Warbeast & Rigor Mortis Singer Bruce Corbitt Discusses New Material, Upcoming Tours & Horror Flicks
Band Photo: Rigor Mortis (?)
Bruce Corbitt jump-started the Texas thrash scene when he joined Rigor Mortis in 1986. The group recorded a series of demos and singles that would later comprise the material for the band’s 1988 self-titled debut. Corbitt’s blood curdling screams and maniacal yelling recreated the macabre scenarios of gory, cult cinema such as “Wizard of Gore” and “Re-Animator.”
Along with Possessed, Rigor Mortis’ brand of ferocious speed and rotten lyrical imagery, captivated a budding death metal scene. Many regard them as the first death metal band to sign to a major label when Capital Records released their initial full-length. The Dallas/Ft. Worth band became a staple in the Texas metal scene and the group even released “Foaming at the Mouth” on the soundtrack for the Hulk Hogan film “Mr. Nanny.”
Rigor Mortis bowed out in the early ‘90s, and members pursued other musical paths. Bassist Casey Orr played, and still plays, in Gwar. Guitarist Mike Scaccia had a stint with Ministry. Rigor Mortis reformed in 2005 and has played numerous shows including a performance on the Texas Stage as part of the only date on Ozzfest 2008.
Not long after reforming Rigor Mortis, Corbitt began another thrash band, Warbeast. Originally called Texas Metal Alliance, Warbeast features members of Gammacide, another Dallas-area thrash band. The group signed to Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records and in 2010 released its debut recording “Krush the Enemy."
Corbitt is currently working on new material for each band and has an upcoming U.S. tour with German thrash icons Destruction. Metal Underground.com spoke to the candid Corbitt on the phone just a few days after an epic show with Exhorder in Austin, Texas. Read onward to find what this gore hound had to say.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): All the press about the new material says “Bloodbath” and “The Infected” sounds like the Rigor Mortis of old. Did you and your mates go into writing these songs with this in mind?
Bruce Corbitt: We definitely thought of that. Of course, we want to sound like we should sound in 2011, and not try to recreate the old albums. As it turns out, we are Rigor Mortis, so naturally that is what is going to come out of us. It does sound like “Rigor Mortis,” but there are a few differences in it. We have a unique sound with this band. I think everybody is going to be pleased with the final results of this album, and not be disappointed that we sold out or changed our style.
DC: How was your trip to the studio in March with Kerry Crafton (“Rigor Mortis Vs. The Earth”)?
Corbitt: It was great. He was the engineer on our old Rigor Mortis album, so it was cool. We were freaking out because this was 23-years later and here we are doing it again. We did those two songs. As we write these songs, we are probably going to record them as we write them, instead of getting 10 full songs and then trying to do them all at once. This is a new way that Mike Scaccia (guitars) thought of doing on this new album. I like it because it gives us a chance to concentrate on all these new songs when we are in the studio. We don’t have to hear, “Hey, you have 10 songs to do in six hours, good luck!”
DC: It isn’t as overwhelming that way.
Corbitt: Yeah, I think it gives us more time to concentrate and put everything we can into each song. We are going to send these two songs to different labels. Some of them have been interested in what Rigor Mortis is going to be like. This will give them a chance to hear that we still might have it. You can see it when we play live, so obviously, we can still play good, but they want to see if we can still write a good song. The reaction that I got when these songs were debuted at these three shows was great. There was a good feeling after each show because everyone that talked to us mentioned how much they liked the new songs. That made me feel really good because a lot of times it takes people a few listens to get used to a new song. It seemed like everybody just liked it from the time they heard it.
DC: As I said earlier, it sounds like the old stuff. It’s not like you’re going to put on baggy pants and start rapping.
Corbitt: Hell no, man! We know what Rigor Mortis fans expect out of us, and this is Rigor Mortis. We definitely don’t want to change the Rigor Mortis sound. We could do another band if we wanted to do something else.
DC: Do you have a rough date or timeline that you’ve set to finish this album?
Corbitt: No, Mike already has some new songs in the works. As soon as I get back from the Warbeast tour with Destruction, I’m sure we’ll get together and start working on the next batch of Rigor Mortis songs.
DC: When did you start writing this new album?
Corbitt: We’ve been talking about it since 2005 when we reunited, but time schedules with our other bands and whatever have caused us to put it off. I think it was about four months ago when Mike called me and said he had two new songs. He finally had time to start working on Rigor Mortis. He was thinking about doing a solo project, but he said we had waited too long, and the fans wanted it, we wanted it, so he would rather do a Rigor Mortis album than a solo album. I’m sure that down the road he’ll probably make a solo album, but I was glad to hear that he was ready to move forward and make this new album.
DC: Rigor Mortis’ name alone conjures visions of rigid, bloated corpses. Horror movies were a major source of inspiration for your lyrics. Are there any specific horror films, old or new, that you reference on the new material?
Corbitt: Yes, there is. One of the new songs that we played is called “The Infected.” The inspiration came from the zombie movies “28 Days Later” and “28 Weeks Later.” If you’ve seen those movies, they talk about “the infected.” That’s where the title comes from. Some of the older material was inspired by movies like “The Re-Animator” and “Wizard of Gore” and other horror movies. With the new album, we’re going to do some of that, as well.
DC: Name your top five favorite horror films.
Corbitt: That’s a tough question because I like so many horror movies. I have to go back to the ones that inspired me when I was younger, the ones that scared me to death as a kid—“The Exorcist,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Evil Dead.” I can’t think of another one right now.
DC: What about “The Shining?”
Corbitt: Yeah, definitely because I’m such a Jack Nicholson fan. That one had a big impact on me, too. We’ll put that one fourth and…I don’t know, let’s change it up and say “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” That’s a good five, but if you asked me next week, I might give you five different ones.
DC: How did you coordinate the Texas mini-tour with Exhorder? Do you stay in regular contact with the members of Exhorder?
Corbitt: We knew Kyle [Thomas]. I’ve met him when he went through the Dallas area a couple of times. We never did shows with them back in the day, even though we are from the same era. They would come and play places like Joe’s Garage. The thing with this is they have a similar situation. They had reunited and were planning on doing a new album. I’ve been hearing about them doing shows. People have been trying to book them in Fort Worth for the last year. I was on the phone with Mike and he said we needed to find a good band to go on the road with. I started listing some bands and mentioned them and he said they would be perfect. I started asking around about how to get in touch with Kyle, and then I remembered I’m in touch with him. He’s on my Facebook page, so I figured I would shoot him a message and see if he would be interested in teaming up with Rigor Mortis for the first time. It seemed like in about thirty minutes we were communicating and the process was underway. It turned out to be a great deal. I set up the Fort Worth show. They took care of the other shows. We had a great time with those guys. We talked about heading out on the road again when our albums come out. It would be cool if we could go out for a longer tour. I sure hope that happens. They are a great band and great bunch of guys. I think we have a similar situation with them because people like us for our old songs and our history. They are happy when they can see us at a show. We get offers here and there for festivals, but we could never really get on a new tour because we don’t have new material. Those booking agencies want bands with a new product. This would give both of our bands a chance to get to that next level, instead of doing a few shows here and there for good times and memories sake. With this, we can say we’re back and ready to move to the next level.
DC: You have a special, chain-link microphone stand. When did you get it made and who made it?
Corbitt: Back in 1986 when I first joined Rigor Mortis, we were going to get some guitar strings from Guitar Center or some place like it. I had noticed they had a black-chain mic stand. I was looking for a new mic stand and I thought that looked like something that would fit me. I started using it, but I mainly started using the top half. In the early years, I had a black chain-link mic stand. It ended up getting stolen. When we did the reunion in 2005, I went online and found someone who could make a custom one, so I had him make one that would come apart easily. I didn’t have to unscrew it to take the top half off. It was blood red. I used that one for five years, but it was damaged through wear and tear, so recently I had him make a new one. I had him chrome silver this one, so it wouldn’t get chipped as easy. Again, I can take off the top half and use it like a spear in the way that I like to do. I’ve gotten so used to it, I’ve been using it for 25 years, so I don’t feel comfortable on stage unless I’m using my chain-link mic stand (laughs). There aren’t a lot of singers out there that are known for their mic stands. You can name a few like Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury…
DC: King Diamond and Chuck Billy.
Corbitt: Yeah, there are a few you can name off. It’s something I’m proud of. When you see my mic stand on stage, you know it’s Bruce Corbitt.
DC: Moving on to Warbeast, give us your thoughts on upcoming tour with Destruction and Heathen.
Corbitt: I’m jacked up and excited about that. They were a big influence on me and our guitarist Scott Shelby. Destruction is one of his favorite bands of all time. They are legends of the thrash world. It’s definitely the biggest thing that has happened to Warbeast. It’s nice to get out on tour with people we respect so much. We get to go out and play in so many killer cities that we haven’t been able to make it to. Hopefully, it’s going to be in front of people that love thrash. It’s better for us to go out with a band like Destruction and have fans of thrash there, than going out with a black or death metal band and hoping people like it. The kinds of fans who will like us will be at these shows.
DC: How do you feel about your recent performance at SXSW?
Corbitt: I think we did pretty good. That was a fun night, too. We played with Arson Anthem and haarp as part of the Arson Anthem Showcase. I haven’t been back to SXSW since Rigor Mortis played the very first one. It was cool to go back and see how it’s changed since it was in the first stage before it became this world wide known thing. Getting in and out of that thing is crazy, but once you are there, it is a blast. Parking and the traffic is insane, but I was glad to do it. I hope to do a bigger and better one next year.
DC: Please tell our readers about signing to Housecore Records. Did you know Phil Anselmo before you joined his label?
Corbitt: I knew Phil way back in the ‘80s when he moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and eventually joined up with Pantera. He used to come out and see all the underground bands like Rigor Mortis and Gammacide. We met back then and became descent friends, but lost touch once he moved away when Pantera split up. In 2007, they contacted Rigor Mortis about going on tour with Arson Anthem for a few shows. That was cool: We got to go out on the road with Phil again and get reacquainted. We got caught up on each other’s lives. I mentioned to him my new band, which included members of Gammacide who he was also friends with. He was interested in hearing it, so when we got back from the tour, I sent him a demo tape. About a week later, he called me up raving about it. He loved the song writing. He was proud of us. He told us he wanted first chance at signing us. We really didn’t look elsewhere from that point on. We wanted to be with Phil on his label.
DC: In your press release about working with Phil in the studio, you mentioned he coached you and gave you tips. Can you share some of these tips with our audience?
Corbitt: Of course, I asked him to help me out because I’m not stupid. The guy is a way better vocalist than me. I wanted to see if he could get the best out of me. He wasn’t teaching me how to sing. He knows what I’m about. He understands my best qualities. He was there to bring those out. He also knows my weaknesses. He didn’t try to make me do something I wasn’t able to do. He taught me little tips and tricks like how to create your own special effects without using board special effects. Cupping your hand around your mouth will create a special effect. He taught me things like when I should double or triple my vocals. I don’t have to kiss his ass because I’m on his label and he’s a friend, but he’s like a genius. He constantly has ideas come into his head. We both came up with some of the best things on this album. We had a good chemistry working together. Having him work with us was like having a trainer in your corner during a boxing match to tell you what to do in the next round. There aren’t many to choose from (laughs), but I think that’s my best performance.
DC: Both Warbeast and Rigor Mortis play thrash. How would you describe the differences between your groups to an old school Rigor Mortis fan who hasn’t heard Warbeast?
Corbitt: Warbeast has a double bass drummer. We have two guitarists. Rigor Mortis has its own unique sound, not to say that Warbeast is unoriginal, but it has more of a traditional thrash sound. You can hear some of our influences. You might hear it and say, “Wow, that part sounds like Slayer” or “That sounds like Iron Maiden” or “That part sounds a bit like Destruction.” With Warbeast, we didn’t want to be full-speed ahead thrash. We added some variety. We have some different tempos, breakdowns and mosh parts. We even have some classic metal parts that Priest, Maiden or Sabbath would have done. We combined all of our love for metal and thrash into Warbeast. Gammacide and Rigor Mortis have a certain style that is expected, so with Warbeast we could mix it up more.
DC: What’s next for Warbeast? Are you writing new songs?
Corbitt: Yes, we are already in the process of writing the second album. We have high expectations to make the second album even better than the first one. We’ve already recorded two new songs. Those will be on a 7-inch split through Housecore Records. I’m really proud of these two songs. We’ve already been playing them a lot live. The split will have a couple of new songs by Phil Anselmo. He’s doing some heavier stuff by his self. Also, there will be a couple of news songs by the Housecore band, haarp. After the tour, it will eventually come out sometime this year, and then we’ll continue writing for the second album. Hopefully, we’ll get on more tours and play as many shows as we can. Our goal is to build it up. We would also like to get over to Europe. We’d like to play some festivals over there.
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