Without flirting with the cliche of a pandemic record, it seems impossible to have come out of the last couple of years unscathed. Given the turbulence of the social climate, further compounded by a once in a lifetime shutdown - the common denominator in this era of catastrophe is the notion of self inventory.
While the world was locked up, forced to rethink their routine and retreat to their bubbles, all most had, if anything, was their thoughts. For hardcore stalwarts in Kublai Kahn TX, that kind of internalization took on added significance when the inability to tour left the band with only the recording studio as their respite.
Fueled by a combination of unique frustration, combined with a earnest sense of self-awareness, the band compiled a concise collection of new material in a kind of quality over quality approach that resulted in arguably their most potent effort to date in Lowest Form of Animal. Equal parts scathing social commentary and brutality honest self-evaluation, the kind of catharsis crammed into the five-song assembly makes for a purely convincing sermon - a meld of musical domination paired with the kind of matter-of-fact discourse that removes the pretense from aggressive art.
Touching on heady talking points ranging from the toll of personal loss in the EP's closer "Dynasty" to the grim realities and unaccounted for victims of the sex trade in the Terror-aided heater "Swan Song" - there is no contrived sense of angst igniting the band's intensity. For Kublai Khan, the past few years may have prompted them to pivot professionally and self-reflect personally, but it seemingly reaffirmed their identity at the same time.
Anchored by a sense of authenticity, the Texas hardcore outfit continues to craft the kind of caustic compositions that not pummel in musicality and muscle, but articulate the kind of real life strife that resonates on a universal level. For Kublai Khan, the name of the game is finding and intersection of revelery, release and reality so that the hostility in the song is truly hits home.
Frontman Matt Honeycutt further explains the personal potency of Lowest Form of Animal and how their rank is irrelevant when it comes to the landscape of heavy music - they just want to continue to do what they do.
Lowest Form of Animal has some very real thematic weight happening. The message in a track like “Swan Song” and the kind of confrontation in “Loyal To None” - there is a real hostility in the music. Did this EP allow you to get some things off your chest?
Honeycutt - Absolutely. This EP is definitely a reflection of the world we are living in right now and we have something to say about it. Some moments of the EP are internalized, some are about our surroundings. Either way, Lowest Form of Animal is a clear documentation of how we are feeling about it all.
There is an important crop of bands from Texas that have really given the region some added shine. Bands like Power Trip, Creeping Death, I AM, Frozen Soul and yourselves are really putting on for the state. Is there something about home that is conducive to such cathartic, heavy music?
Honeycutt - A lot of these bands started in the same areas, friend groups, playing the same shows, etc. We're so thankful to call them friends and have that opportunity. I don't know what it is or what's in the water here but I think it's in the Texas roots. We're not reinventing the wheel here, just spinning it real fast.
The Kate Beckinsale thing… did the blogs care more about it than you guys did?
Honeycutt - Not at all. That was badass.
The band teamed with Scott from Terror for Swan Song and now you guys are headed out on tour together. What brought on that connection and was the tour already in the works before the track or did that come after?
Honeycutt - We have toured with Terror and been friends for a long time. Having Scott on the song was a great fit. The tour came after the track was done but it all happened around the same time so it was perfect timing. Can't wait to play this one on tour.
Speaking of that tour, you have Sanguisugabogg on the run as well. How do you feel about the melding of genres - the kind of blurring of hardcore and death metal and the phasing out of the gatekeeping that kind always existed in heavy music?
Honeycutt - I think it's awesome. Sanguisugabogg is an incredible band and I love a tour package that switches it up. We're about to start a tour with Knocked Loose, Movements, us, and Koyo and we're really looking forward to the mixed bill.
The band began the rollout of Lowest Form of Animal with “Resentment.” That track is very hostile. Very confrontational. Did any of the last two years creep into your music from a lyrical standpoint? What was the source of that kind of angst?
Honeycutt - 100%. The track sounds confrontational but to be honest it's more self reflective than anything. This track exposes some of my deepest malfunctions. Equating my perception of love with constant acknowledgement and validation. Creating selfish and unrealistic standards that only lead to catastrophe. Completely poisoning the water and creating a toxic situation for myself and others. The last two years have created an environment where you have no choice but to evaluate yourself and that played a role in writing for sure.
In the next few months the band will be out with Knocked Loose and Terror - do you see yourself as part of this growing community of heavy bands that have found a balance between hardcore and metal is very modern, very new school? Kublai Khan TX seems really versatile in that you work with so many types of heavy bands.
Honeycutt - I don't know where I really see ourselves in the equation. I just know that we have a ton of friends and great bands that we want to tour the world with. We have been doing this for a while now and just love getting to tour with our friends at this point.
Where does Lowest Form of Animal rank for you in terms of the evolution of the band and your identity, your sound? Sonically, stylistically, is this the precursor of the full length to come?
Honeycutt - The Kublai Khan TX sound stays the same. Developed sound just comes with the process of growing as people, experiencing life together and saying how we feel. We don't really overthink it or plan what the next full length will sound like. When it comes time to write that one, we're gonna do the same thing.
Lowest Form of Animal from Kublai Khan TX is now available via Rise Records - HERE
Catch Kublai Khan supporting Knocked Loose on the A Tear In The Fabric of Life tour, immediately followed by a run with Terror on the Pain Into Power Record Release tour. A complete list of dates can be found - HERE