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Interview

Paul From Cannibal Corpse Dishes On His Inspiration, "Torture," Staying Fit On Tour, and Pro Sports

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Band Photo: Cannibal Corpse (?)

Having just ended their first US tour for their newly-released 12th studio album, "Torture" (reviewed here), the members of Cannibal Corpse aren’t planning on resting long before touring again. MetalUnderground.com was on site for a show report on the band’s stop in Nashville, TN on April 30th and to catch up with drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, who noted that Cannibal Corpse is going to Europe in June and coming back later in the summer to do the US Summer Slaughter tour. No stranger to video interviews, Paul discussed “Torture,” the songs he wrote on the album, staying fit through the brutality of aging, and professional sports with MetalUnderground’s Frank Serafine on video below.

Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): "Torture" is pretty fresh on the market right now. We caught up with Rob in February after one of the gigs, and he kind of explained the process behind the album. So I have a different Q&A for you today. The song "Sarcophagic Frenzy," he explained, is about zombies. With 'The Walking Dead,' 'Resident Evil' getting so highly publicized nowadays, do you see the public’s tastes shifting to be more accepting of the gore genre?

Paul Mazurkiewicz: Yeah, I think that would be a fair assumption to make. Like you just said, 'Walking Dead', and all these zombie movies… They’re probably more popular than ever, these days. I kind of tie that into how we’re doing as a band on our twelfth CD, the amount of units we’re pushing, debuting at #38 and all that, it’s just remarkable. It just goes to show me, exactly, that society is being more receptive to brutal things – to death metal, to horror, to zombies and all that stuff. It’s a good thing! It can’t hurt us! It’s only gonna help. We’re glad for this zombie rush.

Obviously, we’ve been doing it for years. It’s nothing new to us, so the fact that more people can be into it is a huge plus.

Frank: What do you think caused that shift?

Paul: It’s hard to say. I think it just might be the fact that… You know, I look at how death metal has gone and how our career has gone – we’re going to have been around 24 years this December. It’s not new anymore. You know? This isn’t new. Like horror movies and zombie movies. They weren’t really that new in the 80s, but when you think of the scheme of how many years… 'Night of the Living Dead', what was that, late 60s? It’s still fairly new, but at the same time, we’ve been around 30-40 years in these mediums. I think it’s just society changing and society being more receptive to this kind of stuff.

Like you said, it’s not new and it’s not "underground." It’s more mainstream in a sense. I hate to use that word, but it really is. Like I said, when we’re going to sell 10,000 records in our first week, we’re not doing anything different in that sense. We’re not changing what we do. We’re Cannibal Corpse. We’re brutal death metal. So, if we’re going to sell 10,000 records, it’s not because we’re playing softer or we’re playing songs that are more acceptable to the masses. Obviously, if we are more acceptable to the masses, well then that just shows me that society is changing.

There’s always young up and coming new kids and new fans and all that, and they’re getting into it at an earlier age than ever before. I think that has to do with the fact that it’s been around. It’s not brand new. We’ve been around a quarter-century. That’s how I feel about that.

Frank: What sorts of things inspired the songs that you wrote lyrics to this time around?

Paul: It’s all from within. I think we’ve been around long enough, as well. For myself, personally, it’s not like I’m sitting around watching all these movies and trying to gain all this inspiration. It really comes down to “We’ve got songs. We know what they’re going to be about. Obviously, we’re not changing our subject matter too drastically. It’s always going to be about death, murders, zombies, and all this… So it’s kind of coming up with something maybe a little bit different than what we did in the past.

For me, it always starts with a song title. We’ve got a song like “Encased in Concrete.” It’s a cool song title. It’s a cool name for a song. It’s a cool concept. So when we decide to make a song called “Encased in Concrete,” it’s pretty self-explanatory what the subject matter may be about and all that. That comes from within – making up the story and all that. Delving into my own imagination. That’s how I write. That’s how all the five songs that I wrote came about. They came with song titles first, and then you figure out what the subject matter may be about and then I take it from there. I delve into the imagination and let that take over.

Frank: You worked out some back problems in the behind-the-scenes videos from the album. Have you ever thought about lyrics about how brutal that was, with that torture rack kind of stretch machine?

Paul: (laughs) I know, right! It’s very similar. Obviously, we have two songs in specific that are pertaining to torture devices – strangulation chair and the intestinal crank. Those are actual torture devices. I wouldn’t call the inversion table a torture device because it really helps, you know? And it made me feel good. If anything’s going to make me feel good, then it’s not a torture device. It might look like one, but it wasn’t. Things happen, injuries occur. It’s coming down to just getting golder.

Those things happen at any given moment. I never really hurt my back playing drums. It just so happens that time that’s documented. We put it online, there you go, and it’s never happened since. I just hurt my back two days ago, and you know how I did that? Bending down to pick something up. So, it’s just part of life. It made for good storytelling. It happened while we were recording. It could have been a dilemma. Luckily, it wasn’t. We got that rectified and did the inversion table and that really helped. If anything, we’ll have to delve into the “getting older” kind of lyrics – it’s torture in itself.

Frank: Like an “adult contemporary death metal” genre?

Paul: (laughs) Hey, you never know. We’re getting up there!

Frank: Well, obviously it didn’t affect you much, because you even nailed one of the songs with one take this time around.

Paul: Right. Luckily, like I said, we do the drums first. That’s the groundwork to recording. That needs to get done. If I’m not getting finished, then there’s not much for the other guys to do. Then you’re wasting money, you’re wasting studio time and all that. Obviously, that was just an unforeseen physical thing that happens. Luckily, we rectified it, because if I wasn’t able to go on that day, the rest of that day would’ve been lost. That was just one of those things that happens. The next day I woke up, I was fine and we moved on and there you go. It’s just a matter of dealing with things like that and we do it on a daily basis. Those things are going to happen pretty much any time or could, and you just got to deal with them.

Frank: So you used a metronome for the last two albums. Rob also said you’ve been practicing a lot more. How has this affected the creation of your drum parts?

Paul: Tremendous. I think it’s apparent if you follow the band and you know how we do things and how we’ve done things on the last couple of records. Incorporating the metronome for “Evisceration Plague” and the writing. That was an extremely new thing for me, and that’s obviously well-documented, as well. To me, looking back, in comparison between “Torture” and “Evisceration [Plague],” and how everything went with the whole process, when we started writing for “Evisceration [Plague]”, it was so new. I only had a few months to really adapt, and I don’t think it was long enough.

I was as well-prepared as I could be for when we went into the studio to record “Evisceration [Plague]”, but, looking back, was I a hundred percent? No, because it was too new. I still needed time to work to get a feel for it more. When we started writing “Torture” and pulled up the metronome, and here we are, started writing… It was night and day in my ability. It’s not new anymore. I had a feel, and then I was like “Wow!” The more you play to it, the more you get it in your head, and the more you practice, the easier things are going to come.

When we started writing, and I started doing parts, I’m like “Man, I’m able to play around the click as opposed to kind of like where I was for 'Evisceration [Plague]', where I was playing with the click but that’s about it.” I wasn’t playing around it as much as I would have liked to because it was very difficult to absorb that and get that going. I think it’s apparent, if you listen to the drumming.

They’re both great albums. They’re very precise. There’s great drumming on “Evisceration [Plague]", but I think there’s more going on in “Torture,” and that really is because of me being able to wrap myself around the click a lot easier, being able to do more things freely around it. I felt so much more comfortable. I think it’s apparent. I’m doing a lot more.

Frank: With Erik Rutan doing production again this time around, how was the experience at Sonic Ranch this time?

Paul: It was great! Obviously, we did the last three with Erik, and then this time, changing it up and going to Sonic Ranch to do at least half of the record. It was new for Erik. We’ve been there before, and that’s why we wanted to go back. We wanted to mix it up a bit and not just go and use Erik’s studio. It was a great experience. I think Erik enjoyed it. He’s never worked there before. It was a little different for him, but we knew it was going to help.

Living on the grounds, not having to worry about traveling and driving and home kind of things… It was very important for us to just concentrate on the job at hand. It was a little more difficult to do that just doing it all at Erik’s when we’re all just living at home, having to drive over an hour, and then you’re still dealing with things that happen at home. Unless it’s something life or death, you’re still home. You might still have to deal with some things and that could maybe tear at your mental state a little bit more.

So it was great going back to the studio. We had a great time, and hopefully we’ll go back.

Frank: How has touring with Exhumed and Abysmal Dawn been so far?

Paul: Oh, it’s been great, man. All three of these bands -- Arkaik, as well. Great bands. Great guys. We’ve done some stuff with Exhumed in the past, but we like to showcase up-and-coming… Exhumed’s been around, Abysmal are fairly new for the most part, and Arkaik. It’s a great package – great brutality. Everyone’s getting along. Great guys, and we’re having a good time.

Frank: You’re obviously pretty fit and healthy, as a drummer. How important is it to keep healthy on tour?

Paul: Important as can be, exactly! We’re not getting any younger.

Frank: What sorts of things do you do to stay fit on tour?

Paul: I just eat. I try to eat right. I try to stay hydrated and get as much sleep as I can. I’m not a big workout kind of a guy. I feel like I get enough of a workout behind the drums. Maybe I should lift some weights a little more, but it’s never been me. What it just comes down to, I think, is what I just stated. Being hydrated, getting good sleep, not a big surprise to any of that. That’s just what people probably should be doing in life to make you feel a little bit better, anyways.

Frank: On that topic, you got noticed by PETA a few years ago.

Paul: Yeah.

Frank: They nominated you for “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian.”

Paul: Yeah, something crazy, I guess.

Frank: You lost out to Prince that year!

Paul: Yeah, you know, it was just all in fun. "My name’s gonna be in there? Whatever." Obviously, there are a lot more notable vegetarians more famous than I am! (laugh) It’s just kind of fun.

Frank: Nearing your 24th year as a band, what do you find is your biggest tour hobby now?

Paul: Nothing, man. (laughs) Staying in contact with the family. I don’t do much. It’s pretty boring. It’s pretty boring on the road. Everybody thinks it’s all glamour and fun constantly. We’re getting older. You take your rest when you can get it. On a day like today or days off, you just enjoy relaxing and not doing too much. For me, in particular, it’s the perfect time for playoff hockey! We’ve been watching playoffs every night. Having hockey every night – that was huge.

If anything, that’s been my hobby on this tour. If we’re talking another month, we wouldn’t have playoff hockey, so it’s good to have that.

Frank: Playoff basketball is on, too!

Paul: Yeah. I’m not a big basketball fan. I’ll watch that maybe towards the end, but I’m a huge hockey fan, so we’re watching hockey every day.

Frank: Are you going for the Nashville Predators at all?

Paul: I don’t mind them. I’m glad, but it’s bittersweet that they got Paul Gaustad, who was a Buffalo Saber – been there for ten years. I’m, of course, a big Sabers fan, being from Buffalo. That’s my team. They’re out now. It’s a little tough. I like other teams winning. It would be kind of cool, Nashville. I think I’m going a little more St. Louis. I kind of like the older teams that have been around for a little while that haven’t won it. I’m still a little weird about expansion teams and teams that get relocated and stuff.

My team’s out, but either way, it’s really just about good hockey. As long as you’ve got good games, that’s all that matters.

Frank: Last time, you said in the last interview I did with you, “We’re doing what we want to do. We’re a brutal death metal band. We’re not doing anything that’s commercially viable, but we’re selling a lot of records.” Cannibal Corpse is obviously successful. Have you ever thought about doing a side project outside of Cannibal?

Paul: Yeah, I’ve done a side project. It was about ten years ago, I did one with Jack Owen, actually. About ten years ago, we had a project in Tampa, so we actually played two shows in Tampa at a small bar called the Brass Mug. It’s actually a pretty good hotspot for extreme music and underground metal and all that. We played two shows, we made some home demos, and we were going to see if something came out of that. Basically, Jack didn’t want to do it anymore and it fell apart and what have you.

It was fun. That was about ten years ago and lasted maybe about a year or so, but it fell apart and ever since… nothing. It would be kind of cool. [We’re] really busy with Cannibal, obviously. We’ll see what happens, but it was a lot of fun doing that. Maybe in the future, that could be something I’d look into.

Frank: Your tour cycle for the last record lasted two years.

Paul: Exactly. It’s going to be no different for “Torture,” so it really comes down to how much work you want to do and how much extra things you want to accomplish. Like I said, we’re very busy with this band and it takes a lot out of you – a lot of time and effort and all that. So, we’ll see what happens. Right now, I’m not having as much of an itch as back when we formed that side band. We’ll see, you never know what the future holds.

Frank: Do you guys have another leg of a tour coming up after this part is done?

Paul: We’ve just got different chunks. I mean, we’re going to Europe for June and doing a bunch of festivals, headliners, some opening slots, and we’ll come back and do the Summer Slaughter in the summer time. We’re going to Australia and Japan in October, and supposed to be doing another tour in November in the states. It’s just a bunch of worldwide stuff throughout the year and well into next year.

“Torture” just came out a couple months ago, so obviously, we’re in the early stages of this touring, but it’s good to be busy. We’re very happy that we’re busy and we’ve got the work out there for us to go to these places and play for the world. We’re happy about that.

I appreciate it for the interview. Thanks for the fans for the support. Keep supporting death metal and Cannibal Corpse – If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here. METAL! (growls)

For more on “Torture,” synchronized head bangs, and zombie lyrics, guitarist Rob Barrett spoke with MetalUnderground in February.

Progressivity_In_All's avatar

Frank Serafine is an avid writer, music producer, and musician, with five albums to his name. While completely enamored with metal, he appreciates a wide range of music. He also works full-time at the American-based performing rights organization, SESAC.

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1 Comment on "Video Interview With Paul From Cannibal Corpse"

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1. Rex_84 writes:

Paul is representin' with the gang signs on the wall. haha. West siiiide!

Great interview, Frank. You sound very relaxed and intelligent. Talking to CC about zombies is a couple steps away from talking to George Romero.

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