As the story goes, beloved metalcore band Heavy Heavy Low Low had reunited for a tour in 2020. The band had a solid run in the ‘00s and break up in 2009 after a tour of Australia. That tour in fact resulted in band member Robbie Smith being detained by Australian authorities for attempting to enter the country without a visa. The incident was detailed in an episode of Border Security: Australia’s Front Line which premiered on Australian TV in 2012.
Despite this, or possibly because of it, Heavy Heavy Low Low describe the tour as their “most fun.” In 2019. the band made the decision to reconvene, determined to finally get back on the road and greet their fans. Unfortunately, the onset of the global corona virus pandemic made such plans impractical, and now, only distant memory.
However, in the wake of the canceled tour, a new project was announced. Bone Cutter! Bonecutter are comprised of original Heavy Heavy Low Low members Robbie Smith, Chris Fritter and Andew Fritter, and producer-turned-guitarist Sam Pura.
The band’s Self-Titled EP is a blast of violent, bone-splintering hardcore, inspired by death metal and horror movies. Despite popular belief, the band and their first release were not entirely products of the pandemic-induced quarantine. Known to few, the project has actually been in the works for over ten years. Its origins lay in Heavy Heavy Low Low’s final, Australian tour.
I caught up with Sam and Robbie this past spring to get the full details on the birth of Bone Cutter and the release of their new album. You can listen to Bone Cutter’s self-titled while reading our conversation via the Bandcamp player below:
Interview conducted via email on March 23, 2021. It has been edited slightly for the sake of clarity.
At what point did you decide that Bone Cutter was going to need to become a thing?
Sam Pura: I remember hanging out in Australia, chatting before our final set of the tour. Rob said “Let’s just start a whole new band, but Sam, you have to actually play guitar and write! Not just produce.” We had a really fun tour, and our chemistry was really solid. We sounded good; we had fun, and we didn’t really want it to end. It was obvious we needed to keep making music together.
Can you trace the linage of Cutter to Bone Cutter for those who may not already in the know?
Robbie Smith: I’m not sure there’s much of a lineage there. We started as Cutter, and over time, decided that Bone Cutter was more concise.
Where and how was the new EP recorded?
Sam: After that Australia tour we got together a few times at my studio (The Panda Studios) and started writing and jamming. I don’t really remember exactly when, but we decided to track the bass and drums for the four songs we had and overdubbed some additional bass. From there, I just got extremely busy with the wave of pop-punk revival projects and never really had the time to dive back into the Cutter sessions and really give it the creative, immersive focus that it needed to become an actual thing.
Thankfully, Andrew and Rob were always patient and kept casually checking in and mentioning that we should get together at some point and finish these tracks. I can’t believe it was a 10-year process. What a blur. I finally hit the point in my life where I was like, “I need to make music again and stop having all my creative work be funneled through another artist’s music and release schedules” etc. I want to really focus on making my own content and being inside the marketing and all content creation for the project etc. So, Rob and I started chipping away at vocals for it and the entire thing started to inspire us and everyone else and just amplified the excitement and willingness to dive into the music and see it all the way to the finish line.
What precautions did you need to take while recording an album during the pandemic?
Sam: I try and communicate with all my artists that I prefer they show up with a negative COVID test within a 48-hour window if they want to do a mask-less session. We all just really make sure we limit our interactions to people we live with and the people in the studio and be as proactive as possible to screen for symptoms beforehand and be clean and safe at all times while we’re together.
How hard was it to convince Twelve Gauge Records to put out this EP? On a scale of 0-100.
Robbie: 25? Jihad has put a lot of work into this release behind the scenes. We’re so grateful!
What of your needs have gone unfulfilled this past year, and which of them specifically inspired the song “Sea of Broken Needs”?
Robbie: I’m not sure that any of my needs were unfulfilled. I really wanted to hug my friends. That track is about chasing hope and believing in kindness, going mad in your pursuit, and finding both as a result.
Which Sam Peckinpah film did you have in mind when writing “Peckinpah Leather Crackle”?
Robbie: The Wild Bunch. It starts as a recollection from one of the bloodied extras. Peckinpah was a real asshole.
If your debut EP were a specific genre of horror film, which would it be? How did your interest in death metal impact the development of Bone Cutter?
Robbie: Great question! I’d have to say the slasher genre. But then I equate it to stuff like Driller Killer or Pieces.
Death Metal impacted vocal delivery and placement. I’m not sure anyone else in the band listens to straight death metal, though.
What’s the best streaming service for horror flicks in your mind? What is the determining factor? Quality, quantity, specific titles… etc?
Robbie: Shudder is my favorite. They’re so consistent in quantity and quality. They’ve got some fantastic originals (Cold Hell, Witch in the Window, Jessica Forever), they’ve got impeccably curated collections for documentaries (Horror Noire) to queer cinema (Knife+Heart) to female-centric revenge pictures (Revenge); they’ve also got a bunch of classics like The Devils and a shitload of cool giallos. Shudder, if you see this, I’ve got some short films for ya.
What is the scariest thing to happen to you since the start of the panemic?
Robbie: Seeing how selfish the American public is. You see those panic scenes in disaster/apocalyptic movies where people are using other people’s faces as stepping stools to escape a hellish situation, and that shit is scarier than the earthquake or the collapsing building or demonic entities. And, in a way, that’s how we’ve behaved with the pandemic. Then, we’ve got killer cops preying on America’s people of color. I’ve remained relatively unscathed other than the depression that comes with living as a thinking human. I’ve got it pretty good compared to most.
For Your Health gave your band Heavy Heavy Low Low a shout-out during our interview we did with them. They said you were one of the reasons they signed to Twelve Gauge Records. How does it feel to be inspiring the next generation of hardcore bands as they work to establish themselves?
Robbie: Did they? That rules. I’m a big fan of that band.
I don’t think I’ve put a lot of thought into that. I think it’s really cool. It reminds me that music is this quilt of human emotion passed from generation to generation, added to, altered, torn apart, but always forming something special. Some beautiful ouroboros.
I’m so appreciative of anyone that has listened to us or dedicated any of their time or money to our band(s). I’ll never stop feeling the little chill on the back of my neck when I’m reminded someone cares what we’re doing.
Image courtesy of Bone Cutter.