Richmond, Virginia’s COUGH won a reputation as one of the best doom bands around with their debut full-length “Sigillum Luciferi” in 2008 causing much awe and worship from the loyal fans all over the world. Delivering straight-forward raw heaviness flavoured with delicious guitarwork of David Cisco seems quite a simple success recipe yet too many bands totally fail at. No surprise alot of people were thrilled to hear COUGH’s sophomore album “Ritual Abuse” is about to see the light of day. As soon as the release date opinions on it were divided; while some call it the album of the year the others claim its inferiority to the previous one. No matter who’s right, the album caused the buzz and that’s what counts. The band went touring promoting their brand new effort and I felt like discussing various things related to the band and David was kind enough to forward my interests:
Cough: Yeah man. That oughta give us something to do on the road!
Cool! Consider that interview already started. So you guys tour intensively supporting your brand new full-length, right? What is the public response in general?
Right now we’re in the midst of a 5 week tour. It’s really difficult to gauge how other people feel. It’s been everywhere from people moshing to looking bored yet still watching. Overall, it seems like the record is being well-received.
What does your typical set-list for that tour look like? How long is it?
It depends on how we feel. We typically play 45 minutes, give or take. Sometimes they make us play less, sometimes more. As far as material goes, we focus on Ritual Abuse for the most part. We do still play some stuff off of Sigillum Luciferi as well as a new song.
No songs from the demo? “The Misanthrope” or “As You Were”?
No. We haven’t played those songs in years. It would be difficult for us to because of the line up changes too. We’d rather progress with our current sound rather than backtrack.
I know you have a new vocalist, was someone else replaced? And what’s the reason for the former singer to left?
Chris Kirby left the band for a more comfortable lifestyle. He’s married now and has a steady job. No hard feelings about it though. Parker and myself (David) picked up vocal duties. We also added Brandon Marcey on guitar.
How did you guys meet each other? What was the main influence to form a band, have you been involved in such activities before?
We’ve been in various punk/hardcore bands in the past. Parker and I were in touring bands in college so we met in that scene. We wanted to do something loud, you know? Heaviness that noone could deny. A reason to buy a lot of high wattage amplifiers too.
Which bands are the meaning of heaviness for you?
First of all… fuckin SABBATH! As for more recent bands i’d say the Melvins, Candlemass, Warhorse, early Electric Wizard, Goatsnake…
I hear people complain you went too much Electric Wizard while some even go as far as saying you play Electric Wizard better than Electric Wizard themselves do lately. Nearly simultaneous (only 4 days difference) release date of “Ritual Abuse” and “Black Masses” literally predetermined the comparisons between two. What do you think of such competition?
Our album was recorded over a year ago now. It was chance that both these albums were released around the same time. We don’t give a shit about competition…we set out for our own agenda. Were a fucking doom band and yes we draw influence from doom. Electric Wizards heaviness was definitely an inspiration to us but so is Saint Vitus and bands like Corrupted. Comparisons get old but what can you say…doom sounds like doom.
Electric Wizard’s heaviness was definitely an inspiration to us when we formed but it’s not like they’re the only doom band. Calling them ‘competition’ doesn’t seem appropriate because of the nature of our genre. The comparisons do get old and I think that people blow it way out of proportion. Basically, we play doom because we like doom and we’re certainly paying our dues to continue doing it. Everybody has parents and Electric Wizard should be proud to have inspired such a crushing doom force.
If this wouldn’t make people cut the crap and just enjoy the energy and heaviness of doom, I don’t know what would! You’re playing Roadburn next year among the heavyweights and cornerstones of genres, how do you feel about it? Who are the most interesting performers and acts for you personally? Have you been to Europe before?
Most of us have been to europe before but we’ve never toured there. Man, we’re all very stoked to be at roadburn next year let alone play it. I’m excited to see Acid King personally. We’ve opened for Pentagram before which was amazing. Also, Zoroaster and Naam are friends of ours so it should be a killer time.
Is your Roadburn performance the only one or there’s the European tour to follow?
Our Roadburn show is in the middle of a six-week European tour.
Gosh! Seems like you guys don’t have a time to rest. How do you cheer yourselves up on the road? Maybe any fun / weird stories from your touring days?
A lot of self medication and RAMBO! We witnessed a guy masturbate on the freeway a couple weeks back. Doesn’t get much weirder than that.
Huh, Rambo! Wouldn’t be surprised to know you guys like to kick some major asses in Mortal Kombat on SEGA or whatnot.
Best band to tour with? What would be your gig of a dream line-up?
Well Sleep’s back together. I’m surprised they haven’t asked us to play a show.
What is the idea and/or concept behind the COUGH, if there’s any? Who’s the lyricist?
We all write and often revise each other’s lyrics. Conceptually we all write from personal experience, call it the blues if you will.
How did you get to work with Sanford Parker on the “Ritual Abuse”? Are you satisfied with the results?
We actually did the first record with him too. As far as American engineers go, we wouldn’t want to work with anybody else. He’s cool to chill with and he takes his job seriously at the same time. We’re very pleased with all of the work he’s done for us so far.
Yet another amazing thing about your brand new album is superb artwork. Who did it? Tell more about the ideas it represents.
Glyn Smyth from Scrawled Design drew it up. The theme is very appropriate. The cover is based on the 8 of Swords tarot card. It represents the feeling of being trapped because any move you make will only hurt you more. The foldout is what we got really excited about. A crumbling throne which, to me, represents the idea that you used to have control or power and the incomplete pillars represent a life that’s been cut short (or so I’m told). The slaughtered goat is just there for good measure.
What’s with all that inverted crosses and pentagrams? Is it just an attitude or your belief?
We like to keep the metal tradition alive. I understand the roots of the inverted cross (st. Peter, etc.) but metal is more real to me than any Christian mythology. We don’t believe in anything religious or spiritual.
Man, how have you managed to sign with Relapse? What does it mean to you?
While scheduling time to record Ritual Abuse with Sanford he mentioned that Relapse had been asking about us. Its been great working with them so far. Their promotion has kicked things up a notch for us.
Which personalities have inspired you the most during your life? How did you come up with an idea of being musician?
I don’t think any of us ever decided to be musicians. We’ve all been obsessed with music since childhood and its a big part of who we are. I was raised on old bluegrass and country music. Hank Williams Sr. has always been the epitome of a musician to me.
Did you ever think of incorporating americana elements in the music?
No, we’re a metal band. You might find similar morose themes in our music though.
Do you like alt. country / americana artists? Like 16 Horsepower, whose frontman will be playing at Roadburn with his Wovenhand band.
We’re more into traditional country and blues.
Talking about traditional bands, you did the split record with The Wounded Kings which turned out to be mindblowing collaboration. How did it happen?
We just sent them a message on MySpace. We’d heard ‘Embrace of the Narrow House’ and dug it so we got in touch. They’ve been a pleasure to deal with and their track on the split fucking slays.
So what are your further creative plans after the tour?
This is only the beginning of a string of tours to promote the record. We will be out in march for SXSW then we leave for europe in april. We’ve written a new song in the meantime. It’s called “Fuck Up” and it’ll probably end up on the next record.
What the listeners should expect from this new record?
We haven’t discussed it yet as we’re still focused on promoting ritual abuse. I can almost guarantee the production will move in more of a raw direction. We need to capture our live sound on record. Since we’re back from tour would this be an appropriate time to end this interview?
Definitely. Thank you for your time, you guys did the great job, good luck!
More info on Cough at: www.myspace.com/cough666
Interviewed by: Cyrill
Also available in Russian at: www.neformat.com.ua/articles/interview-with-david-cisco-from-cough.html