Cretin: Band Of The Day

By on 28 March 2014

cretin

Californian grinders Cretin are currently busy recording the much anticipated follow up to their 2006 debut album ‘Freakery’, which will be released by Relapse Records later this year. A lot has happened both personally and musically in the Cretin camp since their furious Repulsion worshipping debut album dropped onto the scene like a whirlwind of blast beats and grinding ferocity, so I thought it was the perfect time to contact frontwoman/guitarist Marissa Martinez-Hoadley and get an update about the new album recording, personal and personnel changes within the band, and about her joining her favourite band for a while amongst other things…

WORDS: Kat Gillham

WHO ARE THEY: Cretin
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: San Jose/ San Francisco, California, USA.
FOR FANS OF: Repulsion, Terrorizer, Carcass, Repulsion, Repulsion and Repulsion
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Freakery’ (Relapse)
WEBSITE: Facebook

Hi Marissa! Cretin is active again and about to unleash a 2nd album after a hiatus/being on hold for a little while – so how does it feel to be back again and recording new material? I am sure there are grind fans the world over anxiously awaiting the next full length Cretanic Grind Assault!
MM-H: “It feels great! I mean, aside from the fact that I love making music, everyone in the band are really good friends. But, I live pretty far away from the guys. So, the only time I really get to see them is when we’re doing something band related. I love that I get to see them on a weekly basis now. The real trick is getting to see Liz who lives 6 hours away!”

There is a very valid reason for the band initially being put on hold as you transitioned and underwent gender reassignment surgery – when did you realise that you had to make these changes?
MM-H: “February 2007. My ex-wife and I had been in marriage counselling for over a year, and it hadn’t helped us. Our counsellor recommended that I see a therapist who specialized in gender dysphoria, and I started going to see him regularly. It got to a point where my ex knew I would hold back my transition for her sake, as long as we were married. So, one night she told me that she had to let me go if I was ever going to find myself. After tears of relief, and a few hugs, I felt free to move forward.”

You are one of the first openly trans women in extreme metal music and the first post-op transsexual woman in the death/grind scene to my knowledge- how has the overall reaction been from the metal scene and the bands fans in general? And how does it feel looking back on the past 6-7 years from where you were personally to where you are now?
MM-H: “The reaction from the metal scene has been mostly positive. In a lot of ways I feel like people have been overwhelmingly welcoming to me.

“The thing I find interesting is that it seems perfectly reasonable to thinking of asking how the reaction from the scene has been. It stems from the disproportionately negative view that the moral majority holds against trans people. It’s easy to imagine that within metal, a group that is also maligned by mainstream society as violent, evil, deviants, that metalheads would likely hate us. But, in my experience, it’s considerably the opposite.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of a group of people who live by the idea of “Fuck you! You can’t tell me how to live my life.””

You have been busy recording new material recently which will be for your 2nd full length album due out on Relapse Records later this year, please tell the readers in your own words what they can expect from the upcoming new album and the new material? How has the recording process been and where have you been recording at?
MM-H: “The new material will be a progression from ‘Freakery’, but not a huge leap. I wrote a good portion of the music in the year between releasing the album, and putting the band on hold to start my transition. We intentionally went with more of a death metal direction this time in homage to what our favourite grind bands did in the early ‘90s. We made some of the songs a little longer, and added some more dynamic riffs. But, it’s all still anchored by the trem-picked-power-chord riffs, and rolling blast beats that are staples to our sound.

“Recording is going great! We went to a studio in our home town of Ben Lomond, CA (a small town in the mountains of Santa Cruz) to record the drums. Right now, I’m still tracking guitars in Matt’s home studio. Once that’s done, we’ll return to a professional studio to reamp guitars, record solos, and lay down vocals.”

When will the album be released and can you divulge any info, like how many tracks will be on it, what formats it will be released in and any song titles or the album title yet?
MM-H: “The name of the album is ‘Stranger’. Relapse is planning to releasing it in fall.”

Typically how does a Cretin song come together from birth to completion?
MM-H: “Matt or I will write a song. Then we tab it out and make a temp track. The rest of the band will listen to the temp track and approve or disapprove the song. When it’s approved, we learn it and then bring it to rehearsal. At rehearsal we’ll work together to make any rearrangements or pose suggestions. Once it’s done, Matt writes the lyrics over the top.”

Vocally, has much changed? How did you approach the vocals this time round?
MM-H: “The vocals haven’t changed. I approach them the same way I did last time.”

Lyrically, what has inspired you to put pen to paper this time?
MM-H: “I haven’t written any lyrics this time. They’ve all come from Matt’s amazing ability. We’ve had some short brainstorming sessions regarding the themes and characters that the lyrics are based around. But, the written words are Matt’s.”

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Have you already sourced the artwork / artist for the next album? Anything you can reveal about the next release visually?
MM-H: “We’ve hired an artist to paint us original artwork for the album. He works in oils and acrylics, and paints some really twisted imagery. He’s going to make different pieces of art based on the stories in our new lyrics.”

It’s no secret that Repulsion is your biggest influence but you actually joined the band as a 2nd guitarist for a little while, how did that come about? And how was the experience of being a member of one of your all time favourite bands? Was it always intended to just be a temporary thing or did you decide you wanted to focus more on Cretin?
MM-H: “I’ve been really good friends with Scott and Matt for 7 to 8 years. I first met Matt through the video game industry. He wanted to go to GDC (the Game Developers Conference) one year, and I had to go to for work anyway. So he came up from LA and we went together. I brought up Cretin at some point, and pointed out Col’s drumming. Specifically, how he does blast beats like Dave Grave. Soon after that, they recruited Col so they could play more shows.

“They had Matt Harvey on second guitar for a while, then Mike Beams when Harv left to focus on Exhumed. One night in 2011, Scott called me up and told me that he wanted me to join the band on second guitar. I was totally blown away, and jumped at the chance. After a year, the band realized that they didn’t really need a second guitar player, so I was let go. It was a completely amicable split, and we’re all still really great friends. I’m going to watch them tomorrow supporting Carcass on the Decibel tour.”

You have recently been joined on 2nd guitar by another female death/grind fanatic, Elizabeth Schall of the band Dreaming Dead- how did you get hold of her and what assets and qualities do you think she has brought to the band and the overall sound?
MM-H: “A couple of years ago I had been asked to participate in a few “Women in Metal” features. Through those experiences it dawned on me that we had an open lead guitar position where we could further that advocacy. I had met Liz through Leon del Muerte (Murder Construct, Nausea, ex-Exhumed) who is an old friend. Liz and I hit it off right away, so I pitched the idea of her joining to Col and Matt and they were open to it.

“We had Matt Harvey in the band, who is an amazing guitar player. So, there were big shoes to fill when he left to. Liz is incredibly talented and completely meets our expectations for the role. She completely shreds, has a great sense of humor, and completely fits in the band.”

Please introduce us to the members of Cretin and who does what in the band.
MM-H: “Col Jones (Repulsion, Dekapitator, ex-Exhumed) plays drums. Matt Widener plays bass and backing vocals. He’s also the genius behind our lyrics. Elizabeth Schall (Dreaming Dead, Manslaughter) plays lead, and backing vocals. I play rhythm guitar and lead vocals.”

You have been quite active on the live front again recently doing some touring with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Immolation and Napalm Death – how was that experience? Do you have many shows or touring plans in the pipeline?
MM-H: “That tour came completely out of nowhere, but was an amazing experience! We have so many great memories from that, and we really can’t thank Albert (Mudrian, Decibel Magazine) enough for the opportunity. We’ve never really considered Cretin to be a touring band, so it really caught us off guard to get the offer. It was definitely one we couldn’t refuse.

“We don’t have any plans for shows in the immediate future. But, we hope to get out there to support the album once it’s released.”

What can people expect from a Cretin live assault?
MM-H: “Metal!”

You returned to the live scene post op a few years ago at Maryland Deathfest – how was it to play that with Cretin? It must have been a very special feeling!?
MM-H: “Well, the first time I played MDF it was a cameo with Repulsion. So, that completely blew my mind! It was also my first time going to MDF, and I had such a great time that I knew I had to go back. We were in the act of starting Cretin up again anyway, so we put together a set of our old material. It was great to play MDF. It’s a really fun fest. The organizers are great, and the people in attendance are just awesome. I’d play it every year if I could.”

Any plans to tour or play outside of the states to support the next album? Any chance of seeing Cretin in Europe at some point? Maybe in 2015? I think you would be perfect on a festival like Obscene Extreme which is Europe’s premier grind orientated summer festival.
MM-H: “We certainly hope so. We’d love to play Obscene Extreme.”

Describe Cretin in 5 words only.
MM-H: “Cretanic, grind, death metal, swarm.”

Thanks for answering this interview Marissa! The last words are yours!
MM-H: “Thanks for the questions Kat!”

About Kez Whelan

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