Six Feet Above the Rest
An interview with Six Feet Under
by: Adrian Bromley
Hailing from what was once the mecca of American Death Metal comes Chris Barnes and Allen West, most likely two names you recognize if you've been into this genre for any period of time. Straight out of Cannibal Corpse and Obituary respectively, these dudes know where they want to go. Speaking on the phone with Barnes from somewhere in the ethereal plane of our long distance networks, Barnes had more than his share of opinions to share with us.

Formed in 1993, Six Feet Under started as a glimmer in the eye of guitarist Allen West who approached Barnes with a raw tape he demoed at home. "He sent the tape along to me when we [Cannibal Corpse] were recording _The Bleeding_ and I just thought it was killer and all, so we got together and laid down some drum tracks with a machine and put in some bass lines and whatnot, and after we found our current bass player (Terry Butler, ex-Death, ex-Massacre) and drummer (newcomer Greg Gall), and that was it. It was really Allen's idea from the beginning."

Seeing as most artists seem to incorporate a good deal of stylistic techniques from their "9 to 5 band. in their own side-projects, how does Barnes think Six Feet Under compares to Obituary or Cannibal Corpse? "Well I think it's just a different style of music, you know. It's different people making the sounds and we just tried to do our own thing the way we wanted, and put out an album. And the lyrics I wrote are also different in a way." Having read the lyrics over it was evident that Barnes has altered his lyrical approach slightly. "The lyrics are coming to me a lot quicker because I don't have to approach things or be seen a certain way anymore. There is no need to write lyrics that are over the top or try to be very blatant or crazy. The lyrics just form into what they are with no real need to explain why I am writing a certain way."

The short life-span of most side projects is a well known fact. Take for example Nailbomb (see article in this issue). Having released their debut in 1993, they have already called it quits. Six Feet Under, on the other hand, is not in this biz as a hobby, attests Barnes. "From the beginning, we didn't go in there with the side project mentality you know. I mean we wanted to record shit, and tour and everything like a real band. I mean, we wanted a future for Six Feet Under." Working with a completely different band must also have been strange for you. "Fuck no man, it was fucking refreshing. I mean we are all good friends and stuff and we all have the same ideas on what the music should sound like. We all just got along really well. It was great to finally work with people and not have the personality clash. I liked it a lot."

This brought us to the latest piece of gossip on the street, Barnes' supposed canning from Cannibal Corpse by his fellow bandmates, a band whom he helped create and popularize through his hard work over the past several years. "The only thing I know is that I'm not in Cannibal Corpse anymore. That's right, I was on tour with Six Feet Under and I got a call from their agents and stuff to inform me that they were letting me go and stuff." And his reaction? Continues Barnes, "It surprised me you know, I didn't see it coming at all. I still don't know why they had to go and do that. I mean, maybe they thought I wasn't going to be committed anymore to them and stuff, but Hell, shit happens."

Another big issue with Barnes is the press, an entity that he is not very pleased with to say the least. After being shit on by many a magazine, especially in the U.S., what does Barnes have to say about it all? "Fuck man, I mean there is just this list of people I have that I just want to fucking kill if I run into them. I mean these are people that have nothing better to do than to rip apart someone's livelihood and personally insult them with their fucking opinions, I mean, sure you can have your own opinions and stuff, but you don't have to go around completely killing shit that you don't like. Fucking journalism sucks man, no offence to you (none taken!) but it does, some of these mags man I don't know, just can't fucking tell them apart from tabloids." He continues, "Our album is selling great all over, so I don't know where these people get off telling us we suck, you know? It's up to like 50,000 worldwide which is absolutely great for a death metal band just starting out." But does Barnes think that this can be attributed to the two "stars" that make up one half of Six Feet Under's lineup? "Well, you got a good point there, and I mean, I guess that comes into play a lot, but still you know, music is music, and I think that whatever someone likes or dislikes is ok if it's for the right reasons, you know what I'm saying?"

After about 20 minutes of a great interview, other than the fact that Chris Barnes - while having a great vocal presence on stage - talks like a mouse, my favorite question of all time came out. 'What do you think of the scene today?' "Well fuck man, I don't know what everyone is raggin' on, 'cause I think the scene is great right now you know. We've been able to sell all kinds of fucking albums, and go and tour wherever the fuck we wanted. I thought it was great." And what is Barnes' take on the 'Black Metal Scene' in Europe today? "Well, I'm not really into it, so I don't have an opinion. But I guess it can't be all that bad, I mean, as long as they are playing music for the right fucking reasons, it's great. You know, people who play out of a passion for the music, not just to get huge and make money. Which, by the way, they are in the wrong field for anyways."

With that, it was time to close off our nice little chat, so I thought I'd let Chris include a message for all of you, the fans and the critics, that make and break his career. "I want to say this, to everyone out there who's listening, this is not a fucking funeral. I'm still alive and well and kicking around, and I will be for a long time to come."

(article submitted 13/12/1995)

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