Matt Cuthbertson – Lead Guitar & Vocals
Interviewed by JP
Hailing from Saskatoon, SK Canada, Untimely Demise are an up and coming thrash/death metal band. We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Matt Cuthbertson to get the latest on what the band is up to.
Please give us a brief history of the early years of the band.
Murray and I had played in a technical speed punk band under the same name before meeting up with our drummer Scott Cross in the summer of 2006. We got his number from a poster he had put up at one of our local record stores. It read "drummer looking to play Metal/Punk/Rock". So we met up at Scott’s garage, jammed out some Slayer, Megadeth and Maiden songs as well as some improvisation, then proceded to roast some hotdogs over an open fire. We have been writing, recording and touring together ever since.
Who did the album cover for Full Speed Metal? How did that happen?
Edward J. Repka created the cover art for both Full Speed Metal and City of Steel. He is of course best known for creating iconic covers such as Megadeth’s Peace Sells But Who’s Buying and Rust In Peace, Death’s Spiritual Healing, Scream Bloody Gore, and Leprosy, and so forth. After recording our FSM EP with Glen Drover in the fall of 2009, my brother Murray contacted Ed and asked if he would be interested in doing our cover art. Ed listened to (and enjoyed) the tracks on Myspace, we discussed a rough theme and from there he made it a reality.
Tell us about the recording of CITY OF STEEL. How did Mr. Drover become involved?
After Glen left Megadeth, my brother became aware that he would be taking on recording projects in his studio. The same as with Ed, we just contacted Glen, he listened to the tracks and liked them. From there Glen just had to make sure that we could make it to Toronto and that we were for real (not just contacting him to ask him about what kind of socks Dave likes to wear). Now we have recorded an EP as well as our "City of Steel" LP with Glen and we are heading back to The Big Smoke to record our newest album from June 22-July 3 2012.
What is the story behind the cover art for CITY OF STEEL?
(Murray answered this one)…
The lyrical inspiration for our title track ‘City Of Steel’ was the World War 2 battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943). It seems that the most devious tales of mankind’s propensity for violence are always derived from the pages of History. We felt that an aurally epic song required equally powerful lyrics and imagery to accompany it; the cover art, just like the composition, is an overview of one of the brutalist battles of the 20th Century, where the German 6th Army clashed with the 62nd Red Army on the Volga city of Stalingrad. In a static, dug-in battle of attrition, the defending Soviets eventually emerged triumphant as their superiority in manpower, supplies, and winter clothing proved pivotal in the outcome of the battle. Once the Russians encircled the German forces it was clear that the latter was doomed. Of course, bringing the concept to Ed Repka entailed some zombiefication of the combatants, to which the band was delighted.
How did a band from Saskatoon come to be involved with Sonic Unyon. Why did you decided to reissue the album?
When we finished putting together the Full Speed Metal EP, we had 1000 copies pressed onto CD format. As soon as they came back from the plant, the first thing we did was grab about 75 of those CD’s and sent them out to every label, agent, magazine, or anyone else we could think of that could help Untimely Demise get to "the next level". (we see being in a band as "fishing" or "gambling" you always need to be "casting lines") Of all those, we probably had 10 positive responses from various people/companies and of those 10 responses, 2 of them led to tangible business connections. First off, the record label/ worker collective War On Music from Winnipeg put out a 500 pressing of FSM on 7" vinyl. (this was great, as it was the first time we had our music pressed onto wax) Secondly was the introduction to the Sonic Unyon family. We didn’t sign with Sonic Unyon right away, but this is the point where they became interested in what we were doing. About a year later while we were on one of our tours out east (promoting COS album), we stopped by the Sonic Unyon office and went out for coffee with the crew. Later that month we signed a 2 album deal with them.
As for the COS reissue, both Sonic and us felt this album should reach a larger audience, going beyond the fans we sold it to at shows and the smaller independent record shops that we consigned it to. I has now been released on vinyl for the first time on Sonic Unyon and War On Music (Buy it people)!
Is there a disadvantage to be situated in a smaller city away from the Metal music industry?
As long as your band is out touring, living in a smaller market doesn’t hold back your band. It was initially a bit more difficult for us to find a large audience to play for in town because there was just a bunch of smaller scenes that only supported "their" sub-genres shows (ie. Crust, Grind, Punk, American Metal, etc). So we just played lots of shows where we didn’t necessarily "fit the bill" but with our speed and intensity we won over a lot of these fans. Now at an Untimely Demise show you will see Hipsters, Grinders, Scum fucks, Newer Metalheads, old headbangers, and punks. With this being said, we don’t shy away from adding Punk, Grind or any heavy/technical bands to our bills. The fact of the matter is, all of these fans want loud music with distortion along with some rowdy moshing and a little booze.
Back to the question though, I’d say with the internet it has become possible to make contacts with anyone in the world from the small outpost that you operate out of. Plus I like that we could just play the music we liked without feeling forced to lump ourselves into some tread that may be happening in a bigger city.
Tell us a bit about your experiences (If any) about getting nominated for the Canadian Independent Music Award for Metal Artist Of The year?
It was pretty cool to get a tip of the cap from the industry and it was nice of the Sask Arts Board to help fly us out to Toronto. As far as the scene at the Canadian Music Week and the Awards show…..it was pretty shallow. Definitely the polar opposite of what Thrash Metal is all about. From what I saw that week, there were a bunch of "music experts" and "agents" struting around touting their expertise and wealth of knowledge about how this failing industry works. Then there were a bunch of younger bands sculking around in hopes of being "swept off their feet" into a life of fame and stardom. I found this to be kind of sad.
It’s creeping towards two years since CITY OF STEEL originally came out. Have you been working on new material?
The material is now ready and we are rehearsing as a group every other day until we hit the studio on June 22- July 3. We’re gonna do it up again with Glen Drover in Toronto. At this point we have a great system and he gets what we’re going for. The goal is to put out a record that blows "City of Steel" out of the water. We had 100′s of great riffs to work with for this album and the problem was making sure we didn’t have too many idea’s in each song. (we love progressive music, but still want Untimely Demise to have a focused sound where we don’t stray from bands like Megadeth, Death, Testament, and Arch Enemy; by this I mean by the end of each song the listener should know that it’s the same song rather than it seeming like there were 30 idea’s just jammed together.) The song’s all have killer riffs, great rhythm’s, more focus on complementary bass lines, and cool melodic idea’s peppered throughout, thus allowing the death/thrash rhythm’s to breathe. Oh yes, and obviously interesting rhythms specifically written to write solo’s over. We are recording 8 tracks and the album will run just under 40 minutes of music.
When you write songs is it a collaboration or is there one primary writer? Do you and your brother do most of the writing?
The melodic idea’s are generally written by me, but with that being said, I might be riffing in the jam room and Murray will come down and say "that riff you played 2 minutes ago….you need to turn that into something" or "what if you put those 2 idea’s together and then repeated it". This is the first album where we’ve been doing writing with the whole band. At least 2 of the songs for this one were written by me listening to Scott play a beat and then copying the rhythm with my guitar and adding chords and riffs to accent to beat. This is cool because it lets Scott exploit his jazzy skill set and it’s a fresh approach. And we’ve been coming up with some great bass lines inspired by these beats.
For the lyrics, Murray and I will pick a topic together that we can get behind, then we’ll play the song from a recording of a jam and pick vocal rhythms and melodies. From here, Murray usually comes up with a majority of the actual lyrics.
Then for solos, i usually just shred over the whole song and record this on a separate track. Then I’ll listen to this over and over and pick out some of the interesting idea’s, then I’ll start crafting tangible solo’s over the most appropriate spots in the song. From here, if Glen finds any spots that need something extra, either he will put something in or I’ll put something in right when we’re recording in Toronto.
What are the plans for the immediate future?
As I said before, we are recording with Glen Drover from June 22 to July 3 in Toronto. While we’re out there, we are playing a show at The Hard Luck Bar on Dundas on June 23. We are playing a direct support slot for Anvil on July 31 and support for Skeletonwitch on July 26. Then most likely a North American tour when the album is released.
Any famous last words?
‘You gotta believe in yourself or no one will’ – ‘Believer’ off Diary Of A Madman by Ozzy Osbourne
Thanks to everyone that makes the wheels of our band turn! We appreciate it, and want you all to check us out live in your town when we roll through, to buy our records and CDs, and to LIKE the band on facebook: www.facebook.com/