An Interview With : Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation)
2nd August 2016, 13:58
Posted by Tristan

The world of extreme Metal is one not for the faint hearted. Relying on devotion, understanding and above all passion Cattle Decapitation are the perfect flag bearers for the monicker of what is deemed to be truly extreme. Mixing caustic musical ideas with scathingly relevant lyrical subject matter the band are a true force to be reckoned. Releasing their latest misanthropic ode to the demise of humanity The Anthropocene Extinction just last year the band are currently touring the world in support of the excellent record. Shortly before their devastatingly brilliant, sold out Nambucca performance in London we were able to speak to one Travis Ryan. Discussing issues ranging from the nightmare that was the band’s previous London appearance to what made the singer decide to create somewhat of a niche in the Metal scene. Cattle Decapitation truly are the purveyors of all things extreme. 


So I’m here today with Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation. How are you?

Pretty good!

So the last time you were here was four years ago I think?

Jesus. Has it been that long? 2012 I guess, Cryptopsy?

Yeah at The Underworld show!

That sucked.

What happened there?

I was just telling the last interviewer, the Underworld I love the club, we love playing there it’s awesome but when it’s the first show and you’re playing that day when you’re crossing from Calais or whatever it’s a pain in the ass to pull off. We got there late because they ordered the wrong ferry or some shit, so we got there late and Decrepit Birth weren’t able to play. We had throw our stuff on stage, they helped us throw our stuff on. We got there right before Cattle was supposed to start going on. It was crazy the place was packed, someone told me that people were starting to get pissed. No merch is up, are these guys coming? Did we all just take trains and shit to just get here for nothing? I thought that was cool but at the same time it sucks for Decrepit Birth. There was like a forty minute gap or like an hour gap between the band’s that had aged before.

The local bands,

Yeah the ones that were supposed to go up until Decrepit Birth and we got there and it was just like Phwoo! Threw our stuff on stage, I guess fortunately but kind of unfortunately for us we do work well under pressure like that, under that kind of pressure but we don’t want to. We would rather be able to enjoy this!

It’s all kind of caught in the madness kind of thing.

But it adds to the set, the intensity of the set and we just throw down like crazy but I would rather sound better, I would rather sound good and be able to focus instead of let’s just go nuts because we’re so pissed off! My eyeballs were floating because I had to pee so bad, literally five minutes ago, trying to get here in London traffic it’s brutal!

Hopefully tonight won’t be as crazy!

At least we are here and able to get here. I think this is the first time, well I remember one time getting to The Underworld at a decent hour and not have the stress. At the same time I had to ship all of our merch back, it was next to the last date so I had to do all this math in my head, try to figure out what to do. Just a pain in the ass!

So the Anthropocene Extinction, what made you decide to go in that kind of direction? Was it a follow off of Monolith of Inhumanity or was it something that you wanted to tackle completely.

I knew at I wanted to focus a little more on plastics, man made materials, I had notes. I keep a running file of song titles future song titles. Lyric clenchers, a phrase will pop into my head or I will hear somebody say something and I will write it down. So that all came together pretty quick, I was wrestling with what I wanted to do for a while. I would say that we were a good six or seven songs in before I came up with the title. It was maybe about four months out from when we recorded. It had to be right, it wasn’t even just the title the concept the title and all of at and the cover art. I was collecting ideas and thoughts, it’s hard to explain this. It was easier for Monolith. Monolith was full on very precise aha! moment or an epiphany or whatever. This one it was a slowly building aha! moment. Where I could marry the idea to something that sort of sounded kind of cool. Working titles for six seven months were Prophets of Loss or The Burden of Seven Billion. I had that title in my head for three or four years. I usually come up with the the titles of the albums maybe an album or two prior it’s weird.

Like I said I keep that running file so that when the time is right I will use this here and there are certain things that I love. Titles that I have come up with and think this is fucking cool! Which is rare that I actually like something that I have done! Those ones sometimes get skipped, it’s got to be the right time and it’s got to make sense and jive. Which is why I think that we have been very successful in not only that part of it but the music, mainly. We’ve paid way more attention to album flow and making a well rounded album and song writing. We’ve dialled in the song writing and our sound because I think what kept us from having any kind of success, at least from how well things have gone for us as of late, we were sort of meandering for a few years I think. Not like a kind of “What are we?” not like an identity crisis necessarily but it took a while to get “Ok this is our sound. When I hear this I know it’s them” because it doesn’t sound like anything else hopefully. I mean come on let’s face it blast beats, guttural vocals, screechy screams and fuckin’ guitar solos… That’s why there are so many mediocre or middle of the road band’s out there because there’s only so much you can do with this shit. Getting it to stand out is a challenge.

Is that one of the reasons that you’ve got these kind of, I always thought that you sound like a Xenomorph from Alien.

Oh rad! That’s awesome! Thank you!

Is that one of the reasons you decided to go for such a different vocal approach?

Honestly dude I  got bored. It’s not that I got bored of Cattle or this or anything like that there’s just only so much you can do with “ooh” and “ah” that’s what I call it. The singy stuff or whatever, everybody calls it cleans but it’s absolutely not clean. It sounds clean because of the distortion, the canvas that’s on top of, it’s not fucking clean. There’s a big difference, Saves The Day.

Story So Far yeah! Haha

That’s clean! I started doing those, all that stuff came from playing live and just experimenting live on stage with different sized rooms, different PA’s night after night after night doing months and months and months of touring helped me realise that there were overtones in the low and high vocals that I ended up just trying to emulate. In the beginning, 1994 or whatever, when I was sixteen I tried doing this vocals and I always tried to emulate that sound of Jeff Walker and Bill Steer from Carcass together. That kind of thing, that’s always been one of my main inspirations above all, their combo. Not even Bill or Jeff solely but the combination of the two had this effect on me saying that is e best. That is the coolest sound ever in Death Metal. Symphonies of Sickness, that album changed my life.

Changed a lot of lives.

It’s an evolution, trust me dude, with a name like Cattle Decapitation there was never a moment  where it was like this’ll sell some records! This’ll get us on TV or the Radio, this will get us more fans! If anything I thought that we had capped out so it’s really cool to see this. A packed out sold out show, people being more interested in our stuff as of late.

What do you think was that change then? You’re right I think there was a massive difference from The Harvest Floor and Monolith.

A lot of attention paid to song writing, the bulk of it lies of Dave, Josh and Eric really. They write all of the songs I just put the lyrics and shit to them and come up with the ideas or whatever. It’s the marriage of these three or four pretty different styles and opinions, ideas of where they want things to go. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work, the same as any other band just being hard to get everybody on board with a part. I hear everything second hand from people, I don’t really go there and write with them I just get a recording. It’s an interesting approach but it’s still pretty organic. We don’t write anything through the Internet but mainly because I think of stubbornness. Me and Josh think that getting everyone together in a room and cranking it out. We all a come from that school but it would be cool to mix in some modern, we’ve been trying to put in some modern and not classic I wouldn’t say that. Organic and the modern trying to combine the two with a little more emphasis on the organic but maintaining something that can still keep with what is going on. Band’s putting out these absurdly clean recordings, people doing stuff that they can’t even pull of live and shit. It’s a weird climate out there.

Have you ever thought of doing a concept album by any chance?

They are somewhat but not like a kind of King Diamond type of thing, I don’t know how poeple do that. I’m not really a King Diamond fan to be honest, I like Them and Conspiracy but goddamn one thing I can completely give that guy props for is being able to tell a story. It boggles my mind it makes me think where would you start? I would think that the musicians would have to have a drastic input on it but with us it’s like they write the music I do the lyrics and all that. I don’t know I don’t think I would ever want to do that to be honest. To me it’s cool that other people can do it but for me I would rather have a concept that runs throughout the record but with other things peppered in.

The Anthropocene Extinction is out now via Metal Blade.