With new album The Anthropocene Extinction on the horizon, James had the chance to fire a few questions over to lead singer of legendary grindcore act Cattle Decapitation, Travis Ryan. There’s one thing about Travis and that’s that he pulls no punches. Don’t expect – as he says at one point – “happy-go-lucky fake ass” responses to the questions!
The Anthropocene Extinction will be out through Metal Blade on August 7th.
How are you doing?
I’m stressed beyond belief. But that’s how tour preparation goes, especially when you’re doing Summer Slaughter. This is a minor nightmare and I’ve been used to that for years, but its been a couple years since we’ve done a period of weeks on the road so I’m just a little out of it right now. That will change soon. Just tons of shit on my plate.
Your new album, The Anthropocene Extinction, is coming out a few weeks time. I was wondering how you decide upon the titles for your albums?
I have a constant file on my phone and computer that has years worth of song titles built up on it. I pick from those when I go to write lyrics to a song. I’ll listen to the demo of the new songs and I usually also have a few of the titles that I know for sure I want to use so I just fit ’em in when it’s best suitable or if certain parts grab me and tell me “this one should be this song”. That and a decent vocabulary/schooling history.
Was the production for this album any different that the last one?
The main thing that was different was we knew more of what to expect. We had worked with Otero on Monolith and so a lot of the feeling out was cut out just by having worked with him before. It was fucking awesome actually because we had spent a year working on this thing and just went right in and went at it like it was nothing. I think that’s just how it is with Otero after having worked with him.
If I recall correctly, aside from your bass player, everyone in the band is a vegan. Does this make it difficult to find food whilst you are on tour?
Incorrect, just Josh and I are what you would call “vegetarian”. We’ve tried and tried to be as up front about that as possible but the entire media world thinks we are hardline vegan, which in turn trickled down to fans and we’re just not. I’ve been vegan at points but I try to be as correct as possible and point blank, there’s times on tour where I just don’t know if what I’ve been given to eat has eggs or dairy in it and the road is rather unfriendly to us. We aren’t afforded the luxury of going to a Whole Foods at 3 am after a show. At that point its fucking Taco Bell or something disgusting. You’re driving down the road burning fossil fuels and your vehicle is covered in the carcasses of insects and sometimes birds and other animals. So how far does one take it? This is why I can’t claim vegan. I live my life with as much compassion as I can for others, the environment and the animals though. At home its much easier.
Speaking of tours, you’re a part of the Summer Slaughter tour this year. Are you excited about that?
Not particularly. I’m excited to be on the road though. But we’ve been given a weird time slot that we’re not used to and it’s at around the time we’re usually showing up to the club or right when I’m wrapping up merch set up and then trying my hardest to find something to eat in an area I’m not familiar with – trying to find vegan or vegetarian spots can be a challenge. So how we’re going to make that work, I have no fucking clue and for that reason I’m not exactly stoked. Excited to play our new music for people? Hell yes. My apologies if you or your readers were looking for that whole happy-go-lucky fake ass typical band guy answer but the truth is all I know and the truth is not always that great.
Who normally writes the music in the band? Is it a collaborative effort or is there one person who writes them?
Its a collaborative effort amongst Josh, Dave and Derek. I just write the lyrics which can tend to change things around sometimes but that’s about it. There’s no one person who writes everything.
In terms of Lyrics, what do you normally sing about?
Life and death. Literally. And how shitty our species is. Period.
Your vocal style is known for being unique in the metal scene. Do you think has become a defining feature of the music?
I don’t know, I mean, to me, music is music. Vocals and lyrics are completely secondary and placed on top. Sometimes they’re needed based on the kind of band and how the music is written but really I think they’re secondary, if anything. To me the defining feature in our music is mostly the guitar and drums and Derek has come along and made bass more prominent which I think is cool and people really seem to dig that. Though I have heard people say they know it’s me when you hear it and I love that. I love the fact I can be distinguished amongst a sea of growlers and screamers. I love that more than anything and so perhaps maybe it is. Its hard to step outside and look in from a fan’s perspective. It is for me anyways.
Back on the topic of tours, are there any plans for a European tour? If so, I’ll make sure to be at either the London or Glasgow date :)
We really need to get back there ASAP and so YES, we will definitely be coming back. Exactly when is the issue at hand right now. We’re working on it though!
And my final question, if you were to do a headlining tour, what three bands would you bring with you?
Oh jeez… I don’t want to offend anyone by picking bands that are bigger than us and I’m not completely into most newer bands. Honestly, it’d probably be a bunch of bands that we’ve already toured with. But I’ll be a sport I guess. Here’s a few that would be cool: Fleshgod Apocalypse, Archspire and Jungle Rot.