Before Cane Hill make their inaugural voyage down to Australia in October, we spoke to vocalist Elijah Witt about being open about your sex life, extreme religious types and on the genre of nu-metal.
When talking about Cane Hill with my friends, I often refer to you guys as just Not Safe For Work The Band. Regarding your dark and obscure imagery that comes with your music videos and the lyrics. Do you think that can both be positive for the band as well as a hindrance?
Sure, it might be a hindrance, but if we didn’t do it, then we wouldn’t be true to ourselves.
Okay. So I assume that the imagery and lyricism of your songs and art comes from a genuine place of creativity, and not from a place of the band just being edgy and “different” for the sheer sake of it?
No, I don’t think that we’re trying to stand out. We’re just trying to do something that we genuinely enjoy and something that we’ve put a lot of time and effort into. The aesthetic goes with the sound and the imagery; the whole thing is a package deal. It’s the most honest thing we’ve done as a band I think.
Well, do you think that a lot of bands, both new and old, don’t realise that it’s not really that hard to stand out from the crowd and create your own niche? Much like Cane Hill have done, on purpose or not.
…I don’t know [laughs]. It’s obviously way easier to just copy someone, but it’s harder to have influences shine and not blatantly rip someone off. If you rip off something, you stay in the middle. All you have to do is stop trying to be “something” and just be yourself and you’ll be fine.
On that, though, many liken Cane Hill to the nu-metal genre. You and the band have said that don’t really want to be apart of it. Is that out of not wanting to be pigeonholed, or do you maybe hold some form of contempt for that sub-genre?
No, I actually enjoy nu-metal, but I don’t want to be a corner where it’s just nu-metal. If you listen to the fucking album, you can hear shit that’s not very metal, but also stuff that is very clearly influenced by it. I can’t change the way that people classify things, but I would just call it ‘metal’. But who gives a fuck? [chuckles].
Well, one song that has a massive nu-metal vibe is the song, ‘Cream Pie’. But do you know a band called Emmure, by any chance?
Yeah, I do actually.
Cool, because I gotta ask just what was up with ‘Cream Pie’ as it’s similar to what Emmure have done in the past. Was the inclusion of those samples meant to be a joke of some kind or was it a matter of the band trying to “shock” people?
I think it’s because when people hear the sounds of sex, they’ll think of sex and they’ll immediately think of their privacy. They’ll keep it to themselves and not be about their sex lives and their sexuality.
I think I know the answer to this already, but you do find that it’s very easy for you to open up about your own sex life and your own sexuality?
Yes but it’ll depend on whom I’m talking with. If it’s with someone who is going to be weird about it, then no, probably not. I mean, you can’t judge a person, but if someone is pretty open about their sex lives with you, you should be too. I think that’s how it should be with everybody but that’s not gonna happen.
So would you say that both sex and pornography still carry a lot of stigma to them in pop culture and that it confronts people very strongly? Because I would say that they sadly still do.
Oh yeah, especially in America. There’s a huge, overbearing notion that sex is to be kept to oneself in a very civil and realistic way when you can be a wild animal and have crazy fucking sex each night that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. But yes, it’s very stigmatized.
Well, that’s one way to live [laughs]. Apart from the sexual content, another recurring theme in your music is that of religion and God, or rather, the rejection of theology and the Church. So I’m curious to know what spurs that discontent in you? Is it your own personal experiences with the church or is it just due to growing up in the bible belt of New Orleans?
Well, I went to this school in Virginia for a few years, and this church of New Earth Creationists ran it. They were these crazy people They think that homosexuality is caused by demons, that the earth is 6,000, that dinosaur bones are put here by the devil to deceive us; the whole nine yards. If I’m a twelve-year-old who could see that you’re crazy, there’s a problem because twelve-year-olds will believe whatever the fuck they’re told.
We, of course, have places like that here in Australia I think that with some of those more extreme religious groups, for lack of a better term is just brainwashing.
For sure, it’s indoctrination, really.
Pretty much! Well that was all the questions I had for you Elijah, we’ll leave it there and I’ll most likely catch you guys in October.
Thank you for your time, man.
Cane Hill are touring Australia this October in support of Atreyu and Bullet For My Valentine. Dates below and tix here.
20 October – Metro City, Perth (18+)21 October – HQ, Adelaide (18+)
21 October – HQ, Adelaide (18+)
24 October – 170 Russel, Melbourne (18+)
25 October – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+) SOLD OUT
27 October – Big Top, Sydney (Lic/AA)28 October – Eatons Hill, Brisbane (Lic/AA)
28 October – Eatons Hill, Brisbane (Lic/AA)