Cage Fight: ‘We have a T-shirt with Boris Johnson getting punched in the face’

In early 2020, Cage Fight singer Rachel Aspe was restless and unhappy. It had been three years since the French singer’s previous band, Eths, disbanded and now the world was on the brink of a global pandemic.

“It was lockdown and I was super frustrated not being in a band,” she says. ” I did not do anything. I just started trying to make covers and post them on the internet.

At the same time, across the Channel, James Monteith also had a musical itch he wanted to scratch. As Tesseract’s guitarist since 2006, he had spent a decade and a half on the front lines of prog-metal. But now he wanted to play something simple, direct and brutal – the exact opposite of his day job.

“I have a real love for aggressive, hard-hitting riffs and visceral power,” he says. “When I was young, I joined bands like Hatebreed and Terror. Jon [Reid, Cage Fight bassist] and I would get together to write stuff, have a few beers and have fun playing this music that we loved.

Their worlds collided in early 2021, when James saw a YouTube video of Rachel covering The Black Dahlia Murder’s statutory monkey. The singer had indeed appeared in the French edition of The voice in 2012, blinding the judges with a chilling rendition of a song by Swiss industrial metallers Sybreed, but that was next-level stuff. Believing that his voice could work well with the music he and Jon were writing, he sent her a demo of one of their tracks.

“He said, ‘You might not like that,'” says Rachel, whose intricate ink reveals the fact that she’s also a skilled tattoo artist. “But I listened to it and loved it. I thought it was really original. I was sick of being sent into typical deathcore.

“She sent it back with her voice on it, and that’s when I realized we were really onto something,” James explains.

She was right to be excited. Like songs like castrated hope and shine don’t fade show, Cage Fight merges the best parts of their influences to create a set of modern metal hardcore bangers that will appeal to hardcore kids and grizzled thrash veterans alike. “We’re aiming for the brutality of Hatebreed, the rhythmic propulsion of Rage Against The Machine and the speed of Slayer,” James tells us.

It was more than just the desire to be in another group that made the members pursue Cage Fight further. As James explains, their classic, hardcore and old-school thrash sound gives them the perfect outlet to vent their collective frustrations with the state of society.

“It’s driven by the frustrations we have in the world right now,” the guitarist explains. “Tesseract is a very apolitical band, but with this music, we were all able to contribute ideas about things that piss us off. We touch on the state of politics in the UK, and in the world, we have an anti-monarchist song, we had so much in us that we wrote an album in six months. Everything just clicked between us, musically and thematically; we had the same ideas about what this group should say.

James insists he’s not worried that Cage Fight might alienate Tesseract fans who love this band precisely because they check their politics at the door, and he’s not going to dilute Cage Fight’s message for whoever. it would be.

“Thrash and hardcore are very straightforward styles of music,” he says. “There is no beating around the bush. There aren’t multiple layers or depths to get lost in, it’s the perfect music to get a message across. Yes, we make angry music, so we’re going to have an angry message. Look, we have a t-shirt with Boris Johnson getting punched in the face, and we’re seeing a pretty big boost in sales every time he misbehaves. We do not endorse anyone.

While it’s Rachel delivering that sugar-free pill with a jaw-dropping roar, the entire Cage Fight members chime in with the lyrical message.

“English isn’t my first language, so maybe I don’t have the vocabulary to express it as well as the other guys,” says Rachel. “But I talk a lot about my frustrations, and the guys take that into account when they come up with lyrics. In a way, I like the fact that I’m playing this role and being the one who finds the voice of all the things that make us so angry.

It’s an approach that works well. The band’s next self-titled album delivers on the promise of a furious thrashcore crossover with a political conscience, while the band members’ chemistry has proven so strong that Rachel has even moved to the UK.

“It’s been wild,” she smiles. “A year ago I had no idea what I was going to do with my life and now I’m in a different country, with a new band, a record deal and an album I’m really proud of. . It’s no exaggeration to say that this band completely changed my life.

Cage Fight’s self-titled debut album drops May 13 via Candlelight

Elizabeth J. Harless