When celebrating New Year’s Eve at a friend’s place it got to the point in the night where people began choosing songs and I thought it would be good to play ‘With All Disrespect’ by Cattle Decapitation. The track is from their eighth studio album, Death Atlas, and was released only a month prior to new year’s, but I had listened to the album so much I just figured everyone else loved the band’s brand of death metal and grindcore as much as I do. The reaction of others at that party reminded me how out of touch I am with non-metal fans. Also, a couple at the New Year’s Eve party had kids stranded on the beach in Mallacoota during the Gippsland fires, so I didn’t want to, you know, play a song by the band about fires and stuff. I didn’t mention this story to Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan when I caught up with him prior to the band’s Australian tour, but I did keep it in the back of my mind and I did ask him about the lyrical themes.
The lyrical themes running through Death Atlas focus on how humanity is ruining the earth and what can be done to stop this from happening. “I try to keep everything relative to current events. The weird thing is with this record and the last one, The Anthropocene Extinction, we released that record and like two weeks later, the word Anthropocene was trending all over the place and there were stories and new clips and links and everybody’s tagging us freaking out and saying we’re prophets and all of this bullshit,” Travis tells me while laughing.
The new album also covers fires and disease as a way of reducing the world’s population. “We have the song called ‘Bring Back The Plague’ and literally we put out the song and I think the next day or some crazy shit, two days later, there was all these outbreaks of bubonic plague within China and places like that and now we’ve got the Coronavirus. We didn’t make this shit up, it’s happening. The virus part is a big time bizarre coincidence, I feel like these are the end times but at the same time there are things that can be done to turn things around but I don’t think that that’s necessarily in our DNA, I think we’re a self-destructive species,” Travis says.
Whilst the lyrics within Cattle Decapitation tracks may be prophetic or confronting, they may conjure images of the apocalypse in the listener’s mind, Travis describes the lyrical content from his perspective. “Our lyrics have a lot of tongue in cheek, a lot of irony, heavily deep with metaphors. Some things should be taken lightly, some things should not, some of it’s art; kind of a bit of a mixed bag. A lot of it’s meant to make you stand back and look at yourself or your fellow man and keep it in the back of your mind, or the forefront of your mind. I’ve gotta talk about something so I feel like I’d rather do something a bit more relevant instead of just fantasy, which there is a lot of fantasy in this stuff.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the band as they are well aware of the fires that have ravaged parts of New South Wales and Victoria over recent months. So, good guys Cattle Decapitation have decided to raise funds for Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary during their Australian tour. Travis explained how it’ll work. “We’re going to be offering an upgrade for VIP meet and greet tickets; come early, see the band do soundcheck then hang out with everybody after (the show) for a bit. One hundred percent of the profits of the meet and greet part of the ticket goes to Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary,” he says. “We’re also doing a T-shirt that is only going to be sold online and we’ll be donating one hundred percent of the profit of that T-shirt to Cobargo as well.”
Travis went on to explain why the band felt the need to help out in their own way. “We felt weird after everything that’s been happening to come over there [Aus] and have fun and play metal without doing something. We had to do something coz it was just so devastating and seeing all the news and being this far over [at home in the USA] and feeling helpless about the whole thing, it just sucks. It just doesn’t make sense for us to have a record like this and then come over there without fuckin’ trying to do something for somebody so we looked at a bunch of organisations who needed help. We wanted to stick with a more mum and pop organisation, we believe in working locally and as grassroots as possible, so we’re going with Cobargo, they look like they really need it.”
Cattle Decapitation will play Melbourne’s Max Watts on Wednesday, February 19.
Written By Paul S Taylor
Photo by Alex Solca