By: Tim LaVoie
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Primitive Man pummel listeners with their unhinged take on sludge-ridden doom metal. Since their founding in 2012, they have continued to push genre boundaries. Primitive Man take the typical funeral stomp of doom metal and incorporate layers of squelching feedback and and blasts of furious chaos. This creates an unparalleled sense of raw, unburdened power.
Last October, Primitive Man released the monstrous Caustic on Relapse Records, their second full-length offering. Caustic received universal acclaim from both the metal and non-metal music press, as both genre diehards and open-minded outsiders were taken with the combination of thunderous riffs, unsettling atmospherics, and dark lyricism. In support of Caustic, Primitive Man will play a headlining set at Cattivo in Lawrenceville on Thursday, March 22. Their Denver metal brethren Spectral Voice will open.
Vocalist and guitarist Ethan McCarthy kindly gave Bold Pittsburgh some of his time as Primitive Man tour the US and head to Pittsburgh.
Bold Pittsburgh: Congratulations on Caustic, it’s really an impressive, complex record. There’s a noticeable political aspect to some themes and lyrics - has this always been an inspiration for the band or have these insane times made the political sentiments inevitable? What were other inspirations for the album?
Ethan McCarthy: We have discussed politics in the past, ever since we put out a split with Hexis, which was our third release but it came out in our second year as a band. Home Is Where the Hatred Is [Relapse Records, 2015] discusses a few of these topics as well.
BP: The band, and the doom sub-genre generally, have been on an upward trajectory for a few years now both in terms of quality and wider acceptance. Did knowing that more people would hear Caustic than any of your other releases push the band’s sound or change the writing and recording process in any way?
BP: Even ten years ago music as extreme as Primitive Man would not have found its way onto any non-metal site or critic’s radar. Now Caustic has been given positive press from Pitchfork to Vice. Treble just listed Converge as the 11th best band of the last 30 years. What to you think is pushing this change concerning music media’s acceptance of the extreme? Is this change and increased attention a good thing for metal or do you think the music will lose something?
EM: I am not the type of person that gets upset when extreme bands get press, or more people coming to their shows. Maybe people are enjoying heavy music more because things are such a piece of shit. I also think there is a “glass ceiling” regarding how heavy/extreme a band can be for media like Treble, Rolling Stone, etc…. But I guess time will tell on that.
BP: On one hand the record sounds like your tightest work yet, but there’s still all the squeals and unflinching rawness at every turn. What’s the secret to finding, and capturing on record, that controlled chaos?
EM: As stereotypical as it sounds, that is just how this group of people sound together. It’s just our natural sound, ugliness and all.
BP: I keep finding myself drawn to the middle section of “Commerce” where the feedback builds into this incredible ambient swirl of complete madness over about 5 minutes. These expansive sections are challenging, but ultimately the most gratifying. How do these sections come together? And how far is the band willing to push these sonic boundaries?
EM: They come together but just kind of jamming on riffs and smoking a lot of grass.
BP: How did this current tour with Spectral Voice come together? Does the band have any specific expectations or hopes for this tour?
EM: We have been friends with those guys for years. No real expectations, but I hope people come out to see us and that they support both bands.
BP: It may be an insane question, as you are still in the early part of the album cycle supporting Caustic, but where do you hope the band’s sound goes from here?
EM: Well, we have already started writing new songs and they’re heavier than Caustic. So I really just hope we can continue to get heavier and still continue to write songs we enjoy.
Purchase tickets for Primitive Man at Cattivo on March 22, 2018, at www.songkick.com, or at the door.
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