Cicada the Burrower is a one-man progressive black metal band from Wisconsin that has been around since 2012 and, in that time, has amassed quite a lengthy back catalog of releases. But over this same stretch of years, mastermind and sole member Cameron Davis has personally been through hell on earth and all of the leftover emotions and stains of what he’s been though are splayed across his work but nowhere is it more evident than on the seven tracks that grace The Great Nothing which saw its release in September. We recently had the opportunity to ask Cameron our set of Profile questions so head inside to see what he had to say and be sure to check out the streams contained within.—
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
All my friends got really into Guitar Hero around the same time in High School. Inspired by the game, they all started a band together and I was the odd man out since I didn’t know how to play an instrument at the time. I wanted to spend more time with my friends. Playing guitar seemed like the thing that would make that happen. I have definitely not achieved the level of success that I’ve hoped to gain, but I’m still working on things. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just a really long tunnel.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
Never had to debase myself for the sake of music, but I’ve got this pretty great story from when I was a toddler. My dad would go golfing with his colleagues at work a lot and every now and again he’d have me tag along. On one of these outings, I dropped trou and took a dump in the 18th hole at this private golf course in front of my dad, his work friends, and everyone eating lunch in the lounging area (right next to the hole).
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
I think musically we are living in exciting times. There’s so much information available at our fingertips and everyone can pretty much produce a record if they really want to. This has given us really cutting edge material by artists like Zeal & Ardor. There’s this really elegant genre blending happening across the board and it’s just as refreshing to hear as it is exciting to hear. Unfortunately, along with that we’ve got a scene that is prone to celebrating bigotry. Too many people in the metal scene treat the phrase Social Justice Warrior like a slur, when ideologically, it’s just a person trying to practice basic human decency. There’s too much ignorance out there. Lots of metalheads need to grow up and learn how to empathize with people who have different experiences and backgrounds than they do.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
I care deeply for women’s rights, mental illness, the environment, and movements like BLM. I’ve addressed issues like rape in songs like “Only The Elms Remember” and “A Handful Of Dust” and humanity’s negative impact on the environment in tracks like “GAIA.” Never addressed racial inequality in my music though. I just feel like I’m the wrong face for that. My last album explored the frustration that comes with clinical depression. I wrote that record to remind people who suffer from depression that it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s okay to struggle with the most basic tasks because you are sick. It’s easy to feel alone and I hope that my music will help remind people that they really aren’t.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
My brother bought Metallica’s Black Album when I was 17 and I sort of stole it from him for a week or two. A few months later Guitar World had this big feature on Black Metal and that’s what got me hooked on more extreme music. My family was supportive, but didn’t really enjoy driving around with me since I would usually subject them to music that made them feel assaulted.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Be honest and don’t celebrate musicians who pride themselves on how well they can emulate others. If you’re going to make something, make something that speaks to you and your personal experiences. Something that feels like you’re sharing your diary with the world. Also, never be afraid to experiment or push yourself. Failure is a necessary step towards success.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
I want to create an album that sounds vital to people. That kind of record that defines a genre, you know? I’ve had this idea for a few years now where I’d make a record that’s equal parts soul, r&b and black metal to create the perfect record about love. I think it’s super doable and that’s probably the next thing I’ll be working on as Cicada The Burrower. Other than that, I’d like to take my label, Blue Bedroom Records, more seriously and start churning out more quality tunes.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Lately I’ve been listening to ‘Royalty (Two Faced)’ by hyphyskazerbox. They play this really frantic kind of drum and bass stuff that’s the perfect soundtrack for exercise or travel. Other than that, I’ve been revisiting Wet Nurse’s ‘Invisible City,’ which sounds like if BTBAM was a screamo band trying to get signed to Prosthetic Records. It’s easily one of my favorite metalcore albums. You can buy it off Bandcamp for $1. It’s a total steal.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Cameron for his time!