Travis Ryan - 2002

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Travis Ryan is the lead vocalist for Cattle Decapitation, a grindcore band that recently released their third full-length, To Serve Man, on Metal Blade Records. Apparently the band was founded by two members of The Locust (who I just picked up a CD by today! Whee!), but neither of them are Travis Ryan. Travis' vocals are done in a low, evil growl that uses "absolutely no vocal effect processing," as it says on the CD booklet. He is also the chief songwriter of the band and has widened their pro-vegetarian stance to envelop every bit of gruesome murder and violent act you can imagine in such Billboard pop hits as "Pedeadstrians," "Everyone Deserves To Die" and "Long-pig Chef and the Hairless Goat." He apparently also runs a record label called Attention Deficit Records that recently put out a Throbbing Gristle tribute album, but I didn't know that when I interviewed him. If you like Carcass, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Dave Matthews Band and Autopsy, you'll LOVE The Decapitated Cattles!

Look, I'm not going to tell fibs at you. I foolishly scheduled this interview on a Friday night which, as you well know if you are either me or my wife, is Drinking Knight. We left work at Five Of Clock Post-Meridian, but the subway was slow as a seven-year itch as it crawled along the track like a mole person vomiting up a stomach full of maggots. So when we hit the Mexican restaurant, I knew I'd never make it home in time to type in the interview answers while interviewing. As such, I had Travis' call forwarded to my wife's cell phone. In grand fashion, he called right on time, just as I drunkenly crawled into the back seat of a taxi on the way home. As the call progressed, I took some drunken notes, got out of the car, forgot to take notes as I walked up the five flights of stairs to my apartment, then tried to write down everything I heard or thought I heard as I petted my doggy and said Hello. So what you have is SIMILAR to our conversation, though I'm going to have to keep it pretty tame. I'd hate to attribute something to Travis like "My bandmates are a bunch of pricks" or "I'm gay" just because I can't read my doodlings. So enjoy. A vague approximation of my questions are in bold; what I can remember of his answers are in plain text. By the way, you might know Travis as the man who...



Hey, could I speak to Mark Prindle?

This is him!

Hey! This is Travis from Cattle Decapitation.

Oh hey! How ya doin'?

Good! How about yourself?

Oh, I'm fine - I'm actually on my home from -

(confused) Oh. You are?

Yeah, I uhh. so I wanted to ask you - out of all the different types of metal, you know extreme metal like thrash and death metal and all that - why did you guys choose grindcore? Do you ever feel limited, with all the blastbeats and everything?

I don't know. I don't think we ever really thought about it. We're all fans of grindcore, so it just comes out like that. But if anything, we're trying to do something brutal that's new and fresh. Kinda take it to a different level and bring more melodies and stuff to the grindcore sound.

Oh. Hey! I uuhhh. saw on your web site, I saw on a site that you used to play to grindcore audiences and now you're playing to death metal audiences. Is there really a difference between those two types of audiences? I mean, do those different types of metal really attract different types of people? Like obviously black metal people are more evil and murderous or whatever, but between like death metal and grindcore? Can you tell a diff - (phone slips away from ear) - whoa! (puts phone back to ear, hears silence) Hello? Are you still there?

Yeah. Uhh.

Sorry, I dropped the phone! (laughs)

(doesn't laugh) Yeah, you can see a difference. I mean, some of the people are the same, but at the grindcore shows you're likely to see more of the crusty punker types.

Oh! That's cool. Do you have any idea why they call it "crust"? I still don't know that.

I don't know! I don't even know why they come to our shows - I guess it's just the grindcore thing, you know.

How is it possible that there's no vocal processing on the album? How do you DO that?

Just practice, I guess. Also layering. If you do a lot of multitracking, you can get that sound.

Oh that's cool. Have you sung for a lot of bands before?

No, this is the first one. I did some backing vocals for my old band Strangulation, but I was the drummer for that band.

What's this noise side project you have? What's that all about?

That's UUM ("oom"). Spelled U-U-M. Yeah, that's me and Troy Oftedal just making all kinds of ungodly noise.

What kind of noise?

Well, we have a tanarin, which is a special kind of theremin that was created for Brian Wilson. There's only about five in the world, and Travis' dad has two of them!

Wow! That's bizarre.

Yeah, we also use prepared hard drives, feedback systems, mixers, pedals - I have to get out a different schematic every time we play!

How do you create a feedback system?

(alcoholic loss of memory resulted in loss of this answer)

Did you name the band? (note: I was talking about Cattle Decapitation, though he had no way of knowing, as it was completely off-topic)


No, Cattle Decapitation. Was that a vegetarian thing or a UFO thing or -

It was a vegetarian thing. Gabe, our previous guitarist, came up with the name. Back then, all the lyrics were geared towards that - the whole vegetarian/gore thing. But when I joined, I took them in a more extreme direction. I just have more of a sick mind, I guess.

Is the whole band vegetarian?


I just became one recently actually. What were your reasons for it?

Well, I've never been a big fan of meat. I think it just dawned on me one day that I already WAS a vegetarian! So it wasn't too hard for me.

Is that rare for a whole grindcore band to be vegetarian?

Yeah, but there's lots of alternative lifestyles in San Diego.

Do they think you guys are like a bunch of hippies for preaching vegetarianism?

(laughs) No. We're not straight edge or anything. We drink, we smoke, we smoke pot - we just don't eat meat. We like animals, but we're not extreme or anything.

It's weird to hear that coming out of your mouth - "we're not extreme."

Oh yeah! (laughs)

It seems like the first two songs on here are kind of socially conscious - the first one ("Testicular Manslaughter") is about killing a rapist, right?

Yeah. There's so many rape metal bands out there. First there was Cannibal Corpse and it was new and they did it right. Then all these other bands did the same shit. So we did the opposite! We do the opposite of a lot of bands, and we still have credibility because the music is so brutal.

How long has the new CD been out?

Since July 30th.

Do you know how it's selling so far? Or is it too soon to tell?

In Europe I have no idea, but in the states it's selling really well for a band's first full- length on a label that's. you know, on Metal Blade. They've never had a new band do so well. Now we just have to get out there and support it through touring.

Why is it selling so well? Did you already have a fanbase, or was it because of the artwork or -

We've already built up a substantial following considering that we've never toured outside of San Diego. We've got a fan base all over the world, pretty much from The Locust.

Oh! That's right.

Metal Blade has sold thousands of our records already. All the hype is finally paying off!

Are you worried about the fact that it was banned in Germany? Do you have a big fan base there?

Well, it wasn't officially banned. Metal Blade's distribute didn't like the cover, and they figured it would get technically banned if they released it, so we're just using different distribution channels to sell it over there. Smaller shops, mail order companies..

Is there a big extreme metal scene in San Diego?

Absolutely. There's a big scene there.

Do you like any of the other bands?

Well, the Locust of course.. But then there's just a bunch of copycat bands. There's not many I like at all! But I'm not really into the whole thing.

Oh, you don't like much extreme metal?

Well, if it's good, great. But I'm not into the whole fashion show scene. There are so many wannabes out there. Some of them even show up at our shows!

Do you - I just can't imagine, after listening to this CD, that any of you guys would be into any quieter music. It's just so intense and mean. Do you listen to any?

I own more than 2000 cds. And I'd say maybe 50 of them are metal.

Whoa! So what are the others?

I like a lot of everything. Ambient, Indian film music, all kinds of stuff. I worked in a music store for years. Josh (Elmore - band's guitarist) likes a lot of black metal and umm country (laughs).


And Dave (Astor, band's drummer) is into Norwegian metal and power metal and -

What is power metal? I keep hearing that phrase recently but I don't know what it is.

Oh, it's the old stuff like Iron Maiden and.. You know, the older school stuff.

Oh! Okay. I've always seen that kind of metal referred to as "NWOBHM" or whatever.


So do you think you're going to work all these other influences into your sound? The Indian music and ambient and stuff?

No, we know exactly we want to do, I think. We don't feel the need to spice it up. Our next one is gonna be a bit more melodic, different kinds of intros and stuff, but nothing major.

Are your - I know there are two, or rather I assume sort of that there are two types of gore songwriters - the ones who are into horror movie-type gore and then the real misanthropes who are serious about it. And I noticed that you have a link on your site to the Church of Euthanasia. Do you - I mean, what is your philosophy? What are you trying to do?

This genre is already bleak, so I'm kinda just bringing other things into it. We wanna expose the more unseen things that happen everyday. You know, meat eaters, your dog dying - it's just a really depressed outlook on life. But that's how I write. I just lay it out on the table. So in that way, it kind of approaches the gothic dark metal-type lyrics, but in a more brutally disturbing way.

Well - you succeeded! Those lyrics are very disturbing. So is the cover. Does it depress YOU to write this type of song?

No no. I'm actually waiting for the day that it does! I mean, sometimes I'll finish a song, read it and go, "Damn. Where did that come from? That's pretty intense." But do I feel like that - the way I write? I guess I don't think about it!

Do you attract crazy people with this kind of music?

Nothing yet as far as crazy goes. Some of them get pretty crazy, but really the weirdest so far is this chick that baked vegan cookies for us and put a picture of a decapitated cow on the box! (laughs) But we haven't had any death threats or anything.

How did you hook up with Metal Blade anyway?

Metal Blade heard the stuff on our MP3 site and were interested. We were talking to Necropolis at that time. We weren't doing much at that point. But a guy at Metal Blade offered us a deal and we were like, "Alright!" They were paying way more attention to us than any other label, and Earache and Relapse were too busy to get anything going. So we went with Metal Blade. We would have been fools not to.

A couple weeks ago, I interviewed a guy from another Metal Blade band, Vehemence, and I asked him about how a - see, I'm not from the metal side, I'm from the simpler hardcore punk, punk, regular rock, pop side of things - so I asked him how someone like me would choose from all the different extreme metal CDs at the store. And he said that the artwork plays a big part in how good a band is. Would you agree that artwork is a big part of it?

No. Back in the day, the artwork was important, but not now. Because you gotta get the most exposure you can, and a lot of stores won't take CDs with offensive artwork. But they're selling ours for some reason. I'm surprised! I've seen it in Target, and I have friends who've seen it in Best Buy, and I'm just like, "This doesn't belong in here! Little kids could see it!" (laughs)

Yeah, the cover is pretty uhh. yeesh. Who did that cover?

Wes Benscoter. He's also done covers for Mortician and Slayer.

Slayer? Really? Which one?

Divine Intervention.

(thinks as hard as a drunk man can) Divine Intervention.. Oh! You mean the - I know what you mean. I was thinking of the guy slicing Slayer into his arms!


Yeah, I can't imagine Wes did that. So I guess that's pretty much it. Is there anything you want to say to all the people out there? To convince them to buy this CD?

Just that if you wanna hear the new extreme music with actual melody, this is the one to go for.

Are there any other bands doing this sort of thing that are good?


Any kind of extreme metal. Is there anyone else you like?

Ummm.. Disgorged from Mexico is the best. I love them. But I'm into more technical stuff or just blatant noise. I think we're right in the middle!

When are you touring?

We're starting next month and touring from October to November with Gwar through most of the US, then with Cannibal Corpse on the east coast in November.

Great! Well, thanks again for taking the time to speak with me. Best of luck with everything!




(Passes out for 12 hours)

Reader Comments
That was a great interview you did with Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation, I have to say I didn't know that they were all vegetarians, haha.. I was suprised. and I was also suprised that he only have about 50 metal cd's.. that's pretty odd, you would think that someone in a band as brutal and cattle decapitation, that they would like metal, lol. But anyway, keep up the good work man, thanks for the interview, I enjoy reading them. bye
This guy is a real ass. They are spreading a real stupid message, and they should be listening to Sodom and stop being so self-righteous.
cattle up your ASS! cattle decapitation brings it on with gutturally octaval vocals.

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