By Greg Pratt
The curse of the supergroup is that no one really takes them too seriously as a band. But the members of Killer Be Killed are just looking to have a fun time anyway, so that's probably just fine by them.
The band (made up of Max Cavalera of SOULFLY and THE CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, Greg Puciato of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, Troy Sanders of MASTODON, and Dave Elitch of THE MARS VOLTA) had no plans to release a technical masterpiece with their self-titled debut album; rather, it's the sound of a bunch of friends having fun.
"That’s really the vibe we’re going for," says Puciato. "We’re not trying to accomplish some kind of technical masterpiece. People coming from a Dillinger or Mastodon world, that might be what they’re accustomed to hearing. But it was more fun for us to create it. In Dillinger, we’re so perfectionistic and we beat ourselves up really bad and the recording process is not a lot of fun. This was kind of like a party."
Puciato says that the attitude going in to this band, whose self-titled debut album is coming out on Nuclear Blast Records, was just to keep things simple and have fun. For him, it was taking it back to what it was like to first get together and jam with your friends on the weekend.
"We went in to this as much like 15-year-old kids as we could and made sure we were hanging out and becoming friends in the process," he says. "We really wanted to take it back to when you’re 15 and playing in your basement with your friends and just drinking soda and you’re geeked on the fact that you’re all playing the same thing at the same time. That’s enough for you. And that’s what we were going into this with.”
Obviously, the thing most people will be looking at with the album is the vocals. With Cavalera, Puciato, and Sanders all singing, it makes for a fun listen. At first, they play it pretty safe--the guys sing on the parts they clearly brought to the table, the ones that sound like their other bands--but as the album goes on, it gets mixed up. For example, there's a hardcore Max part with Puciato singing over top of it pretty early on the disc, letting the listener know that this is going to be a wild ride.
"When we were trying to delegate who was doing vocals where," says Puciato, "we thought, ‘This part is obviously a part Troy would sing over normally’ or, ‘This is clearly a Max part, but how much do we go with our strengths versus making ourselves grow by putting ourselves over things we wouldn’t normally be singing over?’"
"The other thing was sometimes there are parts that will happen a few times," he continues, "and Troy will take one verse, and I’ll take another verse, and it’s interesting to see different people’s approaches. When I hear Troy, right away, it’s like, whoa, it sounds like Mastodon all of a sudden. As a fan of those guys, it’s crazy to write a riff and hear how everyone’s voice can colour the riff sounding like the band they came from. That’s the part that made me grow the most as a singer, just seeing how much other people’s voices can change a part."
Killer Be Killed is just going to take things as they come in the future, which, due to the restraints of geography keeping the band members apart and busy band schedules, probably means that there won't be a lot of shows in the cards for these guys. And as for new recordings, they're taking the same relaxed approach: if it happens, it happens; if it doesn't, it doesn't. They've already agreed that if it's not the four members that are in the band now, it won't happen. And if it stops being fun, it won't happen.
"You see hip hop guys do it all the time," says Puciato on fun collaborations, "and the old jazz scene, it was more fun and less protective. Seems like people would just always create together, put out one-offs. This jazz guy and this jazz guy put out an album together; it doesn’t mean they’re in a band that’s going to last forever, they just had fun playing and it was something different than their normal thing. They’re learning and having fun at the same time, and hoping other people have fun listening to them have fun. That’s what it comes down to."