Interview with Dave McGraw of Cattle Decapitation


Interview by Jason Guest

Jason: Hi Dave. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. According to your press release, getting the album finished – from working around schedules to getting Tom Bunk of The Garbage Pail Kids fame to design cards for each of you – proved to be quite difficult. Now that it’s finished, how do you feel about Monolith of Inhumanity?

Dave: We feel really proud of how the record turned out, we all worked hard for it, and we are happy that it’s done, and that know we can tour for it.

Jason: When did writing begin for Monolith of Inhumanity? Is it all new material or are there any tracks or riffs that have been hanging around for a while? Also, bassist Derek Engemann makes his writing and recording debut with Monolith of Inhumanity. What did he bring to the band and to the album?

Dave: The writing process started around February of 2011. As far the material goes, it’s different for each one of us. We all had some stuff we saved for a while, but the vast majority of the music is all new ideas. We all write together in the jam room, a lot of times ideas would pop up in the moment if we feeling inspired. I feel that we are fortunate to be a band that can compose music together. There’s less of a chance for the music to get stale. Having Derek on this record was a big asset for us; he fitted with us perfectly and his writing style meshed with the Cattle sound, which is always a big thing when we write.

Jason: The album is more melodic this time around, and you even have a chorus in ‘A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat’. What was it that made you want to include more melodies this time?

Dave: Travis decided to do that vocal part because he felt it would go along with the chorus riff nicely. For me it was hard to tell how it would sound since we don’t do much pre-production, so I was a little scared of how it would sound. But once we were in the studio, it came out great!

Jason: Does Monolith of Inhumanity mark an evolution in Cattle Decapitation’s music?

Dave: I feel like every Cattle record marks a musical evolution for us. We don’t go out of our way to sound so different in each new release, it just kinda happens naturally.

Jason: Why did you choose to work with producer Dave Otero? What was it about his work that drew you to him? And what did he bring to the album?

Dave: We were drawn to Dave Otero because of his previous work with bands such as Cephalic Carnage. We had been thinking about going with him for a while, and it turned out to be a great choice. He was very nice to work with, he had great ideas, and definitely help us push our boundaries in the studio.

Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork, what it represents, who the artist is, and why you chose to work with them? Did you give them any specific direction?

Dave: The artwork was done by the almighty Wes Benscoter, and the concept was conceived by Travis Ryan and he is the best to ask about that. There’s not enough room in this interview for me to even try to explain, hahaha! You know, the usual anti-humanity sentiment that we are so immersed in.

Jason: Apparently, you’ve been toying with the idea of a mini-film for one of your songs for about nine years and you’ve finally done that with the song ‘Kingdom Of Tyrants’, the video directed by Mitch Massie is like a mini-film. Why did you choose this song? And what was it about Massie’s work that drew you to him? And how much direction did you give him?

Dave: We were introduced to Mitch by a friend of ours band, in which he did a video for. We were floored by the way it looked and how it held the viewers’ attention, so it was a no brainer for us to go with him…we gave him the song and a bit of what the concept was and he took all from there. We really didn’t know what to expect with it but once we watched it, we knew that this video was what we had been wanting for so long…

[Note: the video can be seen at the end of this interview]

Jason: You played in the UK recently supporting Suffocation. How did that go?

Dave: The shows in the UK were awesome! We love playing there. In fact we should be coming back in August for a couple of dates, one at the Underworld for sure. Please keep bringing us back.

Jason: Did you include new material in the set? How did it go down with the crowds?

Dave: The crowd reacted great to our new songs. We were slightly unsure of how we were gonna get away with playing a lot of new songs when the record at that point wasn’t even gonna be out for another 3 months, but hey, it turned out good.

Jason: Any plans to return to the UK any time soon?

Dave: We are back in August and should be back shortly after that if everything works out as planned. We love the UK!!!

Jason: What’s your opinion of the current metal scene? Are there any bands out there that have caught your attention?

Dave: Honestly? I feel like the metal scene is overwhelmed right now, way too many sub genres; every band on the planet can tour now, so the market/industry gets saturated as well. This is not a big scene and when there are way too many bands and not enough to people to play to, it kinda sucks… I hope I’m not sounding like a bitter old man here but I feel like it’s what really is happening and it will come to a breaking point. As far as bands go, my favourite band at the moment is Soreption from Sweden. I just cannot stop listening to them.

Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Some argue that it’s empowering as it has diminished major label dominance and allowed bands to reach a wider audience – particularly for underground bands – whereas others argue that it is making music too easily available and so diminishing the value of music as a creative and expressive entity.

Dave: Well, the internet has helped, yes, but I think its past the point where it’s helping. I feel like now it’s taking away all the mysticism from music especially, and I’m talking about music specifically, it’s a major topic of discussion between people nowadays. Does it help a band to start out? Maybe yes, but it doesn’t help bands that have been around since the pre-internet era and what not. Plus I think it only got really bad the last 8 or so years ago. I don’t know. Personally, I feel the internet has caused more damage than good as of lately, one could say that it has helped take out the middle man (record labels) but that’s not my point. My problem with it is that nowadays, a kid can go on to Wikipedia and find out all they need to know to become a knowledge fan in just a few minutes. I think that’s weak. I had to actually put in work to find out about bands, which made you like the band more, created sort of an atmosphere. People now are just spoiled. Once again I sound like an old fart, but I think some people might be able to agree with me to a certain degree considering that music is art and the internet has taken all the “art” out of music…

Jason: Cattle Decapitation’s music contains a very serious message concerning animal rights and humanity, subjects about which you are clearly very passionate. Given the dominant consumerist ideology and the imperative to enjoy with impunity that underpins western culture, do you think that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have any kind of impact on audiences?

Dave: I believe that people are going to pay attention to whatever they want to. I like the fact that people are becoming more aware regarding certain subjects, and I’m happy to be in a band that shares a message without being preachy about it, which turns people off almost immediately.  Then again we get thrown into the pro-active realm of the subjects you mentioned which sometimes leads people into believing that we are a band that does just that, preach. But we have had a positive impact on some of our audience. I have people come up to me and tell me they have become vegetarian or are more aware of today’s crises.

Jason: Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?

Dave: Thank you very much for the interview. All I have to say is come out and support live music. We are very pumped on this new record and can’t wait to come to a town near you and share our music with you all. Be safe and “keep it true!” Hahaha! I always wanted to say that… Thank you.

Cattle Decapitation return to these shores with Incantation and Hatesphere for these dates:

  • 14th August: Leeds – The Well
  • 15th August: Glasgow – Ivory Blacks
  • 16th  August: London – Underworld

 And you can read Jason’s review of Monolith of Humanity here