Musicscan: Relapse Records states that your new album is a perverted homage to the glory days of proto-grind and raw, depraved death metal? Do you like this summary? What were the goals the band was heading for with Stranger?
Cretin: Oh yeah, I love that description of our music. It’s always been our goal to write music that fits in the era of proto-grind and early death metal. Our favorite albums are from that time.
The goal I had when writing Stranger was to recreate the same sort of change that happened when Napalm Death wrote Harmony Corruption. I’ve alway really liked that album, and thought that the death metal elements they brought in really made the album compelling.
I wanted to bring more death metal into our sound because I’ve always seen us as more metal than grind. To me grind has a heavy punk influence that I don’t really have. My roots are in thrash and death metal.
As a band, we wanted to establish our own sound. On our first album, we very intentionally modeled our sound off of Repulsion. This time around we kept Repulsion as a foundation, but tied in a bunch of our other influences, and put odd twists on them to create a more cretanic sound.
Musicscan: Your band has been playing blasting grind for years now – even there have been longer breaks. Did you ever imagine the band would be still jamming together in 2014? It seems that the band is bigger than ever and still kicking out some fucking vicious grindcore! How do you experience the comeback of Cretin these days?
Cretin: Over the years, Cretin has been inactive way more than it has been active. But, it’s something that we’ve always kept alive in our thoughts and conversations. The band is something that we’ve used to maintain our friendship. It’s an excuse for us to see each other on a regular basis. But the band isn’t anything we’ve based our future on. So, it’s weird to think of it in terms of what year it is, or what year it might end.
Musicscan: Does being a quartet now make managing the band and the songwriting easier or harder?
Cretin: It hasn’t had much of an impact on the songwriting so far. If anything, it’s made it a little easier because now I don’t have to worry about writing guitar solos. We just tell Liz what the song is about, and what riffs are meant for solos, and she goes to town on them.
Musicscan: A lot of bands change their sound over time, but much to your credit Cretin has kept the sound your listeners have grown to love. Concerning Stranger – has it been hard to stay true to that sound or do you guys just play what feels right?
Cretin: My writing is fairly consistent, it’s just the way I write. Matt is the one who really pushes our sound and challenges what different types of riffs we might include. Whenever I write a riff that sounds kooky, or odd, it’s usually because I’m trying to impress Matt. But, our sound tends to stay consistent, because I’m usually the one who sparks the interest in doing a new record. I’ll show up to rehearsal with three or four songs already written. That kind of sets the foundation for the next album.
Musicscan: When a band writes the songs for a record over a longer period, I'd say that these songs can easily stand for a certain period in a band's career, right? Would you say that Stranger is representative for what Cretin went through since the release of Freakery, and what the band wants to stand for in 2014/15/16?
Cretin: Certainly. We all grew as musicians as well as people. The experiences we’ve had over the last eight years have definitely had an effect on decisions we made when writing and performing the new album.
Musicscan: Grindcore and extreme music in general are often told to be somehow youth orientated. So how do you make sure to stay young with what you are doing? What fuels your anger after all the years, and what lessons have you learned from being involved with the extreme underground for so many years now?
Cretin: Honestly, anger isn’t an emotion that fuels Cretin. We’re more interested in having fun, and capturing that in our music. We write things that we find fun to listen to. That recapture the feelings we’ve had when we were younger and listening to metal, getting excited about a riff, or drum pattern, or vocal part. But, I suppose there’s plenty of horrible things in the world to inspire us with anger… They’re not what’s driving us as a band though.
Musicscan: Relapse recommends your band for fans of Repulsion, Autopsy and early Napalm Death, and these comparisons fit I guess. But what separates Cretin from them, what are the trademarks of Cretin from your point of view?
Cretin: I’d say that there’s a goofiness that we add to some of our riffs that I can’t really picture those other bands doing. Also, I think our lyrics are pretty unique to Cretin, especially on the new album. Matt put a lot of work into creating narratives in the songs. Each song tells a story that you could arguably enjoy separate from the music. The characters and their motivations are explored in a deeper way than I think you get with most metal songs.
Musicscan: Stranger is a pretty aggressive and self confident record. It's intense and stands somehow outside competition due to the fact you are not following trends. What is your view on the album?
Cretin: I think that speaks to how much Cretin is a byproduct of our friendship. We’re doing it to spend time together and make music we enjoy. We definitely don’t do it to compete with anyone.
Musicscan: It seems to me that the new record has a bit more structure and groove to it, if I compare it to Freakery. Would you agree to this, and is this part of the evolution of your band?
Cretin: Yes. Definitely. We intentionally set out to expand what we could perform as a band.
Musicscan: Is there something like a guiding line listeners have to know about to get a better understanding of what you are trying to tell them with Stranger?
Cretin: Well, if you’re expecting Cretin to revolutionize metal and usher it into some new genre-defining spectrum, you’ll probably be disappointed with the album. We’re definitely targeting a by-gone era with our sound. If you’re expecting old-school death metal with some twists, then I think you’ll enjoy the music.
Musicscan: What type of “success” do you hope to gain with Stranger?
Cretin: I think we’ve already achieved it. People seem to really enjoy the album, based on the responses I’ve received, and as a band we’re really proud of how it turned out. That’s success enough for me.