This week’s we’re featuring the New York progressive death metal group Uncured in Meet The Band. Their debut album Medusa was released last year, and they are currently on tour with DevilDriver. Vocalists/guitarists Zak and Rex Cox introduce us to this band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Uncured.
Uncured released our first full-length album Medusa in March of 2016. Rex and I both play guitar and sing on the record. Joining Uncured on drums is Liam Manley from Portland, Oregon. Liam has over 13 years experience playing drums, including five years of professional session work with various artists across the U.S. Jon Kita from Boston, Massachusetts, who also plays with metal stalwart Diecast, rounds out the Uncured lineup on bass. Since the release of Medusa we have been touring North America with amazing bands like Katatonia, DevilDriver and Children of Bodom.
Describe the style/sound of your debut album Medusa.
Medusa is characterized by its diversity. The album is most easily described as progressive death metal because of its brutal riffs, technical passages and harsh vocals. Yet throughout the record we introduce a variety of other styles and techniques, ranging from extended melodic passages to groove metal to wah-driven ’70s psychedelic. Songs like “Opium Den” and “Myopic” are hard-hitting death metal songs that tend to get fans moving in the pit. Songs like “Enucleate” and “Petrified” capture the wide variety of our sounds, ranging from brutal riffs to extended melodic passages. Finally, songs like “Antipsychotic” and “Spontaneous Regeneration” illustrate our more progressive influences.
What has the response to it been like so far?
Fans have enthusiastically embraced the record, and it has received great reviews from numerous top metal industry news outlets. At this early stage of our development, a lot of fans first exposure to Uncured is at a live show, and we play 5 or 6 six tracks from Medusa. We are receiving great feedback after our shows and meet tons of new fans. Uncured is starting to get played on internet radio and we have been featured on Sirius XM Liquid Metal. We are excited to tour Medusa for another year before we head back to the studio to record our second record.
Do you think you’ll sign with a label for the next album, or do you prefer the independent route?
Uncured is proud to be an independent band. We have received a great deal of attention from fans, the media and industry professionals. While there clearly are a number of benefits that come from major label support, our independence gives us freedom and autonomy. We want to tour as much as possible, and being independent allows us to make quick decisions on scheduling and logistics. Beyond this, Uncured has an original sound, and we intend to keep pushing the boundaries of our music. We are already starting to write for our second record, and we treasure our complete creative control.
How was the video shoot for “Stygian Valley”?
We all love the “Stygian Valley” video! (Watch it below.) The song is actually a new single that we released after Medusa. It represents the evolution of the instrumental song “Stygian Pit” that appears on Medusa. “Stygian Pit” is one of our fans’ favorite songs when we play live, and we received tons of requests for a version with vocals. So we re-wrote the song, and headed back into the studio to record vocals and re-mix the new arrangement. The new “Stygian Valley” video was filmed by David Brodsky, one of the great filmmakers in the music industry. We asked Dave to make a video that captures the energy, excitement and intensity of a live Uncured performance. It was incredible to work with Dave, as he just asked us to deliver our performance while he took care of everything else. We feel like the video gives fans a good idea of what to expect when they come to an Uncured show.
What were some of the highlights of your recent tour with Katatonia?
We grew up listening to Katatonia and saw their evolution from doom to their current, melodic style. We saw Katatonia open for Opeth 6 or 7 years ago. We were both pretty young, and we were watching the show while sitting on our parents’ shoulders. Sodo, the guitar player for Katatonia at the time, saw us and said something to a security guard, who called our parents aside. We figured trouble. Instead, the guard gave them a handful of picks with the best wishes of the band; right in the middle of the show!
Obviously, going out with an artist that has deeply influenced our melodic interludes on our very first tour was an amazing experience. In retrospect, we were both impressed by the quality and consistency of Jonas Renske’s voice. Every night it was perfect, even when during week-long stretches without a break. This was an important lesson for us. We needed to develop the same consistency in our vocals. Ever since the tour we have trained our voices for maximum endurance and consistency. We thrive on delivering raw, intense, and brutal vocals, and that takes constant practice.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
We are currently on the road with DevilDriver and 36 Crazyfists, visiting 27 cities over the course of six weeks. The fans on this tour have been amazing, and we’ve enjoyed playing in front of insane mosh pits. After this tour we will be going on a 24 city North American tour with Children of Bodom and Carach Angren.
In our first six months as a touring band we will have traveled around North America 4 1/2 times traveling 45,000 miles by van. More importantly, we will have been in front of three very different types of crowds, ranging from Gothenburg melodic doom to groove metal to technical death metal. We try to write our songs to embrace a wide variety of influences, and we are lucky to reach such diverse audiences so early in our career.
What’s your favorite way to kill time on the road?
We try to stay connected with all of our fans, so most of our time is spent reviewing video footage and photos to share with our fans on social media. We also take the opportunity to work on songs for our next record. Finally, we try to stay active. We travel with a weight bench and weights. Every so often you can catch us working out in a parking lot near the venue!
How did you get started in music?
We have both been playing guitar seriously for 6 or 7 years. We took guitar lessons prior to that, and quit playing 3 or 4 times! Formal instruction was not a good way for us to learn to play. Guitar became fun when we started jamming and writing together. We are entirely self-taught players, learning from practical experience and watching tutorials on the internet from great players like Jeff Loomis and John Petrucci. We both decided to pursue our careers as professional musicians in May of 2016 and left high school.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
The band that has had the most influence of our writing and musical style is Opeth, especially as embodied in albums like Ghost Reveries. We have always been fascinated by the interaction between brutal death metal grooves and beautiful melodic passages. Our appreciation for technical playing comes from Dream Theater and guitar virtuosos like Jeff Loomis. Beyond metal, our music has a heavy influence from the ’70s, from artists ranging from Curtis Mayfield to Jimi Hendrix.
What was the first concert you attended?
Opeth, of course! I was 11 and Rex was 9. We have grown up around metal music, and we have been lucky enough to see almost all of our favorite bands live, including Opeth, Gojira, Mastodon, Meshuggah and Soilwork (to name just a few).
What’s the dynamic between you and your brother?
Everything within Uncured is entirely collaborative. Rex and I are always working on new riffs and collaborate constantly on how to improve our riffs and create cohesive song structures.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Our tastes are diverse, but lately we have been listening to some heavier bands like Dying Fetus, Thy Art Is Murder, Beyond Creation, and Whitechapel. But we always go back to progressive bands, classic death metal, and ’70s groove.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
First, we are very appreciative of the opportunity to work with Heavy Music Headquarters on this interview. Thanks so much for taking an interest in us! Second, thank you again to our fans. We love making music and touring, and we look forward to meeting new people on the road!
(interview published September 9, 2017)