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By Emerald O'Brien
Primitive Man is the latest band fronted by Ethan McCarthy, best known as the frontman for death-grind acts Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire and Death of Self. McCarthy formed Primitive Man in February 2012 with original drummer Bennett Kennedy, citing a mutual interest in starting the heaviest sludge band ever. Now, with Jon Campos of harrowing death-metal outfit Reproacher on bass and Spy from Kitezh on drums, McCarthy has been able to wholly unfurl his seething doom rock with a characteristic level of deep tonal power.
Earlier this year, Primitive Man released the towering Scorn on European labels Throatruiner and Mordgrimm, and the record quickly sold out of its first run. Fortunately, well-known heavy-music imprint Relapse offered to reissue the album for a wider release this month. The raw anger that McCarthy has never had a problem expressing is even more focused and palpable on Scorn.
We spoke with the always cordial and thoughtful McCarthy before a show in Austin, Texas, about the role of anger in his songwriting and what it might be like not to have that as the engine of his sonic expression.
Westword: Scorn is the perfect title for your most recent album. Do you feel like you're going to be lacking in inspiration for that kind of anger-fueled songwriting in the future?
Ethan McCarthy: Not right now. Even if I don't have a lot of personal issues, there are still things going on in the world that depress the shit out of me.
Not that there's any chance of that going away overnight, but if it did, do you feel like the music you make would change?
Yeah, probably. If I woke up one day and I didn't have anything to be mad about anymore, I don't know that I'd feel it properly. The thing is that I've always done it this way, and there might be dudes that I know that aren't pissed-off people, but they play this kind of stuff. I have always had a love of heavy music, but it definitely stems from bad feelings. That's why I play it; it's cathartic.
I would still listen to it and probably still play it, but I've never thought about whether, if I had nothing to be angry about, would I still play this kind of music. I never stopped to think about not having anything to be mad about. We live in an imperfect world, and I think because I choose not to turn a blind eye to problems in other parts of the world that I'll never settle down and never not be mad. Give me world peace and maybe I'll chill the fuck out.
It's likely we can count on that not happening any time soon.
Because of that, maybe I'll be able to make a career out of this music shit.