Where did you born and where did you grow up?
BP: Hey Chris thanks for the interview and interest in Ritual Sacrifice! I was born in Providence, Rhode Island and I grew up in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
What sort of kid were you growing up and what did you want to be when you were growing up?
BP: When I was really young I think I wanted to be a professional baseball player but once I discovered music and the guitar at 12 years old I wanted to be a musician. From that point forward playing the guitar was really all I did.
Did you have a great love for music early on or did that come later on and what are some of the early bands you got into?
BP: I was into listening to music at the young age of 11 years old. I liked Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads, Iron Maiden, and Van Halen a lot. Eddie Van Halen was a huge inspiration for me. At that time nobody sounded like him, I was amazed that sound came out of his guitar. I was devastated when I found out that he passes away. I never felt like that before about someone that I never met.
How did you come to discover metal music in general, not underground metal as that is the next question?
BP: My older stepbrother Eddy, who I looked up to, was into music. He liked Van Halen a lot and he would listen to them so I would hear their music. I think the more I listened to music I would crave something heavier and edgier. I would always buy every metal magazine that came out like Hit Parader and Circus, I would read them cover to cover during school instead of my work. I remember Motley Crue seemed evil to me during Shout at The Devil so I liked them. I liked Ozzy and Iron Maiden. I guess I grew to like what was at that time the darker bands with imagery.
Now how did you come to discover underground metal music and what were some of the 1st bands you heard and do you still like them even today?
BP: Back then we would make our own compilation cassette tapes with our dual cassette stereos. A friend of mine gave me a tape and it had Slayer’s Angel of Death on it when it first came out. It was completely different from anything I had ever heard before. I had to listen to it a bunch of times to comprehend it and at that time I couldn’t tell if I liked it or not. The same friend was also a big fan of Megadeth so I grew to like them and we saw them play during the Peace Sells tour. I really liked their energy and how intense the crowd was. I also liked how the songs were structured much different than the music I was used to. I was 16 and playing in a band called Tipper Gore and the other guitar player had the Death album Leprosy and I remember that album really blew me away because I never heard anything as heavy. Of course, I still love these bands today!
Now, what made you want to pick up the guitar? Self-taught or did you ever have lessons? What are some of your favourite guitar players?
BP: I think at first I wanted to impress my stepbrother and play the guitar. At 12 years old I was given an acoustic guitar for my birthday but I really wanted an electric guitar. I would go to the record store and they would have these electric guitars hanging on the wall for sale and I would just stare at them in awe like they were the greatest thing in the world. Six months later I got an electric strat copy and a tiny peavy amp for Christmas. I took lessons for a few years. My guitar teacher is now my Stepdad, he and my mom met through me taking lessons as a kid. I stopped taking lessons at 15 and at that point started only playing original songs. I like a lot of guitar players but some of my favourites are Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Marty Friedman, Joe Satriani, Alex Skolnick, Guthrie Govan, & Chuck Schuldiner.
So now how did the coming of Ritual Sacrifice come together? How did you find the early line-up members and what were the first practices like?
BP: I joined RS after the first 2 song demo was released so the band was around for a year or so before me. Brothers Ray and Dave Latraverse played guitar and drums respectively. They found Jim through a music ad as a guitar player but he soon switched to vocals because it was easier to find a guitar player. Tony Lazaro who later played in Vital Remains joined the band on the second guitar. The band at that time was called Dark Lord which was renamed to Ritual Sacrifice. The band parted ways with Tony as he wanted RS to be more of a satanic image type of band like Vital Remains would later become. The band recruited Jim’s longtime friend Ray Dowaliby on bass and the band recorded the first two songs 1989 demo. The band briefly had Doug Azevedo on guitar who later would rejoin a few years later this time playing bass. I joined the band shortly before the 1990 “The Inhuman Race” demo.
How soon was it before you starting writing your own tunes that would make it onto your 2 song demo which was released in 1989?
BP: I was not in the band at that time but the band wrote 309 and Ritual Sacrifice in 1989 and Ray Dowaliby joined on bass just in time to recorded the demo.
Now did you know all about tape trading and fanzines back then? Did you personally ever do tape trading? How was the feedback to the demo at the time?
BP: RS was extremely active sending tapes to the fanzines back then. Jim was the one that was constantly sending out tapes to every zine he could find. We received letters from all over the world from people that wanted to purchase demo tapes. This was truly a special time to be a part of the underground scene. RS always received extremely positive reviews in all of the fanzines.
Now the next year (1990) you were right back at it and released a 2nd demo called “The Inhuman Race”. What would you say is the biggest difference between the 2 demos is? Did you try and send this demo out to any labels or were you still trying to build up your fan base at the time?
BP: The production was much better on “The Inhuman Race” demo. The packaging was also professionally done by a local label, the first demo cover was done by a copier machine. Ray the bass player had more of an impact on the songwriting on the second demo. We sent the demo and press packages out to numerous labels.
Now were there many places to play for underground metal back then or stores that carried underground metal at the time? I heard of a club called “Club Babyhead”, what was it like playing there?
BP: There were lots of clubs in RI, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to play for underground metal shows. We frequently opened for the touring bands when they would come through. The Living Room in Providence was a great place to play, all the big bands played there. Club Babyhead was a smaller club but it was a great club also. I remember us playing Babyhead and Nirvana played there the next night. The music scene was so great back then! People would go to the music clubs and it didn’t even matter who was playing. There were local record stores that would also carry our demos.
I am to assume you also played some of those New England metal fests back then too?
BP: We played a lot of metal fests throughout New England with some great bands. One of our first shows was a RI Fest with Cannibal Corpse headlining. Vital Remains would set up a lot of local metal fests and get big bands to play.
What was a Ritual Sacrifice live show like? Do you have any shows taped that are on YouTube of your Facebook page, etc?
BP: Ritual Sacrifice was a very intense band live. We actually practised 5 days a week in addition to playing shows on the weekend so the band was a machine. I wish I had video and I wish I had more pictures however new pictures fo turns up from time to time. I know we videotaped shows but I don’t know what happened to those tapes. We did a tv show one time, maybe one day that will turn up.
Did you ever get to go to G. Wilkers in NJ to play any shows or NY, CT, etc to play out of town at all?
BP: We played in NY and Connecticut a lot. I don’t remember playing NJ clubs but we probably did. I remember playing CBGB’s in NY which was cool because of its history, I mostly remember their nasty overflowing toilets. I also remember The Bank in NY and the El ‘N’ Gee in Connecticut. There were lots of places but my memory is not that great!
In 1992, you released a 3 demo called “Into Darkness, We Fall”. Did you sell this at all or was it for labels or a combo of both? Do you think looking back at this time you had found the Ritual Sacrifice sound so to speak and what do you think that sound was?
BP: “Into Darkness, We Fall” was really a live demo. We went to a studio and recorded the music live and overdubbed the vocals and guitar solos. It was recorded on 2 tracks! We photocopied the covers and duplicated the tapes at home. We didn’t have any money. We sold it and sent it out to labels. I think RS had its own sound which was constantly evolving.
Is Big Huskies Productions your own label as they released 3 of your releases?
BP: Big Huskies was really an inside joke because Jim and Ray considered themselves to be big huskie guys. When Ray left the band the later demos had Dead Huskies productions on the covers.
Was it frustrating at all, as death metal was in full swing at the time (1992) and here you are on a super small label or your own label and no indie labels are willing to take a chance on you?
BP: It was frustrating. We put out a lot of good demos that got a very positive responses. We never received any attention from labels until 1994-1995ish. I think the recording quality for the demos were not the best either so I am sure that did not help.
In 1993 another demo came out on Big Huskies called “Bury the Living”. Now was your popularity at least getting more and more and you were able to play more and more live shows and the reviews you good and fair and solid?
BP: “Bury The Living” was a Dead Huskies Production!! We were always playing lots of live shows and zine reviews were always very positive.
How would a Ritual Sacrifice song and lyrics come together? Was there much fighting within the band at times or did you mostly get along?
BP: There was not much fighting. It would always start with riffs which we would put together and jam on to work it all out. Jim would improvise vocals while we were jamming to get vocal phrasing ideas.
Now in 1994, yet another demo came out on the above-named label called “Bury the Living”. Now was this recorded before you had a record contract with Massacre Records or was this the demo that got them interested and was sort of labels only demo?
BP: In 1994 we put out the final demo called “Dimmer The Light”. It was recorded before we had any label interest. All those songs are on the album. I know we sent it to lots of labels. The production was much better and the quality of the packaging was professionally done for that demo.
Now was Massacre Records the only label that was interested in the band at the time? If there were others, what led to the decision to go with them and not someone else?
BP: After the Massacre thing fell through we still had the album recorded. There was a big zine/magazine called Sounds Of Death which always had music samplers in the magazine. Sounds Of Death magazine was about to start its own record label and the Ritual Sacrifice album was going to be their first album to be released. One day Jim said he got in a fight with the label guy over some artwork that they were trying to put in the cd and that Sounds Of Death was not going to release the CD.
So now after 5 demos, you finally catch a break and record your debut for Massacre Records called “When Hope Is Pain”. How excited were you to finally be able to go into a studio to record what you hoped I’m sure the first of many releases? How long were you in the studio for and who paid for the recordings?
BP: We were all very excited. It was the same recording studio that we recorded “Bury The Living” and “Dimmer The Light” but we were going to put much more money into it. We were in the studio for about 2 weeks I think and we paid for the recording ourselves. We all put in $1,000 each which seemed like a lot back then!
Now, how long after you finished recording it did you get the terrible news that the label went out of business? Did you have a master copy of the release and the artwork? Did you drop and shop other labels or did Massacre still hold the rights for the time being?
BP: It seemed like a while after we recorded it we found out it was not going to be put out on Massacre. Soon after that Sounds Of Death was going to put it out . . . then the rug got pulled out from us a second time.
Bill how soon after the label going out of business, did you leave the band and go and do other things?
BP: After Massacre and Sounds Of Death both fell apart the band morale was understandably down. In 1995 grunge music had taken over and RS did not really seem to fit anywhere anymore so the band fell apart after seven years.
Now how did AreaDeath Productions get in touch with you Bill or someone else in the band about putting some of your early stuff on CD? Were pretty much most of the band members on board with such a release? Bill, what was it like seeking it in your hand? I know Area Death does a great job with their re-issues as well. Did the band play any live shows at the time to support this release?
BP: Kenny Jockel contacted me on the RS MySpace page about doing the CD. I told Dave and Jim and they were the ones that took it over. Everyone was cool with putting out the CD. Area Death did a great job. The CD packaging looked great. They also made shirts and patches. We never played live to support the CD. At that time Jim, Ray Dowaliby, Ray Latraverse, and I briefly got together to write new Ritual Sacrifice music but Ray Latraverse did not have time. The rest of us formed a band called Devil Mask. We played for about a year and a half and wrote an album worth of material but we never played out or recorded. I am currently playing with the Devil Mask drummer in a band called Shape Of Rage (which is also the name of a Ritual Sacrifice song on the album). The music is very much in the style of Ritual Sacrifice. We are currently recording a new album.
Now in 2018, you guys decided to release your debut release digitally. Since your old label had gone out of business, did you pretty much have the right to do this now? What was the response from the underground as they heard a classic release, never released, now coming out in 2018? Did you play any live shows behind this release?
BP: We put it out ourselves. I have since removed it because of the album being reissued but will probably add it again under the new Vic Records release with its cover etc. No RS shows were played.
Now just recently, the great label known as Vic Records has taken your debut release step further and released it themselves. Is there any bonus music on their release? Did they get in touch with you about this release did you shop it around? Were any other labels interested in putting it out?
BP: Yes Roel contacted me. Roel is a great guy and has done so much for the metal music scene so we are honoured that Vic Records is releasing the album!!
How have the reviews been for your release so far? Now with COVID finally ending, would you like to any live shows perhaps in the future?
BP: I have read several very positive reviews about the album. There won’t be any live shows unfortunately as everyone has moved all over the country although I remain in contact with everyone. In fact, Ray Latraverse just messaged me and it looks like he is going to come down to my band’s practice and hang out which will be very cool!
Will there be any new music at all in the future perhaps and is there any unreleased music from the band in the vaults?
BP: There will unfortunately be no future RS music. There is the music from Devil Mask which had all RS members (except the drummer) that were never recorded. My band Shape Of Rage is still playing one of those Devil Mask songs.
Bill is it crazy when here in 2021, your debut album that was shelved in 1995 due to the label you were on going out of business, has now been re-issued and you doing interviews on Ritual Sacrifice?
BP: Yes you are right how crazy it is!! Who would have thought people would be interested in hearing those songs 26 years later!! I was messaging Mike Longworth the other day and he said when he played bass in Prong he would travel all over Europe and run into people who are Ritual Sacrifice fans!
Highlights over the years of the band and most memorable shows you played in and most memorable shows you witnessed?
BP: All the live shows that RS played are my highlights. We played at the 1995 Milwaukee Metal Fest with Megadeth, Korn, and Fear Factory which was cool to do. Locally a show I remember that was amazing was opening for Ice-T’s band Body Count at the Strand theatre which was sold out when they released the Cop Killer song. As far as most memorable shows that I have witnessed I would have to say the time I saw Sepultura’s first show in the USA which was at the Living Room in Providence during the Beneath The Remains tour. Seeing Metallica in 1988 at the Monsters Of Rock is also is on my list.
Do you have all original copies of all your demos? Has anybody to your knowledge bootlegged your debut album or has anybody did a Ritual Sacrifice cover tune?
BP: I have the original copies of the demos however I never kept anything when I was younger so I had to purchase them years later on eBay. I have seen the physical album CD bootlegged and for sale online. I remember when I was playing in RS there was a band that did an RS cover, I can’t remember the name of the band but I think the song they played was 309.
Please plug any social media sites you have and do you have any merchandise as t-shirts would be great if you had them in stock for the fans.
BP: Ritual Sacrifice has a Facebook page that is easy to find and the new album can be found easily if you Google it. If you like RS check out my band “Shape Of Rage” on Facebook. The new album is not finished yet but there are some sick looking t-shirts, hoodies, and long sleeve shirts for sale on the FB page.
Now, this interview is being posted overseas, I live in NJ. I know Vic Records is a label overseas, however for someone living in the US that wants that Vic Records release do you have copies for sale or where can they go to get one?
BP: Target online has the album for sale for $9.99 which is a great deal! You can also go to FYE online but it is $14.99.
Bill horns up for doing this and hopes you enjoyed your trip down memory lane. Any last words to wrap this up?
BP: Chris I want to thank you for this interview and my friend Roel from Vic Records for releasing the album. I am just happy the physical “When Hope Is Pain” CD is finally available and I hope people enjoy it!! \…/