Interview: Lowlife (Cryptic Slaughter)
Being able to play these songs live again and to see how stoked the fans are!! That's honestly been the best thing about doing this.
Cryptic Slaughter were one of the leading lights of the crossover sound that combined thrash and metal with the raw grittiness of hardcore and punk. The band brought out two classic albums in the form of Convicted and Money Talks, but split up in the early 1990s. They thankfully got back together recently although legal issues prompted a name change to Lowlife (the name of a Cryptic Slaughter song), but the band are still Cryptic Slaughter in all but name and thrashing out their crossover sound to a set of fans both new and old. Gavin Brown had a chat with the band’s drummer Scott Peterson who talked us through the name change, how life has been since Lowlife got together and all manner of tales from the Cryptic Slaughter days.
E&D: Are there any plans for new Lowlife material once this lockdown period is all over and are you working any musical ideas at the moment?
Scott: Well, before all this started, we already were working on a 4 song demo for a couple of record companies that are interested in putting out new material by us. So, hopefully that will happen!!
E&D: How are you keeping busy during this time?
Scott: All I’ve been doing is reading, catching up on movies/series, practicing my drums, taking walks and just enjoying the time at home. Nothing too exciting!
E&D: Obviously, all live dates are cancelled at the moment, but are there plans to reschedule any Lowlife live dates so far?
Scott: The only show that we have rescheduled for next year, is Pitfest in the Netherlands. That will be happening in June of 2021. Really looking forward to that fest!!!
E&D: How have the live gigs that you have done so far gone?
Scott: They have gone killer!! The fans are stoked to hear these songs live again and it’s been amazing for us to be up on stage and being able to bring these songs back live for everyone!
E&D: Can you tell us how Lowlife got started in the first place?
Scott: Well, Matt Olivo contacted Les and I about doing a Cryptic Slaughter reunion for a fest that he puts on called “Show Your Scars”. We told him that Bill had no desire to be back on stage or be in a band again, so we doubted that it could happen. We reached out to Rob about it and he said that he would get back to us and he never did. So Les and myself made the decision to do a Cryptic Slaughter reunion with a new line up.
E&D: How did it feel when Lowlife started, was it just like coming home to what you know and love?
Scott: It felt amazing to play these songs again and play them better than we did when we were younger. It was just like riding a bike again and it was so much fun rediscovering these songs again. It brought back a lot of good, old memories.
E&D: Can you tell us why the band aren’t using the Cryptic Slaughter name or is it down to copyright bullshit?
Scott: Well, Bill and Rob served Les and myself a cease and desist letter from Rob’s lawyer and threaten to sue us if we went ahead and played under the name Cryptic Slaughter. Les and I started Cryptic Slaughter back up again because, 1) Les and I started Cryptic Slaughter back in 1984 and 2) we wanted to play these songs live again for all the fans worldwide!! It’s because of our fans that the Cryptic Slaughter name still matters and we just wanted to give them something back and to say thank you for all their love and support. So, Les and I decided that we didn’t want to get into a stupid legal battle and decided to play under the name Lowlife since that’s the song that really started it all for us.
E&D: How difficult a choice was it deciding what songs Lowlife were going to play in your live sets?
Scott: Actually, it wasn’t that hard. It was harder to decide which songs we weren’t going to play. But we went through each song to see how they sounded with this lineup and if they sounded good or not. We also thought about what songs our fans would want to hear also. In the end, I think we picked a killer collection of songs.
E&D: What have been some highlights with Lowlife so far?
Scott: Being able to play these songs live again and to see how stoked the fans are!! That’s honestly been the best thing about doing this.
E&D: What was your introduction to heavy music?
Scott: Like most people my age, it was Black Sabbath. They’re still one of my all time favorite bands.
E&D: So you were you into when first, when did punk come along for you?
Scott: I was into metal first and then I heard The Clash and that introduced me to punk rock.
E&D: Who are your biggest influences as a drummer?
Scott: My top 3 drum influences are John Bonham, Dave Lombardo and Neil Peart. Bonham taught me that if you’re going to hit the drums, hit them hard!! And I also learned about grooves and laying back on certain parts because of Bonham. Lombardo taught me how to play fast and Pert taught me how to be creative when it came to playing drums.
E&D: How did Cryptic Slaughter start as a band in the first place?
Scott: Les and I had a mutual friend Adam Scot that we both new from playing soccer. We found out that we all were into Slayer Venom and Motörhead, so we decided to start a band. That was in 1984. Adam knew Bill and he came down to audition and then the very first line up of Cryptic Slaughter was formed. Adam’s Mom made him quit the band, so then the second lineup of Cryptic Slaughter began, the three piece lineup. This lineup made the Life In Grave demo, did a track on Metal Massacre 7 and got signed by Metal Blade Records. A couple of months before we were going to record, Bill told Les and myself that he didn’t want to play bass and sing any more, he just wanted to sing. So, I knew Rob from a mutual friend and I asked him if he wanted to audition. At first he said no because he was in another band. But I talked him into trying out, which he did and we asked him to join. This was the lineup that recorded Convicted, Money Talks and Stream of Consciousness.
E&D: What are your main memories of recording the Money Talks, Convicted and Stream Of Consciousness albums?
Scott: My main memories of recording those records was just how cool it was that we were going to make records, that these songs we wrote and worked out in my parent’s garage in Santa Monica were going to be heard by people who weren’t just our friends. But most of all, that we got to work will Bill Metoyer. He taught us all so much about recording, music and how everything worked.
E&D: Was the LA thrash/crossover scene and exciting time when Cryptic Slaughter were active?
Scott: It was. When we first came out, there wasn’t really that big of a scene. But as the years went by and bands like Slayer, Metallica, etc started to get more known, then the scene exploded!! It was really killer to see this small scene turn into this worldwide monster!!!
E&D: How does it feel for Cryptic Slaughter to be such an influence on so many bands that followed?
Scott: It’s an honor and it’s something that I or Les don’t take for granted. We were influenced by bands like Slayer, Venom, Motörhead and GBH. So to know that we influenced other people to start a band, that’s just blows me away!!!
E&D: What were some of the biggest highlights in Cryptic Slaughter’s history?
Scott: Getting signed to Metal Blade Records, to work with Bill Metoyer, to tour across the country and to play with so many killer bands are all major highlights for the Cryptic Slaughter history. The fact that people still care about us 30 plus years later, is another.
E&D: What were some of your favourite gigs that Cryptic Slaughter played?
Scott: When we got to open for the Descendents and D.R.I. was an amazing show. But (for me) the best shows were when we got to play with our buddies in Excel and Wehrmacht. Those were some of the best shows and the funniest times I have ever had!!!
E&D: When did the crossover between punk/hardcore and metal start?
Scott: I saw it start to happen in late 86, early 87. But back then, we never called it “crossover”. That word never came around until D.R.I. called their album Crossover. That’s when people started referring to our music as that.
E&D: How exciting was the LA scene at that time?
Scott: It was an amazing time and I’m stoked that I was able to be part of that scene from the very start and to watch it grow.
E&D: Will your other band Black Monday ever do anything again?
Scott: Naw. That band was a fun band to be in, but we’re all doing other things now and simply just don’t have the time to do it.
E&D: How did Black Monday start as a band?
Scott: They were a band that was together before I joined. I saw an ad they place in a music magazine and they sent me a their CD. I actually didn’t join the band the first time I was asked. I ended up joining them about two years after I met them.
E&D: What were some of the highlights of your time in Black Monday?
Scott: Playing shows with FEAR, Agent Orange and The Adicts was the major highlight for sure. But recording music and putting out our stuff was killer too.
E&D: Who was the most memorable band you played with?
Scott: For me, it was when we opened for FEAR. FEAR was one of those bands I knew from my youth and to share a stage with them was fucking amazing!!!!
E&D: What are some of your favourite punk albums of all time?
Scott: London Calling by the Clash, City Baby Attacked By Rats by GBH and The Day The Country Died by the Subhumans.
E&D: What other bands have you been in that you can tell us about?
Scott: I was in a pop punk band called So Abused back in the 90’s, but it never really went anywhere. It was a fun band to play in and I really loved the songs.
E&D: The skate and hardcore/thrash/crossover scenes were heavily intertwined with skateboarding culture. Are you still big into skateboarding and what was it like in those times?
Scott: Yup, still into skateboarding and I always will be!! I grew up around the Dogtown/Zboys, so I was introduced to skateboarding when I was 7. Just like the music scene, it was killer to watch skateboarding grow and grow, just like our type of music. Skateboarding and music will always go hand in hand and I love that!!
E&D: What have been some of the proudest moments in your career so far?
Scott: To be honest, the fact that people still care about the music we created, that they still want to see us play live and that we influenced a style of music as well as influenced other people to start bands, will always be what I am most proud of!!