Blistering.com: Lyrically, there’s always been this big to-do over your vegetarianism, but it looks like you’ve taken a different angle this time out. What was it?
Ryan: The approach is the same everytime. I’ll have a theme, there will be a few songs peppered throughout the record, and the cover will deal with that theme. The rest of the songs are their own little things like, “Your Disposal,” “Harvest Stampede,” “King of Tyrants,” those deal with what’s going on with the cover. But, “Projectile Ovulation,” “Forced Gender Reassignment” and “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat” obviously don’t have anything to do with any kind of message [laughs].
Overall, they all tend to be very misanthropic and that’s sort of been I would think, are steeped in those themes than in vegetarianism, which has been the case for a long, long time. The media likes to grab onto certain things and run with them. I think that angle with our band is shiny; flashy…people are going to grab onto it and run with it. A lot of that started with the fact we have an intense name and play intense music, so people think we’re super-leftist, vegan warriors. To be honest, Derek and Dave eat what they want. Me and Josh are the only vegetarians [laughs]. The last five records have dealt with other themes than animal rights or anything like that.
Blistering.com: Based on that, how much of the news do you follow?
Ryan: I’m not politically-motivated whatsoever. If you look at the lyrics, they really only offer problems, they don’t offer solutions. They’re calling out people…it’s something that’s a part of the dark side that death metal has always dealt with. That’s just my take on it. It’s my way of creating death metal lyrics, but I don’t like calling it death metal [laughs]. But, you know what I’m getting at.
Blistering.com: I do. What’s the scoop on the video for “Kingdom of Tyrants?” It’s something different from the norm, for most death metal bands like to shoot in some abandoned warehouse, but this is more like a mini-movie.
Ryan: The director [Mitch Massie] was insane, I had nothing to do with it [laughs]. The only thing I did was hire him after seeing his stuff, and I knew that’s what I wanted to be done. He’s done a couple of videos that had nothing to do with our style of music and that’s one of the things…I wanted to use a guy that doesn’t deal with death metal. I saw a few directors’ ideas and there was some stuff I wanted to hit upon. But I wanted it to be unorthodox, I wanted something nobody had seen before or would expect. I wanted utter, “What the fuck?” I wanted people to say, “I don’t know what I just saw, but it was awesome.” You don’t have to go back and re-watch and re-watch, but I wanted that, “Oh Christ, what the fuck just happened?”
I told him to get it as disturbing and scary as you want. We don’t have to worry about censors, we don’t have to worry about Metal Blade, we might need to worry about YouTube. If it gets banned, whatever, we’d host it, we’ll figure it out. That was the first I handed money over to someone and said, “Here, make something that’s totally unwatchable.” That didn’t matter – it had to convey what we wanted and he totally nailed it.
Blistering.com: It also helps that “Kingdom of Tyrants” is one of the better songs on the album.
Ryan: The funny thing about that one is that it’s one Derek and I wrote. We showed everyone and we were like, “This is going to be an epic song. Let’s make the last song on the album.” I had this riff I had been humming in my head for the last three years, had the chorus riff, and I was playing it in the room, and Derek said it would go great with one of his riffs, and it came together. That was fun. I’m really stoked on that song and the video is out of control.
Blistering.com: Vocally, you have a new bag of tricks. You have your traditional growls and grunts, but there are some new tones thrown in there. How did they come about?
Ryan: Yeah, but that’s been a later development. On the last record, I was screwing around with it a little bit, but then I noticed kids were like, “Do more of that!” A lot of people. The band liked that stuff and were totally into it and I like it too.
Blistering.com: Does it put any additional strain on your voice?
Ryan: It’s one or the other. I can’t do both, and I’m way more trained on the death metal kind of vocals. Live, it’s where I have to compensate. It’s not as sing-y or as clean, and that was because I knew going into it, I was going to record those parts first. The death metal-type vocals were only going to create that portion of the voice, and that’s the only way to do it. On this one, I made sure there were parts…and they did too.
Blistering.com: You need to give that style a name!
Ryan: Someone called it “death singing” the other day.
Blistering.com: But then you think of good cop versus bad cop vocals.
Ryan: No, no, no, you’re right. There is “The Pterodactyl,” which was coined by some fan. There’s this one kid in Sweden that posted a video on Youtube explaining how to do it. He’s talking about me and it’s my trademark kind of thing, and he totally nails it. And I was like, “Wow, fuck, you totally explained it better than I could!”