Interview with Alex Webster
For over 20 years, metalheads across the globe have been left in absolute awe as the most gruesome and confronting metal band to date have continued to create the most brutal and repulsive death metal music around.
From 'Eaten Back To Life' in 1990 to the recently released 'Torture', Cannibal Corpse have been consistent with their love for gore and show no signs of giving up any time soon.
Feast now upon on the gory artwork of the 'Corpse whilst blasting that beautifully vile music on your stereo and indulge in my interview with the bassist from Cannibal Corpse, Alex Webster.
George Fisher - Vocals
Rob Barrett - Guitar
Pat O'Brien - Guitar
Alex Webster - Bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz - Drums
Can you recall how you came up with the name ‘Cannibal Corpse’ and what it was that inspired you to begin your metal journey?
We were brainstorming to come up with a name for our band, and that name just came to my mind. We were all really into gory horror movies including zombie movies, and we wanted to make a death metal band, so that name seemed like a perfect fit. Love for this type of music is what inspired us to play.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before? And how do you think your closest relatives might describe your music?
Our band is gore-themed death metal band. We try to make extremely aggressive and dark sounding music. Each of my close relatives would probably have a different reaction and description of our music, depending upon their musical tastes.
Could you please detail what kind of costs went into creating and releasing 'Torture'? And how did/does the record label help with the overall recording/distribution process?
I do not remember the exact cost of the studio time for Torture. Our label (Metal Blade Records) take care of the distribution process, so I don’t really know the details of how that works. They also front the money for the recording budget for each album. We pay this back through money earned by sales.
What would be your most memorable gig to date and why?
I don’t remember, hahaha! Really, each gig is killer. Every night is a new night of musical brutality.
Which would be your most favoured song to play and which do you think your fans prefer and why?
I enjoy playing “Hammer Smashed Face” because it is our fans’ favorite song. Seeing their reaction is truly inspiring. We’ve had some truly massive pits for that song.
Which one of your music videos are you most proud of and why?
Death Walking Terror is my favorite. The concept of the video matches up with the song’s lyrics and music perfectly. Director Dan Dobi did an amazing job.
You truly have the most repulsive song titles and lyrics within the music realm. It has been admired and worshipped amongst metalheads everywhere. Could you please quote your favourite verse thus far?
AW: I think the lyrics Chris Barnes wrote for our song “I Cum Blood” are some of my favourites. “I pissed in her maggot filled asshole”. Nice.
What are your lyrical foundations? Is it actual events or purely fantasy driven inspiration?
The lyrics are all fictional dark fantasy (horror). Actual events no doubt have inspired some of these lyrics indirectly, but I personally have never written a song based on an actual event.
Do you think this style of writing has an expiration date?
I don’t know.
I remember back in the '90s whenever a new CD of yours came out, all my friends and I would gather around just to look at the new artwork. Have you used the same artist this entire time?
Yes, Vincent Locke has done artwork for all of our albums, either on the cover or the interior. The only exception is the European version of the “Hammer Smashed Face” EP, which features artwork by another artist that we did NOT approve. Our old European distributor added it without our permission. We never would have approved that artwork.
Your artwork and lyrics have always been controversial and led to you being banned in some countries. How many countries or cities are you currently banned in and how long did it take for any others to get over it and allow you back in?
I don’t know, you’ll have to ask our label. They have all information regarding distribution of our albums. Currently we are able to perform all of our songs in all countries where we are able to play, but beyond that I don’t really know what’s going on. I know there were bans on some material in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, but I do not know the current status of these bans.
Are you finding it harder to instil shock into people these days now that everyone seems to be so desensitised?
We’re really not interested in shocking people, so if they don’t find our lyrics shocking that’s fine with us. We just want to make ultra-heavy death metal music. The lyrics should be dark and horrifying in a way that complements our music, but they don’t necessarily need to be shocking.
Most bands tell me metal has no money in it, so what do you all do besides playing in the band in order to earn your living?
We have been able to make a modest living off of our earnings from touring and releasing music for over 20 years. It takes equal amounts of luck and hard work to make a living playing music you love. We consider ourselves very fortunate, and are very grateful to our fans for the decades of loyal support. They have made our career possible.
What brand of instruments are you using and how did any endorsements originally come about?
I use Spector basses, SWR amps, Darkglass effects, Radial DI boxes, Monster Cables, Planet Waves straps, EMG pick ups, DR Strings, and Classic Cases. Endorsements are gradually developed either on our own or with help from our management.
Let’s pretend you were creating a tour survival guide. What would be your top three tips for surviving a long tour with the band?
1. Be courteous to your band mates and the other people around you.
2. Bring at least two of everything- two basses, two amps, etc.
3. Stay fit and healthy- eat well, don’t party too much, get plenty of sleep.
What have been some of the more interesting adventures you’ve had with the band? Have there been many, if any, lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way?
It has been really fun to be able to travel the world and meet so many cool people along the way. We’ve been to over 50 countries in our career, and we’ve learned that fans of metal have a lot in common, no matter where they are from. Metal is an international brotherhood. Along with performing, meeting new people and seeing new things is a very interesting part of touring, for sure.
I can only imagine some of your fan's depravity, but what have been some of the more bizarre signings you’ve had or the most bizarre experiences in general during your time with the band?
Actually, most of our fans are fairly mellow and respectful. They’re just fans of extreme music, not maniacs. Every now and then we’ll meet a fan that’s very excited and over the top, screaming and what not. It makes us feel good to see that we’ve had an impact on a fan, and made them happy in some way. If your music can excite people, you’ve really accomplished something.
What kind of barriers or restrictions do you think currently exist within the metal music scene? And how do you think we can improve things overall?
I think metal fans should be more open to the wide variety of metal there is out there. Fans of all of the various sub-genres of metal need to stick together and not bicker amongst themselves. Unity will keep the metal scene strong.
Cannibal Corpse Website
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Cannibal Corpse MySpace
Cannibal Corpse Twitter
Buy at Riot Entertainment
Metal Blade Records
Buy at JSR Direct
‘Interview with Cannibal Corpse’ by Déa di Morté © 19 April 2012
Hails! to Alex for agreeing to participate and taking the time to complete this interview
All pictures courtesy of Metal Blade Records, Riot Entertainment and Cannibal Corpse