‘I don’t look at myself as a deathcore vocalist’: Lorna Shore Singer Will Ramos Talks Vocal Care, Love For Manga, + Crafting Tragedy On ‘Pain Remains

Photo by Mike Elliott (@mpelliott)
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While Lorna Shore formed in 2010, singer Will Ramos would make his way into the band come 2021.Will made his recorded debut on the band’s EP …And I Return to Nothingness, and would help launch Lorna Shore into the metal limelight.

Since that EP’s release, Lorna Shore have been experiencing remarkable attention. Alongside the killer blend of theatrical instrumentation – blending elements of black, death, and symphonic metal – Ramos’ voice makes for a profound presence within the band. Brutal gutturals and high shrieks are nothing new in metal, but what Ramos provides with his voice is nothing short of chilling and fascinating. Ramos is also a talented writer, and with the release of the band’s new album Pain Remains, he has crafted one hell of an extraordinary narrative.

In our conversation with Will, we asked him about how he takes care of his voice on the road, the creative process in making this new album, and we even get into his love for manga (and how one particular story helped shape the narrative direction of Pain Remains). We also learned more about the emotional depth that is explored throughout the record, and what drove Ramos to create a profound tragedy. Please note, this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Pit: For those who may not know – How did you come to find out you wanted to be a vocalist? When you were younger, did you find yourself mimicing other vocalists?

Will Ramos: Yeah pretty much, I was definitely one of those little kids where I loved to try and mimic the people that I heard. You know, at the end of the day, I didn’t think that I was gonna be a screamer or anything. I always liked other instruments, so growing up, I was like, “Oh maybe I’ll do something”; not singing or anything like that. But then I just remember being in high school, I was just listening to heavy metal all the time, and I guess along my escapades – I don’t even remember when it started – but I started just yelling in the shower.

At one point, when one of my friends heard me, he was like, “Yo dude, you’re actually pretty okay, you should keep doing that.” Then that kind of just inspired me to keep going; then eventually I put my guitar down and I was like, “I’m just gonna keep screaming.” Then here I am. I always kinda wanted be a vocalist, I just never thought that it would have happened, you know?

The Pit: Right on. Besides being inspired by other vocalists, have you ever been inspired by anything in pop culture? Say a particular sound or voice heard in a horror movie or anime?

WR: Honestly, no. I couldn’t really tell you. I spent a lot of my time just trying to copy what other vocalists were doing and learn their techniques and stuff. Then at some point along the route, I just found which techniques are most comfortable for me and then that just kind of became what I do now.

The Pit: You joined Lorna Shore in 2021 and then worked on the EP that would be …And I Return to Nothingness. From there, you started working on this new album Pain Remains. Compared to that EP, what did it feel like creating a full LP with the band? How different was that experience and being able to do more with a bigger (so to speak) release, and being able to show off more of your talents?

WR: I mean it’s fun, you know? The more room you give me – I prefer that because it allows me to do whatever I kind of want. When we had the three-parter [sic], the three parts EP, it felt like I didn’t have enough time to get all my techniques out and show all the different things that I could do. It’s only three songs, like, how do you showcase the whole new band with just three songs? We felt like we were [working on a full release]. I definitely feel like, especially when we were [creating Pain Remains] – because we had all this room – I could throw some crazy things in.

For instance, when we were [creating] “To The Hellfire,” we were just like, “Alright, we just gotta write the heaviest freaking thing here.” But I’m a big fan of melody driven stuff and doing weird vocals that kind of carry that, and I feel like, on [Pain Remains, my vocals] went where they were supposed to, as opposed to where they had to go, you know what I mean? Now we have a matured version of the EP.

The Pit: That’s awesome to hear! Speaking of your vocals, we wanted to ask how you approach performing on the road versus recording an album. When you are making a record, you can take your time (relatively speaking) and address your voice as need be; when on the road and performing live, you have to be on point every second. What approaches do you take to keeping your voice in shape on the road?

WR: I mean honestly, when I first went on the road with Lorna, I never went on a tour that was like three weeks long. I didn’t really know what the hell was going to happen, but I’m always taking precautions for my voice. I’ve learned for myself that one of the biggest things that kills a vocalist on the road – it’s not even necessarily being on stage. As long as you’re using the right technique, you should be fine on the stage. But then you’ll be on the road for awhile like, “Damn, my voice is still hurting. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong.” But a lot of things that really hurt a vocalist and shit is what you’re doing as soon as you get off the stage.

A lot of people like to hang out with the rest of the bands and talk really loudly in the bar area, and you don’t realize when you’re at the bar, talking to people or having a drink […] that can wreck your voice. ‘Cause when you’re talking to somebody, when you’re yelling at somebody or talking loudly, you’re usually not using proper technique. That’s a big problem because usually you’re not thinking about it; you’ll be talking loudly and you just had a whole ass set and, you may have a great voice, no strain the entire show, but then you get off the show and now you’re talking to people and now your voice starts to hurt a little bit.

By the time the day’s over, you’re like, “Dude it must have been like my technique on stage,” but a lot of it is you talking really loud. Or for instance, one of the things that I used to do beforehand was drink to get the edge off before I go onstage; but then by drinking to get the edge off, now you’re also encouraging your body to go a little bit more HAM. But when you go HAM, you push a little harder in parts; you might accidentally lock in on a breakdown and be like, “Oh I’m gonna fuckin’ destroy this thing.” Then you destroy the breakdown, but now you still have five songs and you’re like, “Damn, I’m a little tired. I just I went full full 150% on that and I shouldn’t have.” It’s always things like that you’re not thinking about ’cause you’re drinking or you’re just talking and you’re at a bar. Anything like that.

The Pit: That sort of natural wear and tear makes total sense, thank you for sharing that. On an additional vocal related note, we wanted to ask if you would ever be open to vocal work outside of music? Specifically, could you see yourself doing voiceover work for something like a movie or video game?

WR: Oh yeah, [along] with a couple other vocalists, I’m doing a video game right now called Kristala. It hasn’t come out yet, but I did my whole little voice acting thing. I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty cool; if I could do more I totally would. I even remember hitting up [the folks who make the video game] Doom ‘cause they were looking for people. I was like, “Yo guys I’m that guy! I could do it, I could do vocals!” And they’re like, “Yeah no soliciting.” And I was like, “Damn, I guess I’m soliciting. I didn’t even realize I’m totally soliciting myself!”

I was like, “Well my bad, but you know, just hypothetically, how would I get into that?” They’re like, “Well you gotta be in a voice acting union,” and I’m like, “Wow this is fucking wild.” Now this changes everything. That shit’s hard to get up there. But you know, getting [into] movies or anything like that, I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of union shit that I’m not prepared for.

The Pit: Fair enough dude. That’s awesome to hear about the game, we will keep a look out for it. Switching gears to talk about Pains Remains – sometime ago, over on Instagram, Adam mentioned how this album was written during a very difficult time in his life. There’s an incredible potential power in art that explores difficult subject matter – like the ability to provide catharsis or clarity. We were wondering if you could speak to what your goals were as a writer working on Pain Remains. Did you and the band want to create a work that provided a catharsis of sorts?

WR: We were trying to write a tragedy; like if you ever watch those old movies or whatever. Now movies end with happy shit, and that’s cool, but we were trying to end it like one of those bittersweet kind of moments. I try to tell a story [through my writing]; I grew up in a family of authors and shit, and I love stories. Honestly, I love to tell them in songs. For me – we were just talking about anime – but my biggest thing growing up, and when it comes to this album, I always watched anime. I love it.

I drew a lot of inspiration from it, and I eventually went to start reading manga; now I only really read manga, I don’t really watch anime. Honestly, it takes too damn long – just get to the fucking point already! But I remember one thing when I was growing up – there was one story, I don’t even remember which anime it was, but it was based off of a certain character and she was always shot as hell [meaning, worn out or ruined]. I hated her; I was like, “This person is shot, like, why is she even in this anime?” And then it came eventually – like in Game of Thrones, the fucking Hodor, hold the door [scene] – at the end of the whole thing, and you’re like, “Holy shit, this is the craziest thing that’s ever happened.” It was one of those things where they finally explained why she’s shot; by the end of the whole thing, you’re like, “Wow, that’s crazy.”

And basically, long story short, it was this person that was just unhappy with their life, and they found that in their dreams they were happier – escaping from their reality. So, because of that, they would go through drug induced cycles where they would just be sleeping all day, like every day, and it was because the person found happiness and solace in their dreams. They’re like, “I don’t wanna be here, I wanna be there.” So that’s what they did – they force themselves to be in that place, and in the end, it made them shot as hell. It’s a small part in the anime, but I thought in a way that was so beautiful and sad at the same time; ’cause in a way, they found what made them happy. You know, who’s to tell anybody what happiness is at the end of the day, you know?

I felt this was really interesting, and when it came to the album, I tried to write further upon that [concept]. I also happen to stop smoking a lot of weed ’cause I was going into the studio. I was like, “I need to be sharper and I wanna write better lyrics.” Then I noticed when I was not smoking, I was having crazy, vivid dreams; when I was a little kid, I used to look into lucid dreaming and all that astral projection shit. Now that I’m getting older, I’m like, “How can I write an album and put all these things together in my mind?”

And I’m like, “Alright, I’m gonna write a story about a person who’s trying to escape their real life, their reality, whatever is happening in front of them. That’s pretty much what I try to do throughout the entire freaking album. It starts with the person lucid dreaming, they’re scared, they don’t know what the fuck is happening, they start to get control of what the hell is going on, they start to love dreaming, then they start to hate dreaming, and then they find something that makes them happy finally. And then they get to the point where they lose it and they’re just over the whole thing; by the end of it, the person is like, “I’m tired of being here in this place. I’m not happy.” And it makes you wonder, “Is there ever a way to be happy?” Who knows? [Referring to the album’s narrative] – You went to a place where you were happy and now you’re not; when you were living in reality, you weren’t happy. And I wanted to tell a story like that.

I wanted to end where the person was like, “Fuck this, I’m fucking angry, and the only way that I can find happiness now is to just get out of here and escape.” And now they’re escaping again, but that’s kind of how we try to end the whole album. At the end they are making the final escape back to where they originally came from, they want to disappear in a sea of fire, that’s the lyric at the end.

When I was writing it, I was like, “This kind of feels like a loop”; it starts in one place and then it ends somewhere else. But it almost feels like it ends back at the beginning. So I don’t know… I’m sure my my sister would absolutely penalize the shit out of me, but I was like, listen, I’m not a real author, this is as good as it’s gonna get, alright. I tell stories and I try and make it relatable to me.

The Pit: That is deeply profound, and thank you for sharing that with us. From what we’ve heard of the record, the narrative involving that central character truly shines in these emotional and painful ways. With the work of this album behind you now, is there anything you have taken from this experience on a personal level? How has your work with Pain Remains impacted your artistry moving forward, and what are you proud of regarding this release?

WR: Being able to do whatever I wanted. I was always in projects [where it was] like, “Oh no that’s to deathcore” or “That’s to this, that’s to that.” I mean, obviously [there was] some fight back with certain parts, but for the most part, I think we got everything out. I don’t look at myself as a deathcore vocalist, I just look at myself as a vocalist. And I think, especially those parts you’re talking about that are more pain driven and more emotional, those aren’t deathcore things – as far as like writing lyrics or tonality, that’s not really included a lot.

In this particular circumstance, [the band] were like, “You do whatever you want,” and it almost makes me more inspired to write more shit. Because now I can literally write whatever the fuck I want and it’s fine. I can experiment more and I can do cool vocal things that before I was like, “Oh I can’t do that here.” It’s like, “Oh I could do all that and I’m fine to do that.” I think that’s what makes this album so good; I know that’s what  I wanna keep moving towards in the future.

We would like to thank Will for his time talking to us! The new Lorna Shore album Pain Remains is out today.