Interview with George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of Cannibal Corpse
Band Photo: Cannibal Corpse (?)
One of the most extreme and best-known metal bands is currently on the Decimation of the Nation 2 Tour. Cannibal Corpse have been bloodying the world for 20 years and have gained a large, devoted following while offending and revolting "sophisticated" people. Many of us grew up with their horrifying messages in our ears and their incredible art in our eyes. Vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher sat down with me while the tour played in New Orleans for a long discussion of politics, tours and WOW. A transcribed version follows.
Buick Mckane: Welcome to New Orleans.
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher: Well, thank you.
Buick: How’s the tour been going so far?
Corpsegrinder: Awesome. Everybody’s cool, all the bands are cool, shows are going smoothly, you know? Crowds are good. Partying, having a good time.
Buick: And you got Crowbar playing tonight too.
Corpsegrinder: Yeah, that’s awesome. I didn’t even know they we’re playing here until five minutes before you came here. I had no clue, but that’s cool.
Buick: You’re latest studio album “Evisceration Plague” came out earlier this year and it’s gotten really good reviews and it’s been your highest-charting album to date, so congratulations about that. Your bassist Alex Webster said that you try to make each album heavier than the last. How did you do that this time?
Corpsegrinder: I don’t know. [Laughs] Well, I think we have a couple of songs that are a little bit slower; the title track “Evisceration Plague.” I think, maybe, we mixed it up more with speed, not that there’s not fast songs on the album; there are. I mean, some people get worried when they hear that the album is slow or something. I don’t know if, overall, it is. I think, obviously, because we did this; this is the second album we’ve done with Eric Rutan. Guitar sound-wise…when you start to record with somebody for multiple album, you start to know what they’re gonna do or what they’re going to go for, and, obviously, the guys here, they know what they want, they know what they’re shooting for. And then you come together in the studio and try to…sometimes people butt heads, and it’s our record, we’re gonna record it the way we want. But some people butt heads. But it’s not that way with Eric, he’s awesome. He’s a great guitar player in his own right. For me, personally, vocal-wise, he’s a great singer too. He sings and plays. It’s easy for me to record with him. I think he’s, in general, not pushy. I mean, he’ll definitely offer ideas, he knows what we’re going for ‘cause he’s a death metal guy. I never know if we beat an album or not; that’s really not for us to decide, or if we made an album heavier. And right away, we can say “yeah [it’s the heaviest],” when the album is done. But, it will take a while for us to listen to it. We’ll get on tour and we’ll say, “Put the album on.” “Put ‘Kill’ on,” the album before it. “Let’s hear that. Alright, now put ‘Evisceration’ on. Let’s compare that.” On a couple of the tours we do, I think when we toured with Children of Bodom, we put it on, “Evisceration on, just to hear it. Because, by the time that it’s done, right away, you might listen to it a couple of times, but then it’s like, “Ugh, I don’t want to hear it anymore.” I’ve heard it five million times, those guys have heard it even more doing the tracks. I just go in for the vocals, and I hear it enough as it is. We want to make it heavier, but it’s not an easy way to describe how we go about doing it. We just try to write the songs we think are the best, you know; that are representing what we are, and also making it still interesting and not just the same old stuff; just throwing it out but constantly rearranged. Some people might accuse us of that. I don’t know. I think things have never been better for the band, really. But, I think that always striving to be heavier, I don’t know; music’s really damn heavy right now. Heavy music is being accepted a lot more than it was. I don’t know if we can get any heavier or not.
Buick: How do you choose your setlist?
Corpsegrinder: Well, we start with “Hammer Smashed Face” ‘cause we know that’s always gonna be in and then we just sort of mix-and-match. We know what songs people like; there are still some songs outside of “Hammer” that are classic like “Fucked with a Knife” and “Make Them Suffer,” “I Cum Blood.” It gets harder because there are some songs that are maybe more obscure that really die-hard fans will know that we want to pick. Especially on a tour like this where we’re not playing to just our fans only. There’s going to be different people here that listen to Hatebreed and know who they are, and probably only know our name and have never heard us. We want to put songs on that are more current and, also, we want to play to the old-school people that are coming who have been with us for years, they’re gonna come see the shows. It gets harder and harder; obviously, the more songs you have to choose from. “Hammer Smashed Face” is the only untouchable song. “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” is pretty close because we link them together. “Hammer” and “Stripped” [are together]. But I would still say that “Stripped” isn’t one that we would not get rid of. It’s close. “Hammer” is the only one. It’s basically, “’Hammer,’okay, let’s put that on the list.” You know that’s there, and you figure it out. And then we listen to what people are yelling for. Over the course of a tour, you’ll heat “Pounded Into Dust” or whatever song people are yelling for; we’ll hear it a lot. And we’re thinking about, we’re always thinking, “Hey, I heard a lot of kids yelling for that.” Some of the songs are songs that I’ve never done with the band or Pat’s never done with the band from years ago. Sometimes even Rob if it’s something from the first record. So then we have to go and learn it or relearn it, start practicing it; and it’s hard. We have so many songs, and we want to play songs that we want to play, but we want to play songs that people want to hear. One thing is that we’ll be playing and we’ll start realizing the crowd reaction to certain songs. After we’re done playing “I Cum Blood” or “Hammer,” we hold notes out and go into “Stripped, Raped and Strangled,” but people still go crazy because “Hammer” is our song. But, also, when I announce “Make Them Suffer,” we notice through people that the song is pretty popular. And we are thinking about that. If we do a song that’s kind of obscure, we haven’t done in a while or have barely ever done, and we don’t get the same reaction, “Okay, we might not want to do this one anymore.” It’s hard, though. It’s hard to make a list out. Especially opening [a show]. If we’re doing a headlining show, we do 18 songs or 20 songs. Our rule has always been to try and do at least one song from every album. It’s not possible on an opening tour. But a headlining tour, if we do 11 songs [one from each album] and we have a 20 song set, that leaves 9 more songs, and that’s not a lot of songs when you consider…it’s almost enough to do two songs from every album, but “The Bleeding” is an album that has the most amount of popular songs on it. That’s probably our most popular albums. Maybe a few years from now, “Evisceration” will be in and we can put some of it out there, but then we’ll have two more albums out! It never ends!
Buick: Some of your albums and artwork have been banned in a few countries because they’re so graphic, of course. Do you think that that could happen with anything else you write or was that because of a certain time?
Corpsegrinder: Well, it’s possible. Look, we had a problem in Germany for a while; we couldn’t play songs from our first three albums, a bunch of stuff. We just played I think it was in Munich, and the same thing happened. “You can’t play this, you can’t play this, you can’t play that.” We couldn’t do it, you know? I think that, if they dropped it and said, “We don’t care anymore,” and they have. Since we had the problem is when I got on the band in ’97 or ’98, something like that, that’s not when I got into the band, but around that time, they came to us with the papers with us to sign saying “we won’t play this, we won’t play that.” It’s ridiculous. But, we signed those papers, and 10+ years I think it was, we weren’t allowed to play anything from the first three records, period. That was it. So we were like, “Okay, so we can’t play “Buried in the Backyard,” but we can play “Dismembered and Molested.” You know what I mean? Two song titles like that make you realize how stupid that sounds. We have plenty of songs on every album that are probably going to be just as offensive as some of the older songs. But for whatever reason, they only ban those songs, then they lifted it, our label said you can play whatever you want, that problem’s not there anymore. And then we played in Munich and, before we got to Munich, they sent us this whole big letter “You can’t play this here, blah, blah, blah, they can do this, they can do that.” Okay, so we didn’t do it. Now, who’s to say that somewhere along the line, they’ll do that in all of Germany or other parts of Europe. Who’s to say that they don’t start following suit. That’s not up to us; it’s out of our hands. But, you know, that happened and we’ll see. Because, like I said, there’s some albums with really bad song titles on them, some of the songs, we don’t even play, but if somebody sees them, they automatically…they have no clue what’s going on; they don’t know what songs we play, they don’t know how long we’re playing, they don’t know any of that. [They just say] don’t play songs from any of these albums. Who’s to say that they say “Don’t play at all, don’t come here.” You never know. That would be really ridiculous if we got all together banned from a country. We were banned in I think New Zealand and Korea for a while; we couldn’t play there. We have since played there. That was all settled. Who’s to say it won’t rear its ugly head again? It’s censorship, and it’s retarded. To think that one band can do so much damage to the minds of people is ridiculous. Anyone who knows us, take it with a pinch of salt. We’re not killers. We don’t kill people.
Buick: I guess it’s just to show that they’re the boss. “We’re gonna keep this law and enforce it, and you can’t do anything about it.
Corpsegrinder: Yeah, I don’t know the real reasoning behind it. There doesn’t seem to be anything that’s a sane reasoning behind it. It’s a band. We’ve been around for 20 years. You think that, by now, if people are gonna start mass-murdering each other because of our music, they would have already done it, you know what I mean? Probably by the 15-year mark, at least. I don’t get it, but I don’t get politics sometimes at all, if at all.
Buick: You said you played Munich recently because you toured a lot of Europe in October. This tour started this month and ends in December, and then you tour South America in February. That’s ridiculous! How do you keep up with all that time on the road?
Corpsegrinder: You gotta do what you gotta do. Well, the thing is with this tour, if we wanted to be a part of this tour, we had to just come home…we got home the second of November, and we left the fourth for this tour…of November. We had barely two days off at home. I mean, you just do what you gotta do. We wanted to do this tour, and we knew that it would be hard; it’s like 42 shows or something. We knew we weren’t going to have much time off from doing our headlining tour, but we knew that we were going to play less time here. We knew that we were going to play less songs, and so, I guess, it would be slightly easier. But, It has its own challenges, too; you’re opening so things are just a little bit different, you know. Schedules and what not. We’re used to doing tours. We haven’t done it in a few years; tours really, really close together. C’mon, this is what we do. I’m not gonna say it’s easy, but I don’t want to make it seem like it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done because we’ve done similar things where we’ve done tours close together. We were definitely younger then; I’m sure that fuckin’ was better for us. I don’t know. We’re road warriors; we can handle it. It gets difficult. After this tour, we are going to have almost two months off before we go to South America, so there will be plenty of time to relax, play some Warcraft.
Buick: I was about to say, your interest in World of Warcraft is very well known. Do you like any other role-playing games?
Corpsegrinder: I used to play Final Fantasy Games, like, really religiously. At the time that I bought World of Warcraft and started playing it, I was playing Final Fantasy 7 again. And my friends that had been playing World of Warcraft that got me to get the game and what not were like, “Once you get this game, you’re not going to play any other games anymore.” I was like, “Yeah, whatever. Fuck off.” They were right. Since I got World of Warcraft, the only games I’ve played, like last night, we have a Wii on here, and we were driving down the road playing Mario Kart which is fun. That’s cool to play with a couple people and shit. And Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess a few years ago; we had a Wii on a different bus, and I was playing that. But, if I have good internet and I had the time, I will play World of Warcraft over another game. It’s stolen my soul, I guess. I love it. It’s a great game; there’s so much to do. There’s so much I’m missing right fucking now, not being able to play as much as I want. But this is what we do, and I love this more than Warcraft [gestures “a little bit”]. By a lot.
Buick: Do you play Monopoly at all?
Corpsegrinder: I used to when I was younger. I think I have a Lord of the Rings Monopoly at home or Star Wars Monopoly. Me and my friends used to play it, but not like…probably more when I was younger. Me and this friend of mine used to play Monopoly at his house, and we used to eat these Honey Buns and this cream soda that they would have. And I’d be like, “This is for tomorrow night when we go to the fucking store. You owe me this.” “Alright, c’mon.” I would catch my one friend cheating; he’d be taking money out of the thing. That ain’t cool.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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