One of Delaware’s wildest bands touched down in Rome for an April 26th rock show that kicked off the band’s first European tour. Formed in late 2016, High Reeper identifies with a genre known as “stoner rock,” something their label, Heavy Psych Sounds Records, lists among its specialties, along with “doom metal.”
While those genre names might call to mind legendary bat stunts (Black Sabbath is a stated influence) and wrecked hotel rooms, the gents of High Reeper are, for the most part, Renaissance men. Zach Thomas sings, Pat Daly and Andrew Price are the band’s guitarists, Napz Mosley is on drums and Shane Trimble plays bass.
Several of the band members are wine connoisseurs and documented their trip with snaps of bubbly prosecco and local reds and whites along with Aperol spritzes, Amaro 55 on-the-rocks, and Alpine brews, as well as two birthday cakes and cheese. Lots of cheese.
Guitarist Price’s non-musical aspirations once included sommelier training, a skill that comes in handy when he bartends at local restaurants La Fia Bistro, Merchant Bar and Kennett Square’s Hearth Kitchen.
Bassist Trimble is a tattoo artist at All Inked Up in Wilmington, and Mosley and Daly are baristas, and they all appreciated the fine coffee that was part of the Italian culture, in particular.
Trimble says, “In Italy, the amount and the quality of food that you get is insane, and same with the wine.”
He described the overall experience, saying, “In Europe, touring and the music scene is different from the US. Even as a small touring act, you’re a band who is from another country, so you get a place to stay every night and a meal every night. It’s a guarantee; it’s worked into your tour. That’s really different than touring in the U.S. where you’re lucky to get two free drinks.” He adds, “We didn’t take any of it for granted, not even a little bit. We’ve been doing [music] so long, we all really appreciated everything that we got.”
Of course, it wasn’t a vacation. Touring as a rock band is serious business.
In one listicle, High Reeper is referred to as “totally addictive seventies proto-metal.” For the music to fit the stated genre, the tempo will be relatively slow (as compared to, say, thrash metal), and bass-heavy, distorted grooves, combined with melodic vocals, to give it a psychedelic feel. The band believes their music is “meant to be heard live and loud.” They describe their debut, self-titled album as, “Driven by pounding rhythms, thick guitars and soaring, screeching vocals,” with some uptempo, straight-ahead rock.
Looking at a map of Europe that quantifies metal bands by density in each country, one can see why the record label scheduled the fast-paced tour where they did. The band’s 22 stops included eight in Italy, where they started and ended the tour, seven in Germany, four in Switzerland, two in Austria and one in France. The band had just one day off in the whole three weeks but enjoyed some R&R in Italy following their last show.
When asked what his favorite show of the tour was, Trimble says, “It was DesertFest in Berlin [on May 5], for a lot of reasons. We were a new band and here our label was about to book a 22-date tour for us before our record even came out. They secured us a spot in an event that’s probably one of the biggest festivals there for our scene. We know that we are lucky to be able to do this, especially on our first record, and we are grateful to our label who made this happen.”
Another show he enjoyed was “in the middle of nowhere in France.” He jokes, but the venue was called No Man’s Land, in Volmerange-Les-Mines, France, and it was their second-to-last show of the tour.
After three other acts, “We played last. The promoter lit the stage on fire with some grain alcohol, and people went nuts.” Their next-day Instagram post of the licking flames mentions the crowd surfing that took place.
As if it wasn’t already an excellent experience, Trimble had one more takeaway, “Most of the people you’re dealing with in this situation are in the same situation that you are. They realize we are all doing this together. People are very generous and hospitable. Sometimes you sleep at the club. Sometimes you stay at a large family home, in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It might be the place where the promoter lives with his parents and grandparents. There’s a real sense of community.”