“Just play music and smash shit.” – A conversation with Secret Cutter.
Those who were lucky enough to hear the band’s self-titled debut LP back in 2014 won’t be surprised to hear that the latest full-length from Pennsylvanian trio Secret Cutter is a potent bout of thrilling and unique sludgy grindcore. For an album that comes in at less than half-an-hour, Quantum Eraser is a stifling listen from a group well and truly flexing their talent for killer riffs. Indeed, as if it were possible, the band’s sophomore effort feels heavier than their debut, but it’s also tighter and more focused with an experimental edge.
Don’t be fooled, though, because whilst that term is often reserved for bands who tinker with atmospheric flourishes and prolonged sections of tension-escalating respite, Secret Cutter don’t have time for subtlety – their Converge-meets-Eyehategod style prefers to leap out of the speakers like a kick to the gut then maintain the barrage for as long as possible.
If today’s one of those days where the world’s fucked state has you worrying for mankind’s future, this is the album you want soundtracking the impending apocalypse. Compelled to find out more, we sat down with vocalist Ekim, drummer Jared Stimpfl and guitarist Evan Morey to discuss all things Quantum Eraser.
Your sound is often described as “genre-bending” despite taking obvious influences from grind and sludge, do you think doing something new with established genres is important in the modern metal scene?
Jared (drums): I think it’s always important to push or bend the boundaries, although I don’t feel like it was a deliberate thing for us to mend the two, it sort of just happened.
Ekim (vocals): I think it’s all vibe/feeling. So I don’t think we go out there trying to sound like anybody else.
Your music seems to draw from the slower-paced realms of doom and sludge as much as it does the more adrenaline-fuelled bedlam of grind or punk. Both are intensely powerful, but considering their compositional differences, is it hard to merge the two?
Jared: It can be a challenge to mash them up in a tasteful way. If we’re cringing because the transition between the two feels off then it’s not going to work. We’re constantly changing how our songs flow and testing out what works. When it feels natural then we know it’s right.
Speaking of genres, do you feel that the notion of genre is becoming increasingly redundant in 2018?
Jared: I think over-categorisations are annoying. Maybe it’s just the ego trying to make something new to stand out. But I know every time I hear of a new genre I think to myself, “of course that’s a thing now.”
Ekim: Apso-freaking-lutely. Just play music and smash shit.
It’s been four years since your debut LP, how has your sound progressed in this time?
Jared: We’ve definitely grown as people and as musicians so naturally we feel it is a nice progression from where we were four years ago. There’s more of a cohesion I think, It also feels like we fight (with the song) less to make the song feel where it needs to go.
Ekim: Like with any tool, the more you use it the better you become with it.
Pitchfork referred to your last album as a “sleeper jam”. With that in mind, did you feel pressure going into this album, considering you’ve built up a considerable following since its release?
Jared: I don’t think we felt any more pressure than the last album. We’re in a unique situation where we can decide when it’s right, and not feel rushed to put out a sub-par record or recording. Having a recording studio really opens up the possibilities of getting everything in the right place, which is a double-edged sword sometimes. Having so many choices and time to listen can really hinder the process. It’s hard to put a “done” stamp on anything when you know you can tweak it to death.
Ekim: I don’t think there’s any more pressure. If we like how the songs come out then we’re good with it and hopefully fans of our band dig it as much as we do.
What is the “Quantum Eraser”? Does the album as a whole revolve around a theme/concept?
Evan (guitars): There are a few songs on the record that are connected to the title. That being said, the album is in no way a “concept record”. Quantum Eraser is a shortened version of the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment, which showed a paradox in how light and time behaves. It’s something that’s hard to explain in a short paragraph. I find Quantum Mechanics very interesting from a philosophical/spiritual viewpoint.
Who/what inspires you musically?
Evan: Bands that are their own genre, using the Melvins as an example. Ask someone who the Melvins sound like. The answer will most likely be “the Melvins”.
Speaking of influences, you’ve previously mentioned bands such as Discordance Axis, As The Sun Sets, Blutch and Black Cobra. Would you say that your unique take on extreme metal is essentially an amalgamation of such influences?
Ekim: No, I think there are albums we really enjoy, but my influence basically comes from the mood I’m in at that moment, which usually comes from how Jared and Evan’s initial instrumental versions make me feel.
Was your sound a deliberate invention, or a natural concoction that emerged when you started writing?
Jared: We didn’t really know what we were going for in the beginning, we all knew we really loved Floor, so that was a common thread that started us out. I was always more into the grind stuff so the mending sort of just happened I think.
Evan: It definitely came from a spark of an idea. For me, it was a heavy band whose riffs were somewhat mechanical. Floor for sure. Godflesh was definitely in there. I feel we took it in our own direction from the first song we wrote. I take a good deal of pride in people’s inability to classify us easily.
What can we expect from Secret Cutter going forward?
Jared: More new stuff! And touring. We don’t really know what’s to be expected.
Quantum Eraser is out now on Deathwise/Holy Roar. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr