The backlash that was bestowed upon Cryptopsy following “The Unspoken King”, especially the brutal lambasting of singer Matt McGachy, falls nothing short of shocking.
As the old adage goes, change is inevitable; unless you play in a metal band, of course. As the years pass and with new musicians in the fold, a band’s sound is sure to evolve – McGachy brought clean vocals to the extreme metal band for the first time in its storied history, and that is where things get touchy, but who’s idea was it? “It was Flo’s idea. They came to get me because I could do clean vocals“, McGachy explains.” Flo saw me with one of my other bands, and he was all drunk and he goes “you made me faint” and that was it, I got a phone call three months later. He asked me to join the band, I said no, and then called him back later.” How does McGachy feel about his first album with Cryptopsy? “We tried. We incorporated some different influences from the band and the previous record and it didn’t pan out. You don’t sell socks for twenty years then start selling t-shirts”. How ironic then, are these lyrics from “The Unspoken King”; “Silence the tyrants before they condemn us all”.
“Alex was really into power metal and Flo and Eric love the Deftones. I love Mike Patten, Flo loves Mike Patten but Erik and Flo together were in this deep Deftones phase when I joined the band, so I did ‘Bemoan The Martyr’, which is the song that everybody hates and chose to shit on me for, but I chose to put notes that way, where it sounds like I can’t sing. I chose to sing likeChinoto make my band mates happy. It was just one of those things, I learned and here I am. I wouldn’t be here now without that, as much as I’ve been shit on and called a fucking faggot, I wouldn’t be here tonight if I had not gone through that shit”.
Then there were the claims that the band had sold out, turned into a Deathcore band, which was the latest trend in extreme music at that moment in time. “You have to understand that ‘The Unspoken King’ was the only album that was written with a different chemistry” explains Flo Mounier, the bands drummer “it was the first time I had to write with a different guitar player other than Jon. So of course it’s going to sound different, but to associate it with Deathcore? That was not our intention at all, it’s fucking ridiculous! I love constructive criticism but haters… can hate”. And hate they did, some stooped so low as to wish harm to the members of the band. “I hope you all die in a bus crash” recalls McGachy, obviously still unsettled by the remark. “Yeah, I hope you all die in a bus crash”, Flo chimes in, “And then you write back to the guy and go ‘dude, are you serious?’ And he goes ‘Oh Flo, you wrote back to me, oh I’m sorry man, I really didn’t mean that’ and it’s like, come on, man! You’re at home behind a computer screen, but be human, be mature enough to write constructive things. Just don’t buy it. Don’t listen to it. My Dad said it best,” he pauses briefly before devolving his father’s wisdom; “If you have nothing good to say, shut the fuck up!”
“ Even if you have something bad to say about the album, its ok, you can say whatever you want to say about it without personally attacking the members, or whatever, but wishing the death of people?” Adds guitarist Jon Levasseur, “I, myself, am a big Dream Theatre fan but there are some albums I don’t like compared to the others, but I didn’t go on the internet and yell ‘hey John Petrucci what are you doing??’ You know? That’s where they were at that point, with the musicians they had and it’s the same thing for every band and the same thing for us.”
“Those were the songs that came out of us, and to think that Alex Auburn was inspired by Deathcore is absolutely ridiculous. He has no concept as to what Deathcore even is. And he wrote the majority of the riffs” adds McGachy about his former band mate, before Levasseur cuts in with “What is a breakdown? I still don’t know what a breakdown is! I need a breakdown lesson! I don’t even know what Deathcore is, I’m trying to learn.” “And what’s even more ridiculous” continues Flo, “is that most magazines start off their review of this new album saying that the past record was Deathcore. Magazines that have been at this for thirty years should know better. Everybody has different tastes, if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Not everything has to be categorized, not everything has to be filed, folded and put away.”
Controversy over the bands choice of vocalist has long been standard issue. After Lord Worm’s initial departure, as legend goes, he hand-picked Bostonian Mike DiSalvo as his heir apparent. The band was moving away from their roots and into new, un-colonized territory, and DiSalvo was the man to tread that path with them. Yet many felt he was more of a Hardcore vocalist and as such, an unworthy candidate for Cryptopsy. Those claims are as ludicrous today as they were then. DiSalvo belted out two albums with the band, “Whisper Supremacy” in 1998 and “And Then You’ll Beg” in 2000 before passing the microphone on to former Spasm front man, Martin Lacroix. Lacroix’ only input to the bands discography would be a live album, titled “None So Live” that was filmed in front of a sold out 2,000 person capacity crowd in Montreal. From there, Lord Worm returned for a final record before again parting ways with the band again, although the reason for his departure differs depending on who you ask.
“You fall in love with Cryptopsy with one guy on stage, eating worms and screaming like a brutal beast and his ridiculous lyrics and it’s hard to accept change, even when it was Mike DiSalvo, who personally is my favourite Cryptopsy vocalist” reasons McGachy, “I tried to keep the rhythm of Mike with the grain of Worm, the dirtiness of Worm.” Levasseur waxes nostalgic for a second, “Lord Worm was great, he had this persona, he was legendary and he had awesome lyrics, his literary skills were amazing but when it came to pure rhythm and rhythm within our rhythms Mike was more the guy bouncing off the riffs.”
“There are death metal vocalists and then there are musicians”, Explains Mounier. “Matt is a musician. I’ve been listening to this album all day, since five o’clock, and when you hear the growls that Matt does you hear, to a trained musician that they come from here” he says, pointing to his stomach,” they didn’t come from here” raising his hand to his throat, “and that’s huge because when they come from the diaphragm, and it travels up, he can tweak his vocal chords. And he can create notes within a growl, and that’s something I’ve never heard within death metal. People ask me all the time, why is it necessary for you guys to hire a trained singer if he doesn’t sing clean? Well, for a lot of reasons like that” and before he can finish, McGachy interrupts, smile on his face, “I can sing every night on the tour, unlike other singers in the past”. Mounier laughs, “You just took what I was going to say! We’ve never missed a show with Matt. He takes care of his vocal chords and his diaphragm like we do our instruments.” It was Mounier’s decision to bring about the change in vocal styling, but McGachy ultimately pulled the plug and chose to not sing clean any more.
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“Four years of eating internet shit over and over and over again where every comment is the same, I decided to keep my singing talents for another project.” Is that something he might visit later on? “Not with Cryptopsy, no, that’s finished.”
Fours year later, the band is back with a follow-up record, and maybe something to prove. “We took a full year off and went on hiatus,” states McGachy. ”We didn’t see each other at all and only came back to work on three songs (for an upcoming “Best Of” album due soon on Century Media) and as soon as Jon came back into the fold, is when we really started ploughing forward. Jon came in with at least three songs worth or material and he has songs in his head that he just has to get out, so it was so refreshing to have someone come and go here’s Cryptopsy, here, it’s right here. It was nice.” Levasseur is responsible for the vast majority of the songs the band has produced over the years, so how good was it to be back with the boys? “Really refreshing! No pressure and fun, especially with Flo. At first it was just jamming with Flo. He called me up after I hadn’t touched a guitar for three years and I was like, oh ok, I’ve got one of the best drummers calling me up, wanting to jam with me, I think I should call him back. So I called him back. During that seven year period where I was out of the band, I played a bit that first year but then completely stopped and turned my back on music. I don’t know, I guess in some way I needed to resource myself and start fresh, from zero, and just go from there and listen to other things. I remember hearing “Animals As Leaders” and thinking holy shit, ok, there’s some good shit that can still be done and that really motivated me.”
Also finished is the bands contract with record label Century Media. “We wrote three new songs in 2010 to finish off the contract with them so that they would put these three newer songs on a greatest hits compilation, which is actually going to be very interesting because there’s going to be a lot of goodies on it that aren’t necessary on an album before” comments Mounier, “ We gave them some ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’ and ‘None So Vile’ tracks to put on there because they didn’t have the rights to those, or else it would have been the greatest hits of the Century Media era.” Without the backing of a record label, the band owes its future endeavours to a new master; the almighty flexible friend – Visa and MasterCard. Which is a fact that Levasseur finds profoundly amusing, and one he likes to bring up, as often as he can squeeze it in.
“It’s just a bad deal. You have a product and you have a market, and we’re about to give our product that we worked so hard for to the fans, but then there’s this person in the middle that goes I’ll take care of everything for you, I’ll give you money to record which, I’ll re-coop everything, obviously, plus a little more, if you give me 90% of your profit. What businessman is going to agree to that? Dumb kids that plays metal when there in their 20’s. When it comes to record labels, it’s all about business. Record labels are a huge middleman, and now they are even taking a huge portion of the bands merchandise”
What about tour support? “When you go to Europe you don’t need tour support. When you go to the States you need a Visa “chuckles Mounier, obviously this credit card lark is an inside joke within the band, “and again, thank you Visa! Sponsored by Visa!” he and Levasseur share a laugh. “The labels going to give you an interest free loan as tour support, but they re-coop it. So, let’s say the vehicle is going to cost you five or six thousand dollars to go on tour, well, you put it on your Visa and after two weeks you pay it back, so it’s almost an interest free loan! So we don’t need the tour support anymore, we’ve got Visa or MasterCard” grins Mounier, “We should put that on the side of the bus!” Which is Levasseur’s cue to pipe in once more, and he does so with his new trade mark, “Sponsored by Visa!”
“The labels realize, they have these deals where they take from your merchandise, they take from your tour, they take from your CD, and they take from everything. They realize they’re not making money anymore.” Surprisingly, there’s no Visa comment from McGachy this time.
If Matt McGachy had the chance to say whatever he wanted to those that had these comments, what would he say? “Thank you for pushing me to becoming what I am right now, but you can all learn a lesson in being more polite about how you go about it. Don’t tell me to go die in a bus crash, that’s a bit much. There’s bands that put out albums I wasn’t happy with, so I just didn’t listen to those albums. The Haunted’s last album, I don’t fucking like it, but I don’t listen to it either, I just choose not to listen to the albums I like, and listen to The Haunted albums that I do like”.
One thing for sure, is that Matt McGachy’s vocals on the new record with have his detractors eating worms.