On September 15th Armed For Apocalypse will release their debut CD entitled Defeat. I have just finished listening to this disc and let me tell you, this CD is a menacing masterpiece of pure destruction. This unbelievably heavy collection of tunes dishes out a series of punishing mayhem and from the opening song, the listener is clubbed over the head. The one thing that stands out the most with this CD is its unrelenting brutality. Fans of heavy music will truly dig what these guys have done. I recently had the opportunity to speak with guitarist/vocalist Cayle Hunter about the band and their debut release Defeat.
The name of the band Armed For Apocalypse is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Cayle: The name was the idea of one of our former members, and coincidentally the man who engineered our entire record – Matt Pedri. During the brainstorming process when we were coming up with a band name he threw it out there, because we were trying to find something that reflected our attitudes as people and our sound as a band. Armed For Apocalypse is a summary of all of that. The world, or our own lives, could end at any second and we have no say in the matter. All we can do is be ready for it at all times.
Your brand new CD titled Defeat is set for release on September 15th. Now that it is complete, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Cayle: We are very proud and satisfied with our debut record and we are incredibly excited to see what the metal heads of the world think about it because it’s their opinion that really matters to us. We hope there are parts or songs on there that make people that like heavy shit start laughing or make that “ooooh” face – that is when you know you nailed it. These songs did that to us when we wrote them and we are proud of that. At the same time, we are excited because we know for a fact that we can do better, and that we can be heavier. Defeat is an honest reflection of where we were as a band at that time, and that is really all you can ask for. It is a record that we will be able to look back on 20 years from now and be proud we made because there is nothing fake on it. We weren’t trying to do what the popular bands of the day were doing, we were just doing what was heavy to us.
What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Cayle: Every song was written in a different way, and that’s something that I think will continue in the future. There are some songs on there that I wrote 90% of and there are songs on there that Kirk wrote 90% of. Then there are the songs that we all just got together in a room and bashed our heads against the wall until somebody (Corey most of the time) thought of something worthy. If you have a set writing process all the songs tend to turn out sounding somewhat alike. We want to avoid that. The entirety of the record was written in about nine months, but that is not an honest reflection of how long it takes us to write because we had an entire albums worth of material that we threw away when some former members left, so we had a prolonged transitional phase. As it stands right now, our first album hasn’t even come out yet and we already have songs written for our 2nd, so we’re pumped.
Give us some insight into the record Defeat and the meaning behind its title?
Cayle: The idea behind the sound of the record was to be undeniable. We wanted it to be sonically huge, so when you put in the CD or it comes up on your iPod you immediately pay attention. We wanted each song to sound different but not be one of those bands that throws in too many styles to sound cohesive. In the end, all we really wanted was for it to be heavy. We recorded tons of guitar tracks and tried to get the most intense vocal and drum tracks we possibly could to achieve those goals. As far as the title for the album, it sums our band and the making of this record up perfectly. This band, especially Nick and I, has been through a LOT to make this record and to play its songs live. We’re not whining or complaining – we’ve all been in other bands and know how it goes – but this one has experienced so many bumps in the road that were out of our control it became almost comical for a while. But we believe that every person is happy when things are going well. It’s how they act when things aren’t going well that defines them. This record is a result of us four charging forward after every time we got knocked down.
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a theme or themes behind the writing of this record?
Cayle: Well, not to be obvious, but defeat and loss is the general theme from a lyrical standpoint. But what gives us the inspiration to write those lyrics is to really let the songs tell us what they are trying to say instead of vice versa. We finish all of the music and then get all hippy with it and kind of meditate on each song and decide what words and cadences are trying to come out of them.
What is the hardest part about being in a touring metal band and what is the biggest obstacle your band faces?
Cayle: Money. Straight up. None of us come from wealthy families by any means, and since we have all been adults we would all easily be considered lower class on the income scale. None of us has a safety net in our lives. We cannot call someone and have them pay rent for us or our bills for us or bail us out when we are in trouble, or fix our van when it breaks. We all work our asses off to support our passion of playing this music. The main reason we are not on the road constantly is because we need roofs over our heads – and pretty dingy roofs at that. But hey, that is the way it is for metal bands. If our goal was to make money, we would not be playing this style of music. Playing music that makes us happy every day is our reward. If people like it and we make any money at all it’s a total bonus.
When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Cayle: This may not sound strange or odd to some people, but to us it was WEIRD. There are venues out there – or rather places that call themselves venues – that do not provide a PA when putting on shows! There has been more than one occasion where we have pulled up to a place, watched a band play blah blah blah, then started setting up our gear to find there are no mics, mic stands, or speakers on stage anymore. When we inquire about the situation, the promoter will say something like “you guys didn’t bring your own PA rig?” or “that was the first bands set up. I don’t know what you guys are using”. WHAT?
When you are out on the road, anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Cayle: Well, our tour vehicle, Van Halen as we affectionately refer to her, is not the most reliable rig on earth, so we’ve had numerous expensive problems dealing with that, but one trip in particular sticks out. We were heading up to Oregon and Washington at the time. We left Northern California at 3am, got to a friends house in Oregon, slept there for a couple of hours, and when we started driving again we discovered the van was absolutely pissing oil. We took it to a shop, and rather than pay the $700 it was going to cost to fix the problem we just kept stopping and filling it up with oil every 100 miles or so (annoying!). So we were exhausted, running late, running low on money driving through the Oregon mountains when we hear a loud BOOM! Front tire literally evaporates. We start turning one way, then the other, then we start spinning in circles (at which point I was certain we were flipping over) and eventually came to rest facing the wrong way in the fast lane of one of the busiest highways on the west coast. We put on a spare and had to cancel one of the shows, which we HATED to do, but you know what? The night of the canceled show, we were in Corvalis, Oregon and decided to try and jump on any show we could possibly find just for fun or booze or whatever, and we actually found one! It was called Boozeapallooza and there were about 15 live bands playing. We had one of the funnest nights in our bands history. We were the only band that used distortion on our guitars so we stuck out quite a bit, but the place was packed, the people were great, and we ended up making some long time friends out of the deal. Maybe it was just because we were thankful to be alive, but it’s a day none of us will ever forget.
What is the one thing you travel with that you just cannot live without?
Cayle: A cell phone with internet. Whether it is an iPhone or a Blackberry, I will never be without one of those when we are leaving town. I cannot possibly tell you how many times they get used on a daily basis. I would be completely lost without at least one.
How do you maintain that level of energy and exuberance? You sound like you are ready to go full bore every time you hit the stage.
Cayle: We have pre-show routines that we know for a fact are going to get our minds and bodies in the right place by the time we hit the stage. We do these things whether there are three people there or 300 and each one of us has our own. We decided a long time ago that we would never take a night off on stage because even if one person pays one dollar to see you play, it is not their fault nobody else showed up, so they deserve your best. If you cannot get excited to play music you love with your best friends, you probably should not be playing shows anyway. Stay in your practice space and let another band who actually wants to be there take your spot.
What does the future hold for you guys as a band?
Cayle: As much touring as we can possibly afford!!! We are not saying every person who hears our CD is going to like it, but we want to give every person who might like it a chance to hear it. The only reason we record albums is to give us an excuse to play live, and we look forward to doing that in as many different places as possible. We also look forward to meeting people and making honest connections with people that dig what we do. We hate the term “fans” because it insinuates the band is somehow better than the people that like them, but we look forward to making a ton of new friends and acquaintances. We want people to come out, sing our songs back to us as loud as they can, then share a beer with us afterward. Then after a little while, we will record a new album and do it all over again. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we don’t want to lose focus on how lucky we are to be playing that night at that exact moment, so we’ll just give all of those moments our best and hopefully good things come of it.