Bleeding the spawn - Alex Webster & Rob Barrett speaks out.
Death Metal is at its peak right now with such bands like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Death, Carcass, Deicide and Obituary been the godfathers of Death Metal which is making waves for new breeds of new Death Metal. Cannibal Corpse have a span last more than a decade, the band formed out of the ashes of Leviathan and Tirant Sin & Beyond Death when 3 bands broke up and the remaining members of each of these bands decided to meet up and form what is now known as Cannibal Corpse. Originally from Buffalo (New York) up state (N.Y.) the band jammed, recorded demos and send them out to various labels in search of a record deal. In the end original members Chris Barnes (Now with Six Feet Under), Bob Rusay (guitar), Jack Owen (guitar) Alex Webster (bass) and Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums) were approached by Metal Blade former Slayer label to were the band signed up and their debut album 'Eaten Back To Life' was released in 1990. That was just the beginning to what was to follow in years to come. The band have had there fare shares of line-up changes, with Bob & Jack leaving, and been replaced by former Nevermore guitarist Pat O'Brien and ex Malevolent Creation/ Solstice guitarist Rob Barrett the band are at there finest and still growing stronger with each album. 11 albums later the band have recently released their finest album the gut wrenching album 'Evisceration Plague' in 2009 sees this album has a fucking awesome album in my opinion, certainly the best Death Metal album for 2009. I managed to catch up with the wizards of Gore/ Death metal in Sheffield (UK) in October 2009 when I had the pleasure of interviewing my old mates, almost 10yrs since the last interview to catch up on old times and put some question to Alex and Rob about the new album and what the future holds for them. Here is what both of them had to say to the following questions. The following symbol indicates who is answering the questions (A= Alex, R= Rob)
Well Alex and Rob, it's been fucking ages since we last did a interview but we did meet up I March in London, so I better start by asking you where to fuck have you been for the last 8yrs or so (laughing).
A "Well it's great to meet you again Jason, long time a? Well to answer your question, we have been all over the place. We were here in the UK back in February with Children Of Bodom playing support to them and in April we played the U.S. and Canada in places which were off the beaten track. After which we went to Japan and then we came back to the U.S. to play the big 'Mayhem festival' with Slayer, Marylyn Manson Killswitch Engage, Job For A Cowboy, and a whole bunch of bands which was a great experience. In September we played in New Zealand and Australia on our own with local acts supporting us throughout those 2 countries and now we are back here in the UK with Bloodshed and Annotations of a Autopsy, Dying Fetus. In Europe we had Obscure and Evocation, both of which are great bands."
So how will you be playing your set for on this UK tour? There's a few bands playing tonight, so I guess your setlist will be short?
A "Well we are playing 18 songs tonight, that's about 1 hour and 15 minutes which is a pretty decent set and it is hard to pick a bunch of songs when you have so many albums released. People want to see us playing a lot of songs, but on the other hand people want to see a show with a good flow to it and you really don't want to be tired at the end of a show and we want the energy levels to be still high. After playing with 3 killer bands it's best to go a little bit briefer that longer.
R "Right at the end of the set it seems like the fans were waiting for the last 3 songs to finish."
You mentioned Japan, what sort of reaction do you get out there with the Japanese fans? How do they react to your music?
A "Well it's killer!! The big thing that everybody notices with Japan is the audience goes crazy in the songs but then between songs there pretty reserved and there is not a whole lot of yelling and the crowd is pretty quiet. They will scream and yell right after the song is over.
R "They are the most polite fans towards you and when they see you walking around they don't want to bother you and when they do they will always say please and thank you. The crowd attendance depends on which city you are playing at that time. I think we were averaging about 500. We have only been to Japan twice and that was because we had a lot of trouble getting over there, this was not down to censorship reasons, just difficulty getting a promoter to bring the band out there."
Is that because of the style of music you are playing promoters in Japan don't want to take the chance or risk?
A "I really don't know why? We had been self managed up until last year 2008 & once we got management in there they were able to put us up there with a good booking agent who had some good connections in Japan. I think that was part of the reason, we went there in 1996 and this year. We do get slam diving and mosh pits in Japan. it all depends on if you really get the crowd going, they will follow suit with you to whatever you are doing at that time."
You guys have been around now for some time, Rob you have been in and out of Malevolent Creation, so are you still friends with them? I also heard your old band Solstice are doing a new album, will you be involved with that in some way? Also Alex are you still friends with Jack, Chris and Bob?
R "Yeah I' still friends with Malevolent Creation guys, I saw Phil and the boys on the first 2 shows on this tour on 2 German festivals 'The Way Of Darkness' and 'Death Feast Ultimate' which was great to seem them again. We have always stayed friends and there has never been any bad blood between us. As for Solstice, they have just recorded a new album but they don't have a label yet, there searching for a deal right now and I told them I would tribute something but never rejoin the band."
A "Yeah were still friends with Jack, we see him a lot still and as for Chris we seem him from time to time on tour. Bob I haven't seen in years, I'm not sure what he is doing now."
Alex I heard your doing a side project, could you tell me a little bit about this please.
A "Yeah I am doing a project, it's called 'Blotted Science' which features Ron from Watchtower, who got in touch with me and asked me if I would like to do a project with him. The music is very complicated which took us a long time to get it all together. Ron did most of the work, and he is the creating force of the band who carries the whole work load with producing and recording. So I felt privileged to work with Ron, and any one who plays with Ron in a band will know how much of a great musician he is. I think Ron wanted to do something in a more extreme form of Metal & that is why he approached me because of my extreme musical tastes. (ED: I still think you are the Steve Harris of Death Metal). Well thanks Jason, I appreciate that comment. You couldn't ask for a higher praise man, and I have worked with some great guitar players like Eric from Hate Eternal, the Cannibal guys and now Ron who just takes me to the extreme."
Looking back at the old Cannibal album, is there any that you particularly like and why? Any that you think could of been better?
A "Well I would say that it's a tough question to answer, there are albums that I like for 1 reason or another. I guess there could of been something with each album that could of been better. I do like 'Gallery Of Suicide', because there is a wide variety of music on there and there are songs on that album that are very dark and Jack wrote the songs with Pat and myself. For some reason that album is a little more gloomy than the rest, and I like dark sounding music. For me Death Metal should be dark and or aggressive and when it's dark and aggressive at the same time that is when it's at its best. Gallery is certainly 1 album that will always stick in my mind. The song that stand out for me on that record is 'From Skin To Liquid', because it is a slow song with no lyrics at all & it is really heavy. That is a song were we could show that we can write heavy songs without lyrics and for writing songs which are of the speed thing or gore & this songs has either of them but it is still effective. I don't have a least favourite. I think that the album 'Gore Obsessed' was ok but I think that Jacks writing and Pats and myself was starting to diverge to a point were to album became a little more less consistent. With Rob back in the band and my style of writing & Pats all seems to jell well a little bit better."
R "That is a tough question, because there are pros and cons to each one of the records. I think the album 'Vile' I could of played a little better on that record, I feel that I didn't do my best of that record with my performance. It's s till a great album and it came out great!! My favourite one is the new one, I am not just saying that because it is the new one, I think the writing combination of Pat, Alex and myself it just jells well together."
Is that why Jack left the band?
A "Well Jack is a quiet person anyway, and it wasn't like he was super close to us and it is hard to explain unless you know Jack. He is a great person, but he just got further and further away from us all to were we would be on tour with him and we would barely talk to him and it wasn't as if there was any bad blood between us all, we never saw him around he was always doing his own thing."
I love the new record guys, it's the best Death Metal of 2009, killer songs which are not all speed, some kick ass chuggy riffs on this album.
R "Thanx Jase, it's like when you have been playing fast for years you have to get to the point were you have to think were can we go from here? You need to try a different approach and try new ideas and now we are dabbling into different time signatures and Alex songs have a lot of off time riffs and but it still has a steady flow which is catchy and at the same time still technical. It can be very difficult to play. (ED: there are people who say Death Metal is shit and a wall of noise, but try playing it!) Yeah that is the true test.
Lets talk about the new album 'Evisceration Plague', who came up with the title for the album?
A "Well I came up with the title for the album. It's like some of these things were just coming up at the practice room with the music and the lyrics and it is a combined thing with the music and the lyrics that is a very clear cut to who did what. Most of it goes on at home and when the songs great flowing you introduce it to the rest of the band. We end up playing it to the rest of the band the ideas we have and pretty much take it from there. With the title of the songs and the album title comes from us throwing words and titles around the studio back and forth to each other. One guy in the bad might come up with the 'Evisceration sickness' & somebody else might say 'Evisceration Plague' which is better."
So how long did it take to write this album?
A "Well we started in January/ February of 2008 and we were finished by August 2008 and we went into the studio by September/ October to record it and it was all done by about a year ago today - 30th October."
You have worked with a few producers in the past like Scott Burns, Colin Richardson and now Erik Rutan, do you think Erik is the best producer you have worked with so far? Does he bring out the beast in Cannibal Corpse?
A "Erik is great, I think best is very subjective and Erik is definitely amazing and has definitely made some of our best records or the best 2 records we have done, which is 'Kill' and the new one. Scott Burns, Jim Morris and Colin Richardson and Neil Kernon are all amazing producers in their own right. There all different people with their own ideas."
R "There all good, and it's up to the individual who thinks they are the best. I think it is good to change every time to time but we haven't decided if we will sue Erik again for the next album and if we didn't that wouldn't be because we didn't think he did a good job, because we thought he did an amazing job on the last 2 albums, it would be because we would like somebody different for variety sake to try and shake things up a bit."
What did you think about working with Neil as a producer considering he has worked with the likes of Dokken and Queensryche? Did you ever think he could bring out the best in your music?
A "Well he did work with a lot of bands in the 80's like Dokken and Queensryche which is defiantly a good thing and when we looked at that I thought that's ok, he has made these huge sounding records and I thought he could make our music sound big because a lot of death metal bands always had a compressed sound. The producers would get so focused on the definition that they would loose the overall bigness. (Ed: Was that the same thing that happened with Scott Burns, as he was always criticized by a lot of fans for his work sounding the same). Maybe be, I'm not an expert at that, so I don't want to criticize and I don't think it was Scott, I think it was the overall style which was starting to get a bit saturated. It's like the open hard rock thing, death metal is extreme music and that is why I like 'Gallery Of Suicide' because up until that point we didn't have any slow material. On that album we had some big songs that Jim Morris would sink his teeth into, with Skin To Liquid' we used room mic's in addition to the close mic's for the drums to give it that bigger sound . Neil brought a decade of experience into our music and it was great to work with him. We have been lucky to work with amazing producers so far."
On the 'Evisceration Plague' album which songs stand out for you and why?
A "Well one of my favourite songs that we don't play live is 'Skewered from Ear to Eye', because the bass seems louder on it and which I appreciate. Pat also did some killer solos on that song. (Ed: Why don't you play that song live?) Well I really don't know? I guess we have too many other songs to play and it's kind of a tough one and we tend to go for the songs that we can snap our necks too on stage (laughing). People are not coming to see a king Crimson gig there coming to see a Cannibal Corpse show with us banging our fucking necks so we need to play our songs and put on a good performance. There are no songs on the new album I don't like."
R "I like the title song of the new album, it's a big catchy song on the album but my favourite on the album is 'Scalding Hail', just because it's quick, not even a 3 minute song and straight in your face, that's the kind of songs I like. (Ed: Rob did you play many guitar solos on the new album?). Well I did about 3 solos on the records, and Pat is the better guitar player on the record, I am just lucky to keep up with these guys (laughing). it is also good to switch off leads here and there and twin solos and we do that with the song 'Shatter Their Bones' and I guess it helps for variety."
I have noticed that the last 2 albums have dark album covers why is that?
A "Well we like the dark stuff, it certainly doesn't hurt as far as getting it into the record stores. We just that dark feeling anyway and 1 of my favourite album covers we have done is the censored one for 'Gallery of Suicide'. I just think it looks really cool and as it has the darkness, and it looks creepy and we were not looking for a violent look this time around. We know that people love the really graphic stuff we tried to put something on the inside of the covers. In the U.S. we get a couple of different record stores that are left and the rest of gone. Between Down loading CD's it pretty much out record stores out of business so the few record stores that are left you really want to try and get your CD into the stores so that people can hear your music. For 'The Wretched Spawn' CD they would make a censored version which would get into all the stores which was kind of annoying because it would be like taking a little piece of the album cover and and blow it up and make that into the censored cover and nobody really wants to buy it. They did that with 'Vile' too, were they took the skull and which had to lyrics and no good artwork so we figured out maybe we should do a darker cover and put the graphic artwork inside the CD booklet which metal Blade suggested. We love the gore stuff but we also like the dark horror."
Do you get your inspirations for lyrics form horror films?
A "Well in parts yes, it's not entirely that, but we defiantly don't copy any horror films direct but we watch enough horror films to be inspired by some of our lyrics."
Do you still get a lot of problems with censorship like you did in the early 90's?
A "Yeah we do, it's kind of just like a cross we have to bare. We get a lot of problems just because we are bigger now but there are a lot of band which are far more gory than we are and have graphic details on the CD covers & in their lyrics. Vince Lock does our art work and he is a comic artist."
Will you be doing a promo video for the new album if so which song?
A "Well we actually already have done one for the song 'Evisceration Plague', which you can see it on 'you tube', which contains a barn with zombies in it and and there is a guy running from the zombies and we are also jamming in the barn and making that video was actually colder than fuck!! That is something we will always remember about making that video and it was 25 degrees that day."
R "The performance shots were actually taken on a different day to the band shots."
So you have just released this year a comic to co-inside with the new album, please tell me more about this. Do you also think you will do another comic for the next album?
A "Well the concept for the comic was done by Vince, we gave him the lyrics and that was pretty much it. Paul is the 1 who is in contact with him and he did a great job. I would live it if Vince would do another comic for the next album, he is amazing at doing the album covers, but he shines more with comics because that is what he does best, it's his roots.
How well has the new album been doing with reviews from the press?
A "Overall it's been pretty good, there will always be somebody who doesn't like it or likes 1 of our previous albums better, and the overall reviews have been overwhelming."
So far you have released 3 DVD's to date, the last one must of took some time to prepare with live shows, interviews the past and present members, please tell me how that came about? Do you also think there would be another DVD in the very near future?
A "Well that was Denise working her ass off, she is a super hard worker and I had no idea that she was going to dedicate that much time to the DVD and our band. We were her subjects but the movie belongs to her. If we did another 1 we would need a lot of time to prepare for it as this one pretty much covers everything, so it will be a while before we release the next one. As for making a new DVD in the future, that's a tough question, we would have to make sure that we do not do the same as we did with the last 1, we don't want to make the same DVD all over again. What we might do is, do a behind the scenes from the 'Evisceration Plague' tour and to be honest we should really be filming stuff backstage and planning ahead and film what we are doing, but no of us never want to do that stuff."
In the past you were featured in the 'Ace Ventura' film, have you ever been approached to appear in any other films like either Saw or Hostel, they would be ideal films for your music.
A "Well we have never been approached be anything serious, but we have had a couple of guys who have had ideas for us to do a movie with us in it, but they have no money or any backing or production company but just the idea. So it has not gone beyond any ideas really. We would love to be in some other movies and do some crazy shit!!"
Moving on, I heard there is a band called 'Cannabis Corpse', tell me who is in this band and what is your opinion on them?
A "Well it's Phil from Municipal Waste, which is their own music but they are copying our name and they take our song titles and change them from been violent or death and there about cannabis. The song title will make you laugh but the music is pretty killer stuff. There a great band in their own right but they only difference is the name of the band. (ED: Would you take them on tour with you in given the chance?). Well maybe we would, I think it would be a weird poster with the 2 names been similar. I can't see why we can't go on tour together, there's a possibility to be honest. Some of the titles of the songs are 'The Weeding' and we have 'The Bleeding', and their singer is called 'Weed grinder' as we have 'Corpse Grinder' (laughing).
Is there any tribute CD's to Cannibal Corpse? If so have you heard any of them?
A "I think somebody was going to do one, I heard some bands had done some songs for it and I think it was going to come out on Dwell records, a company from L.A. but they went under, bust!!"
Well guys I'd like to thank you for the interview, lets not leave it too long in future haha!! DO you have anything to say to your fans reading this?
A "Yes I do, just thank you very much for your support, and we hope to see everybody on tour soon."
R "Yeah, thanx a lot to our fans, and thanx for the interview Jase, stay in touch brother!!"
Thank's to Metal Blade for setting up the interview.
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