EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JOSH AND TROY FROM CATTLE DECAPITATION
Josh Elmore and Troy Oftedal of Cattle Decapitation were my first interview of the weekend at New England Metal and Hardcore Fest in Worcester, MA last month. The interview was serious but easy-going, as if I were just catching up with two old friends I hadn’t seen in a while — despite the fact that I’d never met either of them before. When the guys in Cattle Decap aren’t busy shit-talking bands who bail from their tour obligations, they’re super-chill guys; we spoke about the band’s new album The Harvest Floor, the critical response it received, being falsely pigeonholed as a bunch of crazy vegan militants, and the importance of having day jobs to balance life in a touring metal band. Our chat after the jump.
Is this your first time playing New England Metalfest?
Josh Elmore: Second.
Troy Oftedal: Second. Our first was, I believe, in 2006 or 2004.
Josh Elmore: Yeah, maybe. Something like that. Probably one of our best shows I think. The response was really good. So hopefully we can have another good experience.
Troy Oftedal: It was awesome.
Things seem to be going really well for you guys. How does it feel, after plugging away, to finally be getting so much recognition for what you guys are doing?
Josh Elmore: After all this time, I guess you could say, it’s kind of nice because there are so many things that you kind of give up to try and do this. It’s good to have some sort of recognition or some sort of compensation for that. I’m just glad that people are enjoying the record because we really like it, and we feel that it’s the best thing we’ve done.
Do you guys follow the press at all? Do you read reviews of what people say about your music and your band?
Josh Elmore: When I’m at work and supposed to be working I will play on the internet.
You Google yourself nonstop, don’t lie.
Josh Elmore: Myself? My name personally?
Your name and your band.
Josh Elmore: I do know that I am actually a cattle rancher in Alabama apparently.
Troy Oftedal: Oh, I read that.
Josh Elmore: I’m also a fellow who works for a chemical company in New Jersey. I don’t know where I found time to do that. I look at the main ones and stuff like that. Occasionally you’ll stumble across ones where they basically take your bio press sheet, change a couple of lines, and add a comment on the song and that’s the review. Which is kind of funny. Like the one you guy did was awesome. It was positive.
Josh Elmore: It was really well written and stuff like that. The Lambgoat one was really good, and the Blabbermouth [review] was really good.
Are you pretty satisfied with the reception the record [The Harvest Floor] has been getting?
Josh Elmore: Yeah. It’s a lot more positive than we were expecting. In the metal community we have two strikes against us. So no matter what we do there are going to be a bunch of detractors. This one has seen somewhat of a shift. Even people who would be like “you know I really wasn’t into you guys, but I really like this record” and stuff like that. So that’s nice to see.
Why do you think you have two strikes against you? What do you mean by that?
Josh Elmore: I think a lot of it is the whole stupid veggie thing that people seem to think that every song from this band is about that. It’s like “fuck that hippie shit” or whatever. I just think we got a bad image because of that. People have a negative connotation of that sort of thing. They think we’re out preaching and handing out samples to everyone.
Troy Oftedal: We’re definitely not.
Josh Elmore: And we’re definitely not doing that. We’re not some crazy, activist vegan band. We just all happen to be non-meat eaters. I think that the press has taken it way too far.
Troy Oftedal: It’s like, do what you want to do.
Josh Elmore: This is the way that I choose to live. Have fun.
Troy Oftedal: Music comes first.
Josh Elmore: There is a whole message that people suck.
Troy Oftedal: That’s more of the message than any sort of animal rights kind of thing.
Josh Elmore: Maybe in the first couple of records there was some of that. There was definitely some of that, not maybe, there was some of that. Ever since Metal Blade, that’s four albums now, in the past seven years, it’s all been anti-human rather than any sort of animal rights kind of thing.
Obviously the press loves to latch on to the veggie activist thing. Do you get tired of getting asked questions about that all the time?
Josh Elmore: Dude, it’s so annoying. Seriously, it’s like just get over it. It’s been seven or eight years now. We don’t know how many times we’ve said “alright we get it. You guys know that we don’t eat meat.” It’s not what’s a part of this band. It had something to do with it, but it’s not everything. Try to focus on our music and what we’re doing and not on what we eat or don’t eat. It kind of gets old. I would hope that people would be focusing more on the music and aspects like that. Which, fortunately, they finally are becoming a bit more focused on that.
Do you think there’s a way that you guys can somehow continue to do what you do: write songs the way you write songs about what you want to write about and to sort of move to a point where you don’t get asked those questions anymore? Or do you feel like you are pigeonholed?
Josh Elmore: I think we’re almost kind of stuck with it.
Troy Oftedal: I think to a certain extent that we’re going to be stuck with it.
Josh Elmore: I hope that over time it will start to die out. I think that it will always be there no matter what. We’re going to get stuck with that.
Is this part of a tour for you guys?
Josh Elmore: Yeah. We’re on a pretty big tour here. We started at the end of March. March 31st was the first day. We go all the way to mid-June. We have this headlining tour here for another week and a half. Then we go on tour with Gwar for a couple of weeks. Then we got the Blackenedfest tour which is going to be great. So we have a hefty tour ahead of us for sure.
You guys mentioned a moment ago the sacrifices you make to be in a band. Can you talk about that a little more, how you personally deal with it?
Josh Elmore: I’m fortunate in a way that I have a job that I can come back to. All of us at least have that worked out. Our singer is self-employed so he’s got that going for him. Troy pretty much has a job that he can come back to. Our drummer has a job that he can come back to. But financially you have a lot of things to consider. It’s not like I get PTO time or any of us do. So you’ve got to account for that. If you are in any sort of relationship, especially when you’re gone for huge stretches of time, you’ve got that to consider. It’s just normal life stuff. I’m sure if you have kids it’s just as burdensome.
Troy Oftedal: None of us have children.
Josh Elmore: Yeah exactly. None of us have children, so it’s just more of managing money and emotions.
Do you ever think: this is it. After this tour I’m hanging it up or after this record I’m hanging it up or whatever it is?
Josh Elmore: I think we’ll do this as much as we enjoy it and feel like we have something to do and put out. If we’re sitting here after the next record going “dude, I don’t know what we’re going to do.” Not in a way that you want to spur yourself to work creatively to come up with stuff, but where you’re not inspired at all. When there are no more riffs or no more of anything. If you have to dig it out of yourselves where it is a chore, then it’s going to shine through on your record. People are not going to hear that excitement or that spark. That’s when you’re cheating yourselves and the people who may purchase your record.
Do you think that having day jobs allows you to keep art for art’s sake?
Josh Elmore: To isolate that? Yeah, I think it’s good like that. Each one kind of serves the other. You can kind of hide your day job away from the band for awhile. Then it becomes a great relief when you get to do band stuff. Then when you’re on tour for so long it’s almost a relief — almost — to come back to your job where there is a set schedule and your sleep will be normal. You’re back for a few months and then you’re like, you have to get out of here. We’re actually fortunate in that way because we can have those two parts of our lives.
Troy Oftedal: It’s a nice balance.
Josh Elmore: Yeah exactly.
Any final words to the MetalSucks minions that you would like to impart? Any words of wisdom?
Josh Elmore: Keep reading the site because it is genuinely entertaining. It’s one of the ones I read because it is fun to read. Beyond the pure factual content there is analysis and humor there that a lot of other sites do not have. It’s really enjoyable. Please come out [to the tour]. I know money is tight for everyone right now, but if you have some time and money, please come out and see us on our next few tours that we’ll be on. Thank you.