Los californianos CATTLE DECAPITATION son de esos grupos, como NAPALM DEATH o ANIMALS KILLING PEOPLE, preocupados por el bienestar animal, la estupidez humana o la situación del planeta, pero que al mismo tiempo hacen una música destructiva en las fronteras entre el Grindcore y el Death Metal, o transitando de un lado a otro según se les antoje. A punto de empezar la gira europea que les va a llevar junto a CRYPTOPSY y DECREPIT BIRTH por diez países, incluidas cuatro fechas en España, su cantante, ideólogo y letrista Travis Ryan nos ha concedido esta entrevista por email en la que demuestra ser un tipo locuaz y con las ideas muy claras.
-It hasn’t been a year yet since your last album, "Monolith of inhumanity", came out, and during that time it has received great positive reviews: to what extent are you glad with what you achieved with it?
We are very happy with the amount of praise its gotten. We weren’t sure how people were going to receive it, but we didn’t expect it to be so much in our favor, honestly. Especially for myself with the vocals. I thought to myself that I could be fucking us by doing “melodic” witchy high vocals on this kind of extreme music we do but I just didn’t care. I’m getting to old to give a shit what people think anymore. Luckily for the band and the label, people liked it for the most part! Some kids don’t like it and email me asking why I would do such a thing. I point them to the feminine odor section of the grocery store and let them know there’s wipes they can get for their vaginas if they feel so inclined. Well, to the males I say that anyways.
-Judging on the lapse between your albums, we can except some time until a new full-length one is out, is that so? In the meantime, do you have any other project in mind?
Probably not as much as last time. The guys have already started working on new stuff, I have a ton of song titles still left over that weren’t used from the last recording and I even have a working title for the next album! We don’t want to take so long between albums this time.
-The musical style of the band has evolved through the years maybe leaning more towards the Death elements rather than the Grindcore ones, despite always keeping the essential hybrid approach, and at the same time it has increased the level of instrumental technicality, variety and even has added some progressive element, what is your personal view about this? Is the change intentional or do you just let it flow?
That’s exactly what I feel we’re doing. We only do what we want but on this last record, we finally did listen to the fans because the reaction was so positive on The Harvest Floor. We kind of took the things they liked from that record and blew them up on this one. The next record might be a little more of the same but we don’t want to do Monolith part II. It will move forward just as we have done of the last couple albums. We love to keep things fresh and we are very much a “flow” oriented band. We’re not looking to please anyone but our fans and ourselves in the process. Luckily, the fans are only gaining in numbers so that must mean we’re doing something right.
-Can you tell us about the controversy caused by the video for the track "Forced gender reassignment"?
Well… the USA is more of a puritan based country, steeped in various forms of Christianity but is also a melting pot for all sorts of other walks of life. The conservative public has permeated into its youth now so much to the point where I’m seeing guys with brutal death metal posters on their walls saying we’ve “gone too far” with this video or that its crap because it made them sick. Sounds like it did the job if you ask me! It’s a HORRIBLE view of life and horrible things are happening in the video. The fucking song is called “Forced Gender Reassignment”. The fucking band is called “Cattle Decapitation”. What the fuck did you expect? Flowers and vegetables because Josh and I are vegetarians and our lyrics condemn the ills of humanity with an emphasis on how we treat our environment and its animals? I think these concepts, the way WE bring them to the table, are simply too provocative for most people, but we’re not ones to “preach to the choir”. You want to make a difference, you gotta make people stand back and gasp sometimes. We did that 1000 fold with this video. It’s a depressing, horrible scene that I don’t recommend anyone to watch and that’s exactly what I intended when going over it with the director. People should remember we’re a fucking extreme death metal band and the video ONLY mirrors the lyrics. These are BY FAR NOT the most grotesque lyrics I’ve ever written either. People just weren’t ready for it. And to me that’s a good thing. It means maybe people are starting to wake up and looking to do good in this world. We can only hope.
-This is your fifth album released by Metal Blade Records, in fact all of your full-length albums have been published by that label, so it’s easy to infer that you feel satisfied working with them, is that so? How long do you expect this good relationship to last?
They’re a huge label and have been good to us. You may have never even heard of the band if it wasn’t for Metal Blade and same goes for a lot of other people too. They’ve propelled us into an arena that we needed to be in and we took the reigns from there. We have a manager now (after 15 years of doing it ourselves) and that’s going to help as well! We re-signed to Metal Blade actually for one more album. We’ll see what happens I guess! But so far so good!
-At the moment you’re going through a phase of line-up stability, as long as the current members have been the same since 2010: how big is the good influence of that on the band? Do you think it will go on like this for a long time?
We give each other shit a lot and its getting harder and harder to do this, but we all feel this is the prime lineup. Honestly, I’ve been around enough other bands and even played in some recently to know that we’re doing more than ok. Bands all go through the same bullshit just at different degrees of bullshit and how that bullshit is handled. I think we do ok. We’re on the rise, I don’t think anyone wants to fuck that up. We’re already working on the next album’s material so I’m sure we’re not going anywhere for a while.
-You’re about to start touring Europe, what are your plans for next tours afterwards? And on the other hand, do you have many festival appearances booked for this year?
We are doing a HUGE festival in Guadalajara after Europe in May with Motorhead, Anthrax and a ton of other bands that should be insane! We’ve never played Guadalajara and I know that every time we’ve played anywhere in Mexico, people from there fly just to see us so it should be great. After that we’re finally doing Australia. The new management is locking down all sorts of awesome international stuff for us this year including Asia, South Africa and hopefully South America and eastern Europe. I need to go to Russia in my lifetime. What better way to do that than with the band! I was infatuated with that country when I was a kid in the 80s and we all had nukes pointed at each other. I even took to trying to learn Russian. Didn’t get far with that though, haha.
-Let me say that the vocals of Travis Ryan are one of the most versatile in the Deathgrind scene, he has a wide range of sounds, from high shrieks to deep growls, and even some occasional clean singing, the man seems like a bunch of different guys all by himself! Does he get many praises in this regards? Where does he get the inspiration from in order to be sure when to shift between vocal styles?
Thanks! I’ve never done any training or anything like that. I’ve just been doing it forever it seems. Started out trying to emulate bands like Broken Hope, Cannibal Corpse and the Bill Steer/Jeff Walker combo but eventually discovered my own voice. I actually quit playing drums in the late 90s because I felt I could be a good death metal singer and Cattle gave me that platform. It wasn’t until we started doing a lot of touring that I developed what I do today. I have this issue with singers all sounding the same. I think one reason people gave death metal such a bad rap in the beginning (yes, I was around back then) was the vocals. A lot of singers end up sounding the same and with this whole deathcore trend, oh man… that sure got out of control. I swear everyone of those guys sounds the fucking same, do the same fucking stage banter, all that shit. When I see kids online pick out one guy specifically and talk about how amazing he is, I just don’t get it half the time. He sounds like everyone else. THAT I want to avoid. When kids ask “how can I do what you do?” I just say “don’t”. I encourage them to do their own thing, even use the singers they like as a starting point but going somewhere else from there. I don’t understand the point in trying to sound like someone else and then turn around and try to show the public what you got as if its something special. I just don’t get that. But yeah, I’m very happy with the feedback regarding the vocals on the last couple albums. It was a big risk on my part and I’m just glad it worked out and now I can explore some more without fear that I might ruin my friends’ hard work (the rest of the band whom are the songwriters).
-Going on with the vocal aspects, surely “Projectile ovulation” is a remarkable highlight especially for the ultra-deep gurgles, but in some parts of “A living, breathing piece of defecating meat” he reminds me of the vocal tone of Wendy O. Williams, do you agree?
Hahhahahahaahahah… Thanks! I think its so awesome that you mentioned that. I don’t mind at all being compared to a woman (no, I’m not gay, I’m a happily married heterosexual), they got all the range! One of my big inspirations is Diamanda Galas. I would love to do a cover of “Wild Women With Steak Knives” some day. I absolutely love her. I’d be totally cool with being deemed “the Diamanda Galas of extreme metal” but sadly, I’ll have to stick with “Celine Dion” for now thanks to our producer who called me that while we were recording! Haha… Fuck, I don’t know man... I’m just doing what feels right. Trust me, that choruse on ALBPODM almost didn’t happen. I showed a brutally rough demo of it to Dave and he was like “what the fuck is that supposed to be?” hahaha. I’ve never had to say “just trust me guys” more than I did with this record. It all comes together in the studio. I actually wanted to do crazier things but the producer had me pull it back a little bit – its in the studio vocals video report where the “celine dion” part came from. It was just a funny joke.
-Your lyrics have also changed through the years, from a more exclusively explicit and disgusting Gore approach to a more conceptual elaboration of some recurring topics, but these topics have kept the same: is your misanthropy so intense? Is it real or just a literary excuse?
Its at the very least half real. I fuckin hate people for the most part. They get the best of me every fucking day. My wife and I are perfect for each other because we both feel the same way. Constantly asking ourselves “is it just us? Or do people really suck this bad?” I think they do for the most part. Its unfortunate. There’s also varying degrees of chemical imbalances and depression in there that brings out lyrics like that. I’m not going to lie to you. In fact, the telling of truths seems to get me in more trouble in a world of metal bands who pretend everything is so OK to the rest of the world and their fanbases. You’ll always hear the truth from me, even if its to my detriment. The recession of gore in our lyrics isn’t that full either… there’s still plenty of gore in there but its been a little diluted with other topics. I’ve been trying to get back to the roots of it all lately but so many other more important things keep coming into play. SO many other things that people need to hear about in this context I feel. We’re sending our world straight to hell with no thought of future generations of ANY life form, especially our own. We’re a selfish, selfish species.
-When you are not playing live or recording with the band, what other occupations do you have? Do you make a living out of music alone or do you have regular jobs aside?
We live in one of the top most expensive cities to live here in America, San Diego. Its a struggle but we’re doing ok. We do not live off our music unless we’re on the road. Day jobs are a must, unfortunately, for pretty much ALL death metal bands in the US. I think Cannibal Corpse are literally the only ones that can live off their music from what I can tell and that’s fuckin awesome for them! I’m glad to see all that hard work wasn’t for naught. I sell mostly media online, and have been doing online resale for years now. It allows me to be my own boss. Josh Works at a law firm, Dave works at Guitar Center and Derek is always busy printing with his new print business Monolithic Merchandise. We’re doin’ ok.