CEPHALIC CARNAGE’S LEN LEAL: THE METALSUCKS METALCAL MARIJUANA INTERVIEW
We’ve been meaning to do some “Metalcal Marijuana” interviews forever, but being potheads, we naturally came to execution of said interviews rather slowly. But once we finally got our asses off the couch to begin the new series, we had to answer a key question: “With whom shall we start?”
Knowing that Denver, Colorado’s Cephalic Carnage are also big smokers (they’ve described their music as “hydrogrind”), and knowing that they have an awesome new album, Misled by Certainty, coming out August 31 on Relapse (pre-order it here), CC front dude Len Leal seemed like an ideal place to begin.
I called Mr. Leal last week, just as Cephalic were pulling into Cincinatti for the latest date on the MetalSucks co-sponsored Summer Slaughter Tour; it should go without saying that he was incredibly, uh, affable. After the jump, get his thoughts all things weed, the use of weed in Cephalic Carnage, and, oh yeah, the band’s new album.
I’m actually a card holder, so that wouldn’t bother me not one bit at all.
That’s what I heard. Are you high right now?
[long pause] Super.
Super. [laughs] What time do you usually get started, man?
It depends on the day. We’re driving this morning, so I got up and smoked some weed and enjoying the scenery and watching different things flash before me, high as a kite.
Were you doing the driving or were you just hanging out?
I was a passenger. Being the passenger, you always take the rips.
How often would you say you smoked on average?
When we’re traveling, I try to keep it to about every 100 miles and smoke a joint or a bowl. To be high all the time would be boring. When you play music, you’re always in a lot of pain, so you can’t be wasted on painkillers. So, smoke weed through the pain.
Why are you in a lot of pain?
Backaches here and there. Sometimes you fuck your knee up. The variances of being on the road.
So do you smoke before you go onstage?
Uh, yeah. Instead of beers, I smoke joints before I play.
Does that affect your vocals or breathing or anything like that?
Uh, no, no. I would say living in Denver with the mile high elevation that we have actually increases all that.
Increases your breathing capacity?
Well, you breathe less when you come down to normal elevation. So you can get way higher and smoke more weed.
Right on. Does weed affect your lyric writing at all?
Sometimes it helps and sometimes it hinders. It always helps me create visions. I would never say that weed helps me write better or worse, but it helps me get through when I have a brain block or a brain fart or can’t write anymore.
How does it sometimes hinder?
You start thinking too much and start putting way too much thought into something that’s really simple.
Uh, we have just one guitar player that quit on us awhile back [Zac Joe]. We have a replacement for him [Brian Hopp] that’s been in the band for about a year and a half. So, it’s not really new. We just never really announced it. We’re trying to keep going with the flow. Usually when you announce things like that, you bring way more bitching from people than you need. So we were just like, “Eh, why make a big old spill about the guy quitting?” He quit. There’s nothing really more to say to that. You know what I mean?
The guy that we have now, Brian, recorded on our album. It came out great. He’s a cool dude. He likes to hang out and jam, so he fits in perfect with us.
So what I was actually gonna ask was: Does everyone in the band smoke or have you ever had a member who doesn’t?
Uh, the guy that quit hardly smoked. So it doesn’t really matter. Zac was never really a big pothead anyway. Brian will smoke until he gets high. He knows when to say when. Yeah, everybody in Cephalic partakes.
And do kids ever bring you weed or joints at shows when you’re hanging out by the merch booth?
All the time, man. [laughs]
I’ve heard from other bands that transporting weed can be a tricky thing, and there are some states, like Texas, where you absolutely do not want to get caught holding. Do you bother taking weed out on the road with you, or do you just figure some kid is going to bring you a joint at the show anyway so why bother?
Sometimes. I don’t stress too hard. We just roll joints — they’re easier to eat. If you get pulled over, you just spray a little bit of [air freshener] spray and eat your joints. We come from the Southwest part of America where checkpoints and border searches are common.
So you’re used to that kind of thing.
Yeah. Got to be smarter than the average bear. [laughs]
What about when you’re going up to Canada or something?
There’s tons of weed there. Why even fucking take the risk? It’s not even worth the hassle at all.
So, having been all over the country, who do you think has the best stuff?
Uh, Denver. Every place around the United States has awesome growers, so it’s not really a matter of the “best.” It’s just that the elevation of Colorado… you’re a mile high, so you’re high as it is. All you need is a joint and you’re pretty ripped.
Denver or Albuquerque. That’s a good stoner place as well. There are tons of stoners there. It’s right above Mexico, so whatever comes from Mexico goes straight up to Albuquerque. There are a lot of killer growers. It’s a good place, man.
What about the Cephalic Vaporizer? That’s awesome that you guys did that… it’s like, “Why aren’t more bands making vaporizers?”
We don’t actually make them, we’re just down with the company called Silver Surfer Vaporizer. I know the owner and a few of the people that work there. When I wrote the lyrics for the song “Vaporized,” I sent them to them and said “Hey, your product inspired me and I wrote this song.” The guy just totally freaked out and was like “Wow, that’s awesome. Nobody’s ever done that.” When it came time to get a Cephalic vaporizer, it just came natural. You graduate from pipes and things like that to vaporizers, so you’re in a good spot.
They have grinders with our name on them, too. We’re moving on up. Moving on up to the east side. [laughs]
Are those popular with the fans? The grinders and vapes?
Oh, yeah. We sold five vaporizers and twenty grinders and thirty pipes so far on this tour.
Wow! Dude, that’s crazy.
So to switch gears… we should also talk about your new album, Misled by Certainty, a little bit. Without using the words “heavier” or “more brutal,” how does it differ to you from other Cephalic albums?
I would say way more progressive in the disco realm, so it’s progressive disco.
Yeah, it makes you want to dance.
Progressive disco. Man, I don’t even know what to say to that.
I know. I said “progressive,” “progressive.”
That I heard. It was the “disco” part that caught me off guard.
[laughs] Well, when you see us play, people start moshing. I call that “progressive disco” when people start dancing like that. That’s metal.
Alright, man. I know you just got Cincinnati, and you’ve been traveling all morning, so I’ll let you go. Is there anything you want to add?
Uh, support us, because weed support you. [laughs] And buy our new album, and if you can check out one of our bands on our label [Highbryd Records], Scalafrea. They’re from Denver, and they’re total death metal. Check them out, man. Spread the word, smoke weed, be happy and free.
Hey, where are you at?
I’m in New York City.
Sick! High times, baby. High times.