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Interviews : “Forced Gender Reassignment wasn’t really THAT bad…” – An Interview With Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation)

By on December 29, 2017

  Cattle Decapitation – Travis Ryan

A band that brings to light some of the most pressing social and environmental issues of today’s world, through the sheer brutality of their music and who do it extremely well might I add, Cattle Decapitation has undeniably earned their top spot in the world of heavy metal. “Our name – it’s such a crazy irony. When it was created, it was just to be blatant, kind of ridiculous and over the top. The dudes who also play in the band The Locust came up with this really ‘out there’ name but once I came into the band, we sort of morphed it into a metaphor for, the destruction of the human race. People in mass, are often referred to as ‘cattle’ and well, I guess that’s just what we want to project. That the human race is leading itself to destruction.”

It’s been five years since the band have visited our shores and Travis Ryan, vocalist of the band, is alarmed at the immense gap between their tours. “The only thing we have planned for the next year is our Australian Tour and we are really, really looking forward to that. We have great memories of the country and just being there was amazing. For me, one of my favourite memories is obviously going to the koala sanctuary, hanging out with the kangaroos out on the lawn, it was really amazing. It all happened pretty quickly. I spent almost 40 years of my life just wanting to go to Australia, get the Australian experience, I was obsessed with the idea of going there. I tried for years to get the band over there and it was always such a pain in the ass. It still is a pain in the ass! Took us two years.  Our last album came out two years ago so we should have been there fucking two years ago!”

But this extended time between tours can only mean one thing – a kick arse setlist! ” We’re bringing our best set that we’ve ever done! It’ll definitely be the longest set we’ve ever done as well. It’s basically going to be the last three records – that’s our favourite stuff to play really. We’ve gone back through our old catalogue and tried pulling songs out and it doesn’t really work.  I hate to say it but to the people that want to hear it, we would just rather play the newer stuff. We’re a bit selfish that way I guess but nobody’s really complained so far, so I think we’re good!” I’d be happy watching them perform just their latest album, but the last three – well, holy shit Australia, you better be mosh-ready! “We love getting up in people’s faces and vice versa”, Travis says with glee when talking about the band’s live performances. “That’s the kind of band we are. I think we’re built mostly for clubs and pub shows. I’m not going to say the smaller the better, because with small venues, sometimes, comes shitty equipment and PA’s. We like to sound good when we play live, as good as possible! I guess you could say we shine brighter in the club scene even though festivals are fun to play.”

Cattle Decapitation’s last release in 2015, The Anthropocene Extinction was my album of the year and was a favourite amongst many end of year lists, which honestly comes as no surprise. It was unlike anything the band had done before and reflected in their music. Travis spoke about the most pressing matter in the world that concerns and scares him. “Well, I don’t want to get into politics. Apart from that, it’s honestly the amount of plastic and trash that is present in the world’s oceans making its way from the land. This has been happening for so many years – since the 50’s I guess when the dawn of plastics came into play and we started manufacturing so much. Seeing the amount of waste that is washing up on remote islands, is alarming – these are fragile ecosystems that could create a chain reaction. The same things are happening on land and it all comes back to humans of course. Overpopulation, the sheer density of it all, and no one really knows what to do.  This is one big thing that kinda scares me the most.” Musically, this was indeed a standout album from the band’s career and it always amazes me, how, even after so many years, a band can still keep things fresh, unique and in the case of Cattle Decap so completely unorthodox. ” Well we’ve been around for a long time, and I’m not trying to sound all hoity-toity, but as an artist, you get bored of doing the same old kind of thing. You just want to branch out and it’s amazing, having a group of people in the band that are cool with that, trying different things with their respective instruments. When the band started writing more melodic stuff, that really opened the doors for us, especially for me, to try and do something that nobody else was really doing.”

“It all comes to us naturally; I can’t really speak for them, I don’t know how they write – I come in later. For me, it just comes naturally. Honestly, there are things that don’t work. Like, I’ll get in the studio (and this happened on a song on the recent record), and I don’t know what the hell I was hearing before but think to myself that this clearly isn’t working now. So we have to work with the producer and think of ways to do something completely different. The sound dynamic does come to us naturally but to get there, it’s a lot of work. It’s all part of the process. ”

Fifteen minutes wasn’t enough to have a chat with one of my favourite vocalists in metal, but I managed to sneak in a little conversation about the video that YouTube rejected and caught the attention of even the Russian Deep Web. “With that video; for ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’ – it was a curiosity thing. It’s quite literally one of, if not the most brutal, horribly disgusting music video of all time. You couldn’t find it on youtube anywhere but there were reaction videos to it! The funny thing to me is – this has all been done before. Horror movies, snuff shit, disgusting real life stuff on the internet, gore – when you look at all of that stuff, this video wasn’t REALLY that bad. ” Asking Travis to elaborate, he explains, ” There’s a phenomenon that happens when you put music over some horrible visual that immediately repulses people or draws people in…You take a video of a puppy- its just a puppy, you look at a puppy and it’s cute as hell. and you’re like ‘awwww’. and if you go and put Sarah McLachlan’s music over it and all of a sudden, you’re tearing up and crying because the pressing melancholy music of this video is going over this little puppy.” But wait, there’s more to this! “All of a sudden it takes a completely different turn you put death metal music over something like that, it’s glorification of whatever is happening on the screen. It wasn’t coming from the gore for the sake of gore standpoint, that’s why it was controversial and it gets talked about.”

When chatting with bands that have been around for years together, I love getting their opinion on certain aspects of this industry and the scene – one of them being the insane number of genres and labels that now exist. Travis had a lot to say about it too. “We have to remember – these are mostly kids coming up with this shit and, they’ll figure it out. Or not. Fuck them anyway. I’m honestly torn on it because I think it’s stupid to label a band. Every single band that comes out now is like, ” WE ARE …..” and then there’s a string of adjectives following that. It’s all just unnecessary. Like,  I call us extreme metal, not death metal.  Death metal to me was a time, a place and an atmosphere and it takes place in the late 80s to the 90’s. Everything else since then has been a bastardization but too many that are straight up not death metal call themselves death metal.  I’m what everyone calls an ‘elitist’ if that means being correct then I’m totally fine with it. Just because something has blast beats and growly vocals, doesn’t make it death metal.” Fair enough!

Travis Ryan has one last message to Australia ahead of their tour in February. “We are not bullshitting – we love playing there and have been trying like crazy to get to Australia. I promise you 0 if you were to type Australia in my email, at least 200 or so would pop up. So trust me when I say, we’re totally dying to come back, it’s going to be insane and we’re really looking forward to seeing you at the shows!”

Catch Cattle Decapitation across Australia and New Zealand in February with special guests Psycroptic. Tickets on sale now via Destroy All Lines. Click here to secure your tickets.

Cattle Decapitation’s new album The Anthropocene Extinction is out now via Nerve Gas. Click here to purchase your copy.


Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.