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15th March 2012
Burdened with a moniker always guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows, Cattle Decapitation are actually rather philanthropic in their intent with a back catalogue of albums lyrically dealing with scathing critiques of the socio-environmental wrongdoings of humanity as well as animal rights issues. Metal Discovery met up with guitarist Josh Elmore, who was suffering a little from the remnants of a cold, in Liverpool mid-March towards the end of the band's run of UK shows with Suffocation to discuss their forthcoming new album, touring plans, cows and Lamb Bananas...
METAL DISCOVERY: How have these shows with Suffocation been so far; is there any air of competition to see who can get the biggest pits going?
JOSH: Oh no, no. We’re friends with those guys; we’ve known ‘em for years and I think there’s a good mutual respect between the bands. We enjoy playing with one another and just hanging out in general. So I don’t feel there’s…I mean, Suffocation, it’s hard to compete against that! But, you know, I think we feel comfortable with where we’re at and I know they are as well.
(Josh Elmore on forthcoming new album 'Monolith of Inhumanity')
"With this record I definitely feel, and I’m sure the rest of ‘em would agree, we’re all really happy with it. And it comes as close, with where our heads are at now, as close as what we’d ideally like it to be as possible."
Cattle Decapitation - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2012 Matthew Zinke
Interview by Mark Holmes
MD: Apart from the occasional sickness!
JOSH: Yeah, everyone getting hit occasionally because one of their guitar player guys is not doing too well right now and him and I seemed to get it at the same time; it’s lingering a little bit more with him than me, so we’ve both got the sniffles right now…[laughs]
MD: It’s been three years since ‘The Harvest Floor’ was released but I gather you’ve just finished recording a new album?
JOSH: Yeah, we finished mid-February and it should be out…don’t quote me on this…but we’re kind of thinking May 8th. But then we’re told May 22nd maybe…so a Tuesday in May shall we say! [laughs] I’m thinking the 8th though which is actually a month before we thought it was gonna come out so it’s all good.
MD: So what themes are being dealt with this time, lyrically?
JOSH: Erm…if you can believe this, more hating on people…
MD: [Sarcastically] Really?!
JOSH: I know, it comes as a shock! I think Travis has kind of taken this whole…like on a couple of the other albums, he touched on the Earth is like this giant landfill sort of thing and humans are not caretakers but exacerbating that condition. He’s kind of taking that to…I don’t want to say conclusion because I’m sure he can pull more things out of that but the album is seemingly more themed towards that whereas in the past there were a couple of songs that had elements of that, lyrically. This time, especially the cover art, which you’ll see soon, ties everything together, all the lyrical concepts. It’s very much like earth is like a big…dump! [laughs]
MD: Is this cover art going to be a controversial one, potentially?
JOSH: Erm…no, I don’t think so.
MD: Any cows?
JOSH: No, not at all.
MD: You’re done with the cows?
JOSH: Er…for this one at least. But it’s gonna be cool. The artwork’s really, really good.
MD: Looking forward to seeing it, and hearing it of course. You did an interview with another Metal Discovery journo actually, a couple of years ago, and if I can quote you: “I think everyone has this ideal in our heads as to what we want to do and we keep trying to chip away to get closer to it. I don't think we're there yet but we're getting closer.” Is the new material another step closer towards that, would you say?
JOSH: Oh yeah, definitely, I would say so. I don’t think anyone can ever reach their ideal but as long as you can get one step closer each time, I think you can be happy with that. With this record I definitely feel, and I’m sure the rest of ‘em would agree, we’re all really happy with it. And it comes as close, with where our heads are at now, as close as what we’d ideally like it to be as possible. So we’re happy with it.
MD: That’s a nicely humble opinion.
JOSH: It just seems more realised and developed. I mean, I liked ‘The Harvest Floor’ too and I like ‘Humanure’ which a lot of people didn’t really care for that one but, you know, it’s all…
MD: …it’s all subjective.
JOSH: Yeah.
MD: You worked with Billy Anderson as producer on the last couple of albums but you opted for Dave Otero this time around…
JOSH: Correct.
MD: Why did you decide it was time for a change?
JOSH: I think it was more that than anything, that it was time for a change. There’s nothing wrong with Billy. We love Billy; Billy’s fantastic…a great producer, engineer and he has a very good vision for what he wants out of recordings and stuff like that. But we were discussing things and there are certain elements that we wanted…we talked to Billy too about this so it wasn’t just like leaving him in the dark, but we talked about things we wanted out of this recording and then talked amongst ourselves. We were then thinking, no offence Billy but…[laughs]…just to try something different.
MD: Yeah, yeah, as a lot of bands do.
JOSH: Not degrading Billy’s work, or efforts, or anything he’s done with us, you know, he’s obviously a fantastic talent but we decided to try something different.
MD: I read you had a small film crew in the studio filming all parts of the recording process…
JOSH: Crew…!
MD: Was that just like band members then with your iPhones?!
JOSH: Actually, close, but no!
MD: So did that prove a distraction in any way or did it provide extra motivation?
JOSH: I think we were very conscious of not wanting it to be distracting so it’s still a fly-on-the-wall kind of thing. It was actually a guy we know through our message board who’s in the Denver area and it’s Denver where we recorded, and he kind of volunteered. He said, “yeah, I have a bunch of nice video equipment and editing materials and stuff so if you want me to do this then I’ll hang out.” So we were fortunate enough to have him as a resource and we went through times where he would just leave his camera on a tripod and disappear for a few hours or other instances where he would kind of be right over you. But I didn’t feel that it was ever distracting…
MD: …or obtrusive in any way…
JOSH: Yeah, it was kind of...“when I’m doing this, you can leave the camera there but you need to get!” He was very understanding.
MD: Have you been playing any of the new material live on this tour?
JOSH: Yes.
MD: How’s that been going down?
JOSH: Very well.
MD: Reactions as you hoped they would be?
JOSH: Yeah. On the way out to Denver actually, we played three or four shows and those shows, with the exception of one or two songs, were all new material. And the reactions, you know, from people that had seen us like a million times or whatever, were just like, “oh man, I really like the new songs…I really, really like the new songs.” So, okay, on this run there are obviously people who have seen us less than a million times but they seem to be reacting positively.
MD: That’s cool. And if they didn’t, would you be tempted to get back in the studio and change some parts?!
JOSH: Too late now!
JOSH: The bill’s been paid!
MD: I heard you plan on doing more international touring this year, like outside the States. What prompted that at this stage of your career?
JOSH: Obviously we’re not going to neglect the US or anything, even though we haven’t been on the road over there, like seriously, since the end of October, beginning of November 2010, but I still think there’s this perception that we’re…“oh, I’ve seen those guys a million times”…well, because for a while, we were on the road all the time. We were fortunate enough to be on a lot of bigger tours where we were constantly in front of people but, understandably, they’re like, “oh god, these guys again?” So, even if we had of been on the road since then… “those guys are always on tour, I can catch them whenever”. You know, to an extent, we feel we’ve neglected a lot of international stuff so we thought we’d like to explore that. We’re getting more contacts, like in Southeast Asia…Australia…we’ll hit Europe more frequently and hopefully get some other areas as well.
MD: So good news for your fans outside the States.
JOSH: Yeah. We actually did a couple of shows in Colombia back in March of 2011 so that was an interesting experience. The guys that put ‘em on did a good job. We played Bogota and Ibague, just those two shows, and Bogota was great; that was definitely an experience. Ibague, that was odd because it was an outdoor festival and that region had been receiving the most consistently heavy rain they’d experienced in years…it was just a soggy mess. So we ended up driving from Bogota to Ibague which was four and a half to five hours, in the rain, uphill, two-lane highways, you know, going uphill against traffic, all this sort of white knuckle stuff and we only got to play four songs! That’s no-one’s fault but we’d like to there again, and Chile, Argentina, Brazil and stuff like that.