Just about every great band throughout modern history has started with a great EP. They toil away to have their EP heard, tour as often as possible and interview with countless magazines. It’s all in the name of rock & roll. And a few lucky ones will separate themselves from the rest, securing their names in rock & roll history. If The Righteous Wicked’s EP says anything about this up and-coming band from Ames, Iowa, the world can expect TRW to be one of these lucky few. The Righteous Wicked is Josh Tenney (vocals, guitar,) Andy Boyd (lead guitar,) Derek Taylor (bass,) and Alex Ortberg (drums.) The band has recently recorded their self-titled debut EP and is now ready to bring their high-energy live show to audiences all over the Midwest.
Screamer Magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with a few of the hard-working members of TRW, Josh Tenney, Andy Boyd and Derek Taylor. There was a discernible excitement in their tone as we spoke about their latest EP, name change, and upcoming projects.
Formerly known as Bombardier, The Righteous Wicked has about a decade of experience under their belts when it comes to creating music. The band credits a metamorphosis in their musical style as one of the strongest driving factors behind their name change. “Josh and I were in a band called Bombardier for probably about 10 years. From about 2005 until just recently,” said Boyd. “Derek has been in our band for about four years now, he was in Bombardier, as well. We were changing styles a lot. And, after a while, we decided we should leave Bombardier behind and go with a new band with a new style, The Righteous Wicked. With Bombardier we were sort of a punk rock type-thing. This is a little more oriented towards blues-rock,” described Boyd.
Taylor added that the band had come to realize that they shared their name with a different kind of organization, “We had issues with people not pronouncing Bombardier correctly, too. There’s also an international aircraft company called Bombardier so we also had a bunch of random people messaging us on Facebook because they thought we were the aircraft company [laughs].”
After chuckling over these previous misunderstandings, Tenney said that the band had realized they were in a new era, “We had to sit down and seriously consider it like a lot of bands do when they reach a certain point that we had to take some serious consideration about a brand. And we couldn’t bring ourselves to that point when we were sharing a name with an internationally recognized company and that was difficult to spell and that people were getting wrong. If people are having a hard time finding us then that’s inhibiting us a lot. But besides that, it’s just the whole thing with having a lot of baggage with things that really weren’t relevant and we didn’t want people associating what we did ten years ago to the projects we’re putting out today. It sort of came about because we finally nailed down what our title was going to be and we would have carried a lot of baggage holding onto our old name,” said Tenney.
After severing ties with their old style, The Righteous Wicked was finally free to redefine themselves as a rock band. Having once identified as a punk-rock band, they were free to experiment with their sound… and it shows in the best possible way on their EP. Their debut intricately entangles multiple musical genres—folk verses, bluesy atmosphere, pop catchiness, rock rattling bass, classic rock riffs—and interweaves it with upbeat and honest lyrics. The band has looked to a lot of great bands for inspiration— listing Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jack White and Aerosmith as some of their biggest inspirations. “Just a lot of stuff that has a really raw feel to it. I think that’s one of the most important aspects that has influenced us. The reason we were inspired by someone like Jack White is that he really brings this raw, essential sound to it. Bands like The Black Keys and The White Stripes have really broken it down to the bare essentials of what rock and roll is,” stated Tenney.
While The Righteous Wicked have spent the past ten years of their career working hard and touring throughout Iowa, the band says that they will be continue their focus on growing as a band and seizing every opportunity as they come. “We want to take this as far as we possibly can,” said Boyd. “We’d all like to tour, we’d all like to play in front of big audiences. We’ve played with reasonably large audiences, but we’ve been looking at some bigger venues, bigger bands to open for,” said Boyd.
Taylor added that the band has not lost focus, despite having a full schedule, “Yeah, we all have full-time jobs and, for us, this is much more than a hobby. If something were to happen, that would be awesome and we’d go for it. But we’re just staying level-headed for now.”
According to the hard-working bandmates, they each have been working to find balance between paying the bills and scratching their itch for making great music. “I would say that we all have full-time jobs, but this tends to act as a second full-time job for all of us. This is the thing that we want to do as soon as we get off work. And it’s the thing that we want to do for work, if we can get there,” said Tenney.
The band recorded their EP at Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls, Iowa. They also credited producer Tom Tatman, known for producing the first Stone Sour album, for the success of their EP. “The studio was incredibly well-equipped and we had a really good time! All professional from start to finish. We were looking to start working on the professional scene and that was the perfect place to go for us. I think Tom himself was one of our biggest assets in recording our album. He has so many years of experience and he was just able to take every one of our ideas for our songs and make them absolutely perfect,” said Boyd.
So far in their career, The Righteous Wicked has primarily played in venues throughout their home-state, Iowa. But the band asserts that is about to change as they start to shift focus to states throughout the Midwest. “As far as out-of-state tours go, we feel like this EP represents the best of the best of what we’ve got. And now that we have a professional product that we’re happy with… and it’s taken us a long time to get here…. This is finally something that we think we will be able to show to representatives at outside venues and people booking out of state and that they’ll be a little more interested in having us come out. It’s something we absolutely want to do,” said Tenney. “One of the great things about living here in the middle of Iowa is that we’re close enough to a lot of major cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, Kansas City. These places are all about equidistant and not too far from us so it’s not too hard, even after a full work week to commit to some shows in those areas,” he continued. Those interested in following The Righteous Wicked’s list of upcoming shows can find them on TRW’s website.
When asked about the current projects of The Righteous Wicked, Tenney responded, “One of the things that we’re planning on doing is a sort of series of videos on YouTube. Most likely some acoustic covers and just something to kind of keep people interested in the types of music we like to play and sing. We haven’t started that yet, but people can probably plan on seeing that in the next month here or so,” he said. “A full-length album is something that we’re absolutely planning to do as soon as we have everything ready for it,” Tenney added.
Boyd chimed in, stating that The Righteous Wicked has been slowly building up their track-list for a future album. “Mainly what we’re working on is just getting stuff wound up and ready to record once we get the opportunity. We have some songs that are either finished or almost finished, along with some concepts. We’re really working on those and just trying to get them studio-ready. That’s our main focus right now.”
When it comes to making their music successful, many bands will get what they give. And when a band puts everything into the music they make— it shows. Considering the immense talent The Righteous Wicked has shown in their EP, it’s obvious they’ve got nowhere to go but up. If being able to say you knew a successful band before they were big is important to you— this is certainly a band to focus on.