Breaking the Barriers of Supremacy
CoC chats with Alex Auburn of Cryptopsy
by: Jackie Smit
For the relatively short time that I have been a music scribe, I have had the privilege of meeting a great many musicians; and while the majority have thus far been friendly, accommodating and generally just cool, there have been the odd exceptions where one's perception of an individual whose personality has more or less been created by the media that introduced you to the artist in the first place, is dashed by ill-advised egoism or arrogant nonchalance. Cryptopsy's Alex Auburn, on the other hand, confounds one's expectations in a decidedly more positive way. While no member of Canada's premier death metal band has ever come across as haughty or gruff in the slightest, Auburn's genuine friendliness and humility is almost unsettling, considering the musical pedestal upon which so many have placed his band.

With new vocalist Martin LaCroix joining the Canadians after the their spectacular _And Then You'll Beg_ and the subsequent departure of Mike DiSalvo, Cryptopsy certainly have a lot to prove; and as they gear up to put the finishing touches to their forthcoming opus (due for release in early 2004), I felt that it was high time that the band's founder and primary songwriter shed some light on recent goings-on in Camp Cryptopsy.

CoC: First of all, Alex -- how did Martin LaCroix's joining the band come about?

Alex Auburn: Well, it all happened really quickly in that I was actually in California when I found out that Mike had left, and about three weeks after that we started to contact some people and started the process of holding auditions. We got the guys to do three different songs off three different albums -- and that's basically what we expected of everyone. Martin didn't actually come in to audition for us specifically. He tried out for another band and wasn't what they were looking for and they then told us that we should give him a try, as they thought that he had more of a Cryptopsy-type of voice. He was also a big fan of the band before that, which was really one of the most important things to us -- and basically a week and a half after that, we tried him out, it felt really good and he got the spot.

CoC: How many auditions did you guys do?

AA: Well, we probably did about twelve actual auditions, but we had applications from all over -- we even had a guy from Lebanon! But just so many e-mails, and tapes -- and in the end it turned out for the best because Martin comes from the same city [Montreal] as we do and just suits the band really well.

CoC: It's very rare that a band would introduce a new vocalist through a live album -- were you guys a bit hesitant to do this at all, or was it a conscious decision?

AA: At first we didn't think about it too much, because when we reflected on it initially the album was done because it's been ten years since we started Cryptopsy and we basically wanted to capture that era on a live record. It was only when we thought about it later on that we realized how unusual it was -- in fact, I don't think that anyone has actually done that before. But as far as _None So Live_ is concerned, it's a greatest hits in a way, and it's material that we feel will please the fans until the next album comes out, and that's the aspect from which we approached doing the album. Also, we actually based the entire record on one show in Montreal, which meant that we couldn't make any mistakes and that we needed to be super-tight all the way through.

CoC: A lot of people were very skeptical about Cryptopsy's future after Mike left, and now with Martin in the band, a lot of people have compared him to Lord Worm. Your opinion?

AA: Yeah, it has happened, and the reaction for Martin has been very good. In fact, when we did our first tour with him in Europe, the reaction was probably more positive for Martin than it was for Mike the first time round, so I don't know -- I like Mike's voice and I think he's fucking fantastic, but some people seemed to have a problem with him. I mean, maybe his vocal patterns on _And Then You'll Beg_ are less aggressive than on _Whisper Supremacy_, but other than that the guy was faultless. We certainly thought that people would love Mike, but in the end the opinions were really split, whereas the reaction to Martin has been much better so far.

CoC: Do you think that Martin was nervous at all about suddenly fronting a band of Cryptopsy's stature?

AA: He didn't show it! <laughs> The thing was that we already had a lot of tours and festivals booked when Mike left, and we couldn't postpone anything and tell people that we would practice for two weeks and then do the shows or whatever. So we had a really short rehearsal time before we went on the road, but Martin got his shit together and stayed calm and it came out good.

CoC: So what will Martin's contribution be to the new record?

AA: He will do all the lyrics, but as far as musically -- we basically take care of that. After everything's been written, we will sit down and mix ideas and change and adjust a song as we go along. It's pretty open, but he will be mostly involved in just doing the lyrics.

CoC: And when can we expect the next record?

AA: If everything goes well, we will enter the studio in October. We want to be in the studio in October and November, and be done in those two months, so that we can avoid the hardest snow when it hits in Canada, and the album will hopefully be released by February or March in 2004.

CoC: So what can we expect from the record on a musical level?

AA: It'll definitely sound closer to _And Then You'll Beg_, as opposed to _None So Vile_ or _Blasphemy Made Flesh_. But at the same time, we've added some awesome grooves, and we're taking longer with them this time round, so that the listener can get into them before we change to the next part. The album is also going to be a lot more extreme -- lots more technicality; we've got a lot of new patterns and riffs and basically just a whole fucked-up lot of ideas. The songs sound very different from each other and we're even planning on using samples on a couple of tracks. There will definitely be a lot of color, that's for sure.

CoC: Does Lord Worm still have anything to do with the band?

AA: He helps polish some of the English that gets written in the band, and he still contributes to the band in that way. I mean, we're definitely still good friends with him and we invite him to parties and to shows -- he's just a crazy fool and he's really fun to be around. Actually, I don't know if a lot of people know this, but he's an English teacher over here. He still has long hair though. <laughs>

CoC: Do his students know that he used to front a death metal band?

AA: Yeah, a couple of them probably do.

CoC: So, do you guys still see Mike at all?

AA: No, we don't, unfortunately. I mean, I don't think he was ever angry with us at all, but he needed a really big break. I know he was affected by a lot by people on our website's guestbook writing negative things about him, and also he has a family who are very much a priority for him. Also, he wanted to work on a lot of other things outside of the family that affected the schedule, and we can not bend for one guy. We have to continue and if one person can not make it, then that is definitely not our problem.

CoC: The so-called "math-core" genre has started to gain tremendous popularity, and considering that Cryptopsy are in many ways the unsung pioneers in that style, where do you see the band fitting into the mix in the future?

AA: Opening new barriers. Climbing different musical mountains, but with a Cryptopsy touch. We're open to a lot of stuff -- not everything -- we're trying out a lot of new ideas and Flo [Mounier, drummer] is still working on a lot of new drum patterns. With the new record we are definitely incorporating a lot of mathematics in the way that we sequence a lot of the tempos and beats, and as far as the new album again -- it's a lot different to what we have done in the past, but I think that people are really going to like it.

CoC: So, do you see this album possibly appealing to people that wouldn't have been attracted to Cryptopsy, or indeed, any death metal act previously?

AA: It's difficult for me to say, because I'm in the band, but looking at things from the outside -- like I said, we've worked really hard on this record, and we've revised our ideas and thrown away a lot of what we felt was not absolutely perfect. So, all I can say really is that it's sounding pretty cool so far.

CoC: Getting back to Flo -- he was recently asked to take part in a performance art piece at the Guggenheim museum in New York. How did that come about?

AA: I think that the producer knows the band and he had an idea to basically create this 'fountain' of sound, using different drummers, singers, and so on. What they basically want to do is to place tourists in the middle of a room and what they'll hear is every musician playing at the same time from different positions -- sort of like a human octagon -- and I think that the purpose is to determine how much the average brain will be able to take in out of its surroundings and how many sounds, so to speak, it will accept. And basically, Flo was one of the two guys that was chosen to play drums, which is really amazing since this artist is very well known from what I've heard. He went down there for a week and got an awesome response, and really, all these experiences outside of playing in a metal band are great, you know. I mean, if we were asked to write a song for a movie, we would love it.

CoC: Right now I take it that you all still need day jobs to make ends meet? What do you get up to when you're not on the road?

AA: I build stages for big shows and bands.

CoC: Do you see Cryptopsy as something that you'd ever be able to or want to make a living from?

AA: That would be really difficult, because basically the bigger the band, the bigger the spending, and you would need to make a lot of money before you could sit on your ass and say "I'm set now". I mean, the country we live in is really affordable in as far as things like rent or whatever is concerned, but to make money as a musician is really hard. Like I said, the bigger you get, the more you need to spend -- studios, the website. I mean, I'd love for it to happen to Cryptopsy, but I'm not counting on it happening anytime soon.

CoC: Thanks for your time, Alex -- any last words?

AA: We'd really like to get over to Europe soon, and we're really looking forward to seeing England and Ireland again after the new album is out. Other than that... ummm... drink beer!

(article submitted 21/9/2003)


CHATS
1/30/2009 J Smit Cryptopsy: A Venom Well Designed
3/15/2006 J Smit Cryptopsy: Back to the Worms
1/10/2001 P Schwarz Cryptopsy: The Shifting Scales of Brutality
4/13/1998 P Schwarz Cryptopsy: Blasphemous, Vile and Now Supreme
ALBUMS
4/27/2008 J Smit 8.5 Cryptopsy - The Unspoken King
10/10/2005 P Azevedo 8.5 Cryptopsy - Once Was Not
5/11/2003 P Azevedo 9.5 Cryptopsy - None So Live
1/10/2001 A Cantwell 8.5 Cryptopsy - And Then You'll Beg
10/1/1998 P Schwarz 10 Cryptopsy - Whisper Supremacy
10/11/1996 A Gaudrault 10 Cryptopsy - None So Vile
GIGS
6/11/2008 P Schwarz Cryptopsy "I Don't Give a Fuck If You Hate Me"
1/10/2001 A Wasylyk Cryptopsy / Solus / Rotting / Horde of Worms Canadian Carnage
8/12/1999 D Rocher Six Feet Under / Mayhem / Vader / Enslaved / Cryptopsy / Nile / Thyrfing / Darkseid Facing the Breton Storm Season
8/12/1999 M Noll Six Feet Under / Vader / Enslaved / Cryptopsy / Nile / Thyrfing Pig's Feet and All Things Yummy
10/1/1998 P Schwarz Death Across America / Gorguts / Oppressor / Cryptopsy / Days of Mourning / Endless Obscure and Violent Canadian Supremacy
10/11/1996 A Gaudrault Cryptopsy / Blood of Christ High Quality Metal, Low Quality Fans
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