Back in February, Canadian trad-metal trio Cauldron were on tour with Enforcer, Exmortus and Warbringer when their van flipped several times on a Texas highway in the middle of the night. After blowing three tires, nearly crossing the median and finally landing upside down, vocalist / bassist Jason Decay, drummer Myles Deck and tour manager Henry Yuan somehow emerged more or less unscathed. Guitarist Ian Chains was tossed from the vehicle, landed several yards away and suffered multiple severe injuries — including three fractured vertebrae in his neck and spine, a broken sternum and a broken hip.

While contemplating Cauldron’s future and waiting for Chains to recover, Decay took up a plumbing apprenticeship in the band’s hometown of Toronto. “I’m doing industrial stuff — all the water and sewage plants,” he explains. “The smell isn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be. You get some shit on you once in a while, but it’s usually been treated a little bit. Just try not to get it in your mouth or eyes or up your nose and you should be fine.”

Decay has no worries about time off for touring because his boss is Ken Neilson, a.k.a. “Sir Shred” from Toronto metal maniacs Axxion, whom Decay recently joined on bass. (Axxion appeared at the Frost and Fire Festival in Ventura, Calif., last weekend.) At the end of the month, Cauldron will hit the road with NWOBHM stars Satan for their first shows in the States since the accident. In his first major interview since that fateful night in Texas, Decay shares all the terrifying details of the crash, and talks about the band’s new 7", which you can check out below.

The last time I saw you, Cauldron were in Hollywood playing at the Whiskey with Enforcer. The accident wasn’t long after that.
I’m gonna say it was a week and a half or two weeks later, because after L.A., we went up to Vegas, and then over to Salt Lake and Denver and all that stuff before we came down to Texas.

How did the crash happen?
It was around 1:30 in the morning. We were going from the venue in Dallas to the hotel. I just woke up in my seat and someone was asking me if I was okay. I was like, “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” [Laughs] I thought we were in a 7-Eleven parking lot with the windows rolled down. But then they were like, “You were just in a serious van wreck!” I didn’t even realize I was upside down. Then they took my seat belt off and tried to drag me through the broken window. It wasn’t until they actually pulled me out of the van and I got up and walked around that I realized what happened. It was totally surreal. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was dreaming.

Were you driving?
No, I was behind the driver’s seat. Henry was driving. Myles was in the passenger seat, and me and Ian were sleeping in the back. A couple of days later. it came back to me that I actually remembered the initial bang of the tires blowing out and the van skidding sideways across the highway and me waking up and yelling, “What the fuck?!” But I don’t remember anything after that until minutes later.

Were you knocked unconscious?
No. I didn’t have any trauma; no wounds to the head. Just some minor cuts and bruises for me, Myles and Henry. But even Henry wasn’t sure what happened because it all happened so quick. The tires just suddenly blew out and the van started skidding sideways. When it hit the median, it rolled probably at least five times. I don’t think any of us remember that, except maybe Myles has a little bit of memory of it. Ian was tossed right out of the van. He got thrown pretty far — 20 or 30 feet from where the van landed.

Courtesy of Cauldron

From what I’ve heard, Ian’s injuries were pretty bad.
Yeah, I think he cracked a vertebrae in his neck and two in his back. And he broke his sternum and his hipbone — not to mention quite a few deep cuts. They had to staple parts of his scalp back together. He was in the hospital in Dallas for about a week before he was able to get out.

Holy shit. Is he facing massive medical bills?
No, we had insurance for that. We bought traveler’s medical insurance. We’d be fucked if we didn’t get it. In fact, me and Myles had it, and Ian forgot to get his before we left for the tour. We were driving from Toronto, about to cross into the States, and we asked Ian if he got his insurance. He was like, “Oh, no, I didn’t!” So, he called his girlfriend while we were in the van and she got it for him before we crossed into the country. So, that saved us about … I don’t know what a week in a Dallas hospital and a custom back brace costs, but there you go.

I’m thinking $100,000 at least. How much was the traveler’s insurance?
It depends how long you get it for, but I’m thinking it was like $100 each for however long we were gone. The insurance company actually gave him a bit of a runaround when he submitted his claim. They were like, “You’re supposed to notify us before you seek any medical treatment.” [Laughs] He was like, “How am I supposed to call you guys and let you know I’m going to the hospital when I’m unconscious?” We had to get some doctors to sign off on the state he was in [when he was admitted], but they ended up paying the bill.

How is Ian now?
He’s okay. He’s still in a bit of pain. He can’t do any heavy lifting. He can’t really bang his head or rock out the way he used to, but he can still play guitar just fine.

Do the doctors expect that the pain will go away at some point?
I think so. He has days where he’s fine and other days where he’s feeling a bit of a setback. But they said it would take at least six to eight months to start feeling better. So, he’s feeling better; just not every day. And he’s still gotta take it easy. But we didn’t know what to expect at first. When he first went to the hospital, we were thinking it wasn’t that bad. Then we went to see him the next day and it was way worse than we thought. But it could’ve been even worse than that, you know?

Did you ever hear a definitive version of what happened?
Yeah. It’s all been sorted out. What happened was, there’s lots of abandoned cars on the shoulder of the highway in Texas. You’d never get away with that here in Canada — your car would be towed instantly. I guess it’s not like that in Texas. So, someone was driving down the shoulder and slammed into an abandoned car. That was accident number one. That shot debris out into the highway, which we hit when we came along, which blew out three of our tires. That sent us sliding off the highway, and we rolled right across the median. We were almost on the other side of the highway.

Jesus. You guys were lucky you didn’t get hit by another vehicle after you landed — or that Ian didn’t get run over.
Super lucky. The EMS on the scene told us that they don’t usually see an accident that bad where there’s no casualties.

You guys just played your first batch of shows since the accident.
Yeah, we’ve played six shows so far. We went out to Eastern Canada in July and did four shows on our own; then we did two more with Tribulation a couple weeks ago.

How long was it between the accident and your first practice?
Oh, at least three months. It wasn’t easy, but I think we had to at least try and do something to lift Ian’s spirits. You can’t just lie in bed all day and not work and have no purpose. When we had our first couple practices, he couldn’t support the guitar, so we had to sit him down and get his V propped up on something for him. As hard as it was for him to go down to practice and play guitar, I think he also needed to do that. He needed to know that he could still do it.

Tell us about the new seven-inch you’ve got coming out. Both songs are covers, right?
Yeah, we did “Take This Torch” by Razor and “Die Hard” by Venom. We recorded them both when we did [Cauldron’s most recent album] In Ruin. We had a little bit of studio time left at the end of one day, so we said, “What are the two easiest covers we know?” So, we just bashed them out, two takes each, and picked the best ones. They’re pretty much live off the floor, even the guitar solos. And then we overdubbed the vocals in one take. They’ve got a little more of a punk rock attitude than the album.

There’s a picture of Ian on the cover, too.
Yeah. We originally wanted to do a play on the cover of Razor’s Executioner’s Song, which is a pretty poorly drawn picture of this executioner guy holding an axe-shaped guitar over his shoulder. We wanted to recreate that as a photograph with Ian as the executioner, but by the time we needed the artwork, he wasn’t in any shape to hold the guitar up over his shoulder. We talked about hanging it from the ceiling with fishing wire, but we ended up just going with the T-shirt design from the Ian benefit show we put together here in Toronto.

You’re about to go on tour with Satan, which will be Cauldron’s first time back in the States since the accident. Does that give the tour any additional significance for you guys?
No, but it’s gonna be a fun tour. We’re excited for it because it’s with Satan and it’s short and sweet and prime markets. We kinda said after the last tour — not that being exhausted had anything to do with the accident, but at our age, we don’t need to be doing six-week tours in the middle of winter, with overnight drives and terrible routing. We’re all in our mid-30s, you know? Let’s do quality shows now over quantity — two-week tours tops.

What’s next for Cauldron? Are you going to lay low after the Satan tour so Ian can fully recover?
Nah, we’re gonna keep going hard. [Laughs] I think we’re going to Mexico in December, and we definitely have European plans for May or June. We also have enough ideas for a new record, so we’re thinking maybe after the Mexico tour we’ll start demoing the new record in the winter and start recording in late winter or early spring, before we go to Europe. That’s our tentative plan.

21/10 New York NY, The Marlin Room at Webster Hall – with Sanhedrin
22/10 Philadelphia PA, Boot & Saddle
23/10 Richmond VA, The Broadberry – with BAT and Humungus
24/10 Atlanta GA, 529 – with Sadistic Ritual and Cloak
25/10 Louisville KY, The New Vintage – with Savage Master
26/10 Chicago IL, Reggies Rock Club – with Satan’s Hallow and Beast Warrior
27/10 Detroit MI, Small’s – with Destructor and Coven 13
28/10 Toronto ON, Coalition: T.O
29/10 Montreal QC, Coop Katacombes
30/10 Providence RI, AS220 – with Magic Circle