In 2018, everyone is doing the best they can to get by—but there can be a lot of uncertainty brought on by the state of our world, be it political, social or financial. While there are many ways to deal with the frustrations of daily life, bands like BornBroken have found that channeling the deepest and darkest emotions of death metal is an excellent way to go about it. The band members embrace dark lyrics that help them provide a voice and an outlet for those frustrations. Dealing with its demons directly in this way, BornBroken produces music that’s easy to identify with. CULTURE spoke to guitarist Mike Decker about how he deals with those demons, as well as his thoughts on cannabis.
How did you get started making music?
It really all started with a family of freethinkers that loved the wild side of life. Being the age of five and looking at the covers of Queen, Kiss, JJ Cale, Supertramp, to name a few, while hearing about the stories of my uncle playing in band in Philly, Pennsylvania . . . I think this inspired me to look at that side of life.
Music was always around me, as were others things which made people freethinkers . . . I got my first guitar from my uncle at age five or six with a huge amp, made a lot of noise and made sure my parents did not sleep in. That didn’t last long, but I eventually got my own guitar and equipment.
I was an only child and had lots of time to go into my head and listen to what the music was actually doing. Creating a feeling that left you in another place, the crackle of an LP can bring me back the very moment I was listening, that band. That’s what you did back then. Put on an album or cassette and listen, all the way through!
To blast forward, I could say that’s what really drove my passion to create my own music and try to replicate that feeling, that place that others did for me. That was 40 years ago.
How would you describe your sound?
I won’t lie; I have a lot of issues in my head. Anger is one; I don’t know why. Because life is good, but when I’m angry, I seem to write well. Our sound, I would put it as aggressive, we want people to get this emotion out and then not have to get violent towards others. I feel the music we play “soothes the soul of the savage beast.”
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Our musical tastes are very wide and open. As much as we play only aggressive music, we listen to everything, so our biggest influence is the life around us. We try to put that to music. Every one of our songs is the soundtrack to our day.
We are mostly all older musicians who have well-traveled the road. So from rock, punk, early prog, glam, thrash, heavy and death metal, there is an influence. The envelope has been pushed to the limits I feel; music, art, personal expression all make you feel something, so if I pick up my guitar and write a riff that makes me feel something, have I now become my own influence?
Do you have anything you want to announce as far as releases or tours?
We released our second coming of BornBroken. Our version 2.0, the title of this new release is The Years of Harsh Truths and Little Lies, which is the follow up to The Healing Powers Of Hate.
How do you feel about your local and national music scenes?
The scene is really great right now. I do feel the oversaturation of bands has made it easy to get swallowed up and overlooked a little too easily. So we, BornBroken, have to try other marketing strategies to keep us from falling into those cracks, with our merch and packaging of our releases.
There is a lot is great music here in Montreal, Canada, but the fact that everyone can record their own music or become a recording studio has made also some really sub-satisfactory music across the scene, not just locally. Most independent bands will say nothing to this fact, as they do not want to be frowned on as being unfriendly or cruel, but I feel it necessary to keep our genre at its best. We are already fighting an uphill battle against the mainstream scene.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
I won’t say I worked cannabis into our music, but I will say it did influence the writing in a lot of my earlier band projects during those late nights and lonely days.
I must tell you I am now a recovering drug addict of 14 years. To get the record straight, let me make this clear, cannabis was never my number one choice when I came to wanting to experience the flip side of the fairy tale and is in no way the reason I became a addict. I was just always an extreme person who wanted to push the envelope of life, test the limits and taste the punishment. To tell you the truth, I’m lucky to still be alive. Music kept me from doing things I wanted to myself, giving me the outlet to express what I was feeling inside.
“Our prison system is no place for youth to learn about life; the world is, and not being able to cross borders because of a natural substance that was here before us and consumed by millions of people way before there were laws made by man’s vision of right and wrong is f*ckin’ crazy!”
How do you feel about legalization so far?
I feel there is no reason it should not be legal! (I have to say no one ever got killed over the munchies.) I do feel, though, there have to be regulations and a better judicial stance in place to make sure when it does get into the hands of our youth, their adult lives are not stained forever with a drug conviction from a bag of green! Our prison system is no place for youth to learn about life; the world is, and not being able to cross borders because of a natural substance that was here before us and consumed by millions of people way before there were laws made by man’s vision of right and wrong is f*ckin’ crazy!
There are far more dangerous things out there that are legal now but have been around for so long that we have become desensitized to them: fast cars, motor vehicle pollution, big pharmaceutical medication and the political powers behind it. The fact that old laws written years ago have not moved forward with the times we live in now I think is the most dangerous of them all.
Should anything be done better or differently?
I think us as a people and as a society need to speak up for what we believe in. I feel the problem is we play safe too much. We have become afraid to elect that person into a position who could make the change. We just pick the lesser of two evils, and then go back to 40 hour work weeks and social media on the toilet. Every little bit helps, from just talking about change with peers to expressing through music, to actually studying and making it a life goal to make this world a better and safer place for all humans. We just can’t stop moving forward. We are still evolving, right? I don’t think the world has seen everything it has to offer. Let’s just hope we don’t kill it first.
How has cannabis influenced your life or your creative process?
The music scene is intertwined with all types of things, and seeing as I have been part of this scene 25+ years, I have become well-versed with the influences of cannabis and others things, which has shaped my views on the closed-minded people and their views of life.
As for the creative process, I have come to realize that I was inspirational enough without altering my state of mind.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I hope you can see that even though I am a recovering addict, I am not a hypocrite and that cannabis is not the devil in another form. I believe people can smoke and use cannabis without consequence the same way people consume alcohol. I was not one of those, that’s all. It will be still a long way for it to be accepted by the masses even after it becomes legal. Even after the battle is won you can’t stop advocating the non-negative aspects of cannabis. Thank you for letting me talk about myself openly, our band BornBroken and the cannabis culture. The broken shall rise.
Band Name: BornBroken
Genre: Death metal
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Most Recent/Upcoming Album: The Years of Harsh Truths and Little Lies