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Cannibal Corpse: Headlong Into Carnage

American death metallers Cannibal Corpse play in India this month. Their vocalist George Fisher aka Corpsegrinder debunks genre trends and discusses their latest album in this exclusive interview

Anurag Tagat Apr 08, 2015
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Cannibal Corpse. Photo: Alex Morgan.

Cannibal Corpse. Photo: Alex Morgan.

Most singers wouldn’t think twice about getting their vocals insured and the likes of Bruce Springsteen have had their voice insured in the past, that too in millions. It shouldn’t be different for the vocalist of the biggest death metal band in the world, George Fisher aka Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse. The band has been wreaking havoc with its gory, brutal, no-holds-barred death metal since 1988. Although Fisher only joined the band in 1995, he’s been the face of the band since. Over the phone from his home in Tampa, Florida, Fisher says, “I don’t know if they’ll insure a death metal singer.”

But what about insuring his gloriously gigantic neck? Fisher has often joked about his neck in interviews and how he’s strengthened it over years of headbanging. Fisher’s relentless windmill headbanging is part of the spectacle that fans in India will witness at Cannibal Corpse’s debut India show at annual music festival CultFest in Bengaluru this month, alongside fellow American deathcore band Suicide Silence. Says Fisher about getting insurance for his neck, “I’ve never had any real pain in my neck, but it’s not a bad idea. Just in case, because it’s really part of the whole show. It’s my neck, spinning around. It’s crazy. The neck is probably in the best shape than any other part of my body. My shoulders and sometimes, my lower back hurt more than my neck ever has.”

In an interview with ROLLING STONE India, Fisher opens up about their recently-concluded American tour, collaborating with Suicide Silence and members of Killswitch Engage and the time their music was censored.

How did your recent American tour go?

It was awesome. It was one of the best tours we ever did. Great crowd, the bands we’ve already toured with. We’ve been on with [Polish death metallers] Behemoth multiple times. It was great. We just played Europe before that ”“ in November and December. It was packed.

You’re making it to India this month for your first show here. Were there a lot of offers to play here before this one worked out?

We had offers before and what not, but everything never ended up happening. I don’t think it ever got to the point where we’re going to go, but didn’t. We had other offers, or prior commitments or didn’t have the time. This time, it just worked out perfect. We were going to be off this tour [US] and coming into open space and put some more shows around it.

Cannibal Corpse has performed in South East Asia before ”“  what has the experience been like? 

It’s great. We’ve pretty much been everywhere, you know. There are very few places we haven’t been that we could. India and South Africa are two of the last places that we haven’t been. We haven’t been to Alaska as well. A few places, but we’ve pretty much been everywhere.

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You’re also playing in Israel before the India show. Have you ever had any problems getting your music there?

We played there before ”“ we played there the day after my 40th birthday, five years ago. We had our luggage lost, but that was the only eventful thing. But otherwise, it was great. People were great, the show was great. We didn’t have issues there at all.

We’ve had issues in a lot of different places but mostly just because of our music. No one’s ever had any issue with anyone in the band or anything like that, so Israel was fine. This will be our second time there. We’re pretty excited to go to all these different places. We don’t go there all the time. There’s just some places where it’s not feasible to go.

There were times in the past where the band’s music and setlist were changed. What was your initial reaction when something like that happened?

Well for me, it was in Germany [early Nineties], where they started”¦ basically, we couldn’t play songs from the first three albums. That was the first time that I ever encountered any issues with the band. We play places where they don’t want us to play certain songs. It’s unfortunate. I think some people are taking the music ”“ the lyrics ”“ way more seriously than they should. Obviously, lyrics are written not as a joke, but not with any message either. It’s more like a horror movie.

It’s pretty much like you’re writing a story.

And people take it too seriously and think that we’re pushing an issue or something we believe in, but it’s not. It’s nothing like that. We’re just playing music that we think is heavy, brutal and lyrics are like horror movies, the lyrics just follow suit. We all individually have our own beliefs and thoughts about politics and things and so, there’s no reason for us to argue with ourselves about ”˜I don’t want to sing about that’ or ”˜I don’t want to write about that’. We don’t do that. We seek out something that we like, which is horror movies. The lyrics are graphic, some people take it more seriously than we do.

So in Germany, when that happened, it was unfortunate. Kids want to see certain songs and when they tell us we can’t play them, it sucks for the kids. We can play any song, but we want to play the songs we know the people want to see. It’s unfortunate that it happens, but once we get out of our country, it’s out of our hands. We’ve had issues and I’m sure we’ll have them again, because for some reason, people seem to think that we’re murderers or something [laughs].

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How has the new album, A Skeletal Domain, been received? Is it easy or difficult for Cannibal Corpse to top their previous records?

I don’t think it’s ever easy. It’s a total challenge to create something that’s better than the previous record. Always, when the new album comes out, you’re thinking how much better than other albums. It’s a cliché that people when asked ”˜What do you think about our new album?’ They say ”˜It’s the best!’ Obviously, you feel that way. You’ve been playing the songs off the last album about 500 times at this point and the new album is always fresh and it’s hard not to think that way. We’ve heard nothing but good from the reviews and the fans, who matter the most. A lot of them think it’s one of our best albums and to hear that this far into your career, that’s a good thing.

It’s hard work and you’re definitely conscious of not rewriting riffs or doing something that’s the same as the last record. Going to a new studio kind of makes the sound fresher. DIt’s definitely one of the best records we’ve done. We’ve played new songs off the album live it’s been received well. We’re really confident about it and happy with it.

You guys recently hit another landmark ”“ selling two million records. Was there a point where record sales were the most important thing to the band, or the label?

I don’t think anyone’s ever pushed us as hard as that. Sure, we’ve sold more records, that’s not a bad thing, but I mean, they [Metal Blade records] have never really come to us and said, ”˜Hey, we’ve sold these many records and now we need to sell more’. There’s never really any pressure with that. We want to sell our records, of course, we want more people to listen to our music but it’s hard to tell these days about how many people got the record, because people illegally download them. From record to record, it fluctuates, you know? We totally understand the fact that record to record, it [sales] can change. Some people download and some people don’t. They think it’s not hurting anybody but they do. You don’t get credit for a record if somebody downloads it.

For the full interview, pick up the April 2015 issue of the magazine.

Cannibal Corpse will be performing in Bengaluru on April 11th, 2015, as a part of Cult Fest 2015. Event details here.

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