Anger as a Way of Life
CoC chats with Federico Carminitana of Cataract
by: Jackie Smit
While Swiss acts like Celtic Frost and Samael have left an indelible mark on extreme music, you'd hardly regard Europe's neutral state as a hotbed for balls-out hardcore. Not that you'd want to tell Cataract's Federico Carminitana that. For nearly a decade, the affable twenty seven year-old has been slugging it out diligently in an increasingly over-populated genre alongside his four cohorts, with their efforts eventually bearing fruit on 2004's warmly received _With Triumph Comes Loss_. Now, after two years of extensive touring, they're back with easily their most absorbing album to date in _Kingdom_ -- and if you thought their previous material was punishing, you ain't heard nothing yet.

CoC: Starting with the recording of the new album, first of all, what made you decide on Tue Madsen -- aside from the fact that he has become an increasingly popular pick with the likes of Napalm Death, Sick of It All and The Haunted?

Federico Carminitana: Well, with our first two or three albums we used a friend of ours in Italy [Alessandro Azalli] and we spent a beautiful time with him at Lake Como, and so it was really easy to record there. This time around we just wanted to try something different, and we decided that we wanted something else with someone else; and at that point we were also hearing a lot of good stuff about Tue Madsen, so we decided that we'd try it with him. We did actually do our first Metal Blade Record with him, _With Triumph Comes Loss_, and just found that he was an incredible guy -- technically, sound-wise and personally he was just on the same wavelength as we were. He just seemed to understand perfectly what Cataract wanted to sound like and he was just the perfect guy to have around to get us to that point. That experience just made it an easy decision to get him in for this one as well.

CoC: Did you set out to record _Kingdom_ with a fairly similar end-result in mind as you did with your previous album then?

FC: I think it was technically, but after our last album we did a lot of live shows and a lot of touring and I think that gave us less time to think about this new record as much as we did the previous one. We were really busy promoting _With Triumph Comes Loss_ and then suddenly the time came for us to do the new album, and we actually had to take a break first before we got into it, which was a first for us. I think you can hear the experience that we've picked up over the last two years on this new record -- I think that there's a lot more structure to the songwriting, and I definitely feel like we had a much clearer vision of what we wanted. Aside from that, Metal Blade also put a bit of pressure on us -- not directly as much as just the fact that our last album had done really well. For this album, we needed to at the very least match the response we got for that.

CoC: By response, are we talking sales or the critics' response?

FC: Probably both in a way, but particularly the response it got from the press and from the fans. It was amazing for us -- all the reviews it got in magazines and the live shows we did. We draw a lot more people to our shows now. Last time around we were a little like the newcomers on Metal Blade, and now they expected us to repeat what we had done on the previous CD. So there was pressure, but it was kind of cool in a way as well.

CoC: Was that pressure something that played in the back of your mind while you wrote the new album?

FC: For me personally, it did. In the beginning it was definitely more about pressure that we were putting on ourselves rather than what Metal Blade was though. But that just made us work much harder.

CoC: Now that you're on your second album for Metal Blade, how are you experiencing being on a bigger label as opposed to Lifeforce Records?

FC: We have a really deep relationship with Metal Blade. First of all, we live near the German border, and so it takes us just two hours to get to Stuttgart, where their headquarters are. So whenever we can, we'll go and hang out with the guys and we've gotten to know them really well -- it's kind of a family thing almost now. They also know us and they know about our roots in the hardcore scene. We're not just another metal band on Metal Blade, you know? Some of the guys working on Metal Blade come from a similar scene, and so it's really cool for us because they know exactly what do to for us. Going to them was definitely the logical step for us.

CoC: I think, to make an observation here for a second, one of the things that has changed a lot since you joined Metal Blade is the number of very similar sounding metalcore bands that they have signed who tend to follow a fairly formulaic approach with their records, which ultimately often ends up sounding a little tedious.

FC: <laughs> I agree.

CoC: Are you ever worried that in the midst of so many bands associated with your style, you'll almost end up drowning in the mix, so to speak?

FC: I don't think so. What I see is that a lot of these bands coming out are really riding a trend more than anything else. They do the same thing -- the intense hard stuff, and then the clean singing. But there are a couple of bands in Europe and the UK that have been doing this kind of music for a long time now, and it was never started because of any sort of trend. I think that at the end of the day you can hear if a band are putting their hearts into something. You know, we were doing this music when bands like us had to sleep in squats and on other people's floors.

CoC: You mentioned playing live earlier and that you had done a lot of touring off the back of the previous album. What do you think are some of the most important things that you learned while you were on the road over the course of the last two years?

FC: Well, what I learned is that there's a big difference between audiences. I mean, metal kids are completely different to most of the hardcore kids. They're much more band orientated -- they look up to the bands a lot more, which is kind of weird for a band that comes from our scene. The hardcore kids don't give a shit about the bands. There's no difference for them between the stage and the rest of the venue and it's just like one big family-type thing. What I also learned though is that the metal shows are much more professional. The whole organization is much more professional. Of course we've also met a bunch of new people on the road and it's really interesting to play with new people and play with bands who make a different style of music to us.

CoC: Which of the bands you toured with really inspired you and did you come away from having learned a couple of new tricks?

FC: We didn't tour with them, but we did play with them a couple of times: Hatesphere from Denmark. I think they're one of the best bands like this in Europe at the moment. They're such an intense live band; it's really incredible. We always have a great time hanging out with them as well. The other band is Six Feet Under, who I didn't really know before but now that we've toured with them I really have a lot of respect for them. We toured with them on the No Mercy tours and they were out watching our set every night and they were very respectful to everyone in Cataract, which for a big band like that is sometimes unusual.

CoC: It's interesting how much the hardcore scene where you're from has changed over the years, particularly with things like the metalcore movement really taking off now and even the more purist names have been releasing records that probably veer away quite significantly from the earlier Agnostic Front and Sick of it All stuff. How do you feel about that? Do you think that all these changes have had an adverse affect on the genre?

FC: Hardcore to me has always been more about an ideology than anything else. It's a way of life, and I think that's especially true of bands like Sick of it All and Agnostic Front. Those guys have existed for twenty years and more, and if you see them live even now, they're like teenagers up on stage. That's really cool and it's amazing to see those bands on stage. To me hardcore was always about taking your own influences and doing what you wanted to do with that, and it didn't really matter what those influences were -- it would still be hardcore. So all the changes now aren't necessarily negative to me. At the moment with this whole metalcore thing, part of the hardcore scene is possibly a little more trendy than before, but it will change again in the future.

CoC: Tell me more about the Swiss scene in general, because outsiders like myself know about bands like Samael and Celtic Frost obviously and there's also some great new names like Amok coming out of there, along with yourselves, but it doesn't appear to be particularly unified -- it's more like a number of scattered names in a number of disparate styles.

FC: Yeah, well the problem we have here is that we have three main languages (French, Italian and German) and all of those groups stay fairly separate. It's slightly better now, but it's still a problem in the music scene. There are a lot of new bands coming out here who are great and now Celtic Frost is back together, but there's nothing resembling a specific scene. We've played a couple of times with Amok and they're great, but they're from the French part and we're in the German part. Where we come from no one knows them. In fact, we only met them when we played together at a festival in Germany! In Switzerland there aren't many record stores and I know from experience that it's very different everywhere else in Europe.

CoC: So, plans for you guys over the next couple of months -- heavy touring?

FC: We're doing a lot of weekend shows now and a lot of festivals in the summer. Then we're doing a really big tour in September called Hell on Earth and I believe that Unearth, Maroon and a couple of other bands are going to be on there. After that we're going to do as many shows as we can until the Xmas Metal Festival comes around, where we'll be playing with Six Feet Under, God Dethroned and Krisiun. So, a lot to look forward to, basically. We'll see what happens next year -- maybe the US and Japan.

CoC: Thanks very much for your time. Do you have anything else you'd like to add?

FC: No man, just thanks a lot for the interview and I hope we'll be able to catch up when we're on tour.

(article submitted 13/7/2006)

5/24/2006 J Smit 8 Cataract - Kingdom
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