Tuesday 3 December 2013

Interview with Jon Kunz of Rivers of Nihil

Metal Blade’s new recruits Rivers of Nihil have torn onto the scene with their debut major label release ‘The Conscious Seed of Light’.  Not only was I given the honour of reviewing this album, I was also able to interview RON guitarist Jon Kunz for this mighty site.  Here’s what happened when The Sludgelord went to the Rivers for answers. 

(SL): Hello Jon.  How are you and where are you today?

JK: Fantastic, just got home from work and enjoying a nice cold beer.

(SL): Would you mind telling the Sludgelord a bit about yourselves: how old are you guys, where you’re from etc?

JK: We range from 21 to 28 and we are from the areas surrounding lovely Reading Pennsylvania. I live in the woods, as does Ron. Fuck the city.

(SL): How excited are you to be signed to Metal Blade Records?
JK: Signing to Metal Blade was a dream come true for us all. As I was growing up, some of my favorite bands were signed to the label. To call Metal Blade home is truly an honor and something we try to show with everything we do as a band.


(SL): Where did the band name come from?
JK: Like any other band starting out, we had music before we had a name. We were throwing around names and Jake said ‘rivers of nihilists’, which we all thought sounded cool, but didn’t make any sense at all. I took that and made it ‘rivers of nihil’, which can be thought of as emptiness, nothingness, nihilism in everything. Everything flows and everything is nothing.

(SL): Could you tell us a little bit about your local scene and how easy or difficult it was to become established in your area?

JK: Our local scene is fucking dead. There are barely any bands, and rarely is there a strictly local show unfortunately. We¹ve all been involved in the scene since our teens, when it was thriving. Unfortunately as people got older and moved on, there hasn’t been much of a younger crowd taking over. It’s a shame. It’s definitely something we would all love to see, but after a few years of a complete dead zone, I don’t have much hope for it.

(SL): What bands inspired you while growing up, and what bands inspire you now?  

JK: Jimi Hendrix made me want to play guitar initially. I got into punk and emo when I was like 12 so.  Blink 182 and Senses Fail inspired me a lot then. As I got into more music, bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and Pig Destroyer really pushed me more ‘extreme’. When I heard ‘Unhallowed’ from Black Dahlia Murder shortly after it came out, that really set me on my path. I learned that whole album from front to back. I learned how to trem pick and do the whole melo death riffing because of that. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself leaning towards music more on the weirder end. I get massive inspiration from Neurosis and Gorguts, as well as My Bloody Valentine and New Order. Not very metal, but incredibly inspirational.

(SL): Are you full-time musicians now, or do you still have to have jobs to
supplement the band?

JK: I wish! No, we all come home and work shitty jobs to be able to do the band. We make no money from the band. We use our own money to tour, to keep the van running, and anything else extra we want people to experience through our music.

(SL): What was it like recording with producer Erik Rutan?

JK: Working with a death metal legend like Rutan was amazing. It was super intense, but we all came out of that recording proud and definitely way better players. That guy is the most sincere, realist dude in the world. He’s been supportive of us since the beginning, and we owe everything to him right now.

(SL): I reviewed ‘The Conscious Seed of Light’ and I said of it: ‘If it’s brutal you’re after, walk on up to the Rivers of Nihil and dive into their dark depths.  It’ll be the wildest sonic swim you’ll take this year’.  Have you been pleasantly surprised by what reviewers have been saying about it?

JK: I read the review and liked it a lot, so thank you! Honestly, I am very surprised at how positive it has been going over with most reviewers. I’m not going to lie, I don’t read any sites or publications really besides Decibel,  Metalsucks, and Metalinjection, as I find most sites/blogs/reviewers are usually completely uneducated on the band they’re reviewing. Nothing turns me off more than a review or write up of a band that presents an opinion that is a factual error. If you’re going to take the time to talk about something, research it. You can find literally anything in a second on the internet, regardless how obscure the band is. If you bash something, but are factually wrong, you like an idiot.


(SL): If you had to pick one track from the album that people should
definitely listen to, which would it be and why?

JK: Birth of the Omnisavior solely because it has a little bit of everything we do in it.

(SL): Is there a principle songwriter in the band, or do you all contribute
to the process?

JK: Most of the songwriting is split between myself and Brody. Typically, large portions of songs are completely written before we jam it with the full band in the practice space. Towards the end of writing for the album, Brody stepped up big time with home recording, so we’ve been demoing out songs completely and then jam them, that way you can move things around easily and see how it flows before sitting around together going ‘ahh what part went there’.

(SL): What were the first guitar/bass/drums you owned, and do you still have
them now?

JK: My first guitar was a bright pink Cort strat copy. It has a mahogany body, which sounds fucking awesome. I still own it and am in the process of modding it all to hell.

(SL):  Do you use a lot of social media/blogging sites to help spread the
word about Rivers of Nihil?

JK: We use our Facebook as our main source of communication to our fanbase. We run it, so everything you see posted on there is coming from one of us. No managers, label people, etc. We also personally run our twitter and Instagram. You can check them all out at facebook.com/riversofnihil. Instagram @rivers_of_nihil and twitter with the same handle

(SL):  What venues have been your favourite to play?
JK: Every time we play NYC, it¹s always killer. We played a sold out show at the Gramercy theater on the Dying Fetus tour that was rad. Also playing the TLA in Philly was special for us, as we all grew up going to see big shows there, so to open for Morbid Angel there was very cool.

(SL): Where would you guys like to play next?

JK: Anywhere and everywhere. We need to get to the west coast ASAP, as well as Canada. Hopefully Europe soon!

(SL): Where do you guys see yourselves in 10 years’ time?

JK: Working a shitty job and doing this band thing!

(SL): What bands have you really enjoyed playing live with, and what band/s would be your dream touring partners?

JK: We will always be brother to Kamikabe. Those guys were our first road dogs. We really got down with Wretched, Allegaeon, Abiotic, Legion, and Exhumed. All great dudes who are down to fucking party 24/7.  Dream tour?? Pink Floyd, Decapitated, Sigur Ros, God Speed, Gorguts.

Thanks to Jon for taking part. You can read Markwell’s interview here
Words and interview by : Chris Markwell

For more information :