Putrescence’s Mike Alexander

Putrescence’s Mike Alexander
Having already titled albums Dawn of the Necrofecalizer, Fatal White Pustules upon Septic Organs, and a personal fave, Mangled, Hollowed Out and Vomit Filled, clearly, there’s nowhere to go but up for Winnipeg extreme gore-grind band Putrescence. And upwards they fly with new disc, Sledgehammer Holocaust, being released, suitably, on Halloween, at which point the band will hit the Canadian touring trail with similarly gore-obsessed grinders Impaled and Canuck grindcore weirdos Fuck the Facts.

We caught up with Putrescence vocalist Mike Alexander to talk about the tour, the new disc and his personal change of focus from singing in political grind/hardcore bands like Swallowing Shit and Head Hits Concrete to bringing the blood with Putrescence.

How are you guys feeling about the new CD?
It actually just showed up in Winnipeg this afternoon. My girlfriend has them. I hope she’s as excited as the rest of us are [laughs]. Everyone always says this about their new record, but in our case it feels different to say it’s probably the best thing we’ve done to date. I think, for some reason, it’s faster, it’s harder, it’s more extreme and to me it’s almost a return to form; I don’t think we really lost it, but it’s really together, it’s really focused, and it’s really awesome.

It sounds like you take the band quite seriously. I think people are tempted to think it’s a joke because of the song titles and whatnot. But it sounds like you guys put a lot of work into this stuff.
I think not everyone can tell a good joke, you know? I tend to pore over the lyrics and the ideas; it should be moderately funny, I guess, but it’s also important to write something where you can say, "Yeah, I didn’t slap this together at the last minute.” We’ve already done that, and it’s important for the lyrics and song titles to be above average as far as ridiculous is concerned. Some of the lyrics are a bit darker. I got a sense when we were writing it, like Holy Jesus, it just feels a little bit different than normal. There’s a more violent tone to it than I planned on. Not that I plan it, but that’s just what came out.

What can the Canadian crowds expect from this tour?
I think Fuck the Facts are brilliant, I’ve seen them probably 30 times; the new songs seem to come across really well in the live setting. I’ve seen Impaled a couple of times and know for sure they’re going to destroy everything that’s set up in front of them. Hopefully, folks will remember that we are playing as well.

It seems like the band is pretty energized right now.
Putrescence went to Europe and played with some pretty darn underground bands. I was so amazed, just about every night, with the bands we played with. It gave the other guys a chance to see what I’ve been talking about forever as far as what people are doing in Europe. Especially Eastern Europe; that’s where grindcore, to me, is based out of. We got to play with some pretty crazy bands and I think the rest of the fellows realized there’s a lot of exciting music going on, and they seemed to be affected by it. Once we got back everyone was really gonzo to start writing immediately. It seems as though we’ve finally gelled. We all knew what we wanted to do, it didn’t need to be explained: it was just the result of throwing yourself at the mercy of crazy, drunk Europeans.

Compared to the last couple bands you’ve been in, the lyrical content in Putrescence is drastically different. Do you find you enjoy singing about this kind of stuff as opposed to the extreme politics you were always immersed in before?
I think I’ve written lyrics to something like 150 to 200 songs. After you’ve written your first 100, you need a break from it. Just because I want to be as honest as possible, and as far as honesty is concerned, I had had enough of writing political stuff. Nothing has changed in my mind. I’m still looking at things like the U.S. election and its impact on the world and am completely horrified and affected by it. But at the same time, I just like to party. I like to get away from that. But this year I’ve gotten antsy to write political stuff again. We’re talking about doing some more Head Hits stuff; if that happens, that would be great. I’ve got a brain full of shit again that I don’t know what to do with.

Are you ever out there singing about hacked-off limbs and you think, "Boy, I should be singing about politics?”
Yeah, sometimes it’s not as satisfying as writing something that’s a little bit more real than these fantasies or some of these dumb ideas I have about how to dismember a human body.

But those lyrics serve a purpose too.
Oh, yeah, everyone in the band loves horror movies, tons of people I know love morbid kinds of stuff. We always did and will continue to for the foreseeable future. So it’s not that removed, it’s just a different side of me that’s fun to explore. It’s just kick-ass music either way. I think it’s important for me to be reminded that there are certain lines that I don’t think are right to try to cross for the sake of shock value, stuff relating to gender or homophobia or some of those kinds of things.

With this band, did you make a jump from the political hardcore scene to the underground grind scene, or are you playing the same kinds of shows?
Locally, the all-ages hardcore scene, for the most part, kind of booted us out pretty quickly, which is kind of weird because I do a lot of those shows. A lot of the bands understand where we’re coming from. Some of the younger kids who might not have been around when the other bands I was in were around, there might not be the same kind of connect, so there is some separation that occurs that bums me out a bit. In terms of how we approach doing things, it’s still completely D.I.Y., the ethics are the same as they’ve always been. It just sounds and looks a little bit more ridiculous.