Kayotik – Maximum EnslavementSaturday, 21st January 2017
Remember when death metal just stood for death metal – not too technical, nor fusing together elements of hardcore? Berlin, CT trio Kayotik aim to bring bring back the good old early 90’s days so to speak in their vicious brand of music. Their latest full-length Enslaved to Chaos pummels in a relentless execution manner – blast beats aplenty, riffing that goes from high octane to overdrive plus bass passages that are equally engaging, progressive, and fluid – beyond the inhuman growls and screams. It’s as if you are going back to the early Earache, Century Media, and Roadrunner days when many of the American death metal bands first gained record deals.
Feeling the need to learn more about the band, all three members (bassist/vocalist Tom Calver, guitarist/vocalist Dave Yardley, and drummer Darrin Yardley) answered my questions regarding their death metal thoughts, lyrical content, views on the local CT scene, and favorite albums/shows through their lives.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about your earliest memories surrounding music- and how did you make the shift into discovering heavy metal and eventually more extreme forms like death, thrash and grind?
Tom Calver: My parents always had music going in the house. I can remember more Bobby Vinton and Willie Nelson then I care to share. From there, around 1983, I discovered my brothers record collection. My first memory was Melissa by Mercyful Fate. That album cover scared the crap out of me but at the time, I loved it. Then it was on to Master of Puppets. The first album I ever bought was Powerslave by Iron Maiden. I think I wore that cassette out. After that, I found Slayer and Obituary in high school. It wasn’t until years later the I listened to Death, Emperor and Carcass.
Darrin Yardley: We always had music on in the house. Our Dad was a hobbyist musician. He liked to play guitar. Dave introduced me to AC/DC and Black Sabbath. from there it was onto Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Our tastes just kept getting heavier with Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth…eventually hearing death metal bands like Possessed and Death. Then Deicide and Earache bands like Morbid Angel and Bolt Thrower and Entombed. The list of bands we dig is very long!
Dead Rhetoric: Kayotik started in 2006 through brothers Darrin and Dave Yardley. What can you tell us about those early years, did you have a great idea of what direction you wanted to go in musically and why did it take so long to record your first effort, the Born to Brutality EP in 2013?
Darrin: When we started the band, it was more of a way for Dave and I to try and get together more often to jam. We had been jamming for years, but nothing serious enough to take out. I had been in some other bands that fell away to nothing, so I decided that we needed to take it further. We had constant line up challenges. We always knew that we wanted to be fast and brutal, as you can imagine from the type of bands we listen to! We finally got a solid line up and started to gig and so forth. We recorded the EP and then we were again challenged with line up issues. No more, now that Tom is in!
Dead Rhetoric: Do you see any particular advantages keeping the lineup as a trio – and how did it come about that Tom and Dave would handle different aspects of the vocals, is this based on their particular comfort zones vocally?
Tom: We just work well together as a trio. No personality clashes, only a focus on a common music goal for the band. Dave and Darrin write the majority of the music. When they are ready for me to listen, I may make minor changes to the song structure and may tweak a note here or there but the music is pretty solid when it is written. For myself, I will always push for a heavier more brutal song. As for vocals, when our last singer left, finding that right person was tough. I took a shot at it and the guys let me run with it. I’m pretty happy where my growl is at. I tend to write songs with a ‘call and Response’ tone…take “8 Stages of Death”. Having two vocalists adds a depth to songs. Not having that second guitarist, having brutal vocals is key to who we are.
Darrin: Keeping it a three piece was always something Dave and I wanted to do. It just makes it easier for everything! Rehearsal, writing, gigging and making business decisions. The dual vocal idea was there from the beginning, as Dave has a brutal voice. At one point, he was the lead vocalist.
Dead Rhetoric: Enslaved to Chaos is the latest full-length album. Can you provide us some details on the songwriting and recording sessions, were there any surprises, highlights, or challenges that had to be worked through, and how do you feel about the overall outcome this many months out?
Tom: For me, I wrote quite a few lyrics during the recording process. It took way longer than any of us expected and that was on me. Writing lyrics under the gun is tough for me. Either they come out or I just get stuck. Jeremy Pavano (Enemy of Reason) recorded it for us and made the process very easy !
Darrin: Recording the drums for me this time was one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve had yet. I think that most of my challenges came from trying to keep the tempos at the right speed. I do not play to a click, so sometimes I tend to get amped and speed things up! But I believe that gives us an organic feel that is missing these days, like the old-school death metal bands I grew up listening to.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it fair to say that a lot of your influences come from more of the original American death movement of the early 1990’s, including acts like Morbid Angel, Immolation, Suffocation, and so forth? And what do you hope to get across lyrically as you expand upon environmental and social topics outside of the normal death/gore/horror topics the genre may be best known for?
Tom: You nailed it…I did listen to a lot of Suffocation and Morbid Angel, my influences tend to be diverse. I listened to a ton of Maiden growing up. King Diamond, Nevermore, Obituary, Megadeth. I can’t really define where my lyrical content comes from. Darrin had the idea for “Pollutionation”. Dave had “Man is No More”. When I write I tend to watch television, I may just pick up on something or just a random lyric pops into my head. I want to make people think when they read my lyrics. Take “Terminal Ballistic”. What if the police used riots to test out ammunition and see what it does to the human body instead of ballistic gel? I was likely watching a History Channel thing when I wrote that. Hell, maybe even Mythbusters. I want to make people think outside the box. We have some ideas for newer songs, but I won’t know if the theme fits till I start writing.
Darrin: Yes, most if not all of my influences come from the older death metal and thrash bands from the late 80’s to early 90’s. That’s not to say I don’t like newer bands, but I tend to revert to Voivod and Carcass rather than Job for a Cowboy, even though I like those type of bands as well. As far as lyrics are concerned, I leave that up to Tom and Dave. I would say that we try to keep it real, not living in fantasy land. Some of our stuff may tend to be dark, but we live in a dark world. It’s (not about) singing about flowers and such in a death metal band!
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Kayotik in a live setting, and what have been some of your favorite shows/ places to play through the years?
Darrin: We want people walking away saying, wow that band is the real deal! Brutality from start to finish. Few words, more music. We are always developing our performance so that the audience gets something different every time they see us. For us, it’s important to be that band that we would want to see live. I think one of best shows was at the Webster opening for Deicide.
Tom: I want people to walk away like they just saw a major touring band. Live, we put it all into the show. Regardless of the crowd in front of me, I will give you all I have. And Darrin said it…opening for Deicide was unreal. Having Jack Owen on the side of the stage digging our stuff was damn cool.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the CT metal scene, especially in the extreme sector with death, grind, black metal? What improvements would you make if given the chance, time, and money to do so?
Darrin: Our scene in CT for death metal is hit or miss. It seems that most people want to hear something more melodic or more breakdown-ish. That’s all good, but for us it can get hard. We have what we call breakups. That’s when we go from fast to faster. I would like to see some more brutal death metal, or even thrash bands come into our scene. We have a ton of hardcore and breakdown bands already.
Tom: We have been around as individuals playing for a long time. Back years ago, it would be one opening act for a national tour. Now a venue wants to pack ten bands in before the main act. We are all clamoring to sell tickets. It’s ridiculous. Who is going to show up at 4:30 to watch a local band when most are working? The promoter needs to pick the band that fits best with the main act. If the main act can’t sell tickets…that’s a whole other problem and should not be put on the shoulders of the supporting acts. Local clubs do a really great job in supporting the local bands. It’s a tough business to be in. I don’t know what else I would do at the moment.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider your top five metal albums of all time – and what are some of your best show memories that you’ve taken in purely from a fan perspective?
Tom: Iron Maiden – Powerslave, Carcass – Heartwork, Metallica – Master of Puppets, Megadeth – Rust In Peace, Death – Individual Thought Patterns. My best memory so far is taking my son to see Megadeth last year at Mohegan Sun. Just being able to pass on my passion for music to him. From a fan perspective, I have managed to get a ton of band stuff at live shows. I have a collection of guitar picks from King Diamond, Testament, Volbeat, Sepultura. I also managed to get a drum stick from Nicko McBrain!
Darrin: Iron Maiden – Powerslave, Slayer-Hell Awaits, Death-Leprosy, Whiplash-Power and Pain, Metallica-Master of Puppets. Trying to narrow it to five, is very hard! I remember going to see the Grindcrusher tour at Toad’s Place. Getting to see Whiplash at The Space in Hamden was awesome!
Dave Yardley: Slayer – Hell Awaits, Dismember- Like An Ever Flowing Stream, Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme, Morbid Angel- Altars of Madness, Voivod- Killing Technology. It’s hard to narrow it down to just five, so many great death and thrash metal bands.
Been to a lot of shows Dying Fetus, Origin, Jungle Rot, Morbid Angel to name a just a few. Going to see Whiplash with Darrin in Hamden will probably be one of the shows I’ll never forget – took us over 25 years, finally saw Whiplash rip it up!!
Dead Rhetoric: What types of goals do you set for yourselves as a band – and how do you define success at this point in your career?
Tom: I just want people to know who we are. I’ve been very fortunate to get our album on Amazon, iTunes, Pandora etc. I just want to get our name out there. Darrin and I have families. While I would love to tour the world, at this point, I don’t see that being feasible.
Darrin: We really just want to get ourselves out there and play good shows with great bands. Maybe even dare I say, make a little money doing it. Our goal is to continue writing great music, get out of CT more and enjoy our time. Success is self-defined right? I think we’re successful because we get to jam together and make brutal music. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some more attention and take this further than just playing in CT.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries you most about the world that we live in today?
Tom: I really don’t give a shit about the world. Yeah, that’s blunt. We worry about everyone else way too much. Our brain can’t possibly handle all of the people and goings on. The media feeds us stories that they want us to hear about and care about. While typing this, someone just got murdered and raped. Did you hear about it? Nope. So, then you don’t really care then…because you were not told to care. We need to get back to basics. Care about the small group of people around you. Know who your ‘We’ is.
Darrin: I’m not worried about the world so much. I just want to support my family, raise my children and hang with my friends. Drink some beer and have a good time writing brutal death metal!
Dead Rhetoric: What does the future hold for Kayotik in terms of the next six to twelve months? Have you already started writing material for the follow up – and if so what direction is this material taking?
Darrin: We have already started writing new material for our next full length release. Direction is faster, heavier, and more brutal. This coming year we plan on getting out of CT more. We are currently looking for the right person/team to help us take this further than we can ourselves. It’s hard to spend more time than we can at the moment. We all have life priorities that we are committed to and will not ignore because we are real people.