Sarcophagic Frenzy… Sure, Why Not? An Interview With Cannibal Corpses Rob Barrett

January 21, 2012 by Chris Grosso

Death- Pronunciation: /dɛθ/ noun [mass noun] The action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism. Origin: Old English dēath, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dood and German Tod, also to die.
Metal- Pronunciation: /ˈmɛt(ə)l/ noun [mass noun] A solid material which is typically hard, shiny, malleable, fusible, and ductile, with good electrical and thermal conductivity. Origin: Middle English: from Old French metal or Latin metallum, from Greek metallon ‘mine, quarry, or metal’
Cannibal- Pronunciation: /ˈkanɪb(ə)l/ noun A person who eats the flesh of other human beings. Origin: mid 16th century: from Spanish Canibales (plural), variant (recorded by Columbus) of Caribes, the name of a West Indian people reputed to eat humans.
Corpse- Pronunciation: /kɔːps/noun A dead body, especially of a human being rather than an animal. Origin: Middle English (denoting the living body of a person or animal): alteration of corse by association with Latin corpus, a change which also took place in French (Old French cors becoming corps).

 The Rob Barrett Interview
TIS: So your new album Torture reminds me at times of your early 90’s releases like Butchered at Birth & Tomb of the Mutilated. Would that be a fair statement and if so, was it a conscious decision on the bands part to go that route?

RB: Yeah, I totally agree with that. Usually when we’re asked what the new album sounds like compared to our other work, it would be pretty much a continuation of Kill and Evisceration Plague but then a good couple of the songs are back to the older style like Tomb of the Mutilated and Butchered. We made a conscious effort to try and keep a couple of songs in there that relate to the older style so it’s a good mix of both the older and new style.

TIS: Nice, I’d definitely agree with that. Something I also really like about Torture is that while each song is as heavy as the next, they don’t sound the same, which keeps it interesting for the entire duration of the album. Can you tell me about the typical songwriting process for Cannibal Corpse, and if it varied at all for this album?

RB: Well before we started writing for Torture, we had conversations about what we were trying to go for on this album and it basically came down to us agreeing that Alex, Pat and myself would attempt to write four to five songs each and then choose the twelve songs we were happiest with to put on the album. Around the time we got to about three months before going into the studio, we had twelve songs already. Alex wrote five, Pat wrote four and I wrote three, so we decided to stop writing at that point and to just concentrate on the twelve songs that we had and go from there. When we were actually writing the songs, we did make a conscious effort to try and make each song standout alone, so that it wouldn’t sound like one person wrote half of the album and someone else wrote the other half. So it’s split up in an even way where we could actually concentrate on writing each individual song to sound different from one other, even the ones that one person specifically wrote.

TIS: I’d personally say you definitely succeeded. 

RB: Thanks a lot man.

TIS: Of course. So changing gears a bit, I’d read in a recent interview with Alex in which he said you guys don’t drink or smoke before playing live as you want to give the fans 110%, which I think is really commendable. Can you tell me more about Cannibal Corpse’s overall relationship with fans and what they mean to you guys?

RB: We definitely regard our fans as our lifeline. Without them, we’d probably just be one of those bands that’s enmeshed in the pile of thousands of bands. Our fans are the ones who’ve put us where we’re at and made us stand out by supporting us for this long. They’ve enabled us to last this long so it’s a no brainer for us to make sure we have our wits about us when we’re playing a show. We won’t smoke, drink or party before the show because our fans deserve our best effort. We take it very seriously. We’d hate for someone to walk away from our live shows disappointed after spending their hard earned money because someone was wasted and we sounded like shit.

TIS: Yeah, that’s excellent and your fans obviously notice it and appreciate it. So Cannibal Corpse has been together over twenty years now and you’re still incessantly touring. The amount of live shows along with the brutality of the music you’re playing has got to have begun taking its toll on you guys bu this point, right?

RB: Sure, especially in comparison to years ago, it wasn’t as physically draining then. These days we’re playing about an hour and twenty minutes for our headlining shows, so we have to be conscientious about conditioning ourselves, and like I said earlier, not partying during the day, eating and sleeping right. Basic stuff that helps you to live a healthy life, so we’re hanging in there. We still have a lot of gas left in the tank (laughing).

TIS:  I’m glad to hear that for sure. So Cannibal Corpse is synonymous with dark and evil imagery but I wanted to flip that and ask about one of the funniest tour experiences you remember having.

RB: Well, of course there’s been tons of funny moments. Just to kill the time we’ll joke around and laugh. If we’re getting into specifics though, I’d have to throw out the Hatebreed tour we did a few years back. It was right before Thanksgiving and we had a day off so our merch guy Kenny, and tour manager Pete, grabbed a ton of thanksgiving stuff like a turkey, autumn leaves, cans of cranberry sauce, stuffing and shit like that and they put it all in George’s bunk. They just piled all this Thanksgiving themed shit in there and when he went to go to sleep, he had a pretty big surprise. Then right before Christmas, they did something similar, wrapping his entire bunk with wrapping paper and put a stocking up with bells and other decorations. It was really funny to see that and I was expecting him to be pissed and have some sort of tirade but he actually laughed both times and thought it was funny as hell. So that’s just stuff that happens to pass the time and see how far you can push someone sometimes.

TIS: That’s cool he was a good sport about it. And it’s cool you mentioned Hatebreed as I’m from CT and they’re obviously one of our own. How was your experience touring with them?

RB: It was a blast. It was a few years ago but we had fun. It’s always good to tour with bands that play different styles of music so each band, from each style, has a chance of winning over some of the fans of the other bands. It’s good to mix it up every once in a while for sure.

TIS: Nice. So it still cracks me up to this day every time I see the scene in Ace Ventura with Cannibal Corpse on stage. How was that experience for you guys?

RB: It was a lot of fun. We got a call from Metal Blade saying they wanted us to go and shoot a scene for Ace Ventura and we all thought Jim Carrey was hilarious from his acting on In Living Color. So we flew down to Miami from Buffalo and spent like three days down there. We spent an entire day in the venue in South Beach playing Hammer Smashed Face a bunch of times until they got what they wanted for the scene. There were a bunch of extras there and most of them were people we actually knew from the scene from when we’d play shows. I’d lived in Miami for a year and a half before I joined Cannibal Corpse so it was a kind of big, fun gathering of friends hanging out. It was also a little strange being in our twenties and shooting a scene in a movie, but it was definitely cool.

TIS: Sounds like a blast, and is it true that Jim Carrey insisted on the band being Cannibal Corpse for that scene?

RB: I’m really not sure if that’s 100% true but from what I’ve heard, he did hand pick us. When we first heard about the offer I think we already had a European Tour setup for the dates they wanted us to go shoot the scene, so we couldn’t make it for when they wanted us because we already had that tour. They were considering a couple of other bands but from what I’ve heard, he specifically said no, let’s wait for them. So again, I’m not 100% sure how true all of that is but that’s what I’ve heard, that he was pushing for us to do it specifically.

TIS:  That’s awesome man. So what’s in store of Cannibal Corpse for the rest of the year and beyond?

RB: Well we just did the Full of Hate Tour in Europe, which ran from the beginning of February until a couple of days before the album came out on the 13th. So we did that with Behemoth, Legion of the Damned, Suicidal Angels, Misery Index and that was a lot of fun. It was a great tour with packed houses in big venues. Then we did five shows with Triptykon, Enslaved and Job for a Cowboy in England and then we came home. We’ve been rehearsing in preparation for our upcoming tour with Abysmal Dawn & Exhumed. After that we’ll be doing some summer festivals in Europe. We’re just beginning the tour cycle of the Torture album so we’ll probably be touring for a good two years.

TIS: Well my best of luck to you on the new record, and years and years of touring.

RB: (Laughing) Thanks. I really appreciate it and hope to meet you when we hit the Northeast.

TIS: Definitely.

Visit Cannibal Corpse Online Here

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.