Death Metal is chiefly characterized by the monstrous and demonic vocals. Smug faggots call it “cookie monster” vocals, but usually such faggots would not be able to win a fight against cookie monster, let alone the average death metal vocalist. The music can be simplistic or intricate, in common time or with bizarre time signatures. Orchestral instruments, or even operatic vocals have been incorporated at times.
This interview with Paul Mazurkiewicz, conducted by Bill Zebub, was published in issue $6 of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds (1996).
Hast thou done many interviews thus far?
Yeah. We’ve been doing a lot. Today and yesterday as a matter of fact,
Does everyone start out with “What happened to Chris Barnes?”
I guess that one’s going to be the big one tonight. Is that what you’re going to start out with?
No. I wish not to speak of this. (pause) I was just jesting with thee. I’ve heard that it was a very nasty thing. Hopefully thou wilt not be giving me the public relations speech instead of the dirt.
Well, if you want the dirt, I can give you the dirt.
I beckon the dirt.
It’s been a long career for the band, but we’ve really had to go through a lot of bullshit in the past – little things here and there – basically just him being an asshole and us dealing with it. The band almost broke up a couple of times. I don’t know if you’re aware of that. Me and Alex officially quit for like two days after the tour for “Butchered” because we were really pissed at Chris. He was fucking up on the road. He ended up… not really taking money, but doing things behind our backs – things that should be band decisions – he took it upon himself. I could get into many a thing. Just to sum up, things escalated when we went ot do the new record. We had all the music done. When he came to do the lyrics, it just wasn’t what we wanted. He’s very stubborn to work with. He just wants to do everything himself. He wouldn’t take any advice from anybody. When he went to do it, we were very unhappy with the vocal structures. The lyrics were just redundant. There were many instances when we said, “Hey! We don’t like this. We’ve got to changes stuff.” He gets pissed at us. He’d rather get mad than sitting down and saying, “Hey man. I need some help. Let’s all work on this as a band.”
When we’re writing, it’s trial and error. When it came to vocals, he wanted to do that himself. We looked at that as wrong. It was starting to slack in a lot of aspects, especially his performance level. there was definitely a hate thing going on. There was a tension for years. It wasn’t like we were friends anymore. It was just business. Before we kicked him out, for months I didn’t even call him or hang out with him. nothing. He was too into himself. Everyone is below him. He’s out of the band and he lost a few friends.
Wert thou terrified of expelling him because Chris Barnes is perceived as Cannibal Corpse? He is a trademark entity.
Initially, maybe for a minute. The people are gonna freak. But George was our first choice. We knew he’d do a killer job. We knew he could write better lyrics and come up with better vocal patterns. We almost didn’t even hesitate. he learned a song in two days, and it blew Chris’s away! It is, by far, heavier than anything that Chris ever did. Chris actually did lay down, like, six songs. That obviously will never be heard by many people.
What wouldst thou say if it came out on a bootleg CD?
Well, if it did, there’s only five people in the world hat own those tapes. It’s not even on a studio tape. Morrisound doesn’t even have it on the reels. It’s just on personal cassette. Chris has one. If it did get out, we’d know that it was either one of us, or Chris.
I give the prophesy that this will happen.
We’d know that it was Chris and we’d have to take some pretty fuckin’ drastic action.
You’d have to. He’s a money-grubing… We had to change the logo because he wanted money. He’s just trying to get money fro previous record sales. So we said “Fuck you! We’ll change the logo! It’s a new band anyway!”
It’s Cannibal Corpsegrinder.
Thou wert rumored to have expelled Chris in favor of a more commercial direction.
I didn’t hear about that one.
A band does not always hear the whispers.
We wanted to get more vicious because Chris just wasn’t anymore. George can belt it out. He’s got the killer lungs for it. We’ve been killing it on the music and we needed somebody up on our level in that way. Chris doesn’t like playing fast anymore. I can tell he wasn’t into Cannibal Corpse. He was only in it for the money. We’re doing good. We’re making a living. He was praised at being the best – placating his ego. He took it for granted. “Whatever I do is gonna rule because I’m Chris Barnes.” That’s why he did Six Feet Under – strictly for the money.I mean, ANYBODY can do that stuff. Whatever.
The irony is that, when I interviewed him for the previous issue, I asked him how the other members of Cannibal Corpse felt about him touring when there was an album in progress, and he was confident that thou wouldst not exile him.
He did delay the mixing because when he did his vocals, he was gonna go out on tour and then mix his vocals when he got back. We were a little ticked about that. The way we viewed it, he was looking at Six Feet Under as his full time band, and at Cannibal Corpse as his side project.
Was Mr. Corpsegrinder trying not to stray too far from the Barnes approach?
We weren’t looking for anyone who sounded like Chris, obviously. We wanted George to be George. He’s got a brutal voice on his own. We wanted it to be better, catchier, faster. We weren’t worried about filling Chris’s shoes. The vocals finally fit the music.
Dost thou think that the position of drummer is the most demanding?
Physically, yeah. Definitely. I’m sweating every night – not that those guys aren’t busting it. It’s a different thing when you’re at practice. They can just sit there and not be furious, whereas I have no choice. I can’t slow down. I’ve got to be belting it out so I can be doing this every night on stage.
Some pretentious mainstream drummers criticize death metal for being nothing but stamina.
Unless they can do it, they shouldn’t be knocking it. It’s a weird style of drumming. You’re not gonna pick up any drum book that’s got death metal drumming. Some of those guys might look at it as noise. I try not to think about it. It’s just what I do.
Is it not ironic that some people who play bubblegum punk rock look down upon metal while their own music is simple?
Yes! They look at our style as shit. Look at bands like Nirvana that write three riffs and sell millions of records. That’s all you need- just one riff and a catchy vocal pattern. I guess they have to laugh in that respect. “Look at us. We must be better. We’re selling 500,000 records. People like us more.” That must be their attitude. We can’t let that bother us. We’re busting our asses out there, and then there are sucky bands out there making a lot more money.
Is anyone in the band going to get a gay alternative hairdo?
No. Not any time soon.
What dost thou think of bands like Obituary that wear baggy clothing on stage?
Whatever. I don’t mind it. Alex and the other guys like to wear black t-shirts and jeans. It’s just that whole changing thing now – a lot of bands are not sticking to death metal, like they should be. They don’t want to. But we want to stick to what we started. We’re death metal. I’m sure we’re always going to portray it in the manner that it should be portrayed.
No slicked-back hair and goatee?
No. We’re wearing shades in the new picture. That’s about it.
That is the extent of it?
Yeah. We might wear a white t-shirt. I guess it’s not that big of a deal. The music should speak for itself. As long as you’re brutal, that should be enough.
Thou maketh thy kit do much.
Yeah. I never really looked at it that way. It probably does not sound like I’m using a massive kit. But I’ve been refining my own style. It seems like it’s a lot more controlled. There might be a song where there’s not one fill at all… not one roll. Then there’s songs with a lot of fills and a lot of rolls. I’m just concentrating on strong beats, doing what’s best for the song.
Hast thou meta many of the publicists at Metal Blade?
Yeah. We met and talked on the phone now and then.
Hast thou met Mat?
I don’t think I met him. I talked to him on the phone a couple of times.
How dost thou feel about a person who lisps and talks like a complete fag to be promoting thy brutal music?
(laughs) What can we do? I mean, he works at the record company. We’re not freaking out too much. He does have kind of a soft voice. That’s all right.
This interview with Dan Swano was conducted by Bill Zebub for issue $6 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS which was published in 1996.
I heard thy one-song album for the first time yesterday. I was wondering if that entire song was recorded from start to finish without any breaks.
The only one-song album that thou hast ever made. “Crimson.”
O.K. Edge of Sanity. Yeah. To be honest, it wasn’t really recorded in one take because, you know, in the studio we recorded each instrument separately, so I guess the drums were playing for like five minutes at a time. But it’s not like any digital editing or anything like that – to make it sound like one song. It’s just that, at one point, you have to change the tape, that’s all. So I think thirty two minutes are actually recorded from the beginning to one point, and then we recorded the next eight minutes on another tape. That’s the only break, really.
What made thee decide to put out an album that is so unlistenable and so unmemorable? Dost thou not think that thou wilt lose the listener?
No, not really, because the reviews we received so far in Europe have been so overwhelming that I think we could do this always. This is a good record to separate the listeners that I want to listen to our music and not, because there’s a lot of people out there that should not listen to Edge of Sanity. They’re not the right people to do it. If they don’t like “Crimson” then farewell. They should never listen to us again, because this is really what we’re all about. This is the ultimate release.
The only people I know who enjoy the song are pseudo-musicians. Dost thou think that thou hast geared this album toward musicians?
Yeah. I guess a lot of people who listen to it are musicians. I think that they realize that we were a cool band already around the first or second album, because our songs have always contained, you know, the stuff that we formed in “Crimson.” We haven’t really changed our style. All we did was we took away the parts and just did one song out of it instead of trying to make ten songs. There is no difference in the music. The weirdest passages we have are very short, like one minute or something like that. We don’t want to win some time. We just wrote a track and it happened to be forty minutes. That’s basically it.
Dost thou think that because it is formatted as one song, if a person likes material on a later portion, it would be a tremendous inconvenience, being that one must manually skit twenty minutes or so?
He should never do that. “Crimson” should always be listened to from beginning to end.
Is that really thy attitude?
Yeah! You can never really listen to the track just to a part. That’s impossible. Of course, you CAN do it, but that’s not the point. I’d rather see “Crimson” as a movie than as a record because, if you have a favorite part of a film, you have to fast forward to that part just to look at it. But we want people to follow us from the intro to the outro. That’s where we want them – on the couch , listening to the music , not thinking of anything else but what comes out of the speakers. So that’s on purpose. They should listen to the whole, or not.
With each album there were increasing amounts of nontraditional elements. Wert thou trying to expand death metal?
We have already done that. We’re not able to take it any further. We have actually touched the extreme for quite a while, and we have been over that line a couple of times doing Goth rock. People just accept it anyway. I don’t know why, but they do it.
Wert thou vocally trained?
No, not at all. My voice flips out after doing a few minutes of growling stuff, so I guess that’s pure torture for my voice. I learned the basic technique over a ten year period. I prefer the long way in anything. When I play an instrument, I never take a lesson. I don’t want a teacher to tell me. I want me and the guitar to work it out together. One is dumb, the other can speak.
Are the Swedish more open-minded about changes in a band than Americans?
I think the Swedish people sometimes change the music of their bands too fast. They play death metal on the first one, and then are grunge on the second one. I guess the Swedish audience has problems accepting that a band can do a major change, but they also have a problem when a band doesn’t do a major change. It’s a contradiction all the way through.
I think that the way is is marketed should be changed.
After the second album we said that we’re a metal band. We’re like alternative metal. I rather see fans of bands like Dream Theater see it as the most extreme thing that they can cope with than to see a Cannibal Corpse fan think it’s too corny. We’re the most brutal band to SOME people. That’s my goal. Myself, I don’t listen to death metal at all. I prefer to listen to soft stuff.
Dost thou not think that it is foolish to say what thou hast confessed?
A lot more bands should say it! they should not hide that they listen to Stryper records. My heart has never been in death metal. The way that I think of our music, it’s not death metal at all. We did, like, one and a half death metal albums in the early days. If someone should think that we’re wimps because I don’t like death metal, they should see the other guys. They only listen to rap. They’re not into death metal at all. They cut their hair – colored it rose and pink. All we have in common is that we’re playing it right now. We like writing it, but we don’t like listening to it.
Dost thou not fear being heckled, or violently beaten?
No, because if they’re such narrow-minded assholes, I don’t care.
This is a well-produced album that is mostly black metal, guitar-wise, but there are other styles that come into play, especially with the presence of leads. The vocals are within the male spectrum, not the screechy-bitch staple of the genre.
I found a video that is a much better way to reveal the band. Enjoy.