“The idea was, ‘Let’s do a band where it’s me and you, and every show we play is like we’re 15, and none of the normal stuff matters,’” Schleibaum, 44, says to Hamacher, 45, on a recent Wednesday night. That “normal stuff” was the big ambition and low-key professionalism that Hamacher had pursued as the drummer for Frodus, Battery, Decahedron and other groups, and that Schleibaum continues to cultivate as the guitarist in Virginia metal heavies Darkest Hour.
The two say they had wanted to play in a band together since they first met in high school, but “the idea” behind Zealot R.I.P. didn’t come until 2005 when the duo first started recording demos together. Now, 16 years later, they’re finally releasing their debut album. “The vision of this band was to be completely in our inner child,” Schleibaum says. “So it hasn’t run on an adult timeline.”
Still, all those years of fits and starts allowed Zealot R.I.P. to be spontaneous in its sound, and once Hamacher and Schleibaum finally settled in with vocalist Blake Harrison of Pig Destroyer and bassist Peter Tsouras of Fairweather a few years back, they were able refine things, as if trying to reconcile the chaos of Born Against with the precision of Slayer. Plus, everyone’s respective decades in the hardcore trenches had taught them how to be patient when the group was going slow and agile when things needed to move quickly. “In this band, everybody knows what not to do,” says Tsouras, as if holding Zealot R.I.P.’s biggest wisdom pearl in the palm of his hand.
Now, with the group’s album, “The Extinction of You,” finally out, they’re eager to feel the catharsis of playing these songs live. “I’m usually the happiest, most talkative dude in the room,” Hamacher says. “But playing drums is the one time I’m scary. For me, it’s my one time when my anger gets vented, where I can break my cymbals and throw my stuff” — he stops here to laugh — “in a semi-positive environment.”
Is that semi-positivity something these guys cling to? A life committed to heavy music seems harsh and demanding. It has to take a serious toll on the body and the mind, right? Schleibaum laughs at these questions. He thinks it sounds like “a parody” of his existence. “It isn’t hard to do heavy music,” he says. “It’s hard to not do it. It’s hard to turn this off and go do regular-[old] things. Real life is way harder than anything I’ve ever had to do in a band.”
Zealot R.I.P. performs on Sept. 22 at D.C. Brau, 3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE. Show starts at 6 p.m. dcbrau.com. $15.