When I was just getting MoshPitNation started, a new band called Withhold the Blood contacted me. They were a young band from Muskegon looking for shows to play. Like any band that has its shit together, they attached a song to their email. However, it was a horribly produced, garage-recorded song and every part was incredibly rough around the edges. I took a listen and quickly turned it off. I replied to their email with a note that said something like, “I think you need to practice more before you play shows.” I think they were a little pissed.
Fast forward three years and Withhold the Blood has just snatched the title of one of the top local Michigan metal bands – Heavyweight Battle of the Bands Champion. How’s that for clawing your way to the top?
The band’s performance (and crazy fans) at the 2014 Heavyweights helped WTB take the title home for the third year in a row.
“When they stepped on stage it was like everyone in attendance had come to a Withhold the Blood show,” proclaimed Jennifer Riggs, a judge at the competition finals, when talking about how Withhold the Blood was declared the winner. “An enigmatic energy came over the room. People stopped what they were doing and took in every amazing riff, beat and scream. People were engaged by their presence and drawn to the stage like zombies at a MENSA meeting. The ‘Withhold the Blood’ chants were heard, they were felt and they were deserved.”
Their drive, initiative, talent and obvious practice brought them that far in three short years. Their awesomeness as human beings has made them friends of many metalheads across the state, including me! (Luckily they forgave me for telling them to practice more.) Here’s what Jessie Sutton (vocals), Tyler Ruiter (bass), Brandon Ordway (guitar) and Adam (drums) had to say about their Heavyweight crown.
Recoil: What will you do with the prize money?
WTB: Invest in the band with new merch like shirts, koozies and stickers, plus finish and master the EP we’ll be recording in April with Darkwave Audio (a sponsor of the Heavyweights who donated studio time to the winning band).
Recoil: Were you surprised when then announced you as the winner?
Tyler Ruiter: I was shocked to hear we won. I thought every band put on a great show and that it was a toss-up between everyone. I never thought we would beat out the hometown favorites, Flood the Desert.
Jessie Sutton: We worked our asses off selling tickets, promoting and tightening beforehand, so we knew we had a chance, but honestly I didn’t think it was enough to beat out Flood the Desert. They are some of the most talented musicians in the state. I was honestly just hoping for second place.
Recoil: What did you bring to the show that got you the win, in your opinion?
Adam Maxwell We brought everything we had! Our hearts, souls and every ounce of energy was poured on that stage. And the Muskegon crowd? That certainly didn’t hurt.
Brandon Ordway: We brought the energy, the riffs and the fans to get it done!
Recoil: What kind of work did it take to come so far in three years?
JS: It has taken pretty much all of our free time, a few member changes, and a lot of booze, blood and sweat, but it’s our passion. Coming up in the Muskegon metal scene was also key. Learning from bands like Bury the Silence, Kill Tomorrow, The Severed Process and Infinite Design was the best thing that could have happened to us. We learned so much about respecting the scene and coming up the right way. They let us into their fan bases and we did our best to impress. Without them, and some key promoters booking us early on, I don’t think we’d be at the level we are now.
Recoil: What’s it like to play the Intersection’s main stage?
TR: That stage is awesome to play on! The sound is top-notch and the lights and size of the stage amaze me. Going from small bars with no room to that big stage really lets me let loose and get down.
AM: Being on that stage was fucking magical! Sitting behind the kit, where I’ve seen loads of highly-rated musicians, and watching the crowd react to what we have created was simply amazing.
Recoil: If you could be stuck on a desert island with all your gear and one band, who would it be?
JS: The Black Dahlia Murder, when they still had Bart and Shannon. Those guys would riot 110 percent of the time and jam sessions would be epic.
TR: Lamb of God. Their music has kept me playing, and it would be a dream to just hang and jam with them.
BO: Jeff Loomis. He’s an amazing guitar player and I’m sure I could learn a thing or two.
AM: Tenacious D. They would probably make the best food. Gotta think survival.
Hook up with the band on Facebook.com/WithholdTheBlood. We also interviewed them before both of their Heavyweight performances and got a couple songs on video. Check it out on www.News.MoshPitNation.com.