Return to Earth Vocalist Ron Scalzo on Ending Their Decade-Plus Break With LP

Photo: Seth Kushner

Return to Earth is a long-running musical collaboration between Ron Scalzo, Brett Aveni, and Chris Pennie (ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan, Coheed and Cambria).

"Brett and Chris were working on some rock tunes and approached me about singing," Scalzo tells me about the Return to Earth genesis story. "I had just started my own label, Bald Freak Music, and was doing a weird electronic rock project called Q*Ball with Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (Guns N' Roses, Sons of Apollo).

"I thought the Return to Earth songs were properly aggressive, considering Chris was involved, but with some really cool hooks too. We released our first album, Captains of Industry, on Bald Freak. Three years later, we put our second album out on Metal Blade.... and then we took a 10-year break."

That decade-plus break ended earlier this year with the release of Return to Earth's third studio album, Oblivion:

Though Pennie was one of the architects of Dillinger's influential sound might have some readers expecting a certain direction from the project, Return to Earth's stylistic approach isn't bound to anything specific. Scalzo explains: "Our sound has certainly evolved since we started. Early on, I think we were most interested in making catchy alternative rock—music that you could hear alongside bands like Muse and Foo Fighters.

"But we definitely made an effort to be heavier and more bananas on the Metal Blade album. The new album is still heavy and it's still bananas, but it's a lot more symphonic. We all dig Hans Zimmer and Ludwig Goransson and Sigur Rós but we dig Slayer and Maiden, Tool and Nine Inch Nails too.

"It's a trademark of the band to draw from all those influences while making a concerted effort to avoid being 'same sounding.' Someone told me that 'In Pieces' sounds like 'angry Beastie Boys.' That made me smile."

Listening to him explain it, it's clear that creating Oblivion went beyond music for Scalzo. "There were two really dark periods in my life, the first soon after the Metal Blade album came out in 2010, the second was the second of half in 2020.

"During both of those periods, my personal life fell apart, and these lyrics were written. That's no coincidence. But the songs aren't necessarily autobiographical—in some cases, like on a song like 'In Pieces,' I write from the perspective of antagonists. What they are all about, in some way, are: faith, grief, truth, fear, and determination."


Oblivion is available now on Bandcamp.


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Tagged: coheed and cambria, dillinger escape plan, return to earth