Interview: Josh Elmore of Cattle Decapitation (Glasgow 2016)

[avatar user=”James” size=”50″ align=”left” /]

Myself and Josh Elmore
Myself and Josh Elmore

Just under a week ago, I had the opportunity to chat the guitarist from the American metal band, Cattle Decapitation. We chatted about how the tour was going, the ‘varying music’ of the band and his rather unique guitar. Something that I noticed was that he answered in a lot detail despite being exceptionally tired that day!

Huge thanks to Andy at Metal Blade for organising and Josh for his time :)

You’re currently doing a series of shows across the UK and Europe. How have they been so far?

The first couple of shows have been really good. I mean they’ve not been in the biggest venues but they were packed and the crowds were great. And Hellfest was awesome as well. It was the biggest audience we ever played in front of and it went super smoothly. When we were speaking to other bands, they agreed with us in saying that it’s now the premier festival. Sorry Wacken!

The most recent album, The Anthropocene Extinction, came out last year. How have the crowds being responding to the new songs?

They’ve been responding pretty positively. I mean if you’re gauging it on people singing along or their expressions it’s pretty good. There’s been a lot of people who know the words which is amusing at times as they aren’t the easiest to follow. But no, I think it’s been really well received.

It was also your second time working with Dave Otero.

Yep, that’s right. He’s deserved to be prominent in that field for years and it’s just now that he’s starting to get more recognition and appreciation. He does a lot of other genres too but I can’t comment on those, as I’ve not heard them!

He can do all the modern recording techniques but his forte is optimizing each individual members abilities without faking it. So he tries to capture the best that everyone can do so it sounds really slick but not artificial. He’s really patient as well and can read everyone’s personality so if he has any suggestions he knows how to approach mentioning them.

With the last two albums, the style sort of ‘changed’ per se. Would you say this is more of a progression or just a change of direction?

It’s almost like the albums go in eras. Like, every third one is what we were getting at with the first two. If you look at the first three albums, Human Jerky, Homovore and To Serve Man, To serve man is sort of very clean version of those first two. Then we have, Humanure, Karma Bloody Karma and The Harvest Floor. The Harvest Floor is like the super technical ‘Can we play these anymore?!?!’ sort of songs. But it’s sort of what those two before that were hinting towards with the ‘avant garde’ stuff and also a lot of ‘notey stuff’. The Harvest Floor really gets that for the second block.

We’ve got one of the next block to go but were not really sure where we are going with this next one! We had our Monolith (of Inhumanity) thing and then Anthro(pocene Extinction), in my opinion, is sort of a leaner version of that. We haven’t started doing anything for the new album yet so I’d say maybe a year or so before we start work on it. We already confirmed so festivals for next year so it won’t be until after that until we start.

It’s going to be interesting with the new one actually because our drummer moved to Seattle from San Diego so I’ll have to do some e-writing. It’ll still be done by having time in the rehearsal space but more will have to be done via email in the ideas phase. I’ve not really done that sort of stuff before so I’ll need to brush up on my skills with that!

Cattle Decapitation
Cattle Decapitation

Now, you have a very interesting Guitar that you play. Would you mind talking a little bit about it?

Sure! It’s a handmade guitar from Cardinal Instruments. A guy called Sam Evans makes them and him and his father collect woods from around the central and east Texas area. He uses woods with similar tonal qualities to the traditional woods but that are native to Texas. They are all ecological friendly sourced woods that he uses and he only uses either downed trees or ones that local authorities tell him to cut down.

I met the guy at a show in 2010 when he wandered over to us with a guitar and asked if we wanted to try something. I tried it out and really liked it so he gave me his details and said to keep in touch. After about a year, year and a half we decided to do a project, which was my first one. I don’t take the first one on tour as I love it death and it was quite expensive even with the bro discount!

The one I have with me is one from a two single coil model that was on his old website years ago. I kept looking at that one as I really liked it but it wasn’t suited to my specs. He then got in contact with me after I said to him about getting another one and he said that he could put a new neck on it and route it for hum-buckers and add the tremolo I use. When he gave it to me, he said if I wanted to seal it so that it would look the way I got it or whether he should not seal it and see how it evolves with all the sweat and dirt of the road. It’s drastically different from when I got it but it’s very unique and I really like it. It’s not a super metal guitar but it’s a great instrument.

Guitar players are super conservative and suspicious by nature with their gear. They want a tried and tested theme but with a little bit of originality. This guy I use throws all this out the window and as such he has some interesting designs. 18th century French instruments inspire him and that’s evidenced by some of his other instruments. I totally understand other guitar players getting ESP’s and stuff like that. It’s a bit safer and you don’t have to worry about things going wrong. That’s not for me though. I mean you can know your rep and email them every now and again to organise something. But with my guy I can literally call him up and just talk to him any time I want.

With regards to pickups and other gear what do you use?

The pickups I have in the guitar with me are Suhr Aldrich pickups. I used to use Dimarzio’s for years and I still have them in other guitars I have. I was looking for something different and when I heard those they had a really tight low end and a rock and roll style mids. Most modern pickups don’t have that really aggressive toothy mid range and just hit the amp super hard.

As far as amps go, I use Baron DHG amps for recording. The guy behind it unfortunately shut up shop recently as he’s not had enough time to work on them. He’s a flight instructor as well so he obviously doesn’t have a lot of free time and I guess he just ran out of it.

I grew up with sort of the glam and hair sort of stuff that was on the radio and they had the aggressive mid range sort of sound that is not present in a lot of modern music. I’ve sort of tried to appropriate some of that sound into my sound and as a result I’ve got a nice bit of mid-range to my sound.

James and Cattle
Myself and the whole of Cattle Decap

And now, my final question for you is what advice would you give to a new band?

Take the Internet and throw it off the cliff!

But in truth, I’d say that you shouldn’t let the Internet corrupt you. I mean sure you have to use it to promote your stuff and everything but don’t let the haters and trolls get to you. 95% of what you’re going to read will be people who do nothing trying to criticise something.

Also, don’t let your influences rule what you do. I’ve seen it on tour and quite often we’ll see the ‘Local Suicide Silence’. No offence to the actual band, but we see a lot of imitations of them. Also, don’t go out and get the most expensive gear right off the bat. Play with cheaper stuff until you can actually afford the expensive stuff without bankrupting yourself or going to the bank of mommy and daddy.

Thank you for your time today Josh, It’s been an absolute pleasure!

Thank you, you’re very welcome!

Cattle Decapitation: official | facebook | twitter | metal blade

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