Cannibal Corpse are without doubt one of the most controversial bands in history. With song titles like "Butchered at Birth", "Hammer Smashed Face" and "Fucked with a Knife", it’s not hard to see why.
The band has proved the naysayers wrong by selling over one million albums, making them the highest selling death metal band ever and providing the fuel for the fire.
With the release of their new album ‘Evisceration Plague’, the band continues to prove why they are one of the greatest metal bands of all time. We caught up with bass player Alex Webster to talk about it all…
Thanks for the interview.
Can we start with your name, what you do in the band and your all time favourite death metal record?
Alex Webster, bassist. My all time favorite death metal record is "Altars of Madness"by Morbid Angel.
You guys are currently on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival with bands like Marilyn Manson, Killswitch Engage and Slayer. What’s that been like?
It has been a great experience all around. We’ve played in front of thousands of people daily on this tour, and of course Slayer is one of our all time favorite bands so touring with them has been totally amazing. I think it’s good to sometimes play on tours that feature a variety of bands from the metal scene, as opposed to a tour that is only focused on one sub genre. It’s a great way to introduce your music to new fans.
Cannibal Corpse is headlining the ‘Hot Topic’ stage along with some of the more heavy bands on the tour (Behemoth, The Black Dahlia Murder, Job For A Cowboy). Do you think it’s weird considering the stigma attached to Hot Topic or do you not really give a shit?
We don’t give a shit. Hot Topic supports extreme music more than any other chain store I can think of. It’s completely appropriate for them to sponsor the stage we and the other extreme metal bands are playing on, and we are very grateful that they have.
Cannibal Corpse is the top selling Death Metal band in the world, with over one-million record sales. Why do you think Cannibal Corpse has been so successful, despite having pretty much no commercial appeal or exposure?
We’ve been very lucky to have developed an incredibly loyal fan base over the years. This fan base pretty much ignores current music and pop-culture trends. They have enabled us to sustain a decent career while being almost completely under the mainstream radar. We’ve been very consistent with our musical style and our touring schedule and I think that sort of dedication is something our fans appreciate. We try to make sure that we earn the loyalty our fans have for us, because they are the reason we can exist without the mainstream.
Do you think the negative press the band receives fuels peoples curiosity to maybe check you out and in turn actually make you guys even bigger?
Certainly. Any publicity, good or bad, creates interest. Any attempts to censor or defame our band have backfired. I mean, our continued success confirms their failure.
CC has been playing together for over 20 years. What do you think it is about the band that keeps you relevant after all this time? It seems as though you are as popular as ever.
I’m not sure, it might be a combination of things. We have never been complacent as musicians and songwriters, and I think that helps keep us competitive in a scene full of young talented bands. Another contributing factor could be that the basic idea of the band was a good one: death metal with gore lyrics, as heavy and sick as possible. Maybe we were extreme enough to still be considered extreme 20 years on. Who knows.
Do you still enjoy touring as much as you used to? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
Ever show is a little different so it’s hard to get tired of that part. The show itself is almost always fun. The part that can be difficult is the being away from family and the comforts of home. As far as keeping things fresh goes, it’s always cool to try out a new song live, or a new piece of gear.
The band released their 11th studio album in February this year, ‘Evisceration Plague’. What has the response been like to the album?
So far it has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s our fastest selling album so far, so that’s obviously good, and critical and fan response has been excellent for the most part.
You stated that you wanted to make each album heavier with each release. Do you think you accomplished this with ‘Evisceration Plague’?
We did the best we could in that regard, but it’s difficult to say. "Heaviness" is pretty subjective. I think E.P. could be the heaviest yet, but that might not be everyone’s opinion.
This was the second time around that you have used Erik Rutan to produce. Why did you decide to stick with him again?
Because he did a great job on our previous album "Kill". We felt like we could build upon that album’s production quality and go even further. I think we accomplished that with "Evisceration Plague".
You guys have been pretty honest about your music and call it nothing more than “over the top entertainment”. Why do you think that people are so quick to judge and make assumptions about the band?
I think most people understand that horror movies, novels, and violent video games are made by people who do not promote actual violence. Unfortunately, they seem to have a harder time understanding the same could be true of a musician who makes death metal, which is basically a type of "horror music". This may be because a song’s lyrics are often considered to be a reflection of the artist’s emotions. This isn’t really the case with our lyrics, they are basically short horror stories put to music. Hopefully someday general society will be able to separate the artist from the art.
You guys have had some problems releasing albums in Australia in the past, among other countries, due to the graphical nature of the artwork and lyrical themes. Have you taken this kind of thing into consideration for the last two albums at all or ever?
We didn’t really think about Australia in particular when it comes to censorship. The big problem we were having was getting our albums into stores in the USA, where the major chains take it upon themselves to ban certain albums due to things like graphic artwork. Illegal downloading has pretty much killed independent record stores in the USA so if our albums aren’t in the chain stores we’re in trouble. We didn’t want to censor ourselves so we devised a way to make everybody happy. We made two pieces of album art and put the gorier art on the inside. So, the fans get a killer piece of gore art but the chains are still able to stock the album because the front cover is less graphic than the interior. Most censors don’t look beyond the cover art so we’ve been able to get away with this so far.
Cannibal Corpse head back to Australia in September. What are you looking forward to the most coming back?
The rowdy crowds! We had a great time playing there in 2006, we’re hoping for another killer response this September.
That’s about it, any parting words for the hordes of CC fans here?
Thanks for the support! See you on tour!!!