Interview with Cliff Cazeau – Drums & Vocals
Interview by Lee Carter
Hey and thank you for your time. Please state your name and position in the band.
Hi! I’m Cliff, the drummer and backing vocalist for CAZADOR. Thank you so much for showing interest in our new album!
With only a year between your debut album, ‘Failure To Thrive’, and your latest, ‘Acceptance/Isolation’, you certainly didn’t rest on your laurels. Were you, as a band, keen to keep up momentum?
We actually never really stopped writing new material after recording and releasing “Failure to Thrive”. It’s important to us to always be in a state of evolving and changing, especially given all the changes going on in the world and also in our personal lives.
Did you already have material in the works when ‘Failure To Thrive’ was released, or did you happen upon a rich vein of creativity? And was material still being written when you went in to record?
We really wanted to continue pushing into different directions with our sound and really give our music meaning. It’s more exciting, creatively speaking, to shape the music around sounds that speak to our soul than it is to try and fit any particular genre.
Considering both your debut and sophomore albums, do you find inspiration comes quickly, or can it take a while for material to form and gestate?
For us, inspiration comes with the everyday moments that are a part of the human condition. The three of us usually come together and have conversations about life when we practice and talk about different things that affect us, make us happy or sad, or just make us feel a certain way. The visual and lyrical concepts usually start to come through at that point and then we start rallying around those same concepts to form something more cohesive.
How do you normally go about writing your material: is it jam-based, or do members exchange ideas? Did this process differ at all on ‘Acceptance/Isolation’?
We are constantly exchanging ideas and all approach the writing differently. For this record, we really wanted to focus on the centre of the “Venn diagram” and really hone in on the different tastes we have and how they could come together to create something that was unique.
When did you begin recording, and did this crazy year have an effect on it at all? More generally, how have these events affected Cazador, both as a band and personally?
We actually began tracking this record in December 2019 a few months before the COVID-19 global pandemic, so fortunately we were able to avoid all the craziness involved with that. Both as a band and personally, the situation really forced us to look at ourselves and really analyse how driven we are to make this project of worth the time and effort. All of the emotions that went along with this were exacerbated and put under a microscope. With us living in different parts of the country for a time, and also because of how a lot of the venues we’ve played are struggling and/or closing altogether, this year has been really introspective for us.
What was it like working with Alec Rodriguez and Magnus Lindberg?
Working with Alec was a definitely a treat. We had already been familiar and even shared a stage with one of his other projects as the vocalist and engineer for fellow Boston-based sludge/doom band Lesser Glow. Having him at the board was both challenging and gratifying for us. Alec was actually the person who linked us up with Magnus from Cult of Luna, and that was equally as much of a treat. Both of them having an innate sense of familiarity with what we were trying to accomplish with this record’s sound was really awesome and we’re privileged to have worked with them both.
With a change of engineer from last time out, how did the process of recording differ between Alex Garcia-Rivera? How were the sessions for the band?
There was definitely a huge shift in working with Alec at New Alliance and Alex at Mystic Valley. Prior to this record, we’d exclusively recorded both of our previous releases straight to 2-inch tape using all analog equipment, which forced us to really be attentive to our dynamics and how we presented our overall sound. In a way, I feel like that process prepared us well to move into a digital recording setting with Alec, where we could really flex the muscle of our creativity.
Some bands thrive in a studio, whilst others prefer getting out there onstage – how is it for Cazador?
Each of the members of the band are fairly introverted, haha. I would say that while we all truly love performing and being on stage, we equally appreciate the intimacy of a studio setting.
Casting your mind back to the band’s origins, how did you get started in music? What made you want to become a musician, create music and perform in a band?
The band started as a passion project after I started to learn to play drums as in 2014. It’s always been a goal of mine to create hard-hitting music that speaks to various emotions at once. To this day, that is what motivates me to create and continue to push myself and the rest of the band as artists.
Your press kit states that your music and subsequent shift from a strictly doom-based band is based on “the different feelings we had and the absolutely insane state of the changing world” – how have those feelings changed as time has gone on, and how is this reflected in your work?
We always try to convey multiple layers of emotion through our sounds. Our last record, ‘Failure to Thrive’, both musically and lyrically, was reflective of the emotions we felt at the time and how much we hated the political system in the US and also, quite frankly, how much we hated Donald Trump and the circus associated with his election. There are so many things we coped with including anger, sadness, and confusion. ‘Acceptance/Isolation’ is definitely more introspective and I would say is more intimate and about coping with change and dissociating from what one would consider normalcy. It’s basically as if we were coming to terms with the world just constantly devolving. Ironically enough, most of the album was written before the current pandemic.
With those thoughts and emotions in-mind, is there a core theme that threads throughout ‘Acceptance/Isolation’?
You mention the human condition being one that is tragic – is there anything specifically about it that factors into ‘Acceptance/Isolation’? How does it inform the writing beyond pure emotion?
As mentioned before, coping with change and dissociation are difficult things to process. Not to mention, being a human in 2020 is generally a difficult thing. We incorporate that into our compositions by really trying to show that sometimes there is beauty in tragedy. That’s why a lot of our heavier sections might give way to something a bit more airy or melodic and vice versa.
Tragedy and suffering often go hand-in-hand, so has the suffering felt by millions this year factored into your work?
We’ve always operated with the mentality that true artists suffer for their art. We can certainly empathize with that, especially given the current circumstances.
Of course, all artists’ work is personal to them, but where you are specifically drawing from thoughts and feelings to create your art, does that create a greater sense of personal attachment at all?
Definitely. It’s basically like creating a relationship or attachment with each of our songs through the emotions that inspired us to create them.
How does it feel to release your second album? Has there been any nerves or anxiety, or is it just pure excitement to offer your music out to the world?
No real nerves or anxiety. Just an eagerness to get this thing out to the world for people to share and experience what we’ve created, and to try and get people to “feel” along with us.
How has the initial response been to ‘Acceptance/Isolation’, and how has that affected you?
So far, so good I would say. We’re always appreciated of outlets like yours and other people reaching out to let us know what they think. Whether people love, don’t like, or even hate the music, we’re grateful if it makes people feel anything. That’s a gift of the human condition.
Have there been any plans made for next year once all this has, hopefully, blown over and life can return to some sense of normality?
As far as plans go, even 2021 is looking quite bleak. However, when all is safe and if life ever can return back to normal we hope to tour in support of this album. As far as writing goes, we will be forced to write remotely for the time being due to regional differences, as well as the current situation of the world.
Can UK fans expect a visit at some point once touring is back up and running? Who would you most like to tour with?
It has always a goal of ours to eventually come to Europe and do shows/performances. Hopefully once it is safe again, we can eventually makes plans to travel across the Atlantic.
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Always be willing to create. Read a book. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Fear nothing. Take as much time for yourself as you need for those you care about… And listen to our album!