it. We’ll be in a very good mood about it, because we’re happy to be there. It’s not like we’ll be there and be in shitty moods because we have to be there, like it’s a job. Because it’s not a job. We all have jobs, and they suck (laughs). We work for a living, and it fucking puts a toll on us. And so, to get out and to play music for anybody who appreciates it, that’s the only reason we do it. That’s the only reason we do it whatsoever. That’s why I appreciate any fan or friend or whatever taking the time to come see us. Taking off work. Some people that don’t work for a living, they don’t understand that. There are people out there with free rides, and they don’t understand that for people that work, you might have to just ask off work that night to go see the band that you like. In return, that’s a whole day of not getting paid. And that affects your whole entire life. Like The Body, who’s an Arkansas band, when they play here, there’s never been a time that I’ve missed them, and I missed them because I’m so broke right now. And it sucks. And there’s some people that don’t work and just get to get up and go see The Body. That might have a fucking trust fund, or they’ve got parents giving them money. More people to people like that, because those same people come to our shows also, and whatever. I’m just saying that Rwake is not like that, and I think we appreciate playing and getting to play for anyone who likes us so much more because – it sucks that we’re not at work and we’re losing money, but at the same time, we’re like, “Wow! We’re not at work! We’re out here and we’re getting to do what we love.” Gravy especially. As soon as he gets on the road, the first thing you hear from him is, “I haven’t had a day off in three weeks.” That’s the first thing that comes out of his mouth, and then the second thing is, “I’ve had kids crawling on my body and pulling on my hair. All I wanna do is come home, sit in my recliner and fall asleep” (laughs). And so when you see him on stage, playing a solo, even just doing a bend, man, I know where it’s coming from and I know how much he means it. I’ve played music with that dude since we were 15 years old. We’re like 36 now. So I know the guy inside out, and I know how much he means it and just how hard he works at life. Alone. To finally get up on stage and get to do what he was really born to do. I know I’ve said this over and over, but we really mean it and we really appreciate all of our fans. It’s hard work to do.

And at the same time, opportunities come up like doing the Maryland Deathfest next year, and people will be traveling for that, so you can still be seen.

Totally. That’s kind of what we’re basing a lot of the stuff around right now. You know, it’ll be smart to do festivals, because people are coming from all over, and we’re not playing all over, so it’s real smart to play this fest and let all these people from all over see us in one shot. Just because we can’t make it to those towns. We just can’t do it. And at the same time, we all have vacation time. For instance, we’re gonna tour around the Maryland Deathfest. It’ll only be like 10 days, but still, we’re gonna do it. That’ll be our East Coast run that we haven’t done in a few years. We’ll do it. We’re gonna figure out a way to hit the West Coast somehow. We’ve had lots of offers from friends to just fly out there. We could share gear and go down the coast with them, and the shows’ll pay for the tickets. You know what I’m saying? We’re not doing it for the money. But to play Roadburn or to play Maryland Deathfest, it really helps a band like us out that’s not able to tour as much.

Will you do Roadburn next year?

If they invite us, probably. I’ve been in touch with Walter, and I don’t know. He’s definitely said he wants to talk about it. He’s wanted to talk about maybe doing some special stuff, like playing Hell is a Door all the way through or something like that, in its entirety, and then maybe doing another set on a smaller stage, to do all the newer songs or whatnot. But at the same time, it’s not for sure. I’ve also been talking to Ben at Hellfest. I really want to play Hellfest again, just because we’ve got lots of friends in France and it’s really freaking hard to get a show in France for some reason. When we did our European tour, we skipped over France altogether, and it kind of sucked.

One last thing and then I’ll let you go. Doing Slow Southern Steel, and taking that time and taking a real look at the Southern scene and all those bands and that great legacy of music – did that give you any sense or appreciation for where Rwake sits in that?

Wow. That’s a good question. I would say I definitely found a new appreciation for the scene and all of the bands, but I never really thought of it like that, with Rwake. It’s hard to answer a question like that about myself, but I think it’s an awesome question, and to think about it, I didn’t, obviously, because I’m sitting here stuttering over my words. But even just thinking about it, just you bringing it up, I’m kind of thinking of it now (laughs), and it’s like, just seeing how we fit in it all. Honestly, we’re not in the movie one bit. I kind of purposely did that. I didn’t want people to think I was making a movie about myself, or that I was just trying to promote myself or something. So instead, when it came to Arkansas bands, I filmed Deadbird and a couple of the other bands who aren’t so big and whatnot. But that’s a hard question, just because I didn’t. I didn’t think of it like that with Rwake. The whole time I would interview people, even when I interviewed Phil [Anselmo], I never dropped my band name one time. It was never about that. And then finally, it somehow came up, and Mike Williams was there, and he laughed, and he was like, “Dude, Phil, if you could hear this guy’s band” – and he started talking up Rwake a whole bunch, saying things that I’ve never heard him say about us. That alone kind of makes me think we are right in all of that. Obviously, if Mike is sitting here saying good things about us to Phil Anselmo, who probably won’t even remember five minutes later, but still. That he would take the time to be like, “Oh, this guy’s band. You gotta hear this. We’re talking about all this, but this stuff’s different.” I could appreciate us in the middle of all that, especially because we’re very weird, with a Moog and a girl up there screaming also. I love it, and I love to represent it. Everyone knows that we represent very hard when we go out. We usually always have an Arkansas flag hung up behind us, because we don’t have a Rwake banner or anything like that. We always just put an Arkansas flag up. Like I said, it’s hard for me to talk about myself in that aspect, especially with the movie, but I definitely see Rwake off in there. We’re off in there more or just as much as any other band, obviously, or I wouldn’t have wanted to step up and make the film. The Southern scene of this kind of heavy music or crust – it’s not like it’s even a metal scene, because most of these people grew up listening to more punk than I did. It’s just that they ended up doing so many drugs that they ended up getting way louder amps and playing more like Black Sabbath than Black Flag. Mixed in with all of us together and even seeing Rwake in it, I do see us in there. It’s a family, for sure. It would be hard for me to not see Rwake mixed up in all that. Like I said, the reason I made the film – I got the idea from a guy that was writing a book with the same title – but my thesis with the film was because every interview I ever did, when the journalist or the writer would say, “Well, what is it about the South?” That was the basic question. They would say, “Everyone, Rwake, and Weedeater and all these bands, and it’s from the South. What is it about the South that makes bands like Rwake or Weedeater?” That was the question. So, for me, it was like, I’m gonna answer that question with this movie. I want people to watch this movie and say, “That’s what it is about the South that makes Rwake the band they are.” Because obviously they’re not saying, “What is it about your personal psyche that makes Rwake?” It’s about the fact that we grew up, our own personal gut feelings as much – it’s the Southern-ness of it they all want to know. “What is it about the reality of your surroundings? What is it about that that is making this music?” Because everyone is saying that it has something to do with the music, and we all claim it so hard. I couldn’t even tell you what it is about the South, but it’s the same answer you’ll get from anyone: You just have to live here. You just have to live here and know it. I can’t really tell you. You just have to be stuck here for a year and you’ll know it, you know? I hoped to answer that with the film, and that again, just by doing all that – Rwake is embedded in this scene. We love it. We love all of our brothers that are in bands, especially that aren’t from the South. We have more in common with a band like Meatjack than with some of the bands from the South, but it’s still different down here. We all know what we’re talking about when we can go into a certain subject, like shopping at WalMart. There’s lots of subjects that we can get into that no one else would even think is funny, or they wouldn’t know what we were talking about. It’s definitely a thread that makes us family like that, being in the south.

You mentioned WalMart. I heard a statistic yesterday that at any given second in the United States, there are 850,000 people in WalMarts around the country.

Oh, it’s sick. It’s sick, man. WalMart is the devil. This is really funny. Someone just showed me the other day: There’s a “Pictures at WalMart” site.

People of WalMart.

That’s what it is. Just go there and type “Alabama.” Type “Mississippi.” If you want to see the best pictures, just find these places in the South (laughs). It’s like nothing you will ever see. It’ll blow your mind. The friend that showed me this kept typing in all this stuff, and I was like, “You’re totally missing it. Type in ‘Birmingham, Alabama’ and see what comes up.” Type in Mississippi.” Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama (laughs). It’s the epitome of that stuff. I’ve heard people from Virginia be like, “Oh, Arkansas isn’t the South.” I’m like, “Man, we are the lost” (laughs). We’re the non-claimed – that’s how much of the South we are. It’s extreme. Those states. Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Man. I’m trying to think of an even worse word than “inbred.” It’s worse than that. It’s worse than “backwoods.” It’s like a whole other redneck slang for it (laughs). It’s messed up. That whole little belt, which is also the fucking strongest part of the Bible belt. It’s a sick, hard land here. It’s definitely hard. Hard livin’.

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3 Responses to “Rwake Interview with CT: If You Can Fill the Unforgiving Minute with 60 Seconds’ Worth of Distance Run…”

  1. rube says:

    I’ve been a Rwake fan since 2002 and this is by far the best interview/piece I’ve ever read on the band. Nice work.

  2. Good Ole Hardworkin Southernman says:

    Good questions with lame answers.

  3. drivenedge says:

    Thanks for the interview, I love Rwake and all the heavy heart filled music! The South puts so much into you when you’re growing up,pain,hate,love,Jesus that it feels nice to go out and see a band like Hail!Hornet kill it onstage…….Thanks guys!!! and thanks for everything C.T.

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