These guys are a pretty big deal to me, not only are they one of the most recognizable bands in extreme metal these days, they were one of the first real grind bands I got into when I was younger. They opened up a whole world of new music and ideas, and for the first time, metal appeared to have something constructive to say, but still in a brutal way. I was fortunate enough to speak to vocalist, Travis Ryan, about the band’s history, future and their latest release. Hope you like it.
Can you introduce yourself and let us know what it is you do?
My name is Travis Ryan, I do vocals and lyrics and stuff for Cattle Decapitation, and that’s pretty much it.
How have you seen the band evolve over the last 15 or so years?
I think it’s pretty simple, we started out as having fun trying to make really intense music, and ended up doing the same, but trying to have a little bit more melody and a little more stuff going on in there. A lot of people think it switched from grind, “straight grind”, to death metal, but I think it always had a “deathy” vibe in there anyway, and I wouldn’t call us death metal at all. I don’t know really what you’d call it, but we’re looking now just trying to blur the lines between all of it and be genreless and I’m glad that people are picking up on that. I hate labels and, yeah that’s pretty much it. I listen to all sorts of stuff, and I like to intergrate all that into your know, something extreme.
Is the vegetarian/anti-human aspect still at the forefront of Cattle Decaps’ image and content?
Yeah it’ll always be there, you know, gotta have something to talk about! Yeah I mean, there’s only two vegetarians left in the band, we’ve got a new bass player now. It was never a pre-requisite for the band or anything like that. It’s just you know, we probably wouldn’t be able to maintain any kind of schedule, or any kind of band for that matter, if we were to try and maintain an all vegetarian band anyway. So in that respect, we had to kind of cave in after a while.
What do the non-vegetarian members of the band think about the lyrical content and imagery?
Oh they love it! They don’t practise it, but they love it. It’s not all we talk about. If I was to only talk about animal rights or anything related to that subject, it would get really monotonous after a while for one thing. It’s always just been a theme that’s been interlaced in the lyrics even from day one you know, it’s not something that was, well I don’t think at least, well there’s been a bit more blatant songs earlier on, and even like peppered out through the history of the band, there’s been some blatant ones, we’ve been covering other topics that I feel are important as well of the past few years and albums.
So what are the others themes you like to touch on?
Oh man, it’s pretty much depends on how people read the lyrics. We put them all online for everybody to see. I mean it’s all over the board, but I’d say that the latest record is more dealing with where we’re going to go, where we’re going to end up, if we don’t visibly start trying to make some adjustments at least, which we’re probably going to end up there anyway, because we’ve done ourselves in so fucking far already that who knows if it’s even reversible. I don’t think that billions and billions and billions of particles of plastic that are swimming around just in the one area of the pacific alone, is going to go away any time soon ya know. That’s just one blip on the screen compared to everything else that wrong with the world.
How did you approach the new album “Monolith of Inhumanity”?
Pretty much with all guns blazing, Because we’ve got a new bass player, he was really hungry and wanted to get to writing, do stuff and get back out on the road and stuff like that, and the rest of us, who had been on “The Harvest Floor” knew that we had, well that was a decent record, and we had that to contend with. We set the bar a little bit higher on ourselves on that record, and apparently we’ve done it again, judging by the reviews and stuff, so who knows what the hell we’ll do on the next one, I don’t know, we’ll see.
Do you find yourself experimenting more musically and vocally especially?
Yeah totally. I mean I’m 37, I’m getting older, Josh feels the same way with what he does in the band, so it’s “you know what, I’m getting older, I’m getting tired of shit, I don’t want to be doing anything that feels stagnant, I’ll just try this”. With the vocals, I wanted to do some stuff that nobody, well not that nobody’s done, not like that, it was just, I kind of realised, talking to kids, that I guess I’m one of the only people that does certain things, and tries to draw out actuall pitches and stuff out of guttural vocals. There’s also some things you can do that nobody really seems to do, to make it musical, or to have melody.
I’ve seen some 10/10 reviews of the new album, have you found that most of the feedback has been of this nature?
Oh yeah it’s been overwhelmingly positive. There’s been a couple of reviews that were ripping on it, but they were wrong! Haha, I hate to say it, but some of the reviews that are really glowing and really positive, some of them are off bass as well. Some of things I don’t agree with, most of it’s just where they do the generic, “the ripping drums! And the pulsing bass! And the cackling vocals!” It’s just like dude, they’re just reiterating a fucking bio or a quick amazon review that someone else did. Some of them don’t even put any heart into it, and we can see right through those ones. A lot of are the popular ones. On this record it’s just been nothing but positive reviews, we agree with some of it, and we don’t agree with some of it, and it’s always going to be that way because all people have their opinions, and I don’t even know why I’m sitting here bitching about people that are into the album, so maybe I should just stop.
Do positive reviews like that make all the hard work, “worth it” to an extent?
Yeah, I mean we kind of worried. I’m all about doing, whatever we want and all, but we also gotta watch it, we gotta remember that there’s kids that like us, whether or not we think they should, and we should respect that. Not cater to them, or anybody else for that matter, but we’ve just gotta always keep that in mind, that there are fans there, and they wanna hear certain things, but at the same time, we wanna do what we want, and luckily it’s clicking, it’s always clicked with a lot of people. It’s funny see to see all these people who were haters before, or at least people saying “I was never really into these dudes, I just couldn’t get into them, but this one’s awesome”. So we’re seeing a lot of that, and that’s positive, that ‘s actually the kind of shit that I wanna see. It’s starts out bad, like “these guys sucked the last 10-15 years! But this one’s good.” That’s still cool, I’d rather see that, than “with the shredding bass! And machine gun drums!” that shit’s stupid. Reviews are just reviews. Basically what I’m saying, is that reviews are reviews, and wouldn’t put too much thought into them, just check it out yourself, who cares what people think.
Does the writing process get any easier after all this time?
Sort of, I think, well they do it all, so for me it’s totally easy. Sort of I think, because get somewhat on a roll, and just being in a room with people, having the experience of that, over and over and over again, and writing with different kinds of people, especially when you have to remember every god damn album that we’ve practised and done over the years, that kind of experience helps things move along a bit smoother, but dude, it still took us a year to write this, and not because we were trying to make some epic thing, it was literally because we had two nights a weeks maybe, that we’d get in there for like an hour and a half, it was stupid , and it would be at 10:30/11 at night, it’s fucking dumb. What are you going to get accomplished doing that? We wanted to write the album in 6 months, 5/6 months like we’ve done every time in the past, and then spend 5 or 6 months, making the songs mature, but no, it was hard as hell to get in there make this thing. But we did at least get to play some shows , and play the new stuff out, and that was a good way to help get the songs mature and stuff.
I read something about you holding the world record for shortest/fastest song ever, is that true?
No, I tried submitting that to the Guinness world records, but it’s way more involved then anybody thinks. For one thing, there need to be a witness, there needs to be a person from Guinness flown out there, and they have to witness and document incessantly, the whole process. It’s a big thing, or something to that affect. I got a letter back, because I was trying to submit the song on the Caninus split, it’s so short that it wouldn’t even register digitally on a CD. We couldn’t get it to register as a track, it’s the blink of an eye, it’s stupid. When we did put it on digital, it’s just attached to one of the songs at the end, because it’s just too short to make it’s own track, it’s kind of funny. Yeah I tried, and they wouldn’t accept it because it had already been done or whatever the hell it was. It is, it has to be though, there’s no way you could do anything shorter, you just can’t, it’s pointless and stupid, you’d have to do the exact same thing we did, which was just basically “click”. It has lyrics, one word. Haha.
Any plans to tour Australia in the near future?
We’re trying, it’s a tough nut to crack, I don’t know what the deal is, but we’re trying, and we have two different dudes we’re talking to now, so we’ll see what happens. Sounds like it’s just a pain in the ass because somebody’s gotta fly us over, or we gotta pay the plane tickets. So basically we’re trying to get out there, we’re trying to figure it out, but it’s just a pain in the ass at the moment.
Thanks very much for your time, any final thoughts?
Seriously, hopefully we’ll see you guys soon, we know we need to come over there. The emails and the post on our website and stuff, thanks and all, they’re really frustrating, but thank you, it’s just frustrating to hear because we’d love to come out there just as much as anybody else. It’s just been a pain in the butt trying to figure who’s going to do it, and what and when, and we’ll hopefully see you soon, because it seems like things might be finally coming together. Thanks man! Hopefully we’ll meet you one day. Bye.