Cannibal Corpse Interview


Those who hate Metal and want it to go away can, basically, fuck off… it ain’t going nowhere!

Closing their “Full of Hate” tour (with Behemoth, Legion of the Damned and Misery Index) Cannibal Corpse performed at the Neurotic Deathfest in Tilburg, as part of a 3-day long celebration of the hardest and most brutal heavy metal.
Despite what you may imagine, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, the legendary frontman of the band, is a gentle and polite guy. True, he swears like a sailor and looks intimidating (due to both his stature and his choking-proof neck) but he’s also a down-to-earth and well spoken guy who cares a lot about his family (talks about keeping his daughters away from nasty things… like his albums) and loves World of Warcraft.
As usual, appearances are deceiving.
So, without further ado…

Metal Blast: This is the last show of the “Full of Hate” tour, with Behemoth, Legion of the Damned and Misery Index. How did it go?
It has been great, really. We’ve toured with Behemoth before; we did “Sons of the Underground” and the Mayhem Fest in the US with them, so we’ve known them for a while. Same thing with Legion of the Damned, with whom we had also done some shows. This has made things much easier, since we know the bands already.
The guys have been great on this tour and it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of drinking, a lot of partying, a lot of great shows, great fans… Yeah, it’s been great.

MB: Well, since you mention the partying, etc., are there any good stories from this tour?
Just drinking, nothing crazy. I mean, we’re here to “work”. We are here to play shows and whatnot. I mean, you know, we’ve had our fair of drinking, yelling, screaming and singing shit and that kind of stuff. Nothing outlandish like the stuff you’d see in movies, the kind of stuff people expect, all about naked girls, whiskey and beer.  Well, there has been whiskey and beer, and but the naked girls part… they’re afraid of bands like us!

MB: Your new album, Torture, will be released soon. We listened to it, we reviewed it, and it’s really great.
Thanks man!

MB: Well, are there any songs from “Torture” that you enjoy performing live?
Well, for this tour we’ve been doing “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”, and they’ve done pretty good. Because they’re the only ones we’ve played from the new album, I can’t really compare them with the others; we’ll probably do more of the new ones when we do the US tour in April or May (yeah, we’re doing a US tour), since by then the album will have been released already.
Right now it has just been “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”, played back-to-back, and they’ve gone over pretty good. They’ve been online for quite some time now, so the kids are more familiar with those songs. I’m interested in seeing what they think about the rest of the record, since it will come out soon.
The reactions have been great. When I announce them the kids already know them. They’re also a good mix, since “Demented Aggression” is really all about speed and “Scourge of Iron” is just pounding.
Hopefully album will do well when it comes out. I mean, I know it’s a cliché to say that “It’s our best album”, but it’s definitely up there, since it sounds fucking amazing and I think the songs are all great. We’ll see.

MB: You refer to the fans as “kids”. Because of Cannibal Corpse’s long history… how does it feel to see that the fans are getting younger and younger?
It’s sad! [laughs]. Nah, it’s good because it means that there are new people that are getting into Metal it, be it through their friends or families. It’s good that there are people showing this music to, for instance, their younger brothers.
But, yeah, it is… well, it’s not sad, but you start to feel old. It feels like yesterday I was 25 and I got in the band and… well, it wasn’t yesterday; it was a while ago.  But it’s a good feeling that metal is carrying on and that the younger generations are getting into it; not just into us, but all the other bands out there. There are a lot of young bands that are up and coming, and that those kids are going to grow up with, and they’ll be their Cannibal Corpse or their Deicide.
So, it’s sad only because you feel old, but at the same time it’s not sad, because it means that the music scene, the metal scene, is healthy. It’s good for the scene, death metal, black metal, extreme metal, metal in general, it’s good that there are kids that appreciate the old stuff as well as the new stuff, and the present bands. It’s good that there’s people that are still listening to metal and that, of course, they’re young people, since it means metal is still alive, and that those who hate it and want it to go away they can, basically, fuck off… it ain’t going nowhere.

MB: Cannibal Corpse was a completely new thing for the metal scene, with a very unique sound. Did you ever think, that with this sound, lyrics and imagery, you’d last this long?
Well, why not? I don’t think anybody gets in a band and thinks “how long are we gonna be around? How long are we gonna be doing this?” I think you do it because you love doing it, and next thing you know time flies and you’re on your 40s and you’re still doing it.
I never pictured myself being 40 years old, let’s put it that way. I was too busy playing shows, touring and having a great time, not realizing that time was moving along and wasn’t going to stop for us. I don’t look back at anything badly; we’ve had a great run (and it’s still going) and we’re not ready to give it up. I’ll do this for as long as I can. If you love what you’re doing, why stop doing it? Why would you retire from something if you can still do it at the same level you’ve been doing it and have fun. That’s the big thing , if it’s not fun anymore then there’s no reason to keep doing it.

MB: In this time, has your approach to life, or just to your music, changed too drastically?
Well, things have changed. The band is a bigger band than when I got in the band; we all built the band into what it is now. Well, I also have two kids, so I see things differently as far as that goes, but I still see playing shows the same way. We just want to go out there and kick ass. Just play a good show, people are paying money to see you and, hopefully, we can live up to the standard that we’ve set for ourselves, what we think people expect from us.

When I go on stage sometimes I say things that are kind of the same thing every night for a certain song, but sometimes I think “I gotta say something here!”; but it’s hard to make up things on the fly.
I don’t look back on all the different things we’ve done and… well, I would say that I would do it all the same, for the most part. When you look back at records it’s the same; there are album in which I go “I should have done this” or “I should have done that”. For instance, when I’m performing “Scourge of Iron” there’s a part in which I do a higher scream that I didn’t do on the record, and it makes me think “Why that fuck didn’t I do that on the records!?”. But, regrets? There are worse things in life to regret

MB: Cannibal Corpse has been criticized repeatedly for the violence in its lyrics as well as in its imagery. Do you even pay attention to this sort of stuff anymore?
No. I don’t know if we did back then! Every time we go into Germany, which is the one place that is always giving us the most hassle, the bus rolls in, we go into the club and they say that we can’t play this or that song. We go “but we played it last time!”“Well, you can’t play it this time”. We don’t know what’s the difference. That’s the only time when we pay attention to it, when we the kids in yelling for certain songs and they’ve told us that we can’t play them or they’ll fine us. That’s what bothers us, since that’s hurting these kids, since they came to the show and they want to hear certain songs. There are always certain songs that we’re not gonna play, but that’s our decision.
If it’s a specially popular song, like “Fucked with a Knife” (and a lot of people don’t want us to play it), for a while in Germany we could play that song without any problems, but we couldn’t play “Hammer smashed face”, or “Covered with Sores”; now, what sounds worse, ”Fucked with a Knife” or “Covered with Sores”?! You quickly start to realize how little sense it makes, so you start to simply not care. If somebody wants to wave our covers on TV and then bitch about us then go ahead, we don’t care. We don’t have covers that are disgusting just because we think we’re gonna sell more records, it’s not strategically planned like “this is the most disgusting one!” Really, we just look at it from the standpoint of a horror movie fan, like “Maybe you could cut the arm open a little bit more…”.
Most of the time we don’t even have to do that, Vince comes up with the stuff, we just give him a general idea.
It’s because we have a big name; there are a lot of bands in the underground, that these people don’t even know about, and it’d be good if they were showing their records on TV too, since it’d help them to be noticed by people. At the same time, however, it kind of sucks that some people are talking about your music and your covers in that way but for us that has been a part of the band and it goes hand in hand with us; you have crazy artwork, crazy lyrics. The music, which should be first gets lost… but that’s the territory, that’s what we’ve had for years and it’ll probably still be a part of our life. As I said, we don’t care; we write the music, we put the album covers out, or we get Vince to draw what we like and that’s that. We’re not going to sit here and think about who’s bitter about it.
If somebody would put something on TV or it was in the paper we’d simply be like “check that out!” .

MB: To some extent, you’ve been a victim of censorship; at the same time, as a musician, you’ve been a victim of MP3 trading. You’ve probably heard about laws like SOPA, PIPA, the ACTA treaty, etc., so what’s your view on it, since while the MP3 thing may affect you financially, the possible repercussions on free speech do strike close to home.
G: First of all, I wouldn’t say we’re a victim of censorship, We just get badgered by assholes who have nothing better to do than to worry about bands instead of fixing real problems in that world.
That being said, as far as downloading goes I’ve always said that people don’t realize what’s they’re doing. If I bought “Reign of Blood”, when I was a kid, and I know for a fact that I’ve had 3 different copies of that album in Vinyl. I left one of those copies, by mistake, on a friend’s car, it was really hot out, so it got warped and I had to buy a new one, and I did it. In this day and age, if I bought it and something happened to it, I would probably not have a problem with somebody downloading it a that point, because you’ve already bought it and you’ve paid your money for it, so you should be able to get it, instead of having to buy three copies like I did when all you had were vinyls and cassettes (CDs were just coming out).
Now, in the case of people who just sit at home and just download everything and never buy anything can fuck off. Plain and simple, fuck off, fuck you. You can sit there and act like you support the bands, you’re gonna go to the concerts, if you’re not happy with the show you’re gonna be bitter and maybe bitch at us or something, but you never even bought the albums. I people realized that they’re just taking money out of people’s pockets. The problem is that they think that we’re all rich, since we’re in a band; if you’re in a band and you’re doing tours, especially a band of our “stature”, you gotta be rich… But we’re not. I don’t live in a mansion, I don’t have 10 porsches and 5 corvettes, I don’t have any of that stuff. I don’t have a 500 bedroom house, I’m not a movie star, a football player or sports star; we’re in a band, we don’t have to work because we make enough money with it, but most of our wives and girlfriends have jobs to help out with the bills and things like that. You are, one way or the other, stealing from people.
If our album would sell, before downloading, 150 thousand copies, and then you cut that in half or more, you take away 100 thousand copies. You do make money out of selling records as well. I mean, most bands make money from merchandise and tours, but when your records sales are not good that does affect things, because people will only want to pay you based on what your record sales are. Nowadays everybody knows what’s going on and understand what’s happening, namely that people are just downloading things. They think that they’re not hurting anybody, but if you keep doing this and eventually nobody buys our albums and you ruin the record industry then there’s not gonna be any more music or it’s going to be changed so much that you’re gonna put record labels under, you’re gonna screw the bands that don’t have the ability to put their albums out to as many people as they’d like to, even though there’s the internet. Kids can’t stay on the internet 24 hours a day looking at bands, you gotta rely on websites and things like that. There are tons of free samples of music online, and I wish there was a way that would allow people to only listen to samples online and then buy the record.
Now, at the same time, I know that there are kids that aren’t rich, that their parents don’t let them listen to metal music so they have to do it “underground”,  so I guess that in that case downloading would be fine, but that’s usually not the case, it’s just a bunch of fucking people who are lazy assholes who don’t wanna work or don’t wanna spend their money on this. I know that times are tough but, in general, if you can afford to legally buy records and you still illegally download shit, you are hurting a lot of people, you are taking money out of people’s pockets and this is regardless of how easy it is to think that it’s all hell raising, drinking whiskey and beer, and partying all the time. This is a job, especially for a band like us, for whom this is our work, we don’t go home and have another job. We’re practicing for another tour and then we’re back out on tour. When you’re taking money out of people’s pockets… if you keep doing that then we’ll have to get other jobs, then we won’t be able to tour as much, and then you’ll be complaining that we didn’t come around to your town this year. I’m not saying that illegal downloading will make the whole of that true, but it is hurting band, you really are fucking bands over. If you cut down sales by 10 thousand records, it won’t kill us, but there are a lot of bands for whom that’s a huge number, and who are really struggling to get out there. It’s just not right. It pisses me off.
Don’t fucking download shit illegally, it’s not cool. I hear people going “Why? I’m not gonna pay for that. They’re all rich, it doesn’t matter!” and then 50 thousand other people agree with that, so you’re fucking all this other people over and taking money out of people’s pockets.  Trust me, this is a job, it’s not as easy as people think it is.

MB: Going back to “Torture”; were there any differences in the production, recording or even the writing of the album, as compared to your previous work?
Well, they recorded most of the record back in Sonic Ranch, where we did a few other albums, then they came back up and finished the guitar in the Erik Rutan‘s studio, where I also did the vocals, and the mixing was also done there, etc. So everything was done in two different studios.
Preparation wise, I don’t know, that’s more about the guys and how they write the songs, etc. I don’t think it was much different. It’s just practice, you know? People write their stuff at home, they show it to the guys until you get the song down, maybe there are some small tweaks here and there etc. For me, Alex or Paul writes the lyrics and arranges the vocals, then they’ll send me the tapes doing the growling and then we record it. Sometimes I might make some changes, like I might notice that they didn’t notice some stuff while they were writing the stuff and we’ll do that.
When it comes to the preparation, practice makes perfect. It’s all about repetition.

MB: I love the band, I love the songs, I love the covers. But we can definitely agree that they’re all fucked up.
G: Sure!

MB: Well, two little daughters… How much do they know?
G: [laughs] They don’t know any of my songs. Most of the music they’re interested in is stuff that’s in cartoons or soundtracks, that’s pretty much all they listen to. For a while, while we were in the car, I was playing the “Heaven and Hell”  album, and they’d even know some lyrics. Like “miiisty morning”.
The Cannibal stuff? Not really, since they can’t understand the lyrics and they usually don’t really care.

MB: And how do you think you’re going to explain “weeell, there’s this monster coming out of this lady’s vagina…”
I’ll have to cross that bridge, when and if it happens. I don’t have lots of our CDs lying around, I had CD racks and shit like that. If I listen to music in the car, I try to keep them away from stuff that’s really filthy.
When it comes to our music, if I played it, and I could play it for them, they would never even understand half the lyrics, since I sing at such a fast pace anyway. They’d just be like “daddy growls!” And that’s pretty much it. I’m not gonna show them the album covers and the lyrics or anything like that because they’re just learning how to read, and we have some big words anyway!
If they come to me when they’re in their teens or whatever, when they’re that close to go out into the world, to get a job and whatnot… but right now they’re just 5 and 7 years old, so they’re too young to even understand any of that stuff. If they would ask me about it I’d just say “It’s just some monster cartoon… now go away to your toys”.

MB: Any final words for the fans?
Thanks for the support … and stay metal!

Thumbnail photo by Felix Marcus.