Cloud Rat interview (05/2020)
|Conducted by:||RaduP (skype)|
I like grindcore. I like Cloud Rat. I mostly found out about them through one of the reviews here back when I was a mere user. They toured near me, but I sadly couldn't attend. I saw that they were coming to Roadburn, so not only would I get to see them, but I also reached out to set up an interview there. Well, you know how that turned out. So instead of an in person interview at Roadburn, now we get a Skype interview. Well, two Skype interviews and an E-mail one. Things didn't go as planned. But at least we have likely the most entertaining MS interview. Mostly due to our editor-in-chief's comments, who transcribed most of this and couldn't help chiming in.
Where I was actually supposed to interview these lads.
Radu: We are here with:
Radu: We are here with… We are here with… You're supposed to introduce yourself.
Rorik Brooks: Oh, hey! Sorry. Uh… Rorik from Cloud Rat.
Radu: Okay. Let's get into it. Why do you hate America so much? [Ed: Wow]
RB: Oh, man… (laughs)
Radu: Where to even begin?!
RB: That's a… I mean, I think there's a lot of obvious reasons, but much like any other big government anywhere, I don't hate the people here so much even though there's a lot of horrible ignorance here, too, but we have probably the worst inequality, poverty, education, pollution… We got… yeah, where to start?
Radu: I wouldn't say "the worst," but it's not as good as you claim it is.
RB: Oh, definitely. Well, I think that's part of it, too, the image that the government likes to put out, which, nowadays I guess they're not even really trying, you know, it's just, like, "Fuck everybody else" is what they usually put out there, but it's terrible. But you're right; there's so much corruption all around the world when you look at the state of a lot of the really gnarly right-wing stuff happening everywhere. It's pretty alarming, daunting to even think about how to address it.
Radu: Yeah, there's a lot of authoritarian issues, especially in, like, China or anything.
RB: Yeah, the Philippines, Hungary… Yeah.
Radu: Would you rather your president grab them by the pussy or sniff their hair?
RB: [Ed: Rorik cringe-laughs. Radu asks the hard-hitting questions.] Oh, man… I would rather mostly fuckin', uh, drop dead.
Radu: I mean, it's the choice you're gonna have soon.
RB: I know… I am…
Radu: It's back to the "lesser evil" again.
RB: Yeah. I'm not into the narrative that has been put forth that's you have to vote for Blue no matter who. I'm obviously not on board with the Trump camp, either. So I try my best to try and keep promoting progressive as possible, at least on the political voting side of it and then…
Radu: Yeah, and it actually - sorry.
RB: No, that's okay.
Radu: It actually got to the point where Trump might be the better option because it's the devil you know, at least.
RB: See, I'm hesitant to say "better" option because it's just such a violently "out-there" thing, but, fuck, we've had the same people on the Biden side, it's the same people that have been fuckin' shit up for, like, 40 years - well, you know, forever, probably. I'm hesitant to get into conspiracy thoughts, but also it's not even a conspiracy anymore how corrupt… It's just the same people that are doing the wars and keeping the poor poor and sick, so… Yeah, it's really embarrassing, this shit, that we can't fuckin' come to grips with it without… I don't know. Everybody's got guns, and I don't - it's just a weird, uh, thing (laughs).
Radu: Do you think it's ever gonna change?
RB: Some way or another, yeah, I think it's gonna change soon. I don't know if it's gonna change for better or worse, because I've been thinking about what a real uprising entails and what happens on the other side of it, and seeing what's been happening during and after the Arab Spring is…
Radu: Pretty daunting.
RB: Very intense. And that has big countries like the US and Russia and China and everybody intervening in there and causing whatever fucking problems with all the bombings and stuff, and if that - I don't see the American people being able to unite that well. It'd probably be a civil war kind of situation, and even that - it's hard to envision. I'm sure it can happen if supply lines of food and everything get really disrupted and then… I don't know, I don't know. That's a big question.
Radu: We're really at a critical point right now with the pandemic. Do you think this will have lasting political consequences? [Ed: CNN thanks its new nightly news anchor, Radu, the guy who used to write reviews and post memes.]
RB: Yeah, I think it has lasting consequences in every area of life, especially if it's coming in waves, like they've been talking… Like, on a personal level, shows and stuff we're all into, part of me wonders if that's gonna be not a thing for quite a while, and then on the political side… It's funny because I have a lot of family members who are Christian conservative types, and I was talking to my sister the other day and she seems more on board with a lot of the more progressive policies that we've been talking about, with Bernie and stuff, and so I think some people seem to be hopefully finally catching on that we can't keep going on the way we have.
Radu: I think the biggest immediate consequence would be people realizing how the current health care system is not really up to the challenge of the pandemic.
Radu: Especially what I want to ask is, now that you're in a metal band, also why do Americans mosh so hard when you catch a spin-kick and your mom has to sell her house to pay for it?
RB: Yeah, dude, exactly. [awkward pause, throat-clearing] What was - was there a question? I missed the - sorry, I can't hear you very well.
Radu: Why do Americans mosh so hard?
RB: Why do Americans what so hard?
RB: Oh, mosh so hard?
RB: Like, why do we continue to just do music, you mean, when we should be changing stuff?
Radu: No, no, no, why do Americans go in the mosh pit so hard -
RB: Oh, oh, I see what you're saying (laughs). I'm a fuckin' idiot. [Ed: Don't worry, Rorik. It took me several tries, too.] Yeah, you mean, like, if you break your nose or something and then end up in the hospital and it costs a billion dollars? Yeah, I know… [said with despair]
Radu: It's crazy to think how high the prices are there.
RB: Yeah, and they've gotten worse, too. I have actually broken my nose in a mosh pit before, but that was quite a while ago and it seemed to be much more affordable even 15 years ago.
Radu: Why do you think it's gotten so expensive?
RB: Well, that's exactly why I'm not on board to just "Blue no matter who" because the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed in has been a fucking mess, and I don't know - I mean, it's on the right-wing side as well, they've been… The narrative is that the left wanted the ACA to be this close-to-Medicare-For-All kind of thing and that the right then gutted it, but from the start it was a fucking disaster here and it raised everybody's prices who at the time had somewhat decent medical options - nothing close to Medicare For All, but it was still way better than what we have now and it has just created more and more rising costs because it's not for people. It's for the health care industry, you know, for-profit bullshit. I think the rich have taken both parties, obviously, and they keep spinning this fucking narrative that one is trying to do the good while the other is doing the bad, when really they're just a bunch of rich fucks that keep raising the costs while keeping everybody distracted, I don't know.
Radu: Thank God I don't live in America.
RB: Yeah. I don't know.
Radu: But doesn't the whole world belong to America? [Ed: Damn straight, and don't you forget it.]
RB: Right? I know it. That's what worries me, because… I just hope that our fuckin' military doesn't start doing some - well, they've already been doing stupid shit forever (laughs).
Radu: They've been doing stupid shit for the past century. [Ed: Okay, but the next time you have a Boxer Rebellion on your hands, just see who invades your country to help.]
Radu: And isn't the military-industrial complex also kind of for profit, just like the health care one?
Radu: Aren't prisons, like, paid per prisoner?
Radu: So they have an incentive to get more people arrested?
RB: Yes, and that's why we have the most people incarcerated… You know, it is funny - I had this thought when looking at the coronavirus statistics, how America has the most people by far, you know, and I was like, "God, always just shootin' for number one!" Fuckin'… (laughs)
Radu: (laughs in Romanian)
RB: Most people in prison, most people sick, most people fuckin' poor… It's horrible egocentrism that we're dealing with here.
Radu: Most people reported poor!
RB: Right. Yes, no, and that's what I mean - we like to, or it appears that America likes to pretend that they're number one in everything and be loud about it and pretend that other people don't exist.
Radu: So is making grindcore as a guitarist as hilariously easy as everyone thinks it is? [Ed: 11:30 into the interview and we hit the first question about music. Hallelujah.]
RB: (laughs) You know, I suppose it could be, but often I feel like the sheer physicality of it, when putting all your energy into it, is pretty hard. Playing live, you know, it gets…
Radu: It gets quite intense.
RB: Yes, it does. And I think it also depends on what you're going for. I'm a big fan of a lot of noisecore and really gnarly - like, I love some goregrind shit, and some of that stuff is as easy as it might look, the actual technical element. Except for the drummer. It's never fucking easy for the drummer (laughs). But yeah, I'm going for more artsy-fartsy bullshit, so it's kind of tricky.
Radu: Okay. What is the best season of Twin Peaks?
[Ed: Dear readers, after a full minute of musical discussion, it's time for a break. Yes, that's right, it's what you were all waiting for, the REAL reason you read this interview - this is the part of the show where Radu and Rorik discuss their thoughts on Twin Peaks. Be aware that the next few paragraphs of the interview contain spoilers for the show, so if, like your intrepid Editor-in-Chief, you have not yet seen this thing that I understand to be a documentary about Kyle MacLachlan explaining to studio executives why The X-Files had to move to Vancouver, please skip ahead to the Twin Peaks title card, which will mark the end of spoiler talk.]
RB: Ho! Whoah!
Radu: It's the second season, right? [It's not] With the James and Evelyn plot, that was the best!
RB: I actually do love the second season. But I think I would have to ask my wife. She is the one who got me into Twin Peaks a few years back. I would say I probably watched more of the first season. And I would say also the later one. That eight episode, with like the nuclear bomb going off, the evil proliferating the world, it's just a fucking masterpiece. But I probably watched more of the first season in all honesty.
Radu: Damn fine cup of coffee.
RB: Your season too?
Radu: Yeah, pretty much. It's either the first or the third.
RB: I love the pale horse and a lot of the other crazy shit going on in the second season.
Radu: Yes, but it also has the more ridiculous parts, like the Nadine going back to high school plot.
RB: (laughs) Yeah…
Radu: I mean, what the hell is even going on for half the season.
RB: Right? (laughs) Imma have to rewatch it, it's been a minute.
Radu: Like the first season has American simple small town life, it has that mystique and that charm to it. Like the cherry pie and the coffee. And then season three is grim compared to it.
RB: Oh, it's truly grim.
Radu: But you have Dougie being catatonic for most of the season.
RB: Right? (laughs) Which how I feel like "What's going on? Where's everybody at?"
Radu: Everybody is waiting like "Just fucking come back". And it happens in the last few episodes like "What about the FBI? / I am the FBI." And it was so fucking satisfying. Finally! Jesus!
RB: (laughs) Yeah, pretty much!
Twin Peaks spoilers stop here
[Ed: The rest of the interview has been deemed safe to consume for readers who have not yet watched Twin Peaks. Metal Storm and David Lynch thank you for your indulgence.]
Radu: Have you watched any other Lynch movies? [Ed: I thought we were done.]
RB: Yeah, almost all of them except for The Straight Story, which we do have, we just have not actually watched it yet. I think Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are probably my favorites, but I like pretty much all of them.
Radu: Okay, cool. It would probably be Lost Highway and Eraserhead for me. Kind of hard to decide between both of them.
RB: Yeah, actually, last year, my drummer*, Brandon, and I and a couple friends were really kind of fucked up late night after a practice and decided to do some cliché "put music on while you watch a movie," like Pink Floyd-style or whatever, and we put on Kevin Drumm's Sheer… oh, what's that one called…. uh, Miasma [Ed: Sheer Hellish Miasma]. It's a really harsh, fucking incredible record by Kevin Drumm, and we watched Eraserhead and it was really ridiculous. I do recommend it if you feel like having a sensory overload meltdown or whatever (laughs). [*Ed: I like it when musicians refer to their bandmates as "my drummer." It's cute.]
Radu: Yes, but obviously you must not do it sober.
RB: Yeah, yeah, sober you'd be like, "What the fuck is this nonsense we're doing?" (laughs)
Radu: Of course. I just realized that my Editor-in-Chief, who will have to transcribe this interview, he has not seen Twin Peaks and will get spoiled the fuck out of it (laughs at my peril).
RB: Oh no! (also laughs at me)
Radu: So, sorry! (still just laughing at me mercilessly)
RB: Maybe put a spoiler alert in there for him.
Radu: I'll tell him, just, don't transcribe that part, I'll transcribe it myself. [Ed: Hey, it worked.]
Okay. Easter season is coming to Romania, which is the part of the year where everyone becomes vegan for a while. What are some good vegan recipes that you recommend?
RB: Well, last night - it's not really an Easter recipe, but last night we made this kind of… It was like borscht, but it was warmer and I made it with vegan chicken broth that I made, so it was a little bit of a warmer - and it was hot, so it wasn't cold borscht, and then we had it with this beer bread that my partner baked, so borscht and beer bread, that's pretty good.
Radu: Okay. How does vegan chicken broth work? Do you just boil the chicken alive and then leave it alive?
RB: Yeah, pretty much.
(pause, and then simultaneous giggling)
Radu: You just bathe the chicken in it and just add water.
RB: And it goes, "Ahhh!" Yeah. No, actually, here - I'm sure there's other places that have it, too - but it's this bouillon stuff that's called no-chicken broth, or no-chicken bouillon, and you just make that pretty quickly and I seasoned it up a little bit with garlic, a couple other things.
Radu: Let's say for someone who is thinking of becoming a vegan but does not want to go full-on vegan, what would you say are some steps to reduce meat consumption or get some meat that is more ethical?
RB: Okay, um…
Radu: So, let's say, for example, since I do have relatives that do have farms, so I get, like, beef or chicken meat that has been raised in a yard, not in an abattoir, would you say that is a better alternative to ease into leaving animal products altogether?
RB: Yeah, I do, and I think if all of our societies were built differently, without this giant factory farm thing going on and rampant cruelty everywhere, I would have a lot less of an issue with it. Like, people ask me about if they raise their own chickens who lay their eggs and stuff, and, like, go for it. I don't… Doesn't bother me at all, you know?
Radu: A big part of it isn't really just that the animals are killed for the meat, it's just that they're suffering their whole life for it.
RB: Yeah, and I'm sure there will be plenty of people who would argue with me about this, but I just think in nature there always has been and will be animals consuming other animals, and I don't think it's - personally, I'm not gonna do it, but I don't think it's morally fucking wrong for people to necessarily eat animals, I just wish there was a more localized version of our food production chain instead of it being shipped everywhere in these giant farms. Yeah, cruelty, basically.
RB: So yeah, but as for getting people to eat less meat, nowadays there's so many options it's gotten pretty easy to find stuff that tastes really good and it's already even made, but I kind of find it more fun to experiment and make your own food. That's almost like another artistic outlet, to cook and do that kind of thing. But if you don't have the time, there's lots of options.
Radu: How does it feel knowing that the British Empire conquered about a quarter of the world for spices and they can't even spice their own food? [Ed: OY, BRUV]
RB: Oh ho ho, fuckin' zing! (laughs) How does it feel? Uh, classic, and not surprised.
Radu: You have toured Britain, right?
Radu: So you probably did get to experience their exquisite cuisine firsthand?
RB: Yup, yup, yup… Although I feel like most of the food we have eaten on our multiple times there has been made by friends who know how to cook.
Radu: You got lucky?
RB: Yeah, yeah. I mean, and also, it's weird, but I've liked a couple of the British breakfasts, other than those weird tomatoes, but… Yeah. I can deal with it. Just throw a little bit of shit on there, whatever you got, some salt or whatever.
Radu: Salt and pepper are the only spices you ever need, honestly.
RB: The only spices allowed (laughs).
Radu: The only spices allowed. So other than Napalm Death and Pig Destroyer, what would you say is the biggest grindcore band?
RB: The biggest?
Radu: Like, the most popular, the most recognizable.
RB: Oh, gosh… I don't know… Terrorizer would be one of the big recognizable old - I mean, right now, probably Full Of Hell, at least in the underground spectrum that I would consider a grindcore band. I hate making generalized… putting things in a box, though, but probably Terrorizer, Repulsion…
Radu: Because, like -
RB: Brutal Truth, they're one of the - I don't know.
Radu: Yeah, Brutal Truth. Brutal Truth is probably the best pick for this one, because they're really old but also fairly recognizable, but it feels weird - like, Napalm Death's Scum came out in 1987, so it's about as old as death metal, but you have a lot more recognizable death metal and black metal bands compared to grindcore.
RB: It's true, that's true. And also a note, because Brutal Truth, I've seen them play quite small shows before, too, at least for a while there. Not to say they're not "big" or whatever, it's just interesting to see, because, say, if Cannibal Corpse, for a big death metal band, they probably very rarely ever play a show that's not pretty huge, you know. But, yeah, like you said, grindcore has a lot less visibility, I guess. Extreme shit, you know?
Radu: Yeah, it's a lot more localized. People who are into grindcore are obviously big into Cephalic Carnage or Assück or Insect Warfare, but you don't usually see those as much outside of the usual grindcore circles.
RB: Yup. Yup, yup. I personally am trying to - I like it when stuff is mixed up with bills, with all different kinds of bands and stuff, and I would like to see more of that, because it does seem like a lot of times a grind show will be just a grind show, which I think happens in every music genre, but I would like things to be more visible from all aspects.
Radu: You should open for a hip-hop show. You should open for Run The Jewels, maybe.
RB: Yeah, hell yeah, we could do that. We were gonna do a tour with Dälek once.
Radu: Oh, yeah, that would be great.
RB: We were talking about it, because we had the same friend that was helping do our booking at the time. It didn't work out, but I would still definitely be down to do stuff like that.
Radu: Maybe you could at least release a split.
RB: Yeah, fuck yeah. Like last year we did that tour with Kælan Mikla. That was really cool. They're awesome. So… definitely. I hope to see more of that. Not to say we won't tour with heavy bands, obviously we're gonna continue doing that, too, but I would like to see lots of other bands all spreading it all out so it's not such a totally… uh, what's the word?
RB: Yes, that is the word I was looking for.
Radu: Happens all the time.
Radu: It's not like you're going to have the opportunity to tour any time soon, so…
RB: Right, yeah. Good point. Fuck.
Radu: I admit that I haven't listened to every Cloud Rat release, so I have to ask you personally: did you release anything before Do Not Let Me Off The Cliff that was in a similar vein?
Radu: The only thing that I could find was one song, "Vein Tree," from Qliphoth. [Ed: "Thin Vein." You're thinking of this.]
RB: So, yeah, Qliphoth [Ed: Whoa, whoa, whoa. It's pronounced "Kelly-put"? This is what I get for not going to Hebrew school.] has "Thin Vein" on it and then we had our friend Andy do the "Killing Horizon" song on there. And then in a bunch of splits we did a few years back, there's a piano kind of ballady song on there, and then we did that really long, like, 18-minute-long prog rock song that's got a lot of weird shit going on in it. That was on the split with Disrotted.
Radu: Ooh, I'll have to check that one out.
RB: And then on the Moloch split, the last track is an electronic song very similar to what's on Do Not Let Me Off The Cliff, and then way back we did a few songs - like Moksha has a couple pretty weird ones on it.
RB: I mean, Do Not Let Me Off The Cliff was definitely a full stylistic adventure, but it's not - I would like to do more stuff like that, but not just focus on that either, you know. It's gonna be probably more of a -
Radu: But it was really fun hearing you do something that's not in your usual style, but it's also really, really cool.
RB: Thank you. It was really fun to work on, too.
Radu: It was supposed to be bonus tracks, right?
Radu: What led -
RB: We did have - oh, sorry.
Radu: No, go ahead.
RB: I just was gonna say, we did have some, when discussing doing that kind of stuff, as a band, we're kind of back-and-forth on it, 'cause when you start doing stuff like that, it's like, "Is this actually Cloud Rat?" I think yeah, because it's still us, the same people making it, but people all the time have different projects with different titles, so why call it that? I think it still fits in with the mood and when taking all of it as a whole it works in context, even if it's quite different sonically.
Radu: Do you think people would have given it as much attention if it wasn't a Cloud Rat?
RB: Probably not. I don't know if that's a cynical way to release things either, but I don't know.
Radu: But at the same time you shouldn't really compromise the band by releasing whatever you want with it.
RB: This is true, yes. That's a good point. And I definitely, if we keep doing this kind of stuff in the future, want to be pretty careful about what it is and… yeah.
Radu: What's next, Metallica cutting their hair and releasing a country rock album?
RB: Fuuuuuck yeeeaaah, you ever listen to Lulu?
Radu: Yeah, dude, it's so underappreciated, actually. [Ed: Yes, it is. Fight me.] It's crazy to believe that we live in a world where Metallica actually collaborated with Lou Reed.
RB: I know!
Radu: And it pissed off metalheads everywhere.
RB: Ever since that came out, I feel free to create whatever I want. But yeah, whatever we end up doing in the future, whenever, who knows when, I think we'll do our best to try and keep it pretty - try to be as focused as possible, not just release fuckin' Smashing Pumpkins-style where you got a billion different little -
Radu: Why not? Please cover "1979"!
RB: Oh, we did. There's video of it.
Radu: Oh, shit!
RB: Yeah, we did years ago. We never recorded it properly, but there are videos of us doing that live a couple different times.
Radu: Well, just release an EP of Smashing Pumpkins covers. I want to hear you play "Zero" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" and "Cherub Rock."
RB: (laughs) I honestly would absolutely love that. Maybe I will do that at some point.
Radu: Yeah, take a cue or two from Thou. They've been releasing and doing cover shows -
[Ed: Unfortunately, dear readers, it is at this point that we lose the audio recording of the interview due to an unscheduled interruption. After the loss of interview footage was discovered, Rorik was gracious enough to supply his answers to some of Radu's other questions via e-mail. What follows is the text from that exchange - but don't worry, for I will be back. For some reason they decided to tack on another Skype call afterwards and I had to transcribe an extra 15 minutes of post-interview interview. Is this a mess? Hell yeah. The most eventful interview in Metal Storm history? Quite possibly. See you in a bit.]
Do Not Let Me Off The Cliff
Radu: What led to that being made? Would you consider something else in that vein or something that is also not metal but in a different style?
RB: We're always talking about different ways to approach releases, experimenting with different genres and approaches. When we signed with Artoffact, they asked if we'd be willing to offer extra "bonus" material to go along with the album.
Initially we couldn't really agree on what we were going to do, to be honest haha. We recorded various acoustic songs and drone-y things, and then as we were running out of time before release, we kind of improvised a lot of it fairly quickly, and I crammed over the course of a couple weeks putting it together. We are definitely considering doing more stuff along these lines, all kinds of ideas. Brandon is very well versed in the noise, electronic and jazz worlds, while Madison has experience in most kinds of music as well, so I think we have a pretty deep well to draw from thankfully.
Radu: Mandatory "what does the title mean" question.
RB: I think when we were recording, it came from the song title 623, which was simply the date at the time of recording that song haha. We threw that number into a Gematria calculator and stumbled across that collection of words, which works on a number of levels. It's pretty ambiguous, and I think encapsulates both hope and despair, maybe sounds a bit ominous as well as poetic. Hmm.
Radu: If you could release a split album with any active band out there, who would it be?
RB: Björk would be the dream person to work with I think. I personally think she may be the world's greatest living artist. A collaboration with her could be really interesting.
But perhaps more realistically, let's go with maybe Full Of Hell. I think they consistently put out really great, interesting, boundary-pushing material, and are really great chaps to boot. Or a Kevin Drumm collaboration. I don't know what the end result would be but I really love his work.
Radu: What was the most outlandish COVID-19 conspiracy that you've heard?
RB: I think the one about how we are all being made to stay home so "they" can install the 5G grid and kill everyone with it or whatever. I think that ties in with google being a conscious A.I. which has all of our information now, and will use that to control everyone. Bill Gates created the virus and now wants to profit off the vaccine.. democrats trying to get Trump to lose... they all seem to somehow tie in to each other and also all seem to be super right-wing for some reason.
Radu: How does Cloud Rat deal with not having a bassist?
RB: I run through two guitar rigs and a bass rig live, switching them on and off for dynamics. The bass signal is just straight up synth notes via poly-octave pedal with a range covering only the lower notes, then smashed with a limiter pedal. I do this on our recordings as well, there has never been a bass guitar on our records. Not because I don't like the bass of course, it's a wonderful, useful, versatile instrument that has enriched countless recordings. But I do that on our records to try and capture our live essence as much as possible. I think it's a feature of ours rather than a setback. It does create some interesting songwriting limitations. Sometimes we stretch that limitation such as with Holding The Picture, which we could pull off live, but would be best suited with an additional keyboardist and guitarist.
There are tons of bands out there doing various configurations of no bass, no guitar, only keys, etc.
Radu: Does your name have anything to do with the Russian dynasty of Rurik?
Not that I'm aware of. My mom named me after a character from a viking "romance" novel (pretty, uh, problematic subject matter I think lol). I eventually read about the viking Rorik of Dorestad, whom I'm sure the book was referencing. And now very recently it's been brought to my attention that many think he was this Rurik chap, which it appears is inconclusive but also very interesting! I'll be reading up on this stuff more soon, pretty cool. Maybe in a former life I started Russia haha.
Radu: Do you actually practice Qliphoth?
RB: I do not. I first became aware of the term when I was a teenager, reading the manga Berserk, in which the characters enter the Qliphoth at various times. As I got older I started reading deeper into both Jewish and Hermetic Kabbalah, though I admit to still being pretty ignorant to a lot of it. I love reading about it and learning about all kinds of occult and mysticism, and have practiced magick to varying degrees as well. Unfortunately I seem to lack the true discipline it takes to be a very serious student of this kind of thing, and I think I have a lot more learning to do before truly practicing again. I've been reckless before and it can be petty intimidating and frightening. I have some friends who are much better-versed and serious practitioners, so I at least have an understanding and appreciation of it. In the meantime I still participate in magickal thinking and like to dabble when I'm feeling it. There's only so much time and so many things to be into in this life, right?
Radu: I bet your write a lot more songs now that you're stuck at home. Supposing the lockdown lasts for a few good months, would you have a way of putting them to the tape?
RB: I haven't really had very much motivation to actually write new material yet, unfortunately. My writing tends to come in waves and without much provocation, and it's tricky for me to force myself into a state of being super creative. I have been working on remixing and remastering all of our old material, and writing guitar tabs for all of it as well. So that's been an interesting exercise. Just in the past week I've started feeling the writing bug again, hopefully will be able to start working on that soon.
I do have a little home studio setup, so I can record and then send ideas along to Madison and Brandon, who both have the ability to add their input as well so yes. It's been challenging to find the proper time and workflow, as with both kids being unable to go to school or friends' or grandparents' houses, we've been trying to keep them positively occupied and I have had little alone time, which is something that I've traditionally always needed to nurture my writing. Not to mention just my headspace in general has been a little bit funky, I'm interested to see how much of the work I produce in this time will hold up.
Radu: Cloud Rat always felt like a bit more than a grindcore band, as a band drawing influence from a lot of exteme music styles. But at the same time it feels that grindcore is a pretty large umbrella term, so what do you say is the glue that holds gorenoise and powerviolence and anarchogrind and cybergrind together under the same umbrella?
RB: The use of extreme speed and volume is about the only thing that ties all of these together, really. Blastbeats and brevity. And we tend to break the "rules" quite often so I guess it doesn't really matter. We definitely started in the grind world, and continue to generally dwell there while also putting our tentacles in every other pool that feels right. Every genre has this feature, where there are so many variations that fit under those umbrellas that will all sound incredibly different from each other.
Kelsey from Cokskar (one of the absolute greatest grind bands of all time, no contest) has a couple zines devoted to exhaustively exploring the concept of grind (with no core) called "Grind Dialectic". I'm not sure if it's available anywhere on the internet, I'll have to ask her if it would be OK to upload scans of it. Truly terrific pieces of writing!
Radu: Why do you think that grindcore has been so warmly accepted by metalheads as compared to metalcore, deathcore, screamo and post-hardcore?
RB: I'd guess some reasons are because of sheer overwhelming sonic terror, impressive physical energy, and disdain for ego (at least perceived, I do think there are plenty of poopoo grindcore heads out there too haha). When a grind band is good live, it is truly awesome to behold, whether you are into extreme music or not. I think that metalcore and deathcore bands in particular often (not always!) have an extremely macho/purely masculine vibe to them, which can be off-putting to many. Or they are associated with popular rock, like metal from the suburbs or whatever, even though that's probably where the majority of metal is from really haha.
Radu: When was the last time you heard a band so out there that made you think "Wait a second, I didn't think you were allowed to do that?"
RB: Never. Everything is permitted. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, eh?
Radu: Give me a record from each of the other bands of the three band members.
RB: Madison is currently doing a killer band called Immaculate Conception and has previously been in literally too many bands to count. Cabbage Heads, Ishtar, Phoolan Devi just to name a few.
Brandon has a long-running noise project called Plagues, (and I think he is Death Dedication too, can't remember right this moment haha) and a noise label called Starved Relations, and similar to Madison has a truly impressive history of playing with many different projects of all genres. We did a split with one of his old bands before he joined CR, called Xtra Vomit.
And I mainly have only done Cloud Rat over the past ten years. All of my other projects have been one-offs or short-lived without releasing anything. Before CR I was in a hardcore band called Under Anchor for six or seven years. Our old drummer and I had a short-lived grindcore band in the mid 00's called Shatner Mask as well.
[Ed: And we're back to the transcription of the live interview.
Radu: Well, we're back with part two after we had a little bit of an accident of sorts.
RB: Yeah, that'll happen.
Radu: So this was part recording, part e-mail, and part recording again, to my editor-in-chief's dismay. [Ed: Boy, how you try my patience.]
RB: Yeah, just add some Mystery Science Theater kind of commentary over the e-mail. [Ed: My dude, I am so far ahead of you.] You can just insert some of your jokes.
Radu: It's gonna suck that we missed a lot of those -
Radu: But it's probably for the better that nobody had to go through 70 minutes of banter for it. [Ed: Yes. It is better for all of us.]
Okay, so, back to the serious questions. Why can't Americans just read subtitles?
RB: Oh… Well, why can't Americans just read news? I don't know. Maybe they just don't trust subtitles 'cause they think they're fake.
Radu: Yeah, obviously.
RB: I don't know.
Radu: This is why they cannot stand foreign movies, especially not when they win Best Oscar.
RB: Yeah. Well, I mean, that might be a misconception. Most people I know really enjoyed Parasite and I think as usual the loudest, stupidest voices get the most attention.
Radu: Yeah, yeah. The ones that said it only won because it's a foreign movie, even though it's the first foreign movie that actually won Best Picture.
RB: Yeah, even though there have been lots of other great ones in the past. I disagree with them; I think it's great and I think it deserved to win, just like I think there's so many other examples of things that could also win, but I think… rightfully so.
Radu: At least Joker didn't win.
RB: (laughs) I haven't even seen that, actually.
Radu: You probably should. Great performance by Joaquin Phoenix.
RB: Yeah, I'm a fan of his.
Radu: Even though the movie is for simpletons. [Ed: Oof]
RB: Especially his activism stuff, I think he's…
Radu: He's a pretty great dude. So for someone who isn't American, what sets Michigan apart from the rest of the states?
RB: We are surrounded by the world's largest concentration of fresh water. There's a bunch of - we call them the Great Lakes. You're probably familiar with those, I would assume.
Radu: Yeah. I know that they're great.
RB: And we also have really serious poverty and crime issues… [Ed: No, he asked what makes Michigan different from other states.]
RB: But that's always a highlight. People call it the "Murder Mitten." But really, there are problems but there's also lots of great things going on in all of our cities as well. And of course we have the Flint water crisis.
Radu: That's still ongoing?
RB: Still ongoing, and there's maybe a lesser-known water crisis in Detroit, but it has to do with them shutting off people's water who have been unable to pay water bills, they'll just fuckin' shut 'em off, even during the pandemic. There's been some issues I've been hearing about.
Radu: Well, if they wanted to have water, they should have paid.
RB: Right? Right? (laughs) So that's… Yeah, there's a lot of problems, and that's often the highlight of what people think about Michigan, but there's a lot of great stuff. We have some pretty awesome natural things going on here, especially up in the Upper Peninsula, which, for those who don't know, Michigan is sort of cut in half. There's another whole part of it.
Radu: And I suppose it has its own secessionist movement?
RB: Yeah, kinda! It's actually more technically physically a part of Wisconsin, funnily enough.
Radu: Of all the things to be part of, to be part of Wisconsin…
RB: Right. But I live in the Lower Peninsula, amongst the corn fields, for the most part.
Radu: Right, that's where people live. I think only bears live in the northern peninsula.
RB: Yeah, yeah. Well, we're trolls, we're under the bridge down here, and up there they're called "yoopers."
Radu: Okay. So if you could get any living director to direct a video for Cloud Rat, who would it be?
RB: Any living director to direct a video for Cloud Rat… Oh, gosh. You like to throw these ones at me that my brain has trouble organizing. [Ed: He's choosing his words carefully because there IS a wrong answer, but I think we've already covered him.]
Radu: (laughs) The downside for you is that most Cloud Rat songs are, like, three minutes, so it won't be too long of a video, sadly. But if you make, like, a ten-minute-long song…
RB: Right… Well, a lot of the ones that I would say, they're passed away, but let's see… Well, I mean, you know, David Lynch is an obvious - that'd be cool. [Ed: Shit.]
Radu: Of course, of course.
RB: I think he does some of the most interesting stuff, and he has directed music videos before. Hm… You know what? Maybe I'll just go with a left-field one. I just recently watched that new Harley Quinn movie, actually, Birds of Prey?
Radu: Oh, God. [Ed: You shush, it was good.]
RB: That director is incredible. I was really surprised with the film. I can't remember her name right at this moment… [Ed: Cathy Yan]
RB: But I think, yeah, probably it would be cool to work with a female director, and I think that maybe that kind of - I don't know if you've seen that yet -
Radu: No, I haven't.
RB: I would recommend that to everybody reading this, actually.
Radu: Oh, okay.
RB: It's pretty surprising. Great movie. Especially compared to Suicide Squad, but that's beside the point.
Radu: Oh, yeah, I have seen that, sadly.
RB: That is a fucking joke, obviously. Horrible film.
Radu: It might have been good, but it was edited by the same team that did the trailer. At least, it feels like it.
RB: Yeah, I recently read about that, too. It's just hilarious. Ah, her name is escaping me at the moment, though [Ed: I already told you, it's Cathy Yan], so maybe afterwards if we just -
Radu: Afterwards we'll have the good hindsight of being able to Google it.
RB: Yeah, why not?
Radu: But in order not to embarrass yourself, I'll just say that you answered with Lynch.
RB: Yeah. Or how about Ari Aster? Go with that, too.
Radu: Okay, that's a good pick. I don't think he's done music videos before, but I'd be game for it.
Radu: Okay. Why do Americans hate the metric system? [Ed: Boy, look at this guy, not realizing how hard I'm going to fire him when this is done.]
RB: Um… Again, they don't like to read… or think… or change. (laughs) That's about it. I don't know why. They like to also simultaneously make things more complicated for themselves, ourselves…
Radu: Yeah, I noticed that.
RB: It's funny - I worked in construction for 13 years and after that was a welder, and I'm just unemployed from that right this moment from the coronavirus, so I'm always using, like, our measurements, whenever we're putting things together, you have to get it down to the 64th of an inch often, when you're doing really precise welding stuff or assembly, and if it could just be the metric system, it's a lot easier - like when you're doing math and you're like, "Oh, I gotta -"
Radu: Just multiply it by 100 or 1,000.
RB: Right. Instead we're dealing with these goofy fractions, 64ths of an inch plus, like, 7/16ths of an inch is whatever…
Radu: It makes no sense.
RB: It's always funny.
Radu: Why do you use Fahrenheit as well? [Ed: Because it tastes good.]
RB: That one… I don't know, actually. It's also, I guess, having grown up with it, I'm much more - like, I understand Celsius and I've used it, but Fahrenheit… That doesn't seem quite as egregious to me. Celsius is, what, 0 is freezing, 100 is boiling, right?
RB: So, yeah, that makes sense, but… I don't know. I think Fahrenheit is a lot more - you can get more accurate temperatures, right?
RB: Maybe not.
Radu: I don't know.
RB: Doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. (laughs)
Radu: Whenever I have friends from the US and they tell me that it's 60 degrees, I imagine that it's boiling.
RB: Right, and it's, like, fuckin' kind of cold.
Radu: Cloud Rat is more than ten years old now. What is something that has changed in your approach to music in the meantime?
RB: Hm… Well, I think initially I - at least my approach to writing music has changed in that I used to go for what could be the most intense and maybe emotional approach, full energy the whole time, and I like to try and find different emotions to work with now than just, like, anger or total despair, and I think it's interesting to try and work other -
Radu: Emotions in.
RB: Approaches, yeah, to where it's less angular all the time, maybe. I don't know. But actually just recently I went back through our discography, 'cause I've been working on these remasters, and I think maybe I haven't changed as much in my songwriting as I thought. It's definitely different now, but there's been a consistent theme somehow.
Radu: Mhm. So is that a good thing or a bad thing? That you are always consistent, or that you haven't grown enough?
RB: Eh, it's a little bit of both. I think it depends on - we're our own worst critics, right, so I'm pretty down on it a little bit, but it's generally probably a good thing. And this kind of a question is hard to even step outside yourself and examine it like that -
Radu: Yeah, because you are so attached to the actual music.
RB: Right. I mean, sometimes, I'm like, "Wow, I approach everything thinking differently, and about life," and then you go back and you're like, "Well, I guess maybe I haven't changed as much as I thought."
Radu: Yeah, well, you haven't changed at all. I mean, you're still doing grindcore, so that's not too much of a growth.
RB: Yeah… (sighs dramatically) [Ed: Radu has punctured Rorik's ego.]
Radu: Well, at least you've done some synth pop as well, so there's that.
RB: Yeah! Yup.
Radu: So there's a good step forward. You can just drop the grindcore altogether and leave it.
RB: Hey, we talk about that at every practice and somehow we keep fucking bashing our brains against the wall playing this grindcore shit. (laughs)
Radu: Well, I mean, this is what got you famous, so -
RB: Famous?! (laughs) Oh, shit. Oh…
Radu: You technically have toured a lot. I wouldn't call that not famous.
RB: You know, one thing that's actually surprised me during the pandemic here, when I've done those live videos, there were a lot of people watching and it did surprise me a lot. I'm not even talking about fame or anything, it's just an interesting feeling and I - I don't know if I'm gonna do anymore or not. I'm not sure if I'm cut out for such things, but… Yeah, weird. But if I am famous, show me the money is all I'm saying, goddammit! (laughs)
Radu: (laughs) You just get a pat on the back, just like those essential workers.
RB: Yes, exactly.
Radu: Well, sadly, those were all the questions.
Radu: And now you're gonna tell me something like, "You bothered me just for this?"
RB: No, I appreciate it. Sorry for failing so miserably on that last set there. Truth be told, I've been having a little bit of a struggle -
[Ed: At this point a small child enters the conversation to say something to Rorik and it's adorable.]
I've been struggling a little bit these past couple of weeks and thought I might've been losing it.
Radu: Aren't we all?
RB: Yeah, I think so.
Radu: Well, don't worry. You as a grindcore musician, me as a volunteer reviewer, I think we're all feeling quite miserably together.
RB: Yeah. Are you hanging in there?
Radu: Yep. Okay, I'll stop. [Ed: Radu ends the conversation just as things are getting real.]
Massive thanks to ScreamingSteelUS for transcribing this beast (except for the Twin Peaks part because I didn't wanna spoil his innocence)
||Posted on 01.05.2020 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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