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Six Feet Under - Forging a Path to the Grave

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by Opeth17, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Opeth17

    Opeth17 Bill Ward's Red Pants

    Oct 21, 2003
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    The Southland
    [IMGLEFT][/IMGLEFT]By Josh Phillips

    A veteran of the underground scene, Chris Barnes has waved the flag of death metal for over 15 years now. First with the legendary and infamous Cannibal Corpse and now with his own group, the groove-masters, Six Feet Under. He took out the time to discuss everything from SFU’s new record, the beginnings of the band, Jim Carrey, the underground scene, and of course, one of his favorite hobbies. Interestingly enough, today is 4/20/05 at 4:20 PM and time to view an interview session with Mr. Barnes himself, it couldn’t be more fitting.

    Hey Chris, thanks for taking the time out to sit down and do this interview for Ultimate Metal! To start with, the new album, 13, has now been officially released, how satisfying is it to have completed a record and know you’ve made something that is going to be exposed to people now and for years to come?

    It’s always a great thrill, man. Every CD I’ve released since the early 90s has been a real exciting thing. It’s always a big event for me and I always enjoy that idea that other people are going to be gaining some pleasure from something that I had a hand in making.

    You also changed the writing and recording process to inject some new energy and capture a different feeling and I think it resulted in your most aggressive output to date. Did you prefer this new process and do you think you’ll be repeating it on the next album or will you try to switch things up again?

    Oh, I don’t know, it just seemed right. That just seemed like the right way to attack the writing process on this one. I don’t know if we’ll end up using that as the way we do things from now on, but it sure is interesting to know that we can do things like that. A lot of the time when we write anyway, many of the best songs come about in jam sessions.

    You’re also producing now and you’ve handled Six Feet Under’s last couple of records. How did you decide to step into that position?

    It’s just something I’ve always been involved with, even back in the Cannibal Corpse days. I’ve always really been the one that sits in the studio the most with the engineer to make sure things are in their right place. I really never took credit for it as much as I do now. I’m just putting my name on it now, but I’ve always been involved and that’s always been an interest of mine.


    This record has a little bit of a retro, throwback feel and, as I stated in the review, reminds me a lot of Maximum Violence musically and in large part because of the more in-your-face production. Were you going for any specific feel, or was it as spontaneous as the conditions dictated?

    As we got the material together and I noticed that it was a really strong, guitar oriented record, the production dictated towards that, that the focus of the record should be the guitar for the most part. That was a strong point of the writing and Steve really came up with some great riffs and I wanted to complement that with the production.

    Lyrically, you discussed the various ways to die and stories from the grave. Can you expand on the album’s concept and the significance of the number 13 for those who haven’t had a chance to see the lyrics yet?

    Well, you said it best in your description, that was really good. It’s about life, it’s about death like most of the subjects are that I deal with and this one just connects itself with the title track, "13", a little bit. Things to come, things that have been, all have been intertwined in this. The name of the album, 13, I think speaks on many different levels. People have a pre-conceived notion of that number and it kind of links death with that.

    Do you know of any tour plans at this point to support 13. I’d like to come out to a show and see you guys live.

    We just got done with the European tour and we’ll start a U.S. tour here in June, so we’re just getting all of the details for that together and we’ll be releasing that info shortly, as soon as everything is booked. But, it’s coming together well and we’ll have another European tour as well.


    To cover the roots of the band, where did the idea to form Six Feet Under first come from, how did you know Allen West, and how did each member come to be in the band in the beginning?

    The idea to form the band was something Allen and I were talking about on tour in 1992 when I was in Cannibal Corpse and he was in Obituary. We were hanging out on the tour bus talking about doing a side project, so that’s really where it all started. A year later in 1993 he gave me a call and we decided to get together and do some demos and four-tracks of the material that he had prepared for me. I was down in Tampa and decided to lay some stuff down on tape and put it together and it sounded pretty damn good. So we gave a copy to the record label and they liked it so much they signed the project for a three album deal and it kind of went from there. Before that happened, in late ‘94/early ’95, Allen was going through some of the material with a drummer that he was friends with, Greg Gall, at his house and Greg liked this stuff so much, he asked his brother-in-law, Terry Butler, to come by and listen to it. I came back from a Cannibal Corpse tour and I had a whole band sitting there that had already learned all of the songs and that were ready to go into the studio, so it was pretty intense how it all came together.

    Was it a conscious decision to base your band on these massive grooving riffs instead of the blastbeats that permeate death metal, or did it just come out when you guys got together and started to jam?

    You know, I don’t think death metal is just blastbeats. I think that is kind of a confusing issue in the style. Possessed never had blastbeats, but Possessed were the ones that invented the term death metal. I think that we just do our own thing, man, and I think that’s what death metal is all about. It’s doing what you think is heavy and having a good time with it.

    After Allen West left the band, you brought in Steve Swanson and he has been a big part of the band ever since. Did his ties with Massacre and Terry Butler play a large role in that and was he set as your new man or did you go through a time of try-outs, etc?

    I think that their friendship had something to do with it, but I’d known Steve as well briefly in the past and I knew of his ability and what a great guitarist he is, so I had no problems. There really wasn’t a try out period for anyone, really, he was the man for the job, so he was psyched and ready to go from the beginning.


    I thought one of the highlights of True Carnage was the collaboration with Ice T on “One Bullet Left,” how did that come about?

    Well, I had spoke with the record company earlier in the year about collaborating with someone else as I thought it might be a cool idea and they asked me before we were ready to go into the studio if I was still thinking along those lines and I said yeah and they asked who I’d like to record with and I said Ice T. So, they got a hold of management and Ice got a hold of the idea and said lets do it and it came out awesome.

    What was your inspiration to create the Graveyard Classics series and do you see a Volume 3 in the future?

    I just thought it was something different than most bands were doing and that was the idea behind the first one, and the second one, the same thing, just to another level, something that no one’s ever done before. I really enjoyed both of those so I think there will probably be a third one, but not for another couple years.

    I know the band is also working on putting together a box set, do you have an idea of when it will be released and are you allowed to talk about what it might contain at this point?

    Yeah, it looks like it’s going to be released in October and it going to be like a four CD, two DVD set. One of the DVD’s will be a live show from Berlin we just filmed as well as another couple clips from some other shows. As well as one DVD with all of the clips we’ve done for MTV and such.

    It’s been about ten years now since you split with Cannibal Corpse. What is your relationship today with the rest of the guys in that band and how often do you come into contact with them?

    I think the relationship between us is pretty good, we’re all friends I think now and we don’t get to see each other very often, but when we do run into each other once or twice every other year, it’s a good time. We all sit around and laugh about the old times and all the stuff that happened when we were together. So, we have a good time reminiscing and it’s all good.


    Talk a little bit about the famous Jim Carrey incident. You did a cameo in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective with your former band, how did that come about and what was the man like. I heard he got up on stage with you guys once

    Yeah, he was really cool man. He was a real nice guy and at that point in time he was a fan of the music and he really asked for the band to be in the movie. That was just a great time to be involved in all of that, it was intense.

    What made you interested in death metal to begin with and what prompted you to play that style? Cannibal Corpse was one of the forerunners of the genre, so you probably weren’t as influenced by a lot of bands as musicians are today. Did bands such as Possessed influence your style or was it just something spontaneous happening in the scene at the time and you happened to be there to embrace it?

    I don’t know, I guess I was influenced by those bands, because that was towards the end of my fanship in metal, just listening to music, those were the last bands. Possessed, Slayer and Kreator and stuff like that. So, yeah, we were influenced by those things because that was a little bit before what we consider death metal now and it was a spontaneous thing man. I don’t know how it came about, but it was something we were doing for the fun of it and we were really having a great, great time and I guess that was just a good point in history to start with. I’m just real proud of all the hard work I’ve done in this scene and this type of music.

    How would you compare today’s scene with what it was like when you were first starting out? I watched your “Six Feet Underground” documentary and you guys thought the scene was as strong as ever, do you still think so today?

    Yeah, in Europe it’s outrageous, it’s bigger than it’s ever been, you know, we’re getting more people at the shows than we’ve ever had and the same thing over here. There’s been a really good reaction to the underground music these days. I definitely enjoy playing this style of music and it’s a big part of my life.


    You are one of my favorite extreme metal vocalists of all-time and I’d like to know, what tips can you give to an aspiring growler? Any techniques or special substances that keep you in tip top shape?

    Well, I think that’s just me you know. I was told awhile ago by someone real important that this isn’t what you do, this is who you are, so find out who you are, man. Just find out who you are, don’t worry about what someone else is doing. That’s all it’s about is finding your voice. You go through phases and that’s all part of learning where your coming from, so just do it, do it for yourself and don’t worry about what the next guy is doing.

    Speaking of “special substances,” one of your favorite days of the year is right around the corner, eh?

    Haha, I was gonna say smoke a lot of weed, but I thought that would be kind of discouraging. (laughs) But yeah, it’s getting close here, we’re what, about a week away, a little less than a week. Yeah man, I’ll be celebrating.

    Where do you see yourself ten years from now, still making music, or off exploring other avenues?

    I’ll still be doing this for another ten years I think. I definitely have a lot left to say and I don’t think I’ve found that perfect combination of vocals, music and lyrics and that’s important to me. I’m not really satisfied yet. I’m satisfied to the point where everything has its place in what I’ve done, but I haven’t satisfied my hunger to keep going. So, ten years to me is the blink of an eye, I think I’ll have that covered.

    You’re already a pretty legendary figure in the metal underground, how proud are you of what you’ve accomplished musically throughout your career and what do you want to be remembered for most years from now?

    I’m real proud of it. It’s really something to have people want to talk to you and ask you all of these questions. People always ask me if it gets kind of boring, but it doesn’t really. You know, it takes time out of your day, but how many other people get called up and asked things and have people wondering about their lives. It’s a nice thing to be involved with. I’m hoping I’m best remembered for everything man, for every single thing. But, hopefully for being someone that was real and wrote about things that they had questions about and a pioneer in this music style.

    Any final comments you’d like to share with all of your fans out there?

    I just hope everyone enjoys what we’re doing and has a smile on their face when they see us play live.

    Ok, thanks again Chris for taking the time out to do this interview. Keep up the damn good work, I know you guys will.

    Thanks man, and thanks for taking the time to actually think about the questions to ask me, it’s real nice to hear a different perspective. Hopefully, we’ll meet up soon!

    Alright, I’ll see you on tour this summer then. \m/

    Ok, we’ll see you then!


    Official Six Feet Under Website
    Official Metal Blade Records Website
    UM's review of Six Feet Under's 13
  2. E-bortion

    E-bortion Omae wa mo shindeiru

    Dec 23, 2004
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    The new album art of "13' is a blatent ripoff of The Crown's "Possessed 13" For fuck's sake, look at the skulls! Ridiculous. It really is testament to their unoriginality.
  3. sadistic_intent

    Apr 12, 2006
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    Good interview thx chris for this interview
  4. Mythos Inibri

    Mythos Inibri Undead User

    Dec 16, 2005
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    Right on Chris...that box-set Fucking Rules!

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