A. Rippin' Apocalypse: An Interview with Amos Rifkin
Last time I saw you, you were back in New Orleans playing Santos, filling in on drums for Savage Master… getting high and working on A. Rippin’ stuff on your laptop at the bar before the show. How was that tour, and did you make it home before all the coronavirus madness started?
Tour was unexpected but awesome, things went a lot smoother once I actually learned the songs. We got home at the beginning of February, and thankfully that was before all the shit went down.
But as soon as you got home, I imagine you started seeing and feeling the effects, huh? Anything on the spectrum from Rock ‘n’ Roll to Metal (and beyond, on both ends) comes through you in Atlanta, and tours started getting cancelled left and right starting in February. How has that affected A. Rippin’ Production and the clubs that you book for?
Everything is shut down now, no bars or clubs open to even host anything. Some places and bands are doing livestream stuff, but I haven’t really been keen on that yet - I'd rather use this time to shut the machine down for maintenance. February kind of came and went without much issue – it wasn’t until mid-March that we saw tours start to postpone or cancel but now we're seeing tours as far away as mid-June start to drop.
Livestream content is still an uncomfortable medium for a lot of people, myself included. Especially the latest “Virtual Happy Hour” trend, but I can’t blame anybody for socializing or hustling during these trying times. What the biggest show that you had on the books that you’ve had to cancel so far?
The Possessed/Pestilence gig was a big one to fall. I had a large tour have to reroute due to a European cancellation and they weren't able to play Mass Destruction because of it too, so that was a bummer. All the decent tours have fallen by the wayside, announced and unannounced. Figure this will last through most of if not all of April.
I have a feeling it will take longer than that, but I don’t want to cast any more black clouds. So, Mass Destruction is still a go at this point?
Yeah still going ahead, almost ready to announce the final lineup. Realistically, all of April is toast, and probably a good bit of May.
I feel like it might end up being one of the most significant events for the reintroduction of live music for most of us in the South. No pressure. What are some of the other bummers as far as cancellations go? I know I personally just cancelled a Weedeater show and am sitting on $500 worth of T-Shirts, but you juggle a lot of balls and have a lot at stake at any given time, and that’s basically two months of cancelled shows for you.
Let's see - Hammerhead Fest, The Ataris, The Possessed, Rather Realm, Aeternam, Antichrist, Blaze of Perdition, Necrot, Wormrot, Destroyer of Light, among others…
How long has everything been shut down there and how have you and the clubs and the Atlanta scene in generally been coping?
It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks since everything shut down here. Most every bar or venue has GoFundMe's going for their employees.
So, what are you doing in your free time now? I know firsthand it’s impossible to book anything else because nobody knows how long this will last.
Working on various recording projects I hadn't had the time to devote to. Same with household stuff. Been playing a lot of video games and drums, doing my daily yoga. Listening to my records. Taking lots of walks with my wife and playing board games, watching movies. Still do a little bit of work each day if I can. Sometimes I don’t even bother since there’s not really anything going on currently other than cancellations. It's been nice to exist without the pressure of the job even if I do miss it.
As stressful as booking shows is compared to playing them, how insane has dealing with all the cancellations been? It must be nice in a way to have a blanket reason to SHUT IT ALL DOWN, but it still must hurt and be indefinitely frustrating.
Before the gathering ban came down it was insanely stressful, since we didn’t know whether we should or shouldn't. It felt like the city/state took their time officially shutting down.
It was definitely the same in Louisiana and Texas So, skipping around a bit to hit a more positive note, what where your favorite tour moments filling in on drums for Savage Master?
There were a bunch for sure. Showing up at the airport and hopping in the van to meet up with the rest of the tour, and definitely getting to hang with John Littlejohn (*the drummer he was replacing) on the day off in Mississippi. The show in Atlanta was probably the best since we’d sort of hit our groove by then - being there with all my friends and my wife was a great feeling for sure.
So how are you feeling about the future of A. Rippin Production, the Atlanta Scene, and music in general right now? How are you seeing people cope and what do you envision moving forward?
Hard to say honestly. You’d expect everybody to flock out to patronize these venues and what not but not many folks are going to have much disposable income when it's all said and done. I'll get back to work when I'm able. No doubt some places and businesses will be permanently affected by this, and some won't reopen, I'm sure.
Personally, I’m interested to see how the industry as a whole adapts to this. Kind of like a Napster or “In Rainbows” situation where the industry gets flipped on its head, except now we can’t make it up on the Live Music end.
For sure. I'm worried about the next outbreak from everybody overusing hand sanitizer right now, haha. Well, not worried exactly, but the thought has crossed my mind.
That’s real. At least the ozone is healing itself with everyone staying inside so the next ancient plague doesn’t escape when the ice caps melt. What are your plans for once (and if) we make it through this?
As far as A. Rippin’ goes, I’m just ready to get back to work when the time comes. I don’t doubt the working musicians that I work with will be back on the road as soon as they're able, so I'm sure it will get back to normal at some point, assuming all of human rights aren't rolled back in the meantime a la the Patriot Act. With Atlanta I'm not sure, I think a lot of small businesses may not survive so it may look a little different once we can all go back outside again.
That’s going to be the unfortunate truth everywhere.
I know a lot of people are using the time to try to be creative and write, record, stream, or otherwise perform new material, so maybe it’ll be a big flood of new artworks of varying mediums.
Are you personally doing any of that right now?
A bit. As a drummer I kind of need other folks to make that happen, but I've got some things I'm working on. Tracking drums for 2 releases tomorrow, and I have also been working on material for a new project with some folks, but that's been slow to come together, as several of us can’t get together to jam right now. Been working on breathing new life into a previous project called Insomniac that's been on hold for over a year- we’ve been writing new material as well. I’ve also got a laundry list of like 2 dozen more deceased songs to learn.
Then you have your work cut out for you.
Yep. Been chilling in bed today, my back is feeling a little fucked up so I'm resting it to be able to record tomorrow.
As awful as everything is it has been nice for all of us to take a fucking breath and have an opportunity to work on the creative content that we base our lives upon.
Alright my man, it was a fucking pleasure as always. Thank you so much. Be in touch soon
Haha right on, take care out there.