Winnipeg’s Death Cassette are just days away from releasing their excellent new EP Get Rid Of It. The band’s electric energy is present on all six tracks as they refine their grunge punk sound. From the short, fast punk ripper “Get Gone” to the deep, grunge-y slow burn that is “Solstice” the band are on top of their game. Get Rid Of It will be available everywhere on November 17 via High End Denim Records and Cat’s Claw Records. Death Cassette will also be playing a release show for the EP at Good Will Social Club in Winnipeg on November 17 with Screaming At Traffic, MOSA, and howtoboilwater.
Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Mandy and guitarist Lindsey to talk about the new EP, Evil Dead, wanting to play Pouzza Fest, and so much more. Read the interview below!
You’ve teamed up with Alberta’s High End Denim Records and Bristol’s Cat’s Claw Records to release your new EP Get Rid of It. How did you decide who to work with?
Lindsey: We shopped our album around a little bit. We sent some inquiries to different labels and it takes a little bit of time to get bites on those kinds of things. We actually were tipped off about High End Denim through our friends in the Lost Planet Airmen. They were like, “Hey, based on what you’re telling us and based on what your goals are for the album, this is the perfect label to work with”. Basically, we were like, “We’re not going to tour that much. We’re going to tour a little bit but we really need help with the online presence and getting our music out there on playlists and getting it heard”. We felt like we had good songs. We felt like our first album was well done and the songs were really good but nobody heard it because we’re not good at the online stuff. That’s what we were looking for. They’ve been excellent at that. Our first single, “Reflector”, has done extremely well in terms of listens for us, we’re almost at 6, 000 listens online.
We’re really happy with the relationship so far. They’ve been really easy to work with and it’s low pressure. These guys are musicians themselves, they’re in it for things other than the financial side or pushing a tour minimum or that kind of stuff. It really works well with our lives and our schedules. It’s a win-win. Hopefully, we can get them some notoriety. Then they hooked us up with Cat’s Claw. Cat’s Claw is new to us. We don’t have as much of a relationship with them. They're going to help us release some physical music so we’re going to be doing tapes. Cat’s Claw helped us produce that because that’s their expertise and that’ll get us some presence across the pond as well.
This EP is more punk leaning than your first album Grim. What inspired this direction?
Mandy: I had a feeling I wanted to do a couple more fast-paced songs and I communicated that to the band. We put some riffs together and jammed and felt really good about it. But there’s other tracks like “Solstice” on the EP that are a little bit more laid back so we’re just trying to have fun with a lot of different styles. I think the way we recorded it is a little bit more punk rock in spirit because we recorded it live off the floor. I feel like we have a lot of connection and energy when we get to play together rather than all recording separately, that felt almost mechanical.
How would you describe the atmosphere in the studio?
Mandy: It was kinda like you’re in your friend’s basement almost because the guy who recorded us, John Paul Peters, made us feel really comfortable and knew what we were looking for. He has recorded bands that are in the vein of what we like and what we want to sound like. It was good to just go in and we didn’t have to do too much to communicate what we wanted. Then we could just let go and play.
How did you connect with John Paul Peters?
Mandy: We were thinking about who we wanted to record our next EP for a really long time and his name was generally at the forefront of those conversations because of the work he had done with acts like Comeback Kid and Cancer Bats. I thought he would do a really good job of capturing our sound.
Lindsey: I had another indie project that recorded with John before so I had a little personal connection there. He’s also probably one of the more notable recording producers and he’s got one of the more notable studios in our city. We wanted to do it really professionally. Even though we did it live off the floor we wanted to for real do it, not just do it in your friend’s basement. There’s many mobile recording people these days and we wanted to do it really professionally and John is the most professional. That’s his full-time job, he’s a real producer. We were like, “Hey, let’s spend the money. How do we make it so we can actually afford it? Let’s do it live off the floor!”
On Instagram you mentioned that you recorded the EP in a weekend and he helped you with a show you had. What’s the story there?
Mandy: We had a really wild day. The day that we recorded we were offered a show to open for Rise Against and PUP so we could not turn that down. [laughs] We started recording really early in the morning and then by 3 o’clock-ish, we went to the venue. He came by and he set up our guitars and was kind of stagehand for us which was super cool.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Mandy: Usually Chuck, our bass player, and Lindsey will write riffs either together or separately and post them in our riff chat because if it’s in our regular group chat, it’ll just get lost forever. [laughs] Then we’ll revisit them at jam. Or they’ll bring something to jam and we’ll work from there and see how to piece it together as a song. I usually have a lot of lyrics written in a book and if I can pull some out that sound like maybe they could fit with the song I start from there and then continue the writing process from that point.
Lindsey: I make riffs, Mandy makes words.
Lindsey: We get rid of more than we keep and then go from there. [laughs]
Which song or songs did Sampson the cat help with?
Mandy: I wish he helped with more! But he doesn’t like when we jam. [laughs] He gets all grumpy because he knows that we’re going to make lots of noise so he’s a little crusty. Sometimes we never see him because he’s on a different floor of the home. His sister Delilah is usually present when we arrive and she’s really cute and fluffy. She’s the orange one in the pictures. She’s sweet. I like her a lot.
Lindsey: My wife will be super thrilled if you go follow sampsontheragdollcat or hey.there.delilah.cat on Instagram. Those are her projects and her hobbies. You’ll see many weird costumes that the cats are dressed up in. It’s fun. She’s less active than she used to be, she really thought that she was going to make it big as a cat Instagram person at one point. Sampson did get some attention from HomeSense once. There was a HomeSense pillow in one of the photos and she tagged them and they used the photo! [laughs] It was pretty cool.
On “Reflector” you talk about being around self-serving hypocrites. How do you deal with overwhelming people?
Mandy: Well, there’s that lovely mute button on the internet. [laughs] But typically, I don’t have those kinds of people in my life so that is really helpful. I think just approaching them with empathy because maybe they’re lashing out for reasons that maybe have nothing to do with the things that they’re going off about or talking to you about. It’s kinda like taking a step back and knowing that it’s probably something bigger than whatever they’re going off about.
Lindsey: She gets a lot of practice on Sundays at 1. That’s when we jam.
Mandy: Maybe it’s somebody that you’re friends with or somebody you work with, just step back and be nice to them.
Take deep breaths.
Mandy: Yeah, deep breaths.
Lindsey: Or bottle it up and put it in a song.
Mandy: Or that too, yeah.
Lindsey: Mandy’s trying to sound all professional but she’s bottled it up for years and just screams about it on stage. [laughs]
Mandy: It doesn’t hurt anybody! It’s fine. [laughs]
You have a healthy outlet.
Lindsey: Mandy has a lyric on our first album that’s like, “Stop talking you’re so full of shit” and it’s one of the things you can really make out in the chorus of the song. Every time I hear that I’m like, “Is she talking about me? Crap!” [laughs]
Mandy: Well, I went on a date one time and I was just so ready to leave so it’s kinda about that. [laughs] It’s not you Lindsey. Lindsey always internalizes everything and I have to remind him, “I’m not upset at you. It’s not your fault”.
Lindsey: You mean I’m not the center of the Universe and everything’s not about me?
Lindsey: Oh, darn. Shucks.
Demons appear in the lyrics for “Trapped” and “Solstice”. What helps you conquer your demons?
Mandy: Sometimes I fight my demons with fighting. [laughs] I do fighting sports like jiu-jitsu and judo and that’s really relaxing for sure. Not in the moment but after. “Trapped,” I wrote about Evil Dead so those are different demons, like real ones. And then “Solstice” is more like your inner demons that are coming back out and just trying to remember to reel those in and keep up your healthy habits and stuff so they don’t overpower your life.
What drew you to Evil Dead? Were you inspired by the original or the remake?
Mandy: The remake was quite interesting. It was a little bit more gory than the original. I really like horror movies and stuff with a little bit of a supernatural piece to it. I really like that movie in general. They’re in a cabin in the woods and the book is found and they accidentally cast the spirits into the cabin and are cursed. But they overcome it together. So it’s kind of a neat story.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
Mandy: No. I’m jealous of people that have but I’m such a chicken that it would probably scar me for life. [laughs] But I do like watching things about that or doing ghost tours and stuff. What about you, Lindsey, have you ever had a supernatural experience whether that’s ghosts or maybe aliens?
Lindsey: No, not really. My wife has a cabin right near the Falcon Lake UFO site but I’ve never seen anything. I’ve been on mushrooms and saw a Starlink and thought it was a UFO.
Mandy: Close enough!
Lindsey: I think Elon Musk is some sort of weird alien, maybe.
Mandy: Yeah, I think so for sure.
You’ll be playing your EP release party on November 17 at Good Will Social Club. What are you looking forward to the most about this show?
Mandy: I’m looking forward to celebrating this EP and having a show where we can have some friends play with us, I’m just looking forward to the night. We’re going to have cassettes for the first time. We have “cassette” in the name and people bug us about that all the time so it’ll be nice to finally have cassettes and have some physical music again, not just have the digital side of things. It’ll be great to just kick off what we’ve been working hard at for a really long time.
Do you have a song off the EP that you’re looking the most forward to playing?
Mandy: I really like playing “Get Gone” live because it’s such a short song. It’s only a minute and a half but it’s very energetic and it’s a song that I don’t play guitar for so that’s really fun. Lindsey has a really cool solo in it so during that part maybe I can join the mosh pit or something and then come back up. I really like playing that one live.
Lindsey: Yeah, that’s a high-energy song. I'm honestly looking forward to the whole night celebrating this EP. I’m excited and hoping for a big turnout too. I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of people in the room and hopefully, we can fill this place. This isn’t going to sound like what you might think, but I’m really looking forward to it being over so we can start writing again. I really want the band to write some new songs. We’ve got a whole bunch of skeletons of songs and stuff and haven’t been able to focus on them because we’ve been preparing for this big day.
It’s at the Good Will Social Club on November 17 so if you’re in Winnipeg definitely check it out. There’s some really cool openers. Screaming At Traffic is our co-headliner who plays right before us. They’re absolute professionals and buddies and they’re really cool. They are really great skatepunk, I guess you’d call them. I’m not a genre guy but they’re great. MOSA is more like straight-up head grunge rock ‘n’ roll. They’re a really cool band. And then the opener is howtoboilwater that I’ve never seen but I think they have that throwback emo stuff going on.
Mandy: Yeah, I think they classify it as “gorgeous-core” but they do remind me a lot in some parts of Deftones. They’re a neat band.
Do you have ideal writing conditions in mind after the show is done and you’re working on new stuff?
Mandy: We’ve always written in the same place, in our jam space, but we’ve been thinking about maybe renting a cabin or something for a weekend and spending the weekend writing together wherever, whenever, alone or together and just carving out that time. It’ll be nice to come to jam and not have to prepare for a show. We don’t have to run a setlist and we don’t have to work through that kind of stuff so it’ll be a blank slate. Like Lindsey said, we can start working on whichever skeleton of a song we wanna start with and there’s no pressure to be practiced.
Lindsey: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. I hope we can pull it off. Let’s find a weekend we can all get together and do some intensive writing. Just get a space and literally spend 24 hours a day for 2 or 3 days and find some inspiration. I actually got the idea from my neighbour and good friend Derek Allard. He drummed for a long time for Royal Canoe. They’re a pretty famous indie band from Manitoba, they’ve toured the world and they’re really professional. That’s how they would always start an album - they would rent a cabin with a few skeletons of ideas and hit record and see what comes out of it. We never get to focus like that and it would be really cool to do that. Just take a few days, hit record, and try to get some ideas out. I think we all fill our lives up with so many things that you never get the time to clear your headspace and focus on one thing. That would be great to do. It’ll either make a really great album or end the band. We’re either going to fight and realize we don’t like each other or it’s going to be a great album.
Mandy: You just have to keep the screen door closed this time, Lindsey. [laughs]
Lindsey: I didn’t leave that open. [laughs] We had a famous cabin incident where one of us left a screen door open as a drunken mistake. Were they fishflies or what were they?
Mandy: Yeah, fishflies.
Lindsey: The cabin got filled with bugs and cooler heads did not prevail. [laughs]
Mandy: It was funny!
Lindsey: We got some good audio.
Mandy: I woke up at 4 in the morning to the sound of Chuck losing his mind over the bugs, slapping the light with the flyswatter. It was pretty ridiculous. So I was laughing and I was like, “I’m sorry I’m laughing! I’m trying to get rid of the bugs too”. [laughs] Poor guy.
You need the magnetic mesh stuff that closes behind you when you go out the door.
Mandy: Yeah, totally!
Lindsey: That’s why we’re going to rent and not use Chuck’s cabin. [laughs]
How would you describe the punk scene in Winnipeg?
Mandy: There’s a lot of different branches of the punk scene in Winnipeg if that makes sense. There’s us who are kinda punk but don’t really fit in one specific genre so we’ll play with different kinds of bands. Then there’s more emo bands and more crust punk bands that typically play with each other, and sometimes they’ll meander onto different bills. I feel like everyone is very supportive of each other and we all attend all the shows, I just find that there’s always little pockets like groups of bands in the city. I don’t know if you feel that same way or not, Lindsey.
Lindsey: Yeah. Winnipeg’s always renowned for its music scene because it’s cold, there’s nothing to do so people just sit in their basement and write music. We have a really high number of restaurants/bars per capita here so you get a ton of venues and a ton of places to play. No matter what genre, you get a ton of music out of here. Also, it’s 7 or 8 hours to drive to the next major city so we’re kinda insulated and isolated. And that next major city? It’s Regina so it sucks.
Lindsey: There's a really cool scene here. Any scene has ups and downs and I think we just came out of a pretty deep valley and are going way up. There’s a ton of young bands doing that post-hardcore, post-emo sound right now. There’s tons of new bands coming out. There’s tons of new faces at shows that I haven’t seen before. I’m an old crumudgey guy and I was doing this when I was 19-20 and took a long break now I’m back in it. I think we’re just coming into a little high in the scene right now where there’s a bunch of bands coming up now who are doing really cool things. I like it. It’s good!
Mandy: Yeah, it’s awesome! Any given Friday or Saturday night there’s usually two or three shows happening so it kinda makes it hard to plan what you wanna do. But there’s always something happening which is great.
What does the future hold for Death Cassette?
Mandy: Well, writing for sure. I think in the summer we’re hoping to potentially do a small tour but not sure if that looks like East or West yet so there'll be more details on that once we get a couple of things sorted.
Lindsey: I am going to cut you off Mandy and say that is not the right answer, the right answer is Pouzza Fest! I really wanna play Pouzza Fest! So whoever’s reading this from Pouzza Fest, we really wanna play and if you don’t let us play Pouzza Fest we’re never going your way, we’re going West instead.
Mandy: Yes! [laughs] It would be so fun to play Pouzza Fest and then make a little tour out of it.
Lindsey: Totally! Then maybe we could hit a little bit of Ontario. I love that band Cross Dog from Peterborough. I really want to play with them one day. There’s some other cool bands out that way that I think are really cool so it’d be really cool to hit that neck of the woods on the way to Pouzza Fest. Guilhem, I’d really like to play Pouzza Fest if you’re reading this. Was that too cheesy? I’m kinda joking but I really wanna play Pouzza Fest.
Mandy: It’d be really fun! Screaming At Traffic, who are one of the bands opening the night on the 17th, they’ve played Pouzza Fest before and they had a blast.
Lindsey: That is a goal of mine for this album. It’s really nice that the application process just ended and we have an album coming out so hopefully we can get some attention and get heard that way. We applied, listen please Pouzza Fest. I’d love to be part of that.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you’d like to add?
Lindsey: We’re super thankful for all the help we’ve had for this album. Whether it be from John Paul knowing that we’re broke musicians that don’t make money at this and helping us make sure it was economical and also really professional. We should thank Hannah Blu for the art for the album, the art for the poster, the art for our cassettes, and the art for all of our merch that’s coming out. We should obviously thank High End Denim Records. Those guys are really sweet and if you’re looking for a record label contact them, they’re really cool. Thanks, Cat’s Claw for putting out the tape and putting us out overseas. And thanks to my wife for not kicking us out of our jam space in our basement.