If you haven't heard Decapitation In The Food Court's music, I highly recommend checking out their song "Mauri's Famous Cafe" to get an idea of their music. Filled with pop culture references (we love a Danny Devito/Frank Reynolds sample), great vocal work, and a mix of emo/hardcore/electronic and psych, it makes sense that Decapitation is becoming a favorite around these parts. 

They're slated to play this year's PYGMALION, opening for The Slaps. They also have a debut record on the way. Lead singer/guitarist Max Knutson breaks down the origins of the band, talks the new record, and what we can expect from the band in the future. 


Smile Politely: Can you tell me a bit about the band? When did you form and how did you meet?

Max Knutson: Most of the current band was formed when I posted on my Instagram story asking to form a post-hardcore or emo band with anyone who was interested. I listed a bunch of different bands as influences (Brave Little Abacus, The Dismemberment Plan, American Football, Radiohead, Capn’ Jazz, Foxing, Modern Baseball) and kinda just hoped for the best. I wasn’t expecting much, but a guitarist I had met through working with the WPGU radio station and a keyboard player I knew from high school (coincidentally, both of them were named Evan) asked to join. I met our original drummer, Ben Woodard, through a mutual friend who was a member of the CU grindcore band Vertigo Children. Ben’s the one who played our live shows last year and recorded for our album. We went through a few bassists before I asked a friend I had met through a concert planning group, Leah Tritabaugh, to join. She’s our current bassist and also sings. She helped us find our current drummer, her boyfriend Julian, after Ben moved away from CU. The lore goes even deeper because there was a different band under the same name my freshman year, but I won’t bother getting into that because Decap 1 and Decap 2 are honestly very different bands in every way.

SP: Where did the name of the band come from?

Knutson: There was a New York Times article I was reading in 2020 titled “Auctioning Off a Dead Mall” about what happens after malls shut down and how their assets are haphazardly auctioned to the highest bidder. There’s a picture in the article of a dismembered mannequin in a shopping cart with the caption “Decapitation in the food court,” which I immediately thought was a badass band name. It represents consumerism, urban decay, violence, and humor in a way that I think perfectly encapsulates our music.

Photo provided by Max Knutson. 

SP: What does the songwriting process look like for the band?

Knutson: I wrote all the lyrics and initial song structures, but a lot of changes were made during practice that created the final versions you hear on the album. Some of the lyrics were from reflections I had written beforehand and others I wrote to the music. Sometimes I just smoked so much that I got scared and wrote a bunch of paragraphs on my phone. I can never usually focus on one topic.

All of the songs focus on the album's themes of aging, transiency, self-doubt, and coping through humor. "Twice Removed" is unique because it's the only song I intentionally wrote as a more story-focused thing. It's also a rewritten version of an earlier song I released with the first iteration of Decap, "Where Broken Chalk Meets the Semi-Slick Sidewalk."

When it comes to the actual music, all the other members of the band wrote their own specific parts for each song after listening to the demos I wrote. I have a very disjointed way of writing music, and my band was indispensable in helping me put together the disparate ideas I had for each song into a cohesive whole. I’m gonna spoil a lot of song titles here, but I want to give a huge shoutout to Ben for coming up with the insane ending for "Dry Socket," Evan S. for his crazy solo on "I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own," Leah for her funky af walking bass on "Mauri’s Famous Cafe," and Evan B. for creating a beautiful new piano part for "Twice Removed."

SP: Do you have a personal favorite Decap song?

Knutson: It’s very close, but I’ll have to say "Dry Socket." I’m super impartial to the last songs on albums; usually they’re my favorite because they’re the saddest.

Evan Sekiguchi: "I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own," just because it goes the hardest and I tried the hardest writing the guitar parts.

Leah Tritabaugh: "I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own."

Evan Blad: "Toyota Prius Passenger," because it was one of our firsts to play all together.

Ben Woodard: "Twice Removed." A modern interpretation of an old classic.

Photo provided by Max Knutson. 

SP: So this album you mentioned, when can we expect that to release?

Knutson: Should be out in two weeks or so. We're shooting for Friday, September 23rd, but will probably be around that weekend.

SP: Is the album all self produced or have you brought in outside help?

Knutson: I had a group chat of people who volunteered to contribute vocal snippets or small fills to add detail to the tracks, but I mostly handled the mixing and arrangement with input from the rest of the band. I’ve been producing experimental hip-hop music under the monom moniker for a while, so I was pretty comfortable doing a lot of the production work myself. I love sampling, and there are lots of samples I added and changes I made in post-production to make the songs even crazier. I’m probably going to create a poster detailing the samples on the album because some of them are so obscure or drowned out that I doubt anyone will ever notice them. 

SP: What do you envision for the band in the next six months?

Knutson: I’m planning to study abroad in Taiwan next semester, so, honestly, we probably won’t be recording much. Hopefully we can play a bunch of shows after PYGMALION. We talked with some bands about possibly recording a split with a new song or two. I plan on recording another album and playing an insane run of final shows senior year.

SP: Any local artists you're enjoying lately?

Knutson: RIP Vertigo Children/Media Light Array. I also have to give a shout out to Boyponder, JIN!WA, bloominous, and the rest of the Hip Hop Collective. I’ve seen almost all their shows because they’re always high energy performers and super friendly.

Blad: Kangaroo Court.

Tritabaugh: Soft and Dumb. They’ve been super cool and supportive of everything we do, plus they just dropped an album too.

Photo provided by Max Knutson.

SP: If you could summarize a Decap show in three words, what would they be?

Knutson: Jerry Seinfeld DMT.

SP: How can we keep up with the band?

Knutson: We’re most active on Instagram @decapitationinthefoodcourt. We’re also on Twitter @Decapitation_IL and TikTok @decapitationinthefoodcrt.

Top photo provided by Max Knutson.