The Reptilians are:
Viktor “Bob” Wilt – Guitar/Vocals
Steve “Jesus” McMichael – Drums/Percussion
Joey “The Hulk” Labato – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Nick “McGesus” McGarvey – Bass, Additional Guitar and Percussion
“PRAGUERESSIVE APPLECORE DJENK COW SLUDGE MEATAL.”
Then he spelled it.
This was the response I received after pressing Viktor “Bob” Wilt, vocalist and guitarist of southern Idaho-based band The Reptilians, to describe the type of music they compose.
“Our influences are all over the place. From The Beatles to Cephalic Carnage. From Eminem to Buddy Rich. From King Crimson to Yob. We make what we make. So when people ask for a label… applecore meatal it is. Yeah, I said MEAT-al.”
Wilt and the band’s drummer, Steve “Jesus” McMichael. have written and performed their distinct brand of metal together for over thirteen years. Their teenage years were spent performing in numerous local bands in and around their hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. Their first professional project was initiated in 1997 with the formation of party-metal powerhouse BoSoGa, best known by what they ultimately decided to call themselves for the bulk of their career:
Dr. Seuss is Dead.
Under the Dr. SID banner they performed extensively across the western United States, alongside hundreds of notable acts including Static-X, Shinedown, Impaled, Nothingface, Testament, Dying Fetus, Mortician, Cephalic Carnage, D.R.I., Enslaved, Nile, Hawthorne Heights, Dark Funeral, Red, The Haunted, Royal Bliss, and the notorious Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. As Wilt and McMichael progressed as musicians, they began to compose material in their spare time very different from what fans of Dr. SID had come to expect. Thus, a second, yet fully dedicated project became a necessity.
“Dr. SID was all about going out and absolutely destroying the crowd, and still is. The guys beating the crap out of each other in the pit every night probably wouldn’t have appreciated us without warning breaking out of the brutal into some Pink Floyd-esque soundscape while they were trying to bang their heads. But this shit was way too good to let go to waste. So, we formed The Reptilians.”
They joined forces with bass player Josh Schmidt in late 2003, then composed and recorded their first two albums, Welcome to Dugway! and XAPPLEXCOREX in a house they shared in Burley, Idaho. The albums were released simultaneously as a free download through the band’s self-operated label, Spacnum Records, and were instant hits with the underground music scene in the northwest. Their live performances, at the time strictly instrumental, caught audiences by surprise with extremely complex arrangements that could without warning segue from a slow-rolling landscape into a crushingly heavy vortex of sound. Chaos, crafted with absolute precision.
“For some unknown reason, there is this misconception by many that we are some kind of hippie band. Yeah, we have psychedelic elements, but above all, we are a metal band. At times, a very heavy one.”
Personal differences eventually led the band to part ways with Schmidt, but Wilt and McMichael wasted no time moving forward. It was time to take the band to a whole new level. Wilt contacted renowned guitarist Joey “The Hulk” Labato, whom they’d previously worked with in Dr. SID, and asked if he’d like to join the team. Labato had recently relocated to Tucson, Arizona, but things weren’t panning out as planned. Labato quickly accepted the invitation and Wilt, along with musical extraordinaire Nick McGarvey. set off for Tucson. After a marathon journey of more than 2,200 miles in less than forty-eight hours, Labato was back in Idaho. The band then brought a relatively unknown musician, Chance “305″ Smith, into the fold to take up the bass duties.
They quickly set about reworking and enhancing the older material, incorporating additional guitar work from Labato as well as vocals into many of the songs. The already complex material was transformed, dueling riffs now slithering in and out of sync with one another as McMichael and Smith kept the eclectic rhythms in place with rolling thunder. The band then set about perfecting the most ambitious musical performance they’d yet attempted, a composition that as a single piece of music would ultimately end up being their next full length album.
“The Mentalist” was recorded live in the studio at STSound in Salt Lake City, Utah in late 2009. The entire recording session with added vocals, additional overdubs, sampling, bells and whistles took less than eight hours. The album was comprised of a single track, twenty-six minutes in length. It showcased nearly every element of sound the band was then known for, as well as several unexpected surprises. Much darker in tone than previous releases, the album was the band’s first theatrically conceptual release.
“The Mentalist explores the mental deterioration of a religious fanatic faced with the loss of his faith, ultimately driving himself to insanity from his inability to allow the belief system he was raised with to coexist with the growing doubts as to what he has been taught is reality. The album is basically a commentary on the damage that any sort of faith-based belief system can have on someone faced with evidence contradictory to what they’ve been taught. Psychic powers, new-age ideas, religious belief, and similar topics. But dark as it may seem at times, the message is supposed to be positive and inspirational.”
The band wanted to include a harshly delivered, yet almost evangelical message encouraging rational thought during the instrumental buildup that initiated the album. But, it couldn’t be a bore. They needed something humorous to contrast the dark tone of the intro, yet get the point across. Wilt contacted comedian Doug Stanhope, who granted free use of his recorded material to the band to use in the project as they pleased. Utilizing a selection of clips from Stanhope’s album “Die Laughing”, the album was then mixed and mastered, ready for the masses.
The Mentalist was released as a free download in digital-only format through Spacnum Records in April of 2010 to critical acclaim worldwide. An extensive thirty-seven page digital booklet accompanied the album, as well as hi-res copies of the artwork suitable for large-scale printing. Through file-sharing the album has reached publications across the globe who continue to chime in with rave reviews. In March of 2012 the band announced that Stevie Sheiza, a friend of the band and highly skilled musician would be taking up the bass duties in the band.
2012 and 2013 brought the release of the single “Britney Spears Sex Riot” and “The Breakers” album, the first tracks recorded at McMichaels’ own Aedicule Studios. The band parted ways with bassist Stevie Sheiza in early 2014, and welcomed longtime friend and collaborator Nick McGarvey into the fold to fill the bass position. McGarvey’s previous work with Priapism, Initial Point, Zombunist, Psychedelic Sex Organ, and Obscured By The Sun as a guitarist, bassist, and drummer leave no doubt that the sky is now the limit with regard to the future.
In addition to regularly performing throughout the northwest, The Reptilians are currently writing the follow up to The Breakers, to be recorded in 2014 at The Aedicule Studio.
Outside of The Reptilians, the members continue their efforts and contributions in Dr. Seuss is Dead, BoSoGa, Zombunist, Psychelic Sex Organ, and The Unread, as well as the ongoing operation of Spacnum Records, The Aedicule Studio, and the Spacnum Records Podcast, “JENKPOD”.