- Mon, 2009-03-02 17:12
Despite being repeatedly targeted by the US morality lobby, being banned in Australia, New Zealand and Korea, banned from performing any material off their first three albums in Germany (where their album Butchered At Birth is outlawed completely!), Cannibal Corpse have accomplished quite a lot in their 21-year-long career.
Currently co-headlining a tour with Children of Bodom and playing sold out shows across the world, Cannibal Corpse are still transcending the very boundaries of death metal. Sej Davé caught up with drummer, Paul Mazurkiewicz for a quick chat about Kiss concerts in ’79, worldwide controversy and how, after eleven albums, their cult audience keep coming back for more Corpse!
"I Like Music because… it moves me. It can put you in a different frame of mind or a different mood. Music is such a powerful medium and everybody can enjoy music. There’s no right or wrong it’s all just personal preference. Music will be around forever.” Paul, Cannibal Corpse
ILM: So, back to grass roots: How did Cannibal Corpse come about as a band?
Paul: Well, we’ve been around for a little over 20 years now and Alex and I are the only original members left. But, yeah, originally me, Chris Barnes and Bob Rusay were in a band called Tirant Sin. And Alex and Jack Owen were in a band called Beyond Death. We were playing around Buffalo, you know, a ‘local bands just getting started’ kind of thing; both bands fell apart at around the same time and that was when Cannibal Corpse was formed.
ILM: Have there been any bands/acts/artists that have inspired your career and even your life?
Paul: Of course! I mean, we grew up in the golden age of heavy metal and thrash metal in the early- to mid-80s. So when we first heard bands like Metallica, that was a huge difference in music at the time. You know, we were listening to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath; in a more modern sense, yes, Metallica were a very big influence in the early days. And then Slayer came out, which of course took the music to another level and now most death/thrash metal bands will say that Slayer are one of the biggest influences that they have. So, we were just growing with the scene and getting into heavier bands like Kreator, Sodom and Dark Angel. It was definitely the era of inspiration for us.
ILM: Known for your raucous live shows and endless amounts of energy on stage, do you attempt to capture that intensity on your records?
Paul: Yeah, definitely. We’ve always been one of these bands who have had to be live first. And I think that’s how this kind of music should start out. You know, when you’re playing to a packed house and the adrenaline is flowing from the fans, from the band, you feed off each other. Our goal has always been to write music that we can play and then try to get that down in recorded form. So, we have always done the best we can to replicate the energy we have on stage to our records. We hopefully succeed in doing that.
ILM: So, out of the gigs that you have played throughout your career, have there been any that have had a real impact on you?
Paul: It’s hard to say, there have been so many great countries and so many great venues. The obvious choice would be Wacken festival in Germany: the last Wacken festival we played, I think there were about 75,000 people there and it was just crazy to look out and see that many people. But, you know, we really have great shows wherever we go. We’re fortunate to have such a great fan base.
ILM: What tunes are you listening to at the moment?
Paul: Personally, I’m kind of reverting back. I’m in to a lot of classic rock ‘n’ roll. So a band that I am listening to right now are called Sir Lord Baltimore. They’re actually an old Brooklyn band from the 70s; they are very obscure and only released one or two CDs.
ILM: What is it like being signed to Metal Blade Records and do you still have creative control of your music?
Paul: Oh of course. We have always had creative control; I don’t think we would have stayed with them otherwise. It was an issue that was very important to us from the beginning. Really, since day one of us signing with them, we’ve had pretty much one hundred percent of the creative control. And obviously for us to be on this label for this long, we have a good relationship with the owner and the people there have become pretty good friends over the years. We are very happy with them.
ILM: Do you have a set process when it comes to writing or recording music?
Paul: Nowadays, it seems to have fallen into this mode where everyone is writing individually. In the early days it was a lot of collaboration. I mean, the first three CDs were written that way, where we all worked together and before you knew it we’d written an album. Now it’s definitely a little different, for example Alex wrote say seventy-five percent of the new CD and he’ll write at home in his own little studio. He’ll write the song and then just bring us the music, with a vision of how he wants it to be. The two guitarists, Pat and Rob, are a little more conventional with their writing. They write riffs at home but then they’ll get together with me and we’ll write parts and maybe arrange some. But most of the songs have an individual writer, and maybe one or two on an album will be collaborations.
ILM: What was the best gig that you have been part of the audience for?
Paul: Well, there have been a couple. Obviously, how can you not remember your first show ever? I went to see Kiss in 1979, on their Dynasty tour. I was such a huge Kiss fan, like most boys probably were who grew up at that time. They were in their heyday and I remember just I had to go. I actually went with my family, my Mom, my Dad and my little sister because I had to go so bad and that was the only way! They thought it was… entertaining. My two more modern shows would probably have to be Metallica, when they were on the Ride The Lightning tour, and when I saw Slayer on their Rain Of Blood tour! They were both incredible shows.
ILM: Are you enjoying this leg of your tour alongside Children of Bodom?
Paul: Yeah, it’s different for us. We’re opening in a European tour; we’ve never done this before. It’s been really good so far, and hopefully we’ve gained some new fans along the way. But it’s almost over; I think we have about nine shows left.
ILM: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the band since the beginning. Do you feel that it’s justified or just a lot of hype?
Paul: It’s going to be justified to an extent because people will look at it, especially people who don’t know it, and just take it as book value. And you know, we understand that we might have some problems. And have had problems. But they have been pretty minor for the most part of it, the biggest thing was the issue in Germany, where we were banned and couldn’t sell the first three records for many a year. When you’ve got a name like Cannibal Corpse and we are very horrific in our visuals, some people are going to find this controversial and you know that you might stir up a little bit of something. But we’re playing for our fans (the people that understand!) and ourselves. It’s entertainment!
ILM: Have countries like Australia, Germany and some parts of the U.S. lifted their bans now?
Paul: Well the Germany thing is over. I’m guessing they sell our first three albums now, but we know that we can play the songs. That was a couple of years ago. The Australia thing has blown over too: we played there about two years ago, and it’s more than likely that we’ll be going back there shortly, so things have definitely calmed down there. And in America, we’ve probably had the least amount of problems. A few bits here and there but nothing detrimental.
ILM: You are currently promoting Evisceration Plague. Would you say that this album marks a new chapter for Cannibal Corpse?
Paul: Yeah, I think a new album always does. You know, I always look at it as the next chapter in the Cannibal Corpse story. We’ve been doing this since the beginning; obviously there have been a few slight changes along the way but at the end of the day it’s still Cannibal Corpse. You can put on our first album, even through to our last album, and know it’s us. We’ve stayed true to our original style.
ILM: After 11 albums and 21 years, how do you keep your audience, who have reached almost a 'cult' status, coming back?
Paul: I think it’s just sticking true to what we did, what we started. People know what to expect from Cannibal Corpse. Our fans obviously love that and I know that when we were growing up as fans, we loved that! Being able to count on a band and when they release their next CD you know it’s going to be what you’re expecting. Maybe not exactly the same as the last but nothing is going to be drastically different. We do what we do and that is playing some serious death metal. And I think that is why we’ve been able to sustain our career and our fan base.
ILM: What can your fans expect from you in the coming year?
Paul: Well, a bunch of touring as we’ve just released the new CD. We’ll be touring almost all of 2009, all over the world. The cycle just kind of continues with us: we release an album, we tour for it, take a little time off and then we do it all over again!