Vocals – Elijah Witt, Guitar – James Barnett , Bass – Ryan Henriquez, Drums – Devin Clark
Cane Hill are an American heavy metal band from New Orleans. The four piece have had an incredibly busy and successful few years promoting their debut LP ‘Smile’ and growing in popularity over tours with acts such as The Hollywood Undead , The Acacia Strain and Attila. The band now find themselves on the final date of the UK leg of ‘The Graveyard Shift Tour’ with Motionless In White and Ice Nine Kills after releasing their impressive sophomore record ‘Too Far Gone’. I sat down with the band back stage at the Norwich Waterfront to discuss their progress and new record before their performance.
This is the last date of the UK run of the tour, how has the reception been performing these new songs live?
James – Honestly it’s been very surprising to us. The past three gigs especially, the fans have been singing the songs louder than we’ve been playing them. We’ve seen this before but it’s been stunning for this new material.
Elijah – We were over here around a year ago, but this time there has been evident growth so it’s been really cool to see progression in our fan base.
You’ve mentioned in interviews that your first record ‘Smile’ was rushed, yet ‘Too Far Gone’ now arrives just over a year apart, where does this hard working ethic come from?
James – Well this one was far more planned. The reason ‘Smile’ was rushed was because we were on a series of tours including Warped Tour and Northlane and we jumped straight into the studio without a lot of pre-production.
Elijah – Yeah and we didn’t even have full songs, some of these were only riffs and ideas.
James – So it goes to show that if you’re not prepared for something, you’re gonna get what you give. This time we made a conscious decision to go home and write properly, and the label allowed us the time to do that.
Ryan – There was a lot of stuff going on, and a lot of experiences to be shared, so we were excited to put them down into a record.
You have talked before about wearing your old school influences on your sleeves; on the new record, I hear elements of the greats such as Pantera, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains. Would it be fair to say that these influences separate yourselves from your peers?
Ryan – Yes for sure, I idolized bass players such as Geezer Butler and Geddy Lee. I learned my instrument through playing those bands’ music. So those colours begin to overshadow you as an artist and have an imprint on your style as a musician.
I notice some industrial and nu metal influences such as 808 beats and synths that really create a soundscape out of songs such as ‘10c’ and ‘Why?’, where do these ideas stem from?
James – It’s pretty interesting that you ask that. We knew that we wanted those elements on the record but they really come from simply messing around on a keyboard. Too Far Gone is the first record that we were really hands on with the production. Devin and I wrote and performed a lot of that stuff on a little M-audio, for example; during ‘It Follows’ there’s a piano section during the chorus that I performed. ‘The End’ also has a section that our producer Drew and a friend of ours KJ got involved with.
Elijah – Yeah we had an analogue patch synthesiser that really fleshed some of these ideas out.
James – I think it’s a lot cooler and more special when you’re actually performing those sections rather than staring at a grid on a screen. The reason this album is so crazy is because we found the wackiest noises and kept multi-layering different rhythms
Elijah – (laughs) yeah it would be five in the morning and James would be blasting out these crazy sounds at full volume.
‘Scumbag’ is one of your thrashiest and blunt songs to date and seems to refer to the current political landscape, could you explain what inspired the lyrical content to this track?
Elijah – Yes, one hundred percent. I mean it literally says ‘Nazi fucking scum’ at the end of the song. This was the only time I wanted to get political on the album as it seems like an obvious stance to take, to be against the alt-right or any kind of anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic white supremacy. The song is essentially a call-out to that culture which has become much more public in America. The alt-right essentially has a new face, a cleaner more relatable version of the KKK and it’s a very scary moment. They used to be simply a laughing stock from the south, which we have witnessed being from the south ourselves; but now you see the alt-right and it’s much more clearly based from the Nazi party. If you look back at 1937 when Hitler was coming into power, it was all about a prolific visionary esque speaker captivating people.
James – They dress it up to be this glorious thing, when actually it’s pretty dark. It’s a shame to see young people growing up like this, children are going to grow up to become bigots like the rest of their family.
To continue on the political spectrum of your lyrics, you explained that ‘St. Veronica’ refers to women feeling mentally and spiritually beaten down by societal expectations, how do you feel about this subject in retrospect of a huge cultural shift taking place over 2017 for women?
Elijah – At first it didn’t feel like my place to comment, and I guess that it still doesn’t but my opinion on the subject stands. It’s about being in abusive relationships and the mental torment that it can cause. The song was written from a woman’s perspective which was a strange place to put myself in but I’ve been physically and mentally abused so I can speak from this angle. The song is there to illustrate that it’s happened to many others and that it should never be this way.
Do you have a long term goal for the band for during and after this record cycle?
Elijah – Personally I just take it as it comes and enjoy the moment. There is no point in looking to the future or looking at the past because the fact of the matter is that you cannot dictate where you’re going to go, you can only control what you’re doing in the moment. I don’t see the point in worrying about things that may or may not happen when you could just enjoy what you have been given.
Devin – Yeah I agree with this, I don’t live in the past or the future. I reminisce on the past a lot to help me through situations but really, you’ve just got to live in the moment.
Do you have any last words you would like to send out to your UK fans?
Elijah – Yes. You guys have been fucking amazing. This has hands down been one of the best tours we have ever done.
Ryan – Y’all raised the bar over here, America has got a lot of competition now.
Elijah – Thank you.
Cane Hill’s new record ‘Too Far Gone’ is out now via Rise Records and all major streaming services.
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