The whirlwind of heavy, fast, melodic, thrashy, and often meditative bombast, with sparks of hardcore punk, summoned by KILLER BE KILLED is the formidable and inevitable result of the sum of its parts, whose combined discography warped and shaped the culture.
Three men – Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly), Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan), Troy Sanders (Mastodon) possessed of some of the most recognisable voices in heavy music split frontman duty. Boundary pushers and innovators, born and bred in different cities and tempered by their respective projects, each one is an equal participant in the fresh ceremony of inspired ritual, together with one of the most beloved drummers in heavy music. KILLER BE KILLED’s debut album was a force of nature that demolished preconceived notions of “supergroup” upon its arrival in 2014. RELUCTANT HERO, the band’s surprise follow-up, conceived in secrecy some six years later, doubles down on that mission statement while splashing the sonic canvas with new colours and visions and Greg Puciato speaks to Hi Fi Way about the new album.
Day two of a potential six day lockdown over here, how are things looking in the States?
You’re back in? Six days right, you guys are in pretty good shape over there, you’ve done everything right. It’s a nightmare over here, it’s like a leper colony of the world right here with people dropping dead left, right and centre.
Have things improved since the election? Seems like there is a bit of healing left to do over there?
We never got over the civil war, what is happening here is that the south lost the civil war, the confederacy lost the civil war and those ideologies never wore away. They didn’t have a vessel, you can pretend they aren’t there but they seep in and got passed on to generations and there was a lot of nationalist, fascist right wing racist ultra-fundamentalist religious ideologies that get passed on which is going on right around the world, this weird right wing thing happening everywhere right now. I see it like the death rattle of the old way of protectionism, people are afraid of progressing and we need to rid that shit out. It won’t be gone when Trump is gone, that’s what I keep telling people, it’s not coming from the top down, that dude is a symptom and if we had a healthy society we should have laughed that guy out of contention to begin with. All those people who are amped on him are still going to exist, they’ll keep breeding and teach their kids this bullshit and keep going until we intercept these ideologies which are ruining peoples lives.
It must be great having new music to talk about and reflect on what the band achieved with Reluctant Hero?
I’m stoked, I’m not going to lie! It’s fucking cool, it is the end of a long process and we are really excited about our band. This is not a side project any more, it isn’t a one off or just people getting together when they can. It is very much a band, we talk all the time and it has been that way since Soundwave. Once we played there it changed the band, it went from a one off to a band and in the last five years since then we have made really slow progress because it is hard to get us all together at the same time. It has been a really process that kept going, we kept the ball rolling and we’re really happy with the record. For me, I usually have a hard time being happy with things that I make. Being the singer, there is too much me so it is easy to be critical of myself. This band is fun for me because I get to listen to Troy and Max. The whole thing feels really good for us right now.
Did COVID slow things down much?
We were done before COVID hit, people don’t understand that COVID had nothing to do with it as we had finished this record in January and were mixing in February, March and April. The same thing with my solo record I had finished in January. The only thing that was affected that made certain things take longer were things in the production end with the record plants being a bit more backed up than they would normally be. They are moving slower and the staff can’t work the same hours. There was different quarantining of box shipments and everything just takes longer. As far as the creative and recording process we were pretty unaffected.
Was it hard keeping the news that you were working on a new album under wraps?
It wasn’t hard for me because I don’t like telling people what I’m doing any way, I really don’t telling people what my moves are because it boxes you in to a corner. I find it can’t be as pure once people know about the thing you’re doing. When you tell people something is happening then they ask you every time you fucking talk to them. It is a pain in the arse, a band like ours, we made a lot of progress in 2016 and 17 and felt we were right on the brink of being able to record. If we to say hey, we are working on some new shit and that we’ll get it done by the end of the year then we have to spend the next three years explaining why it didn’t happen. I can’t stand the whole culture of telling everyone what you’re doing all the time, who fucking cares! Just tell me when the thing is done! I don’t need to know you’re in the god damn studio every day or post a picture every fucking day, I don’t fucking care dude, just let me know when the record is out. It’s either going to be good or it’s not going to be good. It doesn’t matter whether you tell people about it, I don’t need an endless hand job, just let me know when it is done!
After the band’s self-titled album was there a lot of discussion about what you were wanting to do sonically for what would be Reluctant Hero?
The first record for any band is a two dimensional version of what they end up trying to do. To me, it’s like a TV, you don’t want the picture to change but you want more pixels, you want to be able to zoom in on the picture and see more detail in it. For me, it’s like don’t fuck with the formula and deliberately try and make it different, you want to make it more dimensional. I would want the guitars to be more interesting, more textures and see more stuff happening, I’d want the mix to be more alive and the vocals to be more overlapping, weaving in and out of one another instead of being Greg’s part, Troy’s part or Max’s part. You want things to be a bit more 3D and to me that was the goal of this record sonically. Song writing is the same, we got in a room, separately and in parts, bring them together and hash them out, bouncing ideas off each other doing the same thing with lyrics and vocals. From a bigger picture perspective it was important to me for there to be more detail and more integration instead of it being so segregated.
Is this the most satisfied you have been musically especially working with guys such as Max and Troy?
Dude, it is awesome! The potential for us and the ceiling is really high in terms of rock metal. I think we can do a lot together, we have a lot of tools in this band and for me vocally it is awesome. As a songwriter if I’m writing something I imagine Troy singing, that is really cool or I could imagine Max singing. I don’t just have to imagine me singing, Troy’s voice is so different to mine and Max’s as well. When I’m writing it gives me tools I wouldn’t normally have and that is really fucking cool. I’m not used to be able to write with a different vocalist in mind. That is really exciting that after twenty years as a primary vocalist and most of the things that I do it is really awesome to have a riff and not necessarily be the one that has to sing over it. I can say Troy you should sing over this and that is really cool.
What’s next for the band? Will there be more live streamed shows?
We were going to tour Australia first and before all this shit went down we had plans to bounce between all our other bands and up to 2022 we had a good map of going to different places and doing different things. We were going to try and go to Australia first because it is almost our adopted home almost because it was the only place we played and we all love it so much. So instead of playing Australian later in cycle like most bands let’s go there first. That didn’t happen but once touring starts up we’ll do as much as we can. I think we will do some sort of livestream because we have to play the band we are dealt. We can’t sit around and complain about the weather. To me, when that idea was first bubbling I wasn’t in to it. I didn’t want to do that shit and just wait until shows come back. It didn’t excite me but now I see it as a different thing. If you don’t look at it like a show and try to replicate the live show with people in a room, being at a show hanging out with your buddies getting pummelled with volume, lights, bodies and sweat… you can’t replicate that but you can create something different with it and make it a different thing, a different experience that is worth while. Behind the scenes we are thinking seriously about the livestream in a way that we would get excited by that would be awesome.
Interview By Rob Lyon