Human Cull are a gnarly grindcore trio from the United Kingdom who deal largely in 30-second riff-salvos. Guitarist and vocalist Edd Robinson admits as much that the band’s entire canon will be fast and crusty, but dammit he’s a humanitarian, it’ll be memorable too.
Brevity in grindcore song structures was hardwired at the genre’s birth in the mid-80s, and since then there hasn’t been any artistic sea change where bands are sustaining their fury over four and five-minute jams. This is 2012, and we’re glad of the one minute or less status quo. Brevity has never been more of our time. No one has any time for anything. And the Deciblog is down with Human Cull’s internal logic: with that in mind, here’s 30 seconds’ words to introduce the band’s career to date:
Human Cull started out with a stupid name (Gran Toucher, c’mon… that’s awful) like many other grind bands. But unlike many other grind bands they saw fit to change it to something awesome. They have shared stages with Napalm Death and Black Breath, and most recently with Wormrot….. They play hard and fast, messy grind that’s spills over into crust. They’re part of a thriving UK underground scene that’s growing increasingly self-reliant (more on them another time). And it’s all pretty cool. ….. Time’s up: Over to Edd.
You started out as Gran Toucher: when did you change the name and lineup?
Gran Toucher started in 2006. We went through a few lineups but we had settled on a four-piece line-up for the Human Cull EP (2011), which minus one member is effectively Human Cull, and by that time we’d settled on the crusty grindcore.
Playing crusty grindcore is that bit more serious when putting across the message; was changing the name from Gran Toucher to Human Cull the first major step towards maturity?
We kinda got sick of that name. That name pre-dated us. I guess the name is more mature but we never really thought about that. It was just that [Human Cull] represented more about what we are about, the broader issues. When we were Gran Toucher and we did the Human Cull EP, it was musically what we are doing now, but now we’re paying more attention to the guitar sound.
In Human Cull, you can hear the F.E.T.O.-era Napalm Death, and maybe some of the American grindcore like Hatred Surge and Insect Warfare. What were you listening to when this all started?
Swedish crust. I was listening to Anti Cimex every day—that’s pretty much all I listen to. I listen to a lot of 80s crust, d-beat… Discharge. Me and Sam [drums/vocals] listen to a lot of old-school death, Scandinavian death metal, old Carcass, Amebix, HellBastard, stuff like that. On the grindcore side, Brutal Truth, their second album, and a UK band called the Afternoon Gentlemen; when I heard Pissed Again, it has such an incredible sound, it was like a kick up the arse as to show how good we need to be. We still aren’t [that good], but we’re getting where we can stand up next to them.
With this sort of music, how important is it to deliver that instantaneous feeling of chaos?
The immediacy, I mean, that’s what was so great about Insect Warfare’s albums—they were just like a set of exclamation marks. Where we come from is crust, grindcore, powerviolence, U.S. hardcore, and we really like bands like Trap Them and the new Holy Terror stuff. Obviously it doesn’t really sound like powerviolence but it has that attitude. To me, it sounds like what I was listening to when I wrote it, that Swedish d-beat, hardcore and grind. Bands like Nasum and Gadget.
How important to your sound is that Swedish DM guitar sound?
Yeah, the Swedish death metal Boss HM-2! It’s kind of important. It’s a really satisfying guitar sound. It’s horrible, but at the same time there’s something incredibly listenable about it. It’s one of these sounds that is incredibly easy to achieve. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, but it’s one of those sounds where you can just turn everything up and it sounds amazing. I mean I don’t use a modern high-gain head. I actually ended up using a more vintage, classic-style Marshall, British heavy metal head. But, I mean, for the more modern bands, if you were to take a band like Insect Warfare their sound is a lot drier. I guess it’s not that important to us but it has become de rigueur.
What is your writing process like?
We write a lot, song after song after song, and they’ll either get scrapped or scavenged for parts. But when we write something it’ll be from the three of us jamming. It sounds like a pretentious thing to say really, but we try to write memorable songs within a 30-second format, I suppose. I want them to be really aggressive, really immediate, a poignant song or statement, and do all that while making it memorable.
There’s nothing pretentious about wanting to make it memorable, quite the opposite.
I am the guitarist in the band and I just love riffs. I mean, I like a lot of bands that aren’t catchy but I try to cram in as many riffs that I find satisfying to listen to and hopefully other people will find them satisfying too. But like early Napalm Death have those riffs.
What’s the deal with Goatprayer Records?
That’s our friend’s label. He basically sat in on the recordings that became Split Second Extinction. We told him we were doing a tour with Oblivionized in a few months and asked him if he’d put a few CDs out. He has got a few small bands lined up now, quite a lot of cool stuff. But it was good to put something out that wasn’t entirely at our expense.
Is there any grand concept/theme to Split Second Existence?
If there’s an over-arching message it is to judge people on what they do not what they are. Going back in history you see the same things happening over and over again, just that repetition and nothing changes. I suppose I should say that it’s not necessarily political, it’s more common sense, like, don’t be an arsehole. I mean there’s a strong anti-fascist message to it. If you look at history, what people do horrific things. The world would be a better place if we didn’t have these categories to put people in. There is one song about what happened in Norway last summer, because that was all happening when we were writing, and we were really saddened by it.
What’s next for you guys?
We’re writing for some splits. We’re doing a split with Atomck, Viscious Bastard, and Shoot the Bastard, and that’s going to be a 12″ four-way split of grindcore with fast hardcore bands. And then we’re going to do a split with Oblivionized, who we toured with—that should be great. We’ve got a few things organized, and hopefully we’ll do another tour in the UK or Europe, and then we’re playing in London on 14 October with Kill the Client. It’s hard to get time off work to do tours but we’re just trying to get as much out as possible.