Renae Guitarist: Tension Made New Album Dark
“We started this [band] out of the idea we wanted to do this for the rest of our lives,” Renae guitarist Ben Dewitt told Noisecreep, while the band was en route to a show in Virginia. But not everyone who has played with the Illinois-based group has been able to keep focused on that goal. There have been a lot of member changes in the band’s still young career, but the most recent has been the hardest — especially for Dewitt as the last member to step down was his brother Adam, who helped form the band.
“Being on tour really tore us up a lot,” says Dewitt. “There are a lot of positive things to it — everyone is like, ‘You’re living the life. You’re living the dream.’ But we’re do-it-yourself and lot of people didn’t want to help us.” The tour cycle that took place for their last EP, ‘The Coward, the Storm & the Outlaw,’ brought a bitter feeling to the band as they found many were either pigeonholing them or just not getting them at all. So they came home with a goal in tow: turn the volume up and subsequently push in bitterness and spite.
That’s how ‘… And Hell Followed’ was born. “The reason I feel it’s so torn up and dark is there was a sort of clash going on in the band at the time. That’s good and bad,” Dewitt explained. “It’s not always easy.” Tensions aside, the members that wrote the EP and recorded it as well, focusing on making it as close to the live presentation of the band as possible.
“The guys at the studio were skeptic, but I told them, ‘The songs all flow together anyway, but [Adam is] going to play the drums for the CD all the way through.” And he did, only stopping once to do a punch in. Capturing the feedback and intensity of the band’s live show was a great concern for Dewitt, who found himself getting told many times while on tour that the epic sound of the live show squashed the gleaming recordings.
For guitars no one plugged right in, opting to just mic the amps. Dewitt sought to get his feedback and crunch more this time around, so he laid the guitar tracks in a bathroom. “There was a three-foot space between the guitar cabs and the wall, and I stood right between them.
“It’s not a perfect recording. We didn’t pay a lot for it. But we’re pretty punk rock anyway, and that that’s what I wanted to convey,” Dewitt asserts. “We’re a live band. The point of Renae, and the bands that influenced us, is the show.”
Not too long ago, Dewitt’s brother stepped down from the drums to enter into a non-touring life. He admitted moments of no direction entered in, as his brother was his writing partner on all the early skeletons of Renae songs. But now with new drummer Kasey Lee Rogers behind the kit, the band is back on the road, where they belong.