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Cannibal Corpse - Verbisceration Plague

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by optionthree, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. optionthree

    optionthree Better than the first two

    Dec 23, 2008
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    Calgary, AB
    [IMGLEFT][/IMGLEFT]By Neil Hauer

    It’s impossible to conceive of death metal without the pioneering influence of Cannibal Corpse. After trailblazing the niche of brutal death metal over twenty years ago, they’re still going strong on the back of their eleventh studio album, Evisceration Plague. I had the chance to speak with the ever-present Paul Mazurkiewicz to discuss the recent tour, the band’s musical philosophy and everything in between.

    Obvious questions first, how’s the tour been so far?

    It’s been really good, we’re doing really good, can’t complain. Been having great shows, great bands on tour with us and all that, so it’s been very positive, very fun.

    No horrific accidents yet?

    No, luckily not, knock on wood that nothing happens. You hate to have any horror story happen on the road with anybody, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully nothing major occurs like that.

    Two of the bands you guys are touring with right now, Obscura and The Faceless, are fairly new bands. How did you find out about them, and what made you decide to bring them along?

    Well, we’re on top of a lot of what’s happening, for the most part, with new, young up-and-coming bands, and we know the ones that are doing maybe better than others, and we know The Faceless obviously are doing very well, Obscura as well. All three bands, really, Neuraxis too, but when they come out with new records, they got a buzz going, they sell some CDs and they’re on the road, I mean we knew it would be a good package and a good opportunity for some of these bands as well. Really it’s just being privy to what’s out there now and what’s popular for the most part, and what’s going to help the tour and maybe make it a little more diverse - still heavy bands, but maybe a little bit different than our style of music. But yeah, just young bands that are doing well, it’s always good to have them out on the road.

    Yeah, just tapping into different styles there.

    Yeah, it’s always cool to have heavy bands that are a bit different – obviously The Faceless are very technical, but they’re still a heavy band. I think everything mixes well, when you’ve got a good four different kinds of heavy bands, it’s a good package.

    Being completely honest, what are your thoughts on Canada as a place to tour?

    It’s great, man. I mean, we don’t get up here to these places as often, obviously it’s always the usual, with Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, but we’ve been lucky in the last ten years to come to Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, and even more obscure places like Thunder Bay in recent times. They’re great shows, I mean really, this’ll be our third show on this tour in Canada. Vancouver was a thousand people, that was awesome, yesterday in Edmonton, killer, like six hundred fifty people, fans going nuts. I remember when we played here last time, same thing, it was a great show and I’m sure it’ll be the same tonight. We love it up here, man, great fans, great people, great shows, you know, we can’t complain at all.

    Are there any specific cities or venues that you hate playing, places you have to hit but you really don’t like?

    Not really, I mean there might be a couple little venues that are, I can’t even think of any offhand, but it’s always just little stuff, cause in the scheme of things, you know, you really can’t complain about anything, you’re just happy to be here and happy that people are coming to see us and all that. But not really, you know, I guess it just depends on the time of year, I mean, like now, it’s always nicer when the weather’s a little nice and sunny out and you don’t have to deal with rain or whatever. For me that makes it a lot better just being where you’re at at any given moment, but I don’t know, that’s a hard question to answer because we play everywhere, and as long as the fans are there it doesn’t matter. As long as the show’s able to go on, that’s what matters, but of course there are going to be some shows where it’s like, “aw man, they don’t have a proper backstage toilet,” or something like that, that really you don’t think of, but it makes a big difference over the course of a show. It makes it more of a hassle, so if there’s going to be cities and clubs like that, that’s kind of the ones you’re slightly dreading, but obviously, that’s not that big of a deal when it comes down to it, cause it’s just the fans, the show, and that’s the most important part.

    Paul Mazurkiewicz

    There’s been a lot of old-school death metal bands coming back recently, bands like Carcass, Suffocation, Autopsy, all these other founders of the scene. What are your thoughts on that?

    I mean, it’s cool, but at the same time it’s like, “well, why did you leave to begin with,” you know? But that’s cool, everyone’s got things to do, they’ve got families, they’ve got to make a living somehow so it’s understandable. Still, we’ve never left and we’ve just enjoyed doing what we wanted to do for twenty something years, but that’s cool if bands are going to make a comeback or reunite or whatever because the metal scene seems like it’s bigger than it ever has been before. We’re definitely happy for that.

    Going to the new album for a minute, was the recording of it the same old thing, or was there anything you did differently this time around?

    Yep, we used a click track for the very first time writing and recording, and that was the first time that we’ve ever done that in the whole process. I’ve never actually played to a click track as the drummer in the band, but we wrote everything and played to it. So that was really the biggest thing, I think, that’s different this time around. I mean, eleven albums in we’re always trying to strive to do better in different aspects, with guitar sounds or what have you, just all the little things. But yes, the biggest thing is using that metronome, it made a big difference.

    What’s the writing process like for Cannibal Corpse?

    It varies over the years. Early on, it was a lot of collaborative effort, of just the guys getting together, having riffs and putting songs together. Right around The Bleeding, our fourth CD, is when we took a little more personal view of writing. Alex, the bass player, wanted to try writing some songs by himself, and we said, “go for it.” So that kind of became the formula of writing for the most part, with most of the songs being done individually, like Alex will write his songs, Pat writes his songs, Rob writes his songs, they do it mostly at home, and then we get together as a band and really form them and shape them. With technology these days, I mean you can talk to Alex about it, he’s got Pro Tools on his computer, he writes into these programs, gets everything tabbed out guitar-wise, put to MP3 with MIDI sounds, I mean everything’s there, where you didn’t have those tools twenty years ago. So he does a lot of writing like that, which is probably very time efficient, but Pat and Rob are a little more old school, they’ll still write those riffs but we more or less just get together and shape a song. That’s pretty much how it’s done, with a lot of individual effort these days.

    Have you ever had a lyric or an album cover you thought was just a little too gruesome?

    Well, I mean there are subjects that, I don’t know if I’d say they’re too gruesome, but maybe it might be too ridiculous, like we think it might be brutal but then we can see a lot of people thinking that it might be too silly in a sense. Obviously we take our music and our lyrics and all our subject matter seriously, but you have to have a tongue in cheek dark humour perspective in looking at it, because we’re not dictating or promoting any of this kind of stuff. There might have been one or two, maybe not too gory or too horrific but just too over-the-top in the sense that it could be viewed as too silly or something. I can’t really think of any specifics so I’ll just leave it at that.

    With the lyrics, does everyone contribute ideas and concepts, or is there one particularly sick mind that comes up with most of it?

    We’re all writing lyrics these days, ever since we got rid of our original singer. I write lyrics, Alex writes lyrics, we all write lyrics except Pat doesn’t and neither does George, of all people. Everybody’s open to suggestions, if someone’s got subject matter or a title or anything, but me and Alex are more of the brainstorming group, coming up with the titles and writing most of the lyrics. But if anybody’s got any ideas, they’re more than welcome to throw them out there.

    Have you ever thought about experimenting with different kinds of lyrics, maybe something more intelligent or philosophical?

    You can read our lyrics over the years and they might change here and there, like some songs might be not as blunt and brutal as they used to be, but we’re definitely not philosophical, we’re not political, we’re writing horrific fictional horror stories and that’s what they are. Maybe some might be not as blunt and you might have to read between the lines a little more to really see what’s going on, or some of the material might just be a little more tame, but I think that just comes down to the subject matter. Even with the more subtle material, though, we’re still just trying to write a horror story, even if it’s a little more thought provoking and less in-your-face and obvious. We would never get to the point of trying to be philosophical or political, though, trying to tell people what to do or think, we’re not like that at all and we never will be.

    Then you run the risk of alienating people, too.

    Well we’re just not that kind of people, we’re not that kind of a band. I mean some bands, that’s how you start out, you have views you want to express to the world, and we don’t, we’re just death metal kids. Who are we to express anything, who cares what I think about religion or politics or whatever? Nobody should, and we don’t, I mean we do but we don’t want to portray it as, “oh yeah, everybody, we’re preaching, this is what you’re supposed to listen to and believe and…” No, it’s entertainment, we’re music, we’re death metal, like I said we’re writing fictional horror stories to music and that’s all it is. It’s a place to escape and get into a different mindset, a different world, and there you go, you’re leaving reality, because I think that’s what entertainment, for the most part, should be.

    Going back to your beginnings as a band, what made you interested in death metal and extreme metal?

    It was just what we grew up listening to and the kind of music that we were into. We’re all products of growing up in the eighties, so we were really just growing with the whole movement of metal. I remember when I started getting into music in ’78 and ’79, and how heavy is the music out there, really? There is heavy music, but not like today, of course. So I was interested in hard rock and stuff that was considered heavy back then, and then we just kind of grew with it, going from one band to the next, with Black Sabbath and AC/DC and then all of a sudden Metallica comes out, or even before that with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. Metallica took it to another level, they were one of those bands that really made you crave more heavy stuff, and then Slayer comes out and takes it to another level. So we just rode that wave, and we wanted the more extreme, more heavy music that was happening at that time, so when we had our opportunity in the late eighties, we were well in the thick of the whole thrash scene, with Sodom and Kreator and Dark Angel, Slayer. Those were our big influences, and we were just always striving to make it heavier, to be heavier, and I guess that’s how death metal came out of all that, with bands just wanting to take it to another level of extremity, getting more guttural vocals, the riffs are getting crazier, the speeds and tempos are getting a little bit faster or whatever. So it’s just a lot of all those bands in the eighties that really pushed us and influenced us to be who we are today.

    Cannibal Corpse in the early nineties

    Regarding the newer extreme metal bands, what are your opinions or views on the more recent bands on the scene?

    I’m not that much into it, I don’t follow it that often. I mean, it’s good for metal regardless. If extreme music is going to be popular, and there’s some crazy stuff out there, where you hear it and you go, “man, I can’t believe this band is as big as they are.” It’s great musicianship and all that, but maybe songs aren’t fully there, but they’re popular and that’s great, I think that can only really help all metal in all different facets, and it’s going to help us, of course. I think it just goes to show that society might be changing a little bit in the sense that they’re accepting this kind of music a little bit more, and more people are getting into it. That’s the way we look at ourselves, we don’t feel we’ve ever compromised our sound and what we do, maybe we’ve changed a little bit over the years but that’s just bound to happen. We’re still brutal, in-your-face death metal, and for us to release our eleventh CD and have it be our most popular right out of the gate, selling the most units, it’s just awesome, because in our minds we’ve haven’t really done anything differently than we’ve been doing for twenty years, so why all of a sudden this popularity? I think it’s just getting more widespread, which is great, so like I said, maybe personally I wouldn’t be getting into some of these bands or they wouldn’t be my thing, but I understand that it’s going to be great for heavy music, so more power to them.

    A lot of the newer death metal bands are getting more extreme and more brutal all the time. Cannibal Corpse were one of the first brutal death metal bands that helped to develop the sound, so would you ever do anything to your music to move back to the forefront of experimentation?

    Not really, if anything’s going to be experimenting it’s going to be a song like ‘Evisceration Plague.’ It’s a song a little bit different than what we’re normally used to playing, I mean it’s not really that slow but we’re usually more speed-oriented, so if anything for us that’s going to be the experimentation. We do some things in there over the years that try something different here or there, but for the most part it’s really retained that quality of what we started. So I don’t think we would do anything that crazy in terms of experimentation because it’s not us, we just do what we do and there’s going to be subtle differences here and there over the years that you can call experimentation, maybe most people wouldn’t catch it fully because it might be so subtle that we would know but maybe a fan wouldn’t. Really, though, we just do what we do and that’s that, we’re happy with just being ourselves.

    If it’s not broke, why fix it?

    Well that’s the thing, we’ve been doing this for twenty plus years, eleven CDs, we’re here on tour, we just do what we do. If we’re doing something else or really taking it to something it’s not supposed to be, that might not be good, and I think we know that.

    What are some bands you’re listening to currently?

    I listen to a lot of different stuff, we all do. I’ve been listening to this band called Sir Lord Baltimore, actually, for the last few months. They’re a band from Brooklyn that came out with a couple of CDs back in 1970, and they’re an awesome band, I’ve just been loving the heck out of them. I listen to a lot of old school hard rock these days, I love the era of the late sixties/early seventies, just pure rock, no MTV, it was just on that verge of breaking into heavier music. There’s a lot of great music back then, so I’ve been listening to a lot of that. I’ve also been listening to the Presidents of the United States of America, I love that band, they’re one of my favourites.

    A lot of the other band members have side projects, Alex has Blotted Science, George has his Paths of Possession. Do you have anything going on?

    Not right now, I had a project going a few years back when Jack was in the band, we had a project six or seven years ago. We made some home demos in our practice facility, never really produced anything, we played two shows in Tampa and that was it. So it was nice little break, it was fun to do at the time and more of a hard rock project just to break up the monotony. But as of right now, after that I’ve haven’t done anything except Cannibal, we’re so busy and it takes so much time it’s hard to really devote the time to do something else. Especially for myself, I mean I’m married, I have a little daughter, and Cannibal takes up so much time that I just don’t have the time for it. It was fun doing that, though, and you never know what the future could hold, so maybe sometime in the future something else will come up.

    What are your interests besides music?

    Ice hockey, I’ve been playing my whole life and I love it. It’s been a passion of mine ever since I was young, I had two passions, playing ice hockey and playing music. So luckily, I guess I’m living a dream in one sense with the band, but yeah, I started playing when I was five and I’m still playing today, and I think I’ll always play. It’s a great thing, if you can skate and play hockey, it’s a privilege and I love to do it, so I’ll play until I can’t move anymore, I mean why the heck not?

    What’s your favourite Cannibal Corpse album?

    It’s hard to say. I really do like the last two albums a lot, and I think we’ve really come into our own so much, with songwriting and production and all that, and I do like Kill a lot, I do like Evisceration a lot. I love our first album, just cause it’s our first album and it’s very raw and from the heart, I mean not like any of them aren’t, but your first record, there’s nothing like your first album, where you’re just wowed that you’re going into the studio for the first time, you’re recording for the first time, you’re just on such an energetic high from all those firsts. It might not be the best, but it might be the most special to me because it’s our first record, but I do like it a lot. That’s a tough question too, though, before you know it I’ll end up rattling off all the records cause they’re all really good in their own way, but I do love the last two albums and I think those are probably our best.

    Finishing up, what would the band or you personally like to accomplish during the next year?

    As long as we can stay healthy and stay alive and finish tours, that’s pretty much the only thing we can accomplish! (laughs) I mean, we’ve done so much in our career, so as long as we can sustain what we’re doing and do it at a high quality and not feel like we’re going through the motions we’ll be happy. We’ve got a lot on our plate at the moment, a lot of big tours, and this Mayhem festival coming up where we’re opening for Slayer and Marilyn Manson in August, that’s going to be huge for us, we’re totally looking forward to that. So like I said, it’s really just maintaining all this and being able to do this, all the touring we got and stay healthy and stay focused, just keep it going cause it’s hard the older we get to maintain everything. So if we can come out of all this touring alive and feel good, then I think we’ll be all right, but at this point we’ve got to take it day by day since we’ve been around so long, I mean we could be around for another twenty years or it all could end tomorrow, who knows? So we’ll just take it day by day and just make it through all this touring, and if we do I’m sure it’ll be one of our best years that we’ve ever had.

    That’s all I have for you today, so thanks for the interview and good luck at the show tonight!

    Review of the Cannibal Corpse/The Faceless/Neuraxis/Obscura concert
    Official Cannibal Corpse Website
    Official Cannibal Corpse Myspace
    Official Metal Blade Records Myspace

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