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15th March 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Obviously you have the animal rights issues in some of the lyrics and critiques of humanity – do you see extreme metal as a good medium for exercising those views and have you ever considered exercising those views in other ways?
JOSH: Extreme metal I think, I mean there’s a lot of people that if you present that sort of thing…I mean, like earlier on, with the whole animal rights thing, that was more present lyrically up to maybe ‘Humanure’, so 2004 or so, but the past few albums it’s been way more airing the ills of humanity or whatever; it’s been much more about that. Certain people hear our name and they’re like, “oh god, preaching and blah, blah, blah”. Even when that lyrical concept was there it was never, ever, at least in my opinion, shoved down your throat, you know, preaching you’re a horrible person because of this and that. But, I don’t know, I think extreme metal, death metal, or whatever you want to call it, it’s a good place to have certain deeply held, personal views…as good a place as any. As far as any other way to express this outside of…I don’t know…I’m sure there’s obviously various ways to do it, it’s just for us it’s the easiest outlet.
(Josh Elmore on having nothing to do with the original naming of his band)
"...Cattle Decapitation is pretty dumb as it is but Chicken Decapitation, that’d be one step too far!"
Cattle Decapitation - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2012 Matthew Zinke
Interview by Mark Holmes
Cattle Decapitation Official Website:
Human Jerky (1999)
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Homovore (2000)
To Serve Man (2002)
Cattle Decapitation Official MySpace:
Humanure (2004)
Cattle Decapitation Official Facebook:
Karma.Bloody.Karma (2006)
The Harvest Floor (2009)
Monolith of Inhumanity (2012)
MD: Yeah, extreme metal can be a provocative genre of music anyway so with your lyrics it’s kind of double the provocation I guess. You’ve been censored a little bit over the years, particularly for the ‘Humanure’ cover which was heavily censored in some countries but do you ever get anyone protesting against the band if they maybe drastically miss the point of your ethos, like maybe people who don’t even bother to read the lyrics?
JOSH: Actually, yes, and this is kind of funny. We played at the campus of Stanford University north of Los Angeles and there was a student who just saw the band’s name and they were protesting the show because they were like, “why would you…”
MD: “…decapitate a cow?”
JOSH: We talked to a couple of ‘em there and just like, “oh…gotta go”!
JOSH: But it was just, you know, a harmless misunderstanding and we just thought it was more funny. But as far as actual…no, we’ve probably been fortunate to do with that, either side of things.
MD: Obviously cows feature on a few of your album covers but why did you initially settle on cows to convey those animal rights messages rather than any other animal?
JOSH: You know what, this is kind of funny like where the name came from too…the two guys who founded the band in 1996 or something like that, if people ask, “why did you name the band that?” I had nothing to do with it so don’t blame me! They just wanted, for some reason, a sick-ass name… “hey, that’s brutal sounding”, so it stuck. When Travis first joined which was 1997 or so, they were considering changing it but then they’d already put out a demo and it kind of started to pick up, and started playing shows and getting more attention so, “oh, we’ll stick with it”. So I think as far as animal rights coming into it, lyrically, I think with some of the images and cover art took liberties with the cow thing.
MD: It sounds cooler than Chicken Decapitation or something.
JOSH: Yeah, and Cattle Decapitation is pretty dumb as it is but Chicken Decapitation, that’d be one step too far!
MD: Yeah, like Monty Python or something!
JOSH: [laughs]
MD: So have you ever considered having a Cattle Decapitation mascot, like a version of Maiden’s Eddie but if the form of a cow, or something like that? Or would that just be ridiculous? It’s a ridiculous question so feel free to ignore me and be silent!
JOSH: No, no, no…err…hmmm…if we had some feature that was consistent in all the albums, like on the cover art, maybe. There are certain t-shirt designs and stuff where we have a cow type executioner thing…so I guess, to a certain extent, people might identify with it since we’ve had it on several shirts but I don’t think we have a…if we had a mascot we’d have to pull it off well like Eddie or…
MD: I’d like to see Eddie as a cow actually.
JOSH: That would be interesting.
MD: Doesn’t Steve Harris live on a farm so he could do the whole agricultural-themed Eddie thing.
JOSH: What’s the artist’s name?
MD: Derek Riggs.
JOSH: Yessss…god…I lose a million points…I know that!
MD: If you were feeling a hundred per cent, you would’ve got that!
JOSH: Yeah, I’m just eighty five right now! I’m battling back!
MD: So, final question…a ridiculous question again…as we’re in Liverpool, have you discovered the famous Lamb Banana?
JOSH: Pardon?!
MD: Liverpool is not just famous for The Beatles and Liverpool FC, it’s also famous for the Lamb Banana. It’s a cross between a lamb and a banana. The front half’s a lamb and the back half’s a banana. There are lots of these around Liverpool…I gather you’ve not encountered this hence your current expression!
JOSH: No, I’ve never heard of these things.
MD: So a ridiculous final question, if you could combine a cow with any fruit, what would it be?
JOSH: Hmmm…let’s see here…
MD: What would work with a cow? An example would be a cowconut…a cow combined with a coconut.
JOSH: That’s true.
MD: As silly as that would look.
JOSH: Yeah…I was trying to think of what would actually work…
MD: You don’t have to answer this question…
JOSH: Oh, I wanna think about it…I’m trying to think of an obscure fruit that…
MD: …yeah, that would fit with a cow.
JOSH: Star fruit isn’t working…a dragon fruit? I’m trying to remember the name of this fruit, it’s like a Southeast Asian thing…it almost looks like it’s got scales on it and you cut it open and it’s like a custard inside.
MD: You think that could work with a cow?
JOSH: Yeah, what is it?
MD: I feel like I’ve let you down now because I’ve asked this question and can’t identify the fruits you’re saying, I do apologise.
JOSH: Well, I wanna hear more about this Liverpool banana thing!
MD: Yeah, it’s called a Lamb Banana. It’s a massive statue, seventeen feet tall, the front of it’s a lamb and the tail bit is a banana. A Japanese artist made it.
JOSH: How long has it been here?
MD: Oh, quite a while. There’s one massive one and then some little ones. If you walk down there, there are some just down the road. When your tour bus drives out of here tomorrow, keep an eye out the window and do a bit of Lamb Banana spotting.
JOSH: Okay. Well, I’ll have to get home and do some research to find out about it.
MD: Marvellous. Thank you so much for your time.
JOSH: Yeah, I appreciate it, thank you.