Interview - Cannibal Corpse

Sean Michael Coale interviews Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse

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Sean Michael Coale: Was Jack leaving something you guys all knew about before hand ?
Alex Webster: "Well Jack, kinda surpised us with the timing of it, but we figured eventually. We were getting the idea he wasn't as into as he used tobe. It has been kinda getting worse and worse throughout the years and you could see it on stage and he admits it too, as you could see on the messagehe left on the website after he left the band, he said he wasn't really into it and it was showing up in his stage appearance and everything else. So it wasn't a huge surpise that he did it, it was more that he did it at that time."
SMC: Did you kinda think he would finish the tour that you had already booked ?
AW: "That's what we were thinking, I thought, I don't know Jack's kinda a quietness guy where you can't really tell. I thought maybe he was still having a goodtime, he just wasn't being as physical as he once was on stage. But it wasn't that obvisiously he wanted to quit, and we were hoping he wouldhave stayed on for the whole tour because it put us into a position where we had to teach a replacement songs in a big hurry. But I guess in the long run better thing, cause the guy we got playing now Jermey Turner of Origin he's been really motivated and a lot of fun to work with him and really into what we're doing. It's more exciting to be on stage with someone who wants to be there."
SMC: Now is Jeremy just gonna be doing this tour, or is he actually gonna be helping on the next album?
AW: "We don't know yet, the whole band has to get together and talk about it, we've been touring so much we really haven't taken the time to sit down and go over what the future is gonna be."
SMC: How does it feel with you and Paul being the only two original members left in the band?
AW: "It's cool, it would have been nicer to have things work out with Jack, but I feel if the band gets better when somebody leaves with the replacement, then it's ok. There's no way we could have stuck with the orignal 5, we never would be the band we are now. So we feel we've gotten a lot better, it's definetly gotten a lot better with our ability to play and everything, it's improved a lot with the people we've had come into the band."
SMC: Wretched Spawn's artwork has kinda gone back to the older covers look, was that something you guys aimed to do this time around or just the best piece you had to go by at the time and was it the same guy that did the artwork on "Butchered at Birth"?
AW: "Yeah a lot of people had always been like why don'tcha do something like the first couple fo we were like ok, let's see if we can come up with something similarly offensive to the originals. Yeah it's the same guy, he did them all except for the European version of "Hammer Smash Face" EP, where someone at that record label at that time (Music for Nations), without our permission put a piece of art on there we never even seen by some guy in England, that we don't know and never talked to about it, but other than that it's all been Vincent Black."
SMC: When you start writing or even recording what different sounds and amps do you try out?
AW: "We try a few different things, but we pretty much just bring our own amps, like Pat really like those Mesa Boogie triple rectifiers and I use an Ampeg STPV4. Me, I didn't even try any other amps, I knew that was gonna be the best one, but we do try some combo amps. Stuff that's expensive, stuff we could rent but not really afford to own, like 3 different amp heads and get a couple combo ones and try them against it."
SMC: No vintage cabs?
AW: "Ha, no we don't have anything like that. I mean I got a cab that's old but I wouldn't call it vintage."
SMC: How have the tours been going?
AW: "It's been going really good, but we're defintently ready to get home, when we finish this tour it'll be 140 shows this year and for a bunch of guys in their mid 30's that abit of work."
SMC: Yeah, that's funny you say that 'cause when you guys rolled thru Jaxx in VA, I was talking with Paul and he said you'd probably just finish the Euro part of the tour and head home.
AW: "Yeah we did a bunch more. The part of the reason we did so much in such a short period of time is cause George's wife is gonna be having a baby in december and we wanted to get things done so George could have plenty of time at home. So he'll have like a month or so before the birth and then time afterwards to spend with the baby."
SMC: Yeah, how is George holding up?
AW: "He's doing ok, he had that lung thing but he's taking some medicine for it. Some kinda lung virus and probably related to bronchitis or something. See it's weird, he doesn't even really cough or anything, he's just got super bad pain in his right side. I guess his right lung is inflamed, but he's been taking like a prescription version of ibuprofen and it's reducing it."
SMC: How was the show you guys did with out him?
AW: "It was weird, you don't wanna do a show. We debated just not doing the show, but were in the parking lot, we're here at the show. George was at the hospital getting diagnosed, we really didnt wanna cancel the show seeing how we were sitting there. So we took 3 bucks off the ticket price, so from $23 down to $20 which is not a big difference but we felt they should take a 'lil bit off cause it wasnt gonna be a regular show. Maurizio from Kataklysm said he knew how to sing "Stripped, Raped and Strangled", cool, come up and do that, and he did so were greatful for that. We had a mic up there so I could announce the songs and I said "Yeah, anyone who thinks they know the songs come on up and give it a try." So a bunch of people came up and tried to sing a couple of the songs and we had fun with that."
SMC: Cool so kinda like jukebox Cannibal Corpse.
AW: "Yeah, we figured why the hell not, we did the first half of the set completely instrumental and then i just said if anyone of you know any of this come on up. It's cool but it's not the same, people are used to listening to things thru the voice, even if you got someone coming up there doing vocals it's not gonna be the not really exactly what it should be. It's hard to do what George does, you know you gotta practice and know the timing. I mean just the timing is tough, in addition to having a voice like that too, you gotta have the timing and know where things go. It's a lil more difficult than people think. We had a couple of guys that did a pretty good job, and again we're thankful for that, and that people were patient with us and a lot of people, we thought were gonna be like fuck this this is bullshit, but everyone were really cool but the next day was Philadelphia at the Trocadero and that's a big place like this and we just thought we can't keep doing these shows this way. Especially like at the Troc were there is gonna be like 500 people, it was cool at the Pittsburgh show where the number of people were a little smaller, you know, more informal. So, it seemed ok to have people come up and sing the songs, but you come to a major city people wanna see a show. We were just thinking "God we don't wanna have to do it this way anymore." I mean we dont wanna do it for any show, we'd like to think all the shows are equally important, but you feel a little different being up on a huge stage. So, we talked it over with George, and he thought maybe I can do one or two songs, well do whatever is comfortable to for ya. We didn't want anything to screw him up, but he was cool and said he'd give it a try and he got up there and did it. I mean he was in pain, it was hurting him a lot but he was able to sing fine and we were really greatful to him for coming thru and doing that and like yesterday he felt even better, and tonight he should be fine."
SMC: So after so many years of playing with vocals, how did that sound without and did it give you guys any new ideas for future song ideas?
AW: "It's weird, 'cause sometimes you listen to the vocals to cue we you're going in the song and helps you keep track of where you are in the song too. But we do practice without him a lot of the time, we practice 5 days a week and he'll come up and practice maybe 2 days. I mean there's no real reason for him to do it everyday, he doesn't wanna wear his voice out and doing it live was different, I knew it would give a lot of people a chance to pay attention to the music a little more than they do because the first thing you hear when you listen, or one of the first things your brain tunes into is the vocals."
SMC: Yeah, you guys helped set George up with "Devoured By Vermin".
AW: "Yeah, we definetly wanted to lay down the law with what George was capitable of."
SMC: Actually this is something I've seen on a lot of message boards these day, how do you feel about people saying there aren't any inspirational bass players out there right now?
AW: "I think what it is, as far as me being premiere, there's a lot of great bass players out there but I'm one of the ones who tries to throw things in that you're gonna notice and I think there are some definite good bass players in the scene. I mean as far as the Death Metal scene goes, the bands that I'm farmiliar with and the bands that we tour with, there's alot of great bass players. The bass player from Macbre is really excellent and the bassist from Vader there are a lot of really good ones out there, the guy that used to play for Origin. So there is a bunch of really good bass players out there and I think it's the one instrument that could have the tendencies to do more, but as you know bass deals with lower tunings and all of the guitars now a days are getting down into B or lower and that's jumping into bass frequencies. So a lot of the studio engineers and live engineers for that matter are having a hard time finding a place for bass. So if you do a few things that are different from the guitar, you could tend to just be burried under a wall of guitar. I wanna do a support roll and so do the other bass players I mentioned, but you wanna do something were you're not gonna be heard all the time, why play an instrument if you can't actually hear it. It never made any sense to me, why are these guys in a band, when you can't even hear them. Bass players got to be more assertive, they have to make themselves as important as the guitar player, drummer or singer in the band, not more important but as equal. You gotta find a way, it's not always something that's easy to do but you gotta find it to pop up and let people know you're in there, like writing parts that are a little different from what the guitar player is doing. I don't do that all the time but when you do it, it really jumps out, a lot more people will notice it."
SMC: So when you write material, do you sit back and think to yourself if something would be better just as a bass line other than say a guitar part?
AW: "Some of the bass stuff again, I'll write on a 4track a couple of things, I'm writing it all on bass and I'll just try to decide which would be good on bass or guitar, or two different guitar parts. Like on "Grotesque from Gore Obsessed" both guitars and the bass are all doing completely different things, there's a lot of things going on it's different from song to song. Some of them wind up being really simple, where everybody is gonna do the samething the whole time like a song like "Pit of Zombies", which is all of playing the exact samething the whole time."
SMC: On this last album, it seems like you tried to step on the tech side, even Paul seemed to be playing more techincal drums. Was that something you went into the studio in mind?
AW: "Well, with Paul, it all depends on what we give him. Pat will write parts that some of them are so strange there's no way you're gonna be able to write a normal drum beat to them, so it winds up being a lil more on the technical side and I think it's also just what we like to do and as a player you can get bored just playing the easy stuff. Unless it's a really well written song, it can get boring to play something thats really easy. So it's fun to up there playing something that's kinda hard and it gives you something to think about when you're on stage. Some of the songs on the records are still easy, and some of the songs on "Wretched Spawn are easy but it's still whatever makes them the heaviest is what we'll always be going for. That's the first priority that we make it brutal and heavy, it just so happens we also enjoy the technical stuff too, so we can try to make it a lil more each record."
SMC: Would you mind commenting on what Chris Barnes is doing these days ?
AW: "I don't know it's not something I'm into really, I'm not into the music the band is doing but the guys in the band are cool but what it does is by what he's doing now, shows people why we wanted to have George in the band instead. The direction that we went and he went are totally totally different, in my opinion to say the two bands are in competition with eachother would be totally ridcilous, as there are no similairities between the two bands. But there are a lot of people who do and they say Six Feet Under vs. Cannibal Corpse. That's like having Coke Cola not verse Pepsi but Coke Cola vs. fucking pizza. It's two totally different things, so yeah we have totally different similiarities and the stuff he's doing now would not work with the music we write now."
Top 5 Albums
1. Slayer "Reign in Blood"
2. Iron Maiden "Power Slave"
3. Morbid Angel "Alters of Maddness"
4. Sadist "Illusions"
5. Immolation "Dawn of Posession"

2004 AbsolutMetal