Andy sits down with the boys from CONFLICT CYCLE
Hi guys. Thanks for taking the time. How did you guys come together?
Rob, Matt, and Chris had been trying to get a band together for a few years, but they couldn’t find a reliable singer. Back in 2011, I was rooming with Matt’s brother, who plays bass, and asked if I’d be interested in joining the rest of them as vocals. I’d never done metal vocals, but I love metal so I thought I’d give it a shot. After a few months, Matt’s brother had to drop out due to other life stuff, and Rob’s former bandmate Brian came on to play bass. He’s been with us ever since.
It certainly paid off for the formation of Conflict Cycle. I was just listening to your material on Soundcloud, I can hear a lot of old school thrash influences in your music. What influences do you have and what made you decide to actually play music?
One of the cool things about us is that there’s a big difference in ages between some of us. Matt and I are 30, and the others are in their mid-40s. We really cover a wide variety of experiences and influences, from the Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden age, through early Metallica and Megadeth, all the way up to Lamb of God and Hatebreed. All the other guys have been playing instruments since they were young, except me. Like I said, I just tried the vocals bit on a whim, and it worked out great. I looked strongly to Randy Blythe, Rob Dukes, and Jamey Jasta for my inspiration.
Yes, I did wonder where some of the new metal touches came from. Conflict Cycle have a unique sound, a fusion of metal, hardcore and some nu metal touches. I can pick out the Rob Dukes in your vocals, a great singer, shame he is no longer with Exodus. How does a songwriting session typically take place?
Haha that’s a pretty good question! I don’t think we’ve written two songs the same way. It usually starts with Matt or Rob writing a riff or a skeleton for a song, then we start jamming and it grows. Each of us will give some input, let it stew for a few practices until it grows naturally. All of us contribute though; Chris came up with the name for the song American Way Of War and he started our new song Cracked with just a drum beat that Matt wrote some riffs to; Brian composed all the music for The Reaper In The Dell; I wrote the foundation for a new song that we’re working on right now. I think that’s a big part of what keeps our sound so diverse and keeps things interesting.
Good to see everyone contributes to the cause. Most bands have like a dictator who controls everything. Funny you should mention American Way Of War, that track has more of a Death Metal edge to it. A brutal track indeed. Do you follow politics and state of the world affairs when it comes to lyrics?
World affairs is definitely a big part of our lyrics. Deadly Paradise is about heroin addiction, Sentenced To Death is about corrupt world leaders, The Reaper In The Dell is about gun violence, and so on. Politics, in the Republican/Democrat sense, is a touchier subject; we span the spectrum of progressive and conservative, Catholic and atheist, and just like any family, we’ve learned to keep political conversations to a minimum haha. I try to keep my lyrics as middle-of-the-road as possible, making them more of a commentary than one particular point of view. I do sneak some of my own views in there because none of the other guys pay any attention haha
Not many bands write about political issues anymore, possibly in fear of any backlash. Same with religious views, with Isis terrorizing the world, bands jailed for being non-believers and the like. Has the world gone mad? Does having a certain amount of freedom of speech help when writing songs and their messages?
Absolutely, and I’m so thankful that I can write lyrics without any real fear of reprisal. It’s one thing to have to worry about people talking shit, and it’s another thing to have to legitimately fear for my life because of my beliefs. Writing about this stuff is how we vent our frustrations. As far as the world going mad, it’s always been screwed up. It’s just a new flavor lately. With the internet being so prevalent now, we just hear more about the crazy shit going on. It’s the same stuff that’s been going on for generations, but it’s so in-our-faces now that it seems like it’s worse.
Indeed it is. Would Conflict Cycle consider playing any of the countries that are caught up in the Isis madness?
If the opportunity presented itself, I think we’d all be on board. We’re not exactly chomping at the bit to get over there, given the instability, but hey if a record company wants to pay for us to play over there, we’re in!
Nice attitude to have. I remember when the 9.11 happened and most bands panicked and flew straight home from Europe to USA. Strange considering Europe was safer than USA at the time. How is the music scene in your area at the moment?
The music scene is interesting here in Pittsburgh. I’ve been seeing more and more big-name bands coming through Pittsburgh compared to when I moved here 10 years ago, but I don’t see crowds out here that I would see back home outside of Philadelphia.
We’re over here arguing about this, amidst our St. Patrick’s day celebration, but there are a few reasons why the music scene is tough here. For one, the radio stations really don’t offer any legitimate opportunities for metal music. Second, and I think this is indicative of the overall metal scene, but people don’t seem to come out to shows unless it’s a world-touring band. Supporting the local scene doesn’t happen anymore. There are hundreds of metal bands in the western PA area, but only a few of us are able to really pull a reasonable crowd. We get contacted often for all kinds of shows, from local gigs to major touring bands like Overkill because we can pull in people. But it’s not easy or cheap to get people to shows anymore. It’s been pretty frustrating, especially with the whole pay-to-play system that basically every venue around here has adopted.
Yes, pay to play and lack of attendance at shows is a problem everywhere at the moment. I think, from the UK perspective, at least, there’s too many bands touring leaving most venues and shows with low turnouts. Another aspect I’ve noticed is the lack of funds fans have these days. With many fans on low income making it hard to justify spending money on an unknown band. I guess the only way smaller bands earn their money is with on-line sales of their material and band Merch. Is this the case for Conflict Cycle?
Even with merch sales, it’s hard to really make any money. We’ve been doing basically everything ourselves, from logo design, recording, etc. It’s not really about the money for us, we just love making the music, but it would be nice to get to a point where it’s not costing us money to play.It would also be nice to make enough money to pay for better merchandise, recordings, and stuff like that.
I hear that a lot. The difference is Conflict Cycle’s music is honest, none of this layer ten guitar tracks add effects and make the music lose its personality. You can hear where your roots are, and you have your own identity. Was this your intention, to record the true essence of Conflict Cycle as close to a live sound as possible. What you see is what you get attitude?
Haha well the recordings we have are basically multiple DIY attempts from us just to get our music out there. I like the raw sound, but we’re striving for something better. We’re not into the whole overproduction thing; the raw sound suits us, but we would like to have something with a bit more balls. We’re working on how we’re gonna get there.
Studios are not the cheapest places sadly. I’m sure you’ll get there soon. What’s a typical Conflict Cycle show like?
Yea that’s for sure! It’s carrying drums, playing for 30-45 minutes, then carrying drums again. Haha but really, it’s a rush. There’s a lot of energy in our shows – we really get into the music. There’s always a lot of people out there that haven’t heard us before bobbing their heads getting into it. I’m always starting a pit by throwing myself into the crowd during Cross-Sectioned or another song. People come up to us after every show blown away at what we bring. It’s in-your-face, balls-to-the-wall from the moment we start until we get off the stage.
That’s awesome. Too many bands don’t participate or interact with the fans. It’s great to hear things like this. It shows you are fans first and foremost and a band enjoying what you do on stage. What can we expect from Conflict Cycle in the future?
Once we hit 1000 likes, Rob is going to tase Matt and put the video on Facebook haha. We’ve had a thing for every 100 likes, Matt does something crazy, like get a tattoo or shave a Mohawk into his head. Other than all our batshit crazy antics, we’re going to keep doing what we’ve loved about this band since day one: writing awesome songs and playing shows. Look out for some better recordings and some new material in the next couple months.
I actually like the raw recordings. Can’t wait to hear new material too. It’s been a pleasure picking your brains guys. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about Conflict Cycle. I wish you all the best for the future, maybe when you’re finished the new tracks I could review the material? Take care guys, cheers.
Thanks for everything man!