Job For A Cowboy are easily one of the most divisive bands out there. People constantly think of their beginnings as a MySpace-born deathcore band and fail to recognize the last string of releases in recent years. However, their newest effort is nothing like their first record, combining prog and death metal to create our Album Of The Year. A couple weeks before Sun Eater dropped, I got to speak with Nick Schendzielos, their bassist, about metal, the industry, and even Mudvayne.
So, your new record comes out in about two weeks! Everybody, I’m sure, is super anxious to get the final product out there for the fans.
We’re all really stoked. I’ve never had this type of positive response, or this level of positive response, to any of the stuff I’ve done with Job [For A Cowboy] before, for sure. Probably even with Cephalic Carnage, too. All the fans are super excited, and we kind of feed off that, in a sense. So it just makes us even more excited to finally get the record out there and let people hear the whole thing.
Of course, dude. Especially after hearing the first two singles. I’m actually doing the review for your record, and the very first thing I noticed was how much the bass was prevalent in the mix, and I thought it was extremely well-done.
Yes! Hell yeah!
Is that a fretless bass you’re using?
It’s actually not, no. I think it’s a common misconception. Just because of the fact that when you hear the real kind of growly, mid-range sound (fretless players describe it as MWAH), just because of the EQ that comes with that sound. Jeroen [Paul-Thessling, ex-Obscura], is one of the most dominant fretless bass players in metal, and Steve DiGiorgio [Death] is too; one of the things they have in common is that they both have that same sound. So I think that when the bass is EQ’d that way listeners kind of associate that it’s fretless, but if you listen closely you can hear a tiny bit of the frets. When you slide on a fretless you can definitely distinguish it from anything else. I’m using a Warwick Dolphin, and the wood in that bass is EQ’d to sound like a fretless when it’s done right. The tone that I had in my head for Jason [Suecof, producer] to try to get super close to Was Ryan Martinie of Mudvayne, from their first album LD 50. That was the record that made me want to play bass, and I especially loved Ryan’s tone on it. So when I went into the studio, although skeptical at what they’d say, I went up to Jason and John [Douglass, engineer] and said that that was the bass tone I wanted, and they were all about it. About 10 seconds after we plugged in the bass, Jason said “Hell yeah, man, that’s it.” We barely had to do anything at all to it. There’s no effects, just EQ’d and compressed in all the right ways.
Was it fun to work with Jason again?
Oh yeah, totally. He’s a super cool dude to work with, and this time he really understood what sound we were going for. He heard roughly 90% of the material before we even entered the studio, and he was all about it, and when we began to track everything, he helped us shape it into the beast that is Sun Eater. He’s honestly the sixth member of the band. He helped us snag Danny [Walker] from Intronaut to lay down drums; he’s helped our songs become actual songs instead of just random riffs together. Working with him for years has really built a solid relationship that we can’t wait to see take on new challenges in the future!
Going back to what you mentioned, you obviously needed to not only find a drummer capable of playing along with what you wrote, but also bringing a unique style to the band as well. It must have been a bit of a change to go from a drummer, to not having one, to having a session drummer.
Oh it wasn’t that weird, but it did make us think a little harder about how to write the drum parts since we didn’t really know at the time who’d be our drummer.
Danny’s drums on the new record are superb! Is he going to be touring with you guys come 2015, or is he simply a session member?
Well we don’t want to steal him from Intronaut, because that’s his baby. If we can get his schedule to work, however, we’d love to have him tour with us. We’ve talked with him before and he’s on board. We’re all good friends with the guys in Intronaut. We have a great deal of respect for the dudes in Intronaut and are in no way trying to steal him away from them or take away from Intronaut’s rise to glory. That being said, when he is available, we’d love to present the new material with him because he’s the guy that wrote and performed those parts. Nobody knows them better.
Have you guys ever just chilled with Intronaut and bounced riffs off of one another? There are some parts in the new album that I could see Joe [Lester, bass] writing or playing himself, and I think you guys have a common ground with the more atmospheric stuff, particularly now.
It’s never really bouncing riffs off of one another. It’s more in the sense of we influence each other a little bit, and it becomes had to separate yourself from what you like, who you tour with, who they listen to, etc. It’s a little less along the lines of bouncing music off one another and more of being influenced without knowing it until later. Once you hear the concept, you can’t unhear it. You’ll always subconsciously be thinking about it. I read all about stuff like that in the book How Music Works by David Byrne. He talks about how in ancient times, before music could be copy written, people would just share music around. Nobody would own it. Everyone could trade music from person to person and then expand out on it. It’s not quite the same thing, because everyone is always cognizant of sounding “too much” like another band, so it doesn’t get shared around as much. It becomes more of being influenced rather than ripping someone off. I always thought it’d be cool to tour together and have, say, Joe and Sacha come up for a Job song, or let me and Tony [Sanicandro, guitars] do an Intronaut song. That would be a fun tour. Intronaut and Job For A Cowboy.
You aren’t just teasing a 2015 tour, are you?
I wish I were, man. That isn’t happening just yet.
Let’s go back to Sun Eater. The new record is definitely more progressive than anything Job has ever done before, for sure. I’d been describing it to people as if you took super heavy Gojira riffs, odd-meter drums, and some cool bass patterns like in Obscura or Gorguts and put them all together into one unit. If you could describe this album to someone unfamiliar with Job For A Cowboy, how would you do it?
For someone that’s never heard Job before, first off, I’d hope this would be the record they’d listen to first. When people hear our name, in their minds they’re thinking 2006, Myspace, swoop haircuts, wearing your sister’s jeans, and that’s been a super difficult thing for the band to get over. I think it’s because the band got popular so fast, that in everyone’s minds, that’s what the band was and what the band still is. What we hope is that this is the record people think of five to ten years down the line when talking about Job For A Cowboy, and not the old version of the band. With that being said, I think, to me, it’s forward-thinking death metal. I’m not afraid of the word “progressive”, but to me, I think this album has a strong emphasis on groove, vibe, atmosphere, and mood, as opposed to trying to be techy or proggy just for the sake of it. It was a much more organic process this time around, where we aimed for each song to have a certain vibe, a certain mood.
So which song is your favorite?
Oh man, good question. Probably the first two songs [‘Eating The Vision Of God’ & ‘Sun Of Nihility’], since they kind of blend into one another and become one long piece. My second choice is probably ‘The Synthetic Sea’. We didn’t want to have a super fast opener, since it’s so common in the metal scene, and that’s why we picked the moodiest tracks to open with.
Going back to what you said about showing you’re not the same band, recently there’s been a trend that’s taken over the music scene in the sense that really bad music will sell. For example, King 810 toured with Slipknot recently, and just got signed to Roadrunner Records. Do you think that there’s a frame of mind in the industry that ‘shit sells’?
Well, I’ve heard of the band, but never listened, so I can’t judge. But I do think that Job deserves to get on some tours like that, especially after the release of the new record. It’s one of those things where I think the two sides of music come into play. I believe that what you put in front of people is what people will eat. So what you shove down people’s throats, specifically with large magazines, satellite radio, etc., people will like. As long as the production is good, people will listen. If you put it on a national platform, regardless of content of the material, people will buy it. I also know, however, that if you put something that has great music in the spotlight it will sell also. In the underground scene of true music connoisseurs—true collectors that understand there is good music that doesn’t necessarily make its way to the top—those people have a lot of power as well, and there’s sort of an organic virility that comes from it. Word of mouth has a lot more power than anything else at times, and when people respect you…for example, you’re writing this all down right now. People respect the website and your opinion, and this carries with it a lot of power, where you’re able to tell people “Hey, this is great, you should check it out”, and they’ll listen. People listen to word of mouth from those they respect more than any other type of advertising. I think it’s harder that way, but at the same time, it’s more fulfilling, especially to the band, that we have fans that never knew about us until their best friend showed them, and then they become diehard fans. It’s really rewarding like that.
Do you think you’ll win some of your older fans back with this new record that chastised you guys for abandoning the Deathcore sound?
Oh, absolutely. I think that they fell of the wagon starting with Ruination for a couple of reasons. Ultimately, they wanted pig squeals and breakdowns, but at the same time, this new record has more space. The ones after the Doom EP all had a constant barrage of riffs, and that left no space to breathe. I think that this record especially allows us to breathe, allows the music itself to breathe, and allows the fan a break from the madness. I think that this is going to be the record that brings those kids back. No pig squeals or anything, but I think they missed that breathing room with the last couple of records. It’s our music more as a conversation, not all of us trying to talk over one another at once.
Well you’ve definitely won over many of the naysayers, for sure. Well now that the record is coming out, do you guys have any tour plans in the near future?
There’s stuff in the works, right now. Nothing is confirmed yet. We’re trying to go to some places we’ve never been before, but nothing is still confirmed. We want to have the record out there before we do any type of touring. We haven’t done a tour since Mayhem Festival 2013, because we wanted 100% of our focus on making the best record we possibly could. We had to turn down a lot of really cool tours when we made that decision. We didn’t want to hold off the record to tour; we didn’t want to pull the focus away from the music. We needed all of our energy to go towards the new record. When it’s our, we want it to marinate this fall and winter, so that when we do tour it’s had time to spread out and sit with people so they can get familiar with the material before we go play it live.
For sure, dude. Any places in particular you’re trying to go?
Well, we’re trying to go to another continent, where mankind originated, and in the South part of that continent, so that’s one of our hopes. But, like I said, nothing is confirmed yet! Hopefully it will be soon. I’d also love to go try to play Wacken, Brutal Assault, Download, Rock Am Ring. Basically any European festival, because I haven’t played one in forever, and I miss them.
Well hopefully that happens this year!
So, in many conversations with musicians, I’ve found that there’s a strong divide between two camps. On one hand, one camp rarely listens to any new metal, and the other listens to a ton of new stuff. Are there any records that came out [in 2014] that you’ve really enjoyed and that we should check out?
I actually really dig the new Machine Head record. I grew on that band, specifically Burn My Eyes, and they were a huge part of my metal life when I was younger. The new Septicflesh if also monstrous. I toured with them last summer as their guitar tech and it ruled. I’m also stoked on the new Slipknot, and I think it’s great regardless of what people say. The new Animals As Leaders is sick, Boards Of Canada is great even though they aren’t metal. CHON is amazing. I’ve also been jamming a ton of Extol lately; they have the coolest harmonies. I’ve really been digging some other stuff, like Beck and Imogen Heap, not stuff that necessarily came out this year. When I’m working while I’m not touring, I listen to so much metal because it helps get me through the day easier.
There’s a tons of goods records from all those bands! Anyways, I’ve got one more question for you before I go! If you had to describe your album in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Oh man. One sentence. That’s a tough one, dude. Hmm… If I had 20 minutes I could think of something so much better. [laughs] It’s a seething barrage of bass-fueled mood metal with really sick drums, guitar solos, and awesome vocals.
Sweet man. Thanks for doing the interview!
No problem dude!
Job For A Cowboy’s new record Sun Eater is available now on Metal Blade Records. Snag your copy at this location!