Psycroptic – Alpha Breeding

Sunday, 31st March 2013

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

Leave it to a band from the exotic isle of Tasmania to infuse some much-needed character into technical death metal. Psycroptic has been laying down some rather zesty and unique DM for over a decade, having initially found their footing with 2001’s The Isle of Disenchantment. The band’s lock-step brother-to-brother combination of Joe (guitars) and Dave (drums) Haley is one of massive potency, thus elevating albums like 2006’s Symbols of Failure and their Nuclear Blast debut, 2008’s (Ob)Servant to the upper-echelons of zany death metal. 

The new year sees the band release its fifth album, The Inherited Repression, a body of work that was four years in making. It’s not like Psycroptic wasn’t busy – opening tour slots with Carcass, Decapitated, and Origin brought the band higher visibility, while Joe Haley constructed his home studio, which was used for the recording of The Inherited Repression. In the end, the wait was worth it, for Psycroptic have produced an even fuller and elaborate album than its predecessor, sure to appease those who yearn for the band’s tech-death halcyon days. And as Dave Haley would go onto tell Blistering, they’re more than happy to keep the blood-thirsty death metal throng happy… 

Blistering.com: For the early part of your career, you were considered to be one of the more cult/underground technical death metal bands. Since you hooked up with Nuclear Blast, how have things changed for the band?

Dave Haley: We’ve been able to get out music out to more people, which has been good for us. Nuclear Blast has really good distribution as well as excellent staff so it’s helped raise our profile somewhat. We still have a little bit of the ‘cult’ thing going on – maybe due to the fact that we’re from Tasmania and it gives us a bit of an ‘exotic’ feel to some people. This might attract some people. We also have a slightly different approach to extreme metal than other bands which might also be a factor. Whatever it is, we’re very happy that people do care about what we do.

Blistering.com: Clearly, the Psycroptic that put out The Isle of Disenchantment is not the same that is about to release The Inherited Repression. When you think of the first album in comparison to the new one, what are some of the things that come to mind?

Haley: We were between ages 16 and 19 when we wrote and recorded the first album so we of course were in a very different musical headspace than what we are in now. We were still trying to find our own style back then. The first album was only ever intended as a demo – that’s essentially all it is, a demo pressed on CD. We recorded it in a very short amount of time and we really had no idea of what we’re doing really. We’ve learned quite a lot over the years, but I still think we have kept the same excitement for the music. The new album is what we want to be doing now, and The Isle… is what we wanted to do then.

Blistering.com: Being that (Ob)Servant was most people’s introduction to the band, would you say that it was the right album for people to be introduced to Psycroptic?

Haley: Well, it’s a cool album, but we were a little rushed in finishing it up, so I’m not 100% satisfied with it. I think The Inherited Repression is a way stronger album and would probably have been a better album for people to hear first. But that’s not to say Ob(Servant) is a bad album…it’s still a very cool album with some killer songs. I wish we had a little more time for mixing as I think there are certain things about it that don’t sit the best. But if you can’t improve on an album you just released, there isn’t much point going on, is there?

Blistering.com: Four years between albums is quite a long time for a death metal band. Any particular reason why such the long wait?

Haley: We did a lot of touring for Ob(Servant) while all still working day jobs…which is a very tricky thing. We started to record the new album this time last year and spent a lot of time working on it, so essentially we were touring and promoting Ob(Servant)for two and a half years, we spent six months writing, then eight months recording, and that brings us up to November 2011 when we had to submit the album. So we were busy and working as well…ha-ha. I hope next album there isn’t as big a gap. I want to start working on it as soon as we can.

Blistering.com: Alan Douches [Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan] mastered the album. How did you land someone of his stature?

Haley: We just asked him…and he said no problem. We booked him in, and it wasn’t an issue. Mastering usually only takes a day or so, so someone such as Alan could manage a lot of releases each year. We’re stoked we used him as he is a total pro and the results speak for themselves.

Blistering.com: Judging by the cover and title, The Inherited Repressionhas a socio-political stance to it. Can you elaborate?

Haley: It doesn’t have a message or agenda to it. We all have our own opinions about politics and society in general – some of it the same and some conflicting – so we aren’t a ‘message’ band. I write my lyrics and they are about certain topics and Jason [Peppiat, vocals] writes his and they are about topics he wants to write about. The title is just a general statement about repression that is handed down from generation to generation. This is a fact not an opinion. But as far as preaching a message to listeners – no, we won’t do that. I’ll discuss my opinions with anyone who wants to talk about it, but we won’t force it on people.

Blistering.com: Your brother has a home studio in which the album was recorded. What was the working atmosphere like?

Haley: Very relaxed…too relaxed even ha-ha. Sometimes we would just hang out and not get too much done. But it was good not watching the clock and freaking out about how much money it was all costing us. It was also a big deal for Joe, as the album essentially serves as an advertisement for his recording and mixing skills. He is getting really good at it, and hopefully this album will help him pick up some more work in that area.

Blistering.com: It feels like you’re still willing to push the technical envelope on the new album, but at the same time, a lot of the songs are compact and to-the-point. Is this the result of a more honed songwriting approach?

Haley: Yes. We wanted to make a very catchy and groovy album…and it just seemed like the best way to achieve this was to be a little more focused with the song writing. The technicality and brutality is all still there, but it’s much more refined and the songs themselves stand out a lot more as songs rather than just a heap of riffs. We continually try to get better as song writers and players. It’s a never ending battle.

Blistering.com: After the release of (Ob)Servant, you were able to land some quality tour slots. What were some of the main takeaways from the Carcass, Decapitated, etc.?

Haley: We’ve been lucky enough to tour with a lot of cool bands over the years. Each time we see a band we learn more and take things away that improves our playing and performance. I wouldn’t say any one band has influenced us more than another, but we have made some really cool friends over the years. We all feel pretty fortunate to be able to tour and do this.

Blistering.com: Are there any plans to make it back to North America?

Haley: We will eventually make it back, but I’m not too sure when. Touring the US always results in a loss for us financially due to the high travel and flight costs as well as missing a lot of time off work. So for us to do it, the tour has to be a really good offer and package. I hope we can make it back sooner rather than later…we’ll see how it goes.

Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for 2012?

Haley: We head out on a European tour tomorrow, and after that we have some Asian and Australian dates…and we’ll start working on more material.

www.facebook.com/psycroptic