#RigorousInstitution 🇺🇸 #Interview

5 min read

Portland, Oregon’s Rigorous Institution have been described as both Stenchcore and Crustpunk (the difference between the two terms seems pretty thin). Certainly the group has Anarcho-Punk and they play grim, dirty, metallic Punk music. With a blistering debut album Cainsmarsh recently released on Sentient Ruin Laboratories, I caught up with the group to learn more about what makes this mean machine tick.

Hi and thanks for doing this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. I get a little thrill down my spine every time I put on your new album.

First of all who are Rigorous Institution and what does each member contribute to the band?

Dramatis Personae:
Mattie Sue – Synthesizers
Squid – Guitars/Bass
Shite- Guitars/Bass
Ryan Maloney, the Flattop Freaker – Drums
Savonarola- Vocals and lyrics

What’s the meaning behind the name Cainsmarsh and what lyrical themes are you exploring on the album?

Savonarola: It comes from a very strange story HG Wells published during the Spanish Civil War called ‘The Croquet Player’, which I highly recommend. In short, Cainsmarsh is a swamp which contains all the unjust suffering, fear, and senseless aggression of humankind. Lyrically, it is diverse, but generally I am just trying to describe what I see in the world around me- a whole civilization falling into darkness- selfish people desperately trying to save themselves from being drawn down into the mud and doing the only thing they can do: stepping on each other’s hands and necks to be free.

The Amebix influence seems clear — and a great well to draw from — what were the main inspirations for the album (lyrical, musical or otherwise)?

Squid:“Anarcho-punk and its brood”

Mattie Sue:“Vampire chamber music”

Jabb: “We are a Sabbath band”

We all bring diverse tastes, but the songs are written equally by all of us, like a big chunky stew we all throw ingredients in. Frequently the song is built around Shite and Malone’s weird psychic connection- when they are both fucked up and vibing that shit is crazy. Savonarola usually brings in a title or a thematic idea, and a handful of lyrics before we start writing the songs.

The album was a child of Covid times. How much did the pandemic impact on the making of the album and on the band in general?

The pandemic lockdown profoundly affected Cainsmarsh. We had been attempting to write an album since the previous summer but playing live and life circumstances got in the way. During the lockdown, we could only focus on writing the album, in isolated conditions, and we weren’t allowed distraction of playing live. In addition, this small meek boy we knew, Squid, had just joined the band as a guitarist, so he really got thrown into the deep end. The pandemic made us a stronger band.

Savonarola: “Fever” is directly about the 2020 George Floyd protests and the feeling of being part of an attack on the pillars of the system, “Ergot” is about running to buy drugs before lockdown curfew hours, everything in the album is shaped by our feelings during the tumults of the early pandemic.

Was there anything new in terms of playing or recording techniques that the band was trying out in contrast to your past EPs and demo?

The major change was Squid becoming our guitarist, after our previous guitarist Scully decided to change directions. In terms of recording techniques, Cainsmarsh was really a culmination of the techniques we used on all our previous recordings. We’ve recorded all of our releases with our friend Evan Mersky of Red Lantern Studios, and his production was essential to Cainsmarsh. The full length run-time allowed us more breathing room to play around with experimental ideas, sound collaging and atmospheric shit, like drug guy sounds and shit.

How did the band first come together and how satisfied are you with the Rigorous Institution journey so far?

The name Rigorous Institution and idea for the sound originated with our previous guitarist Scully, without whom this band would be only a figment. Scully and Savonarola spent years off and on trying to start the band. The original vision was of very cold and decrepit sounding industrial punk in the vein of “Who’s The Enemy” or “No Sanctuary”. We were all friends and many of us played in other bands together (Savonarola and Shite were in Pig DNA) or played D&D together (Mattie Sue, Shite, and Savonarola) and once Maloney moved to town, it fell together. It was a major change when Scully left and Squid became guitarist, but we are definitely in a good place. Shout out to Le Morte

What’s the music scene like in Portland, Oregon and are there any current bands you feel a particular kinship with?

Portland’s music scene is like many other places, it goes through booms and busts. Blackwater is kinda the heart of the scene. Currently we feel a great kinship with Decomp, but there’s a great clutch of bands, both newer ones and ones continuing- Myconid, Brain Squeeze, Variolacion, Nyx Division, Puerta Negra, Alienator, Cost, Stainless, Human Effluence, Lizard Skin, Reek Minds, L.U.S.T., Blade, Criminal Class, Torture Rack, Blood Oath, Arc, Hellshock is better than ever…

What’s one book or movie you would recommend readers to check out?

Mattie Sue: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Squid: The Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere

Shite: King Jesus by Robert Graves (“It was pretty good”)

Savonarola: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

Maloney: My Brother My Lover by Tim Barrus

Now that the album is out, what plans does the band have for the coming months?

We are going to play Lie Detector Weekend in LA in December. This coming March we are likely to play Texas, and then we have our sights set on Europe, to achieve our mighty dream of doing speed at Dracula’s castle

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?

We weren’t sure when the LP would be released, so with the help of a friend we did a rawer practice space recording of several songs, including a Death SS cover, which will now be coming out on Shite’s Dogs of Altamont as LORDS OF MISRULE cs. Support Le Morte of Richmond, VA, they have a new album coming soon (lemortedoom.bandcamp.com), our dear friends in Flower have new material that is incredible (flowernewyorkcity.bandcamp.com), check out our man in Kazakhstan, Almaty’s own industrial crust titans Global Despair, their LP ‘Technodictature’ didn’t really get good distribution or attention outside of the Russosphere (theedespairfamily.bandcamp.com)

Tempt Fate… And Win!!!

Interview by Tom Osman

Thanks to Rigorous Institution for their time. Cainsmarsh is available to purchase from the links below and available to stream on Spotify.



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