TROGLODYTE “Beast Mode Metal”
By Dr. Abner Mality
They are out there lurking in the woods, I am sure of it! As a full fledged Dr. of Cryptozoology, I know man-like beasts are living in the lonely places of the world. Yeti, Sasquatch, Almas, Yeren...they have many names. But did you know they also play bone-crushing death metal?
Yes, this is where we find TROGLODYTE...shambling man-beasts dedicated to the skull splitting power of the riff. Located in the swampy lowlands of Missouri (also the hangout of the dreaded MOMO), these guys have been stalking the metal scene for a good few years now. Their latest musical artifact bears the long-winded title “The Hierarchical Ecological Succession: Welcome To the Food Chain” and is their deadliest statement yet. I found out one of the tribe even uses the human-sounding name of Jeff Sisson, so I plotted a trip to the Missouri woods to speak to this hominid about the TROGLODYTE phenomenon.
Following is the record of that conversation. If something happens to me, make sure this gets relayed to the proper authorities!
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings, Mr. Sisson! Thanks for talking to us. TROGLODYTE has been in operation for a number of years now. How big is “Welcome to the Food Chain” in the overall scheme of things? Is this the most important album in terms of promotion and distribution?
JEFF SISSON: Greetings! Thank you for talking to ME!
Well, the landscape of music has changed over the years. I definitely think, in this day and age, the benefit of being on a label is the support that they offer in terms of promotion and distro. We’ve always done our own thing and it became very clear that the paths we’ve taken in the past to promote releases were just obsolete or not going to work. We were fortunate to find terrific PR (Clawhammer) who is also local to us. It’s nice have Blood Blast pushing it through their channels, which has gotten the music out further than we could have ever done on our own.
WC: The new one has got a pretty long-winded title. Is this strictly meant in a humorous way or is there something more important going on behind the title?
JS: You know, we never take ourselves too seriously, but we always take the music very serious. The titles definitely give you an idea where our head is with this stuff. We get that on the surface of what we are doing, it smacks of a novelty, which is fine. That might draw you in, but the idea was to make sure to serve up the goods, musically. Or at least try!
WC: Is TROGLODYTE a pretty tight band or is it more of a project with a lot of guest contributors?
JS: We are a band. Other members have their hands/feet in other projects, but this is a band. The new album is the first one where we brought in a few friends to lend a hand with the proceedings.
WC: Speaking of guests on the new album, how did you wind up with Pustulus Maximus from GWAR, Shawn from CHILD BITE and Ross Sewage contributing?
JS: I’ve never been one to ask someone to guest on a song just for the sake of using their name. These tracks had a very specific place we wanted to take them and guys like Ross, Brent and Shawn came in and really were part of the “vision” of what I wanted to do with their respective songs. After we threw some of that dirty “Troglodyte money” at them, the rest was history!
WC: How much has the contribution of Mike Flores from ORIGIN helped the band?
JS: Mike has been playing live with us for a decade now. This was the first album where he was more involved with the song writing process. He’s doing something sonically that is different from what he does in ORIGIN, and he brings something unique to the table for sure. Plus, once we threw some of that dirty “Troglodyte money” at him, he was all about playing with us!
WC: When did the fascination with Bigfoot and other hairy hominids start for you?
JS: When I was a kid, my aunt gave me a novelization of the documentary MYSTERIOUS MONSTERS. And then seeing THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK. My mind was blown. Time-Life books, and anything I could get my hands of. Books, magazines. Catching an episode of IN SEARCH OF. I was hooked.
WC: There’s obviously some humor in TROGLODYTE’s approach to the Bigfoot subject, but is it a subject you take seriously and do any research on?
JS: Again, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but there are some definite “true stories” of sorts within the lyrics. Songs like MUMMIFIED YETI HAND, which on the surface is ridiculous sounding, but is based on what was believed to be an actual Yeti hand, preserved and kept in a Buddhist temple, then stolen by an American business man/adventurer, and replaced with chicken bones…at least that’s my interpretation! (The businessman was a fascinating character called Tom Slick who was involved in a lot of “mysterious” subjects and who may have also been an undercover spy for the U.S. Government—Dr. M) CRIPPLED FOOT CAST, IN SEARCH OF, BRING ME THE HEAD OF BIGFOOT are grounded in some story or reality.
WC: Have you or anybody in the band ever had a “sighting”...or any kind of a paranormal encounter, for that matter?
JS: I myself never have, but at this point BIGFOOT is almost more of an ethereal idea in our songs, in some respects. The idea that something could live among us, unknown. Or the wonder of the unknown that is all but lost in this day and age. Something profound about not knowing WHAT lurks beyond that tree line and in the forest.
WC: I’m quite interested in the subject myself. I started out thinking the hairy hominids were undiscovered animals, but more and more, I’m starting to think there may be a paranormal or supernatural aspect to them. What’s your view?
JS: I don’t discount anything. Extra-terrestrial life forms, left by aliens to be a litmus for the possibility of living here. Or sent to investigate. Bigfoot certainly is painted in more of a supernatural being/force in some American Indian folklore. Again, for me, he’s become this symbol of the unknown. The unattainable. And the idea that the quest, is at times, or can be, more fantastic than the idea of the goal, or finding/capturing a creature.
WC: TROGLODYTE is from Missouri and the most famous cryptid there was “Momo”, the Missouri mud monster. Has Momo played a part in your music?
JS: Yes! The song IN SEARCH OF is a straight-up serving of rural Missouri Bigfoot hunting. I never use the term “Momo” but it is not lost here. Again, it’s too easy to just use “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” in a song title or idea, but I’ve tried to be a little more aloof with some of this stuff and dig a little deeper for subject.
WC: I understand you do some makeup and FX work. Tell us a bit more about this side of your career. I would guess you design the band’s live makeup?
JS: I’ve done make-up effects, made masks/monsters since I was a kid. I was lucky enough to have worked on some movies and be able to create some pretty cool stuff over the years. I transplanted myself from the Midwest to Los Angeles to work on low-budget/sci-fi channel affairs. And yes, I make all the masks, costumes we use. My bandmate Michael Langer has been a godsend in helping bring my “visions” to life. He helps out with my video works sometimes too. Really NOTHING the guy can’t make.
WC: You also do music videos. What are some of the bands you’ve worked with in this area?
JS: I’ve worked with ORIGIN, EXHUMED, DYING FETUS, MASSACRE, ILSA, MACABRE to name a few. I’ve done everything from make-up effects to directing. Relapse, Nuclear Blast, Season of Mist are some the labels I’ve done work for.
WC: The cover art to “Welcome to the Food Chain” is pretty gnarly. Tell us more about how you came up with this bloody image.
JS: I take no credit, that’s all DUSTY PETERSON. We had worked with him on a merch design a few years ago, and I always wanted to work with him on something greater, like album art. We’ve become friends across the internet over the last 10 year or so and the stars finally aligned and we were able to make it happen. The music was already done. We had all the song titles/album title and I gave him a rough mix of the songs and all the lyrics. I gave him carte blanche to do whatever. I do artwork myself and I didn’t want to step or impede what he does, which is an amazing vision. He tells a story with his compositions and I knew he would kill this…quite literally.
WC: Is TROGLODYTE pretty active on the live front? Any touring plans for 2022?
JS: Well, I can say we HAD been. Things kind of “slowed” down a bit over the last couple years, COVID and all. We had already had songs and were ready to record then lockdowns started. Things are really picking up and we are looking at a couple festivals right now and planning a few things. There are SO many bands out touring right now, honestly, it’s almost overwhelming and trying to compete with that can be trying for sure. I think you’ll see more of us in the coming months though, for sure!
WC: What was your favorite Bigfoot/Yeti movie? I really liked Hammer’s “The Abominable Snow Man” from the late 50’s...an interesting take on the subject
JS: YES! That’s a good one! I’ve touched on that whole idea of a species that is waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces after man’s folly. That is a good/strange one for sure! I’ve got to say, Eduardo Sanchez, one of the directors of the original BLAIR WITCH PROJECT did his take on a “Bigfoot found footage” movie and it is called EXISTS and is wonderful and more than worthy of your time! The movie 1980 film NIGHT OF THE DEMON was a game changer. It defies every convention and probably created a LOT that people use in movies to this day, knowingly or not.
WC: If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?
JS: Whoa. That was out of left field. No order.
WC: Are there any “Spinal Tap” moments in TROGLODYTE’s history where things went haywire you could share with us?
JS: Every. Live. Show. Hahahaha.
Actually, nothing QUITE on the “Stonehenge” level of catastrophe. We probably have the same hiccups/tech issues any band might have. The masks bring with them their own set of issues that are inherent with wearing over and over again. But that’s to be expected.
WC: Any last messages for the fans?
JS: Thanks! I mean, it’s really about making something, that I would want to listen to, so the fact that we’ve been lucky enough to have a pretty good fanbase of people who like what we do, means a lot to us. And again, we thank them all. So we can keep throwing that “dirty Trog money” at all our new music and Trog endeavors!