Another Lesson in Violence... Alex Webster Speaks Out.
Death Metal Demi-Gods 'Cannibal Corpse' recently released their new stunning album 'Violence Unimagined' through long time label Metal Blade. Cannibal Corpse have certainly come along way since they formed back in 1988 from upstate (Buffalo) New York where it all began.
The band released their debut album 'Eaten back to Life' back in 1990 when the world was shocked by there horror and bloodthirsty lyrics, which was pretty new back then. This Death Metal cult band have released 14 previous albums to date and seem to be going from strength to strength. The band however have always stayed true to their roots never selling out and why should they?
The band introduced new guitarist Erik Rutan, formerly with Morbid Angel, Rotting Corpse, and other acts to the band in 2019 as a touring guitarist but soon joined the band for this new album. Erik is also their producer so he knows their sound. I managed to chat with long time friend Alex Webster, the Steve Harris of Death Metal about the new album and much more. In the meantime check out their new album, it's a masterpiece that's for sure."
Hi Alex great to speak to you again god it's been so long since we last met, that was 2009 in Sheffield so shall we write a book? (laughing) We have so much to talk about but I know we only have a 30 minute slot for this interview. So I am going to start by asking you the following questions. So my 1st question is how have you been coping with the Lockdown and Covid?
"Yeah Jason great speak to you, damn it's been a long time since we last chatted. It's great to see you still doing Friday 13th, damn that's been around for ever!! Well done. Well band wise things are good, I moved to Oregon with my wife 6 years ago for personal reasons, and the guys are still in Tampa Florida. I have not see the guys in the band since last March 2020 and that was when i went down there to do some pre-production for the new album. We learnt the song and taught each other the songs we had written in preparation for the album between April May and June.
By the time I was going home from that it had all become clear that I was not going back any time soon, so that is when the pandemic really start too get really serious here in the U.S. and so I started to record my bass track in my home studio for the 'Violence Unimagined' album and with today's technology I could revamp the sound as if we where all in the same room even if you are recording in various studios, so it wasn't a big problem in the fact that I could record at home.
ideally I would of loved to of been in the studio with the guys but sadly it wasn't meant to be this time around. It's a lot easier been in the same room so we all know what we are doing and how things turn out. We talked a lot of the phone and, emailed and text each other during lockdown to keep the communication going and I am very happy with the end result. On a personal note my wife and I do a lot of stuff outdoors so the only big issue is that we don't go to concerts anymore because there are none and for safely reasons, I think certain states over here are doing the odd show but nothing big whatsoever."
Have you had your vaccine yet?
"No not yet, my age group will start to get there soon, I am in my 50's with no underlining health conditions and I really do want to get it!! I want to have it done for a number of reason, 1st because I think the more people have the vaccine the more chance of us getting through this and and secondly I want to be able to travel and seen in a long time. And the last reason is so I can tour with the band on a world wide basis."
Ok Alex, I'm really glad that things are going great for you both health and band wise. I'd like to now ask you that is your favourite past album with Cannibal Corpse and why?
"Wow that's a tough question to answer, I think at the time we recorded them they were the best we could of done at that time and all 15 albums that we have record prep resent so much hard work we have put into each and every album at that time. Every band member that was in the band at time time of the recording of that album worked really hard. For me to record an album is the hardest thing you can do, because it is a challenge because everything is under the microscope and it has be be perfect. When you play a live show it is so much easier and you can get away with the odd part out of time or key and you can relax more, and nobody really cares and it's all crazy live fun.
In the studio it has to be precise and so we will go over certain parts again and again until there perfect. This album has a certain time period in length, but we spent 2 months on it. So all the albums have been like that since we started recording, we have to be precise in the studio and we can relax when playing live.
Our 1st album 'Eaten Back to Life' only took a week and a half to record and as budgets get bigger you have more time to record so we you spend more putting stuff under the microscope. Getting back to your question, I can't single handed tell you which is my favourite album, and I have said this in numerous interviews, I think that the best album is yet to come in the future and we keep open the possibility that we are going to try with each album we record to make it better than the last. The next album could be our masterpiece, who knows?"
OK Alex can you tell which album you think is your cult classic album?
"To me I think our cult classic album is the one that didn't sell the most and that would be 'Blood Thirst', it was the one album that was produced by Colin Richardson and I think he did an amazing job for sure, and for some reason it's the most popular album we have done. I do think it is one of our best through, I would have to look at sales figures, I just remember it not been some overwhelming success, we have had a very steady career and it's not one of our bigger selling albums like 'The Bleeding' or 'Kill' which was a very successful album in sales and tours. I feel that 'Blood Thirst' gets over looked and if any fans are not familiar with all our albums I suggest you check out that album, it's a great album."
Originally you guys were from Buffalo 'New York' but moved to Florida 'Tampa', why did you move? Was it the climate change?
"Yes we moved partly for the climate change, in Buffalo it is cold as we where near to Canada and most people would go from the north to Florida for vocations, so I guess it's like moving to Spain. The real reason was that we got to know Tampa and going to 'Morrisound Studios' to record our albums also seemed like the perfect choice and idea. Our 1st apartments were like a mile away from the studio, so we got to know that area well and part of it was that we were young and we wanted to try something different. We love Buffalo and we are Buffalo band and Tampa for our 2nd home has so many great friends there and we have the same in Buffalo, and so we also call 'Tampa' home, and both cities have great Death Metal scenes. For our 25th anniversary we made a shirt that had Buffalo on the top and Tampa on the bottom of the shirt, we wanted to pay homage to both cities."
Before we talk about the new album, I have noticed, correct me if I am wrong, but the Tampa scene seems to of died out a little very few bands still around, do you agree?
"Well I think a lot of things are quiet right now due to covid, we did tour with Morbid Angel in 2019 & Obituary are still together and they have been doing live streams. I am not sure what Deicide are up too right now, and the bands that are active are still active but I have lived in Oregon now for the last 6yrs now so I don't go to any local Tampa shows now and the only time I go down there is when we are playing them."
Have you heard that Glenn Benton has become a catholic and going to church?
"No I haven't heard that (Ed: I am joking - both laughing) I have been gone a while but I haven't heard that story."
Your last album 'Blood before Black' you released it with a bonus CD of some awesome cover tunes, please tell me more about those covers, I love the Sacrifice cover pleas tell me more about the bonus covers.
"Well the covers are stuff that we had recorded previously for bonus tracks and sometimes you need a bonus track for Japan, the Sacrifice song was recorded way back and I think it was record at 'Morrisound' about the turn of the millennium. So all those covers were recorded before 'Blood before Black' album and I think Metal Blade just did it for a bonus CD, took all the covers and put them together. We are very proud of those covers and they show a handful of bands that we really like (Ed: Awesome covers) Well thanks Jason, they were band that we grew up on and respected, Metallica, Accept, Kreator, Razor, Possessed, Voi-Vod, The Accused.
In fact that we are really into Sacrifice and Razor's music maybe the fact that we were close to Toronto (Canada) when we lived in Buffalo, the Canadian influences might of rubbed off on us a little.
I had heard both of those bands on the radio from underground radio stations when I lived in Buffalo and we could pick up radio station from Toronto and we saw Sacrifice play live near us back in the day (Ed: I wish I had), and I saw Razor on their 'Custom Killing' tour and that was awesome, way back in the 80's. On the other hand, Kreator from Germany was the 1st band I saw live were kids were slam dance in 87 and they were opening up for Voi-Vod, what a great show.
Voi-Vod are a great band and there songs are not easy to play, it was a challenge recording one of their songs that's for sure. (Ed: Have Metallica heard your version of 'No Remose'?) I think they might of heard it I would have to ask Brian from Metal Blade as he is really good friends with them. We tried to stay true to the original, but we do detune our guitars and George's vocals certainly don't sound like James (laughing)."
OK let's now talk about your new stunning album 'Violence Unimagined', why the title and did you have any other titles for this album?
"Well Paul our drummer came up with the title and I can't tell you what he was thinking about when the title came up, I do however like the title and it's kind of fun and it is our 15th album and the 14 previous albums are covering violence in one shape or form, and horrify subjects so to name our new album after a back catalogue of albums to violence in them seemed the perfect choice. To me it makes me think is there something new? Or something that we didn't cover on our last album?
I think it's a cool title and it's open to new interpretation and it just sums up the band, with the lyrics we had done so far. It's all unimaginable stuff we have done and it's pretty obscure stuff we have done. Songs like 'Severed Head Stoning' off the album 'The Wrenched Spawn' that has a very unusual scenario, this new album is our 15th album and we have already imagined a lot of violence for our lyrics and here are another bunch with different things. I don't think we had any other titles for this new album that I can recall."
Your artwork has been done by Vince Locke who has been working with you for some years now, I know he does comics as well. tell me more about your relationship with Vince and the band?
"Well we have been working with Vince since the very beginning and we had learnt about him through his comic 'Dead World' which is a comic about zombies taking over the world way back in the late 80's and zombie movies had been around for many years now and to have a comic novel and having Vince doing the 'Dead World' was pretty out of its time in my opinion. His artwork we had really liked from the comic so Chris Barnes our old singer got in touch with him when we did the 'Eaten back to Life' debut album, it worked out so great that we had used him ever since on each album.
He has also done some comics for the band, like 'Unleash the blood Thirst' he did a comic for that song the 'Killing Spree box set' & , he also did a comic for the 'Evisceration Plague'.
He has also did for the new album, individual piece of art for each song inside the booklet and outside of the album. It looks great so when you see the proper booklet you will know what I mean. The cover was just an idea that he came up with and we will give him a song title and we will work on the artwork based on the title or maybe some lyrics and he will just come up with something based on that we send him. I think this time around it was just based on the title of the album.
He came u with a few ideas and the one we went with was the really gory one with the monstrous mother eaten her baby and we knew it would have some censorship problems so we had to make an alterative cover and we have been doing that since the 'Tomb of the Mutilated' album back in 1992. I am not sure what the booklet will be in Europe, we have enough difficult problems with censorship in Germany and I think they will release the less gory cover, I am not 100% sure on that. I have seen one booklet were it does not have the lyrics and it does not have the really gory cover."
So the new album was recorded at 'Mana Studio's in St Petersburg (Florida) with new guitarist Erik Rutan, is this the 1st time you had recorded their?
"No like I said earlier when I had record my bass at home and the rest of the band had record at 'Mana' and we had done 4 albums there previously with Erik, one we had split between 2 studios and we had started the album in Texas for the album 'Bloodthirst' and the other half of the album like the vocals, guitar tracks where done at 'Mana Studios' . We had been in there at least 5 times and working with Erik every time, it's Erik's studio and I wasn't there this time unfortunately and out of the last 6 albums we did 5 of them there. The other album 'A Skeleton Domain' was recorded by Mark Lewis at 'Audiohammer Studios' in Sanford - Florida."
Are you happy with the way the new album has turned considering the circumstances?
"Yes I a really happy with the way it has turned out, I think out of the 5 albums we have done at 'Mana' it has got the best rhythm guitar sound in my opinion, the guitars solos are important but the basis on the album is the rhythm guitar sound. (Ed: Having Erik in the band is a added bonus as he knows your sound and he also knows how to bring out the best in your music) Yes I agree, he sound indeed."
Do you have any favourite songs from the new album?
"I think 'Follow the Blood' is one of my favourites just because Rob Barrett wrote that song and it sound really cool, it still sounds like us 100% but it doesn't sound like anything we had done, a lot of songs we do there are a lot of song we so that sound similar and you can still hear some musical things that are signature Cannibal Corpse. That song has less of that but it sounds like he has added different things without it sounding out of character.
I am very proud of the whole album that's for sure, I think all 11 songs have turned out really well. Each song has their own identity and I think it is an interesting listening experience for the listener, they will be able to sit down and listen too a album that has its ups and downs in terms of temp and feel of the record and some of them are darker sounding and some are more aggressive. I hope it is something that the fans will enjoy"
When it is time to play live do you think it is time for the band to record yet another live DVD?
"I would have to say probably not, we did some stuff like that a few years ago we will do live recording but we are not big fans of it. We just want to get up there and jam and and when you are doing a live recording it is hard to shut it off in your head that you are recording.
You have in on your mind whilst you are playing and you have to nail it, I like doing studio albums it's a lot of work but its a couple of months of hard work but enjoyable.
When you are been recorded that is when you make mistakes. The best recording are the ones that you don't know about like Bloodstock or Summer freeze, they just record you and you don't know abut until after the show. We have used some of those shows for DVD's in the past."
Do you think the band will be touring in 2022?
"We are trying to tour in February 2022 if all goes well and I know some bands are curious to see if they will get going by then, maybe as early as October 2021 but things are so uncertain right now, I am sure everybody in the whole world feels this way. We are optimistic to see if we will be touring soon."
Well Alex I want to thank you for doing this interview was a pleasure speaking to a dear old friend, be safe and I hope to see you when you tour again. Do you have anything to say too the fans reading this?
"Yes thank you Jason, it's been a blast chatting it's been so long. Take care my friend and be safe. To the fans, thank you for your support we hope you like our new album, be safe too. We will see you I hope live in 2022.
Thanks to Mr.T @ Metal Blade (UK) and Alex Webster for the interview.