So how is the tour coming along?
The tour has been very good. You know, only problems we had yesterday Legion of the Damned, Suicidal Angels and Nexus Inferis couldn’t play because their bus broke down. So they missed the show in Vienna. But other than that the show has been going very smoothly.
The tour arrived in Europe in the middle of the coldest winter in years.
Yeah, yeah that’s what we hear. You know it was very cold when we got here. We got to Hamburg a little over a week ago and that was our first show and it was pretty cold around there, but it hasn’t been so bad the past few days. Today is pretty nice.
Well, let’s talk about the new album. It’s coming up in early March.
Well yeah. The new album is called “Torture” and it was produced by Erik Rutan. He is the guy who also produced “Kill” and “Evisceration Plague”, so it’s now the third album he produced for us. The bulk of it was recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas. So that was a little different for us to go there with Erik and then later we went to Mana Studios to finish everything. It was cool, it ended up turning out really good I think. It took us like two months to do the record. One month at Sonic Ranch and one month at Mana.
Was the Texan studio the same where you recorded “The Wretched Spawn”?
Yes! So we’ve been there before and really liked that studio, but we never worked there with Erik so we thought it would be interesting to work with him in a different studio.
Did the studio change have any influence on the sound?
Possibly. Of course with Erik producing everything he creates a similar sound. But just being able to use different microphones, different compressors, and things like that, all the different equipment that they had at Sonic Ranch and it’s also in a different room, that all creates subtle differences in sound. But of course with Erik being the guy in charge of the production it’s gonna have a signature sound.
Did Erik Rutan become something like a sixth member of CANNIBAL CORPSE?
Well yeah, Scott Burns was something like that in the past. Being someone that we trust a lot, we like to work with. Neil Kernon you know. Any time you’re working with a producer they become someone you can really ask questions. I mean the band is the band of course.
Is it very different to record with someone who plays Death Metal himself? To keep in mind, that Erik Rutan is a Death Metal veteran himself.
I think it does make a difference. As great as our other producers were, for sure Erik has insight knowledge of how to play this kind of stuff. So he can tell if something is possible to play or not. Well yeah, I could go on and give you a long answer, but to keep it short: I think it helps that he understands Death Metal guitar very well.
CANNIBAL CORPSE always was about pushing the boundaries of Death Metal on and on. But do you feel that you are reaching the end of the scale? When you can’t make your sound even more brutal?
Yeah maybe. There’s a certain level where we gonna be stuck at, where other bands might not be. Of course there are bands that are faster than us, there are bands that write gorier lyrics, there are bands that have lower vocals or whatever. Whichever way you measure extremity there’s definitely gonna be someone out there who’s more than us. We are looking to push our own limits, trying to get better as players. For the recent albums we were focusing to improving as songwriters, trying to write interesting songs that you can remember that are still really heavy and brutal. That’s our goal.
So you never come to a point when you realize, “Hey, we did that song before”?
Well if you write something and it feels like you already played it, you have to try and avoid it, you know what I mean? But I really think we did a good job keeping the stuff pretty fresh on this album. That is my opinion of course, someone might hear it and disagree. But I think the songs are fresh and individual. We are trying to give each song its own identity. We don’t wanna use the same things in each song. Like some bands do that, they have a blast beat in every song and in the middle they always have a slow part. When we have a song that’s full of blast, we make sure that the next doesn’t.
For the fans in Germany every time a CANNIBAL CORPSE album is about to be released, there’s a question popping up. Is the cover going to be censored?
Yes. It’s gonna be censored here in Germany. Elsewhere it won’t, but what they do, they put an o-card on top of it. Like the cover itself is gory. It a scene of people being hung and tortured. And then the torturer is underneath and hanging up. But the o-card is like a slip cover, and it shows only the face of the guy. So that’s tame enough that it can be in any record store. Not that there’s many record stores left anyway.
I always wonder, because there are tons of other bands with way more gore on their covers and lyrics. They get away with it, CANNIBAL CORPSE don’t.
That’s a good question. I don’t really know the answer, but I would have to assume that it has something to do with us being more popular than other bands. Like when a really gory Grindcore band is playing to more than 500 people every night, instead of a 100 or something. A bit bigger, like we are. So when you get to a certain level, you catch the attention of censorship people. That might be what it is. Because there are certainly other bands that are gorier than us. It’s annoying. We play all of our songs tonight, but we just can’t sell them.
Did the music of CANNIBAL CORPSE grow with the musician? I mean you started out about 24 years ago, when you were twenty-something and now you’re still here doing the same thing.
Of course there going to be little changes as you go with time, as you grow as a musician and everything. But we tried to keep it the same and I’m glad that most people seem to appreciate it. We really try to be consistent and staying with the original goal, I hope people agree. When you hear a song like “Demented Aggression” from the new album, it sounds like a more advanced version of stuff we would do on our first album. I think the style is not identical to what we started out with, but it’s pretty similar. We do have a distinct sound somehow. I don’t know how to describe it, but when you hear something that we’ve done it sounds like CANNIBAL CORPSE. Even with the two different singers. There was something musically going on beyond just the vocals that gave us a distinct sound.
Did the lyrics grow with the musician too?
Probably, I mean honestly the lyrics are the least important thing to us. The most important thing to us is the music itself. We take them seriously and we want to make sure that they are really good. But the most important thing again is that the music is kick ass, well executed and super heavy. The lyrics again have grown, but their secondary. We write the music first and then we write the lyrics. I want them all to be horror but I don’t think it’s that important for all of our songs to be gory. They can be, but I think the point is, that we are a horror band and gore is often a big part of it. Most of the songs are still very gory but I don’t want it to be a hundred percent limited to that. I want to limit it to horror. But it can be serious horror like “The Shining” and “The Exorcist” for example or on the other hand more splatter.
So George Fisher’s vocals are more something like an extra instrument?
Oh yeah definitely. We really work hard on the lyrics, don’t get me wrong. But music is the main focus of CANNIBAL CORPSE. We sit there and work for months and months and months. We keep practicing and writing the music for several months before we go to the studio. And that’s what we think about: the music.
Change of topic. Several months ago there was a so called “Thrashfest Classic” Tour in Europe. Bands like Sepultura, Exodus and Destruction played songs of their classic albums from the 80ies…
… Would that be something CANNIBAL CORPSE would participate in? If yes, what album would you choose?
Maybe yeah, probably if we did it would be “The Bleeding” I guess. It’s one of the biggest selling records and I like all the songs on that one. All the songs we did, I’m really happy with all of them on some level. We’re proud of all the stuff we did from “Eaten back to life” up to the new album. But “The Bleeding” as far as an old kind of classic album, it got a lot of songs that people like. If I could pick one album that has the most fan favorite songs on it, it would be that one. Right away “Fucked with a knife”, “Stripped, raped and strangled”, “Starring through the eyes of the dead”. But then all the other songs are pretty easy to remember too. “Pulverized”, “The Pick Axe Murders”, “She was asking for it”, “Return to flesh” or “An experiment in homicide”. They’re all pretty memorable songs. We have no plans to do that, but if we do, it suspect it would be “The Bleeding”.
“The Bleeding” and afterwards “Hammer smashed face”
Of course we still have to play “Hammer…”. You got to play that song. Unless censors won’t let us or something.
More of a fun question to close the interview. Do you know the band CANNABIS CORPSE?
Yeah, yeah. We know those guys. They’re really cool guys. It’s funny because they’re becoming a pretty serious band at this point and it’s gonna be weird for them I think. Because they started out with the humor “Hey here is cannabis and it sounds like CANNIBAL CORPSE. Let’s use their song titles and make them about weed” and that sort of thing. Obviously we heard the term “Cannabis Corpse” long before the band got together. Somebody brought us a sticker with the “Butchered at birth” Zombies smoking bongs instead of holding knives. Somebody made stickers saying “Cannabis Corpse” back in 1992. It’s definitely a cool idea and they are a great band and really good musicians too. It will be interesting to see where they take it. Now they kind of ran out of cannibal songs so they now start doing more DEICIDE. So let’s see what comes next. Maybe some SUFFOCATION songs too. I don’t know.
That’s about it for me. Thank you very much! Do you have something to add for the readers?
I just got to say, thank you very much for the support and we hope to see everybody on tour. We’re gonna be touring a lot for this album. The album was supposed to be out now, so we apologize for that. There were some delays. For “Torture” we plan to tour all over the place, so whoever is reading this, where ever you living, we’re playing somewhere within a couple of hours from where you live. In Germany and Austria we’re going to play here a lot over the next two years!