From Predator to Prey: The Transformation of Ricky Armellino

The lights dim and the house music fades away. To any concert-goer this is the beginning to a long-awaited concert, to Ricky Armellino it’s the beginning of his nightly routine.

Hawk, formerly known as This or The Apocalypse, opens up the night with a pre-recording of an introduction to a crazy flight. Everyone in the band comes on the stage and they start off the night with their only released song “Mileage.” From the beginning, Armellino is interacting with the audience jumping into the crowd, running around trying to get people hyped and ready to engage with him.

For an opening band it can be a challenge to get the crowd amped up for the set, especially when the majority of songs are unreleased, but Armellino did the best he could with weaving his way throughout the crowd, screaming into the microphone. Once he made his way back to the stage he didn’t stay in one place too long, jumping and running around, expelling a lot of energy into the songs he was performing.

Right after the set Armellino made his way to the Hawk merch table and interacted with fans. Between the Hawk and Ice Nine Kills’ set he had roughly an hour to relax before he was off to makeup to get ready for his role as Georgie for INK’s set.

Photo: Sammi Mika

Armellino’s daily routine is different than most musicians while on tour. He’s been with Ice Nine Kills since February of last year and has toured with them as their guitarist, but hasn’t toured with Hawk since they were branded under This or The Apocalypse five years ago. Armellino has to warm his voice up constantly, eat properly and stretch just so he’s healthy for both sets.

“I can’t drink, I can’t do anything fun I just have to really make sure I’m warming my voice up constantly. So I get out of bed and I take a steamer and I’ll steam my voice for a while, do a warm up and then it’ll either happen before or after I have to unload everything with the band. Then after that I usually have to do soundchecks,” says Armellino.

Being in two different bands on one bill is challenging, especially when the headliner is one of them. By the end of the night any person would be tired and exhausted. Between lead vocals for Hawk and the demanding instrumentation, vocals and theatrics of Ice Nine Kills, Armellino is one to express how tiresome, yet rewarding, it is.

“It’s been challenging, especially because I’ve been singing a lot more for Ice Nine than I did before so, it’s just basically, if I’m not all-day taking care of my voice things can go really wrong. I’m still kind of trying to get my footing with being a front man again. I’m super used to being a guitar player right now, but it’s a lot more focusing and coordination for the first set and then for the second set it’s a lot more about trying to conserve my energy because I’m sweating a lot so I was dealing with dehydration issues for the first few days. I almost blacked out on stage the one day, somebody had to help me up.” Armellino commented.

When the covers are removed from the IX lights, the energy shifts in the venue from anticipation to excitement. The men come on the stage, each dressed as a different horror film character, Armellino’s microphone has a red balloon tied to it and he comes out wearing a yellow raincoat, a reference to Georgie from Stephen King’s “It.”

Photo: Sammi Mika

Armellino started out just doing guitar when Ice Nine Kills first brought him on a year ago. He did some backing vocals, but nothing as intense as what he brought on the “March Into Madness” tour.

When Armellino was invited into Ice Nine Kills he first rejected the opportunity because he thought he couldn’t play the songs, but it all changed after Spencer Charnas was persistent.

“Spencer called and he asked if I could do the tour on three days’ notice because JD had a health emergency and initially, I said no because I was like, I can’t play that stuff, but Spencer had watched me play guitar over facetime when I was helping write for ‘The Silver Scream.’  I worked on ‘American Nightmare’, ‘It is the End’ and ‘Merry Axe-Mas’ and they called me the next morning and they were like if you can’t do this tour, we’re fucked. And I said okay. Cause I had a client who just cancelled on me in the studio so everything lined up,” Armellino adds.

After the first few days of the tour Armellino realized he belonged on the Ice Nine Kills team. “…I was only planning on doing two weeks of it and they were going to have someone else come in and it was three days in. It was like, no this is my spot I’m doing this. I didn’t realize how awesome it was going to be after not touring for so long. It was a gift.”

Throughout the set on this headliner date I attended Armellino was interacting with the crowd, running around the stage and giving the powerful vocals needed for majority of the songs on the setlist.

When the last song of the night came the entire band exited the stage, all of a sudden Armellino, dressed as little Georgie came on stage, a small paper boat in hand. He wandered aimlessly around with his boat until Charnas came on the stage, taking the boat away and began with the lyrics. After a few verses the lyric “just reach your hands down here and take it, if you really want it back,” Ricky moved in as if his arm was eaten off by Charnas, posed as Pennywise.

During the last song Armellino remained stationary to his microphone, adding in his backing vocals. From the sweat dripping off his brow to the slight smile on his face, you can tell he loves what he does and its solidified in the admiration he has for Ice Nine Kills and their album, The Silver Scream.

“Every single song is so clever and witty and well done that any could be my favorite from day to day. I’ve said Stabbing in the Dark, but over time I always think back on The American Nightmare. That is just a flawless rock song that still has metalcore moments in it and it retains what makes the band the unique identity and the things i really love about them because Ice Nine Kills is the metalcore band. They cracked into the mainstream,” says Armellino.

From lead singer to guitarist, from Predator to Prey, Armellino gives it his all during each set. It may have taken a few weeks to get his routine down, but it paid off in the end, as each set is flawless in its own ways.

TAGS: Hawk | Ice Nine Kills

Sammi Mika

Twitter: @SammiMika


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