In October, Canadian metallers Decatur released their debut album, called Badder Than Brooklyn. DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen spoke with Decatur’s vocalist/guitarist Jay “Beard” Sarrazin about the album, their earlier name change, among other things.
Hey, congratulations on your new album, Badder Than Brooklyn, I really like it. How are the reactions you get on it so far?
Hey thanks so much! So far we have been getting great reactions from the fans and media. People for the most part are getting into it right away which is awesome because we weren’t sure what the reaction was going to be. We took some chances on this record and it seems that it has paid off for us. We couldn’t be happier with the reception from everyone.
A year ago Decatur was formed by a name change for the previous band, Caym. What was the reason for this and what is it that makes Decatur different from Caym?
Ya, it’s funny because we did enter the studio as Caym. At that time we were playing under the name Caym, touring the Canadian circuit. But I (Jay “Beard” Sarrazin) was the only original member from Caym. And even though I am the primary writer for Caym and Decatur, this album was sounding different than anything Caym ever did. That had a lot to do with the new members (Tiny Basstank and Steve “Animal” Mitchell) that had joined me over the last couple years in Caym. Their styles are their own and when I was writing this record with them that definitely came into the mix of what it was sounding like. When we were in the studio is when we realized it isn’t Caym. Those members aren’t Caym members and the sound is new. So it only made sense to begin our new band together. The way that it’s different is a combination of so many things but mostly would be the song writing style. We used to be heavier and more aggressive, but when we started writing this record we wanted to reach a different goal. We wanted to write a metal record everyone could dig just good songs, actual songs and an actual album. Not just a single and filler. We also didn’t want to just shred and blast beat all over the place. Our taste has refined in our age and time as musicians and we are trying to accomplish different goals as musicians and song writers.
To someone who hasn’t heard Decatur’s music before, how would you describe your music?
I’d have to say groovy. Just good songs you can sing along to at times or pick up your guitar and play to. It’s a traditional style of metal so it should be very familiar to all ages young and older. We try to add different elements as well, branching from different genres and styles of music. But if you’re looking for a record that you can bang your head to and turn up in your car then you found the right record.
What are your musical influences?
There are so many to list because all of us come from such different backgrounds. You can find us listening to literally every kind of music. It’s not odd to have Michael Jackson or The Beatles or Post Malone or Drake or Cannibal Corpse or The Black Dahlia Murder playing in our tour van. It literally jumps that much from genre to genre. But when it comes to our music it’s pretty inspired by the legendary metal bands. Metallica, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Gojira, Lamb Of God, Unearth, Killswitch Engage. These are bands that are tried and true to us. Bands that have always been a part of our lives.
Where do you get inspiration from lyric-wise?
To be honest there is only one thing that really inspires my lyrics, my life. I am a big advocate for being as true to yourself and being you as much as possible. I don’t do this to impress people or write what someone else wants to hear. I write my lyrics to vent and heal. Our first record had an obvious connection to mental health. It’s something I struggle with significantly. I have a very hard time talking about it which made this record very personal and hard for me to put out. I felt very vulnerable lyrically as well as vocally as I tried to get out of my comfort zone and try some new things, to try to grow as a vocalist and lyricist. But I wanted this album to connect with those who are also struggling with mental health. You are not alone and I hope this record can help you if only for one minute.
What is it that makes Decatur Decatur?
What makes us Decatur is our live show, hard work and professionalism. We pride ourselves on being professional and respectful. We work our ass off in our HQ to bring a killer show every time we hit the stage for the people there whether it’s 10 people or 1000 people.
How did the writing process of Badder Than Brooklyn go?
To be honest it was a bit hectic. We wrote the record in about 8 weeks. Then we went straight to Brooklyn to record it and recorded the whole thing in about 3 weeks. We made some changes on the fly and additions on the fly while in there too. So it was very organic in the way that we had to make some big decisions quite quickly. But it made for something we are still enjoying. We are finding different parts of the record we love and are falling in love with different parts as the days pass. So all in all I went perfect because it was as honest as we could be as artists.
This album is produced by Joe Duplantier of Gojira, how was working with him and what did he add to Badder Than Brooklyn?
Working with Joe was an absolute pleasure. It seriously couldn’t have gone any better. The benefit of having someone like Joe beside you is unexplainable. He brought so much to this record. Not just in the producing department but in the growth of us as a group and as artists. For me personally, he brought me to a different level of understanding myself. He helped unlock some doors I didn’t know were there. He helped me become comfortable with being uncomfortable. There were times where I would cringe at myself on how I sang something or whatever but he would say something like “it’s beautiful” or “I love how this is so real” and all of sudden realize wow maybe I don’t need to be pitch perfect and my emotion as a singer is worth something. He also brought many of his tricks to our sound and style which can be heard on the record. That atmospheric sound he can achieve is something we were looking for and he obviously nailed that. His team, Johann Meyer and Taylor Bingley were also a huge help on the record not to mention Raphael Bovey at MyRoom for the master. If not for this team then the record wouldn’t be the same.
What’s the story behind the album title?
The connection for the name of the record was also a personal thing. My older brother used to be in a band called Badder Than Brooklyn. So not only was it a nod to my older brother who got me into metal but when we confirmed with Joe that we were doing it at Silver Cord Studios in Brooklyn it was too perfect not to use. We wanted to have a personal connection with our album name so that’s where that came from.
Your music sounds very energetic and powerful, how do you bring that to the stage?
Our live show is very energetic. We put on a pretty energy filled show. Usually one of the loudest bands as well. We want you to feel our music pundit your chest. Our music also gets us into it. We love playing live and we literally wrote a record around playing it live. We knew we would be playing often and we wanted to play music we loved playing. It’s so enjoyable for us to play on stage together so we make the most of every minute up there.
You recently played some Canadian shows, can we expect more shows soon? Maybe in The Netherlands, or somewhere else in Europe?
Europe is #1 on our list to play right now. It’s something we have been planning since we made this band. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to get out there but we are diligently working on finding a killer tour to be a part of. We hope to be there as soon as possible. You can definitely expect us not to stop until we get there.
Do you already have any other future Decatur plans you can already tell us a bit about?
Right now we are working on a couple things to release for everyone early in 2018 including a music video plus hoping to have some touring early on in the year.
Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thanks so much for all the support thus far. It’s been unreal and we couldn’t appreciate it any more. Thank you as well for the great interview. Hopefully we get to Europe sooner than later. Thanks so much and stay connected with us.
I’m Tim van Velthuysen and I started DutchMetalManiac back in 2014. I’m 27 years old and I live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of course, I like metal, but I can also appreciate other musical styles. However, metal is what I mostly listen to. I also like going to concerts, meeting with friends and watching movies (especially arthouse).