Grindcore is no stranger to some really, wretchedly horrid band names, particularly from those who take their unabashed love for Carcass a step too far. Names so bad you almost assume they’re some sort of bizarre, meta parody-of-bad-grind performance art. Cases in point: Belching Beet, Toxic Bonkers, Urophagia. So I think we can all agree vocalist Matt McKamey and drummer Chris Wotring traded up when they ditched the name Piles Sufferers, swapped in a new guitarist, Ryan Zell, and rechristened themselves Cellgraft.
“I think that was in a Carcass insert or something,” Wotring offers in half-hearted defense of the rejected nomenclature.
While the Floridian trio seems to have exploded out of nowhere to wow the Internet cognoscenti with their Discordance Axis meets Assuck brand of awesomeness, their musical evolution has been a slow progression to grindcore perfection. Wotring said he and McKamey, who was a bassist at the time, were playing in “in a really terrible band” together when McKamey foisted Napalm Death on the unsuspecting drummer in a bid to lure him toward heavier pastures.
“He was trying to get me into heavier music, and a band he was insistent on was Napalm Death so I went out and bought Scum,” Wotring said. “A few weeks later we quit the band to find something better; I was hooked. He knew someone who was also into grind and played guitar so Matt sang and we called it 'Piles Sufferers’.”
Not the most auspicious beginning, but a few more practices and a guitarist infusion later and Cellgraft began to gel. What they would eventually become is one of the more intriguing, intelligent grind bands working. They’re all the more exciting because they have garnered so much praise and attention merely by word of mouth or tweet or text or email or whatever. Without a powerhouse label bringing PR support, Cellgraft has posted its music for free download on its website to survive or perish out in the Darwinian wilds of the internet.
“It seems most people in the hardcore/grindcore scene tend to identify with the ‘we will never sell out’ state of mind,” McKamey said. “Coming from my view point, we love to play, and having very little time and money to do it doesn't help when you want to get something out of it. We don't expect to ever get famous. We just like to let the community and anybody else who gives a fuck a chance to experience Cellgraft.”
Though Cellgraft has persevered through a largely DIY approach to date (friends at No Reprieve Records did issue the excellent Deception Schematic on 7-inch for the band), Wotring said they’re not adverse to garnering label support.
“I wouldn't say that we're 'successful' really but as far as being DIY goes, nobody knew us at fist so we had to do it all on our own,” he said. “If a label came at us and offered to release stuff for us then I think it would be a mistake to pass that up.”
What really differentiates Cellgraft from their “politics and religion really suck” peers is the intelligence hiding behind their songs. While the Revenge EP still showed off their earliest gore-soaked Carcass Jr. infatuation, subsequent songs have hinted at ideas rooted in biology and technology, digging at that nexus between our bodies and the external world. McKamey, who has written the bulk of the band’s lyrics, said he likes to approach his lyrical conceits “from different alchemical, technological, philosophical, and metaphysical angles.”
“We seem to cram all of our perceptions into blocks of noise that last but a few seconds,” he said.
McKamey won’t go into more detail than that, however, preferring to let listeners come to their own conclusions. That deliberate abstraction may be a byproduct of “listening to way too much Discordance Axis,” he suggests.
And about that.
It seems the band can’t make a move without the trio’s concision or distinctive black and white artwork being likened to Assuck or Discordance Axis. While I know a lot of young bands who have sweat blood in garages and basements to craft something that they can call their own chafe at glib internet assholes tossing out easy comparisons to their predecessors, Cellgraft embrace their influences with pride.
“Even being remotely compared to either of those bands is beyond a huge compliment. I couldn't tell you why someone would hate the comparison,” Wotring said. “Both bands are huge influences, so much so we even cover a song from each. We each had our own influences in the beginning but as we exposed ourselves to more grind it was all about finding the fastest noisiest shit out there.”