From the Isle of Disenchantment: An Interview with Psycroptic
Coming from a land under the down under are Tasmanian tech death titans Psycroptic. Since their formation in 1999, the band has crafted their own distinct take on groovetastic technical death metal. 2018 sees the band releasing their seventh studio album, As the Kingdom Drowns on November 7th through Prosthetic Records. Recently, David Haley the band’s drummer and co-founder agreed to chat about the band’s upcoming album, the Australian music scene, and more.
Psycroptic has a new album coming out called As the Kingdom Drowns, what was the band’s inspiration for this album?
With this album we really wanted to add some new elements; bigger choruses and having a lot darker feel overall. It still keeps our groove and ‘sound’, but we have pushed it a little further. I think the album kind of went in a direction a lot of our fans would have expected from us… but it still sounds very organic and fresh. We are very proud of how it turned out.
Where did the title As the Kingdom Drowns come from?
It is the first line out of the song with the same name – we thought it was a powerful lyric that really suited the cover artwork, lyrical themes and the overall vibe of the album.
This release is your first album with bassist Todd Stern, how did he join the band? And what does he bring to the band?
After the self-titled release, we weren’t sure if Cameron was going to play in the band again or not but we wanted to keep the door open for him for as long as he needed to make his decision. We were using session bassists for a few years and Todd was recommended to us by a friend (Brett from Revocation); Todd is great to be on the road and really added a new enthusiasm to the band, so with Cam’s blessing we decided to put him in full time. Todd is one of the best people all of us have ever met, so his personality and general enthusiasm for life helped motivate to step things up as a band.
What are some the bands that helped influence Psycroptic’s sound?
It’s a hard one to really pin point as we all listen to such a broad variety of stuff – from extreme crusty black metal right through to pop music and hip hop…and everything in between. We try not to get to much outside influence from other modern bands because we want to try keep our sound as unique as possible; but we all listened to bands like Pantera, Slayer, Metallica, Emperor, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, and so on when we were young and developing our ‘sound’. These days we try not to compare ourselves to anyone – if we think a riff is cool and suits the song, we’ll use it.
How has the band’s sound evolved over the years?
Our sound has evolved a lot over the years but I think the change has been fairly gradual from album to album; very organic changes. In the beginning we had so much focus on speed and technicality and jamming so much into each song. I think as we’ve gotten older we put more focus on writing catchier songs with bigger hooks, as we’ve become more experienced song writers.
It seems like the technical death metal scene has been having a renaissance in terms of popularity and band’s releasing great album. Why do you think these last few years have been so good for technical death metal?
I honestly don’t keep up with all that is going on within the tech death scene, as there is just so much coming out. But the quality releases stand out and usually attract my attention. I think it’s got a lot to do with the quality of young players out there at the moment. All the younger players are pushing themselves really hard and it’s resulting in really quality bands, that continually push the genre forward.
The Australian heavy music scene has been very prolific over the last decade or so, giving us bands like Parkway Drive and Thy Art is Murder but also bands like Caligula’s Horse and Ne Oblivscaris. What do you think has been fueling this amazing music scene?
I think there’s always been a lot of great bands in Australia but so many of them never got out of Australia. I think the bands out here are just really hungry for touring now and there’s only so many times you can tour Australia in a year so bands are starting to go abroad and show the world what they’ve got. There are so many great bands here, and as touring internationally becomes easier, I think there will be a lot more acts touring in the future.
Back in 2014 you guys launched a charity outreach to help save Tasmanian Devils from extinction, what inspired this charity outreach?
They’re such a unique animal and they’re only found on the island that we live on. We are all really proud of where we come from and wanted to do something positive for the island. We always get referred to as the Tasmanian devils and we’ve had them on our merch over the years so it seemed like a good thing for us to do…we have to give something back to our home state.
How would you describe your drum style and does it differ that much from your contemporaries?
I’m really not sure how to describe it – I’m influenced by all the great drummers past and present. I guess my style is a combination of trying to play fast and technically while trying to make the songs groove. I’m still learning as a drummer and I hope I will always have the hunger to keep learning and pushing my abilities further.
What are your top five favorite albums?
This changes weekly, but here is the current top 5:
Metallica – ‘Ride the Lightning’
Pantera – ‘Far Beyond Driven’
Satyricon – ‘Nemesis Devina’
Emperor – ‘Anthems to the Welkin…’
AC/DC – ‘Powerage’
I’m sure it will change next week haha!
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of touring?
My favorite part would be the travel, meeting new people and most of all getting to play shows every day. Least favorite would be long travel times, missing home and lack of sleep – but its all part and parcel.