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Tampa area thrash band mixes different genres of music

Special Correspondent
Published: June 26, 2013

BRANDON - The local hard rock scene in the Tampa area is a tight-knit community that tries to support one another. Bands play local shows, jockeying to prove themselves worthy of making the grade. Thrash/metal band Riptorn is quickly claiming its place within the local scene.

Singer Ben Colbert, guitarists Ben Salzgeber - who goes by Benzel - and Brad Jones, bassist Mario Morano and drummer Keenan Womble comprise the band. Salzgeber, Jones and Womble have known each other since the eighth grade when they attended Burns Middle School together. They officially formed Riptorn in 2011 and recruited Colbert and Morano along the way.

"We all like different music, but the one thing we all agree on is thrash," Morano said.

During the day, the members of Riptorn simply blend into modern society. Colbert, for instance, works as an insurance agent and Morano works in community mental health. But make no mistake, they are serious about the music.

"With the band, this is something we think about all the time. You're at work thinking about it. You go home and you're thinking about it," Jones said.

"The worst is when you're in the shower. And you're like 'I just came up with the best riff ever but I can't record it on anything,'" Morano added.

The band is spread out throughout the Tampa Bay area. Colbert lives in South Tampa, Morano is near Busch Gardens, Womble is in the Brandon/Valrico area, and Salzgeber and Jones live together in Zephyrhills. They get together twice a week to practice in a warehouse shed in Tampa so they don't keep any neighbors awake.

The songwriting process usually starts with Salzgeber and Jones working on guitar parts and the rest of the band takes it from there. While Riptorn's music is considered thrash, they don't want to be pigeonholed.

"We've evolved to the point that we are now. We've always wanted to be thrash because that's what we always loved," Jones said.

"It's not cut and dry, cookie cutter thrash though. We have hardcore (elements), punk (elements) and a little southern pride rock," Colbert added.

Riptorn has begun to make a name for itself in the local music scene. The band has been featured on radio station 98 Rock and the members say that it makes their day when someone they don't know says they enjoy their music.

"There is nothing better than when someone I don't know acknowledges us," Jones said.

"We had a show where (Womble) threw his drumsticks into the crowd. And afterward some family came over with their 8-year-old kid and had us sign his drumstick for him. That was a surreal moment," Morano said.

See Riptorn perform at the Orpheum in Ybor City on July 3 and Aug. 1, as well as at Fubar in St. Pete on July 17. They have demos of their songs on their Facebook page ( and Twitter (@RiptornThrash).