The terms "black metal" and "benefit show" may not seem like they go hand-in-hand, but you'd be amazed at the amount of love coursing through veins of local act Blessedbethyname.
This industrial black metal band is one of the best known metal bands to come out of the Valley of the Sun, where they became infamous for their raucous stage shows back in the late '90s. The band hasn't played a show since 2008, but now they're coming out of the shadows for a concert this Saturday, November 2 at 910 Live, much to fans' delight.
But while the show will be one for the books (they're playing with Pelvic Metaloaf, Sicmonic, Autumn's End, The Iris, Souless, Virulent, and more), the story behind this benefit show is a somber one.
The concert is to raise money to fight against a disease that guitarist Tom Ringgold's daughter passed on from, a disease called epidermolysis bullosa, which causes skin to not regenerate and peel off. In Ringgold's mind, it's sadly ironic, since it's much like the liquid latex he used to wear over his body at shows for a cool effect --except much more painful. He and his wife started the Pioneering Unique Cures for Kids (PUCK) fund to raise money to find a cure for the disease.
To me, Blessedbethyname kinda reminds me of a heavy metal Gollum. Dreamy, symphonic metal...with, you know, Gollum acting as frontman. They have an incredibly intriguing, addicting sound. The metal community is excited, and considering the fact that the band charges headfirst into the performance like some ritualistic ceremony, with each member focused on transforming into a "different incarnation," it's sure to be a great chance to celebrate Halloween as well as a good cause.
Plus, it's the 14 year anniversary of Blessedbethyname's self-titled debut album, which dropped on October 31 in 1998, and was described by a band member as "a journey from the pit of hell to the height of divinity, woven together so when you open your eyes at the end of the disc, you've been to another dimension and back."
Up On The Sun talked with Ringgold about PUCK, the music industry, and what's next for Blessedbethyname.
Up on the Sun: When's the last time you guys played?
Tom Ringgold/strong>: Our last show was 2008.
Tell me a bit about the benefit show.
It's a 10 band massive metal music fest on two outside stages at 910 Live this Saturday. Blessedbethyname, Sicmonic, Pelvic Meatloaf, Autumn's End, The Iris, Inner Chaos, Virulent, Souless, Saalythic, and Searching For a Reason all in one place in one night! Doors are at 5:30, tickets are $15. 910 Live, when it was Boston's, was where Blessed played our first show ever, and our first headlining show, so it felt like the right place to return to... Like going back to our roots as a band. All proceeds from the show will benefit Pioneering Unique Cures for Kids (PUCK), a charity my wife and I run that is funding the cure to the disease our daughter died from in 2010. Doctors at the University of Minnesota have pioneered a breakthrough treatment for kids with our daughter's disease, and we are raising money and awareness that there is a treatment out there, while the doctors work to make the initial treatment they discovered safer. If people want to support the cause, but can't make the show, they can text BELLA to 50555 and donate $10 to the charity.
Will your performance be quite a production, like it has been in the past?
What are the types of incarnations will the band members go through?
Oh, your typical transformation into alien life forms, demons, and otherwise otherworldly personas. After all, you go to "see" a show, and since the world we create aurally is so otherworldly and at once both demonic and divine, we try to create a visual representation of that on stage.
So I know you used to wear liquid latex on stage. How did you first develop that costume?
t was for our first headlining show back in 1997. I really don't remember how or where the idea came from. It's maiden voyage was a good start, and so from there I experimented with it on a regular enough basis to where it became "my look," or "my incarnation." It's really an awful and expensive process of transformation into it, but the effect live is just so creepy that there's just nothing I could do that I think would be cooler than age and molt in front of people's eyes.
The disease your daughter was born with caused a similar effect, which is awful. Can you please tell me a bit about that?
Bella would be three now, but sadly, she passed away on October 11, 2010, after complications from an experimental procedure to try and save her. The disease is called Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB, and it is a genetic disease where the body fails to produce the protein that holds your skin to your body. It is super rare, brutally painful, and causes your skin to blister or peel right off if rubbed, bumped, or squeezed. You're born with it, and there is no cure, and most kids with the most severe types of EB, like Bella had, die in childhood from infection, malnutrition, or an aggressive skin cancer that comes on as a result of the constant blistering and scarring. For more info, go to our website, www.puckfund.org.
Fourteen years ago today, (October 31) you guys released your debut album. What have you learned since then about music?
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It's been that long? Crazy. Well, it matters how you record your music, because for instance, we didn't know how to record guitars back then, and the full weight of songs like "Blood Puppet Ritual" and "Vanity of the Leper Queen" really can't be felt because we failed to capture the power inside the song adequately in the recording of it. On the other side of the coin, I watched Eddie evolve into a master songwriter from record to record, and frankly, some of the work on Phallus in Viscera is simply genius songwriting... The best of Blessed yet. The key to his evolution hasn't been an increase in complexity, but the opposite. Lastly, a comment about the business of making music: Talent and success are not related in the music industry, and I salute any band that chooses to express itself and resist the whims and fickle fancy of the would-be-powers-that-be of the music industry. You can't chase success. You have to drop your rudder in the ocean of art and choose where you want to sail. Period.