Watch Lorna Shore’s Will Ramos cover Sleep Token’s massive single Chokehold
With Sleep Token’s mysterious singer Vessel’s distinctive voice within Will Ramos’ own vocal range, the Lorna Shore man has tackled viral 2023 single Chokehold…
They’re one of the hottest heavy bands on the planet, but since forming in 2010, Lorna Shore have been on quite the journey to get here. Guitarist Adam De Micco and new (ish) vocalist Will Ramos meet Kerrang! to look back at where they came from – and why, now, the future has never been brighter…
Bad luck never seems to be too far away from Lorna Shore. Six hours before the group are due to take the stage at Alexandra Palace as openers on Parkway Drive’s enormous European tour, guitarist and band mastermind Adam De Micco relaxes into a leather Chesterfield armchair in the venue’s restaurant, and offers up a few examples of how every smile favour gives them seems to be weighted out by a slap to the jaw, a pebble in the shoe.
When they made their much-delayed appearance at Bloodstock in August, they did so as one of the most anticipated draws of the weekend. It wasn’t just a very big crowd, it was a very big crowd there to see them. And yet…
“We drive like hell to get there and arrive, like, 20 minutes before we were due on,” he remembers with a dry, could-only-happen-to-us chuckle. “You know that bit in Saving Private Ryan, where the boats open at Normandy and everyone just rushes out? That was us getting out of the bus and running with all our shit onto the stage. And it was hotter than hell, so I had absolutely no idea what was going on.”
Want another? When new (ish) singer Will Ramos made his live debut at a show in Berlin in 2021, his problems started when he plugged his in-ears into a European outlet, not understanding about the different voltages to American ones, and destroyed them. Onstage his mic was breaking as well. Then he forgot the words. “This is the day where I’m supposed to show everybody that I’m the fucking man,” the vocalist remembers thinking. In the grand scheme of things, a heckler yelling, ‘Look, it’s Justin Bieber!’ at him before he’d performed the first note of his first song with Lorna Shore was the least of his worries. “It was,” he says, “a rough day.”
For the Parkway tour, misfortune at least had the decency to give some warning. That is, drummer Austin Archey remains at home in New Jersey recuperating from a back problem for which playing the band’s set every night wouldn’t be any kind of cure. So bassist Michael Yager’s doing it instead.
Here you may be thinking that were it not for bad luck these men would have no luck at all. But right now few metal bands are experiencing a rise quite like Lorna Shore are – never mind that nobody ever walked into Ladbrokes and put a bet on deathcore being a success story. Back in March, all six dates on their UK tour were upgraded – in the case of London, to an almost comedic degree, being shunted to bigger digs no fewer than three times, from the 250-capacity Boston Music Room to wind up at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Just the 1,250 more tickets than originally planned, there…
Expecting “20 people” showing up to see them supporting Parkway, Adam is pleased to report quite the opposite. As the band chat to Kerrang!, a line of fans in Lorna Shore shirts is already patiently sitting out in the cold waiting for doors that won’t open for another four hours.
Meanwhile, since Will joined in 2020 (replacing CJ McReery, out of the band after allegations of abuse came out that year), their streaming numbers have gone bananas. To The Hellfire, from last year’s And I Return To Nothingness EP, currently has nearly 25 million plays on Spotify. Having only been out for three weeks, Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames, one of the first cuts from their forthcoming Pain Remains album, has done almost two-and-a-half mill without breaking a sweat.
When this is put to him, Adam smiles the proud smile of a man who’s making something work against a tide that often appears to be against him. “After 10 years, something’s happening,” he grins. “We roll with the punches a lot, and a lot of people probably would have given up, but I just can’t. Seeing the people that turn out for us, every day I think, ‘Okay, there’s a reason why this is happening.’”
Happening it is. Even with their luck, Lorna Shore could be about to become a tidal wave.
Adam De Micco didn’t start Lorna Shore with the idea that it could ever not work. “I’ve always wanted to be more than just a local band. It wasn’t one of those things where I was like, ‘Oh, this can be like a real thing’ – that was the goal,” he explains. “I wanted to be a band on tour. That was what my mind was set on, and whatever I have to do, whatever it took to get me there, that’s what I was going to do.”
Actually, before he started following this ambition, Adam had wanted to start a band for an equally classic reason: to win the affections of a girl. “I wish I had a way cooler story than that!” he laughs. “I was 16, we had something that fizzled out, and then when I saw her again she was into another guy who had a band. So I thought, ‘Adam, you’ve gotta start a band too.’”
There was a problem: he couldn’t play an instrument. He wanted to be a singer, though. Except he couldn’t scream, nor could he write lyrics. Trying drums, on his first go he realised he was not destined for a life behind the kit. Eventually he picked up the guitar, and “with my first pay check from a job at a grocery store” finally bought one of his own.
Sadly, the romance never blossomed. But starting in music had enabled Adam to “meet like-minded people” who were into the same stuff as him, bands like Unearth, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage. As for his own new venture, shows were to be had on their local hardcore scene (“Metal was not really that big”). But the circuit was small.
“New Jersey is a small state, so you pretty much just play around there, and New York City, maybe in Pennsylvania – it was awfully hard,” he remembers. “We played a lot of small halls, VFW firehouses, just any sort of small place.
“Thankfully, the internet was becoming really used as a tool, and that helped us break out of that,” he continues. “I was grateful, because if we only had to rely on playing local shows, I don’t know if we would have broken out that way. We were used to playing shows to 20, 30 people – that’s how hard it was to get out.”
Eventually, Lorna Shore (another ‘I wish this was a cooler story’ story: it’s a minor librarian character from Batman comics) were invited onto a national tour with U.S. deathcore champs Carnifex. Adam says it was “like finally being invited to the party”.
“It’s hard to feel like a real thing when you’re playing to nobody every day at local shows,” he admits. “But on that tour, we were playing in real venues, to real people. That was the moment we felt real. Doing a real tour like that was always on my mind. This is what I wanted to do.”
You don’t have to spend long talking to Adam to understand where he’s coming from and the drive that fuels him. It’s also clear that when called for, there’s a tenacity in him to make things work rather than let them destroy you. He doesn’t speak like Andy Biersack, though, all lurid conviction and grand claims for world domination in which failure is not an option. Rather, if there was a word for the friendly, focused 34-year-old, it might be “pragmatic”. That is, he understands that life’s going to hit you, and it’s on you to work out how to find a solution and get back up.
“I’m used to metaphorically getting hit in the face – maybe I watch Rocky too much,” he hoots. “The premise of Rocky is just him getting beat up ’til the very end. I realised that we had to roll with the punches. If we were like, ‘Okay, this is a shitty situation, we can’t do anything about it, let’s just pack up our things and go home’ then this wouldn’t exist. Take it on the chin, pick yourself up and say, ‘Let’s figure this out.’”
Bringing in their frontman was one such solution. But even this wasn’t entirely new – Will is actually the fourth person to have helmed Lorna Shore’s mic. Initially touring with them as an apparently temporary stand-in, in 2020 COVID upended everything and left the band deciding not to confirm their new line-up. So, cautiously, as a way of testing the water with their new lad, they made an EP together: And I Return To Nothingness. But in the near radio-silence that lockdowns had put on the band for announcing activity, it was a rare moment where Adam thought things might be actually fucked.
“The one thing I was worried about was that there was a lack of confidence externally about the band,” Adam says. “It had been a year since we’d replaced our vocalist, there was no information out, it was just like there was kind of nothing really coming out. I think within all that, people felt like a loss and I felt I saw the lack of confidence in some people, thinking that this band is not going anywhere. That definitely got to some of us more than others. And I would see that and think, ‘Damn, are they right?’ But once we recorded those songs that chatter didn’t really affect me as much because I knew in our back pocket we had songs that I was really proud of.”
Twenty-five million streams of its lead track later, here we are, with a full album that Adam is justifiably “stoked” on. The Parkway Drive tour, meanwhile, has already been setting off little things in his head. Just as they broke out of their local scene, this run through the arenas and mega-halls of Europe – “Places where big, real artists, and pop artists, and legends play” he calls them, sat under a photo of The Rolling Stones playing where he will tonight – has shown him what’s attainable.
“In clubs, we’ve reached that ceiling, right?” he ponders. “Coming here, it’s like, ‘Okay, now there’s a whole other world where you’re seeing a band like Parkway Drive put on this full-scale production in giant venues.’ There’s another level it, which is exciting for me. Seeing a metal band that came from similar roots bringing it up to this level, that shows a little bit of a possibility.”
Even saying this, Adam can’t help adding that things are going a little too well. “I’m always suspicious,” he says, “where’s the next thing gonna come from?” But if the guitarist is on guard for his luck running out, Will Ramos can’t believe his own.
Speaking to him is a little like being handed an excited puppy. Immediately likeable, bursting with an almost innocent enthusiasm and energy, and prone to throwing the horns and saying an excited ‘Yeeeeaaaah!’ when talking about something he’s particularly keen on (often), he is the freewheeling, in-the-moment yang to Adam’s more thought-out yin.
Growing up not so far from the rest of the band (“But everything’s not far in New Jersey…”) he got into music through playing guitar and falling in love with classic rock. Ozzy’s Crazy Train was a big hit. “I remember when I first heard that song, I was like, ‘This is the coolest fucking song in the whole world!’” Attempts by friends to turn him on to the heavier sounds of Lamb Of God, Cradle Of Filth and Escape The Fate were initially unsuccessful, however. “Oh my God, I remember listening to Whitechapel and going, ‘I don’t like it!’” he laughs. “But you keep listening to things and it grows on you. It’s so funny for me to think about that now, because the things that we do are so much darker and heavier than those bands!”
His preference was for what he calls “sad, singing music”, pointing to AFI as an early favourite, and Sleep Token as a more recent one. “I was into a whole bunch of scene-kid bands. That was me. I was a scene kid. I’d straighten my hair every fucking day. I dyed it super-dark, I had piercings all over my fucking face. I had, like, four lip piercings. And I stretched my septum. I was that kid when I was little. It was great!”
Musically, eventually, something clicked – “I got really into vocals, I wanted to hear the hardest vocals,” he says. “Who can do the craziest thing?” – and he joined a band, playing similar DIY spaces to his future bandmates. But he didn’t much think it could go anywhere. Instead, he took a job in New York, working in movies.
“The hours are insane, so it was not cool,” Will remembers. “You have no time to do frickin’ anything for yourself. I was working in a production office, making phone calls, sending a billion emails, and I used to help on set a lot. And that was exhausting. In my mind, I was like, ‘This is it, this is going to be my endgame.’ As much as I hated it, I was just gonna keep doing it because it paid me well.”
When the situation became vacant as Lorna Shore’s singer, he thought he’d be “one in 15,000 people” going for the job. But then the band came to him, as an old acquaintance, offering him a chance. Quickly, films were out, band was in.
“I wasn’t sure it’d last because they just wanted a fill-in,” he explains. “So I was fully prepared to just get to do something cool with a band I loved for a little bit and then see what happened.”
Even though the tour, the EP and everything else was done without too much commitment too early, Will was clearly The Guy. But it wasn’t until making their new album that he felt “solidified” in the ranks. It was here that, having seen he worked in Lorna Shore, he was able to bring his own stamp to vocals, trying to write “the saddest lyrics possible”. Hence the Pain Remains trilogy, a three-part suite about grief.
“I love music I can sing along to and cry to when I’m alone in my car – that’s so frickin’ sick!” he enthuses. “I needed to write my own version of that. This kind of music can be very punch-you-in-the-face all the time. But I love stuff like In Flames where there’s a lot of inner conflict. I guess what inspired me to do this song trilogy is, when we were writing the album in the studio, I made a big point to stop smoking weed. And if you know anything about smoking weed, you don’t dream a lot. Your REM sleep kind of just stops. When I took my little tea break, I began to dream almost immediately, the most vivid dreams where I felt like it’s real life. I was trying to write a song about falling in love in a dream, and then the feeling of waking up and knowing that none of it was real. I don’t know if you’ve ever had dreams like that, but I’ve definitely had dreams where you wake up and you’re sad, because you wish that it happened. You wish you could just stay asleep.”
So it’s grief for wishes in a false place?
“Kind of. I have dreams where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you’re the best. I love you. I don’t even know who you are.’ Sometimes it’s hard to make out who this person is. Sometimes you can’t figure out if it’s somebody that you know, or somebody that you don’t know. And you never see them again. I want to see the face behind the silhouette. Because you’re like, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I know this feeling. And I want to know more about it.’ But you’ll never find out more about it.”
They may be two different people, but Adam and Will both share a common goal. With things really coming up good just after they looked to be derailing, this could finally be the point at which Lorna Shore get everything firing in perfect sync, and their rise properly begins.
“Things are fucking unbelievable right now,” says Adam proudly. “[Over the pandemic], there were those moments where I wondered if we’d come back and it wouldn’t be the same – we’d lost ground or whatever. But now I just feel really inspired and that we have an opportunity to do something great.”
As he heads back to Alexandra Palace’s enormous main hall, noting a few more legends whose gigs here have been preserved on the walls in posters and photos, Adam laughs and reveals that for all this, he’s still suspicious of why things are going so well. But, he says, for once that anxiety is far less than normal.
“Now we’re kind of a small fish, and it’s completely massive pond, and that’s exciting,” he nods. “We’re playing venues that a metal band wouldn’t normally play. I’m walking up to the stairs to the green room and seeing all these different artists on the wall, that have nothing to do with our genre, playing the same place. And that’s got me excited to see how far we can take this.”
For Will, it hasn’t been such a long time coming, but there’s a similar belief.
“If you asked me where I was going to be two-and-a-half years ago, I would not have said here,” he admits. “I would have been like, ‘No, I’m just gonna work at this computer for the rest of my fucking life.’”
How do you feel right now?
“To be here now is inspiring,” he smiles. “I just want to keep going up.”
Lorna Shore’s new album Pain Remains is due out on October 14 via Century Media Records
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