By Georgi Bomb
This year saw Metal Hammer add a new name to the ever-growing list of touring festivals. Destroyers of the Faith, an amusing spin to Defenders of the Faith, showcases the best in extreme metal. And what better headliner to choose than the almighty, Cannibal Corpse.
Culture Bomb’s editor caught up with the band’s frontman in Glasgow(Check out the review of Destroyers of the Faith). The man who owns the most impressive, ‘death metal’ neck in the business, George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher.
“I love the Sounds of the Underground, I love Mayhem – it’s my favourite tour ever!
“Full of Hate [festival] we just did was pretty damn close because we hung out with the Behemoth guys. All the bands, we hung out with a lot but with those guys – I was on their bus a lot.”
George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher contemplates about the touring festivals he has played in the past. Today is the second date on one of the new additions to the likes of Thrash and Burn, Summer Slaughter and Taste of Chaos.
“It’s definitely diverse.” He says, “We are more similar to Job For A Cowboy than we are to Triptykon and Enslaved, but then I think Triptykon have some similar elements to Enslaved.
“In general I would say all four bands stand out on their own I mean, there’s something for everybody.”
Cannibal Corpse are one of the biggest names in death metal, creating a back catalogue of twelve studio albums, including their most recent addition Torture, and have been touring for over 27 years.
With heavy-going, worldwide tour schedules, Fisher explains how being close to the bands you are touring with is vital for survival.
“It’s good to have people around you that are cool because they become your second family and it probably eases things. There are sacrifices to being on the road. There really is – you are away from your friends, your family and the conveniences you have at home.
“It helps the day go by, just bullshitting about ‘whatever’ during the day. Not that I don’t enjoy it. Obviously we are here to play and that’s a big part of the day. Well, it’s the biggest part of the day. We enjoy going on stage, but with the family feeling, it helps. With some people, it helps more than others. “
Torture, the band’s twelfth edition to their enormous discography; simply bursting with grotesque lyrics, disgusting grooves and full on brutality, is out now, ready and waiting for you all!
“I’m happy with it, Alex just showed me the first draft for the first video for it and it looks really good.
“It’s a bit cliché to say “oh it’s our best album ever” but, I think the only reason you think that is because it’s fresh. We’ve been playing the same songs for years – Evisceration Plague we did two years straight touring. So we heard that song and other songs from that record a bunch of god damn times.
“When you have new songs, they’re fresh. But with that all said I would say that it’s damn sure to be one of our best sounding albums. I think it’s one of our better albums but if it’s our best? I don’t know, time will tell.
“We will wait until the album comes out and sit around on the bus and just throw it in and compare it to Evisceration and see what we think.”
With a career spanning as long as Cannibal’s, there must be pressures that arise as time goes on. Trying to move with the industry and keeping that signature ‘Corpse’ sound, without sounding motionless. Cannibal Corpse has an honorable stance in the death metal industry, which must add pressure to the recording process, surely?
“Obviously we want to top Evisceration Plague, we want it to be a better album and we want the band to go further ahead as far as popularity and whatnot. I guess there is pressure in that sense but I try not to think about things like that.
“The only pressure I put on myself is hoping my voice sounds like it’s supposed to sound so we can record some goddam songs today and not have to take the day off because my voice is tired out and stuff.”
He goes on to talk about the difference in pressure between say, playing live and in the studio. The physical pressure recording has on his voice, screaming for six to seven hours during the recording process is a lot different to performing for one to two hours in an evening on tour, for example.
“The only pressure I put on is a daily goal – let’s get three songs done today. If that doesn’t happen then I’m not happy and that’s the only time I feel pressure. “
Then there’s the live shows. Although he reveals he doesn’t necessarily have any obvious concerns, he only cares about one thing – his voice.
“I’m not worried about the crowd or getting them riled up or anything like that. As long as my voice sounds powerful and the way it’s supposed to. And if it does, then fuck it, I fear nothing. If my voice doesn’t sound as good as I thought it should, then it throws my show off.“
Like with all musicians, the performance must be faultless as far as Corpsegrinder is concerned. Everything has to be exact, with no room for error, “most people would never know”, he says, “but I know and I feel it, I hear it so I guess my pressure there is: let my voice sound good.” He goes on to prove his dedication to perfection with a recent, rather painful story:
“I fell off the bus when we were in Europe. Fell clean out and went, 20ft down or so, totally fucked my rib up, my arm and bone and shit – it hurt like hell. But I didn’t care. That didn’t matter. As long as my voice sounded good.
“I’ll go through anything you know? If I can hear my voice is good, I’ll fight through fucking anything!”
But back to Torture, an album full of blistering riffs and destructive drums combined with the technical progression no one has been able to compete with. A highlight on the album is the emphasis on the step back to their older sound, reminiscent of 2006’s Kill, as Fisher explains.
“Demented Aggression, for example, is just all fucking speed, and it’s sort of back to the older days. It’s too early to really put it up there and sometimes it’s up to the fans to put the record on whatever pedestal it gets put on. We value their opinion more than ours.”
So what about his personal favourites? “Right now? It would be the two songs we play [live]. I especially like Demented Aggression, when it kicks in, it’s like a punch in the fucking face.
“I would say As Deep As the Knife Will Go and Followed Home Then Kill is really good. There are a few but when you start playing them live, you either start loving or hating them depending on how difficult they are to play. There are some songs that are pretty hard to sing, you have to pace yourself and I don’t like to do that. I like to go fucking balls out.”
Doesn’t that excite you more, to be challenged? “No, I just want it to be over!!” He exclaims, “Look at it like this, I knew it was tough to do in the studio so I know it will be tough live and you’re doing it for the first time.
“If you nail it, you’re like fuck yeah! If not – you’re like fuck, that song’s going to be hard so you start dreading it every night. At least I do, that’s where you have to pace yourself and chill out.
“Priests of Sodom was really hard when we first started doing it, but now, it’s easy! Well, not all of them are easy; there are challenges in each one. I don’t even really pay attention to some songs breathing wise. You just naturally do it.”
This is the third album that has seen Cannibal Corpse work with Eric Rutan, frontman of Hate Eternal and all round death metal guru, “I love working with him for the vocals because we have a lot of fun and I fuck around way too much sometimes.
“Outside of that and the serious part,” Fisher continues, “he is a great singer and he plays in a death metal band. He knows what the hell’s going on. Not that the people we worked with before weren’t good and didn’t understand what was going on but to me, I value his opinion more. He plays this music and he’s been a part of this scene for a long, god damn time.”
Like all good producers, Rutan always remains calm, even when things aren’t going right and above all, he is honest, finishing up sessions when things just aren’t coming together. Although there seems to be a perfect harmony between the guys in Corpse and Rutan, Fisher is quick to defend past producers they have worked with.
“Scott Burns who did Vile, and Millenium when I was in Monstrosity, recording with him was awesome because he’s recorded all these different guys (Sepultura, Obituary, Malevolent Creation, Suffocation).
“That’s no offence to the other guys we have recorded with. I’m not saying they don’t know what they’re talking about but I respected Scott Burns’ opinion almost, if not as highly as Eric, because he recorded everybody, man.”
Death metal poster boys
No interview would be complete without discussing the band’s epic longevity. From having albums banned from various countries to appearing on Ace Ventura at the request of Jim Carrey, it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to label Cannibal Corpse as the faces of death metal, or ‘poster boys’, to be more ironic.
One thing that is evident though, is that despite their statue and success, their feet remain firmly on the cold, hard, ground of reality. Admitting they aren’t rich or surrounded by beautiful, naked models; they don’t party every night, snorting lines of coke while burning 50 dollar bills.
In fact, they are more humble than a homeless guy receiving a suitcase of money, “We are lucky we are still here. Obviously people buy our records but we have to put out good records so it’s a two-way street. I guess, in a way, we sit and work together with the fans.
“All I have to say, is thanks for the support and to everyone whose stayed behind us. Stay metal, always stay metal!
We are just happy to be here,” he goes on to say, “I guess when it’s all over I’ll reflect on it but right now it’s kind of hard because you go day by day. The only time we really reflect is like now when we are doing interviews and get asked this question. It’s hard to do it because we are still living in the moment. ”
To the next twenty years
Maybe the fact that these guys have had nothing handed to them helps keep them levelheaded, it is rare for any metal band to have things handed to them on a plate. The misconception that musicians like Cannibal Corpse make thousands of dollars may lead to frustration, but doesn’t detract from the reason they constantly tour, sleep on crappy beds and live on tour buses with no functioning toilet.
“I’m glad we are still here, we want to be here for as long as we physically can do it. Unless something changes where we are just too tired. Because there is a mental aspect where we are just sitting around, it’s a long day; you miss home and all the conveniences of home.
“Trust me, we have been at these kinds of clubs where there is no point leaving the damn bus and you’re just sitting there, miserable. So long as we are able to handle all that shit, which I think we would have broken by now if we were ever going to break.
“Knock on wood we have had some challenging things happen to us but we’ve always just fought through. If we are here another ten or twenty years I really wouldn’t complain.”
Fisher reflects in horror, “Shit, in twenty years I’ll be sixty fucking one. I don’t want to think twenty years ahead…sixty one, Jesus…”
It’s not just old school fans that keep the band in imaginary bags of drugs and naked women; their fan base grows constantly, as they get passed down through generations.
“There are definitely a lot more kids [at shows]; we played in Italy and there was this kid and he couldn’t have been more than 8 or ten years old, with his parents. He was screaming, “Corpsegrinder” and I was like, “wow, man” it’s crazy.
“Obviously that aspect is good for the longevity of the band, hopefully people are still telling their children and their brothers and sisters that this is what you need to be listening to. And not just us, metal in general. “
As the interview comes to a close, Fisher methodically talks about their return to the UK. With the next few months laying out a small run of the US, headlining Summer Slaughter over the summer and a keenness to attack the festival season also, UK fans shouldn’t expect an appearance until 2013.
“It’s in the works, we’ll be back for sure…if you want us back of course…maybe they’ll hear the new album and be like, fuck off!”
Torture is out now, via Metal Blade Records