Cosmic Atrophy is two guys who are so hardworking, their first album, “Codex Incubo,” came out in the same year they formed. Impressive, huh? Playing a very open-minded form of sci-fi Death Metal that has already found its audience across different discussion boards, you might never hear from these guys again—remember, “might”—but their frontman sure has a lot to say about almost everything. Here’s Corey Richards on his music, his partner in crime (one Juan Garcia), and the meaning of inspiration.
What is it about you that everybody is going crazy over? Is it the band’s name? “Cosmic Atrophy” has this special ring to it, y’know?
Corey: Well, I don’t know if what I’ve seen can be considered ‘crazy’ just yet, but there has been a lot of positive response so far. I think mostly that can be attributed to the fact that we are doing something a bit different from the rest of what’s going on in death metal today. I don’t necessarily mean to imply originality, as our influences and inspirations are quite clear… but I think if you take a quick survey of modern death metal bands, most of them will be playing very brutal death metal, hyper technical death metal, deathcore, or some variant on the slam-death Suffocation sound. We’re kind of straying from that.
Kidding aside, how’s it going? Are you and Juan still getting along? You’re fluent in Spanish right? Can you converse with your teammate in Spanish?
Oh, absolutely. Juan is an awesome guy; he’s very fun to hang out with and just a great human being. Unfortunately I’m not ‘quite’ fluent yet, but I have a rather decent understanding given my time studying. I expect I will be fluent by the end of the year. I neglected my studies last year but I am picking them up again, and much progress has already been made.
You know I’m wondering, with just two guys in the band, what do you talk about aside from music? I mean, when there are four of you then there’s a sort of round table discussion. But with just two bro’s in the band…I can’t imagine how you manage a professional heterosexual relationship whose foundation is Metal. Well, unless you’re Satyricon…Anyway, so what do you and Juan talk about aside from Cosmic Atrophy and guitars?
We talk about other bands, movies, what we should be drinking later on, and what the hell we’re going to do for the rest of the day when we’re not practicing or recording. It’s just like any other friendship except we also happen to make music in addition to chilling.
I’m going to ask for a timeline next. Can you tell the whole Cosmic Atrophy story from the moment you came up with the idea for a band, teamed up with Juan, and then released “Codex Incubo”?
Alright, basically it’s something like this: I met Juan in a chat room of all places. He was asking if anyone lived in Houston, to which I replied yes. I came to find out he recently moved here from Colombia, so he was an outsider just like me (I had recently moved to Houston from Biloxi, MS). So we just got together at my place and hung out for a while, then talked about jamming together and seeing if anything could come of it. I had expressed to him my desire to start a very specific kind of death metal band with a very specific sound, and he was just fine with that. He’s a big thrasher by nature whereas I’ve got a bit more of a progressive metal influence, so it’s an interesting combination. We basically just recorded for about eight months in 2008 from January to August, and that’s how our debut album came to be.
When you first met Juan in person, did you go “Hey man, you have the same name as that guy from Agent Steel”? Do you actually listen to Agent Steel?
Actually when I first met him I did not make the connection. It wasn’t until a couple weeks down the road when I was listening to Agent Steel did I notice, and I notified him of the face. He also does listen to Agent Steel. If I remember correctly they are one of his first metal bands, too. Very cool coincidence!
Let’s now move on to business, meaning music. You released “Codex Incubo” the same year you formed. Most bands don’t do that. What’s you secret? Did a lot of the material just come together in a flash of brilliance or were most of the songs done long before Cosmic Atrophy was formed?
The quick pace in which we record is mostly of my doing. I have a specific method for writing and recording, and it allows for a lot of efficiency and timesaving. Basically any time we’d get together on a weekend we would have one song written, so we naturally work quickly with each other as well.
What were the first bands that put music into your life? Is there anything else you do aside from being a musician?
Hmm, I think I’ll have to name drop some classics here. Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, ACDC and Death were all bands that I listened to while in my early years, especially the first four on account of my dad being a huge rocker. I started to get into more extreme metal around 12 I suppose it would be. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 did I actually start playing music, though. Originally I had aspirations to become a graphic designer or some form of artist, as art is my original passion (and still I am into it quite a bit). Aside from music I love to draw and paint, I am also an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts both as a spectator and a practitioner. I used to be a big gamer but in recent years I’ve fallen out of that, but from time to time I’ll play something.
How did you nail a recording deal and distribution? Trust me on this, our readers would love to know the details. Tell us how you got in touch with the right people and worked out the details. Thanks.
To be frank it was much simpler than someone would probably think. All I did was contact as many small extreme metal record labels as I could, presenting them with our material and our desire to have a distribution deal. Eventually we got a couple that expressed interest in working with us and that’s how it happened. I’d say the most important thing is to ‘just do it’ (Don’t sue me please, Nike). Instead of worrying about whether you’re too small and unknown, whether your demo isn’t as perfect as possible, you should just give it a shot. Of course you *should* make sure your material is rather presentable, but beyond having decent music and production, don’t fret over every little detail.
Now how did you actually learn about taking care of the details surrounding albums and music? Did you spend hours on the internet chatting with people on discussion boards to learn how to become your own producer and all those other stuff about hardware and recording studios?
That’s a good question. I went to college for a degree in audio engineering, so I was already qualified to produce my own album from the start. I still do talk with other engineers and producers however as you can always learn something new.
What’s going on in the cover art for “Codex Incubo”?
The cover art is a picture I drew some years ago. I have a rather decent sized collection of these ‘aliens’ that I’ve crafted and I thought this one was very suitable to represent our album. It’s essentially a “star-spawned tyrant” alluded to on track number three.
Which songs from the album have listeners taken a liking to the most?
The three most well-liked songs, it seems to me, are “Prelude to Phantasmagoria,” “Cydonic Adulations,” and “Doomed by the Cancer Domus.”
Does Cosmic Atrophy plan to tour or do shows in support of “Codex Incubo” or are you too busy with the follow up album at the moment?
At the moment we have no plans of doing anything live. Right now is a hectic time and we also just don’t have the manpower. I’m sure I could find talented musicians that could join us on the road but as it stands, I wouldn’t count on it. Maybe in the future.
When you listen to “Codex Incubo” are you totally satisfied with everything or do you notice small details that could have been tweaked and changed? Do these things annoy you?
Oh, absolutely. There are things that I don’t like about the album. In retrospect I have made most of these errors in the production. It could be a bit heavier and grittier, and it could also do with some better level management. I was just very excited to release an album, I think, and so I rushed through it to its detriment. The next one is being crafted much more carefully and will address these issues.
How soon can the world expect the new Cosmic Atrophy to be ready?
I’d say probably three to five months depending on how much time we have to record. It all revolves around our schedules.
Will there be anything new on it or will the same sound of “Codex Incubo” prevail?
This is another excellent question, here. The next album will be somewhat of a shift from the Demilich-influenced tunes on “Codex Incubo”. If you’d take a look at our myspace page ( www.myspace.com/atrophyhouston ) you can listen to “2009 Teaser Track” and get a pretty good idea of the sound we are going for. It’s more elaborate, gloomier, and sinister. We will not completely ditch the strange, angular riffs that have made their debut in “Codex Incubo,” though. I don’t think fans of the debut will be disappointed at all.
Is there a strong desire in you to try bagging a record deal with your music? Do you believe in Cosmic Atrophy enough to one day see it embark on a tour? Or will it permanently remain a bedroom project?
I would in fact like a good record deal for Cosmic Atrophy. If it doesn’t happen, that’s no big loss to me though, as we will continue to make music. I just think it would be very beneficial to us and our fans because there would be an increase in the quality of sound (we could buy better gear and such) and the quality of the artwork and design for the albums, and the distribution would be much more widespread. I do believe that Cosmic Atrophy would be successful as a performing band, but as I answered earlier I just don’t see it happening in the very immediate future, maybe some day.
Do you know how to take criticism? What if all of a sudden the reception to your music broadens and naturally, the more people listen to it, the more variety there is in their reactions, and some of them are bound to be negative. So this goes back to the initial question—can you take criticism from any direction?
I like to believe so. Like any person that is passionate about their own art, they can perhaps get a bit too involved in the opinions of others and I may be guilty of this. However I also know how to evaluate critique as a sensible person and so far everything has been going good. We’ve had a few negative to average reviews (in relation to the rating) so far. What I do is examine what the person has to say, cross-reference it with my own opinions of the music and see if I think it’s a big enough issue for us to look into. On major things such as musical direction and style, I don’t think we will change that. But minor issues concerning production, or technique… the reviewer really might be on to something. So yeah, I really do think we’ll handle any form of critique well enough.
What music do you listen to when too much metal is giving you a headache? Do you just switch everything off and stare out the window. Seriously now man, I’m not kidding. When listening to too much metal my brain starts to throb so I take a break. How about you? You pop anything to soothe your battered ears?
Well, I listen to metal most of the time, but as you say there are periods when I just need something else. When those times come I listen mostly to psy-trance, ambience (dark or otherwise), orchestral music, chant, folk music from all over the world, and quite a lot of video game music and film scores.
It saddens me to say this but our time is up Cosmic Atrophy. But let me ask you one last question: How many hours of practice, sweat, and musical immersion did it take for you to reach where you are right now?
No problem Miguel, thanks for doing this interview with me. We really appreciate the time you’ve given us. To answer your question; however many hours 21 years is. Cheers man, take care!