This is my interview with Ian Chains of one of my favorite bands, Cauldron. They're one of the finest of the traditional heavy metal bands coming from Canada. You know that Misfits song Spook City USA? Okay, good. This interview is like that, except Cringe City USA. My husband, Aaron and I, got the chance to catch Cauldron in Louisville back in October (2016). We got there a bit early and got to meet them and talked to Ian. I had asked if he remembered this interview, and he said he remembered doing one for me, but didn't remember it exactly. Well thank fuck, because damn, it was embarrassing to read what I had asked. The show and meeting them was awesome, of course. Satan (NWOBHM) was with them too, and let me tell you, they sound exactly the same as they did in the '80s. Such a great show (Possible other blog post, there)! But, anyhow, my main point was that yes, this is cringey as hell on my part, but Ian's answers are what I wanted to put this up for. Along with the awesome pictures I have for it, generously donated by those credited under the images. Enjoy! And feel free to make fun of me. At least my dumb questions could be good for a laugh.
|Photo by Francois Dejonege|
added to by Me
You guys are on a small break from the tour you’re on now which is the “America’s Lost” tour in support of your latest album “Tomorrow’s Lost” which was released in October of last year. Are you glad you have time to rest or, are you still in full tour mode wanting to play shows almost every night?
Well it's nice to finally get more than 5 hours of sleep, but we'd still rather be on tour more than anything else. Going from touring for 5 weeks to trying to find work is pretty hard. The bulk of the tour's done, but we've still got Orion fest in Detroit and then a handful of Eastern US dates in July with Volture.
Speaking of that, how’ve the gigs been? Any Spinal Tap-like things happening while doing the gigs?
The shows have been great for the most part. We probably got our best reception in the States so far on this tour than any previous one. Nobody spontaneously combusted this time.
What’s been your favorite place to play and why would that be?
On this tour I would say Edmonton and Brooklyn were a couple of the best shows. Edmonton's always a good time just because we know so many people there, and Brooklyn was the first show of the Diamond Head dates.
I know some fans let you crash at their place sometimes after shows, any of that happen on the tour so far? And any specific person or happenings you remember?
|Photo by Karen Tof|
After the release of “Tomorrow’s Lost” did you guys get a lot of good feedback on that? And how was it to record it?
There was a good response and a lot of press in Europe back when it came out in October, but it only came out in the States on April 30th, and it's still not even out in Canada. There's been very little North American press for us. To us it seems like if you don't have a beard and neck tattoos you don't get press in North America. Recording it was pretty similar to our last album. Same studio and engineer, we just tried to do everything better than last time.
|Photo by Mieke DeVlieger|
That was our idea to record those songs. Earache actually hated the idea and thought it was a mistake! We did it anyway and now of course they like it. Like you said, we thought they fit our style pretty well. That Carcass tune is pretty uncharacteristic for them, so it wasn't too much of a stretch for us to play it. I bet Earache told them it was a bad idea when they wrote that one!
The third cover, just a traditional heavy metal song, “Streetwalker” was, in fact, a cover, which a lot of people seem to be unaware of. It’s by a Louisville heavy or kind of glam metal band Buster Brown. Who’s the one that picked that?
“Streetwalker” was a song that we always listened to in the van. That's how most of our cover choices come about, they're all tour jams. Jason and I came across that song back in 2007 when we played in Greece. They had these street vendors all over Athens selling bulk packs of obscure bootleg metal cd's for dirt cheap. We bought a shit load of them and that Buster Brown album was one of the cd's.
|Photo by Brody LaBlanc |
added to by me
Since we were just on the topic of obscure metal, I’ve seen some pictures of Cauldron’s records and saw stuff that’s awesome not a lot of people know of. What’s some of the most obscure stuff you like?
Well we're all avid record collectors, but I guess the most obscure stuff I like never even came out on vinyl. Some of my favourite stuff only came out as cassette demos way back when. Bands like Ear Danger and Stash from Holland, and Excalibur, Neptune and Stormchild from Sweden.
Who did that album art and where did the idea of it come from?
Todd Kowalski from Propagandhi painted it. We saw the painting he did for the Sacrifice/Propagandhi split and asked him if he'd do something for us. We wanted something in a similar style to Thomas Cole or John Martin, sort of a hellish landscape with a bright source of light. The initial idea came from some of our favourite album covers, namely Candlemass, Entombed and Angel Witch.
I’ve noticed people complaining that the cover’s misleading, and that it seems like a death metal band cover, your thoughts on that?
It doesn't bother us if somebody strictly into death metal picks it up and ends up throwing it out their car window.
|Photo by Ish Fauxtography|
Are your fellow Canadian brethren Terrance and Philip from South Park some of your heroes or influences?No but without fail, somebody would ask us every single day on tour if we liked Fubar or Trailer Park Boys.
You guys score some pretty nice records while on tour, what’d you get this time so far, and where was the best record or junk store?
I think we all came home with a stack of 30-something records each. I got some OZ, Avenger, Possessed, Wolf, Venom, Lone Wolf, Savage Grace, Ostrogoth etc. I'm just looking at the pile next to my record player. The best stores were in Quebec City, Portland and Topeka.
I always take a book that I never read. I just end up sleeping when I'm not driving.
You guys have toured with a number of bands such as Enforcer, Municipal Waste, and more. What bands did you enjoy playing shows with the most and did you guys hangout after gigs and all?
We've been on nightliner tours with both bands, so needless to say they were non stop parties. There were times on the Municipal Waste tour where I'd wake up in the morning and Jason and Ryan would still be up singing along to Platinum Blonde completely off key and wasted.
|Photo by Al Case|
Earache gave us a budget to do a video for that song. I guess they figured it packed the most punch for a video. The idea for the video was pretty simple, we were just inspired by heavy metal horror movies like Black Roses and Rocktober Blood.
Do you guys hang out with Alison Thunderland (ex-Skull Fist, and drummer for Axxion now) and Inti Paredes a lot, who are in the beginning of the “Nightbreaker” video?
We see them at shows all the time. Inti was also our merch guy on our last European tour. He came with us for the US tour as well but got denied at the border for not having the right paperwork. We had to turn back and drop him off at a bus station in Niagara Falls. It was pretty shitty.
Sometimes it can be tough to write songs, do you guys sit down and come up with ideas, or does it just sort of happen?
We never try to force anything. We usually come up with riffs on our own when we hear something in our heads and try to figure it out. We do the arranging in the jam space but never sit down and say “OK let's write a song”. It's pretty easy to tell when something is forced.
That video called “Cauldron Doing Nothing”, is that a usual practice session?
Photo by Al Case
Earache asked us to give them a video tour of our jam space and talk about the story behind our new songs. We weren't really into that so that's what we filmed and they didn't use it! I can see why though, it's just us drunk. Our usual practices include a lot more playing.
The newer drummer, Miles Deck, how’s it been with him, is he the man for Cauldron for sure? And how’d you guys know him?
We probably have a closer musical taste with him than with any other drummer we've had. We met through a mutual friend who thought we'd be a good match. So far it's working out really well. We try not to think too far into the future!
Do you and Jason have a lot of the same styles with riffs when starting to write songs, or are some completely different sounding style wise than others?
I think we both have a good idea of what suits Cauldron and what doesn't. I'm sure there have been a few ideas that didn't really work out but for the most part we know how to write riffs that sound like us.
You joined Cauldron right after the split of “Goat Horn”, how’d you end up with them? Did you have a band before Cauldron? Speaking of Goat Horn, were you fond of their stuff? And did you know Jason before you joined up with Cauldron?Yeah I had a Nitro inspired hair metal band called Whyte Hott. It was pretty fun but was going nowhere. I was already into Goat Horn at the time and met them in 2005 when they played in Vancouver. When I heard they had broken up and were looking for a guitar player I emailed Jason and told him I would come to Toronto to try out.
Kind of a stock question, but I’m sure people are wondering, when did you start playing a guitar and how’d you get to where you are today with playing?
|Photo by Al Case|
How has your time overall in Cauldron been?
Well I don't lie to myself and have huge expectations because that's just setting yourself up for disappointment. I just try to take things as they come and enjoy myself. I get to tour and travel often so that's good enough for me.
How was it growing up? What made you pick up a guitar and is that the only instrument you play?
Yeah guitar is the only instrument I play. The first time I remember really wanting a guitar was when I saw Back to the Future for the first time. Michael J. Fox playing guitar behind his head and tapping was the coolest thing I had every seen. That's what planted the seed and it's been there ever since. Also “The Power Of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News was the greatest song I had ever heard.
|Photo by Al Case|
After this short break in touring, Cauldron will be playing at the Orion Festival with Metallica. You guys must be ready for that one! How do you all feel about that? Nervous, excited, ready to tell James to grow his hair back?
Well Jason's been on holiday since getting back from tour, so we've only got a few days to cram before we leave. I think we're all pretty excited and hope to meet Metallica. We'll probably try to get them completely hammered.
What are your favorite things to do on tour offstage?
Records and parking lot beers.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen so far on this tour?
Myles and I actually saw a leprechaun in Lawrence, Kansas. We were standing in a circle talking to some people outside the show and he appeared out of nowhere. He had a green felt jacket and hat on, and his eyebrows were shaved off with lightning bolts tattooed in their place. Myles and I ran to get our cameras/laugh and when we came back he was gone without a trace.
Myles being casual, and Ian staring down Kimo?
Photo By Kimo Verkindt
Photo By Kimo Verkindt
I saw a Cauldron hat before, maybe a few years ago, and haven’t seen them much; do you guys still sell them?
Yeah we still make them for every tour but they always sell pretty fast.
Any bands that have landed on the scene in the past years you like a lot?
Yeah Explorer from Italy, Evil Invaders from Belgium, Night Demon from LA and Wytch Hazel from England.
Do you guys have a reliable van to go around in now and what kinda stuff’s in it?
|Photo by Kevin Brown|
Who are some of your favorite guitarists or idols?
Tony Iommi and Criss Oliva from Savatage.
What’s your favorite Cauldron album so far? And what’s your favorite song to play live?
I'd have to say Tomorrow’s Lost because I'm not completely sick of it yet. We've got a few favourites. Summoned to Succumb, End of Time and Frozen in Fire would be a few.
You guys seem to have timeless tunes. When I hear songs by Cauldron, I don’t think of a specific era it reminds me of, or the specific year it was from, it just is Cauldron. Is there any formula or anything like that you guys have that you’d like to share?
Thanks, all I can think of is that we just play what comes naturally. We don't just listen to one thing either. We listen to just as much Dokken as we do Bathory and Savage Grace. Maybe that has something to do with it?
|Photo by Brody LaBlanc|
Are there any TV shows or movies you all like to watch on tour or just in general?
We can't afford to have a tv and satellite dish installed in our van, but we're all into Breaking Bad. When we were in Albuquerque we stopped by Walter White's house and the Octopus car wash. We felt like we were on the show, it was pretty weird...
On the inner sleeve of the album “Chained to the Nite”, it’s almost like an I-Spy book kind of collage. One picture was of Slayer and Megadeth being crazy and drunk together. Who threw that in there?
I think I found that online somewhere and sent it to Jason just because it looked cool. He threw it in the collage and put Steelrider next to them like he was in the photo.
What are your favorite Canadian metal albums?
That's a tough one but I'd have to say Killer Dwarfs “Stand Tall”, Razor “Executioner's Song” and Reckless “Heart of Steel”.
|Photo by Ish Fauxtography|
Sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want to make metal, has it been hard on you guys to get by on the road with getting food and all through the years?
Getting by in Europe is a lot easier. They always hook you up with food, beer and accommodations. The States is different, you're pretty much left to fend for yourself. It's harder to get by when we're not on tour! It's pretty difficult to make money when we're taking so much time off.
Well I’m sure all those reading wish you guys the best of luck with everything, and I do as well. Hopefully you’ll be up for another appearance in the ‘zine someday, I know I’d certainly like to know what the rest of the tour will bring for Cauldron and how it will be doing the Orion Fest. So in closing, what are your hopes and some things you’re curious about for the rest of the tour?
We're looking forward to BBQ'ing with Volture in Richmond this July. That's gonna be the highlight of the year for us.
Thanks for your time, Ian!
Phew... long interview... good luck with the zine Olivia! Stay Hard!
Here's one of my favorites by them from their latest album "In Ruin". Check them out if your mind hasn't been blown by them already: