Interview: Job For A Cowboy

Job For A Cowboy are flying high at the moment – Ruination is still winning them fans more than 6 months after release, the critical acclaim is still ringing in their ears and they’re about to embark on a world tour. So when they came to London, supporting Lamb Of God on a European tour, we sat down and had a chat about the new record, modern death metal vs deathcore and piracy.

AA: You’ve just begun this European tour in support of Lamb Of God. How’s it been so far?

Bobby (Thompson, guitar): It’s been great. We’ve done tours overseas before, supporting bands we share a fanbase with, but Lamb Of God gives us the opportunity to play to a much wider range of fans.

Jon “Charn” Rice (drums): We haven’t been here to tour after Ruination at all, and to be here on a tour this large is awesome. It’s really odd when Jonny (Davy, vocals) calls out songs and kids freak out because they know them already!

AA: You didn’t expect to see fans who knew your songs?

Charn: I’d hoped they would!

AA: Have you gotten used to the idea of your music being heard globally, and you getting to play it live all over the world?

Bobby: It’s pretty weird to be walking around somewhere and see a kid on the street wearing one of your shirts. Everything happens so fast that sometimes a couple of years go by and you look back at them and go ‘holy shit, what just happened?’ It’s a really cool experience and the more you travel, the more people you meet and get a better understanding of life in general.

AA: Ruination has been received very well, and part of that was down to the change in sound from Genesis. Did Al (Glassman, guitars) and Charn’s involvement contribute to that change?

Job For A Cowboy Live

Job For A Cowboy

Bobby: Al’s playing has definitely had an influence on the new sound, as has Charn’s. They brought in two new modes of writing which allowed us to use the material in a different way than we had in the past. It’s always good to have fresh minds working on another record.

AA: So was it a conscious choice to progress the sound, or did you just go with whatever came naturally?

Bobby: It was kind of what came naturally. There were talks of what we want to accomplish. We wanted to write a record that we liked, were proud of and wanted to play every night.

Al: We were definitely conscious of the fact we wanted to keep every song sounding different, if only to keep the record interesting.

Brent (Riggs, bass): During the writing process we were listening to different kinds of music, and that affected how we wrote.

AA: Political lyrics were also a major part of Ruination. Why that change?

Al: When we were writing it was around the election time in the US, so it was on everybody’s minds.

Bobby: Part of it was because we’ve already done the whole religious thing. The political aspect is more relevant to today. But we’re not going to be a political band and fly the flag against the establishment or anything like that.

AA: Jason Suecof produced this record, and he definitely needs no introduction. Is he as fun to work with as all the other bands say?

Bobby: Working with Jason was really cool. He’s an incredible musician as well as a producer so he helped develop a lot of ideas that weren’t quite there yet. His creative element, along with our writing, helped take the songs to a new place.

Al: I like that he’s so hands on. A lot of producers just voice an idea to you but he can actually pick up the instrument and show you what he was thinking. It’s cool to work with someone who can be so hands on. And he’s a goofy awesome dude so that helps keep tensions low!

AA: We’re all interested to know why you decided to leave Despised Icon at a time when they were doing really well. And why join Job For A Cowboy in particular?

Al: Things weren’t working out and JFAC seemed like the natural place to go because we’d done a lot of touring with them while I was in Despised Icon. There was a bit of a language barrier with Despised Icon at first as well because they speak French, so I ended up talking to these guys a lot and became good friends with them.

AA: Al replaced Ravi Bhadriraju on guitar. A lot of Indian metalheads looked up to him because he’d found international success with a metal band. Why did he leave all that he’d helped build up?

Job For A Cowboy Live

Job For A Cowboy

Bobby: Ravi left to study medicine, though I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason he left. I think he got to a point where he might have realised this wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. And if you want to become a doctor, it takes a good 10 years or so to do that. I think that’s what he wanted to do, and he is really smart so it worked out well for both parties and he’s gonna become a dentist or some shit!

AA: So you get free dental for the rest of your life?

Bobby: I don’t know if I’ll let him near my teeth!

Charn: He’s not coming anywhere near my body with a sharp object!

AA: For one reason or another, you guys have been branded a deathcore band. Is that how you would describe yourselves?

Charn: We’re only a deathcore band when we play the two songs from our live set that are deathcore (Entombment Of A Machine and Knee Deep). That’s about 10 minutes of the evening. For the rest, we’re a modern death metal band. If people still want to call us a deathcore band that’s their own damn fault. They’re wrong!

AA: So what is modern death metal and how is it different from classic death metal?

Charn: Well it’s not like we’re playing lo-fi, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel-esque music, you know? I guess you could say it’s more edgy.

Bobby: I guess there’s also a broader range of influences. It’s a little more edgy, like Charn said, but it still has an aspect of melody.

AA: Do you ever feel any pressure though? You’ve been thrust to the forefront of this new movement in extreme metal and you’re literally creating history as you go along.

Brent: There’s not a lot of pressure, we just naturally progress as a band and write some riffs!

Bobby: We’re part of a larger movement in music, it’s not like any one band is spearheading it. Seeing other bands put out bad-ass records is like a creative competition to try and take it one step further. So it’s a combined effort of a lot of bands.

AA: Everyone knows the story of how you got signed via your MySpace. But with 2 full lengths under your belt, you’re now as much in the business of selling records as you are in the business of getting your name out there. Do you still stand by everything positive you’ve said about free music?

Job For A Cowboy Live

Job For A Cowboy

Bobby: Jonny says it at every gig – download our album if you want. To us it’s more about people hearing the music than selling records. You’re not going to stop illegal downloading, I mean we do it! You’re not going to be able to stop it, nor do I even care to try and stop it. So maybe someone will download the record and come to the show, or think it sucks and give it to a friend who likes the band. It’s just a way for us to spread our music across the world in the best way possible. The actual recorded CD is more like a promotional item.

AA: I can’t imagine the record label is too happy with that stanceR30;

Brent: They understand, I think. Illegal downloading is the natural course of things in my opinion – the technology is there and it’s going to happen.

Bobby: They know where we’re coming from. It’s still a fairly underground scene – we’re not U2! Like I said, to us it’s about getting people to come to the show.

AA: So what is future of Job For A Cowboy?

Brent: I think as long as there’s weed growing on this earth, we’ll continue to create shit!

     

About Abhijeet Ahluwalia

Abhijeet Ahluwalia – I’m a freelance journalist who goes back and forth between London and Bombay. A huge metalhead, but I have an eclectic taste, from reggae to punk. Oh, and Manchester United are the greatest team in the world. Follow me on Twitter or drop me a line via Email.

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