First of all; congratulations with your new album! Speaking as a real fan of the band, knowing your discography from front to back, I am very pleased to once again hear your specific type of death metal I started loving twelve years ago. The return of Jon Levasseur and the absence of an album title feed on my thoughts that Cryptopsy's intentions for this album were to return to this style. Am I correct?
You are somewhat correct. By the way: thanks for the years of support, it's very appreciated! Back to the album: yes, the writing team of Jon and I are back on this release. Therefore it sounds more like our earlier albums than like the previous one, “The Unspoken King”. We had no idea for an album title on this record so the guys suggested a selftitled record. It is also our 20-year anniversary, so it was just fitting that we do this.
In my review of 'Cryptopsy', I mentioned it was difficult for me to view the album free from its context: the enormous amount of negative responses you received for your previous record, 'The Unspoken King'. I would like to know what the purpose of this album was and how it turned out to be the way it is (in my opinion a good modern metal album, which might have better been released under another moniker).
Like I said above, this album wasn't written by Jon and me. I had to work, for the first time ever, with a different writing team. Obviously, this turned out in different ideas and riffs. So as much as we have a lot of Cryptopsy's old elements on “The Unspoken King”, there are new ideas and riffs that might have sounded different from past releases. I am still very happy with the release and I think that it has a lot of great parts.
I first came in touch with the band when 'And Then You'll Beg' was released in the year 2000. Since then, I have closely followed the band. It seems to me that the band was on the top of their game between roughly 1998 and 2004, when the biggest tours were done, I experienced a huge popularity of the band in my environment and the band was very present in the media. After that, it seems the progress stagnated, due to the second departure of Lord Worm and many line-up changes in general, five years between 'And Then You'll Beg' and 'Once Was Not', the absence of Jon's riffs on two albums, no website or other official information channel for quite a while, dropping off Century Media, a drastic change in style and image with 'The Unspoken King'… I can go on and on. At least, I feel my loyalty to the band was put to the test. Can you agree on this thesis, or at least understand it from a fan's perspective?
I do see where you are coming from for sure! Line-up changes are not necessarily easy to manage as a band. When some of us were on the same page, others were not. It's a tough thing to make music in this genre when a lot of folks out there just want to exploit you and make $$$ off of our hard work. So it took some time to iron out all these problems and get our shit together. With this release we are doing it on our own with the help of some very competent folks. Also the members in the present line-up are all very much on the same page, so things took shape much more easily.
Time to talk about the new record. Because your music is so fast and full of details, it always takes time to fully understand the songs. What I did notice in the short time I am listening to the album, is that a lot of 'classic' Cryptopsy ingredients returned to the sound: guitarriffs sharp like razorblades, sloppy sounding clean guitars, slapping bass, groovy parts, and most important: memorable hooklines! Am I right to consider these elements to be inherent to the Cryptopsy-style?
Yes, I would imagine so, and once again: this is the way that Jon and I have always written. We like to mix it up a lot, but always with the notion that the song has to remain a song and not just riffs, parts and pieces together for the sake of showing off. We also like to throw a lot of surprises in the songs ('traps', we call them) and we challenge our musical skills to make them seem effortless. Lots of details make an album interesting to listen to over and over again because people pick up on different things with each listen.
Can you describe the writing process for the new album? Was all of the music jammed together in the rehearsal room, like the short video of you and Jon shows?
Yes, most of the songs were written by Jon and me that way. Jon would come in with song ideas or riffs and we would piece them together. Chris (Donaldson, guitars) wrote a song and other parts, as well as Youri Raymond (previous guitarplayer and bassist), who also contributed a few riffs. Oli (Pinard, bassplayer) came into the band when the songs were pretty much finished but still came up with some very interesting bass parts. Matt (McGachy, vocals) came to rehearsals and started putting lyrics and patterns on what we were writing. It all felt good and natural so it was quite fun and interesting to do.
Songtitles like 'Damned Draft Dodgers' and 'Shag Harbour's Visitors' made me very curious about the lyrical themes on the album. Can you explain them?
The right person to answer this question would have to be Matt, but what I can say will explain a little. All the lyrics are based on true happenings that took place at one point in time in Canada. So he speaks of unsolved mysteries, murders, sittings and different phenomenas and events like that.
Cryptopsy has always presented itself as an innovative band, always seeking the boundaries of extreme music. Well, with 'The Unspoken King' you did a hell of a job! With the new album, you made a conventional Cryptopsy-record. Did you feel anyhow obligated to go back to your own roots and keep the experimenting at a minimum level? If yes, did you feel limited in your own urge to push boundaries?
I wouldn't say that this album is conventional, because there is a bunch of stuff that we wrote that we have never touched in the past. Matt did not want to do any clean vocals on this one and I don't blame him. He got so much flack from the last one, and it's a shame cause the guy obviously has huge talent. Jon brought back his writing style and I just try to keep doing what I know how to do. We as musicians always practice to try to become better so there are definitely improvements on some levels. Chris is an amazing guitar player as well and Oli is amzaing on bass. We do experiment but all have side projects for the experimentation that would stray too far from what is Cryptopsy.
A question for Matt: I can imagine it was not easy for him stepping into the band. His first 'assignment' was doing a record with a lot of vocal styles, including clean and melodic (which was not appreciated or accepted by anyone). Second, the setlist was mainly filled with Lord Worm- and Mike DiSalvo songs, so he found himself performing very few of his own songs and lyrics during his first years with the band. What is your view on this, and do you feel accepted and appreciated now?
Matt unfortunately can't answer this one since I am doing the interview, but like mentioned above: yes, a lot of people came down hard on him and I think it's unfortunate. On behalf of all the guys in the band we know he is the most talented vocalist we have ever had and on top of that, he is the most dedicated! To take that much heat and still come back to slay some more, he shows his strong will and good character. Listen closely to the new album and pay attention to how big the vocals are, coming from the diaphragm and in total control, he makes it look and sound easy.
What might the fans expect from Cryptopsy in the future? A few more steady years with the same faces in the band? More albums? The promised Century Media-compilation with three new songs? Any touring plans maybe?
Yes, touring will be in the forecast, as well as the best of record from Century Media in November. As for the rest we will just have to see. We want to continue and put out music for you, but it all depends of support from fans and promoters.
Thank you for this interview. If there is anything you'd like to add, please feel free to take this space.
Thanks again for your support, hope to see you on tour!!!