Countdown To Extinction (Part I) – Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation

TheAnthropoceneExtinction

We are killing our planet. It’s not a prediction, or hokum. It’s a statement. A fact. We are past the point of no return. We stand on the brink of the sixth mass extinction of animal species on this glorious rock we call our home. Species loss, it is calculated by Gerardo Ceballos of the NA University in Mexico, is occurring at a rate of over 100 times that at any point in our history. And humans are incontrovertibly are the cause.

“Yes, I’d say its too late. A lot of the themes on this album deal with plastic and plastic is something that’s not going anywhere, pretty much ever. We’re all guilty, hell even the album is made of plastic, there’s no escaping it.” The sixth mass, or The Anthropocene, Extinction is the subject of Cattle Decapitation’s latest aural assault, and Travis Ryan is keen to raise awareness.

“I believe nobody is really thinking of the future generations and there’s definitely a few songs on the album that deal with that. The Anthropocene Extinction (Metal Blade) deals with exactly what you mentioned – the 6th mass extinction that we’re currently a part of and that will eventually do us in, that is, if an asteroid or nuclear war doesn’t. This album was incredibly depressing to write (lyrically) because of all of this. Just minor research I had to do for a couple parts alone was extremely troubling.

“These records are hard on me to write because of the subject matter. That’s why there’s songs like ‘Unsuitable For Life’, probably my most pissed off set of lyrics ever. That song was written within 30 minutes because I was so damn charged up! Haha… My fucking Facebook feed alone reads like a person with manic depressive paranoid schitzophrenia disorder or something.”

And once again, the album is adorned with a very striking cover, Wes Benscoter once again taking the musical and thematic violence within, and visualizing it in an inimitable and arresting way.

“What you see here is the aftermath of this epoch we’re currently living in – the holocene era, but more aptly for the concept of the record – the anthropocene era”, continues Travis, a man renowned for not being afraid to raise awareness and utilize his position in a band to open the eyes of those who come across Cattle Decapitation to apply some self-awareness and to begin to make changes in their own personal environments. “In the usual “turning the tables” approach to our ideas, we see the end result of the domino effect we’ve burdened the ecosystems of planet earth with. The image on the cover is basically referring to what’s going on in the Pacific Ocean with the Laysan Albatrosses. The birds and other animals are mistaking the insane amount of plastic in the ocean for plankton, ingesting it and when they inevitably die, their corpses decay and leave behind the plastic they ingested. The cover is basically fantasy based on the reality of what we’re doing to the oceans, the most unexplored parts of planet Earth.”

Cattle Decapitation. Photo by Zach Cordner

Cattle Decapitation. Photo by Zach Cordner

Cattle Decapitation is nearly as known as much for Travis’ beliefs, causes and activism as the bands’ music, which is not to discredit their previous outputs, but is this a position that Ryan accepts and is OK with? I don’t really want to “preach” to anyone. I’m preaching no more than Dave Mustaine did or John Connelly in Nuclear Assault for example.” Though is it the case that Cattle Decapitation fans are more like to be aware of the issues that concern you, and so is there a danger of only preaching to the converted? Does that matter?

“We’re presenting very real ideas and realities as a backdrop to some very aggressive music. I’ve always figured if you’re gonna talk about something, it might as well mean something. But preaching and trying to convert? Nah, that’s not my bag at all.

People can take it or leave it and they definitely do both, as they should. They shouldn’t dismiss the band simply because someone told them our lyrics are about “being vegan” or whatever. I say that because I’ve seen people say that kinda shit and they’re flat out wrong. There’s so much more in our lyrics than what we may or may not do in our personal lives.

“I had an “environmental” streak instilled in me when I was younger by my father. So it’s definitely something I’ve always tried to stay on top of and I do a lot of cross checking my own stuff and others’ as well before freaking out about a topic.”

Being in a band does allow a vehicle to raise and make points. If there was something you’d want a Cattle Decap fan, or even a casual reader to take from this, what would that be? “I definitely would like people to walk away thinking something needs to be done, even if they don’t plan on doing anything at all. As long as that consciousness is there, that’s a good blow to ignorance. I urge people to think locally, I think that’s one great way to inspire change. Adopt, don’t buy your pets. Recycle and reuse as much as possible. Remember plastic isn’t going anywhere and if you’re going to have kids, think of their futures first and foremost. If you’re not gonna have any kids in this life, more power to you because overpopulation is very much a thing and is standing directly in the way of a sustainable society.

(ultimately, though) Lyrics and even vocals are completely secondary to music. I’m lucky to have a job doing what I do for this band!”

 

STEVE TOVEY