Interview – Cattle Decapitation: ”No touring means no income and no travel, and ‘shelter in place’ is miserable”

”There is no joking. This sucks.”


We all know what happened.

Instead of playing the Europandemic tour, Cattle Decapitation had to postpone the whole thing and stay at home.

My plan was to see them live in Denmark, but instead I ordered a t-shirt to support the band (you should too – here!), stayed at home, followed the covid-19 statistics and interviewed guitarist Josh Elmore of Cattle Decapitation about the tour that never was, self isolation, the making of Death Atlas and so much more.

So, please, tell us how your daily life is at the moment now when the tour is off. Are you socializing as if corona did not exist? Are you in self-isolation? By the way, is it Illinois you live in?

– I’m from Illinois but haven’t lived there in almost twenty years. I currently reside in San Diego, California.

Oh. Okay. So tell us what you do!

– Daily life is fairly monotonous and of course, very limiting due to the social distancing measures put in place by the government. Nevertheless I am keeping to myself and not socializing or intermingling with others. I do take walks for exercise but do not put myself near other people or in instances where I may have any close contact. With the ample time I have been working on music, but mostly experimentation with styles or ideas that had been put on indefinite hold because of how busy Cattle usually keeps me.

– I’ve had ideas here and there for new Cattle riffs, so I’ve been trying to chronicle those as I go. We’re kind of put in a hard place band-wise as Death Atlas came out in late November 2019 but have had barely any time to tour the record. Technically our cycle is really just beginning. Getting one’s self back in the mind-frame for writing is something I’d rather do out of inspiration and not boredom or a driving need to compete.

Your tour was one of the last tours to be called off. How come you waited that long to cancel, or postpone, the European tour?

– We generally make a practice of not bailing out on tours the second things begin to look grim. That said, we kind of waited until there was absolutely no other choice but to cancel. We saw other bands do it before much was even known and we didn’t want to rush to judgment and pull the plug prematurely. Turned out of course no one will be doing anything for a long time, but we finally decided that touring during that time would not be safe and on top of that travel restrictions were imposed. The End.

How much did this cost you? I mean regarding buses, flights, hotel, merch and other costs that I do not know of? Or could you cancel everything and get most of the money back?

– None yo damn business.

Fair enough. As we all know, naming the tour The Europandemic Tour turned out to be ironic beyond any description of the word. How much have you joked about this coincident?

– There is, was, no joking. This sucks. We decided to  make a video where we shot ourselves in an attempt to put a bandage on not being able to tour and make the best of a crappy situation. I think it came off well, but the bind no touring is putting many musicians, crew, riggers and production folks in is not something we are all grab-assing about out behind the shed.

No touring – what do you miss the most?

– Europe; seemingly unlimited bread and cheese. In the US; falling asleep at 5 AM but being totally fine with it.

I think Death Atlas is your best album ever. Do you agree? Regardless – what would you say makes the album that great? And what new things musicwise, songwise, do you think Cattle Decapitaion brought to the table this time?

– I think Death Atlas is our most accomplished record. Best? I operate on whatever our next record is will be our best. Will say that I’m very proud of the job everyone did in all aspects of the writing, recording and production of the album.

– When the record was being conceived we set out to make the album something that the listener would want to put on and experience as an entire piece of music. We’ve long felt that writing an actual album and not just a collection of songs is a dying art, so in that spirit we set out to make each track as dynamically complimentary to the whole as possible. Yes, we wrote some shorter, relatively speaking, ripper songs for the record, but the major emphasis was on textures and dramatic impact. I think we accomplished this goal fairly well.

Could you please give us details about the recording and the song writing that became very emotional, or turned out be more overwhelmingly great than you expected?

– Back when we were discussing what we wanted the record to be like, the general consensus was that we wanted to make the songs more expansive and epic with a somber nature. I think we underestimated how dramatically that would play out on the finished product. Of course you practice the songs for months on end and get a feel for it all, but the home stretch of the last few weeks prior to recording is when all the little details come together and you really start to see songs take shape. Once in the studio all the production candy and layering comes out and it was really awe inspiring to hear Dave Otero’s work. The outro to Death Atlas, Time’s Cruel Curtain and our Dead Can Dance cover all had some heavy and emotional passages. Hearing it all put together for the first time was incredible.

You collaborated with members from Void of Silence and Midnight Odyssey this time. Tell us about it!

– Both of those artists were people we had hoped to work with for quite some time. Travis and I have been fans of Void of Silence for years and he had approached them about assisting with atmospheric elements for this record. Riccardo did a fantastic job with his work on Anthropogenic: End Transmission. All the elements we had asked for; the bleak soundscapes, the drony undertones with a sparsely beautiful melody were there and executed perfectly.

– In regards to Midnight Odyssey, Dave introduced the rest of us to Tony Parker’s music several years ago. He was primarily responsible for initiating contact with Tony and pitching the idea of working together. What Tony submitted to us for The Unerasable Past was absolutely what was needed and the track worked impeccably well as the intro to Death Atlas. We approached both Midnight Odyssey and Void of Silence as fans and admirers of their take on heavy atmospheric music and entrusted their taste and abilities to deliver exactly what we were looking for and we were not disappointed.

You played 70 000 tons of metal recently. I’ve read comments on metal forums that criticize you for that, i.e. regarding big ships and their pollution. What is your respond to these fans?

– I would hope that the folks who are critical of our doing those sorts of things never fly, drive a car, eat meat, smoke, purchase single-use items, own a smart phone or use any sort of environmentally destructive or human labor exploiting technology or products. All of us in the band live our lives as ethically as possible, but there are some unfortunate effects of being in a traveling band.

Finally – despite the nightmare covid-19 is, what is the best thing that the corona virus brought to the world and to Cattle Decapitation?

– Thus far, nothing. I’m sure some folks will try to put a positive spin on things in regards to the ability to write a ton of shit that no label will have the resources to release after things die down, but yeah. No touring means no income and no travel, and “shelter in place” however necessary is miserable.

– I’m someone who enjoys being on a mission and on the move and lockdown takes both of those things off the table.

Torbjörn Hallgren, Bara Metal



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