Per la prima volta da quando Disastro Sonoro prese vita, nel lontano 2017, sotto le sembianze di blog/webzine, mi trovo ad ospitare e pubblicare un’intervista non scritta da me. Sono però molto orgoglioso e altrettanto felice di poter lasciare spazio su queste pagine virtuali all’intervista fatta agli australiani Carcinoid (uno dei migliori gruppi doom/death attualmente in circolazione) dal buon Francesco, intervista che sarebbe dovuta uscire, in origine, per Blogthrower, blog estremamente interessante per tutti gli/le amanti dell’underground in tutte le sue forme che però per il momento si è preso un periodo di pausa. Nelle righe che seguiranno vi troverete ad affrontare un’intervista impegnativa per la lunghezza, ma al contempo ricca di spunti nelle risposte e nelle domande sempre ben curate e dunque, in sintesi, davvero molto godibile. Nonostante abbia anche la versione in italiano, penso sia più importante e valido riportare l’intervista in lingua inglese in quanto credo possa rendere meglio l’idea dei toni e delle sfumature delle risposte rilasciate dai Carcinoid. Infine, ci tengo a ringraziare nuovamente Fra per aver pensato a Disastro Sonoro come piattaforma attraverso cui diffondere questa intervista che ha richiesto, da quanto so, molto tempo e un discreto dispendio di energie. Lunga vita all’underground e al supporto reciproco tra chi si sbatte per il metal e il punk senza finalità di profitto! Vi lascio finalmente alle parole dei Carcinoid… Suffering reborn!
Who came up with the idea of founding Carcinoid?
Az: Jess and I came up with the idea of doing a band together that fit influences we were both into. Jess has more doom influences and I have more metal influences so we thought death/doom was the way to go. Then we started writing together and then Josh was keen on doing vocals and we tried out some drummers and Carter was the best fit for what we are going for.
In which moment of your lives did you fall in love with horror themes? And what has been the first time in which you encountered the real horror, the true suffering?
Az: I guess all members all gravitate towards the darker things/side of life. I guess suffering from depression and wanting to die at a young age…
Tell us about the differences between the writing and recording process for the demo and for the album, if there are any.
Az: On the demo riffs were written by Jess and I, more or less equally, as usual. On the album, instead, Jess wrote a bit more than me. She has always been great at structuring and the flow of songs. On the album tracks we tried to combine our riffs together on each track to help it become more interesting. We also went for a more straight forward approach on the demo. but we definitely tried to push ourselves musically on the album tracks.
Jess: Carter always has input on riff structure and variation too. He recorded both the demo and the album but the difference was we used a 4 track on the demo and an 8 track on the album to be able to add more channels and variation to the resulting sound.
Talking about sound, it’s quite unique and the guitar tone is MASSIVE. Do you think the secret is a matter of gear and settings, a charismatic player, a really good producer/studio or a mix of all of this?
Az: Cheers dude. Over the years I’ve been driven more to thick tones that really drive the riffs home. I just think over time I found exactly what sound I wanted. I get my tones down through my amps (Peavey 5150’s) as I’ve been in love with them since a teenager, apart from that I don’t use pedals for my sound. Just my amp, pickups and guitar tones get exactly what I want. I think believing in what you do, being confident and self expression developed over time is the secret. You can tweak your sound in the studio but it’s good to have a great sound straight up which makes the producer studio scenario a lot easier.
The album is recorded live (and it makes sense: given the raw energy and organic sound of it all)! That’s something not that common these days, but a wise choice. Did you record the demo that way as well? Also, how much takes have you done per track, more or less? And anyway, that means there is no double-tracking for the guitar, right? Was it ALL recorded live (vocals included, I mean) or did you add something later? Tell us more about that choice and the process behind it and if you think it payed off.
Az: We recorded all the music live minus the vocals and the occasional guitar overdub. What you hear on the recording is exactly what was played in the room together. Carter, Jess and I especially all love old style recordings. We didn’t doubletrack the guitars either. It has a nice feel mistakes and all as a lot of metal these days is super polished and every mistake is punched in and fixed. We definitely did not want to record that way. We have been really happy with how the recordings have turned out.
One of the first things that come to mind, right from the first seconds of Sorrow is this funny question, though: is there really ANY treble (drums apart) in the guitars and bass?
Az: I have some treble in my tone as we are tuned pretty low just so there is some separation between guitar and bass.
Jess: My treble is turned to the maximum on all of the recordings but we are tuned pretty low also. I like it that way so it cuts through the mix. I hate a washed out bass tone in metal.
The bass tone is very present all over ”Metastatic Declination” and it seems like it plays a big role in making everything sound heavy, fat and mournful. It’s got a really nice growl, much oomph and it complements the swamp-ish guitar tone really well! Was the idea of a very loud bass in your mind from the start or you simply found a great tone to go with and decided to put it higher during the recording process? Also, was the growl in the bass tone something you already wanted to achieve or have you tried different sounds and tones before finding the right one? It sounds like the guitar tone was one of the key elements since the forming of the band, but what about the bass?
Jess: Since Aaron and I forged the band together and both write the riffs it sort of eventuated that the sound was equal guitar and bass volume. As mentioned above I hate a washed out bass tone so I like having it loud in the mix, I think it sets us apart from other metal bands also and adds another layer of heaviness. I’ve used several basses and pedals before- I used to play a rickenbacker in my other band but I am happy with the tone I achieve with the japanese 80’s fender jazz specials I use and combined pedals which provides lots of grit and toughness which I think suits our sound.
What do you think of the relation between sound and songwriting? Not every sound is suitable for every style, so of course you’ve gotta find a tone that works with your type of riffs.
Entombed is great, for example, but I’d never listen to a Judas Priest record with those chainsaws (although that’d be funny, for a few minutes!)…
Az: I think that’s a good point as in any band I’ve been in the tones are never the same as I tweak it to suit the sound and the vibe we are going for.
Jess: I think it is very important to have good tones that suit the style of music you play. I love my bass tone and think it fits really well with our sound, being tuned really low and having loud bass for the slow heavy parts but enough treble that cuts through the mix in the faster riffs.
Dread, the intro out of Metastatic Declination, is made by Xavier Irvine, which is your producer. Listening to it, I feel some heavy John Carpenter and even Fred Myrow vibes (in this case, Phantasm in particular, which we all know very well thanks to Entombed)! Did he create that intro by himself and you liked it or you worked on it together?
Or did you give him loose directions and then he did his thing? Was it intentional to evoke a sort of Carpenter/Phantasm atmosphere?
Az: I’ve been a fan of Xaviers synth work for a while as I’ve seen him do it live. When we locked him in to mix and master the album I asked him if we could do a intro. Josh suggested something John Carpenter and I wanted something 80s style we had a few ideas but Xavier pretty much nailed it straight off the bat. He worked with us and tweeked it a litle to get the final track.
Do you still play live the demo songs too? For example, Red Mist Descending is such a filthy heavy track, it’d be a shame to let it go lost so soon!
Az: Yeah we still do, mostly Red Mist Descending, we need to bring the other two back a bit more though haha.
Are the demo tracks and those of Metastatic Declination born in the same period or are they fruit of different states of inspiration?
Az: The tracks on the demo are in order of when they were written. Then the album tracks kept coming and we used all the next tracks we had written on the album.
Lyrics should always be a pretty important part and definitely something to consider, in music. Do you agree? Do you give them importance and therefore live with the eternal struggle of dissatisfaction for your own work, wishing it to be always more original, evocative and overall better? I think that your lyrics really exhale passion and dedication, instead of just being no-sense and soulless, generic metal lyrics written just because you’d have to sing something. They really enhance the oppressive and claustrophobic vibe that the music conveys and they’re quite evocative, indeed!
Jess: Definitely, I feel if you have great music and boring or bad lyrics it takes you down a level. Josh is a great lyricist and embodies struggles that we all have encountered. He bares his soul in what he writes about, not just generic death metal themes which I think is important and makes things seem more interesting and real.
You’ve got some amazing artworks on both of your works and the style is consistent. The question comes natural: who is this artist and will we be able to see more of his/her work on your future records? Is he/she ”part of the band” (in a sense that he/she’s an integral part to your band image and you’ll stick with that for the next artworks) or do you strive for variety?
Jess: Travis Papkey designed the demo art and Necrofrost designed the album cover. We like using different artists who embody raw, grim death vibes and fit our music. Even though we love both of these artists, we will probably use someone different for the next release as we also like to use up and coming artists to help with their exposure also.
In the cover art for your demo there are two tombstones, seemingly with something carved on them. One seems to say ”I bear”, but the rest of it is covered. The other says ”R.I.P. 1846 – 1996” or something like that, if I’m not wrong. Would you like to explain this and its meaning or do you prefer to keep it cryptic and open to interpretation?
Jess: We have never picked up on these details so you are very observant to notice! It’s all on Travis Papkey who designed it so maybe ask him, there may be a cool meaning behind it
The artwork on the demo features all kinds of tortured humans (or ONCE humans) and depictions of suffering. Three of them also have lots of needles on them. The artwork for Metastatic Declination, on the other hand, is more classic but still very filthy, rotten and more putrid than the average death metal release. Overall, the band philosophy seems to tackle nihilism, existentialism, death, horror, self-destructive behaviours, despair and decay. But is there a slight shift on themes and image or could addiction still be considered a form of inspiration (if it ever was, anyway)?
Jess: I don’t think addiction is an active theme in the album, although it could be an underlying theme. We all have health issues past and present so I think the anguish, pain, anxiety, trauma, feelings of hopelessness and loathing ect is expressed in the lyrics and the music throughout.
The artwork for the album we had the idea based on gravediggers and hauling skeletons out of the ground. We thought it would be a really dark, grim idea and Necrofrost executed it well.
Along with the notable punk influences in your music, I think that the filthier imagery and themes we just talked about more or less link you to stenchcore. Although you aren’t, you’re closer to that genre than most other death metal bands. Do you know stenchcore? And what do you think of it?
Az: I’ve never heard of it, but I’m definitely influenced by a lot of punk stuff.
Something funny is that one of the best and ”biggest” stenchcore bands around published something with Memento Mori too, including a repress (for the first time on CD) of their latest LP, that came out lately. It also shares something with you name-wise: Cancer Spreading!
Jess: Have not heard of them. Will have to check it out!
I bet you love crust punk, too. There is that kind of filthy vibe, mixed with the punk influences… tell us about it. Are you into Amebix, Deviated Instinct, Doom, etc. as well then? And what are some of your favourite hardcore punk (or any of the subgenres) bands?
Az: I’m a big fan of a lot of different punk stuff, I listen to punk more than metal a fair bit of the time or more punk influenced metal. Lots of grind stuff, Napalm Death, Repulsion, Righteous Pigs, Black Flag, Discharge, Dr. Know, The Meanies, Massappeal, Ramones, Wipers, Sonic Youth. I like all the 70’s stuff, UK82, american stuff, australian stuff, pop punk, garage even a bit of ska. So yes lots of punk stuff haha.
Jess: I like Amebix and bands like Dystopia and Disrupt a lot, more on the sludgy, crusty side of things rather than hardcore and draw influences from that stuff.
Influences… let’s get deeper into that. I noticed your post on Facebook about your 10 favourite guitar influences. Tom G. Warrior, Greg Ginn, Tony Iommi, Max Cavalera and Pintando/Harris seem to be the most obvious. But there are also some more obscure or unusual ones in there, like the Moore/Ranaldo combo, Page Hamilton and Heath Smith. Would you like to narrate us your first encounter with those which you consider to be most important (I guess Tom G. warrior, Greg Ginn and Pintado/Harris) and how do you think they influence your music?
Az: Well Heath Smith is my older brother, my dad was married before he married my mum and had two children in his previous marriage. Heath lived with my parents when I was a baby until I was about 5 then lived with us on and off till my late teens. He is a massive music fan and played in metal bands. He exposed me to Thrash, Death Metal, Glam and Grunge from when I was a toddler.
So I grew up on all that stuff and I used to hang with him a lot, watch him jam, play guitar, talk about bands and music and I got to see him play a few times when I was in primary school.
I knew from a young age i wanted to play music and became obsessed. He is my overall biggest influence and taught me how to play guitar when I was a teenager and [so I] saved up for my first guitar. So I was exposed to most of my influences through him and a music tv show in australia called “Rage” which I used to record on vcr and watch the music videos I liked.
When I was a kid my fave bands were probably Motley Crue, Metallica and Nirvana. I guess any guitarist I like, I take things from their style and make it my own, it could be tones, picking, amps, guitars, feedback etc etc.
Tell us about the importance of Greg Ginn in particular and the overall importance of hardcore punk for your playing style and for the music of Carcinoid too.
Az: I really like the weird jazzy runs he does and I love his riffing, it was punk but it sorta had a dirty metal vibe I like a lot.
Hardcore is a big influence on my style i love the passion, values, aggression and feel, I find I like metal that has more of a punk influence and attitude overall.
I’ve played in a hardcore band in the past, and used to spend a lot of time in the DIY punk scene in melbourne and always enjoyed that more than the metal scenes here generally.
Also… do you think that some Sonic Youth influence somehow made it into Carcinoid?
Az: I love a lot of noiserock, sludge and grunge stuff. The feedback and noise parts they do and a lot of other bands I like that have that kind of stuff in their music definitely influence that side of carcinoid.
Bury the Existence, Dungeons of Blood, Xenos, Hobo Magic, Reaper, Creep Diets, Spawn and god knows which other bands am I forgetting: before Carcinoid there were these in your lives, from metalcore to stoner, up to beloved death metal. Do you still like your old creations? Did you know each others already when you weren’t together as Carcinoid yet?
Az: Yeah of course, I have pretty broad tastes in music and I normally like doing a different style in each band I do. I’m proud of most things I’ve done, some stuff I listen to now and don’t like that much but it’s all part of my journey and has helped pave and develop to what I do today. Every time I do a different styled band and play with different people I learn and develop things which I really enjoy.
Jess: I still like the music I created in Spawn (psych/doom) although whilst I was doing this project I was always yearning to do something heavier and have definitely progressed a lot musically more than when I was in that band. I met Josh probably 5 years ago through going to metal gigs and mutual friends. Me and Aaron had known each other for about a year before starting the band together. We met Carter when he tried out but I had been to a lot of gigs to see his previous band, stoner/psych Hobo Magic.
Think again of those moments and band that I mentioned earlier. Would you ever have thought that one day you’d have been founding a band like Carcinoid? Were there presages of what would have been?
Jess: I thought I would start more of a grim sludge/doom band rather than death/doom but it’s worked out that way because me and Aaron wanted to start a project together and when we started carcinoid then things took off. I’m really happy with how we’ve progressed in such a short time, the chemistry we all have together as a band working together and the sound we have established.
Az: Yeah for me I really wanted to do a band with Jess and I liked a lot of death metal (and I had not really done that style before).
We wanted to bring our tastes and ideas together to make a cool combo of Doom and Death stuff garnished with our other influences.
What do you think Blood Incantation has that other bands don’t have? What is the feature that made them so popular, especially in 2019?
Jess: They are pushing the boundaries in terms of how modern death metal is progressing. In their writing of the new album I think they tried to incorporate a lot of different elements rather than the usual in death metal. I really like them a lot. We were very excited to be announced to share the stage with them later in the year. Hopefully it still happens.
Blood Incantation or Spectral Voice?
Jess: I like both. But would probably say Spectral Voice. They have a lot more dissonant doomy vibes that I am a big fan of. We saw them at MDF last year. Amazing!
Az: I hear a lot of newer bands through Jess but I always go back to all the old school stuff it really clicks with me. I haven’t really got into either band TBH, nothing against them though.
Another (web but not only so) phenomenon has became Sanguisugabogg. How do you explain their success? Because ok, they’re subject of memes on social networks, but in March they’ll do a tour with Undeath, Vomit Forth and Graveview, with barely one published demo (that flied off the shelves).
Jess: I like them, I have heard their music but I don’t know much about their back story or the band.
What is your relationship with Japan like? You felt really good on your tour there, but why have you chosen that nation particularly, even before traveling Australia properly?
Are you fan of japanese hardcore and metal bands?
Jess: Japan was awesome! We had such a good response there. It’s pretty close to us compared to the US or Europe so that’s why we chose there first also we have mostly already toured Australia with our previous bands. There’s so many bands we love from Japan – Coffins obviously, evil, transgressor, anatomia, Nepenthes, Church of misery, Eternal Elysium, SOB, fuck on the beach, unholy grave.
Az: I love Japan it is one of my fave places in the world, I had been there twice on holidays prior to the tour. That tour was amazing and the people were awesome. I never thought I’d get the chance to play there, I guess the opportunity came up and we weren’t gonna say no. We have plans to play more places in australia once we can. Yes I am, Some of my fave japanese bands are Coffins, Melt Banana, Transgressor, S.O.B., Unholy Grave, Fuck on the Beach and probably lots more I’ve forgotten haha.
Australia’s fires have been devastating and you have also played benefit gigs for fundraising. How are you living the situation? I believe that one of the most heinous aspects is the storm of fake news about it, from racists spreading rumors of pseudo-firestarters with arabic names to climate change deniers.
Az: The bushfire situation was a pretty fucked time fortunately we were not affected, but there were people who died or lost everything. The least we could do was do something to help raise some money to help. We have a big issue in australia with the right wing government being in power and supporting fossil fuel and trying to dance around the climate change issues, whilst avoiding the switch to more green energy. I’m no expert on the situation but there is a lot more that could be done to help the situation, from looking to the indigenous for more implementation of traditional burning that has been done for at least 66,000 years. Corporate greed and ties with companies that destroy the earth seem to be supported over more sustainable options in australia which I find very upsetting.
”In the hollows of the dead we crawl and we stumble, looking for salvation but only finding dust and rot. We try to survive, but we’re already dead.” You close ”The Drowning” with this statement. While reading the lyrics, I thought it was just printed in the booklet without being said in the song, but it’s in there too. It sounds, indeed, like a statement. So, do you actually live the day? Do you indulge in hedonistic lifestyles because, indeed, this might be our last day and we wouldn’t even know? What do you think of health-fanatics? Avoiding everything ”bad” to stay healthy, but they might get hit by a bus while crossing the street. And what’s the point of dying all good and preserved, after all? You die anyway.
Josh: It’s just something that ties in with the whole concept of the album. Despite our best intentions, we’re drawn to destruction and decay.
Is weed legal in Australia? I did a (VERY) quick research on Wikipedia and it seems like its history is troubled. Are you and/or others in the band regular users?
Az: Weed is legal to grow in ACT. In the past I think it was legal to grow in S.A. (South Australia). I’ve heard Australia has a high ratio of users compared to a lot of other countries.
I guess you could say it’s troubled here as it’s still illegal overall. Some members use, I go through Phases of regular to not so regular use.
Jess: Weed has just become legal to grow as of the start of this year in ACT (Not our state). Two plants per person or 4 max per household. Hopefully this changes for Victoria asap! haha
Weed or alcohol? And why?
Az: That’s a tough one. I do love having a beer at home or at shows or whilst I play. But I have big problems playing stoned. But to chill and relax definitely weed over booze!
Jess: Weed at home. Alcohol at gigs!
Do you think that metal circles are inclusive or that there are still ideological barriers to break down?
Jess: Sometimes. It really depends on the people. Some people are great, some are not so I don’t think its fair to make generalisations about all metal circles. I feel it’s harder for women in the metal scene to feel included or taken seriously sometimes – based on my own experiences it feels very male dominated at times. But of course this has changed in the past 30 years, and hopefully continues to do so. I think everyone deserves to be treated as equals and to enjoy metal regardless of gender, race, sexuality, ect. so this should not matter but sometimes metal circles can exclude people based on these factors.
Az: I find some metalheads are very backward in their views, which I can’t stand, I have seen and heard a lot of racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic stuff occur.
Which gives metal a bad name. I understand it’s not everyone but it ruins it for everyone else, metal shouldn’t discriminate it is a universal music that brings people together worldwide. Why add all this unnecessary hate of people in the mix.
This one is hard. Best Coffins album and why?
Jess: Buried death. It is the first one I heard years ago and is still my favourite. Classic.
Who has been really ingenious within death metal for you?
Az: I guess bands that are really original or incorporate other styles into their music, Cannibal Corpse I think were really groundbreaking especially the drumming, morbid angel, death, obituary, napalm death on harmony and utopia, and more experimental stuff like Alchemist, Nocturnus, Human Remains, early Fear Factory etc etc
Tell us your Top 7 zombie movies! (Spit a bonus of 3 horror movies of any kind as well, if you want!)
Jess: I don’t watch that many movies! Josh is really into a lot of B-grade horror stuff
Josh: Top 7 Zombie Movies:
Tombs of the Blind Dead
The Return of the Living Dead
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
You have announced two tours outside of Australia for 2020. Europe and USA? Give us some steady points of your future. Like the split with mighty Charnel Altar.
Jess: We were set to play Killtown in Denmark and do a couple of weeks in Europe in September, but obviously because of Covid-19 everything is up in the air and we don’t know how long travel bans will be in place. We are taking the time to write new material and hopefully play some more shows around Australia this year if we cannot leave the country. We are dying to play in Europe and the US soon so hopefully it’s on the cards for the future……