CRYPTODIRA contacted me wanting some coverage. As I like what I heard I had no problem interviewing them. Here’s the result. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you? How important is it to have the right name?
-It definitely was. I feel like coming up with a name is something that band’s spend a tremendous amount of time on because of the permanence of the decision, but once it’s set in stone you hardly think about it. “Cryptodira” is a suborder of tortoises and turtles. We came up with it at a young age, thought it sounded cool, and it stuck. We draw symbolism from the longevity of turtles, being that they are ancient reptiles that have survived as long as nearly any animal on Earth, but it doesn’t go much further than that. Having the right name is important to a degree to catch people’s attention, but as long as it isn’t something really ridiculous, your music will ultimately be what gets people on board.
Who would say have laid the foundation for the kind of sound you have? Who are your heroes musically and what have they meant to you personally and to the sound of your band?
-We all grew up together and went to the same school. What laid down the foundation for the band was when my dad gave me Dream Theater’s “Train of Thought.” I remember showing the guys and we were all blown away. Through Dream Theater we got into Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Between the Buried and Me and then eventually discovered a website called Prog-Archives. That site introduced us to tons of bands that really helped shape our sound like Cynic, Atheist, Meshuggah, King Crimson, Isis and tons of other artists. I think we’ve all got slightly different heroes musically. For me (Mike) personally, some of the musicians that stand out are Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt, Robert Fripp & Ben Weinman. Their songwriting particularly really resonates with me. There’s tons more, but without these 4 guys I wouldn’t be writing or playing the music that I am right now with Cryptodira.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-It’s all situational. When we’re writing and arranging music we’ve got to constantly be thinking about how a song flows. Sometimes a song that doesn’t stop being fast can be sick and sometimes you want that balance of fast and slower parts to songs. I don’t think we generally think differently depending on parts being faster or slower, but we think and write differently when we are deciding if a part is going to be heavier or softer.
Will your music work in a live environment? What kind of stage environment would best suit your music; a big stage or a small club?
-Our music works in live environments just as well as on record. There’s pros and cons to both big stages and small clubs. When a small place is packed out and you’ve got a crowd in front of you that is loving it, it’s hard to top. But we absolutely love playing big stages and ultimately I think we sound better in environments with bigger stages. But we can and will make anything work.
It is very hard to be 100% satisfied. Everybody seems to be disappointed with something they have released. Is there something that you in hindsight would have done differently on this your latest recording?
-There’s certainly things I would have done differently in past recordings we’ve done, but for “The Devil’s Despair” there’s very few things I can think of. The people who helped us create this (Randy LeBoeuf, Steve Said & Will Putney @ Graphic Nature Audio) helped steer us in the right direction when it came to not making certain mistakes that I definitely would have regretted. Ask me this question again in 2 years and my answer might be drastically different though.
Promotion can be a bitch. Even today with all different platforms it can be hard to reach out to all those that might be interested in your music? What alleys have you used to get people familiarized with your band?
-It’s really, really tough. I think the thing we’ve done best to get people familiarized, is really just playing as much as we can, everywhere we can. The internet is obviously so huge when it comes to promotion, so we try to utilize every social media platform as much as we can. Word of mouth and physically passing out fliers at shows never hurts either though.
To me art work can be the difference between bust or success. What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-I couldn’t agree more. One thing I do at the end of every year is search for “albums of the year” lists and listen to all the releases with the coolest cover art. I’ve found out about so many cool bands through doing that. We actually all have slightly different opinions about stylistically what we look for in album art. For instance I’m more into bright colors and a busier cover, or a REALLY simple cover. 70’s prog rock typically really catches my eye. However, Scott tends to like a darker approach, more of the Jacob Bannon-style look that uses color in a more solemn way. Like anything else though, we always find a way to strike a balance and come up with something we all love. We’re really happy with the way the artwork came out for “The Devil’s Despair” and I think it’s a really great cross between what we all love in album artwork. Adam Burke did an absolutely amazing job with it.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? Is a local/national scene important for the development of new bands?
-I think we’re on our way to being part of a national scene, I hope so at least. Local and national scenes are super important to the development of new bands. It’s how you meet people, make connections with people who share the same ideas and taste in music and it can be very motivating. When we were younger and we would hit tons of shows, the feeling we got when we were leaving was always “I want to do that.” Locally we’ve got tons of great bands and different music communities on Long Island. We’ve got friends all over NY and all over the east coast that all are part of smaller music communities that makes up an even larger one that we’re all part of. It’s been so important in our development to make these friends because they help push us to want to be better. Bands like Moon Tooth, Pathogenic, Trees on Mars, The Summoned, Conforza, Bangladeafy, and TONS of others have all pushed us to be better. I’m super grateful and proud to be a part of that community.
It could just be me but I got the feeling that the live scene is not what it used to be. Could be that more and more people use the net to discover bands instead of going out and supporting new bands live. What is you experience with the live scene?
-Growing up on Long Island and always being near Brooklyn/NYC, I have to say that we’re pretty lucky. There’s shows going on all the time and there’s always at least a modest amount of people that come out, usually pretty packed. Don’t get me wrong, I use the internet to discover plenty of bands, but I tend to find myself discovering new bands through live music a good bit too. We get a lot of people coming up to us after we play bigger shows that say they’ve never seen or heard about us before and that’s always really nice to hear because it means people are coming to shows with the intention of trying to give new music a shot.
What does the future hold?
-We’re going to tour as much as we possibly can off this record and start preparing for a second one slowly but steadily. We want to play to new people as much as we can.