Cattle Decapitation recently tore up a number of towns and cities in the UK as part of the Reborn In Death Tour with Suffocation and Blood Red Throne amongst others. Steve Fallows caught up with guitarist Josh Elmore after their blistering set in Liverpool for a few words.
Hello Josh, first of all you played a few songs off the upcoming “Monolith Of Inhumanity” album for us tonight, can you tell us a little bit more about the album?
Conceptually and lyrically, it’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing, this time Travis concentrated on the earth as a giant landfill and humans as this sort of entity perpetuating the state of world affairs. Musically, it has elements of all our work so far, and we know when band always says ‘its heavier and more brutal’ but we hope that it’s a perfectly realized evolutionary step.
I think that if there been any advances or changes, its come from us really concentrating and trying to structure the songs as well as possible for maximum enjoyment. Its palatable in a way that you’d say ‘ah, that’s cool’ but its still rippingly abrasive and almost obnoxious, but in a good way I hope.
I saw that once again you have got Wes Benscoter designing the cover, what does he bring to the bands vision?
Yeah, he’s doing the cover again. Its not as gory or as controversial as some of the other ones I guess, but it’s his style perfectly realized with what we had asked of him.
We always say ‘We want this and this and this’ and then of course he comes back with something not completely different, but it has different elements and its something that we didn’t perhaps bring forth, but it always works, kind of everything we were thinking of but maybe didn’t realize.
When an artist works with a band over a period of albums does their work evolve with the bands ideas?
The cover is not as gory, there is still some in there, but its not as gory, just really heavy conceptually and it ties in with the lyrics. It’s a different colour scheme again; we try to do different themes for each album.
Harvest Floor was a lot of cold colours, slate greys and blues with some purple. Karma… was really red with some yellow, a lot of primary colours. This one was more yellow and green, just a really sickly hazy sort of look.
Once you see the cover and the central figure and background it all makes sense, as well as out band pictures which are quite amusing, gross but amusing.
As well as the album coming out you have this tour with Suffocation and soon after, one with Origin. What does the rest of the year hold?
I don’t know just yet, we are supposed to be heading back over here (UK) for festivals in August and including maybe a couple of dates in Scotland but its all still kind of loose right now, so nothing is confirmed.
We will probably do another US tour in the fall, more focusing on the South and Central states, because the origin tour doesn’t hit Texas or Florida and some other states we feel we do well in, and with a new album out it would be a shame not to visit them places. That and there maybe some international dates towards the end of the year, pending us coming here, we are going to do South America and Australia and see what else develops.
It is pretty rare that we get to see a full five or six band package tour instead of just a normal two or three band show. How do the bands react to more bands and shorter sets?
I’ve got mixed feelings with that, when they try to do it in the US a lot of times it will be three or four band packages and then the promoter will stick four local bands on to pad the package out and turn it into an all day thing. Maybe it’s just me being old and grumpy but sometimes it gets to the point where it’s kinda like ‘I don’t care’ after the third or fourth band it becomes a contest of who can hang out the longest.
For me, for purely selfish reasons four bands would be perfect if it’s a normal show and not a festival setting. Tonight the six bands we had, us and Blood Red Throne have been together the whole time, we had a couple of Italian bands during the early portion of the tour. Suffocation jumped on two dates before we came over here and Carceri and Sadist joined us in London so its been a bit of a ping pong but a consistent amount of bands the whole tour.
Tonight, they paced where everyone had shorter sets, i’d maybe have preferred to play for a little longer, most death metal should at most be forty minutes, but playing for 35-40 minutes each would probably mean losing one of the bands off the tour. It may sound like I am protecting my own bands interests, but I think most bands would tend to agree.
As well as recording your latest album, I see that Travis has also contributed guest vocals on the new Soulfly album ‘Enslaved’. How did this come about?
Yeah, he’s on the newest Soulfly record. I think it’s the first single he does guest vocals on a large portion of it. ‘World Scum’ is the name of the song, and he does quite a lot on it. I’ve only heard it a few times, but its not just him screaming along with the chorus, he has his own lines so its pretty significant for a guest vocalist spot.
We toured with Soulfly in October 2009 and we’ve maintained contact with mainly Gloria (Cavalera, Max’s wife and Soulfly manager) and it seems they kept Travis in mind as someone they would like to work with vocally in the future, the opportunity presented itself and he (Travis) was like ‘I used to have pictures of Max from RIP magazine all over my wall in the early nineties’, but even if that wasn’t the case, why wouldn’t he want to be involved in something like that.
To a lot of people that seems like a match that they wouldn’t necessarily see as logical. It gets him out there and it gets our band out there. There are potentially a lot of Soulfly fans that might check us out, but then there’s some that will say ‘What’s that screeching nonsense’? Maybe it will lead some of them to heavier, more aggressive, faster music and maybe it will help us, but either way its good for everyone involved I say. Max seems to be going back to his old school sound, there’s a lot of Slayer type riffing on there and if that’s where things are heading, good for them.
Lastly, congratulations on a storming set, you treated everyone to a very intense half hour out there.
Thank you, we try to be full on, so everyone ends up having to go home and decompress. It’s definitely something; maybe a lot of heavy bands are like this. You tend not to think about it, you are just getting up and playing individually or collectively.
Whatever tension you put into it, be it positive or negative, you have to go with it. For some reason we seem to be wound up a lot tighter than most bands out there. We just seem to be good in certain regards as far as interpersonal relationships and the way we react sometimes and hopefully that translates on stage. A kind of bang for the buck thing that hopefully you all enjoy and then we all go and deal with it in the van.
“Monolith Of Inhumanity” is released through Metal Blade Records on May 8th 2012.