Interview: Aaron Whitsell – Cropsy Maniac

Over the past few months our intrepid Meddlefan has been having a chinwag or two with each of the members of Cropsy Maniac, whom all hail from different parts of the world and yet combine every now and then to bring us some pure gore drenched, horror soaked Metal of the nastiest kind. With the recent release of their killer new EP “Carnage”, we have decided to start putting them out one by one for your reading pleasure! First off, we give you guitarist and general all round great bloke Aaron Whitsell! This is a long ride, but well worth it people!

HI Aaron, thanks for the chat. How old were you when you started listening to metal? What album hooked you?
I’d have to say the first metal album that hooked me to seek out more metal is Motley Crue’sShout At The Devil”. I was probably nine when I first started hearing stuff like that and also when MTV was starting to emerge. From there it was bands like Quiet Riot, Iron Maiden, Dokken, and Ozzy. Then I moved on to Thrash around age eleven or twelve, and then Death Metal when I was Fourteen.

When did you start writing music?
I think it was just a few years after I started playing guitar at around 14, I attempted to start writing my own stuff. But living in the middle of no where with no one into Thrash and Death metal it was kind of tough.

CM FTF cover art

How do you write your lyrics? Do you just sit down and jam and they come out or do you plan and write the songs?
I rarely write lyrics myself. Mainly a little bit in the past. As far as the music I just sit down and start jamming around and start piecing different riffs together. Then ill match tempos with the riffs and map out songs piece by piece. Then go back and record final guitar tracks. Then Travis does drum tracks and bass and vocals follow.

What are some of your favourite hobbies?
Playing guitar and writing extreme metal. I love hot rods. Classic cars has always been an interest of mine. Also I love animals and have had lots of different pets over the years. Everything from dogs and cats to lizards and turtles. I also love fishing, camping and hiking too. And of course collecting and watching lots of movies. Especially old school horror films!!

Tell us more about your favourite horror movies?
Ah man ha ha so many to choose from. I’ll just throw out some off the top of my head here ha ha, Dead Alive, Day OF The Dead, Zombie, Maniac, The Burning, Intruder, Demons, Amityville 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1-3, My Bloody Valentine, Friday The 13th 1-6, Neon Maniac’s, Rabid, The Brood, and Scanners.

In your opinion, how does the music industry effect the real underground bands?
Well I think these days there’s way too many bands doing the same thing. And of course lots of underground bands try to follow that lead. I prefer bands who at least try to be original and kind of have their own vibe. But I’m not one to pay too much attention to the scene these days.

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When is your next project expected to be finished?
Hmm well its tough to say really because everyone’s in multiple bands. Probably the next thing will be for new Cropsy Maniac songs. We are doing a Bandcamp release of eight new songs. I cant really say when they will be complete though. Just depends on how long the everything else takes. Still have bass and vocals and mixing to go..

What other projects have you contributed to?
I did session guitars for Kam Lee‘s solo 7” debut, wrote all the guitars for the Akatharta album, did some guest solos for the Toronto Canada based band Human Compost, and did guitar tracks for a new project based on the Evil Dead films Kam Lee will be doing called Naturom Demonto. Also I recorded some Death Thrash songs awhile back and have been working on getting them finalised under the name Scattered Murder.

Any surprises coming from you music wise that you can share with us?
Hmm not really but I think people are really going to shit when they hear what the next Cropsy Maniac album will be bringing to the table. After the eight songs for the Bandcamp digital release we will be delving into darker realms and taking things towards of a different vibe I’d say.

How did you get, or what inspired you to start Cropsy Maniac?
I always wanted to have a band that was based on purely horror film worship. After reading up on some urban legend stuff I found a article on a campfire story that was written back in the thirties by a scout leader about ‘The Cropsey Maniac’. Plus I always thought The Burning deserved way more credit and a nice sequel as well. So I just decided to start a band called Cropsy Maniac as a homage to the legend and the film too.

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What is the craziest thing you can remember happening? Any near death experiences?
Yeah I blacked out at my mom’s house back in June of 2000 and was later taken to the doctor. Come to find out I had a severely low red blood cell count. Had to be emitted into the hospital that same day. Found out after some testing I had been losing blood from having cancer. Had to get seven units of blood transfused and then surgery to remove ten inches of my colon, then six months of chemotherapy after that. Dr. said my body could’ve shut down and any moment and I was super lucky that my mom made me go to the Dr when she did. Scary shit!!!

Who is your biggest inspiration in music today?
Its definitely still the early wave of Thrash, Death Metal and some Black Metal as well. The early bands really set the pace for influencing my playing styles I’d say. I was always more fond of players like Jay Fernandez of Brutality and James Murphy from Disincarnate.

Serious question time, do you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Ha-ha.
Fuck yeah I love me some PB&J’ sammies!!! My wife makes the best hahaha!

What would be your favorite car if you had to choose one, which you do right now!
1969 AMC Javelin 390 big block.

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Do you think the music scene is just a little fucked up at the moment, a lot of people do, and if so, why?
Hahaha well two things immediately come to mind. Lack of originality for one. WAY too many bands following the same path. Same guitar tones, same vocals, same everything. And then number two would be the internet!! All releases seem to end up here in digital land where more and more people just sit on YouTube or whatever jamming music verses buying and popping in CD’s, Tapes or Vinyl. I truly think it has really been a major blow on the underground especially. Music stores closing down due to less and less people buying physical copies etc etc.. Really sucks to see honestly. I mean the internet is cool yeah, you can research and find killer bands but most people aren’t as prone to go out and purchase a CD when they can just put it right up and jam it for free on their phones or computers.

Do you think there are a lot of ‘fake’ bands and fans out there these days compared to the past?
I think a lot of it is just mainly due to metal being more popular for one. Also we live in a time where the weirder people are the more they think they are cool I guess. More shitty bands results in more shitty fans it seems. Its pretty stupid if you ask me. I miss the 80’s.

We all know bands that sell out but then why are they still considered underground by the sheeple do you think.
Well as far as Death Metal or Extreme Metal in general there’s the mainstream underground bands, and then there’s just the underground bands. Like Morbid Angel and Nile are mainstream underground and bands like Human Compost and Cropsy Maniac are just underground. If that makes sense. Hopefully Extreme Metal will always retain some form of the underground. The way things look though I’m not so sure. When you have guys in Death Metal bands acting like they are fucking Kip Winger or some shit, it’s pretty pathetic to be honest hahaha.

What is your take on companies / music labels making all this music off of dead musicians?
I guess it depends on the situation. As far as shit like the whole Death thing meh, I’ve always thought they were WAY overrated. Seeing the things going on now with all that I think it just mainly a cash grab. I mean some say its to pay tribute to Chuck which might be true and that’s cool I guess, but as far as the label that’s behind all that I truly think its all money motivated.

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Do you think there is a problem at the moment with royalties being paid to the people who write and perform music?
I think some labels do pay royalties. But its mainly major labels with popular touring bands. Smaller labels just cant afford it these days. That’s why most just give the bands a few copies to sell or something. Hell lots of smaller labels have closed up shop even due to lack of people buying physical copies. Sad shit to see…

Well, I must agree with you there, I personally think that more physical support can never be enough in any day or age. Great interview Aaron, and thanks so much for your time. Hope to catch up again soon mate, and what a fine EP you have unleashed upon us! For those that haven’t got it yet, follow the link below!

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