Cauldron Interview & Album Review

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cauldron in ruinI love discovering new bands. It’s something that can take place/happen in many ways through many avenues. Even better when the band is from Toronto! In truth, I’d heard the name Cauldron before and even seen the band’s logo, but I had not heard their music, until Wednesday, January 13, 2016, that is! Cauldron was the second act of a four band bill that saw Enforcer as the headliner.

The trio instantly captured my attention on stage that night, exhibiting a sound that incorporated a 70’s feel/vibe to them as well as heavily relying on elements of the NWOBHM sound. How I had not actually caught Cauldron live prior to this remains a mystery, but directly at the completion of their set I was at the merch table. Carefully weighing my beer to merch budget ratio, I could only afford to obtain one Cauldron CD of the two that were available. There were also audio cassettes and VHS available for the old schooler, not yet advanced into the digital age, but I selected their latest offering, just made available January 8, 2016, In Ruin.

The CD, In Ruin, plays really well cover to cover and has been in the rotation all week long. It’s loaded with catchy hooks and melodies with a few shades of bands like Rush and Black Sabbath added to the NWOBHM elements. Tracks like “Come Not Here” and “Corridors of Dust” have quickly become favourites, sure to surface in playlists for years to follow, with their solid riffs and intriguing solos.

Now, born from my Decibel Geek review of the Enforcer concert including a short mention on the impressions that Cauldron left me, the good folks over at The End Records extended me the opportunity to have a quick chat with bassist and frontman Jason Decay. Unfortunately, after a few failed attempts and conflicting schedules, thanks mostly to my job, Jason and I were unable to get together for our quick chat. I instead forwarded a few questions via email and awaited their return.

Cauldron accident
photo from Cauldron Facebook page

Shortly afterwards I read the terrible news posted on the Cauldron Facebook page that the band had been in a car accident. Thankfully everyone was alive, but guitarist Ian Chains was still in hospital! Here’s the statement posted on the page on February 15, 2016: “Sorry to report the unfortunate news of our accident (not at fault btw) on the highway in Texas last night and that we will have to pull out of the remaining 8 tour dates. Ian is recovering in hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, otherwise everyone is going to be ok. We are just happy to be alive at this point. Thanks for your support and to our tour mates Enforcer, Warbringer & Exmortus; we had fun and wish you all the best. Hope to see you all again soon.”

Cauldron-Ian Chains BenefitWhile hoping that the band members would heal quickly and continue to perform, write and record in the future, I, out of respect, chose not to follow up on my email questions. Cauldron certainly had much more to worry about than The Meister‘s email interview and for me their health was more important for sure! There’s a benefit show in which Goat Horn, featuring Jason Decay, will be playing among others to help Ian and Cauldron get back on their feet at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on April 8, 2016. Come rage if you’re in the area, here’s the Facebook event link: Basement Metal Fest Vol. 1

Fast forward about two months and I was surprised upon checking my email inbox to discover my email questions returned, answered not by Jason Decay as originally planned, but by Ian Chains! Thank-you so much for taking the time for this Ian and cheers to a speedy recovery! Here’s the interview below:

So, introduce me to Cauldron. How would you classify your music? Do you agree with NWOTHM? What do you think of that movement that’s cropped up in recent times?

Hi, Cauldron is a trio from Toronto, Ontario.  We play bare bones heavy metal in its simplest form, no sub-genre needed.  If we absolutely had to identify ourselves more specifically, we’d call it “Doom AOR”.  NWOTHM was a term made up by British rock-mag journalists around 2008 when they realised there were 3 or more bands playing “Old school white high top bullet belt metal” and that they could do a feature on it.  It never really concerned us, but I do think there were some good bands that popped up around then, even though most seem to have disappeared.

And what’s Goat Horn and how did Cauldron come about?

Goat Horn was Jason’s band prior to Cauldron.  They were around from ’99 to ’06 when Brandon (guitar) left the band.  Jason decided rather than continuing Goat Horn he’d start a new band called Cauldron.  I heard he was looking for a guitar player and flew out to Toronto to jam some songs with him and Al (drums).  We recorded the “Into the Cauldron” EP shortly after that.

What would be some of Cauldron’s main influences? Bands and/or lyricists?

A few of our biggest influences would be 80’s Sabbath, Savatage and Dokken (all 1 guitar player bands).  We take inspiration from everywhere, though.  We’re just as influenced by old German speed metal as we are syrupy AOR.

CauldronSo In Ruin is the fourth album as Cauldron….inspirations? Lyrical themes? A unified theme throughout In Ruin? A statement you’re trying to make? Favourite song and why?

Yes In Ruin is our fourth album that is finally out worldwide.  It was a pretty dark time for the band when we were writing the songs.  We were having label problems and were just left hanging.  The future looked pretty uncertain hence the album title.  We recorded the album on our own dime and I think some of the feelings we were having show through on the album.  There’s no unified theme or statement throughout the album that we’re aware of, but there’s definitely a mood over the whole thing.  We were just trying to write the best possible songs that we could at the time.  I guess one of my favourite songs on the album is “Corridors of Dust”.  It just has an odd structure compared to most Cauldron songs and a lot of replay value, plus I was pretty happy with the guitar solo.

The Song Santa Mira is about the movie Halloween III (Season of the Witch)?

Yeah, we love Part III, the underdog of the Halloween movies.  To me it’s like Kiss “Unmasked”, I love it but most people think it’s utter shit.  It just seemed natural to have a song about it.  I like the title too, it’s just a bit ominous.

The video for No Return looks like it was fun. What’s the concept, where was it filmed?

Our friend Mike lives way up in the middle of nowhere and has his friends’ bands play on a makeshift stage in his back yard every year.  We figured it would be a good opportunity for our bud, Eric to come with us and set off a bunch of pyro while we played.  We were just playing to a small crowd of friends but filmed it anyway.  We mixed it with some footage of us practising in our rehearsal room and there you have it.  I was extremely hungover in the grocery store scene where I’m holding the grapefruit.  I don’t want to feel like that again for a long time.

I noticed that Olof Wikstrand from Enforcer was involved in the In Ruin album, how did you get hooked up with Olof? 

We’ve known Olof since we first met him in Sweden around 2009.  We’ve toured with Enforcer multiple times and have become good friends with those guys.  We knew Olof and his brother Jonas recorded/mixed/mastered their last 2 albums, which sound great, so we asked Olof if he’d have a go at mixing our album.  We had another guy doing some sample mixes over here, but they just weren’t cutting it so we went with Olof.  He knows our band well enough that he knew exactly what we wanted.  I think he did an amazing job!

I noticed you were selling VHS/Cassettes, at the Toronto show that’s really old school? Is it just old stock or do you find there’s a market for those items?

We thought it would be a good idea to make VHS tapes and cassettes, mainly just because we’re fans of them.  Gotta admit they’re a pretty slow sell.  Most people think the cassette tape is a deck of cards.

Cauldron moonlightHow’s the tour going? Road stories? You’ve toured before with Enforcer? Diamond Head? What about playing Metallica’s Orion Fest?

Well, the tour ended quite abruptly.  We flipped our van over outside Dallas with 8 shows left to go.  I managed to fracture my spine in 3 spots and was in the hospital for a week.  It was pretty obvious that the tour was over.  I guess that’ll be one of our most memorable “crazy” tour stories.  Yeah, I already mentioned Enforcer, but it was pretty fun hanging out with Diamond Head.  They thought we were a local support band and wished us “good luck in the future mates” after every show.  I think after 7 shows with them they realised we weren’t going anywhere.  Orion Fest was a lot of fun.  When we were walking to the backstage area Kirk jammed on the brakes on his golf cart and yelled at us to “Get the fuck out of the way!”  We saw Lars rip by on another golf cart a couple times, and saw Papa Het side stage for another band.  We never got to meet them, though, aside from Myles walking up to Trujillo only to have him blankly stare back and then get whisked away by his entourage.  I think we spent most of the time at the open bar backstage and managed to miss almost every band except Metallica.  Oh yeah, speaking of cassette tapes, Jason and I spotted Cliff Burnstein (Metallica’s manager) at the catering and walked up to his table while he was eating.  We gave him a tape and asked if he still had a player.  He said “Oh I think I have one in storage somewhere” to which I replied, “Well dust it off bud!”  He looked mildly confused but it appeared that he took the tape with him when he left.

Any goals set for Cauldron ahead?

My main goal right now is to heal properly and get out of this back brace.  We’ve got a bunch of new songs in the works and have some shows lined up for the summer and fall.  We’re just taking it one step at a time.

Ian Chains

Again, special thanks to Ian and Cauldron. Here’s to a speedy recovery and see you on April 8th!

BUY: Cauldron – In Ruin

Cauldron Swag

Cauldron Website / Cauldron Facebook / Cauldron Twitter

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