We chat with Cannibal Corpse
24 years on and death metal veterans Cannibal Corpse are still going strong. The release of their latest album, Torture is sending the 5-piece on a national Australian tour this October.
Drummer and co-founder of the group, Paul Mazurkiewicz, says things have only gotten bigger and better since 1988, with Torture being their greatest and most diverse work yet. “It’s a culmination of where we’re at today, a mix of everything. We’re just constantly trying to become better musicians,” he says.
The last two decades have seen the death metal crew pump out a heap of material, Torture being their 12th studio album; but the drummer says it’s all in a day’s work: “We just do it when we need to.”
“We’ve been doing it for so long, it’s what we’ve wanted to do our whole lives,” explains Mazurkiewicz. “When you make it a profession you work a little harder to maintain it and keep it going. When it comes down to it,” he says, “it’s the love for the music that keeps it going and keeps it fresh.”
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Buffalo-born group though, having endured many lineup changes along the way. Some have left, others have been kicked out, it’s all in the name of progression and wanting to make good music.
Mazurkiewicz asserts: “Changes need to happen to make the band better. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes you still need to do some tweaking and make it work, and I think that’s where we’re at.”
Does the drummer believe that where Cannibal Corpse are at now is one of those times? “Right now we’re definitely the most consistent and get along well, working together as a team, this is the best line up we’ve had,” he confirms.
Working together to create “stories”, as Mazurkiewicz prefers to call them, Cannibal Corpse have spent many hours watching 80s horror films for inspiration.
Classics such as Halloween, Friday The 13th and The Thing come to mind, but the drummer says there are far too many to name. Once an idea is hatched from sources such as these old-school flicks, the magic happens and new stories are produced.
“Lyrically it just sort of comes from imagination. Once we have at least a title or concept, I kind of have an idea of what I want to go with in story form. I always try and look at it as a short story I’m writing,” he says.
The band’s (usually controversial) album cover art is produced in a similar process, as the band work alongside artist Vincent Locke.
“Sometimes we’ll come up with a concept and give him (Locke) a concrete idea, or sometimes we just give him an album name or song titles and see what he comes up with. He’s got a great creative vision very similar to ours when it comes to what we want to visualise in a gory, fictional, fantasy book kind of way. So it’s a mix of us coming up with ideas and him coming up with ideas and working together and making cool covers,” the drummer says.
This cover art, however, has seen the death metal group going through a lot of grief, with some countries banning the sale of their merch – in Australia you’ve got to be 18+ to purchase your own Cannibal Corpse goodies. How do the band deal with that? “We don’t,” Mazurkiewicz laughs.
“We don’t even think about it. Things happen, and we get banned, for whatever reason or to whatever capacity, and then we’re un-banned, we don’t even know what happens half the time. Obviously it’s very brutal subject matter, it’s not for kids, so I can understand that.”
Although Mazurkiewicz agrees it may restrict their fan base to an extent, it’s clear that Cannibal Corpse are less than worried, as their following is well and truly thriving regardless.
“We’re still going to all these countries, we’re doing better than we ever have, we just let it slide off our backs and not let it bother us. It’s nothing to be concerned about, it’s not detrimental to what we’re doing at this point. It’s a bit ridiculous, but we’re still here and we’re still working forward and that’s that,” he concludes.
Hitting Australia on a nationwide headlining tour this October, Mazurkiewicz can’t contain his enthusiasm to head back down under, but adds the worst part about touring is being away from family – a death metal head and gory lyricist being a big ol’ softie, fancy that?
When asked what his daughter thought of his music, the husband and father of one laughed, “bring your dad to school day is a little different for us.”
“My daughter is still a little young, she’s six-and-a-half, she just saw me play for the first time two months ago. It’s not really her music, she’s more into regular kind of music I guess, but it was fun to have her watch. We’ll just see what happens in the future, if she’s a fan or not, I really don’t care.”
And his wife? “My wife of course is supportive. She’s not really a big fan of death metal, but it all has to work in some way. Being away from your family for a lot of the time takes a toll on everybody so we’ve gotta work harder and be on the same page. Luckily that all works out for me. I’m lucky,” he adds.
When they’re not writing albums or performing to packed out venues, Mazurkiewicz says Cannibal Corpse are a bunch of surprisingly mellow dudes.
Despite being able to lyrically create a gory masterpiece, the drummer doesn’t believe in killing animals for food. “I’ve been a vegetarian for about 10 years now. I just decided I didn’t want to eat animals anymore, so I don’t. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t add up,” he laughs. Talk about an antitheses!
Torture is out now and Cannibal Corpse begin their Australian tour on October 4th at Fowler’s Live in Adelaide. Then play Melbourne’s Billboard the following night, Sydney’s Metro on the 6th, Brisbane’s HiFi on the 8th and finish at Perth’s Capitol Theatre on the 9th October. Details and ticketing here.