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INTERVIEW: Paul Cottrell – Cursed Earth

CURSED EARTH are a band currently making waves in the Australian hardcore scene with their female fronted, brutal thrash-hardcore. After hitting stages with big names such as KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and CODE ORANGE, their first tour of the UK is with Aussie deathcore mainstays MAKE THEM SUFFER. We caught up with them backstage to get the lowdown on their new dual-EP concept release, Cycles Of Grief.

How’s the tour going so far?

Paul: Yeah, it’s been going great! This is our first time over in Europe and we couldn’t be happier with the response so far. We played London last night and it was absolutely wild – there were people out, they knew our songs, so that was pretty crazy for us. But yeah, every show so far has been great, and we couldn’t ask for anything more than that.

So, you said this is CURSED EARTH’s first time in the UK as a band, what do you think?

Paul: We love it, some of us have been as tourist before, but the gig was excellent – we got a lot of heads through the door. The Black Heart was a great venue, too.

What’s the background of CURSED EARTH? How did you guys start?

Paul: We’ve been a band for about three years now. It started out with Kieran, the other guitar player, who wrote a bunch of riffs, he kinda wrote the first EP himself – Vae Mortis. A buddy of mine was playing guitar for him at the time, and he had to move on. So I got the ask, and that’s when I joined. Kieran and Jaz know each other from the local hardcore scene, and Rob was very similar. We had a lineup change maybe about a year ago, with a new drummer, and he’s been working out really well, and we’re a pretty solid unit at the moment, we’re all pretty happy.

You said the local hardcore scene, where is that?

Paul: Perth, the most isolated capital city in Australia.

The same as MAKE THEM SUFFER. Would you say that isolation breeds a good atmosphere for bands in the area?

Paul: It’s actually a really good scene in Perth because of that, because you can’t really tour like you can on the east coast, where you can go Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and all that. You can’t do that on the west coast, so that creates a really tight-knit scene.

Cycles Of Grief – what’s the idea behind it, what’s the concept, what are you trying to do with it?

Paul: Well, originally when we were writing it, we did it as a concept of a guy who is going through ‘cycles of grief’ – but we projected our own kind of experiences onto it. So there’s a protagonist involved, but it’s all of us collectively, as that protagonist. Cycles of Grief is our nihilist approach to the idea that misery breeds misery, and so on and so forth.

Your press release talked about your ‘unprejudiced look into the intergenerational nature of coldness, addiction and violence’. So, rather than something specific, is it more of a case study in general of everything humanity creates that isn’t…good?

Paul: Yeah, so the whole Cycles of Grief idea is about…for example, if you’re in a home where domestic violence is prevalent, you’re more likely to be the one committing domestic violence in the future, stuff like that. It’s growing up in a really fucked up place, and ending up fucked up yourself – and the cycle continues.

It’s almost like a study of human nature, in that sense.

Paul: Yeah, exactly.

How come it was released as two EPs rather than an album?

Paul: When we were first discussing this, we did it because when you drop an album, people will listen to the first five songs and not go all the way through it. So, we thought if we dropped it in two parts you’d get more time to work your way through the record. The first part, Growth, is where you’re experiencing the misery, and on the second one, you’re the one creating it.

Rather than just the advertising side, I liked the fact that the two parts represented Growth and Decay, so it’s almost like the two separate releases form the cycle. I liked the fact that CURSED EARTH hit the ground immediately with a conceptual double-EP release without worrying about a fanbase.

Paul: That’s the core philosophy of the band summed up, really. We make music for us, and we’re trying to just do ‘us’ as much as we can.

How was the writing and recording process for the EPs?

Paul: It does take a while. We wrote the album probably about two years ago now, or a year and a half, something like that? The way we write is that Kieran will write a lot of the riffs, and he will send us just general mixes, with programmed drums, and we’ll kinda just build off that. Everyone has their input, and we can change stuff around like that. It can be a long process, but I think the songs come out a lot better for it. We don’t like to work with a time limit, we like to explore every avenue that we think a song has.

What bands are inspirations for CURSED EARTH? What would be your dream lineup, if you could have one?

Paul: I’ll tell you what – I was always a massive fan of WEEKEND NACHOS, and our first ever tour was with WEEKEND NACHOS, they’re an American powerviolence band from Chicago, so that was a big one for me. CODE ORANGE is another influence for us, and we got to tour with them too, so the dream lineup is already kinda happening.

That must have been big for you in terms of gaining fans, because if people like CODE ORANGE they’ll definitely like you.

Paul: Yeah, we did really well off the back of that tour. We got a lot of exposure and it was a good mix of bands.

So, all that sort of scene with powerviolence and stuff like that – that’s the sort of association you’re going for?

Paul: Yeah, so we definitely like sorta dirty hardcore and riffy metal, and that’s kinda where we land in the middle, y’know? Split the difference. That doesn’t mean we would turn down big shows though, we did the Alive Or Just Breathing tour with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, which was awesome. That’s the thing with underground hardcore, it’s starting to break into mainstream metal, which means only good things for us.

Considering your band is female fronted – what’s your opinion on changing face of women in the scene with bands like VENOM PRISON and CODE ORANGE?

Paul: I think it’s great, and it’s good to see it happening more and more. I hope it just keeps happening, to be honest. I feel like we’re at a point now where it just doesn’t seem to feel like anything special, y’know? Most of the bands we tour with nowadays have females in the band, like MAKE THEM SUFFER for example. It’s not a thing anymore, it’s not something people are weird about anymore, it’s becoming normalised, as it should be, and I hope it continues to go on that way.

What’s next for CURSED EARTH?

Paul: At this point, we’re writing for the next release – there’s no plans for that at the moment, but we’ve definitely got a lot of songs that we’re really proud of, and we can’t wait to get them out. But that’s a work in progress, there are no plans for that yet. In terms of tours, we’re doing a lot in Australia towards the end of the year, we have some big shows over there. We’re doing Unified Fest with PARKWAY DRIVE and stuff like that, so that’s gonna be good fun. We’re probably gonna do a couple of runs down the east coast of Australia. Then next year, March we’re going to the US to play South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, so that’s a big step for us, it’ll be the first time we’re going to the US. Hopefully we’ll be planning some more shows around the US around that time, too. But yeah, we’re booking up pretty fast – nothing we can talk about yet but we’re being kept very busy.

Sounds awesome, thanks very much for chatting!

Cycles of Grief Volumer II: Decay is out now via UNFD.

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