Carnivora – Massive DecimatorWednesday, 8th July 2015
Webster’s Dictionary defines carnivora as ‘an order of Mammallia including the lion, tiger, wolf bear, or seal – feeding upon flesh with large, sharp teeth and powerful jaws’. Little wonder then that one of the premiere New England bands took on this namesake four years ago – and through their discography and ferocious live work this quintet are gaining serious traction in the metal landscape. Taking equal influence from the thrash and death community and adding in some modern/ extreme nuances, the band demand attention and devour through their addictive riffs and massive wall of sound.
Fortunate to witness firsthand Carnivora’s sonic assault in a number of venues across New England, their latest EP The Vision is another impressive step forward for the band. Sharper in focus, tighter in structures, the harmonic elements bolder while not forsaking the heaviness, it’s only a matter of time before a worthy label deal is put in place to bring more attention and followers in their camp. Prior to the band’s summer touring activities guitarist Mike Meehan kindly put down some thoughts to my questions – where you will learn more about Carnivora’s auspicious battle of the bands start, their feelings on endorsement deals, and the band’s appreciation for everything from classic Iron Maiden to Mastadon, Gojira to The Black Dahlia Murder beyond the plethora of great acts in the New England scene.
Prepare for decimation!
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about your personal journey when it comes to music- early childhood memories, first artists/bands you were exposed to, and when did it hit you to pick up an instrument and start forming bands in the metal genre?
Mike Meehan: I’ve always had a love for music! Started out in 4th grade with a snare drum that I could barely carry, as I grew up I would sing in front of the mirror and play air guitar on anything I could find. When I was very young I got a second hand drum set from a family friend, and when I was 11 my parents got me my first guitar, a Squier Stratocaster. All I wanted to do was play fast. I got a few lessons but I’ve been mostly self-taught for these last 12 years. My guitar teacher gave up on me because I wouldn’t stop playing my drums, and then my drum teacher gave up on me because I wouldn’t stop playing guitar! My first exposure to the metal genre was Iron Maiden (good place to start right?) I saw the video for “Run to The Hills” on one of those VH1 countdowns and I had never heard anything so huge and awesome – everything I knew about music changed that day.
Dead Rhetoric: Carnivora started in 2011 – what can you tell us about the formation and how has the band’s style and songwriting evolved through the years?
Meehan: Our band was formed by Scotty [vocals] because he got entered into a BreakThru Music battle of the bands at the Palladium- except he didn’t have a band. At the time, myself, Cam [bass] and Dan [drums] had been playing in a rock cover band. The three of us joined Scotty and our other guitarist Cody and we hustled our asses off to sell tickets to what we believed was the biggest deal in the world- we had no clue. We didn’t win the battle, but we realized that we all shared the passion of performing, so we chose to press on.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut album Eternal in 2013 features quite a potent sound right out of the gate. How do you feel the songwriting and recording sessions went, and what are some of the highlights/struggles the band remembers about this release?
Meehan: The best way I can describe Eternal is that we were having fun. Some people loved that none of our songs sounded the same, but on the flipside, some critics knocked it for not being focused enough. We weren’t trying to make a “product” at the time, we were just trying to incorporate everything that we love about metal into one album. Eternal was written over a span of almost two years, and in that time we all struggled quite a bit to get used to each other. Every band has fights and inner turmoil and we are no different, but we have never let our differences stop us from doing what we love.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it wrong of me to say that the main riff hook in “Human Decimator” is possibly one of the golden treasures that sends audiences mad when roaring from your amplifiers? How did this song come into being?
Meehan: First of all, I want to say WOW, and thank you. That is an amazing compliment and it brings a huge smile to my face! That is the spirit of metal that we try to capture in everything we write. I came to practice one day with what we now refer to as the “decimator” riff. Cody and I sat in Scott’s basement for many, many hours hashing out the rest of the song. The song was a little intimidating at first to play as a band because of how fast and crazy it was. We had to slow it down and smooth out the edges over time, and when we did, we immediately had it recorded as a single, and posted it on the internet like crazy.
This would be the song that prompted Westfall Recording Company to contact us. Westfall is a recording studio in Long Island, NY currently run by Anthony Lopardo. At the time, one of the engineers Johnny Sohl reached out to us and invited us to come down. I can still remember all 5 of us on the conference call with Lopardo, and how floored and amazed and nervous we were to take this risky move and drive down from Boston to Long Island to record our debut album Eternal. Needless to say this risk paid off; Anthony Lopardo, Johnny Sohl and engineer Ray Marte (drummer of Moon Tooth) helped us craft our songs into an album we could be very proud of!
Dead Rhetoric: Carnivora has always prided itself on a very impressive live show, be it on a club level or performing for hundreds/thousands in a festival setting. Where do you believe Carnivora’s live philosophy developed from, and what have been some of your favorite shows in your career?
Meehan: We love performing and rocking out as hard as we can and putting on the best show possible, no matter the size of the crowd. Perhaps it is because our very first show was a battle of the bands… but this set the precedent for our entire career. I have a few fond memories of playing to large crowds, such as when we played side stage at Gigantour in 2012, or New England Metal Fest in 2014. Both of those shows were a dream come true for us metal kids! Another great memory that all five of us love to reminisce about is when we played for absolutely nobody at a bar in New Hampshire – a show that we had to sell tickets to! Scotty opened up our set with “Hello, empty room, we are Carnivora!” and we rocked out just as hard as ever.
Dead Rhetoric: At what point did Shadows Fall guitarist Matt Bachand step in and become your manager through Manshark Entertainment? What skills has he been able to work with the band on to increase visibility and/or make things even more seasoned/professional?
Meehan: I can’t even begin to describe how invaluable Matt Bachand has been to us. He had seen us play at a few shows including Mayhem festival in 2014 and when he offered to manage us with his new company Manshark Entertainment there was not a doubt in our minds that it was the right move for us. He offers us sage advice at a moment’s notice and he has connections throughout the industry that we could only dream of. As of now he has booked a few shows for us as well as set us up with awesome companies to work with for gear. Matt is a man who knows how to work hard and play hard; just being associated with the name Manshark has done worlds for our band and I can’t thank him enough.
Dead Rhetoric: The Vision is Carnivora’s latest 4 song EP – and I believe a strong step up in terms of songwriting focus, dynamic diversity, and production values, while also still being quintessential Carnivora. Where do you see the development in relation to Eternal?
Meehan: The Vision’s best strength comes from it solid and unyielding commitment to structure. We had been told by our producers, engineers, critics and mentors that the best thing for us to do was to find a sound, and stick to it. No more jumping around, it was time to make a real product that people could get into and understand, but that also stayed true to our metal values, and thus The Vision was born. It was recorded once again by Lopardo, Marte and our new friend and engineer Juan Ortiz at Westfall Recording Studio. Everything they put out there is absolutely mint, it sounds flawless because they spend hours on every detail; when you are fast asleep in the middle of the night, chances are, they are awake and hard at work.
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