Members: Marco Del Rio (vocals, guitar, bass), Ning Nong (drums), J. Zucker Pluda (bass), Nick Forte (guitar), A. Reuland (guitar)
From: New York City
Sounds like: Mid-paced punk with black metal, garage rock, ‘90s noise rock and industrial overtones
For fans of: Venom, Motörhead, Jesus Lizard
It takes a bit of coaxing to convince Raspberry Bulbs’ reclusive front man Marco Del Rio to chat on the phone. At first, he wants to do an email interview, insisting he will appear far more intelligent if he’s given time to formulate his answers. Following a few days of brinkmanship, he agrees to a telephone conversation. Although he’s still somewhat guarded, Del Rio is articulate and insightful when answering questions he finds agreeable. Anything about his upbringing, personal relationships or musical influences is off limits. “I don’t like reading interviews with other bands who talk about what inspired them,” he explains in a soft voice that belies the aggression of his music. “I don’t care what bands you like.” Del Rio doesn’t have to say what music inspires him. Raspberry Bulbs are a raw, straightforward amalgamation of old-school punk, garage rock, noise and black metal, with industrial interludes. Their music has the potential to attract both open-minded black metal fans and non-elitist indie rockers. The band’s third and latest album, Privacy, is strikingly adventurous and combustive in all the right ways, from the slashing guitars and stomping beats of “How the Strings Are Pulled” to the deep, resounding bass lines, tumbling drums and undistorted melodies of “Big Grin.”
Even without addressing Del Rio’s past, Wondering Sound’s late-night talk with him revealed plenty about his passion for black metal, his obsession with morbidity and the sense of spirituality that lights his darkened path.
1. Marco is no longer playing by black metal’s definitive rules.
I played drums in the black metal band Bone Awl in California. When I branched out on my own, I didn’t want to have the same confinements and restrictions in place. It may seem so strange and opposite of what I was doing before, but Raspberry Bulbs is really about respecting the boundaries of black metal and realizing that once you’ve left that subculture you’re no longer playing by the rules that define it. At the same time, I want to make music that speaks to people who understand black metal. It’s weird-sounding music that uses different rhythms and different styles of playing guitar but still has characteristics of that genre.
2. The band name is a metaphor for overindulgence.
When I was making my first demo tape I came up with this idea of a plant that has fruit which keeps growing and growing until it bursts. It’s about being too full of life and not knowing when to stop. People don’t know how to control themselves and some of them die as a result.
3. Marco is obsessed with death.
It’s really strange that every single person has to deal with mortality but no one talks about it. I find the idea of death continually inspiring, because you can imagine it as anything you want. There’s no proof of what happens after you die, so you can look at it as however you see fit. My opinion on it is always changing and it terrifies me. But I think about dying every day.
4. “Hopelessly Alive” addresses the downside of reincarnation.
If reincarnation is real, and you keep getting thrown back into life and struggling with the same sort of spiritual questions but never figuring them out, and you just have to keep reliving different lives and going up and down the rungs of the ladder again and again — that could be spiritually exhausting.
5. On the album cover, “Privacy” is written out in runes.
Obviously, it makes more sense to use runes if you’re Scandinavian, but I felt comfortable using them because it’s not just another language. It has a magical connotation. Privacy is about consecrating sacred space and defining your own area, so I did my own version of an ancient language, which is an occult practice. People used to create their own vigils and runes for whatever superstitious reasons.
6. There’s a parallel between macabre literature and Marco’s favorite bands.
I don’t like horror movies at all, but I feel like there’s a parallel between the weird fiction of people like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Chambers, Arthur Machen and Edgar Alan Poe and the music I enjoy. To me, weird fiction is the black metal of literature. There’s this strange underground culture and I find it inspiring for the same reasons. All the bands I like reference Lovecraft and it’s kind of a way of explaining my own journey through music.
7. Marco thinks a lot of mainstream culture is “bullshit.”
There are so many aspects of mainstream culture or society in general that I find completely repulsive and horrible. There’s the mass media, politics and all these trends. But I don’t want to let that deter me from experiencing life. I still am interested in what people are like, and what different cultures are like. I’m interested in humanity. It takes a lot of effort on my part, because I’m not an outwardly naturally social person. I am isolated in my own personality, but I do not want to be deterred by all the bullshit that is out there. I pity people that let these things deter them from experiencing life.
8. Don’t look for the band at a theater near you.
This is what we do, and what we believe in as private individuals. It’s not about exhibition. I don’t think there are going to be any live shows. We’ve done a couple tours around the East Coast before, but they were always a let-down. I have a conflicted relationship with performing live. It’s not something I naturally want to do. I don’t like getting up onstage and yelling into a microphone. I cherish playing music in a room with other people. That’s an amazing thing, but I’m not interested in playing for a room full of people. I don’t like going to shows either at this point in my life. I really just enjoy listening to records and tapes.