Cannabis Crypt: Weed-Fueled Hardcore From Lynn, MA Discuss Their Upcoming Album

Photo: Faith Wilson

For someone who doesn’t smoke weed anymore I sure as hell love heavy music that bases its entire identity around it. I’m particularly fond of bands that find themselves in the grey area between hardcore and death metal that boast gruesome lyrics but provide a smoked out vibe. The kinds of bands that remind me of smoking out of a water bottle while downing Four Lokos in a Wal-Mart parking lot, that’s my jam right there.

Cannabis Crypt hail from Lynn, Massachusetts and are one of those bands that bring so much energy and grime into their music that it’s hard to turn away from them. With influences ranging from beatdown to old-school hardcore to deathcore and the heavy shit you’d find at Newbury Comics back in the early '00s this combo really delivers the goods when it comes to channeling all those influences into a smoked out and chaotic vibe.

The group formed around 2018 with members of local heavy hitters Distressor, another hardcore punk band from Lynn. Wanting to continue in a heavier direction than their last band, Jesse Potter (vocals), Kevin Lally (guitars), and Brian Houde (drums) came together and utilized similar influences but brought a slam/beatdown influence to form Cannabis Crypt. They quickly recruited fellow Distressor alumni Mike Bourgeois on second guitar and Eddie Chipman of Dry Heave on bass. Since then the band has been playing shows all around New England, becoming a household name within the scene.

Cannabis Crypt released their debut album, Sinister Grip, in 2019 which displayed their palpable aggression and love for mind altering substances through both the sound of the recording, the sludgy breakdowns and artwork. It was an outstanding introduction to a band with a lot of fire, attitude and personality in the Boston scene.

I’ve been seeing them at shows for quite some time now, usually catching them on a bill with some killer locals such as Wisdom & War, Grasp, Neighborhood Shit, and Sophisticated Adult. They stand tall amongst the crop every time, delivering a varied yet consistently heavy performance that keeps the feet and elbows of moshers firmly burrowed into the faces and stomachs of poor bystanders near the pit. They’re one of those hometown bands who you know will make for a good time no matter where they’re playing and they put just as much energy in their music as they do into building up the bands within the scene.

I was recently invited to the Cannabis Crypt practice space to hang out and watch them practice through their setlist, which included the songs they’re recording for their new album. During that time I was able to interview them all about their history, favorite bands growing up and their new album they are looking to record. 

How did Cannabis Crypt come together?

Kevin: I wanted to play guitar in a band so I started hitting up people I knew about being in a band. It actually started with me and Brian. We played in Distressor with Jesse.

Jesse: Mike was also in Distressor, he was one of the original members. Also, Ed filled in for one Distressor show, the one we played with Xibalba.

Eddie: Basically, all of us were in Distressor at some point.

Brian: Yeah, Kevin played drums in Distressor and I played guitar so when he hit me up about him playing guitar in a new band I was playing around with drums a little bit and then we started playing together. Found our groove around that time, originally we called it Kidney Stone.

Jesse: That’s actually kind of our hidden secret that we were originally gonna call it Kidney Stone, then it was Weed the Band or Tank Day.

Eddie: Tank Day was the one we almost settled on, that was close.

Kevin: I still think Tank Day would be an awesome band name. You’d see that on a bill and be like “Oh, I gotta stay for Tank Day.”

When you started off did you know which kind of direction you wanted to go in? Was the sound carried over from Distressor?

Kevin: It started off pretty thrashy, Brian and I were into playing thrash and punk stuff and once Jesse started singing with us he wanted to go in the slam direction and so we started incorporating as much heaviness as we could with it.

Have you played that style of music before?

Kevin: I’ve always played metal stuff but if I had to play hardcore I’d do it but I’ve always gravitated more towards metal with like brutal parts.

Eddie: But with random hardcore parts thrown into the mix.

Kevin: Yeah, don’t get me wrong I love playing punk, that energy excites the shit out of me so we try to incorporate as much of what we love into this band.

Photo: Faith Wilson

What were some of your main influences when you formed this band?

Jesse: Kevin and I went to This Is Hardcore and we listened to Body Bag, we saw Jesus Piece, God’s Hate and it just blew us away all these heavy ass bands.

Kevin: Yeah, man, it didn’t disappoint. When we were in Distressor Jesse and Susie always wanted to play This Is Hardcore and he was showing me all these videos of Jesus Piece and Code Orange doing it and I’d never seen bands like us playing massive festivals like that.

Jesse: Yeah man that year was amazing seeing those new bands kill it onstage and some of the old bands like Merauder played as well.

On Broken Wings played that year, too, correct?

Kevin: They did and they were sick. I had on a Superbeef shirt and the lead singer saw me and said “That’s definitely a Lynn band.”

How would you guys describe Cannabis Crypt’s sound?

Eddie: Slow and sexy at times. Which is why we always have that song called “Swamp Thing (Slow and Sexy)” which is gonna someday be finished but not today.

Brian: Slow with thrashy parts.

Have your influences changed at all from the first record to this next record you guys are working on?

Kevin: I would say so. I’ve definitely been listening to a lot more bands like Inclination and all the melodic stuff that’s been coming out mixed with the hardcore stuff.

Jesse: Foundation is one I’ve been going to a lot lately. Some of the best straight edge music ever made and I’m not even straight edge. 

It’s kind of funny to me that both of you mentioned straight edge bands

Jesse: You just can’t deny bands like that rip no matter where you are in regards to that.

This is for Kevin, Eddie, Mike, and Brian: What were your personal influences to start playing music?

Kevin: I started mostly because my older brother was playing a lot of music and I saw all the shows he was playing. He was playing more metal stuff but I’ve always gravitated towards that sound.

Eddie: I was in his brother's band and he was lucky because it was all in his basement so Kevin just walked right into it and picked it up really fast.

Kevin: Also, with a loving grandmother who never talked shit about it even once.

Eddie: No, we just couldn’t play too late. Sometimes she’d flash the lights to let us know we had to end it and we’d be like, “Come on just one more song.” Then you’d try to sneak in two more songs. So, for me, it was pretty much the same, just being in that band with his brother and playing together from all these different bands that were big. From Slipknot to Job For a Cowboy…

Mike: Between the Buried and Me. Their 2001 demo is still absolutely insane to me.

Eddie: Absolutely, BTBAM is such a great band.

Brian: This and Distressor are honestly the first hardcore bands I’ve ever been in. I always played funk and I also played in punk bands that were influenced by like NOFX and Bad Religion, stuff like that. Drums is my second instrument, I played bass for the longest time in all those other bands and this is my first time playing drums in a band and I just really liked playing heavy drums. When we started Jesse had a house we could jam in and so we played there a lot in the early days and found our groove during that time.

Mike: I saw Brian playing live in a bar one day and I brought Jesse with me and I was like, “Dude, we gotta get him in a band with us.” I didn’t even realize I was standing next to his dad and he heard me being like, “Oh my god, this dude’s sick!”  His dad was like, “Yeah, you should hear him play drums.” I said to him, “Oh shit, how’d you know he played drums?” “I’m his dad” he said [laughs].

Kevin: Yeah then Brian was in Distressor for awhile, like six years. He served his time in that band.

Photo: Johna Jo Toomey

Mike? What about your musical journey?

Mike: I listened to a lot of grunge and alternative stuff like Nine Inch Nails when I was a kid. Then I gravitated towards the era of Prayer For Cleansing, Poison the Well and then found out Prayer for Cleansing became BTBAM. I found their 2001 demo online with the song “More of Myself To Kill” and it was on from there. Then Black Dahlia Murder came out with Unhallowed and I just kind of blended those two sounds together and I started a band with Marco Medina called Prior to Burial and that was fun.

I remember seeing The Acacia Strain play “Noah Will Be Your Grave” and there’s this part at the end that sounds like birds attacking you and it was the craziest shit I ever heard. I also really remember The Red Chord’s CD release show for Fused Together Through Revolving Doors, that show and that record were super influential to me. Oh, also Shai Hulud will always be a huge influence on my playing. That band got me through so many rough times in my life and I just can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve done.

Eddie: I just realized, nobody said Unearth. They’ll kill us if we don’t mention them.

Kevin: I also wanna say that it’s honestly been a wild ride with this band because of all the shows we’ve gotten to play. We played Ralph’s Diner last summer I think it was and the crowd popped the fuck off for us and that’s probably the best reaction we’ve ever received and to me that’s just what it’s all about, just playing with these guys and having fun.

That was Bodega Fest you guys played? With Wisdom & War and Escuela Grind right?

Jesse: It was but Wisdom & War played the next day. We played with Escuela Grind that day though. That’s also how we met the dudes in Sophisticated Adult, Alley Trash, and a bunch of other awesome bands.

Now for Jesse, describe your musical journey.

Jesse: I’m gonna just be real right now: Korn.

Mike: Period.

Jesse: Also 7 Angels 7 Plagues and Deadwater Drowning, just the deepness of that guy's voice was like madness for me. I went from that era of Deftones and Korn and then I found out about bands like Tree from around here and also Unearth. The Stings of Conscience is an amazing record.

Tree is a great band. What inspires some of your lyrics, Jesse?

Jesse: Pretty much real life situations. Instead of going out and being hateful towards people I just write lyrics and express that in songs.

Photo: Johna Jo Toomey

Even a song like “Time Lord?” That always seemed more abstract to me, what’s it based on?

Jesse: It’s mostly just based on arguing with people back and forth and having it all turn bad. Now instead of turning it into an actual battle now it’s just words you know?

Any lyrics you’ve written that really sit with you? Ones that you could take and say you’re especially proud of?

Jesse: Quite a lot of the ones on the new album just because I’ve gone through a lot of new experiences and situations in life that have really inspired me and got me to write some great stuff for this album. It’s way more hard hitting songs from these guys too so I’m really excited to get this all put together.

Are there any influences outside of music that really inspired Cannabis Crypt's artistic direction… weed counts as one.

Kevin: I was just gonna say, that would probably be the main thing.

Eddie: It’s definitely what brought us together. We’ve also been in a lot of bands together over the years.

Jesse: Me and Ed just realized we’ve been in five bands together.

Brian: When we were making the band and coming up with a name we were just like “What do we all love?” and so at one point we were literally going to call the band Weed.

Kevin: I wouldn’t have went with it but then everyone was telling me it’d be a sick band name.

Jesse: What band out there is called Weed? None.

Brian: We were gonna copyright it too then no one would be able to say the word weed without paying us.

What’s the new album’s recording process been like? How far into it are you guys?

Jesse: We’ve finished writing it but we haven’t gone to record anything yet, we’re still working on all of that at the moment. We’re trying to find someone that’ll do it justice even though Chris Kobialka did a great job on Sinister Grip, I feel like we should’ve gone somewhere else to master it. So we just want to wait until we’re satisfied with the studio and everything.

Kevin: We’ve just spent the time doing our own recordings, going over them and making sure we’re prepared for when we do go into the studio.

What was the recording of Sinister Grip like?

Jesse: We all went in with Chris for the recording and like I said he did a great job with the recording process, he really brought a chill vibe in the studio and it was great. He had to learn the hard way though why we’re called Cannabis Crypt because he was like “Yeah you guys can smoke in here” then after like a couple hours he was like, “Dude, I’m sorry but could you guys tone it down a bit?”

Eddie: Yeah, we had to open the windows a lot in there.

Kevin: Well, Eddie brought his bubbler so you know it was all downhill from there. But still it was chill, Chris is great and his band Mother Iron Horse is amazing. I gotta mention them. It was great hearing our songs played back to us and everything and even if we were a little bit disappointed with the outcome I’ve heard a lot of first albums that didn’t sound the greatest and people still love it. So it’s working out for us and this second album is gonna be sick.

Do you guys have a title for the new album yet?

Jesse: Not yet we’ve just got the 11 songs that we finished writing earlier this year. We’ve offered to do splits with other bands because I wanna see those songs get played on a recording, especially “Swamp Thing (Slow and Sexy).”

Has it felt different coming back to shows after the pandemic?

Jesse: For me no I think everyone’s been super welcoming and everything has been going great. People are showing out and everything.

Eddie: I think I know what you’re getting at, people are happier now to be able to have shows again and you can definitely see that in the crowd when you play.

Jesse: It’s because music was taken away from us, live music. Not even just live music but live entertainment and you realize once it’s gone that there’s really nothing else like having it happen right in front of you.

Kevin: It’s one of the purest things you can support you know?

Anybody you wanna shout out at the end?

Kevin: Can I shout out my own band? Eyes Pressed In, we just recorded our first album with Ryan Stack.

Mike: Shoutout Jesse Dampolo! He’s a great friend and a great guy. Also shout out Ed from Where I Left Her Head

Brian: Shoutout to my mom for making all of this possible.

Kevin: None of us would be here without the ‘rents.

Mike: They’re about to be fathers by the way [Brian and Jesse].

Kevin: Me and Eddie are the only ones without kids in the band. He is married though so he’s at least 25% of the way there.

Eddie: Shoutout to the wife!

Jesse: Shoutout Neighborhood Shit, Wisdom & War, Clock Out, they’re a sick band. Definitely Psychic Weight, Scalp the Pioneer, Capo Kong.

Kevin: Superbeef! That’s Brian’s other band. Torn In Half. Every band we play with we always have a sick time with them, everyone’s been mad cool with us and it’s great.

Eddie: What was that band with the high school kids? Wretched Inferno!

Jesse: Hell yeah that band rips. They’re only like 15 or 16 years old.

Mike: The dad was on the side of the stage yelling “They’re only fifteen!!!” which was awesome.

Kevin: All the Worcester kids.

Eddie: Who’s that kid that moshes at every show? Wears the bandana?

Jesse: Oh Will! He’s at every show out here.

The kid who wears the elbow pads!

Jesse: Yup him, that kid moshes so hard to every band, at every show. He’s great.

Kevin: If you’re playing on a weekend and he’s there you’re playing the right show. Even if your band doesn’t have a crowd he’ll make you feel like you do.
Thank you guys!


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