INTERVIEW: Cane Hill

“It’s way better than anything else we’ve put out,” proclaims Cane Hill frontman Elijah Witt as we catch up with him in London ahead of supporting Motionless In White. With their second album, ‘Too Far Gone’, seeing the light of day six days ago, it’s clear Witt has been caught somewhat off guard by its reaction.

While their setlist on this current run has contained an even mix of old and new material, it has surprised Witt and his band mates with amount of people singing along to the new songs. ”It’s been weird. We didn’t expect anyone to know the words,”states Elijah before reminiscing about a previous UK visit. ”We just figured it would be like the last time we came over and everyone’s just staring at us dumbfounded.

”’Smile’ got a decent reaction; the (‘Cane Hill’) EP got a really good reaction. But this one somehow surpassed both of them together. I think, as far as I can tell by social media and people in the crowd,” states Elijah.

Their new material has displayed just how far Cane Hill are able to stretch and develop their own musical style. On that note, Witt expresses “I don’t think we’ll ever find our final sound. I think it’s an ever-evolving idea. If we became stagnant or static with our evolution, it would become boring.” Looking back at their earlier material, Cane Hill were proclaimed as the pioneers to revive nu-metal with hard-hitting breakdowns and angsty vocals. Since their first EP, they have taken that initial concept and ran with it by asserting their broad spectrum of metal into their dynamic sound. ‘Too Far Gone’ has put the band on a path towards a more personal and broaden tone with hints of 90s grunge rock and thrash.

In regards to making of ‘Too Far Gone’, Elijah spoke to us about the production and conceptual ideas behind the album too. He explained that with ‘Smile,’ the songs were created in the studio for the most part, as they only went in with two or three riffs written. “This time, we had four to five months off at home where we tracked the majority of the album out before we scrapped about ten of those. This one was just more methodical and more planned out.“

There is also more than meets the eye with the album artwork used, which tie into the music video concepts. “The Mosquito is the unofficial state insect of Louisiana, because we have too fucking many every season,” says Witt. He goes on to reveal “the goo is essentially our thoughts and ideas being sucked by the mosquito. So, we’re the Mosquito, and the goo is the drugs and the mistakes and the limits that we pushed, being sucked into us.”

Taking this interesting and thoughtful artistic concept with the artwork into the music video for ‘Too Far Gone’, Elijah discloses more about how that came about. “We had a mosquito drawn out for an album cover we didn’t use, by our friend Aaron Marsh, and they animated it and it all came to fruition very conveniently being similar to the album.” However, the first draft didn’t go exactly as planned. He says that originally what they were first sent “was like an acid trip where you would see demons, and we were like no, that’s not what we saw, that’s not what we want”. Elijah’s eyes lit up as he explained what they really wanted, “we saw a lot of pretty colours and started losing our minds, so we sent that back to them and they were like ‘we got it, GOO!’”. To sum up the ‘Too Far Gone’ video in his words – “Throwing up colourful goo, 100%!”

This contrasts with the music video for ‘Lord of Flies’, which features inserts of strangely disturbing close ups of insects etc between warped video footage of the band themselves. “For that one, we made sure we still threw in colourful things like the pastel paints and all of the background imagery that was really bright and colourful”. Comparing the two, Elijah mentions the opposites at play. “We wanted it to be a grimier juxtaposition to how pretty ‘Too Far Gone’ was.” He clarifies that “because ‘Too Far Gone’ was the heavier, more rugged song with the prettier music video, and ‘Lord of Flies’ was the prettier song with a much dirtier music video.”

Divulging in more discussion behind the album itself, we attain more information regarding the surfeit of influences Cane Hill had. Pantera, Metallica and Gojira are just some of the influential “heavy hitting metal bands” they referred to during production. “James (Barnett - guitarist) was listening to a hell of a lot of hip-hop; Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’, a bunch of old Usher records, Drake’s ‘Views’, the disco beat songs he has on there,” states Elijah. “All of their interludes are what we latched on to because we wanted to make the album feel artistic, in the sense that it flows into one big story.”

We even learn how Cane Hill intended and anticipate the way people will be listening to album. “It’s important to us that you listen to it front to back to fully understand it.” Witt expands by saying, “obviously, you can flick through songs and choose, but if you really want to get what we were trying to say, you have to listen from track one to track tenm non-stop because it builds a better story.”

On that note, the topic leads to deliberation on a key talking point within the music industry at the moment; the theory that consumers only being interested in singles, rather than albums. Witt expresses his thoughts on the music industry disregarding the need for albums. “I’m left and right on it,” he states. “I still love the artistic creation that goes into a full album, the preparation and methodical placement that goes on. But unfortunately, the music industry right now seems to be at this weird turning point where no one cares as much about a full album and 90% of people are going to listen to just the singles”. He spoke about how Spotify and monthly listeners have a huge influence on artists feeling the need to release new material any time their numbers drop. “That whole equation is really strange and foreign to me.”

Relating it back to their scene, he reports that “metal is having a really hard time keeping up with the changing patterns in the music industry, and I think a lot of that is to do with how metal has always been a very hard headed; ‘this is how we do it’ and ‘this is how it’s got to be done, we don’t care about the other trends.’” Witt knowledgeably adds, “but when everything is dying, you have to evolve and adapt.” To round off, he lets us know that he’ll “personally find out, because I don’t think we want to do the “just single” route anyway. It sounds very boring, very shallow.”

After a long journey of working hard to find themselves, they have embarked on a constant evolutionary journey from their first EP in 2015. Staying true to their controversial methods, with no intentions of holding back, has brought them well-earned success. Despite their first UK visit only being two years ago, this tour has proved their fanbase is ever-expanding after the achievement of a triumphant album. With the release of ‘Too Far Gone’Cane Hill have proved yet again that they are a force to be reckoned with and deserve all the recognition they have been receiving since, amongst fellow musicians and fans.

‘Too Far Gone’ by Cane Hill is out now on Rise Records.

Cane Hill links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

Written for Already Heard.


INTERVIEW: Motionless In White

2017 proved to be a great year for album releases and being three years since ‘Reincarnate’Motionless In White have moved onwards and upwards in their evolution with their latest album, ‘Graveyard Shift’. As their first album since signing with Roadrunner Records, it displayed a lot of refinement in their sound and speaking with frontman Chris “Motionless” Cerulli, they are pretty happy with the response it has received. “This album has been well received by the majority of our fans. There’s been a couple of things that people have picked at about it, but that’s just going to happen for any band with any album.” He goes on to tell us about touring this album and performing it live, “Our shows have been bigger on this cycle than ever before, so I just like to look at that and think ‘Okay, people are enjoying the album and they’re going to see it played live.’”

Since the band consider themselves to have really started up in 2006, ‘Graveyard Shift’ arrived at an opportune moment, just after their ten-year anniversary. After being together for this long, you can imagine they have strived to hone and perfect their craft in every album cycle since. For their fourth full-length, Motionless In White took a different approach, opting to focus on their songwriting and abandoning a deadline. Chris admits that despite being the singer of the band, he never really embraced his role as a vocalist. “Ricky [Olson - guitarist] and I write a very large portion of music for the band together and I always seem to focus more on the music rather than the vocals”. This time round he wanted to make sure the vocals were on par with the songs musically, as previously he kept putting it off. Facing the challenge head on he expresses his happiness as the believes “the best vocals and performances are on this album”.

As for abandoning the deadline mentality, Motionless In White consider this as being one of the best decisions they’ve made; removing the stress and pressure from the creative process. Despite deciding not to restrict themselves with a time limit, Chris states “there always comes a point in every artist’s project where you just need to put the brush down, or put the mic down, or whatever it is, just step back to admire what you’ve done and stop picking it apart.” This leads on to him expressing the struggles he’s faced in the past with knowing when to stop experimenting and just appreciate the work that’s been done. “That is hard for me because I see so many options with everything that I do, that I need to try them all. If I pass on one it seems to haunt me.”

If you’re a fan of what Motionless In White do, then you’ll know that they incorporate so much more into their band than just music, they use their platform to incorporate a whole artistic concept and involve fans in this too. “We definitely try to make everything about what we do one cohesive package of theatrics and showmanship, put on a show in every sense of the way,” says Cerulli. This is evident on their recent UK tour, as MIW fit in an arena sized project into their club level status. Chris described their aesthetic evolution as “a fine wine that gets better with age” and coming into the ‘Graveyard Shift’ era we have seen a definite shift. From promo shoots to stage production and lyrical content, it is clear that they are breaking out of their almost predictable goth-like image and giving the audience something they wouldn’t necessarily expect from a metalcore band.

Contradicting the dark aesthetics you see in the majority of metalcore bands have made Motionless In White stand out from the crowd with their creativity for all the right reasons. Contrasting blue and pink lights have been a theme for the band in terms of photo shoots and stage lighting. From Chris, we discover one of the key influences culture has had on this album comes from phycological horror film, ‘The Neon Demon’“I thought it just looked so cool and unique,” the frontman expresses, “even though neon photography has been a thing for so long, I hadn’t really seen a lot of bands in our genre do it, so it was an effort to do something a little out of the typical black background, clothes, makeup and somewhat darker lighting that we normally do.”

Whilst ‘The Neon Demon’ is just one of the artistic influences on the album, we also learn a plethora of influences involved in the songwriting process. ‘Necessary Evil’ encapsulates a lot of social influences whilst it features Korn frontman, Jonathan Davis, and was “very Korn inspired”. Chris discloses that before the song was fully written, they were on tour with Korn leading to an opportunity to feel comfortable enough to ask for Davis’ involvement. 60’s pop song ‘It’s My Party’ by Lesley Gore was also an obvious inspiration for the lyrics and Cerulli describes it as “a cool moment, to take an old song that I really liked as a kid and kind of mess with it”. Overall the message behind this track addresses “the necessary evil that is social media” and another clear reference is the ‘Mean Girls’ quote included. “The ‘No you can’t sit with us’ is trying to be very cocky and sarcastic towards the social media form of criticism.“

The journey that Motionless In White have been on this album even lead to them writing a true love song for the first time, and in fashion with the rest of the album, it doesn’t follow the “normal” constructs of a love song. On ‘Eternally Yours’, the content differs from any love songs previously made. “There are songs on previous albums that are about a relationship but they all seem to have this tragic undertone. But with ‘Eternally Yours’, I just kind of created my own story,” says Chris. He continues by saying ”The whole concept behind the song was to “flip the script” coming from a tragic place and ending somewhere positive.”

A message that Motionless In White have always carried throughout their career is saying ‘Fuck it/you’ to the world. The third single, LOUD (Fuck It)’ perfectly captures that sentiment. With the song having such a direct message behind it, Chris Motionless reports his best quality to be his “drive and passion for being creative and doing everything that is to do with this band and music”. Inspiringly he notes “there are moments where I do get stuck but I guess that just offers more motivation at that point to push past it, conquer it and defeat anything negative standing in my way. It’s like a self-sustaining motivator to me and the band, to have this be what I only want to do for as long as I can.“

When talking about the lyrical side of the album, Chris spoke about the misconceptions that came with the new album. “A lot of people took the lyrics, which were just meant to be entertaining, sarcastic, and somewhat of a joke, way too seriously. I saw a lot of people were quite upset about the lyrics that I chose to use”. He goes on to say this is just another side of their personality as a band, which unfortunately not everyone gets. “It’s just sad that a lot of listeners can’t seem to recognise that, they just hear ‘Not My Type’ and be like ‘What the fuck is this? This isn’t the typical thing I’m used to hearing,’” explains Chris.

Talking of this subject, Chris goes on to address the difficulty bands face when any creative output is instantly criticised to a generation seemingly easily offended. “There is actually a song on the album called ‘Soft’ that talks about that very thing. The song is very sarcastic, I didn’t want to write a song that was trying to battle criticism with more criticism.” Dealing with these misconceptions Chris says this was a way for him to “treat the comments and criticisms about how deadly serious people are these days and come at it in a very sarcastic way and just challenge people to shut the fuck up.”

Entering their twelfth year as a band, Motionless In White have turned a corner creatively as they embarked on creating refined musical content, not in order to please anyone but themselves. They have confidently challenged their critics head on and proved they are so much more than a typical gothic metalcore band. They are an entire creative concept that continuously break out of the conformity of their own genre.

‘Graveyard Shift’ by Motionless In White is out now on Roadrunner Records.

Motionless In White links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Written for Already Heard.

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