I have to say I am impressed with the new EP, which is second part of The Book of Suffering trilogy. Cryptopsy sounds tight as fuck, like hungry wolves and aggressive as never before. The first part of the trilogy started with a sound fragment saying What you’re about to hear is very disturbing indeed. This new EP is pretty disturbing as well! Are you satisfied with the result?
Yes I am extremely satisfied with the results but of course hindsight is always 20/20 and there is always something you wish that you could revisit.
When you released the first part of The Book of Suffering trilogy, Flo said Cryptopsy was going to release music more frequently by releasing just EP’s. Still the fans have had to wait three years for the second part to come out. Why did it take you three years to release these four new songs?
The simple answer is that we were touring quite a bit. The majority of these songs were written in the Fall of 2016, but we ended up playing almost 100 shows in 2017 which really slowed us down. Amongst those dates we returned the classic Cryptopsy album ‘None So Vile’ which we played in its’ entirety. That really put a wrench in our creative spokes and slowed us down quite a bit.
Even though the new material is challenging enough to keep the fans busy for a little while, we of course would like to know if there is already a time plan for the release of the third part of The Book of Suffering?
We have already begun the process of discussing it. I personally think that it would be a great idea. In a perfect world if I would love to see Tome III released in 2020.
With the intensity of your music, releasing four songs is a great idea. Will you ever go back to the concept of releasing full albums again?
Once we close the book pun intended on the series of EPs we will release a full album. As a fan, I actually dislike EPs. I rather have the option of being completely immersed into an album with many tracks and colors to explore.
Since The Book of Suffering is a trilogy, can you please explain the concept of the story?
The Book of Suffering's conceptual lyrical breakdown is the following: Tome I is about people who have caused suffering. Tome II is about people who have escaped suffering. And Tome III will be about people who have witnessed suffering.
I heard the title was an idea of the old singer Lord Worm, is that right?
Yes that is correct. When we were discussing the idea of releasing a series of EPs the concept of using chapters or tomes to differentiate them emerged. From there it was a simple leap to the once Lord Worm named album which became ‘The Unspoken King’.
I also noticed the artwork for this second EP matches the first EP stylistically. What is the idea behind the artwork?
We wanted a cover which would represent the brutality and yet organic nature of our music. We strived for something disturbing yet not overly graphic that wouldn't disturb too many non-fans. Personally I find both Tomes artwork extremely misogynistic. It's rather silly that on Tome II everything has decayed except for the breast in my opinion, but whatever, it's death metal!!!!
You recorded The Book of Suffering – Tome II in The Grid recording studio, the studio owned by your guitarist Chris Donaldson. Was it an easy process to record and to agree on the production / sound of the songs?
It is always an extreme pleasure to record with Chris. He is one of the best producers in the extreme metal genre and I am not just saying this because he is in my band. I seriously believe that he is at the top of his game right now and deserves way more attention from the metal scene. There was absolutely no issues dealing with any aspects from the tracking all the way to the final mix. He was in complete control and did an amazing job.
A video was made for the song Sire of Sin , can you tell us something regarding how it came about?
We wanted something that would be as disturbing to watch as the music is to listen to. For that we took away all band performance shots and only used extreme close ups. We then challenged Chris Kells, the director, to edit this monstrosity until all the pieces finally fit. He really had the hardest job in this process.
It has been watched almost 50,000 times in just over a week, which is pretty amazing, isn’t it?
It's amazing but as with anything and me being a human being I am never truly satisfied! It could have been 51k or more and I still would want more. It's human nature.
Your first album with Cryptopsy was ‘The Unspoken King’ after Lord Worm made his return on ‘Once Was Not’. ‘The Unspoken King’ received a lot of criticism because of the Deathcore influences and the use of clean vocals. How did you feel about all this criticism at the time and how do you look back on that time nowadays?
I remember the day when the first few tracks leaked very well. I was devastated. I was never a huge Cryptopsy fan or extreme metal fan before I joined Cryptopsy. I got into the band because the band was looking to go in a different direction. If they had wanted to continue down the same death metal oriented path I would have never even been considered as a viable candidate. I accepted the challenge to audition for the band because I thought that their music and legacy were extremely interesting and I wanted to push myself as a vocalist. Looking back now while understanding much more about the extreme metal scene and the band's history I see where I went wrong. But at the time I was simply trying my best and there is nothing more that I can do about that album now.
On the second album you did with Cryptopsy you returned to technical death metal again and left out the clean vocals. Was that then a conscious choice?
Yes very quickly we realized that there was no room in Cryptopsy for clean vocals. As for the style return it had a lot to do with the return of Jon Levasseur. As many people know he was the mastermind behind the classic albums ‘None So Vile’ and ‘Whisper Supremacy’ to name a few. One of his main reason to return to the band was to set it back on track. When we were writing and recording TUK the band's vision was all over the place. There was no clear picture of what the final product needed to be in my opinion. But for the self-titled album Jon came back with a bunch of songs ideas and he very quickly set us back on the brutal tech metal trail.
You have been fronting Cryptopsy now for over ten years, how has it been for you? And what was the craziest thing you have experienced with the band?
I have had many amazing experiences over the past ten years and I am extremely grateful for all of them. Perhaps the craziest experiences would have to be associated with our trip to Loud Park back in 2012 in Japan. Considering it was a fly-in, fly-out gig and we were only there for three days it was surreal. The fans were intense, waiting for us in the lobby of our hotel and physically shaking and crying when meeting us. It was out of this world! We hung out in the light-filled, people-dense multicolored landscape of downtown Tokyo. We went out and sang karaoke and we even visited a very strange strip club where they played a Céline Dion song, it was a blast. But I have never had the chance to return as of yet. I am hoping that we will get the chance on this tour cycle.
Cryptopsy is an independent band, you don’t have a contract with a record label anymore. Why did you decide to become an independent band? And what are the benefits and disadvantages of being independent?
Being an independent band is a lot of work. We all have to do things that most dudes in bands on labels don't do. The era of getting signed and becoming a huge rockstar overnight is over, especially when you play extreme metal. We have to either fill the roles a label would cover ourselves or hire out in order to accomplish what labels do daily for bands. It is not easy and we are still learning how to do this better with each subsequent release. We are not opposed to being on a label or cooperating with labels but we have not been presented with the right deal as of yet.
Does it also mean you can live from the band, or do you still have day time jobs?
We all hustle and work outside of the band.
When you started the trilogy EP series, Cryptopsy started a fundraiser through Indiegogo, where you set a goal of 20,000 dollars. Unfortunately this amount was never reached, but still the EP was released. Is it hard for an independent band like Cryptopsy to survive in the music scene of today?
The crowd fund that we ran for ‘Tome I’ ran for ‘Tome I’ exclusively not for the other EP’s. It was a good idea at the time. A lot of bands had had success with their campaigns and we were inspired by them. We raised 12k out of our 20k goal which is crazy if you think that that came from less than 400 backers. Those people put their necks out for us and we commend them for it. But for some reason the crowdfunding approach did not resonate with our fan base. But through the entire timeframe the crowdfund was running out fans we still supporting us on our bandcamp page which is always helpful and appreciated.
You recently joined the Continental Concerts USA booking agency roster. What are you expecting from this collaboration? The obvious answer is probably lots of tours, but why did you join a booking agency (as an independent band)?
As I mentioned earlier when you are independent you need to fill all the roles that a typical label would supply or do them yourself. None of us are remotely qualified to organize let alone book a tour so we very gladly signed a deal with one of the best booking agencies in North America.
In November you are going on tour with Aborted through Europe. Are you excited already and what can fans expect this time around from your show?
I am extremely excited to perform again. It's been a while since Cryptopsy had been on tour, our last gig was in December 2017. We were discussing set list ideas for this run and have tentatively decided to play a whole slew of new material with a dash of classics for good measure. It'll be a jolly good old blast!!!
As mentioned earlier, last year you played almost 100 shows in Europe and North America. Does it ever get boring? Is touring always fun?
Touring is amazing but as with anything parts of the process stale over time. The time spent on stage is always a pleasure for me but the waiting and down time can become tedious after a while. I do enjoy travelling and when I have the time I tend to sightsee as much as possible. Or most recently I mapped out a bunch of sick microbrew pubs so that I could go and taste of some of the local beverages. I'm really a craft beer fanatic.
So, to wrap things up, you just released the EP and are going on tour soon. Is there anything else planned for the band in the near future that we should keep an eye out to?
This coming October I will be launching my podcast called Vox & Hops. During which I have in depth discussions with metal musicians and people from the metal or craft brew industry about life, metal music and most importantly craft beer! Cryptopsy will also be performing at this year's Netherlands Death Fest in May.