Back to the Worms
CoC chats with Lord Worm of Cryptopsy
by: Jackie Smit
Okay, I'll be honest here. In the raging debate over the superior Cryptopsy vocalist, I've been firmly sat in Camp DiSalvo for a long time. For reasons that I won't attempt to explore here, I have regarded him as the definitive voice for the band since he snorted, snarled and barked his way through _Whisper Supremacy_, and I was none too pleased when I found out way back in 2001 that he had left Canada's most savage export. Yet I'm also man enough to admit when I've had a lapse in judgement, and the returning Lord Worm's performance on the steamroller effort that was Cryptopsy's last opus, _Once Was Not_, has certainly proven me wrong and then some. Equally surprising is the revered vocalist in person. A far cry from the lumbering, psychotic headcase who will lead the band through an hour's set shortly after this interview, Lord Worm, the man, is eloquent, deferential and a million miles away from being just another cliché rocker.

CoC: I'm sure that this question has been put to you on many occasions, but as far as you leaving Cryptopsy and then making the decision to rejoin the band and get back into this lifestyle as it were -- what was the inspiration behind that?

Lord Worm: There was no inspiration. It feels odd to say it that way, but life will do weird things to you. One moment Cryptopsy was moving in a specific direction, just kind of weaving forward, and the next moment I felt compelled by certain circumstances in my life -- partly financial and partly love interests -- to leave the fold, because continuing would have taken too much out of my system and would have dragged the band down. We all decided as a result that the best way to go forward would be to get Mike DiSalvo in to replace me. It was a unanimous decision, and I worked with him and "trained" him for several weeks until he found his feet. And I continued to obviously work with him as time went on, but as a physical presence within the band, I wasn't able to continue. I'm one of those people who when something is done, tends not to look to the past. When I left Cryptopsy there were no real regrets, and I never wished that I had stayed or anything like that. So after effectively being out of the band for seven years, Flo [Mounier, drummer] called me as a last ditch attempt to get somebody credible behind the microphone. Mike had been great, Martin [Lacroix] had been great, but they were both gone, and a lot of the applicants I heard weren't credible. But the way Flo asked me at first was that if I came back on board, I had to be one hundred percent sure that I would never want to leave again. I said that I couldn't be one hundred percent sure, and he then said that we'd look and see how things worked out. We got together as a band and had a meeting and after that meeting, I was like: "Okay, I'll give it a try." The thing is that I sucked; not as badly as I thought, because even after seven years, I still had some control left in my voice, but it was clear that I had a lot of work to do to get back up to the level that I needed to be. So we gave it a try, and I started improving, and things kind of went from there.

CoC: Hypothetically speaking, if another band had made you an offer to join them, is that something you would have ever considered, or was this purely a case of not wanting to see the legacy of Cryptopsy fall apart?

LW: Oh God, no. I didn't really miss the music scene at all while I was away. I would never have joined anything else. I joined Cryptopsy as a friend. We work together, but we're in this as friends.

CoC: While you were out of the band, you must have been watching with interest from the sidelines to see what your successors were doing. What did you think of Mike in particular, given his involvement with two Cryptopsy albums, and the fact that there's such a sharp divide among fans as to which of the two of you is the superior frontman?

LW: Mike is great. I think at first he was scared because he felt that he'd have some big shoes to fill, but in my opinion he did more than just fill them. He brought his own shoes to the dance and he stomped around in them. He's a good lyricist, he's a good vocalist and he's a good front man -- he's a friend of mine. We wanted him for the band, and that's the way it went. He retired, because he's a husband and a father and a land owner, and that came first. That's about the only rule in Cryptopsy: family comes first. Then Martin came on board, and that unfortunately didn't last. But with Cryptopsy, no one truly leaves. Martin is still doing artwork for us. He did the cover for the new album, which I think it's fantastic.

CoC: You're still in touch with Mike on a regular basis then?

LW: Semi-regular. He's a busy guy, and he lives a fair distance from me. But we speak often enough that when we meet up it's not a big reunion and we can behave comfortably around each other.

CoC: So, having rejoined the band, you must have been pretty daunted at the reputation that you had to live up to and the expectations that the fans had?

LW: <laughs> Yeah, well, half the fans were preparing the twelve gauges. Hence on the new album we tried hard to put additional clarity on my voice, so as not to disenfranchise and estrange Mike's fans -- who are many, and I don't wish to piss them off at all. They're entitled to their own opinion and I'm more interested in seeing what I can do to accommodate them. So, we had the additional clarity, but we also had the typical Worm-isms for the other fans.

CoC: In the interim period between you leaving and rejoining the band, what did you keep yourself busy?

LW: Working. I'm a teacher. I've got my own thing going, and when I'm not at the night gig, I'm at the day gig.

CoC: Do any of your students suspect that their teacher is the frontman for one of the most brutal bands on the planet?

LW: Not a one. I keep the two separate. I want them to focus on what they're learning. I think that maybe one or two have suspected something, but nothing has ever come out. And that helps me focus, to tell you the truth. The people that have hired my services know, and they think it's just the funniest thing. One of them even has Cryptopsy photos as the wallpaper on his PC. So they kid around with me about that, but it's business at the end of the day.

CoC: So, now that you're back on the road with the band and the response to the new album is starting to surface, how do you feel about things now that the dust is starting to settle and Cryptopsy is starting to get momentum behind them again?

LW: It's business. I know that sounds cold, but it's business. Business must be business-like. You've got to be professional about things. You need to maintain not just a facade, but actually be professional about this business. When things go right, don't be an idiot and start celebrating how ingenious you are. Enjoy the moment and move on. That's what we're doing: we're maintaining that professional balance between shit and good stuff. The crowd's always good though.

CoC: In terms of the shit, what it is about the music industry that frustrates or annoys you?

LW: Oh, it can be a temporary or momentary thing. For example, personally I'm a non-smoker, so on the road, when I'm in the room, I'm probably the only person who isn't smoking. Now I can't tell people: "Do you know who I am?" <laughs> That means that inevitably, I'm the one who has to leave. So it's minor things. The other night we drove from Manchester to catch a ferry to Dublin. We missed it by a few minutes and as a result we had to sit out in the cold and the rain for another few hours for the next one. Then as a result of a time constraint when we got to the venue, we couldn't do a sound check -- all because we were stuck waiting for a ferry. Another thing that frustrates me is the exchange rates. It's this constant question: "How much of my own currency do I need?"

CoC: You mentioned the business element of being in this band earlier, and the interesting thing is that I spoke to Mike Smith of Suffocation recently, who spoke at length to me about it as well. Now that you're back in the band and back on the scene, do you feel that the death metal genre has grown up in a way?

LW: Of course it has, and had it not evolved into an almost megaloid version of itself, I would have said that grindcore had done the same thing. If you don't evolve, you stagnate and you die out. So you must grow, and with that growth comes the business elements. It's not like we're in this for the money, but we're not purely here for the advancement of the earth either. We're in a business and that business must grow or it must die. It doesn't mean that people can't enjoy themselves with all this happening. We still put on the show of our lives every night.

CoC: As far as the continued evolution of the business then, where do you see death metal heading?

LW: Death metal will continue to evolve and grow. Something else might catch on in the mainstream. I mean, there's been hardcore metal, metalcore, hip-hop metal and whatever else. There will be more cross-overs in the future and there may even possibly be more genres that are created. The late Eighties and early Nineties gave us what was referred to as true black metal, which previously hadn't existed in name, but was a valid musical statement. But I think that death metal will continue to evolve and grow regardless of any of this.

CoC: Isn't it ironic though that you'll always find people -- especially those who got into the scene early on -- who will complain that the new level of respectability that death metal has attained has ruined the spontaneity in many ways?

LW: Absolutely. I'm one of them. I believe that if you have nothing left to say, then shut up. Don't make yourself try to sound younger or fresher or whatever. You did it. Kudos. Now shut up. That goes for the younger kids as well. There's no point in adding your voice to the celestial chorus if you've got nothing to say. I'm thinking from a fan's point of view: how much garbage do you have to wade through before you find a diamond? The Internet helps, but then there are those who will say that it's just piracy. So what can you do? Buy everything that comes out? I tend to have a lot of people that can help point me in the right direction, and they're never wrong; but for those who don't, what are they supposed to do? Bottom line is that if you're going to just be content to count yourself with the numbers and not do anything significant, then shut up. This is not meant to denigrate the efforts of anyone, but doing something just for the sake of doing it doesn't make it special. It's pollution; it's garbage.

CoC: Something that stood out to me as quite surprising on this new record is the amount of biblical references that you've incorporated into what seems to be a grand theme that runs through the album. Can you tell me more?

LW: This record is vastly different from all the other albums, because Flo actually presented me with a ready-made concept, which is the title of the album. All I had to do was fill in the blanks. What was it that once was not, that now is, than can fill in this case nine songs? <laughs> Well, a concept album, if it's not linear, should at least have some kind of semblance of a consistent idea running through the album, so I chose human fear and I ran it through history, and didn't stop there; I took it to the future as well. So, this record is my take on the history of human fear, and you have everything there: from the fear of the dark, to the fear of a violent death, fear of modernization, and basically all the fears of our current time, rather than a story. The biblical references came later. Initially "Endless Cemetary" was a longer song and the middle, faster part of "Pestilence That Walks in the Darkness" was actually its intro. The band made a few changes and it became two songs and they basically told me that they needed lyrics to tie this new song to everything else, the bastards! So, I took this biblical piece and just added a little Wormy part to it, which wouldn't even have happened if Alex [Auburn, guitarist] hadn't requested to sing on the song as well. They put the screws to me on that song, let me tell you. It fits, but not for lack of trying. <laughs> God, I'm a bitch.

CoC: What are Cryptopsy's plans for the next twelve months or so?

LW: Retirement, genocide, suicide. <laughs> Or barring that, we've already started working on material for another album, which if things go according to my plans will be another concept album. Possibly another DVD -- maybe even a double. So we're not dead yet; not by a long shot.

CoC: Anything else you wanted to add to the interview?

LW: My liver is happier in Europe, where the beer is good. Thank you, Europe.

(article submitted 15/3/2006)


CHATS
1/30/2009 J Smit Cryptopsy: A Venom Well Designed
9/21/2003 J Smit Cryptopsy: Breaking the Barriers of Supremacy
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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