Jagged Blue Pill
I’m tired of writing introductions. It’s harder than you think. The Q&A portion is all done and ready to roll, but I still have to come up with some sort of synopsis of the who, what, when, why, and where the interview even exists. Basically, despite all I’ve done for you jerks in the last four years, I still have to convince you what I’ve got in any particular month is worth your time.
It’s stressful. So this month I contracted the shit out, interviewing Cianide guitarist/founding member Scott Carroll, whose band just released the crushing Gods Of Death, and got Cardiac Arrest guitarist Tom Knizner and Bones (and ex-Usurper) bassist/frontman Jon Necromancer to explain why you should care. Cardiac Arrest, Bones, and the iconic Johnny Vomit open for Cianide at Empty Bottle November 26th, in what is sure to be among the true ragers of the year.
Wait, did I just write an intro to the intro?
Tom Knizner: What else is there to be said? Throughout my time in the Chicago metal scene, Cianide have been an influence, friends, and brothers of metal. You have to give credit where credit is due. Many Chicago metal bands have given up, quit, tried other music, jumped trends, returned to metal now that it is cool, etc. Not Cianide. They have always done what they have done and continue to do so without any apologies or regrets. They are true Chicago metal! They continue to be an influence and set the bar high . . . Metal Never Bends!
Jon Necromancer: Cianide? I mean, they’re lifers man. Twenty-plus years ain’t easy. Especially when you’re just hammering out in the basement year after year. No touring, scene posturing, fashion, or trends. Just straight up blue-collar metal. And a great group of drunken ballbusters. The show should be fuckin’ sick.
Mosh: I’d ask you some sophisticated question about how the recording technique and plan on Gods Of Death differ from Hell’s Rebirth, but I assume Cianide took the exact same approach for this new album as it has for the five before it.
Scott Carroll: Well, yes and no I guess. This one took us ages to record, as we just couldn’t get it done. A lot of personal shit went down, and our general getting-old laziness set in pretty hard on this one. We really took our time to get our exact sound as we have in our basement practice room. We achieved it for the most part, but alas, it could always be a bit better and a bit heavier to my ears. We do shit pretty standard when recording. Andy [Kuizin] plays all the drums to a click-track only. He doesn’t even need a guitar scratch. Fucker remembers all the riffs/parts in his head like some mad Polish drum scientist – pretty cool to watch actually. Mike [Perun, bassist/vocalist] and I then record our slop on top of it and then the vocals. Pretty basic shit I guess. Turned out cool and we’re pretty damn happy with it. It’s dirty, ugly, and totally death metal the way we like it.
M: There’s a lot to be said about consistency, right?
SC: I’d say more about knowing who you are as a band and fucking love what you play is more the deal with us. We don’t settle on every riff idea we have and crap out songs at a NASCAR pace, ya know what I mean? The three of us want the same thing in the end: a song or album that we can always look back and be proud of. I dig everything we’ve ever done. If we didn’t, we would’ve packed it in years ago, man. The fire still burns, man, maybe not as bright and high as before, but for sure hotter and more menacing!
M: One thing that is a little more noticeable on Gods Of Death is your guitar tone. It’s always been sick and super recognizable, but it’s filthy disgusting this time. Do you have secrets of the trade or is it just a happy accident?
SC: No secrets . . . just always keep it simple. Used a Marshall JCM2000 DSL 100-watt head and standard Marshall 1960a cab, miked up with two SM 57s. A 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio for one side and my 1993 Gibson SG for the other. No distortion pedal was used, as I like to get the sound and power from the amp itself. I did use a cheap Boss EQ pedal for a bit more gain. “Less is more” is my way.
M: What do you tune down to, anyway?
SC: We tune to Deathstrike!
M: I know you get asked this question every interview, probably, but the band’s history is interesting in that in more than 20 years, this is only its sixth full-length. Care to explain?
SC: We’re normal metal guys with normal lives, i.e. we work and have mortgages, bills, kids, wives, etc. In other words, the band is not the numero uno in our day-to-day life. We jam once a week and let off steam from all the bullshit that we have to deal with on a daily basis. So, putting out records every year just to have “product” is not what we’re all about. We’re three great friends who share the unusual hobby of playing heavy-as-fuck death metal. The way we see it, our records could come out in any given year and it will still sound exactly the same. So why bother with what the rest of the “musician” way of thinking is. I could care less, and actually think we’re quite productive!
M: How’s things with your new label, Hells Headbangers?
SC: Well, they are by far my favorite label, so being with them is a perfect match. They have the same ethos we have: they’re honest and die-hard metallers and have no time for bullshit. Chase [Horval, label owner] and HHR have been nothing short of brilliant for us. The most professional and honest label we’ve ever been a part of.
M: In your mind, is there a definitive, or recognizable, “Chicago death metal” sound/vibe?
SC: This seems to be the big question this year, and there’s really no direct answer for it. In my eyes we’re a very working-class city, and the bands here reflect that kind of feeling. Just go to show and see . . . not many bands around here are all about “making it” or whatever. Just a lot of Midwest people playing some good honest heavy shit, ya know?
M: Who were some of the bands locally that Cianide drew influence from and/or admired when the band formed?
SC: Oh man, well Master/Deathstrike are fucking gods to us! I could go on forever, as old Chicago metal is some of the best stuff ever! Macabre are fucking genius, and the only band older than us who never gave up once! So great. As for others, let’s just name some of the greats for all the Illinois Entertainer people who may remember: War Cry (when [Paul] Spekmann was in ’em), Thrust, Mayhem Inc, Paradoxx, the godly Slauter Xstroyes, Devastation, Terminal Death, Metal Onslaught, Natas, Aftermath, Splattered Animal, Witch Slayer, Trouble, Tattoo, Damien Thorne, Sindrome, Znowhite, Masada, the awesome Enforcer who are now back and heavier than ever, Funeral Bitch, Funeral Nation, Abomination, Genocide, Battalion, Maelstrom, and possibly the best, fucking Zoetrope, who are fucking legends and should be remembered as such. If it wasn’t for them, I truly believe Chicago wouldn’t have the great metal it had/has. They are one of the most underrated bands in metal. Chicago metal rules . . . diverse, heavy, and honest-as-fuck.
M: Are there newer, younger Chicago bands Cianide digs or sees some of the same spirit in?
SC: Cardiac Arrest comes to mind instantly. They are Chicago to the bone: heavy, pure, and hard-working. Hessler are fucking awesome too; they killed me when I saw ’em. Kommandant [is] fucking killer! Bones are crushing, and everyone should check them out. Cult Of Daath‘s new demo kills. Nachtmystium still continue to blow me away . . . just a few I’ve been diggin’ on, I guess.
M: This Empty Bottle show is going to be a complete ripper from start to finish. How did it come together?
SC: We’ve wanted to do a show with the legendary Johnny Vomit for years and years now but, we just couldn’t get our shit together enough and do it. So, the time was right. We have a new album, and I was talking to John at some show and we decided to just fucking do it already. We picked the bands and it’s gonna be awesome. No rockstar bullshit – all bands will get the same treatment and the money will be divided equally. It’s something we wanted to do forever! Be there and rage!
M: What’s the one, most basic, most essential, easiest piece of advice you would give young bands on longevity.
SC: Fuck the trends. Always.
— Trevor Fisher