Interview with Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation

May saw the new album from Californian death grinders Cattle Decapitation unleashed upon the world. Monolith of Inhumanity as expected from the band is a towering assault of dehabilitating extreme sounds and flesh searing bone snapping brutality. With added irresistible melodic insertions, groove fuelled hooks and veins of multiple infectious lures, the release saw the band at their very confrontational best. The RingMaster Review had the pleasure to find out more about band, album and things by talking to vocalist Travis Ryan.

Hi and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.

You are just about to release /have just released your excellent new album Monolith of Inhumanity. Is there an extra buzz inside for this one or is it always the same excitement for each release?

We are very happy with it and are excited that the reviews are so positive. Nobody wants to release something and have it bashed to shit and that could have easily been done here. We really took some chances musically and vocally, even lyrically… the things I thought people would hate, people dig. The things I thought people would think were just kinda “fucked up” lyrically seem to have completely gone over people’s heads. So it could be much, much worse and I’m surprised it’s not. People love to bash what we do based on the fact that a couple of us are vegetarians alone, so I’m surprised at the reaction the album has gotten so far. The reviews have been amazingly positive. The buzz for this one was pretty unprecedented for us because the last one was so well received I think people were just waiting to see what we would do next which is always nice.

We have to admit apart from previous album The Harvest Floor, we are not too aware of your earlier releases, yet! There was a feeling though that Monolith of Inhumanity might be your finest hour to date. I know it is hard to be objective about it for you but do you feel so too?

Yes, I see what people mean. I’m kinda taken aback by the fact everyone thinks it is so far ahead of our past records and I don’t see it as being THAT much of a difference, but yeah it is a better record and all. Just pretty weird how people are freaking so much about this one. I get it, but then again I kinda don’t. I don’t care… it is just good to see people talking so positively about something we’ve done I guess. Especially in this day and age where genres are shit out every day and kids are on to the next thing week to week. Hollow.

What is it you have discovered or evolved and brought forth that is different to your previous album?

Well, we have a new bass player and mindset going into it and I think that helped some. Personally, I did a lot of new things that people seem to be into and that’s good because it could have gone the other way which was what I expected but didn’t care to take into consideration because we make the music we want to hear. If people like it, cool. If not, oh well.

The band has never been known for being unadventurous and it is fair to say always pushing yourselves each album. How does that happen, is it a natural thing or you pick aspects and ideas to distinctly pursue each time?

Well, I think it might have a little to do with the fact that we’ve always worked at such an intense pace. Both musically and in the act of making music. We only have like 5 or 6 months usually to write a record and this last time we had a year to do it but we also have day jobs that we have to attend to and that makes it near impossible to get anything done within any kind of time frame. We don’t live with mommy and daddy, we actually pay TONS of bills and we squeezed the writing in when we could. I think writing wise we do pick aspects we’d like to explore. Such as heaviness, blackened buzzsaw parts, quirky spastic parts, etc. Making ‘em flow is the challenge.

What was the inspiration and trigger that brought the dare one say more catchy elements into the songs within Monolith of Inhumanity?

Just wanting to try something new. Wanting to write actual songs instead of a bunch of blurbs and blips and nonsensical technical prowess. Well, we did that too but we made it into actual songs this time, haha. That and looking around at what other bands are doing and saying to ourselves “OK, let’s NOT try that…

Monolith of Inhumanity is your seventh album, how do you keep the recording process fresh and exciting each time or do the songs and creative ideas do that automatically?

They do it automatically but we also treat everything very professionally. Like, we actually treat it as if there is some money to be made off it but there’s not… haha… basically, we do our best to deliver something people want to hear but its gotta be ok with us first as that is what’s most important. I don’t write the music so I’m going strictly off what I can tell is happening from the very few times I end up in the practice room. I don’t practice I only come in when they got a new song ready for me or before shows/tours. That’s my key to staying on top of shit as a singer. Don’t go to practice. Preserve the voice. 😉 WILL NOT work for everyone.

How long in the making was the album?

1 year roughly. But it was more like 5 months because of how little we got together to practice/write. Between jobs and playing one off gigs to pay for band bills every month, its a miracle we got the fucker done. We wanted to do 6 months writing, 6 months playing the shit and tightening it up but nothing ever works out as planned, I swear. Nope, we busted ass all the way up to the zero hour. I actually for the first time went into the studio without a songs worth of lyrics even written! I had to write it in the studio, it became the song “Your Disposal”.

Was there any casualties song wise or ideas wise whilst recording it or did you have everything pretty tight in your minds before going into the studio?

There were some things that were shot down. You’ll see me bitching about it on the vocal studio report. I had a few ideas of grandeur that Otero wasn’t into and there were a couple where I had to say “tough shit we’re keeping it” much to his disagreement but we kept it. Next time there will be more Dave, I’m warning you!

The album has a concept which kind of follows on from The Harvest Floor. Could you tell us about it and its inspiration?

Well… not really conceptually. Aurally and feel-wise, definitely… but not too much conceptually. THF is honestly about complete worldwide genocide and I guess you could say the same about MOI but on MOI it will have been our own doing rather than by the hand of someone else who is simply fed up with humanity. The last record was just MEAN and this one was more like “ha, told you so, dumbasses”. It came to me after much deliberation on what the concept was gonna be, what the cover and title were gonna be. It finally just dawned on me and from experience I can tell you that’s how the best stuff happens. You can’t force greatness, it must happen. If it doesn’t happen naturally, it most likely wasn’t meant to be. It takes a little away from 2001: A Space Odyssey and fast forwards thousands of years to a future where we have done ourselves in through our own technology and its by product

The world, its current state and downhill direction makes a very big and important impact on not only your songs but yourself personally?

I think about it every day. I get very nervous, anxious even thinking about it. Knowing that there are millions of tons of garbage and plastic in the middle of the pacific and that’s just one blip on the screen. Its pathetic. We’re pathetic and have zero foresight as a society and civilization. The fact we put a man on the moon doesn’t change the fact we’re still very, VERY stupid as a whole.

Lyrically your songs are as aggressive and challenging as your sounds…so not much chance of any love songs from you?

There’s a love song on the new record! I actually made a point to make one to prove it can be done and nobody would even know… its called Gristle Licker. Its about people’s love for flesh. I never thought I’d make a love song but then again I never publicly said “I’ll never use the word love in a song” and then go and do it time and time again on really, REALLY shitty records. Take that Metallica you fucking posers.

Monolith of Inhumanity is the first to feature bassist Derek Engemann, and I think wow sums up his playing on the album. What has he brought to the band that was missing or certainly different to before?

Haha… I think its funny people are so stoked on the bass playing on this one. Sure, he’s a great bassist but I think the main reason people are commenting so much about it is because you can actually HEAR the bass for the first time. I think it was just a combination of playing style and most importantly tone which is why bass always got lost in the mix. Take that away and all of a sudden you can hear it and people are commenting on it. I thought that was pretty funny. He’s a great bass player and a super fast learner.

How does the songwriting process work within the band and has it altered with Derek on board now?

We all have equal parts except I don’t write any music really and they don’t do any of the lyrics or vocals. I did write one/two riffs on Kingdom of Tyrants… that’s kind of Derek and I’s song. But that was a first and that was it. Derek has just as much input as the rest of the guys for the most part.

The track you mentioned earlier Your Disposal was the track that floored us most of all, immense stuff. It has everything on the album in one mesmeric and barbaric place haha. Please give us some background to it and its birth.

That’s the one that I went into the studio without any lyrics for! They wrote some of those parts with the melodic high vocals in mind and was the last song written on the album. That’s the thing… the last songs are always the best because by that time you’re in writing mode full boar. The first songs we wrote I could have done without honestly, but ended up finding their own little place on the record and people seem to dig them. Your Disposal is one of my personal faves and same with the rest of the guys. We almost did that as the video track or one of the tracks to be released first but we wanted to do the epic minifilm for the video and then didn’t want to blow our melodic wad with releasing both those songs so we opted for the other two Lifestalker and A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat as they showcased the album’s overall sound without delving too much into any one feeling be it more melodic or brutally heavy.

Is there a part of the album, track, riff, melody, idea et which gives you the deepest glow personally?

The chorus to Your Disposal and the middle part of Kingdom of Tyrants. I also really like The Monolith.

Could you tell us about the excellent album art work?

It shows the end result of the de-evolution of man. Man turning back into monkey due to his own lack of foresight and action against pollution, consumption and environmental unawareness. The monolith stands proud over a landscape of trash and by products of consumerism. The monolith also stands as a metaphor for technology, as seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now the album is out it is into live shows to take it into the world?

Yep! We’ve already been to Europe this year and just did the US and will be doing the US and Europe again starting in July and will be also hitting up some new territories that we’ve never been to before! Looking to get into South America, Australia, Japan, etc. More international touring this time than US touring. We’ve beat the US to death. Time to slow down on that and start doing quality over quantity.

You are only a couple of years off your two decades of being a band. You have seen and done so much in that time. How have things changed in that time for the band attitude wise towards and how you create your music?

It’s done a 180. I used to be so into things and making them work and now I just let it happen because it requires less footwork by ourselves now. The internet has changed things drastically. We used the internet to get signed to a big label and get our shit out there; I’m just so surprised at how things have changed with it. Things are constantly changing with the net and its a hard thing to stay on top of! We’re much more jaded now than we were. We see how everything works; we know how far we can take this. Gone are the days of “who knows what will happen” and thinking something grand is around the corner. If anything, I think that hopeful mindset is a good way to stifle creativity.

Good luck with the album not that you will need it, and thank you for sparing time to talk with us.

Would you like to end with any thoughts?

Hopefully see you all soon! We’ll be doing more international touring this time and hopefully it will take us to some places we’ve never been before. Its always cool showing up to a new country and a kid knows your whole story. Crazy.

And lastly will there be Cattle Decapitation Cabbage Patch Dolls as well as cards 😉

Nope! Mainly because we didn’t do Cabbage Patch Doll cards and there’s never been such a thing to my knowledge. Of course, I know that you’re confusing Garbage Pail Kids with Cabbage Patch kids but I still gotta give you shit…. 😉

Read the review of  Monolith of Inhumanity

The RingMaster Review 01/06/2012 Registered & Protected

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Categories: Interviews, Music

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