In the run-up of release Sol Invicto's debut album (Stephen Carpenter's side-project) Alex Agafonov,admin of the Deftones.Ru, has addressed to Richie Londres, who is owner of Altered Beats music label and one of Sol Invicto's member, with request to ask some questions. Richie graciously agreed to this interview and talked about the project Sol Invicto and its debut album, how it all began and how is group now. He also addressed many other aspects of his musical life.
Alex Agafonov (Deftones.Ru): Tell us something about yourself (if you don’t mind, of course), where you’re living, how and when you came in music.
Richie Londres: I was born and raised in London, England. I got into music seriously when I first witnessed a friend jamming out some Metallica riffs in a guitar shop in Germany, it changed my life. From that point I started a few metal bands then moved into production, mainly drum & bass/hip hop, released a few singles here and there, started my own Indie label and basically learned all about the business the hard way.
Alex: Who had idea to start Sol Invicto?
Richie: I guess I was the one to name it and make it a project but with things like this, it’s down to a series of events or a chain reaction if you will. I had my connection to Cypress Hill and Bobo via DJ Muggs, AJ had a drum & bass track which I submitted to Bobo for his solo album, Eric got Stephen to jam some riffs over it, we did 2 tracks like this and they turned out really great so then I suggested we make it a project and work on more material.
Alex: Who participates in the project Sol Invicto at this time?
Richie: Well the core of the band is AJ Cookson and myself, we handle the production and build of the tracks, and Stephen Carpenter (Deftones) obviously for all the monster riffs and Eric Bobo throws in some percussion and beats. We also work with Dan Foord who used to be in a popular UK metal group called Sikth, probably one of the best metal drummers in Europe at the moment. We have started to work with an up and coming UK drummer called Mike Glozier also, he is more breakbeat/hip hop influenced which will allow us to expand our sound even further.
You have no idea how good Dan is on drums and with him and Stephen jamming out for a few hours I think we would end up with some really crazy shit.
Alex: Are you friends with the guys from Deftones or do you communicate only with Stephen Carpenter?
Richie: I’ve met the other guys on quite a few occasions but it’s only Stephen we really know well.
Alex: It’s almost 2 years before you planned to release 4-track EP «Unidose» but we heard only one track with the same name. What happened with release?
Richie: My way of thinking was that if we set a release date we will get the record finished quicker, how wrong I was, ha-ha, so I take responsibility for that one. I guess we were not really ready but in my eagerness to let the people hear the music I set a release date which we couldn’t hit due to various factors, it’s not so much here in London but to fit it in with the Deftones and Cypress Hill calendar it takes some planning.
Alex: Why has the debut album taken so long to get to us? What’s the reason for that?
Richie: We wanted to make the album as good as possible and with everyone’s hectic schedules that can take a while.
Alex: Not long ago you have mentioned that there will be guest vocalists on the project. Can you name their names now?
Richie: The album will not feature any vocalists right now but we are looking to maybe find someone permanent this year and also we are working on a lot of remixes with other artists so we will see how it goes. We are hoping to do some work with Tech N9ne who is a rapper out of Kansas City in America.
Alex: You said that Sol Invicto’s debut album would be released in April. Is it accessible worldwide in music stores or will you sell it only via the label? Will Russian customers have a chance to buy it?
Richie: Even if I have to fly to Russia myself and deliver it we will make sure you guys get the album! Ha-ha I’m not even joking! I’m going to release the album through my label Altered Beats and we are just working out who we will distribute with but people will be able to order from us directly www.alteredbeats.co.uk and we will also be doing a limited run of t-shirts to go with the release. It will be on iTunes and in some stores but right now its best people order directly from us.
Alex: Can you tell us something about new album? What is its title, how much tracks will be etc.
Richie: The album is called «As Above So Below» which basically means everything is relative and connected. It’s not our full-length debut album more of an introduction. It’s 8 tracks half of which are more metal sounding and the other half are more electronic/hip hop sounding but all with the same vibe, dark and heavy!
Album has 8 tracks half of which are more metal sounding and the other half are more electronic/hip hop sounding but all with the same vibe, dark and heavy!
Alex: So if «As Above So Below» is more an introduction, can we expect full-length album in future?
Richie: Yes 100% that is the plan, we plan to get in the studio together for a couple of weeks and jam out some crazy ideas, you have no idea how good Dan is on drums and with him and Stephen jamming out for a few hours I think we would end up with some really crazy shit.
Alex: Do you have plans for the future? I mean what are you going to do after the release of Sol Invicto’s album? Tour, rest or maybe something more?
Richie: I have plans, too many plans but right now I’m just focused on delivering the album and making some noise for Sol Invicto and let it evolve naturally. We have spoke about putting a live show together and we have even started working on it too but obviously we have to work around Deftones and Cypress Hill schedules to get it right. We will prob do some festivals next year and some one off gigs in various cities but I can’t confirm anything yet. I never rest always love to be making music, we are planning and have started working remixing allot of artists under the Sol Invicto name, people like Tech N9ne, Necro (NYC) and allot of decent rappers plus mash ups of Deftones records and whatever comes our way really.
Alex: What other bands are you involved with outside of Sol Invicto? I know that you have group called CLP. What is this project?
Richie: Cultura Londres Proyecto is a Spanish electronic/hip hop project I started in 2004 with a friend of mine Tiago who was a drum & bass mc who grew up in Bolivia. CLP has changed a lot over the years and is the reason how I got hooked up with Eric Bobo. I have released about 5 music videos with CLP and played some pretty big shows here in London. I’m planning to release a new album for CLP, this year also, which is easier because it’s just me making the music and then I bring in my rapper to finish off the vocals.
Alex: Is it hard to be an independent musician, promote and sell your product?
Richie: It is very hard but with all things if it was easy then everyone would be doing it, you have to have a passion for your music and to stay the path so it sorts out the weak from the strong. I feel I have learned so much by going out there as an independent artist rather than having a label looking after everything, there are a lot of artists who really don’t have a clue about any aspects of the business which seems very strange to me but I’m glad I feel I have some kind of grip on the situation.
Alex: How difficult is it to start a new label with the situation in musical business now? Everywhere you find P2P networks with uncontrolled downloads. How do you feel about these phenomena?
Richie: I think in business you are always going to face challenges like this, personally I don’t mind downloading because more people are getting to hear your music. My only problem I have with it is that it’s hard to keep track of how many people have downloaded, it would be nice to have those figures. I think labels have to accept that it’s going to happen and it’s all about sharing at the end of the day, there are downsides of course financially but you have to adapt to this. The more people that have access to my music the better so long as fans realise they have to buy something otherwise it’s hard to keep a studio running and release more records, ha-ha.
Alex: You should know that new Deftones’ album «Diamond Eyes» has leaked into Internet. How do you feel about it?
Richie: I heard about this today (20th March) and if you want my personal opinion I think it’s bullshit. Speaking as a fan it ruins the whole build up to the album release. Even I was waiting for the official release and I’m in a band with Stephen. Sure it’s going to end up on the net after it’s been officially released because you can’t stop that but then at least people have the option to buy the record if they like it. With it being leaked 2 months before the official date it’s going to affect the sales figures because no one can buy the album yet and in 2 months time when they have listened to it 200 times they might not want to buy it. The core fans will buy the album but still end of the day if you want a band to be able to make music and tour you need to buy their shit. I can’t understand why someone close to the band would leak it because they can’t have much respect for them, it makes no sense. It’s a shame in this age everyone wants everything now and even before its even ready, whats the rush?! This is why fast food is served quick but its shitty and decent home cooked food which takes time is worth the wait! I’m not gonna listen to the album until they release it officially, it’s art and should be treated as such.
If you want a band to be able to make music and tour you need to buy their shit.
Alex: What kind of music do you listen besides, of course, music created by yourself?
Richie: I like music that’s honest so it can be in a lot of genres, I love Motown and soul and really brutal stoner metal like Iron Monkey who where a band from the UK, obviously I listen to a lot of drum & bass but not the new style, it’s too commercial. I love old school hip hop and 90’s hip hop like Company Flow, Soul Assassins basically any music which people are doing for the love and the craft not just for money. I avoid anything that's in the mainstream charts as it's usually quick fix soulless bullshit.
Alex: What are your other interests besides making music?
Richie: For me personally I like boxing and kung fu and all kinds of art and animation and I’m really into Golf as is Stephen, he is slightly better than me right now but he can play all year round in LA so has the advantage ha-ha. Other than that I'm really interested in truth, which seems to be something we don’t get a lot of in today’s media/music so you have to do your own research.
Alex: What would you wish for Russian fans of Sol Invicto, Deftones and other people who just love music?
Richie: Any fan of Deftones/Sol Invicto is family to me worldwide! As a Deftones fan myself everyone I have met who is into the Deftones & or Cypress Hill has always been cool. Thanks for your support and spread the word about Sol Invicto which is coming up strictly through the underground right now, organically as it should be.
Alex: Thank you Richie for taking the time for this interview. I wish all your plans come true. It was really pleasure to talk with you. I hope it's our first meeting but not last.
Richie: No problem man, I can talk for days, ha-ha! Thanks for the interview my friend.