A fair amount of "industrial" bands with ties to/ex-members of hardcore/punk-related outfits have arisen over the past few years, and to be honest I've generally been disappointed by most of 'em. Rotterdam, Netherlands' The Dead Cvlt is another story, thankfully. The quintet's members have been involved with—to name a handful—the likes of Backfire!, Gewoon Fucking Raggen, Modern Life is War, No Turning Back, Razor Crusade, Reaching Forward, Sepiroth, Sick of Stupidity, Strip the Threads, Video Store, etc.—plus a couple of drum and bass maestros; and their debut 12" EP, The Cataclyst (Bandcamp, Spotify), is probably the most literal fusion of rippin'/tearin' hardcore/punk and pulse-beatin' industrial-electronic mayhem that I've ever encountered—most notably in the EP's two masterful centerpieces, "Peace or Annihilation" and "All Hope is Lost"—not to mention an occasional added undercurrent of blackened grind!?
Stream the EP—available on vinyl through PRSPCT Recordings—below, followed by a quick chat with the group...
I wouldn't say that what The Dead Cvlt is doing sounds completely alien—especially to anyone familiar with more aggressive forms of industrial music—but the approach is certainly a bit different in fusing blackened, grinding hardcore/punk with at times chaotic drum and bass electronics. How did the five of you come together and align on this project?
All of us—well, maybe Limewax not as much, who knows what he's into?—but all of us have huge backgrounds in either hardcore punk or death and black metal, so from the guitar-based perspective, we gelled immediately. The other guys from outside the drum and bass scene immediately recognized the extreme or subversive aspect of it—how it's basically the same as punk was intended to be. We always say the energy is the same, and I feel that's true.
A few years back, Limewax and I were already doing a band together called The Hard Way where we kind of played around with guitar parts and punk vocals, and I think we did a Bad Brains cover live. That band did really well, and when it fell apart after a couple of years, we decided to pick it back up but go even more all-out with all the stuff we like out of metal and punk—and make it a real live band.
I've known Sjarm for more than 20 years, and we've been in a bunch of bands together. He still plays in hardcore bands, so that was easy. We knew of this guy that we used to call "Void guy," because it was this young punk that we saw walking around town with a Void tattoo—we just knew we had to get him on board. Turns out, that was Lemmy, and he's the sickest drummer. He also plays with Gewoon Fucking Raggen and Sick of Stupidity, among others, and he's the fastest, craziest guy. Check out his bands. Sjarm also played with Julian, who comes from this crazy death metal background but had somehow ended up playing in emo bands, so we rescued him, basically.
PRSPCT Recordings—which is run by your vocalist, Thrasher—is apparently most known as a drum and bass label, and their webstore listing for The Cataclyst almost reads like a "warning" of sorts. Given that the record might not be what the typical drum 'n' bass fan is ready for—and that you're not necessarily reaching hardcore/metal circles—has it been a challenge at all to find the right ears?
PRSPCT is known to be the most extreme, out-of-the-box label worldwide when it comes to combining drum and bass, hardcore, or breakcore driven by the whole punk mentality, so most of the listeners are pretty open-minded. The Dead Cvlt truly goes all across the board and plays 100% live. It is interesting to see how people react, and most of all who you're playing for. We're still kinda toying with the audiences in that regard and testing their limits, because a large segment comes for the beats. They give us weird looks when we open the set with a couple of hardcore punk bangers, but it's pretty awesome. This allows us to play pretty much anywhere where people like aggressive music. We get thrown up on the stage in DJ tents at festivals, but then our release party was in a squat with grind and hardcore bands that we wanted to see ourselves.
The interesting thing about all of this is how at PRSPCT parties you'll see young kids wearing Cannibal Corpse or Cattle Decapitation shirts, older guys wearing Cro-Mags shirts, whatever—Slipknot shirts—who cares? They just find "extreme" music in whatever genre on Spotify without any regard for subcultures or whatever, and to us that is encouraging and admirable. With the critics, it's a little harder. There's still a clear line in the sand between guitar-based media outlets and electronic-based outlets. There's not that many acts that cross over. Of course, the way PRSPCT Recordings is structured as a label, there's not that many rock 'n' roll magazines on the press list—in as far as there's even a press list at all [laughs].
The Dead Cvlt's bio touts the "100% live" factor, so I find myself wondering what your writing and performance processes look like in terms of coagulating these styles—especially with regard to approaching percussion (literal vs. programmed, etc.) and such?
This took some figuring out, to be honest. We play live, but a lot of synth stuff runs on sequencers and such, so it was a little complicated trying to sync up those two aspects. Limewax plays live, but even then some beats are still pre-programmed but triggered live. We're getting to a point where we're really nailing it live, but we've only just started writing more organically as a band. That is still a challenge. Also, a lot of dance-y stuff is based on 16-bar structures, where punk is just four bars, so it took a while to find a common language as to what constructs a verse or a chorus or if there even is a verse or a chorus. All of that is so much fun and everybody should do it. But, yeah, in the end, we're still on a clicktrack—can't really escape it with so many electronics.
I haven't seen lyrics or anything, so I'm curious where you're coming from in that department? At times there are segments that seem to be fairly obviously pulling more from the socio-political hardcore/punk side of things, but there's also that nihilistic undercurrent happening...
Yeah, I think growing up in hardcore in the '90s, it's easy to have that inform a lot of decisions or views you hold later in life—especially if you stay involved in music. Maybe the nihilistic thing happens when you get a little older and a little disillusioned with your generation.
The Cataclyst EP is bookended by tracks that are more straightforward and in your face, while the centerpieces—"Peace or Annihilation" and "All Hope is Lost"—really explore the ways in which the group's assorted influences intertwine for a darker and more diverse impact. Do you see yourselves gravitating more toward that fully-fused attack in the future?
Oh, for sure. We're already trying to write sounds where all this stuff we like isn't so much in the different parts of the songs but indeed way more intertwined, toppling over each other, and more inseparable. Our drummer, Lemmy, really pushes this, because he doesn't want to be outdone by drum machines. Also, we all love the whole Wax Trax! era of industrial music, so I'm sure some of that will start to creep in. It just makes sense. However, considering most of us have played in hardcore bands all our lives, I'm sure we'll always throw a few of those in. We can't help it...