Who would have thought a group of vegetarians starting a metal band called Cattle Decapitation would become such a massive international hit. They might not be about the typical death, gore and murder kind of music you’d expect, but if you pay attention to their lyrics, most of them concerning the way in which the human race is destroying the earth, you understand why they’ve made it this far. Their lyrics are extremely relevant to our not-so-conscious way of living, and it sure is a nice change from 17 year-olds repeating the phrase “Gucci gang” for two minutes.
It took me a while, but I was finally able to get a hold of Travis Ryan to talk about their upcoming Australia tour with Tassie legends Psycroptic. According to the truly down-to-earth metal vocalist they are beyond excited to come back to Australian turf for the second time — a place that, in terms of audience and scenery, reminds him of California and San Diego, where he grew up.
“We are really looking forward to coming, and you know one of these guys are going to have to take me to Lord Of The Fries to get a veggie burger and talk about Australia’s amazing biodiversity and just hang out,” Ryan smiles.
The band described as “one of the most brutal, relentless and vital forces in extreme music”, has a massive herd of metal fans praising them for being vocally incomparable, with their vocals ranging from super low to oddly high, and for somehow always being able to top their latest releases.
“We don’t want to put out the same record over and over again, which I don’t feel like we have ever done. It’s just this desire to step it up, I guess, with every record. We’ve had a weird progression, where most bands seem to release their best stuff in the beginning of their career and then it sort of goes downhill from there. And we’ve gone in the opposite direction,” Ryan explains.
“But we just try to move forward and do something different. And with every year there comes a new set of things that people are into so it’s kind of a dance of staying relevant with the times, and not sacrificing your sound and not selling out obviously and [forgetting] what got the band there.”
It has definitely been an uphill 20-year journey for the deathgrind band. As Ryan told me, they might have been bigger hadn’t it been for the whole “vegetarian thing”. Simultaneously it might also be that factor that makes them stand out from the crowd. And although Cattle Decapitation often gets pigeon-holed for starting up as an all-vegetarian metal band, their music and socially conscious lyrics transcend far beyond that subject.
“I think a lot of people misunderstands where it’s coming from; a lot of people assume that we’re a metal version of PETA and it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not like that, nobody’s trying to twist anybody’s arm,” he explains.
Whether they’re singing about environmental issues, welfare, what we eat, where it’s sourced from, excessive garbage and plastic, single use items or over population, these guys bluntly illustrate the fate of the human race if we continue pillaging and destroying the planet.
20 years of touring and making provoking commentary dealing with important issues of our society and you ask yourself how these guys are going to be able to top all of this once again. But Ryan is ready as ever to start working on a new album with title, cover, concept and even those “freaking pictures you have on the inside layout” already figured out. So keep your eyes peeled to see what comes next, and make sure you don’t miss their Australia tour with Psycroptic in February!
When & Where: Corner Hotel, Melbourne – February 14.
Tickets via tickets.destroyalllines.com
Written by Nilo Danai
Photo by Zach Cordner