Evil, crushing, and fun... this is what metal should be.
by Sal Serio
photo by Megan Orvold
The regional South-central Wisconsin metal band Casket Robbery, masterminded by former Luna Mortis guitarist Cory Scheider and vocalist Dustin Foesch, combine various elements of death metal with horror movie, serial killer, and pop culture themes. Casket Robbery have completed a new CD titled ‘Evolution Of Evil’, and are gearing up for a series of CD release party shows. Maximum Ink caught up with Cory and bass player Patrick Smalls to get all the gory details. Catch Casket Robbery at The Red Zone in Madison on Friday, March 4; Electric Lounge in Oshkosh on Friday, March 25; and at Ziggy’s Pub in Fond du Lac on Saturday, April 2.
MAXIMUM INK: Please give our readers a brief synopsis of your career and how you got to the point of putting together the Casket Robbery project.
CORY SCHEIDER: It all started when I was 12 years old and learned my first Def Leppard riff on guitar from my guitar teacher Brian Koenig. Fast forward to college, [when] I saw an ad on MySpace for my guitar teacher’s band The Ottoman Empire, looking for a rhythm guitarist. I thought on it, and responded to the ad right away. I got a call before the audition and was told that it was strictly a rhythm guitar spot and no leads. It was cool for me to be able to play rhythm guitar and sort of learn some tips from Brian along the way. He is a master shred player, one of the best. I played a couple Megadeth songs and jammed on a couple Ottoman songs for the audition, [which] went well, but you know… I didn’t think I would get the spot. It was my guitar teacher’s band after all. I did the audition because I am not one to turn down opportunities and it was a good challenge. I got the gig though! We sat down shortly after, and they told me they were going to be working with a management company, and they were doing everything it takes to get signed. I think I was the last piece they needed in the puzzle, because from there, we sought out and did exactly that, getting signed to mega metal label Century Media Records. Fast forward again, The Ottoman Empire, now renamed Luna Mortis, calls it quits, and I played in a few bands after that because I wanted to keep touring and playing. It has been a bumpy road since then. I think I have always been the “under dog” type. I was always the youngest guy in bands, and maybe not taken as seriously as others. But, I love what I do and keep at it. This is where the Casket Robbery story starts. My friend Dustin and I were sitting in my studio one night having a few beers. He said he wanted to record something, so I started recording these super heavy guitar riffs I had been messing around with, and programmed some drum parts. He came up with vocals and laid them down. We wrote and recorded our first Casket Robbery song called “Everyone Dies” in maybe an hour. It happened so naturally. We released a couple demo songs and people were really catching on to it, even people that didn’t like metal. They got into the catchiness of it, and the fun aspects of the music. We quickly saw that there was something special here. I had finally found my calling as a writer, I was able to make brutal metal riffs fun, and Dustin made the lyrics fun. Somehow, in a brutal death metal band we were able to incorporate that element [of fun]. It took years to find reliable band members for the shows, but we have finally found the lineup and it is perfect timing for the album. This is where Patrick and Greg [Mueller, drums] come in.
PATRICK SMALL: I joined the band in the summer of 2015. Cory invited me to hang out at Casket Robbery’s rehearsal while I was in town to see White Empress play. At the time, it was just Cory, Dustin, and Greg. We hung out, jammed a little bit, and a couple weeks later Cory was messaging me on Facebook saying everyone wanted me in the band. I’ve only played two shows with them so far but we absolutely crushed it, and this is the best lineup of musicians I’ve ever played with. We all get along really well too, so I feel at home for the long term with Casket.
MI: The video for “Annibelle’s Hell” is really professional. Is this being pushed as the first single from the ‘Evolution Of Evil’ CD? What’s the lyrical inspiration of that song? It seems possibly a little disturbing.
PS: “Annibelle’s Hell” is the first release from the new album, as well as being the first track. It’s a good balance between our brutal and melodic aspects, and is a song about a girl who kills her family, and then later her foster parents, because the bogeyman told her to. Between the composition and the lyrical concept, it gives a pretty good summary of what to expect from the album, and us as a band.
CS: This is the first single. Like Patrick said, it’s a good track because it displays everything you will hear on the album. All of the lyrical content on this album is based on the idea that everyone is evil, that there is some amount of evil in each of us. We dive into certain people’s evil stories on the album. Some of the lyrics are rooted in history, while others are fictional characters. “Annabelle’s Hell” is based on a character that Dustin came up with. A little girl has a monster in her closet that talks to her, and tells her to do evil things. When writing, we have a very strict process for making songs fit and flow perfectly. At first, when this song was in the very early stages, I wasn’t actually sold that this song would make it onto the album. It took Dustin and I a little while to get this song in perfect “Casket form”. Dustin’s lyrics are actually what brought it together, and gave it life. When Dustin laid out the lyric idea for it, my guitar writing really came into place, and it [became] a stand out on this album!
MI: How long have you known singer Dustin Foesch? Have you worked with him before?
CS: We met when we were kids. Way back in grade school, but I think we actually started hanging out in high school. We would jam with some of our friends on the weekends, [playing] Megadeth and Metallica covers. On a professional level, I didn’t start working with him until he started doing merch for Luna Mortis. Luna was doing a ton of shows, and touring, and we needed someone behind the table to make sure we were making money on the road. Dustin and I hung out a lot on those tours, probably because we were the youngest ones. We connected well, and when I found out he could do guttural vocals, that eventually lead to what would become Casket Robbery. I always knew he would have a natural presence onstage [and] could count on him to tear it up. He has the personality for it. The first time he ever set foot onstage was the first Casket Robbery show, and he just went for it. Most people wouldn’t have guessed it was his first show. Most people have that fear onstage at first, but he is supposed to be up there fronting a band. It’s just natural for him.
MI: Tell me about your relationship with horror filmmaker Cory Udler. How has his film work impacted you? With his participation on your CD, might that lead to Casket Robbery doing some soundtrack work for him?
CS: I have always been into horror films and that is actually my inspiration for writing in this band. Dustin is also into the horror scene and is really good friends with Cory Udler. When I write for Casket, I will put on a horror movie and write riffs as I’m watching. I try to write visually. Like, a soundtrack to a messed up horror movie, or the soundtrack that a serial killer would hear in his head while hacking up victims. What helps a lot in my writing is getting ideas from Dustin’s lyrics before I write the songs. Just building on those visuals. I came across some of Udler’s movies and instantly clicked with them. His films have that sense of humor to them. While they are messed up and creepy, they make you laugh. Our music has a similar vibe. It’s horror-based, but also fun. Udler has been an awesome supporter of us, and we can never thank him enough. Some of our music has been featured in his movies, as well as other movies. We would love to do a soundtrack. Our albums are very conceptual anyway, and I think we would do very well writing for a movie soundtrack.
MI: Please discuss your relationship with Warbringer guitarist John Laux.
CS: Dustin and I met him back in the touring days of Luna Mortis. They were label mates with us, so we wound up doing a lot of Midwest dates with them, and some short tour runs. The guys in that band are some of the coolest, most down to earth, guys. We always had a good time hanging with them. I love John’s style! I just shot him a message one day, and asked if he would be into laying down a solo on our new album. I thought his style would be a cool blend in the song “Pray for Death”. He loved the track and really went for it when he did his solo. I am very grateful for all of the friends that have helped us make this album possible. The response has been overwhelming.
MI: How did you get hooked up with Chicago based label Mortal Music?
CS: I found out about the label while we were in the mixing process. Chris Wisco did the mixing on our album, [and] he has also done stuff for Jungle Rot and Lazarus A.D. He was just finishing up an album for Withering Soul when we started working with him. I just happened to see the Withering Soul album was coming out on Mortal Music. So, I hit them up. Mortal Music just gave a cool vibe while talking to them. We talked to other labels and you know… not a lot of people care, or have passion for what they do. A lot of places are just looking for money from bands now, even bands they don’t care about. As long as they get paid, they will work with them. Rob at Mortal Music was just honest. They are there to help their bands achieve what they want to achieve. Whether it is touring, or just releasing albums, or whatever. They build off of us, and we build off of them. They like our music and what we want to do with it. It fit our whole vibe of “real, natural, organic, no bull.”
MI: What is the full Casket Robbery discography? What is the plan to distribute and promote the ‘Evolution of Evil’ CD?
CS: We started with the self titled EP, then released a digital only EP called ‘Shrouded In Darkness’ shortly after, and then a single in 2013. But, this CD is like the rebirth of the band, [it’s] a very big step for us in production and songwriting. When we started the band, we said we would never do full-lengths. We just wanted to do short EPs, and do them quickly. But people started asking for a full-length. We ended up taking a long break from shows in 2013, and that gave us a lot of time to actually prep for a full-length. It worked out well, and it felt right. Mortal Music is doing an awesome job of getting our music distributed digitally. The album will be available everywhere via Mortal Music. We are working on some tours for this summer, and will be hitting the road again for this release. We have been promoting it hard, and are getting a ton of reviews and interviews. We’ve had the video and some tracks premier on some of the top metal websites and blogs. We are off to a great start, and are just going to keep building it from here.
MI: The cover artwork for ‘Evolution Of Evil’ is very provocative. Has there been any controversy about it? How did the concept and photo shoot come about?
CS: We have had a few people ask about it. You know, it’s metal, it’s supposed to be controversial. The visual concept of the cover came from Dustin. He set up the shoot and found the model. The cover is a representation of our song “Blood Bathory”, which is a real story about Countess Elizabeth Bathory. She would kill and drain the blood of virgins, and bathe in it. When the album was finished we needed something that was simple and elegant, [but] also evil.
MI: For a death metal band you don’t seem to be bogged down in “taking yourselves too seriously” mode, which is refreshing. A lot of the songs and attitude in the band’s promo materials display a sense of humor. Is that on purpose, or just a natural element of who you guys are?
CS: It was definitely intended in the beginning, but I think it came naturally. In the beginning it felt right. We have always wanted to be ourselves in this band. It is the most real representation of who we are. When we decided to do the full-length, the music became a little more mature as far as song writing, but we didn’t lose the “fun” aspect of it. We take the music very seriously and really try to deliver a great product. To us, this is what metal should be.
PS: [Yes], a little bit of both. We take the music seriously, and even the subject matter, but when you sing about stuff like we do, you can’t take yourself too seriously or you might get really depressed. [laughs]
MI: What other notable bands are playing your CD release shows in March & April?
PS: For the March 4th release show at The Red Zone, we are being joined by our good friends in Disappearance, as well as The Fine Constant, and The Unnecessary Gunpoint Lecture.
CS: We have the best bands that Madison has to offer. It is a variety of styles and it’s going to be a fun night. I think there is something there for every metal head to enjoy.
MI: What are the long-range hopes, plans, and dreams for Casket Robbery?
PS: We’d definitely like to get some touring going, maybe eventually try to make it overseas. We feel like Casket Robbery has a bright future, and we aim to do what we can to make it happen.
CS: It’s definitely time to build the band up now that we have a very well produced and crushing full-length album to grow from. We will continue to do shows regionally, and work on touring for this album. After that, we’ll work on getting out a new release. We already have a concept for the next two releases, and a library of song ideas to choose from. Come and check us out live. You will not be disappointed!(4213) Page Views Casket Robbery Online:
CD: Evolution Of Evil Record Label: Mortal Music
• Download Evolution Of Evil on Amazon