CANNIBAL CORPSE "Torture Is Our Business..."

Interview with Rob Barrett by Thor

Greetings, metal heads.  This introduction is as unnecessary as any I’ve ever written.  Two words: Cannibal Corpse.  For the three of you out there who are perplexed, he we go...
Cannibal Corpse is arguably the most successful, most prolific, and most influential death metal band of all time.  They were there at the beginning, having spawned the horror/gore strain of the genre that’s so prevalent and oft-imitated.  Countless bands owe their existence to Cannibal Corpse and perhaps even more impressive is the number of people who owe their awareness of the death metal genre to this band.  And while not everyone is a fan, Cannibal Corpse has a devoted legion of “gore obsessed” maniacs who will sprain their necks to every song of every album every time a new one becomes available.

Cannibal Corpse guitarist, Rob Barrett is currently enjoying his second stint as one of the band’s two axe-wielding monsters.  Barrett’s been a part of some of Cannibal Corpse’s most important and best albums and he’s an important piece of the band’s legacy.  Wormwood Chronicles’ own Jason “Thor” Thorson recently caught up to the affable guitarist and discussed the band’s latest album, “Torture”, the secret to the band’s success, as well as the evolution of the underground scene!

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:  What’s your take on the latest Corpse collection, “Torture”?

ROB BARRETT:  To me "Torture" may well be the most diverse Cannibal Corpse album to date. Not that we've changed our style at all. In my opinion ,it has the most variety in songwriting due to the fact that we split the writing more evenly across the board this time around. Alex wrote five songs (music and lyrics), Pat wrote four songs (music), I wrote the music for three songs and lyrics for two, and Paul wrote the lyrics for Pat's four songs and one of mine so the writing has turned into much more of a group effort than on past albums.

WC:  For “Torture”, Cannibal Corpse went back to the outstanding Erik Rutan.  What does he offer as a producer that others do not?

RB:  We've known Erik for a very long time...since his days with Ripping Corpse before joining Morbid Angel. He is a death metal guitarist as well as a death metal vocalist so he has a very clear understanding of what we're going for production-wise and tone-wise. He also has the ability to get the best performances out of us because we've been friends for such a long time that he knows what makes us tick as individuals and knows what to say to each of us to get the best results.

WC:  Despite the fact that George performs on the album, I’ve always viewed “Vile” as a transitional album between Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse and Fisher-led Cannibal Corpse.  On that album, the song “Absolute Hatred” foreshadows many of the signature musical elements that typify all the albums that have followed “Vile”.  The liner notes attribute that song to you.  Now, I know you left the band for a while following that tour, but is there something to be said about what you brought to the table musically that shaped the Corpse sound in the years since “Vile”?

RB:  "Absolute Hatred" is the first Cannibal song that I wrote in its entirety (music and lyrics). I did co-write several songs on "The Bleeding" album ("Stripped, Raped and Strangled" / "She Was Asking for It" / "Force Fed Broken Glass "/ "An Experiment in Homicide"). I can't say that I noticed that song influencing any of their material while I was out of the band but my style has crept its way back in since I rejoined in 2005.

WC:  What led to your hiatus from the band and what made you decide to rejoin?

RB:  The answer for that is on the "Centuries of Torment" documentary DVD.

WC:  You guys tour essentially nonstop.  In death metal terms, being in Cannibal Corpse is arguably the best gig there is from a career perspective.  Is Cannibal Corpse your full time job or do you and your cohorts have other career endeavors that you pursue outside of the band?

RB:  Cannibal Corpse is our full-time job. Even when we're not on the road we practice 3-4 days a week at our rehearsal room. Technically the only time that we take time off from the band is during late December/early January for the holidays. When we're in tour mode we'll have 2-3 weeks off between tours. Sometimes less, sometimes more. It's our full-time job.

WC:  What’s your favorite song to perform on this tour?

RB:  My favorite song to perform on this tour is a new one that we did a video for called "Encased In Concrete". So far it seems to be a crowd favorite already. I've heard people yelling for it every night on this tour so far. Sometimes even after we've already played it, ha-ha-ha!!!

WC:  What albums by other bands are you currently digging?

RB:  Currently I've been listening to Black Sabbath "Mob Rules", Judas Priest "Hell Bent For Leather", Iron Maiden "Killers", Sick Of It All "Death To Tyrants", Terror "The Damned, The Shamed". I don't listen to new stuff too much.

WC:  Is there any potential that you’ll revisit Hate Plow and/or Malevolent Creation some day?

RB:  I'd like to do another Hateplow someday when everyone has the time. Dave Culross just recently rejoined Suffocation so he's busy with that. Phil's busy with Malevolent and Kyle has a solid full-time job at home. Hopefully, someday, though.

WC:  What’s your personal history with guitar and what was/is compelling to you about playing death metal?

RB:  Well I bought my first guitar when I was 12 or 13 from one of my brother's friends but I didn't really play it. It only had two strings on it when I got it so I was pretty much just air guitar playing with it. I started playing for real in 1985 when I got my first real guitar and practice amp which was a Cort Flying V -- red with a white pick guard like K.K. Downing -- and a Roland practice amp. Through that set up I started learning all of my favorite songs from Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, etc. Eventually I got good enough to the point where some local guys asked me to start a band with them and the rest is history! I've never taken a lesson in my life and can barely understand basic tablature. I just go by feel. For me death metal is the most extreme form of guitar playing that I'm capable of doing. It’s intense and challenging to play so it’s very satisfying for me.

WC:  If young Rob Barrett never picks up an axe, what do you see yourself doing in lieu of touring the world in a band?

RB:  Honestly, there's no chance that I wouldn’t have picked up the axe when I was a kid! I was obsessed with guitar at a very young age and used to run around with tennis rackets air guitaring before I even knew what I was doing! It was destiny...

WC:  Do you have a favorite Corpse album?

RB:  My favorite Corpse album at the moment is the new "Torture" album. I think we wrote some strong songs this time around and the production came out killer in my opinion.

WC:  Out of the main progenitors of American Death Metal, including you guys, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Obituary, Suffocation, and Death, Cannibal Corpse has been the most successful by just about every measure.  Why do you think that is?

RB:  I think we've earned our success by consistent releases and touring. If we're not touring we're recording or writing new material or practicing 3-4 days a week at home. We rarely take extended breaks from the band.

WC:  How has the American extreme music scene changed over the years?

RB:  The scene has grown stronger, I think, because there are several generations of history and followers of extreme music at this point which makes the numbers grow over time.

WC:  If you could change the scene in one way, what would it be?

RB:  If I could change one thing in the scene it would be to make sure that anybody working security at our shows understands that our fans paid to be there and shouldn't get kicked out or mistreated for no reason. It happens every once in a while where you get some random guys who want to intimidate the crowd and it sucks. As long as nobody is running into us or our gear, go as crazy as you want! We encourage that as long as nobody gets hurt. It goes from positive energy to negative when it feels like it’s the security vs. the crowd.

WC:  What can we Cannibal Corpse fans look forward to in the foreseeable future?

RB:  Corpse fans can look forward to seeing us on the road somewhere near their town while we're touring in support of our new "Torture" album for the next year or so! Hope to see you all at a show soon!