Noise, Cosplay, and Body Horror: The Rise Of ROTWL

by | Nov 21, 2022 | MUSIC

In my role as the general tracker of upcoming shows in and around the Richmond area, I hear about a whole lot of bands that are active in Virginia — sometimes from the moment they play their very first show. Over the past eight years of show-column-writing, I’ve seen many bands come and go, and not many of them have made that strong an impression on my mind. However, one of the ones that has done the most to catch my attention during the post-pandemic era is a band most often identified by their lengthy acronym: ROTWLCFTSCBMH.

That unwieldy acronym is actually the shorter version of their name, which is, at its full length: Rise Of The Weird Little Creatures From The Small Creek Behind My House. If you’re trying to have a conversation about them, though, the easy way to refer to them is as ROTWL, pronounced “rot wool.” The group was founded by Eve Dyer, a young cosplayer and metal fan who taught herself how to play blast beats on a former bandmate’s drum kit and fell in love with the idea of making the harshest, noisiest grindcore music she could. At first, she was doing it by herself in her bedroom, making music on home recording equipment and posting it to the internet. But soon, she’d recruited her brother and a couple of friends to help recreate her solo project in a live environment. That’s when I started hearing about ROTWL.

Digging into their music, I was quickly intrigued. The youthful energy and boundless creative spirit animating the band has led to quite a prolific discography for a project that’s been releasing music for less than two years. It all started with the January 2021 release of Destruction of The American Dream, ROTWL’s first full-length, which was a quick, to-the-point expression of anti-capitalist ideas through the vehicle of fast, noisy, atonal grind. ROTWL followed this with two EPs, a split LP with Massachusetts band Genophobic Perversion, and finally, in early 2022, with The Creature. This LP is ROTWL at its most fully realized, delving into themes of alienation and body horror through a fictional storyline that is summed up in the LPs Bandcamp liner notes as, “Follows the story of an abused young boy taken advantage of by a cult and is convinced to kill and sew animal parts onto his skin in order to become something more than human.”

You’ll learn more about all that in our conversation below. This interview came about because I was very impressed by ROTWL’s latest release, a split EP with Florida’s ED-209, and because this onetime solo project has been touring and playing live locally on a frequent basis, and generating quite a bit of buzz in the local music scene as they do so. I couldn’t help but pay attention, especially once I figured out that Eve Dyer is both a fellow trans woman and a fellow fan of horror movies and black metal. I caught up with her via email to talk about the positive sides of home recording, existing as a queer person in the local music scene, the importance of Tiktok for young musicians trying to get their name out, and more. Here’s our conversation.

Marilyn Drew Necci: OK, there’s one obvious question you’ve probably been getting since the band started, and I’m gonna ask it too, so let’s get it out of the way: where did the band name come from? What made you want to name your band such an unusual phrase/acronym?

Eve Dyer: OK, admittedly the name question is either very funny or very much a letdown, but originally i started ROTWL as a joke. And so I went on a discord, said, “First person to respond names my band,” and the first one was Rise of the Weird Little Creatures From the Small Creek Behind My House (ROTWLCFTSCBMH for short). Now I’m stuck with it. Could I change it? Yeah! Do I want to? Kinda! Will I? Never. I think it would be copping out.

MDN: Have you played in any other bands before ROTWL? What got you started playing music in the first place?

ED: ROTWL was my first band to ever release [records] and play live! However, it was born out of a failed thrash band of mine called Guerra! I had to fill in for drums for a practice since our drummer couldn’t make it, and I figured out how to blast and I couldn’t stop. I released the first EP as kind of a joke, but I fell in love with playing grind after that and I just kept going until I was like, “Yo, I wanna make this seriously.”

MDN: How did ROTWL get started? It seems from the recordings on Bandcamp that it was at least initially a solo project. Why’d you decide to do a band by yourself instead of going the conventional route of looking for bandmates and all that?

ED: ROTWL is still technically a solo project. I am debating to expand it to my live drummer too, who coincidentally is also my brother! You can get the roots from the answer above, but started as a solo joke and just gradually became more as I fell more and more in love with grindcore, and just extreme music in general, as a genre.

MDN: I get several different genres at once out of your music: hardcore, grind, death metal, power-violence, noise, screamo, all mixed together at once. It seems like you come from a hardcore scene background, though. Do you consider ROTWL to be a hardcore band? A metal band? Both? Neither? How do you see ROTWL as interacting with the whole weird concept of musical genre?

ED: I always call ROTWL noise grind! It definitely seems like I come from a hardcore background but I don’t! I was quickly dragged into the local hardcore scene by my friend and Torment bandmate Marcy, after ROTWL started performing live. I came generally from metal roots. However, branching genres is INCREDIBLY important to me. I think overlapping genres is one of the easiest and most important ways to obtain musical innovation, and moving music forward and striving for a unique sound is one of the most important things ever for me as a musician.

MDN: The themes you deal with on your album The Creature are pretty horrific on the surface. The description of the plotline on Bandcamp makes me think of David Cronenberg’s The Fly crossed with something like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Which makes me want to ask you two questions at once. The first: how does horror media (film, books, comics, TV, whatever) influence your songwriting? Are you a horror fan? (Gonna be shocked if you say no, but you could surprise me.)

ED: You are scarily on point with those two comparison points. Body horror is one of my favorite kinds of horror, especially The Fly. Texas Chainsaw is also a HUGE influence on the album, as well as being my favorite horror movie ever. Even the soundtrack has inspired some of the noise i make on records. And horror movies, of course, are a HUGE inspo on my music. I think its almost a sin to not say that in grind, to be honest. The classics like Texas Chainsaw are obviously huge loves of mine, but since my young age I am also in love with the newer age of horror in A24 films like Pearl, The Lighthouse, Midsommar, etc.

Design sketches for ROTWL’s album The Creature by Donnie O’Brien (@treeblight). Image courtesy Eve Dyer.

MDN: Here’s my other big The Creature-inspired question: how much does the theme of this album relate to things like gender dysphoria and being trans?

ED: Funnily enough i actually have some art from the original album art drafts from my friend Donnie that might help answer those questions. The intention for me was to show how alienation from loved ones can lead to finding love from sources that will take advantage of you and hurt you, and I think it HEAVILY applies to trans people. Half of it is about that, and half is just about hating your body. Always looking for the next thing to hate, always looking for the next thing you NEED to do, only to find in the end it wasn’t you that needed it, per se, but it is the world and forces around you that made you think you did.

MDN: Another trans question: has coming out resulted in any friction with other people in the music scene, or have you found that people within the Richmond scene are largely accepting? Beyond that, how do you think the Richmond music community is doing in terms of creating an accepting space for queer people in general? Is there anything you wish was different about the scene where LGBTQ acceptance is concerned?

ED: For me i came into music already out, very open about my transness, Richmond, however, has treated me with nothing but kindness. A lot of the acceptance is about merit and how much you love the music and how good your music is, but it’s never been acceptance based on or against my transness, and I appreciate that. Richmond music has always been a place I feel not just safe but also seen.

MDN: Tell me about ROTWL’s live lineup. Depending on the video, I’ve seen you play with anywhere from two to four other people. Who is in the ROTWL live lineup? What instruments do you consider most/least essential when you’re getting people together to play a specific show? (i.e. is it more essential to have a noise person than a bass player? I hope you see where I’m going with this question.) Do you prefer to sing and play guitar in the live incarnation of ROTWL, or would you rather just be the singer? I ask because I’ve seen you do both. Sorry for this long-ass question.

ED: Our live lineup is very all over the place but the essentials are me and Colin (my drummer). Guitar and Drums are the least ill go and play a show with. Us at our largest is [a four-piece] with me on guitar and vocals, Colin Dyer on drums, Zach Lloyd on bass or noise, Jak Roehrick on noise and sometimes guitar. Noise guy switches out a bit, depending on where we are, who is available, etc. I prefer to do a mix of just vocals and vocals and guitar. If we have a noise break i tend to just get on vocals and run around like a freak and whatnot. We usually get a lot of different noise makers, however, to keep sets fresh and always have the crowd hearing something new!

Colin and Eve Dyer at the end of a ROTWL set on the patio at Vasen Brewing.

MDN: Your tracks on the ED-209 split are probably the best-sounding stuff you’ve put out thus far. Did you record in a studio for that record, or is it still a home recording? What’s your home recording setup like? And what would your ideal setup be if money were no object?

ED: The ED-209 split was all home recorded! Really, throughout all of my releases, I’ve been learning production and mastering, etc, as I go. LMAO. ED-209 split is definitely where I got into a stride, however! And weirdly enough, without price limitations I’d still keep it at home, to be honest. I think limitations breed new fresh sounds, and I always stand by that!

MDN: I see you’ve had some videos get some pretty high view counts over on Tiktok (@endallposersafterdark). As a certified Old, I barely understand that site. How important do you think it’s been for spreading the word on ROTWL? Do you think having a Tiktok presence is important for young musicians getting started now?

ED: TikTok is definitely how most of my beginning audience came to find me. I was pretty large-ish on cosplay tiktok, and it helped me gather an audience and grab myself a launching point to grow! It may be shit-talked on. but TikTok, in my opinion, is genuinely the future of growing audiences as a musician.

MDN: What’s ROTWL got going on in the near future? Tell me about upcoming shows, releases, tours, anything else you’ve got coming up.

ED: We have a tour coming up in April with our friends up in Rochester in Electric Bath, which we are finishing up booking! We are playing The Camel in January with Bonginator, and that’s about it show- and tour-wise. Release-wise, though, we have a split set out with a pretty big east coast mincecore band, and I plan to release another LP somewhere around summer of 2023, continuing with the concept format that i started with The Creature.

MDN: Oh, and you’re also in Torment? I notice there hasn’t been any new material since the 2019 EP… is that band currently active?

ED: Yes! I am in Torment! Our next show is on 1/29 at Swingers, and we have an EP we are working on currently! We are 100% active and plan on being even more active in the start of 2023!

You can check out ROTWLCFTSCBMH’s extensive back catalog and keep an eye out for new music over at their Bandcamp page. You can find out what the band has going on now and in the near future by following them on Instagram.

Top Photo: Jak and Eve during one of ROTWL’s notoriously chaotic live sets. This and all other photos from the band’s Instagram page (unless otherwise noted).

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

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