If you live in Baltimore, Maryland like I have all your life and have been in and around the music scene like I have, then you should know the name Rich Davis. You don’t? Well, then it’s time for this interview to finally take place. I got the chance to talk to my old friend once again about his past, his present, and his future about what he has done musically and what he is currently doing now and believe me when I say this, the music is incredible.
Shockwave Magazine: Rich, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been a long time.
Rich Davis: No problem Mike. It’s my pleasure.
Let’s start at the beginning with Mystic-Force and go into Shift, your second band. How did they both begin and end in a short story format?
I started the band back in 1984. I put an ad out at Gordon Miller Music looking for a bass player and that’s when I found Keith (Menser, bassist for Mystic-Force.) So we we’re both the driving forces in Mystic-Force and that worked out great in the beginning. We got a really good buzz going with the band in the early 90’s with Bobby Hicks (lead singer) and then of course long story short, Bobby became the downfall of the band. He had a great voice, but he had a drug problem. There were two times I remember we opened for national acts that he never even showed up for. Keith had to do the vocals when we opened for Fates Warning. We had opportunities to go over and play in Europe that fell through because of him also. So then, when we replaced Bobby with Bill Wren from Florida, we did a bunch of shows with him and not once did we ever practice with him, we just played shows with him. That’s it. We would fly him up, play the show, and fly him back to Florida. It was such a screwed-up situation. Then it became Keith who was holding us back and not showing up. Then it was Chris (Lembach, drummer) who was going through some issues. Keith and I were like brothers too. It was a love/hate relationship. I wrote all the music for the band and Keith was the one back in the 90’s doing all the internet and promotion stuff and getting us known all over in the world and he did a great job. The teamwork worked out great but then it got to the point where he stopped playing his instrument and stopped showing up for band practice and then I was hearing all these interviews that he was doing that he was the one writing all the songs in the band and that he did this and he did that and it just hurt my feelings that he would do that to me. We ended up having a falling out then and I told him basically to just keep the name and that I was going to leave Mystic-Force and when I left, Chris followed me and we started Shift. Chris and I took a year and wrote a whole new album. We also had another album ready with Mystic-Force for after Man vs Machine and Chris was like why don’t we put that out first and that became Creating a Monster with Shift and the whole album we wrote that entire year just ended up being scrapped. The new Shift album was all Chris and myself too. I did all the guitars and bass, Chris did the drums, and then Chris brought in Jeff Caudle, who played in a cover band with Chris and he worked out great. It was a little more progressive rock for him, but again, it worked out with Jeff pretty good. Unfortunately, as soon as we put out that album, Chris came into a lot of personal problems and we had all these shows lined up opening for some national acts that we had to cancel because Chris couldn’t do it. We played two shows in four years. We then recorded a second album which was a struggle in itself. Jeff ended up quitting Shift in the end and then that was pretty much the end of Shift. After Shift was over I ended up making a decision that I was going to just do my own thing from now on and began writing and recording one song at a time until I’m happy with it and then just putting it out there for everyone to hear. I’ve gotten some songs out on some compilation albums especially overseas. So every month now, when I have a couple of hundred dollars in my budget, I’m doing advertising in different fanzines. The whole objective here is to try to stay relevant. That’s one thing I’ve never been able to do, but now that I’m doing it all myself, it’s finally happening because being relevant is so important in the music business.
Why is that Rich?
If you don’t stay in people’s ears with new stuff all the time, it’s like a what have you done for me lately sort of thing, so that is what I am doing and what I am going to continue to do. I have a great job and a great family and I have my own studio and the free time to do this and do it the right way, but most importantly my way. I’m writing some really cool stuff.
The music is killer Rich and I literally mean killer. Some of this music is extremely heavy, reminding me of Thrill Kill Kult and Ministry. “Never Say Die” is one of my favorites.
That was the first song I put out. It turned out really well.
“13” is extremely heavy and brutal.
Well thank you. That’s the sound I was going for. I’ve always been into heavy music. Me and Chris were always into the heavier stuff, but he was basically a jazz drummer, but then when I started working with Jeff, I would come to him with some of these rhythms and he would be like ‘Dude, there’s five songs in that one song’ and it was too much for him. But now I get to do what I want to do and “13” is one of those songs that I get to do now. I’m recording everything on a seven-string guitar and experimenting with lower tunings and stuff like that and I’m just having a lot of fun doing it which I haven’t had in a long time. Music is fun for me again.
Tell me about your writing process. What are your goals?
I always set off to make each song different than the next, but they all end up sounding pretty much like me, but I can’t get away from that no matter how hard I try. I love playing the bass too on this music. I’m a huge Jeff Loomis fan and I’m nowhere near to his style of playing but that is what I am going for, that heavier, edgier type of music. I’m trying to get that progressive sound but be very powerful at the same time. What’s improving is that each song I get better and better and I’m learning something new each and every song. My brain is set to write, record it, move on, and forget it.
What’s it like singing now on your songs? That’s new for you.
Here’s why I’m doing all the singing now. I’ve dealt with singers in my day and every one of them think he is the coolest and most important person in the band because he’s the singer. They show up late or sometimes not at all and they just think they are the end all, be all. Now, I’m not a great singer, but I can get the job done to where it’s good enough for me and there is no attitude whatsoever. It’s just another part of the music for me. I never sang before either until now. I was just screaming back up with Mystic-Force. I didn’t sing at all in Shift. So, for me now doing the singing, it’s a stretch.
Are there any plans to turn this music into a band and go and play live?
No. Never.Never,never,never,never. I will never play with another musician as long as I live. Been there, done that. You know what? Mystic-Force was a full-time band of mine for ten years and I’ve played out with so many great bands out there and I’ve done it. I have a successful business now and a family and I’m just not going to live out on a bus and go on tour. All I want to do I write music, stay relevant, and just put it out there for people to listen and enjoy. I want to do it all myself so that in the end, I have no one to bitch about it if it sucks except myself. I take a lot of pride in my music. And I know I’m reliable in the end so it works out good.
Instead of just downloads, are there plans to have a physical CD?
Again, I’ve done that too and I just don’t see the value in it these days. I just think really having them available for download is the way of the future. All of them are out on ITunes and CD Baby and I’m fine with that for now. Could I, do it? Yes. But for now, I’m just going to keep releasing them one at a time. I want them to stand on their own. If you have a CD, song number eight or ten just gets lost in the shuffle. This way, each song I put out is like putting out a single each and every time and they each get their time in the spotlight equally. The music business is tough and I’ve spent so much of my own money in the wrong way with the physical CD’s in the past when I should have spent the money just for the advertisement instead. That’s what I’m doing now though.
What’s in store for the rest of the year for you?
My wife comes up with half of the names of my songs so she is a big help, but the main thing is just keep writing and doing what I doing and try to put out a new song about every two months.
Rich’s new song, “Faceless” is available now for download via CD Baby and ITunes. You can also listen to it and watch the video by clicking the following link. Look for new stuff from Rich every couple of months. If you like it heavy, you will love his new music as I do.
Faceless —- http://youtu.be/wDT4ZM-Fj90