Reviving the Corpse
An Interview with Cannibal Corpse
by: Gino Filicetti
Since their first release in 1990, _Eaten Back To Life_, Cannibal Corpse have been putting the death into death metal like no one else can. Once renowned for their shockingly brutal and gory lyrics, a sea of imitators and copy-cats have de-sensitized the masses, but the truth is, no one can out do the masters at their game. On the phone with drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, he explains what's been happening with the band since we last encountered them.

With their newest release, _Vile_, Cannibal Corpse has undergone a lot of changes, the most prevalent of which was the firing of singer Chris Barnes. Chris got his say back in Chronicles of Chaos #5 when we interviewed Six Feet Under. Now it's time for the Cannibal boys to tell us THEIR side. Paul begins by explaining the circumstances which brought about their decision: "When we went into the studio in September we had laid all the music down and we were really happy and really pleased that everything was going great, we were so pumped. Then Chris came in to do the vocals and that really let the air out of the tires in our eyes. We didn't like a lot of his stuff and we wanted to change some of it, but Chris wanted to do his own thing and didn't want to change any of it. That's really what brought upon the whole change, because we wanted it to be the best album we could make it and the vocals just didn't live up to that."

Although Chris' lack of enthusiasm and down right stubbornness was discouraging to the band, Paul tells us that they tried their best to make things work. "We tried to work with him, but he's really difficult to work with in that way. We tried to have him change stuff and it wasn't working to our liking. He was supposed to have the vocals done before he left to go on the road with Six Feet Under in October, and when he came back we were going to mix. So we told him that we were going to rewrite some stuff and he got all pissed, but we had to, we just weren't happy with some of the songs. He didn't take it very well and he got all mad and walked out, but this was like a week before he was leaving. So when he left, we knew that this wasn't working and that we had to do something. So we decided that it was the time to make a change. We didn't want to release an album we were going to be displeased with. So we decided when he was gone that we would have to kick him out and George was our first choice to ask." He continues, "We told Chris as soon as he got back. Don't think we dicked him around or anything. We didn't want to tell him on the road, I mean, that'd be dumb you know? But we contacted George like a week before Chris was coming back and asked him if he'd do it, and he was totally into it."

George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher was someone whom Cannibal Corpse knew for quite awhile from the Florida scene. "We knew him from Monstrosity. It's Rob who knows him really well. Alex knew George quite a bit just from meeting through shows and what not. I myself didn't talk to him that much before, but I've gotten to know him now that he's in the band. We just basically knew him from Monstrosity and we loved his voice and knew he could do the job. Also we knew who he was and where he was to get in contact with him." Paul also tells us that George has been fitting in just great with the rest of the band. "I think he brings more of a ferocity to the band. I think after all these years, we lost a bit of our edge and it became a bit stale, not because we weren't into it, but because of the tension between members, especially between Chris and the rest of the band. Now we just feel more revitalized. George is amazing, he's just non-stop, a real madman, he's powerful, he's intimidating. It's all combined, George joining and the new songs and everything as a whole makes us feel just raring to go. We haven't played a tour in over a year, and we're all into the new album, and with George we feel like we're back on our first album and we haven't done a tour yet.

Although the departure of Chris Barnes shocked a great many people in death metal circles, almost no one thought that Cannibal Corpse could survive without their frontman and mastermind. Paul tells us that the vision of Chris being the band's ringleader is a completely misconceived one. "That's where I think everything got all jumbled in the mix of things as time went on with the band. He took credit for everything. That's what he wanted to do, you know? It got to the point where everyone wanted to do interviews with him and we just couldn't talk to him about stuff to do with the band. All the stuff wasn't his, I mean he came up with most of the song titles and he came up with ideas, but a lot of titles we came up with and I just think everything got blown out of proportion to where people believed that Chris Barnes did everything, you know? I'm sure there are people out there that think he wrote the music and that he told us what to do and if it wasn't for him we wouldn't know what we're doing. He did a heavy share of stuff but then again everybody did. He never wrote any songs because he can't play any instruments, the music always belonged to us. But me and Alex also came up with a lot of the song titles and ideas.

Blood, guts, and gore has always been THE trademark of Cannibal Corpse. Throughout all four of their previous studio releases, the band has become infamous for their lyrics. Does Paul see Cannibal writing in this vein forever? "Yeah definitely. I mean, that's why we're here, that's what Cannibal Corpse is. We wouldn't be Cannibal Corpse if we were writing about something else. I think there are definitely enough subjects and ideas that can still be covered in this genre, but I still think we came up with some 'different' songs. We kind of drifted away from the woman abuse type of stuff on this record. It's more hate-filled, hate and violence in general. We'll always play death metal and we'll always write gore because Cannibal Corpse wouldn't be what we are today without that." Paul continues explaining how their lyrics do not necessarily reflect their personalities. "Personally, for me, I just want to write a cool story you know? I just want to sit back and write something that's disgusting or sick or cool. I wrote two of the songs on this album myself, and that's how I looked at it. It's got no meaning to me other than the fact that I'm writing a story. It's more in the music that you get your release, your feelings and such come out when you play the music. I can't answer for the other guys, but for me that's how I see it.

Although Cannibal Corpse isn't the only band with such vile, disgusting lyrics, they have received attention from many self proclaimed saviors of our society including The 700 Club and Bob Dole. Paul tells the tale behind these encounters. "The 700 Club thing was pretty cool. It was just this thing on music and they were really ragging on stuff like Nine Inch Nails, and just music in general. They showed a lot of the 'Staring ...' video and they flashed the words underneath it. We thought it was pretty good exposure. We didn't even know it was going on there, it was just like one day you're flipping the TV and bam! The Bob Dole thing was him just dissing us when he brought up the movies like Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and then he talked about bands like The Ghetto Boyz and Cannibal Corpse. That was a few months ago and that was national, everyone heard about that. It was in USA Today and Newsweek. We got our names in there and it was on the nightly news too. He was just starting his censorship thing, and talking about movies and music and how it's corrupting today's youth and he happened to mention our name. Chris did a little comment on that saying why would a guy running for president care about something so menial, because we're just a death metal band, we aren't selling millions of records. But it's cool for the publicity."

Talking about exposure and publicity brought up Cannibal Corpse's appearance in the 1994 flick _Ace Ventura: Pet Detective_. The band was in Hollywood shooting for two days and Paul tells us a lot of the footage that was shot with the band ended up on the cutting room floor. "We thought they should've used more of the film. That would've been killer. It was cool that we got in the movie at all, but it sucks that most of it got cut out. They filmed some shit that was absolutely hilarious. We never saw it, but I remember the whole thing. It was the scene where Jim's being chased by those thugs. First Chris is singing and then jumps out into the crowd, and he's crowd surfing and then he gets pulled into the pit, so we don't have a singer. So Jim is getting chased by the thugs and he comes up to the stage and jumps out into the crowd and he starts crowd surfing too. Then the two thugs try it. The little guy jumps out and starts surfing and the fat guy goes to jump and the crowd splits apart and he hits the floor. They filmed him getting kicked in the head and all that shit. In the meantime, Jim is being chased around the venue by the little guy and they are both on top of the crowd so it's kind of funny you know? So then Jim gets pushed onto the stage just as we're finishing a song and he picks up the mic. Then the thug is just about to come onto the stage and Jim goes, 'One, Two, Three, Four' and we start playing, and the thug gets pulled back into the crowd and everyone is going crazy. Jim's up on stage and he's singing with us and doing all his crazy dances and shit and it all fucking got cut out. I thought it was going to be amazing but it all ended up on the floor."

As a closer, Paul was asked if he thought death metal should become mainstream. He answered, "I think the only way it's going to become more mainstream is if more people start listening to it. That's the only way it's going to happen. It's not going to change to suit the mainstream audience. If it's going to get mainstream it's just because there are a lot of people who are listening to death metal. Other than that, it just wouldn't be the same. I mean, we wouldn't be the same band if we changed to become mainstream. Like I said, the only way it'll become mainstream is if fucking ten million people buy the record, then that's mainstream." He continues, "Death metal has always been the extreme music that it is, and unless people's tastes change, it won't become mainstream, it'll just stay the way it is. Which is great, I mean, the more people into the scene the better, but all we can do is keep pounding it in people's faces and that's what we've been doing."

(article submitted 10/5/1996)

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