In the spring of 2014, tragedy struck Los Angeles-based industrial rock band Black Lodge when their bassist Ventura XIII (Ventura Banuelos) was killed in a motorcycle accident. “It was something that tore me apart,” says guitarist Johnny Royal, who organized a candlelight vigil following Banuelos’ death.
“I dug deep and asked myself what would he want to see happen. His best friend from childhood, Bobby, told me that Ventura was very grateful because I helped some of his biggest dreams come true and that he would want me to continue with the band. And when I’d visit Ventura at the cemetery, it felt right to continue. It didn’t feel like I was trying to convince myself.”
“It was definitely hard on everyone,” says Daniel Sahagún, who replaced Gavin Reign on lead vocals. “I’m the newest member of the band, so I wasn’t able to meet Ventura, but his presence has been here throughout the writing and recording process. Johnny has tried to keep his spirit in all of this stuff, so I feel in a way as if I know him. He’s definitely in the record.”
In fact, the last song on the band's forthcoming album, "XIII," which Royal wrote after his father died when he was just 15 years old, was named as a tribute to Banuelos, whose voice can be heard on the track. “The song is about the grieving process and being able to face storms that come up in your life and the loss of a best friend and someone like Ventura," says Royal. "We found a sound clip of Ventura laughing and you can hear him laughing at the end of the song." Ironically, says Royal, it was Ventura who said the acoustic track, co-written and co-produced by Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez of Marilyn Manson), who plays bass on the track, could be their “Stairway to Heaven.”
While the band released a self-titled EP two years ago, they have since taken their time writing and recording a full-length record, with producer Lee Miles (Shinedown, Rise Against), new bassist Nero Bellum and new drummer Raanen Bozzio, which is slated to be released in early 2016. “The longer we took with it and let go of control, it really made it worth it,” says Royal. You can hear a track from the new album, "Thoughts," in the brand-new video directed by Royal featuring a cameo from Royal's girlfriend Carmen Electra, below.
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Black Lodge plays the Viper Room Friday, Sept. 4.