Saturday, May 28, 2022

JOB FOR A COWBOY INTERVIEW @ O2 Academy3, Birmingham

Job For a Cowboy are a good chunk into their UK and European tour with death metal kingpins Dying Fetus. Since their arrival in 2005 with their EP ‘Doom’, they’ve progressed to become a name few people are unfamiliar with. We had a chat with JFACs drummer, Jon ‘The Charn’ Rice. We discussed Jon joining Job For a Cowboy and dealing with their flamboyant tendencies, and the aftermath of the release of their new album ‘Demonocracy’.

So you’ve been on tour for a few days now, how are things going?

Good, very well. We know everyone on the tour already so we knew it was going to be pretty good. The shows have been super fun.

Are you looking forward to your European dates?

Yes absolutely. We love going to Europe. I think a lot of American bands don’t enjoy going to Europe ‘cause they’re not used to having some of the amenities taken away like 24 hour stuff. But we all love it.

You released your 3rd record entitled ‘Demonocracy’ back in February how would you describe the reception to its release?

It’s been really good. Even better than ‘Ruination’ which I thought was pretty awesome considering that was pretty well received. We’re just building upon what we had from ‘Genesis’ and it just keeps getting better and better. With ‘Gloom’ as well, since it’s the same line up, I don’t think many people had heard ‘Gloom’ as much as ‘Demonocracy’ only because it was an EP. But the fact that the people have heard ‘Demonocracy’ has made it really popular. Even when we play the new songs live kids are freakin’ out. So I’m very happy with it.

With the release of ‘Demonocracy’ how would you say Job for a Cowboy has evolved over the years since the release of ‘Ruination’ in 2009 after you joined the band?

Just a new band, essentially. We have a new guitar player and bass player, different outlook and different writing styles collaborating together. When writing ‘Ruination’ it was all very straight forward. But with the arrival of Tony and Nick; they’re both way too good with their instruments so you get these challenges thrown at you that are really fucking cool.

Can you take us through the writing process for Job For A Cowboy.

Yeah sure. Al and Tony sit down and they just jam essentially and try and go through structural stuff and get a bare skeleton for songs going. Then I come in and I use the idea’s they’ve given me to figure stuff out. If we don’t like something as a group it gets re-arranged. Then Jonny does all his vocal stuff in the studio. It’s pretty straight forward apart from the fact we all live in different parts of the country in the US. So we can’t really all be together when we write so it’s very much a segmented thing with us, the internet really helps.

When you were last in the UK the album hadn’t been released for that long, now that it’s been a few months would you say now that you will be playing a lot of new songs in your set?

Definitely. On the Cannibal Corpse I think we were only doing one or two songs off ‘Demonocracy’. But this time round we’ve got 3 new songs in our set list which should be enough because they’re all longer songs and they comprise most of the set.

Do you have a favourite song off the new album?

You know, it’s weird because I wanted to play a couple of songs that we’re not playing. And now I’ve realised the one’s we are playing are probably the better options. We’re playing ‘Tarnished Gluttony’ tonight and it’s so much fun to play because you lock in with the other members of the band since it’s such a ‘doomy’ song. Playing slower songs really makes you think.

So would you say that’s your favourite song to play live now?

We’ve actually only played that song live 3 times now and it’s grown to become my favourite to be honest.

‘Demonocracy’ is arguably your most politically charged record to date. So if you could rule the world for a day, what would change?

Probably hunger, definitely hunger. My band eats so much food I feel bad, it’s ridiculous. Everyone deserves food.

Is there anything different you would like to do in future releases? For example have a guest vocalist or try out a full blown concept album?

Well ‘Genesis’ was a concept album so I don’t know about that so much. As for something different I don’t know, we got a pretty good thing going already. The idea of a guest solo or guest vocalist is something we could do for sure.

You’ve been in the band for 6 years or so now, you’ve seen some members come and go, would you say that, as a band, you allow new members of the band to bring their own influences to the music?

Oh yeah, absolutely. As soon as Nick and Tony came in they were bringing their own unique stuff to the table immediately. We’re 100% a democracy, there’s no one guy laying the hammer down ever. Everyone has a say, everyone has input. Especially with the writing, merch designs, touring, take out; everyone gets a say.

The story of how you came to be in the band aswell is quite interesting; we understand it via a video audition posted on youtube? So you posted the video, what happened from then on?

Well I found out they needed a drummer and they were taking video submissions which I thought was pretty cool. So I learned a song and I sent in the video. It was a month before I heard back from them because Shannon Lucas now of The Black Dahlia Murder was essentially in the band. But he couldn’t tour so that didn’t work out. So they went back and dug up my video and I was told to make another video. After I posted that video I flew out of Phoenix, Arizona to audition in person. About 3 weeks later I was on tour with them.

So there wasn’t much time to learn the songs then?

No not really. I was learning stuff from ‘Genesis’ which I hadn’t heard much of since it hadn’t been released yet. I already knew the ‘Doom’ stuff, but learning brand new music on the spot was a challenge.

How did your nickname of ‘The Charn’ come to be?

It originates from my e-mail to the band when I auditioned. Instead of signing it off as John I put that for some reason, I don’t know why. Perhaps I thought it would make me stick out. I think it’d worked, I’m here now.

You’ve also recently put out a video for ‘Tarnished Gluttony’. This thing is a 9 minute long clip and it’s quite disturbing but clearly has the story of Abraham an Isaac flowing through it. Can you tell us how you came to decide on what you wanted in the video?

Well we went with this Danish guy (Michael Panduro) since Cephalic Carnage has a video with him for their song ‘Ohrwurm’ and it’s an incredible video. As a band we don’t particularly like being in the videos, so when our old management told us we needed to a live video it was god awful. Of course that was scrapped and we met up with Michael who eventually came up with this whole Lovecraftian theme. Even just seeing the first edits we knew this was going to be so good. We put a lot of faith in the guy just to do whatever he wanted and he nailed it on the head, it has nothing to do with the lyrics but it is so good. It’s got to be our best video so far and I really enjoyed it. You know it’s a good sign when my parents, who follow everything the band does, tell you they couldn’t even get through half of it.

On all of Job For a Cowboy’s album covers there’s the motif of the ram’s skull. What does it mean?

I don’t think it really has any meaning as such. It may relate back to the bands hometown of Phoenix with the deserts and all the desolation. To be honest I think it’s just more of an artistic thing more than a symbol. Jonny did the ‘Doom’ EP cover and I’m not sure why he threw it on there.

What would you say you do as a band to make your live shows unique and enjoyable?

It’s funny, ‘cause as a death metal band we’re supposed to be super serious I guess. But we all have this thing where we try and get all flamboyant, as in borderline hair-metal flamboyant, and it makes it so much fun. For example last night, because we have wireless systems and it was only a small club, Nick and Tony went up to the bar while we playing and tried to order beer. You’ve gotta keep it light. Some bands do it well like Cannibal Corpse, those guys don’t move anywhere on stage; they just stand there and headbang. I don’t wanna say we can’t do that but it’s better for us if we move around a bit, running everywhere and being obnoxious.

If you could do a headlining tour anywhere with any 3 support bands, who would you take and where would you go?

See that’s a hard one ‘cause all the bands I’d wanna tour with are much bigger than us. I don’t know about where; we’ve been so many places now and I’ve hit nearly every spot I’ve ever wanted to go in my life. I guess right now the only place would be South East Asia. For support bands I’d go with Black Breath, basically bands of that ilk.

So do you feel that death metal bands are also paying more attention to Asia now?

Yeah, Hate Eternal just went to China and Malaysia. Misery and Exodus have been to Indonesia and all these bands go over there. We actually have stuff in the works now to go over there. It’s just a really foreign territory where they don’t really get too many shows, so when they do get a show we’re expecting some crazy nights. It’s going to be so much fun; the culture is going to be totally different.

You also frequently play festivals in the UK, would you say you prefer festivals to touring?

No, and it’s only for one reason. We love playing festivals don’t get us wrong. But playing a club show, to us, is more fun because you’ve got the intimacy. Obviously we love going to festivals ‘cause you get to see bands you never get to see anywhere else. We’ve done Wacken twice and pretty much every other major festival in Europe and the UK. It’s mind blowing to be playing on the same days as KISS or The Prodigy. You just don’t get that in the US.

Whilst on tour what are some of the things you do in your spare time?

Take weirdo walks, especially in Europe.

Weirdo walks? What are those?

You just explore the city. We just walk around anywhere looking for cool stuff. But you don’t always get the time to do it because there’s always something going on. That and listening to music in your bunk and sleeping.

Your most recent EP, ‘Gloom’, was given a limited physical release of only 2,500 copies. Jonny is known to of said this was so the diehard fans had something to get their hands on. Would you say you see yourselves doing similar exclusive releases in the future?

Maybe, yeah. That EP was interesting because it was a test run for our new line up to see how it would work, thankfully it worked out well. I could definitely see it happening again. We’re definitely one of the more aesthetic bands, especially when it comes to our merch and our back drops. We love the visual feel.

2013 will be the bands 10th anniversary; do you think you’ll be doing anything special for this occasion?

Probably not. I think the bands typically save that for 15th or 20th anniversaries and I can’t foresee that far in the future. But for that year we’re going to be touring heavy; definitely coming back to Europe for sure and doing US stuff. Possibly in other places of the world that are more isolated. But nothing is confirmed yet.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to get out there to our readers?

Yeah just, come out to the shows and have a beer with us. Come down, have a good time and pick up the record if you like it.

Sean Rafferty
A metalhead residing the birthplace of metal - Birmingham!

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