Carriers of the Plague

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It has been fabled that the Australians are an extremely friendly bunch of people, and that myth was put to rest when this writer interviewed Psycroptic a day before (25th April, 2012) their first live performance in Singapore (26th April, 2012); an island famed for being one of the world’s smallest countries, one of the world’s foremost educational hubs and probably the most well-known Asian metropolitan after Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Having been on Nuclear Blast’s roster for 4 years, it is surprising to see that the band is still as down-to-earth as your average Joe (or perhaps even more than that) and don’t dabble in the sophisticated art of breathing with their noses pointing skyward. Main founding member and drummer David Haley met this writer outside the hotel, exchanged some very normal greetings, and then casually led this writer right into the band’s hotel room to conduct the interview. It was a modest room that only barely had room for two, but Jason Peppiat (vocalist) and Joseph Haley (David’s brother and Psycroptic’s only guitarist) were both in it as well to join in the fun.

Clad in casual T-shirts and shorts, all three members of the band looked as at home as a kitten in a 9gagger’s arms. David looked around for a while, seemingly searching for something, before he pulled a seat out from under the humble coffee table and invited this writer to have a seat. Thus began the friendly interrogation of Psycroptic regarding issues ranging from their thoughts on Singapore, why they don’t consider themselves to be a “technical death metal” band, meat pies, beer and more.

What were some of the stereotypes of Singapore that you were expecting to see before you arrived? So what do you think of those stereotypes now?

David Haley: To be honest I really didn’t have anything in mind. It was a very densely populated area, but we haven’t seen too much thus far, so, we’re still eager to check things out y’know.

Have you heard about stuff like the ban on chewing gum?

David Haley: [Laughter in the background from Jason Peppiat] We knew we couldn’t bring chewing gum, we knew we couldn’t smoke cigarettes and throw the butts on the ground.

And especially our drug laws as well.

David Haley: Yeah, we knew that the laws are strict so we’re on our best behavior at the moment. [Group laughter]

Did you know that the smoking laws in Singapore are becoming stricter as well?

David Haley: Really?

It’s increasingly harder for smokers to find any place to smoke at.

David Haley: Wow.

Jason Peppiat: Sounds like Australia. [Laughs]

David Haley: Is that a good thing?

Jason Peppiat: Not to me. [Laughs]

Countries like China and Singapore have governments that like to control many aspects of their people’s lives, yet even they are opening their doors to extreme metal bands to perform for their fans. Do you find it funny or ironic that such tightly-controlled countries are becoming more accepting towards bands like you guys?

David Haley: Yeah it is pretty ironic, but I guess we’re not a hugely popular band, and we’re not out there making political statements and inciting any kind of anti-government sentiments; so they probably don’t really care about what we do, ‘cos we’re not really making an impact as far as they are concerned.

When we are in someone else’s country, we respect their laws and even if we don’t agree with them, we are not going to go out there and talk shit about them, because it’s not our place [to do so]. It’s like if someone came to our country or our homes and started criticizing things about our homes, we wouldn’t be too happy about it, so we’re not going to do the same, y’know?

We’ve all got our own opinions, and our own opinions might be different even within the band, so we don’t really have the right to pass judgment or talk shit about other people and other places.

Psycroptic mainly dealt with themes related to death and fantasy on the earlier albums. On the latest album however, the lyrical theme seems to be heavily influenced by political ideas—even the usually sci-fi/fantasy inspired album artwork is gone! What influenced or inspired such a focus on political ideas?

David Haley: I guess we just write about what we—

Jason Peppiat: What impacts us really.

David Haley: I cannot speak for all of the lyrics because I write half the lyrics and Jason writes the other half, so yeah, I mean some of the songs are inspired by certain [real] events, but they’re by no means preaching, and they are by no means saying this is what you should believe in. The lyrics I write are always about a certain subject.

So for example, when I look at the title of The Inherited Repression, it kind of gives me a political feel right away. What is it supposed to mean?

David Haley: Well, I mean if you take that interpretation then that’s correct for you.

But basically, I came up with the idea of the human race always having repression kinda build up from generation to generation, whether it’s political, social or just individual mental repression. It’s not just the government. It’s not just a big bad entity that is repressing, you know, but it just gets handed down throughout history, through certain customs, beliefs, and anything! Anything that gets handed down and people don’t actually think about it. People don’t stop and think, “Why are we doing this? This doesn’t make any sense.” So it’s more about people not taking control of their own lives and their own thoughts, and it’s not about blaming someone or something for being repressive; it’s more like “Okay, stop and think. There’s lots of things that are actually repressing you and your life, but you haven’t thought about it.”

So no governments are involved?

David Haley: It’s not a specific thing, that’s what I’m trying to say. But if people interpreted it saying, “Oh, it’s about the government,” then for them, it is. All the lyrics are entirely up to the interpretation of the reader, or the listener. We’re not saying particular things, we’re not writing as if I’ve got something in mind—when Jason writes lyrics, he’s got something in mind—and most of the time we don’t even tell each other. So others might read our lyrics and think they’re about something, but they’re [actually] about something completely different.

Jason Peppiat: I always try to write lyrics not to be so direct. You know what you’re trying to say but—

David Haley: You’re trying to be cryptic.

Jason Peppiat: YEAH! That’s the word I’m looking for. [Laughs]

David Haley: Open to interpretation.

Why is the person featured on the album cover wearing a gas mask?

Jason Peppiat: That was sort of [inspired] from the song “Carriers Of The Plague”. That was originally what we were thinking of calling the album, and I suppose we based the artwork around that song.

So the album cover is supposed to be a graphic representation of “Carriers Of the Plague”?

David Haley: What we do with every album is that we always give a few sets of lyrics to the others, and we say, “Read through this and—

Jason Peppiat: Interpret.

David Haley: —just come up with something that you think is appropriate.” When we work with an artist, we work within his/her skills and it’s not us telling him/her what to do. It’s like when Joe writes for his guitar [part] I’m not going to sit there and tell him what to do, or when Jason does a certain vocal phrasing, I’m not going to tell him what to do. So it’s the same when we work with an artist.

Jason Peppiat: Makes it fun though.

Joseph Haley: When we do let them do their own thing, I guess they are more into it. They know what they are doing, and it all ends up better.

The album cover actually kind of reminds me of an album called Riders Of The Plague by a band called The Absence. The names are very similar—“Carriers Of The Plague”, “Riders Of The Plague”…

Jason Peppiat: Yeah. [Group laughter]

…and the album cover for that particular album actually featured a guy wearing a gas mask as well.

Jason Peppiat: Oh, okay. [Group laughter]

You guys can check them out! They’re on Metal Blade Records.

Jason Peppiat: Oh, okay.

Joseph Haley: What band is it?

The Absence.
So, this year has been a really good one for technical death metal so far. Both Gorod and Spawn Of Possession have released excellent albums of their own as well. Do you think Psycroptic can get on more year-end lists than them?

David Haley: I’m not sure, I don’t know, it’s not up to me. [Laughs]

What do you think of them actually?

David Haley: I’m a fan of both bands. I like Spawn Of Possession, I just got the new album and it’s a lot to take in. It’s very, very exceptionally technical.

What about Gorod?

David Haley: I haven’t heard the new album thus far, but I heard, I think, two tracks of it and I was blown away; so I’m keen to check that one out as soon as I can. I heard one of their songs on the radio last week, so I’ve got to track it down.

This year also happens to be one in which two highly anticipated sci-fi movies will be released, namely the Alien 1 prequel “Prometheus” and the remake of the classic Arnie sci-fi flick, “Total Recall”. As you guys seem to be fans of sci-fi, will you be watching them?

Joseph Haley: I’ll be watching “Prometheus”.

Jason Peppiat: I didn’t even know they had a remake of “Total Recall”. [Laughs]

David Haley: I mean “Total Recall” was an awesome movie, so I’m not sure why they’re remaking it.

Jason Peppiat: Yeeeah. [Laughs]

It isn’t exactly a remake. It is more of a re-interpretation of the original short story by the author Philip K. Dick.

David Haley: Okay, I don’t know too much about that.

It’s kind of like both movies have the same names, but it’s different interpretations of the original short story.

Jason Peppiat: Ah, okay.

David Haley: Right, okay. Well, I’m keen to check it out. [Laughs] If it is a complete remake, then I wouldn’t really be interested.

Oh, there’s no Mars involved.

David Haley: Ah, okay.

It’s basically a very political movie. The story goes something like Euromerica and New Shanghai are fighting to be superpowers in the world, and the main guy is actually an agent for Euromerica who has had his memory wiped. No Mars involved.

David Haley: Right. [Laughs]I’ll have to check it out, I don’t know too much about it.

Why do you think technical death metal bands are usually obsessed with sci-fi themes in their music?

Jason Peppiat: ‘Cos we’re all nerds. [Group laughter]

I mean I’ve never actually heard a technical death metal band singing about slaying dragons or something.

Jason Peppiat: Yeah. [Group laughter] It’s kind of carved its own niche a little bit, hasn’t it?

David Haley: I’ll let you go into that one. [Laughs]

Jason Peppiat: C’mon Joe, you’re the nerd in the band. [Laughs]

Joseph Haley: I don’t know, I guess it’s just the sound of the music. Y’know, with the technicality and stuff; and all the—

Jason Peppiat & Joseph Haley: Dissonance.

Jason Peppiat: All the sounds of [outer] space and stuff. [Laughs]

Joseph Haley: Yeah, yeah. [Laughs] That’s all I can think of.

What sci-fi movies do you think Psycroptic’s music would be most appropriate for?

David Haley: That’s a good question.

Jason Peppiat: You’re the man for this one, Joe.

Joseph Haley: Ah, Jesus. What movie in particular…

Jason Peppiat: You’ve got a lot of stuff back there. [Group laughter, and this is obviously an inside joke that we will never understand]

David Haley: Yeah, that’s probably not very appropriate. [Laughs]Maybe something like, say, “Dark City” or something like that?

Joseph Haley: Yeah maybe, something like that.

Dark City? Is that a very old movie?

Jason Peppiat: Yeah.

David Haley: It’s [from the] ‘90s.

I don’t think I’ve even heard of it until now.

Jason Peppiat: It’s good.

Joseph Haley: It’s really good, although it wasn’t actually a very big movie.

Jason Peppiat: It’s the one with the wiping of memories?

Joseph Haley: Yeah.

Jason Peppiat: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Do you find the word “technical” in “technical death metal” redundant? I mean, technically speaking, all music is technical to a certain extent.

David Haley: Yeah, I never use that term.

So you guys just call yourselves “death metal”?

David Haley: We just call ourselves “metal”.

Jason Peppiat: Yeah, we try not to really keep ourselves to a genre so much because then you know you sort of put yourself in a set of guidelines to so many people, see? They say that you’re a technical death metal band, but then, our latest album we branched out a lot and—

David Haley: Well, it’s not technical death metal anymore you know? It’s gone on to something else.

Jason Peppiat: We never said we were. [Laughs] We are just doing what we want to do.

David Haley: It’s simpler-sounding music, but it’s way harder for us to play the new stuff than the old stuff. So, we don’t view ourselves as a technical [death metal] band.

Jason Peppiat: I’d say we’re probably more of an “extreme metal” band. I mean it’s got your death metally bits, but then it’s got a lot of thrash as well. I mean on the last few albums, there’s been a lot of thrash-inspired guitar work.

Joseph Haley: Yeah pretty much all the guitars, to me, it’s a lot more thrash than anything else. I think once everything is put together—like all the drumming and stuff—it obviously leans a lot further away from just thrash y’know.

What food, drink or product from Australia do you miss whenever you are touring overseas?

David Haley: Meat pies.

Joseph Haley: Meat pies.

Jason Peppiat: Yeah. [Laughs]

Anything else?

David Haley: Don’t really miss the beers.

Have you tried Tiger Beer?

David Haley: Yeah.

Jason Peppiat: Yeah.

So how do you find it?

David Haley: Yeah, I like it. I was just drinking it yesterday.

Do you find it bitter?

Jason Peppiat: Most Australian beers are bitter anyway, so I suppose it’s kind of what we’re used to, really.

David Haley: We like going to different countries and trying different beers, so we don’t miss the beers back home. It’s good beer, but we don’t miss it. But I definitely miss my pies. [Laughs]

If your life journey were a diary, what do you think will be on the second last page?

David Haley: [Epic 7-second pause] Gosh. [Group laughter]

So, if my life were…

A diary.

David Haley: A diary.

What do you think will be on the second-last page.

David Haley: Second-last page?

Yeah, I mean asking you what will be on the last page is too easy, right?

David Haley: Yeah, last page is gonna be nothing there, ‘cos you’d be dead. [Laughs] Um… second-last page? [Slightly epic 5-second pause] I don’t know… maybe a picture. [Group laughter]

A picture?

David Haley: Yeeah! Photograph.

Showing you doing… ?

David Haley: Doing whatever I’m doing… just before the last page. [Group laughter]Which could be anything. It could be one of these pictures. [Gestures at my photographer’s camera and everyone in the hotel room]

Oh, okay.

David Haley: It could be anything! [Group laughter]I’d turn that question around.

Was that the most befuddling question anyone has ever posed to you?

David Haley: Pretty good question.

Jason Peppiat: Yeeeah. [Laughs]

David Haley: It’s a good question if you can’t answer it.

Jason Peppiat: You don’t know when that last page is coming I guess. [Laughs]

David Haley: About that picture, my second-last page would be a picture, ‘cos mine would be a picturebook [Jason laughs] as it wouldn’t have too many words.

So your diary will basically be a photo album?

David Haley: Yeah, the best kind. And then you can interpret it however you like, rather than me telling you what it’s gonna be.



  1. Commented by: Khelbor

    That was possibly the most uncomfortable interview I’ve had the pleasure(?) of reading.

  2. Commented by: Brad

    I’m a huge fan of this website, but that interview was terrible, as in, C-level high-school journalism stuff.

    Huge fan of Psycroptic though and love their latest album.

  3. Commented by: Dane Prokofiev

    It was actually more of a really casual and fun chat than a dead serious interview. Since this article is based on the transcription of the audio recording of the interview, there’s not much I can do to make it read like how the audio recording sounds like. ;)

  4. Commented by: Skepticalifornia

    It’s fun to read casual details like that but I would have rather had more info on what the band’s music actually sounds like. Or how it’s changed from previous albums to this new one. Next time, more music journalism and less People magazine please

  5. Commented by: denial

    How can anyone not have heard of or seen dark city? The main movie inception ripped off? Oh you Americans….

  6. Commented by: Apollyon

    I wouldn’t be so sure that Dane’s from the US of A.

  7. Commented by: Dane Prokofiev

    Feedback noted, guys. Guess you guys really don’t like casual interviews after all. If you’ve read all of my previous interviews for this site so far, they’re all in-depth and pretty lengthy. I decided to do this interview a little differently this time round.

  8. Commented by: Grudger

    I dont think theres anything wrong with the more casual interviews but the best ones are usually combination of the two styles: plenty of casual chatter combined with plenty of in deph talk about the band, music, what ever issue is at hand, etc…

  9. Commented by: Khelbor

    “If your life journey were a diary, what do you think will be on the second last page?”

    That wouldn’t be a question I’d be aiming to fire at a metal band (particularly one from Tassie as most tend to be men’s men; you’d get beaten up for having a diary if you were a bloke).

  10. Commented by: Dane Prokofiev

    Hahaha, you may be right. Well, I simply wanted to see their reaction to such a question. Was fun to see David being at a lost for words for 7 seconds. :D

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