Gauteng prog metallers, Raptorbaby, announced their new vocalist yesterday on MixFM’s “Before the Witching Hour” radio show as seasoned local veteran Vincent Van Niekerk (Mazaru). The band also debuted a brand new track “Atlantis” which you can stream at the bottom of the article. We spoke with Raptorbaby guitarist Doug Jenkinson about the transition, the new track and how the band has evolved with this new vocal talent behind them.
M4A: “Atlantis” starts off hard and fast. Do you feel that it gives a good overview of Vince’s vocal abilities or is there even more lurking in there?
Doug: Oh yes there is definitely more to Vince than we have heard so far. We pulled Vince out of a 4 year retirement and basically threw in front of a microphone to record Atlantis, he worked incredibly hard and pushed himself, but he’s constantly talking about new ideas and styles he wants to try on the next set of songs, so I think we have only scratched the surface, which is making us really excited about the future of our music!
M4A: The single feels like it touches on elements of math metal, metalcore, post hardcore and prog rock. Would you say that Raptorbaby has drastically evolved or is this more of a logical progression from “The Hatchling” and “Sleepers Awake”?
Doug: I think it’s a bit of both really, an evolution and a natural progression. Think of our time with Nelius and the older releases as Raptorbaby in its infancy, a small child trying to figure out the world around it and get a hang of using its limbs. Now with “Atlantis”, we have finally grown up into that angsty little teenager, we have figured out the world around us is an unfair place and doesn’t understand us, and so we’re in full scale musical rebellion. So there’s a sort of natural growth there. What’s really changed now is the vocals, and that intensity is something we have never had, which makes “Atlantis” feel more like a distant cousin of our old material rather than a younger sibling. We were a progressive band with metal influences, but now we’re a metal band with progressive influences.
M4A: Was the search for a new vocalist a long one or was it a serendipitous case of just finding the right person at the right time?
Doug: We were quite scared after we parted with Nelius, it was a sad time and on top of that, we didn’t really believe we would be able to find someone who would fit easily, most musicians in South Africa, particularly in the metal and progressive niche, will tell you how difficult it is to find members. But luckily, I had remembered that I had a conversation with Vince almost 3 years ago, where we chatted about the possibility of him joining the band as a second vocalist, but it never went further than that. I thought we might as well ask him again, and to my surprise, he was free and incredibly keen for the opportunity, so there was definitely that feeling that the stars had aligned at the right time.
M4A: How is it working with Vince? Has he integrated well into the Raptorbaby family?
Doug: It’s great, he fits right in with the ethos of the band, he’s honestly one of the friendliest guys you’ll ever meet, and he’s the youngest member too, so he projects a bit of youthful energy into our old bones. He talks a lot about how he needs to do better, and all the ideas he has for the future, and you really want that in any member of the band. We have always had this philosophy that being in a band is an incredibly intimate experience, it’s exactly like you said, a family, and it’s very hard to let new people into your circle because you’re always afraid they might break something, or fundamentally change who you are as a band. So when we auditioned Vince, we were naturally a bit apprehensive, but as the practice went by, we all started to feel that connection, that we had the right guy here, like a long lost brother who has come back home. And he did change us in some fundamental ways, but it felt more like growing up, like it’s what we always wanted to be, so we embrace it.
Listen to “Atalntis” by Raptorbaby below: