Cast The Stone
Interview by Jay Rollins
Cast the Stone is a case of things coming full circle. Comprised of members from: Misery Index, Scour (both present and former), ex-Cattle Decapitation, and Legend. Forming in 2002 then after a single album, Dark Winds Descending (2005), Cast the Stone got lost in the shuffle of the aforementioned bands’ success. After lending their talents elsewhere the original lineup has awoken with a vengeance. The new EP Empyrean Atrophy carves out their domain, signalling to contemporaries that Cast the Stone is ready to stand with the most savage of bands.
Empyrean Atrophy features “Jesusatan,” a cover of Sweden’s Infestdead. In the official music video for “Jesusatan” the line, “dangers of oral and anal sex that god warned about,” flashes across the screen, Bill Cosby is among monsters, Jesus pops put of a toilet, war and Christianity are heavily connected throughout, and so on. Who came up with the video concept and is there a message or story you are trying to convey, or are you reflecting dichotomy inherent in the song title?
David Hall (Melvins, Portal) did that video with the intention of being as ridiculous as possible. We sort of just let him run with it. We had to revise it a few times, because it was just too offensive at first. As for the song, it’s a death metal cover song that comes out of a time when death metal was trying its hardest to be offensive for offensive sake. So, it’s very tongue-in-cheek, and should be viewed as such. That said, there is an inherent message about the absurdity of organized religion that’s surely touched upon, and which we support. In the end, though, we just liked the riffs, and needed a video to match the song.
Mark could you tell me the meaning behind the band’s name? I figured it is a reference to the biblical verse, John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
(Do you expect the band to carry religious themes throughout your career?)
We came up with that name a long time ago, and we are sticking with it for posterity’s sake. As the the meaning, the anti-biblical sentiment is surely there in duality with other interpretations. In my view, the name represents what we are doing as an expression against social oppression and forced suppression of self. We are told early on to severely suppress our animal selves, which leads to all sorts of intricately weaved behavioral and social issues. This project symbolically and simultaneously casts the stone back at religious bigotry, wards off social oppression through expression, and, through earthen imagery, the stone falls into the water of reality; making its own ripples and waves.
On Amptweaker’s site James Brown (amp design engineer, master tone creator) elaborates on you giving him your preferred EQ specs, “I had no idea that years later the TightMetal series based on [Mark’s] preferred EQ curve would become our top 3 selling products.” Now Misery Index has a custom graphic version of the TightMetal Jr. and Scour has branded a limited amount of the TightMetal Pro. When did TightMetal pedals first make it onto your personal touring board?
At the time, there’s was no real quality portable unit I could get my tone out of. And I was really needing something with all the Fly-ins we were doing. Around the same time, James Brown, creator of Peavey and Eddie Van Halen’s original 5150, was searching for ideas for his new pedal company. I sent him a bunch of specs for what I needed, and we went back and forth for a solid year coming up with this thing. It is an excellent portable preamp for this kind of music, and all analog.
Why do they appeal to a wide range of heavy music guitarists and not just the extreme players like yourself?
Well, we spent a really long time getting the EQ and time just right. So there’s just a lot of subtle nuances that players can’t get out of other analog portable units. For example, gain stages are directional, and the easy and compact way to put them in is in all the same direction. Moreover, most units like that only have 3 stages. The TM has 5 which are inversely oriented. In a tube amp, because of how things must be wired, the gain stages MUST be inversely oriented. So the pedal gives the sound that’s closer to that…which is something a lot of companies miss or don’t mess with.
A more recognizable band of yours, Misery Index, is also ending a hiatus. You’ve released “I Disavow” as a digital single and 7” but full on recording has commenced at Soundwell Studio in Finland. How far along are you with recording and what can be expected of the new opus?
Drums were tracked by Erik Rutan at Mana, and we did the rest in various studios as you mention. The tracks are in our producer’s hands at this point.
Misery Index is one of the few truly brutal bands to have made it to the most easterly edge of North America, St. John’s Newfoundland. Arguably the heaviest touring band to have graced our shore. It’s been almost ten years since that memorable 709 Metalfest. Now that you are back on the road, how has touring with Misery Index changed over the last decade?
Well, we are a bigger band at this point, and also have families now. So, we like to be a bit more picky on what we do and for how long. Perhaps we’ll get back out to NewFoundland in the new record.
Cast the Stone is still early in your rebirth, thus far Empyrean Atrophy, a release show at The Riot Room in Kansas City August 31st (with support from: Unmerciful, Gorgatron, and The Soiled Doves), plus Full Terror Assault, mark the jumping off point. What else can we expect from you in 2018?
MAD Tourbooking has picked us up in EU, and Continental Concerts in US. So, we just in a planning phase at the moment. We plan to do this project in the smartest way possible. Not rushing, but you will see us out there.
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for Metalheads Forever, I purposely didn’t ask about Scour because this week I’ll also be interviewing your bandmate John Jarvis.
Cool. Lots going on there. I’m sure John will fill you in.
MHF Magazine/Jay Rollins