THE DOOM BAND THAT HAVE CAPTURED THE LONDON ART WORLD’S SNOTTY HEART OF DARKNESS HAVE LIVED A LIFE THAT WOULD KILL YOU…
Ramesses are a massively loud English doom metal three-piece with a throbbing predilection for cult horror, drugs and the occult. Bassist and vocalist Adam Richardson is a perpetually stoned bear of a man with enviable flowing hair and a quick brain. His life has been almost comically ‘true metal’ – rural mayhem, teenage tape-trading, near-death experiences, the rolling lineup of doomed drummers – but he’s a refreshingly open-minded artist, applying his catholic tastes and curiousity for all things wyrd to his bewitchingly accomplished music videos and band identity.
Ramesses recently befriended art world behemoths the Chapman Brothers and mutual respect led to using exclusive images of the infamous Fucking Hell sculpture on their extremely tasty new album Take the Curse, with the bros Chapman djing the launch party. They are currently working on a collaborative live installation.
JUKE spoke to ‘Adoom’ who was particularly enthusiastic when extolling the mystical properties of dangerous natural hallucinogens – don’t try this at home.
So despite all the Dorset connections with Ramesses you actually grew up in Worcester? I was born in the Midlands. Then when I was seven, I moved with my family to Sunderland in the North East. I guess those were the early years when I started to consciously get into music. It was quite different to ending up in Dorset when I was about 12. That was a real culture shock. I had a fucking hell of a time – imagine turning up with a strong Northern accent. I didn’t enjoy it, but then I went off into my own world and didn’t have to think about other people ever again really! [laughs].
When did it get better? When I started to find music really. I did my first band when I was maybe 16. Eventually I hooked up with Justin Oborn and we started Putrefaction, which turned into Lord of Putrefaction and so on. That was maybe ’88. We just turned the doom right up to the max. Speed became secondary to the slower heaviness. We had 5 or 6 drummers in two years or something. It was amusing and kind of Spinal Tap-esque. One of whom, well, he did too much. Once we all took acid round his house. It was really good stuff, really strong and, to cut a long story short, he lost it. We were in parents’ house – and his dad was like Chief of Police in Dorset or something. So we didn’t hear from him in a while.
Was he out of it for a while then? I think it lasted for quite some time afterwards. He was a changed fucking man when he came out if it and as a result he turned into an absolute diehard Christian. Totally gone. I was going to say it was a wake-up call for us all, but it just wasn’t.
So why do you think there were so many people getting mashed on acid and playing metal in Dorset? Well the south coast is kind of dreamy and full of old people. Everything seems like it’s in slow motion, especially back then. There was nothing to do. You had to create your own world to live in, basically. It was a really creative scene with all sorts of music.
Were most people interested in the occult side of things too? I think so, yeah. I was into it from childhood, before I even moved to Dorset. My granddad told the best ghost stories you can imagine. He was quite a notorious storyteller. He was involved with the cubs and scouts and things like that and would tell ghost stories without fail to any camping kids. They all had to be immediately taken home and couldn’t speak. A lot of it was very reminiscent of what I later discovered with HP Lovecraft and writers like that. Tinges of the unknown and spectral horror, basically.
And these themes fit perfectly with metal don’t they? Yeah, when I was older, bands like Venom were popping up. I loved the image they were packing in the early ‘80s but the music was a bit…. I was way more into Adam and The Ants and Killing Joke and stuff like that. I think Bathory was the first metal tape that I got really into. I was like, ‘Right, let’s re-address this music thing’. And it just went downhill from there really. I got really into the underground and tape trading. Amazing bands like Nihilist and Xecutioner who later became Entombed and Obituary. It was only Entombed really who could exceed the heaviness of their demo with the record. For all of us at the time it was an incredible moment: This is the future of heaviness, you know? The fury and the crunch of the guitars was off the scale. Happy days.
Can you talk about your personal experience with the occult and similar? I use the visual side of it more really in my art and lyrics. It’s hard for me to talk about as it’s so natural, it just happens. I don’t even know what’s going on sometimes. But I do nurture that side of my brain. Basically, there’s more to what we’re looking at any one moment. Signs, signifiers, patterns. I do a lot of ritualistic stuff like on-stage ceremonies, marking territory, laying a little bit of a curse. Laying a pentagram or septagram. I guess if you laid out a lot of Ramesses lyrics you might be able to see some quite interesting patterns. Alchemy is probably the most relevant basis for what’s going on in occult terms, if that’s what you want to call it. The true meaning of the occult is hidden. Or what is immediately in plain view but un-viewable.
And are drugs useful to you? Yeah, hallucinogenics. I gave up on uppers years ago. I’ve got no teeth left – they eroded. I had years of wearing gum shields at night due to the teeth grinding. So I had to knock all that stuff on the head. But my psychoactive drug of choice – the most profound experience to be had in my opinion – is datura. In a correct dose, or actually incorrect dose – the nearing coma and death dose – it’s the most outrageous experience in this current reality. My first experience with it lasted for 6 days and 7 nights. It began and ended with a complete out of body experience in the textbook description. You’re immediately aware of your other body, which for that moment is more real than the one that is lying still. You turn around and face yourself and then you fly out.In this case I’d been driving around Europe in the band’s van, literally living in a cave in Spain. I flew out of the mouth of the cave as the crow flies.
How old were you then? I was 20 or 21. I’d been there for 8 months to a year, and most of my time was spent in this cave in Granada. It was near the Alhambra [legendary ancient palace], which is another amazing place. Geometrically fascinating, ancient, mystical and just totally drenched in the occult with secret horrors that lie beneath it. And it’s linked by tunnel to these caves I was living in – ‘The Valley of 400 Caves’. Apparently these were escape caves. And this is the setting that I took this datura.
And you almost died I guess? Yeah, exactly. Actually, I remember when I first took it almost physically falling off the edge of a cliff.
That whole experience must have had an impact on you? Yeah, (laughs) that was real. I thought I was either going to be mad and in a lunatic asylum or dead. Two days in to that I thought ‘You fucked it mate!’ Years ago I found that the amount I took – even a quarter of the amount I took – ‘could’ put into a coma or kill you. I think I took almost an incalculably greater amount than the amounts they were talking about. It’s one of the most sacred weeds. I didn’t really realise how dangerous it was and I didn’t know what I was doing in terms of dosage or preparation. There was no internet then, and there certainly wasn’t any up a mountain.
Luckily it turned out alright.
(Laughs) Well, did it? (Laughs).
Ramesses new album Take the Curse is out now on Ritual Productions.
By: Marek Steven
Photos: Alex De Mora
For JUKE Vol.02