Weed-themed Death Metallers Give the Dope on Adam Sandler, Roller Blades & Life on the Road
Although started by Municipal Waste bassist Phil “Landphil” Hall and his brother Josh “Hallhammer” Hall, the idea for Cannabis Corpse predates Municipal Waste. “…we were smoking pot watching Cannibal Corpse on television. Josh and I were teenagers. We came up with the idea when we were seventeen, which was like ’99, but we didn’t get around to actually getting a real band together until 2006,” explains Phil Hall.
Seven years seemed an appropriate amount of time to grow and cultivate this idea. After all, this was the Hall brothers’ ultimate homage to the things they like best in life—weed and death metal. In 2006, Cannabis Corpse arose like a skunk-bud-scented Swamp Thing-like weed monster with the hilariously titled “Blunted at Birth.” They soon followed that up with other Cannibal Corpse parodied albums “Tubes of the Resonated” and “The Weeding” EP. While each album drew inspiration from Cannibal Corpse’s music and Florida death metal in general, Cannabis Corpse definitely made each song their own. The group even adding a touch of thrash, which one would expect from a band featuring a member of Municipal Waste.
Five years in and the group continues to mature. Cannabis Corpse’s most recent offering “Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shall Rise” includes better song writing, more guitar solos and shows the group even step away from the Cannibal Corpse-themed song and album titles, instead spoofing Deicide and Morbid Angel. Before taking the stage in Austin, Texas to support The Black Dahlia Murder (read show review), the group took me to their burgundy-colored van, where I interrogated them on their recent blood-stained musical harvest.
Cowan: Do you have a certain band/album you use as a template for constructing your weed-based death metal albums?
Phil "Landphil" Hall: No, I think we just generally write music that we think is cool without keeping any specific riffs in mind. We’re not really trying to borrow riffs from other bands. We’re trying to make our own killer death metal songs. We do, however, use their song titles. We take a band that we like and then go through their entire catalog and pick out the most killer song titles.
Nick "Nikropolis" Poulos: The only thing we borrow from is the familiarity of the songs that we parody.
Cowan: On the new album “Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shall Rise,” you parody Deicide and Morbid Angel song titles. Is this the first time you used album titles that weren’t a parody of Cannibal Corpse?
Andy "Weedgrinder" Horn: No, we haven’t done that yet on any other albums. This is the first time. We’re expanding a little bit.
Nikropolis: And we just figured there were a lot of song titles that lend themselves to turning out weedy titles out of it, but also getting crazy stories about weed and death and the supernatural.
Landphil: We knew that if we kept speaking through Cannibal Corpse song titles that we would eventually run out of titles that were good; it would get kind of shitty. So, branching out to other bands’ song titles would be a way to keep our titles good. We could keep our quality and our fans behind us.
Cowan: Who writes what? Is it collaboration amongst members writing lyrics and music?
Landphil: Josh and I generally get into the practice space and crank out a bunch of riffs. Once we have something recorded, we give it to Andy to come up with vocals. Then, Nick will pick out parts that he wants to put leads on.
Cowan: “Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shall Rise” seems to contain more solos than earlier material.
Landphil: Nick hooked it up for us this time around. We knew we wanted to have everything about this record be better than our previous records. Having a lot of melodious, killer solos was a way for us to take it to the next level. Right nick?
Nikropolis: We definitely concentrated more on the basis of the songs so that there would be more time for solo sections and stuff like that. We were still in the early process of it and we saw there was a lot of room. It just worked out. It came together pretty good. Ave, Hail Satan! Give praise to the Dark Lord!
Cowan: How do you feel about the production of this album compared to the others?
Landphil: I spent a lot of time making sure I got the guitar parts as tight as fucking possible (laughs). Then, we sent the tracks down to Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, ex-Morbid Angel) and then he reamped it all with his high-tech studio wizardry and turned it into what you hear on the album, which sounds fucking great. We are really happy with the overall production of the album, and the feeling that it has.
Cowan: Is this the first time that you worked with Erik Rutan?
Landphil: Yes, this is the first time we worked with him. We did, however, do a tour with Erik before the album, so we met Erik before the album. He’s a great guy to work with because he’s so experienced.
Cowan: Do any of the groups you “parody” listen to your albums? What kind of feedback have you gotten?
Landphil: Cannibal Corpse seemed pretty cool about it. Alex Webster came to the studio and hung out with us when we were done in St. Petersburg when we were recording with Erik Rutan. He came by and ate pizza with us. He seemed really positive about what we’re doing. I’m really happy about that because he’s my idol—my bass-playing idol.
Cowan: When you write songs, do you mostly do it stoned?
Josh "HallHammer" Hall: That we can definitely say, one-hundred percent that we’re not posers. When we say we smoke a shit load when we are writing and playing, we definitely do. Whenever we’re not high, we smoke weed. We get high and just generally…stay high.
Cowan: Do you smoke bud with any of the bands on this tour?
Landphil: All of them! It seems like there are a shit load of pot smokers on this tour. It’s the strongest contingency of pot smokers on a tour that I’ve ever experienced!
Cowan: Tell our readers about the art work. Who did the art work? Is this a theme on the “Creepshow” bit featuring Stephen King?
Landphil: You know, I didn’t really think about that, but I love that theme—“Creepshow,” the guy turning into a plant. I definitely watched that movie and thought, “Hmm, wouldn’t it be cool to have a guy turn into a bud plant.” No, that idea was like a really stoned idea that I had.
Hallhammer: I’m pretty sure I came up with that concept.
Landphil: I’m not sure how it went down, but maybe Josh came up with it. This guy, Andrei Bouzikov (Autopsy, Skeletonwitch), he’s from Oakland. I met him through Tank Crime Records. He used to live with Scotty Heath, who owns Tank Crime Records. He’s a very talent artist, and of course he’s worked with Municipal Waste before, so I knew exactly the quality that he would give me because we worked with him before.
Hallhammer: Andre came up with the idea to have the planted potted, which I thought was a really awesome idea. At first, we wanted to have him just be torn apart by weed monsters. We gave that idea to him, he sketched it and then he brought up the idea to have them potted. I thought that was a cool idea.
Weedgrinder: He was great to work with. He’s a really talented dude.
Cowan: You’re obviously a fan of stoner culture. Do you have any favorite stoner comedies/comedians?
Landphil: We’ve been watching the shit out of crappy VHS tapes that people bring to the shows. I put a post on the Internet about how this van has a VCR, and I got rid of all of my VHS tapes. I put out a post about it and people have been bringing us tapes. We’ve been watching a lot of the old faves like “Friday,” “Team America,” we’ve been watching pro wrestling. We’ve been watching mostly comedy and little bit of horror and Sci-Fi. We’ve been high as fuck, driving down the road watching these VCR tapes.
Weedgrinder: Top three comedians in order: Adam Sandler, Gilbert Gottfried and of course, Bobcat Goldthwait.
Landphil: I can’t believe Sandler is number one on your list.
Nikropolis: I think that was a sarcastic bit.
Weedgrinder: I was just joshin.’ I find comedy drab.
Cowan: Have you seen “Evil Bong?”
Landphil: I heard Cannabis Corpse is in a movie about an evil bong.
Nikropolis: It’s not "Evil Bong," though. I’m not sure which one it is. I’ve seen “Evil Bong,” but I don’t remember it so well because I got really stoned and watched it. It was more of background noise.
Land Phil: I’d like to see “Evil Bong.” Of course, a movie called “Evil Bong” sounds great.
Nikropolis: That’s something we haven’t done yet—we haven’t done bong monsters. We’ve done bud monsters.
Cowan: Even though these songs are grotesque and brutal, there is an element of humor. Do you think there needs to be more of that in death metal?
Nikropolis: As you’re breathing your last gasp and trying to hold your entrails in and are on your final, bloody exit from this world, you have to have a sense of humor about everything. Maybe it hurts a lot, maybe it’s gruesome and unreal, but you should get a laugh out of it. It’s a bit of situational comedy.
Weedgrinder: “Peewee’s Big Adventure” crosses your mind when you’re sitting there and holding your guts in.
Land Phil: Like Adam Sandler.
Cowan: The Black Dahlia Murder play a more modern death metal sound, deathcore, than Cannabis Corpse, which is dedicated to the old school, Florida style. Do you notice the references being lost to some of this crowd, especially the youngsters?
Weedgrinder: I wouldn’t say that. I’d say we’re definitely gaining new fans, which is what we depended on this tour, fans that are typically not our audience, but at the same time, we’re getting kids that appreciate it and check us out. That’s what has happened. Of course, there are Cannabis Corpse fans that come down and just want to see us.
Nikropolis: They dig our paramount message of weed and death.
Hallhammer: We’re apolitical, though.
Nikropolis: We take a stance against long boards and roller blades.
Cowan: What’s the problem with roller blades?
Landphil: Are you a roller blader?
Nikropolis: It’s like sandals, like Birkenstocks. Like wearing shorts in inappropriate places.
Cowan: Municipal Waste had Gwar construct the massive beer bong you dubbed “The Inebriator.” Fans get on stage and puke their guts out trying to suck down the three beers that explode into their stomach. Have you considered doing something similar but with a bong?
Nikropolis: That’s a great idea.
Landphil: But we can barely get our real bud monster out. We can get him out tonight. That’s for sure. (The bud monster did not make an appearance.) Having a prop on stage is an extra step for being in a band that sometimes has a hard time getting its stuff out (laughs).
Cowan: So you have a massive bong that you bring on stage?
Nikropolis: No, we have a weedy costume…
Weedgrinder: A weed avatar.
Nikropolis: Kids can stage dive and mosh pit around it.
Cowan: What’s it like touring with your brother? Do you have family spats?
Landphil: Of course, we’re brothers! We fight all the time. Everyone who has a brother knows what it is like being around them, but we play death metal. We’ve been doing it since we were kids. I think it’s beginning to become something that we’re used to because we’ve been doing it for so long, which is a good thing, I suppose.
Hallhammer: We’re having a great time. When tours are going good, we get along great. When the tour is going bad, we get a little on edge.
Cowan: You stay on tour quite a bit?
Landphil: We try to. This year has been a busy year for us. We’re trying to make tours more often or as often as possible because they’re getting better and better every time we go out. This one is one of the best that we’ve ever been on. I want to keep the ball rolling. If we take any significant time off, then we lose all the momentum that we’ve started. We’ve got to stay on top of it, for sure!
Cowan: What do your parents think about their sons playing in a band called “Cannabis Corpse?”
Landphil: It’s a don’t ask don’t tell policy.
Hallhammer: My parents could care less. I think once we went to Europe for the second time, my parents thought it was kind of cool.
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