Primitive Man are a nihilistic juggernaut, one of the greatest US bands touring the world today. When they played the Underworld with Bongripper last year, they blew my mind causing my brain to splatter over some poor sod’s pint of cider. The three-piece is back in the UK this month to tour with Bismuth and play Desertfest. Before they set off for their US tour, I chatted with Ethan from the band to talk the band’s origin, Denver, their amazing album Caustic and their consistent touring cycle.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
Ethan Lee McCarthy: Doing fine. Getting ready to leave for tour.
Jack: Primitive Man only formed in 2012, how did you all meet?
Ethan: Jon (Campos, Bass) and I were both in different bands that went on tour together and one day decided we wanted to form a band together, so here we are. Joe (Linden, Drums) joined later on, but Primitive Man were playing shows with his old band at the time as well.
Jack: Where did the band name come from?
Ethan: The idea that early humans had to live in a harsh and unforgiving environment. We try to create a harsh and unforgiving soundscape.
Jack: Primitive Man have a very unique, distinct sound, what influences do you stick to?
Ethan: Too many to list, across many different genres.
Jack: Has being from Denver, Colorado influenced you?
Ethan: Maybe in the sense that in the early 90’s & 2000’s Cephalic Carnage was the only band that had really busted out of here in a big way, and we wanted to do that too. We once had a really thriving DIY underground scene, so that also helped I think.
Jack: What’s the scene in Denver like?
Ethan: There is something for everyone.
Jack: Primitive Man have a very active schedule, consistently touring and releasing albums, EPs and splits, what gives you this strong work ethic and what inspires you to keep going?
Ethan: This is all that the three of us enjoy doing. The rest is just filler/ways to make money until we can go out on the road or be creative again. Bands who have been doing it for 20+ years inspire us. The idea that we can play this kind of music for people for many years is probably what keeps us going as well. As long as there is a crowd and we still get along, we’ll keep on going.
Jack: With the increasing popularity of the band and members being in other projects, is it harder to fit the band around the day job or just make time for the band in general?
Ethan: It’s harder to find time for everything else in our life. The band takes up a lot of time & effort. Jon and Joe work night jobs, I work from home three days a week and am a substitute teacher the other four. So, I think having these flexible schedules definitely makes it more doable.
Jack: You released your latest album Caustic last year, how blown away were you with the response?
Ethan: I can’t express how grateful we were for the positive things people had to say. And even the publications that think we are garbage, still posted about it so I guess that’s something! This is our most well received album to date, and we couldn’t be happier with that.
Jack: How much did the social, political climate in America influence the album?
Jack: With the situation in the world, do you think it is natural that more and more people are turning to nihilistic music?
Ethan: Yeah, most definitely. Or people are sticking with it longer instead of giving it up and moving to electronica. Don’t get me wrong, I love electronica but I still listen to the heaviest shit I can find.
Jack: You’re about to tour the US with Spectral Voice, what do you like about this band?
Ethan: Well, first and foremost they are old friends of ours. And the atmosphere of their necrotic doom is unmatched in modern american death metal.
Jack: You’re also about to tour the UK with one of my favourite drone acts, Bismuth, how is the UK different from the US and what keeps bringing you back?
Ethan: It’s actually more similar than you would think. We have met some great people there, the shows are really killer, and people in the UK really understand the whole doom thing. It’s not always like that in other countries. We can probably thank Sabbath for that.
Jack: At the end of the tour you’re playing Desertfest, what can we expect from your set?
Ethan: We’re going to play the heaviest songs we have available. Probably the slowest as well.
Jack: How did you find your recent EU/UK dates with Bongripper?
Ethan: Great shows, great dudes. No complaints. We’re lucky we had the opportunity.
Jack: Will we see any releases from Primitive Man in 2018?
Ethan: YES! But I can’t go into details just yet.
Jack: One of my favourite releases of yours was your split with Sea Bastard, how did this come about?
Ethan: Oliver Irongiant (Guitar) set us up with a show in Brighton and we became fast friends. Then we learned about his crushing band and from that, it made sense to tour together. Sea Bastard are one of the best UK bands around, HANDS DOWN.
Jack: Finally, why did you decide to cover Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf?
Ethan: Because CVLT Nation asked us to be on the compilation it originally appeared on and because we like weed!
Jack: Thanks for your time and have a good tour!
Ethan: Thanks for the interview! We appreciate it!