“We’re releasing and writing music because we want to and I think that’s a big reason why we’ve been around almost twenty five years.”
When I was to interview Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse about the release of the band’s 12th studio album, Torture and their upcoming US tour, I couldn’t believe it. I’d interviewed bands before but Cannibal Corpse is special.
Cannibal Corpse was at the beginning of everything I have ever known as death metal. I had the good fortune of attending the legendary Milwaukee Metalfest back in 1991. This was at the height of death metal’s explosion in the US. In one day I saw Deicide, Obituary, Cancer, Malevolent Creation and of course Cannibal Corpse.
After that day I continued to follow the careers of all those bands. I continue to do so today. If you asked me personally who I thought was the best, I would tell you Cannibal Corpse. Not because they overcame, crippling lineup changes, unfair controversies or were publicly banned throughout the world but because Cannibal Corpse has gotten better with each release despite these often career ending problems.
Please enjoy some excerpts of our 3/16/2012 interview:
David Halbe: Cannibal Corpse has just released their 12th studio album, Torture. When you started the group back in 1988 did you ever anticipate this kind of longevity?
Paul Mazurkiewicz: No. Of course not. When we started out back then we were just thinking about the present, making some cool music that we enjoyed listening to with our friends. We weren’t thinking past writing the next song, hoping to get a chance to play live someplace. Success is always gonna be a dream in the back of your mind as a fan of music but the reality is you got to work hard and take it day by day. We made it a point never to think further than that and for us to look back now, being in the position we are now, it’s just unbelievable the amount of things that have happened to us throughout our career. We never anticipated or expected any of this would have happened and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the opportunities we’ve been given. For us to be around as long as we have is remarkable. We are living a dream.
Dave: What songs off Torture will be included in your live set for the American leg of the tour?
Paul: We’re not quite sure exactly yet. I know we will be playing “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”. More than likely we will be playing “Encased in Concrete” since we did a video for that song. There’s a good chance we might throw in a couple more like “Scarcophagic Frenzy”, “As Deep as the Knife Will Go” and “Crucifer Avenged”. Hopefully, we’ll have it finalized next week because the tour isn’t too far off.
Dave: What’s your favorite song to play live?
Paul: We’ve got a lot of good songs, a lot of fun songs and I like to play all of them but “Hammer Smashed Face” is always a great song to play live. Arguably our most popular song, it’s always fun seeing the crowd react to that. I like to play “Make Them Suffer“, “Unleashing the Bloodthirsty“, “I Cum Blood,” I mean, you really gotta like all the songs you have and have fun with them, otherwise, it could be a long night up there but the songs that I just mentioned are at the top of the heap.
Dave: With a new album just released, how do you feel about music downloading websites like iTunes or Amazon?
Paul: If it’s done legitimately through those places its cool. It’s a different era, some fans of ours may want to do that but I think for the most part our fans want the physical product, even the younger fans, I think that’s just the way metal is. It’s personable and I think it applies to the whole genera of metal, whether its black metal, death metal or metal in general, people seem to want the physical product and I think that’s a good thing.
Dave: How has Cannibal Corpse managed to remain relevant musically?
Paul: I think we all try to progress musically, get better at our instruments, write better songs, and become better musicians. We always strive to write a good song, something brutal and catchy, dark and gloomy but the key word is catchy and to still be heavy is something we’ve been able to do throughout our career. We’ve always stuck true to our game plan and given it one hundred percent whether it is writing songs, recording or playing live. I think that it shows. If we didn’t care, people might be able to pick up on that, instead they know we’re passionate about it. We’re releasing and writing music because we want to and I think that’s a big reason why we’ve been around almost twenty five years.
Dave: Plenty of up and coming death metal acts list Cannibal Corpse as an influence, how does it feel to be considered a cornerstone of death metal?
Paul: It’s a cool thing. We’ve been around a long time and we’ve rubbed off on some people, fans who became musicians like we did with our idols. You know you’ve done good when you’ve inspired others, I remember the bands that inspired me.
Dave: What groups inspired you, Paul?
Paul: The bands I grew up with in the 80s. We started with Black Sabbath then got into Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and then Metallica comes out. We’re teenagers at this point, just growing with this movement of music then Slayer comes out. Obviously, Slayer is a big influence on us and a lot of other death metal bands. Personally Dave Lombardo is my ultimate influence for the drums. Then bands like Kreator, Sodom, Dark Angel and Sacrifice started taking things to a different level, arguably an even more aggressive level, these were all huge influences on us and Cannibal Corpse was formed right around that time.
Dave: With the recent popularity of “The Big Four” (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax), who would you like to see as the big four of death metal after Cannibal Corpse?
Paul: For me it would be the four that were really heavy and relevant back in the early 90s. On paper I think it would be us (Cannibal Corpse), Morbid Angel, Deicide and Suffocation. That would be a pretty cool death metal big four kind of a lineup.
Dave: Earlier you mentioned Dave Lombardo from Slayer, I’m sure you’ve heard about Tom Araya’s recent back problems. Slayer and Cannibal Corpse are only a few years parts, both bands are still playing extreme music, are you ever concerned with the wear and tear on your body?
Paul: Well, you just gotta do what you gotta do to stay healthy by getting the best sleep that you can, eating as good as you can, staying hydrated and all that. I’ve always been an active person so I try to keep being active but there’s only so much you can do, I mean, we’re doing some physically demanding stuff, we’ve been doing it for years, we’re not getting any younger. Luckily for us there haven’t been any major issues in that sense but then who’s to say that couldn’t happen at any time at this point so we just gotta take it day by day and try to take care of ourselves, so far so good.
Dave: I couldn’t see anything on the website so I gotta ask, are you coming to Chicago this year?
Paul: Yea, we will be here for the Summer Slaughter Tour. Chicago of course is a major market for any kind of music and we always have a great show in Chicago. It’s a great scene, great fans for Cannibal Corpse, always one of the highlight stops. We were fortunate enough to play the House of Blues the last bunch of shows, but of course Summer Slaughter is coming to Chicago and it’s just a question as to when that date will happen.
Dave: Hey Paul, just one final question, part of the new album was recorded at the Sonic Ranch Studio in Texas. Did you use that same wicked drum set you played in the Wretched Spawn video?
Paul: (Laughs) Yea, I did and it’s still holding up, sounds good. They got some great gear at the Sonic Ranch. It’s a great place to work and we were happy to go back there again that’s for sure.
Dave: Thanks Paul, I really appreciate your time.
Paul: Thank you for the interview and we’ll see you in Chicago in a few months!
Cannibal Corpse are:
- Pat O’ Brien – Guitars
- Paul Mazurkiewicz– Drums
- George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – Vocals
- Rob Barret – Guitars
- Alex Webster – Bass
This article was originally published 03/24/12 by Metalrecusants.com