Our writer Harry Casey-Woodward interviews lead vocalist Chris from Leeds punk band Cattle, whose music is the stuff of nightmares…
I’ve heard of some unusual line-ups for a post-punk band, but Cattle from Leeds take the cookie. They have two drummers and no guitarist for one. Well we’ve seen how extra drummers have worked well for bands like Slipknot at creating extra intensity. Cattle have also made up for a lack of guitar by fully utilising the skills of their bassist, in the style of the original post-punk outfit from Leeds, Gang of Four.
Why are you called Cattle? Is it a comment on the state of humanity? I’d like to say it was a really deep and drawn out process that resulted in the selection of a highly symbolic name, but I can’t quite remember what led to it! Have you seen that advert for Cravendale milk, where some cows follow a man home to steal back their milk? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF4eTlCl660), maybe I was watching that advert?
What drives you to make such scary music? What are the themes of your songs? We didn’t realise it was so scary! A lot of the songs are about things like nature, minimalism and bad decisions in life. I think everyone has elements to their personality which other people might deem scary – anger, a bleak outlook, and music is a way of processing those aspects and feelings.
Are there any particular post-punk/noise rock bands who have especially influenced you? Big Business and the Melvins are a huge influence, as well as bands lines like Ghold, Godheadsilo, Harvey Milk and 400 Blows. Post punk isn’t such an influence, but there’s a ton of good stuff out there – Preoccupations and Protomartyr are two of my favourites at the moment.
What current bands do you like, or you think are noisy enough? There’s loads of good stuff at the moment. In the UK we like Ghold, Bearfoot Beware, Irk, Unwave, Famine, Casual Nun, Gumtakestooth and in other parts of the world, The Body, Big Business, Big Ups, Meatwave and Pile are well worth checking out.
Your music sounds so raw but you still find time for catchy riffs. Do you think there should be a balance between distortion and melody in punk music? Yes definitely, I think music stands or falls on the strength of a hook, even when people are making punk rock, noise, mood pieces. A lot of my favourite music (Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Ween, Creedence Clearwater Revival, AC/DC) is hook based and hopefully this shows.
How important is it to create atmosphere in your music? It’s quite important, I think the hook should be first but obviously setting the right tone for a story or feeling you’re trying to convey is a good idea.
Are your live shows as intense as the music? We definitely like to go for it live. The first few shows were absolutely exhausting and I had to sit down in a chair after them like an old man! It’s getting better now though – there’s nothing like losing your shit for 30 minutes.
I loved your cover of ‘anthrax’ by Gang of Four. It’s my favourite song off the ‘Entertainment’ album. What do you like about the song? The noisy build up is fantastic, and then when that absolutely sublime beat kicks in its total magic. It’s the complete package – amazing riff, great vocals and totally weird.
What are your views on synths? Do you think punk and electronic music have mixed well? There’s so many bands who’ve done ace stuff with synths, so yeah I think so. The locust for example used synths in a such an amazing way, and I saw that band crystal castles play ages ago at Leeds festival and it was super intense – thought it worked really well.
It’s funny you should mention it actually because the next step for Cattle is to buy silver suits and we’re all going to play synths. Like kraftwerk, but with one added synth (so 20% better than kraftwerk).
It says on your bandcamp that your self-titled EP was released in 1970. Just how long have you guys been around? That was just a joke – I used the release date for the first Black Sabbath album. Think we’ve being going around five years now.
As the vocalist, how do you belt out that much fury in your voice? Because I am FURIOUS MAN. Just kidding, I love that singer John Brannon (Negative Approach, Laughing Hyenas) and thought he had the greatest voice ever so was trying to emulate him. Essentially it’s really cathartic and shouting about stuff that bothers me makes me helps me deal with those feelings and feel good about myself.
Are there any other art forms besides music that influence you? All the big ones basically – books, film, artwork. Especially things that take a more minimal approach (authors like Cormac McCarthy, Hubert Selby Jr, or art by Robert Ryman) have definitely influenced my approach to the band in terms of trying to take a direct route in making music, not overcomplicate things and not get bogged down in the bullshit everyone else tries to get you involved in.
Check out their debut album Nature’s Champion here, which consists of seven songs of booming, sludgy hell, or paradise depending on your tastes. Even without a guitarist, the band somehow create an incredible wall of distortion that’s sure to prick up your ears, underneath which weave some hooky bass lines that are the real powerful aspect of the band.
All photos taken by Howie Hill Photography