CARDIAC ARREST  "Sheer Heart AttacK"

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

We here at Wormwood Chronicles have been on the Cardiac Arrest case pretty much since the beginning. Our boy JoeWho? was the first to hear the sickening sounds of this Chicago band way back on their debut, "Heart-Stopping Death Rot". Since then, we've seen the band grow and advance with each new album, never compromising their devotion to the purest and vilest of death metal.

The latest Cardiac assault is "Haven For the Insane" and it's their first for respected label Ibex Moon. The Ibex Moon signing is mega-important for the band, because it means their platters of putrescence will now be much easier to find. At least to those warped souls who feed on such pounding filth. Also, the band is now genuinely hooking up for real tours. The recent Campaign for Death Metal Purity linked them with like-minded corpse-rippers Gravehill and HOD for a brief cross-country excursion.

The time was finally right for the Good Doctor to interrogate Chicago's finest. I caught up with vocalist/guitarist/grave-robber Adam Scott and drumming fiend/yoga expert Grindhead Jim Deabenderfer at this year's Central Illinois Metalfest, where we spoke in the infernal summer heat outside Urbana's Canopy Club.

My friends, we can remain silent no longer! Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent! My friends, can your hearts stand the shocking facts behind CARDIAC ARREST???

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: The Campaign for Death Metal Purity is now in the books. What's your final assessment on that?

ADAM SCOTT: It was a very good tour. A couple of hiccups here and there but no tour is hiccup-free in that regard! There's always gonna be a couple of down points but overall it was a good, steady success!

GRINDHEAD JIM: I've been in this band five years, that's how long this line-up has been together. Every time we do something new, there are lessons we learn. This time, we learned a lot! Every thing we thought we knew, we learned better. Every thing we didn't know, we learned hard. I think that having done this kind of tour the way we did it, we cut our teeth the right way and the next time we do it, we'll blow the doors off. It's been a really good experience overall. I wouldn't have it any other way!

WC: This was the most extensive tour you've ever done, right?

AS: Oh yeah! Twelve days of death metal hell! (laughter)

WC: I caught the show at the Nitecap and I recall you saying it was rough but fun. Tom just said it was rough! (laughter)

AS: It was! That's life on the road for ya! Especially doing this kind of music. It's not a peaches n' cream story, you know?

GJ: If you're in it to be pampered, go play with Beyonce.

AS: We're not going to these shows on fucking Learjets!

WC: Your new record "Haven For the Insane" is another great one. Throughout your career, you've been pretty consistent in your sound. In what way was this one different from the others?

AS: I think there was a little bit more of a raw approach. I also think that collectively as a band, we started to hone our craft. It wasn't a case of a single person stepping up, but more as a solid unit. We kind of smoothed out the border between us so you can't tell right away if I wrote the riff or Tom wrote the riff or whatever.

GJ: It's gotten to the point where I as a drummer forget whose written what or whose idea is who's. It's all Cardiac Arrest now.

WC: Well, you seem to be four pretty distinct personalities...(both laugh)

GJ: That's a huge understatement!

WC: When you write the songs, is it like a battle or is it a couple guys giving all the orders?

AS: Some of us have our quirks when it comes to writing songs. A lot of times, I'm sitting at home practicing on the guitar and I'll go, wait a minute, let me show this to the guys at practice. As far as Tom goes, our writing styles are almost like night and day. He'll come to practice, start warming up and he'll start jamming on a riff...

GJ: I'll go, what is that? We wind up working on it and then we got a fuckin' song that came out of nowhere!

AS: Lately, yeah, that's kinda how we are. When it comes to the songwriting process, we don't fucking stop. Even when we're recording, we've already got ideas for the next album. Hell, we already got ten new songs musically written! Not fully written with vocals, yet...

GJ: Right, we're already thinking about the option of doing them right away. Strike while the iron is hot!

WC: The days of being like the Scorpions and letting six years ago between albums are pretty much done...

AS: Unless you're like an Iron Maiden or Manowar or what have ya.

GJ: Listen, I'm sitting on a curb eating a cheap piece of pizza. If that doesn't tell you how badly we need to do a new record, then I'm sorry.

WC: You touch me deeply, so let me get you a beer when we go back inside. (laughter)

GJ: Let the record show that I am swooning!

AS: Get me away from this man!

WC: We know how you write the riffs and music. Are the lyrics done the same way?

AS: Most of them, I write. That mostly because I just seem to have the knack of writing lyrics. I don't deliberately rip off any horror movies, but most of the inspiration comes from them. I don't give a fuck about writing on socially relevant topics or politics. I don't give a fuck about that! I give a fuck about writing scary, sick shit!

WC: It's not so much "boy meets girl", it's more "boy eats girl"...

AS: (laughter) There ya go!

GJ: One thing a lot of people don't get is if you're staying away from socially relevant stuff...I'm into that kind of don't get dated. How can you be timeless if you link the material to what's going on at the time?

WC: Hammer did those horror movies that were set in the 19th century and they were timeless. When they started putting them in the early 70's, they became dated within five years.

AS: Speaking of the whole Hammer subject, one of the songs on the new record is "Affliction of the Beast" , which was inspired by the movie "Curse of the Werewolf". In a way, it's kind of a homage to all the goofy, wacky horror movie shit we all dug when we were kids. That's another reason that song feels kinda special to me.

WC: That's my favorite tune on the new record.

AS: That seems to go over quite well. That's one thing I've seen throughout the tour and tonight.

WC: I've noticed on all Cardiac albums, you always have one real short tune that's kind of a blast and one that's a lot slower and doomier. Is that planned?

GJ: Yeah! It kinda is! (chuckles)

AS: We all have an influence from good old grindcore like Napalm Death or Repulsion. Hell, I'll even toss Abscess in there, because it has that raging punk feel. You don't see that in a lot of metal these days!

GJ: Which is a shame.

WC: You mentioned "Curse of the Werewolf". Are there any other particular films that inspire you?

AS: "Twitching At The Noose" was another one that really had me going. What influenced me there was the Vincent Price classic "Witchfinder General". I remember buying the movie and watching it for the first time without knowing anything about it and sitting there going, "this is fucking cool"! I knew I had to write a fucking song about this!

WC: In real life, the story was even more depressing than in the movie, because Matthew Hopkins got away with everything.

AS: He did get away with it. He didn't die the way he did in the movie, he died of natural causes.

GJ: My favorite off the new record is "Paralyzed With Fear". It's based off a Japanese film called "Living Hell". Tom made me watch it and it is...

AS: A wicked fuckin' film.

GJ: It is totally sick.

AS: Most of the Japanese horror films that have been coming out in the last two decades are sick.

GJ: I would tell any Cardiac fan who likes that song, before you chant "Fuck you" at a show, find out why we sing that at the end of the song. It's in the movie and, dude, you'll scream it that much louder.

WC: I'll put that on my "must watch" list. I'm so classically inclined that there's hardly any horror movie since 1980 that I'm a fan of.

GJ: It's not that new. It's from the 90's, I believe.

WC: There was a Japanese director in the 1960's, Teruo Ishii, who did a great movie called "The Horror of Malformed Men". That was a freakin' weird movie that was beyond any kind of classification.

GJ: This movie I'm talking about is like "Saw" meets "The Ring". It's way out there. It's got torture stuff, it's got weird elements, it has a wholly different plotline. It's just a really well done flick and when Tom was telling me about it, I decided to watch it and we went ahead and did a song based on it. Originally, we were going to use samples from "Living Hell" and "Wtichfinder General" and as usual, I was too lazy to rip the samples...

AS: Plus, we kind of had a meeting half way through the recording and asked ourselves, why the fuck should we have to use samples again anyway?

WC: The ones you would have pulled from "Witchfinder General" probably would have been the same as what Cathedral used on "Hopkins, the Witchfinder General".

AS: Y'know, the ones I was thinking of weren't gonna be that way. One of the ones I had in mind was the scene where Price says "The mark of Satan is upon them...they must hang!"

WC: There was a great line in there..."She has drowned. Therefore, she was innocent." Think about what that means! That was pretty twisted.

AS: Yeah, Vincent Price, he had a knack for that shit. One of the fuckin' greats!

WC: The director Michael Reeves antagonized Vincent Price during that film. By doing that, he got one of the best and grimmest performances from him. At one point, Price said something like "I've been in over 50 movies, what have you done?" Reeves came back and said, "Yes, but none of the movies were any good."

AS: Wow, I would have beaten his ass!

WC: It certainly sounds like your creative processes are going full blast!

AS: (laughs) Oh yeah, it's always going!

WC: Would you say your next album is already written?

GJ: We have one or two songs to finish up.

AS: I have to say, depending on how we feel about all the other songs, right now we have 10 songs musically. I still have to finish up the lyrics on a few of them. But it's going very well. It's definitely some of the most varied and angriest material we've ever written.

GJ: We've taken the better part of a year to write this. Taking a year to shop "Haven..." around was one of the best decisions we could have made. It gave us all this time to write. We just prepped three songs...we've never done that! We've never said we have "X" amount of songs on a record. These songs are cut....bye bye, bye bye, bye bye! And we got to the point where the family unit...I like that term, because it's like being married to three guys...can say these songs are no good, let's get rid of them. Because that just tells the four of us, hey, let's write some more! We like the vibe of the song, let's do it over again. Different riffs...same vibe...let's push it. That's exactly what happened!

WC: Any chance of some of the songs you ditched turning up on an EP or later down the road?

GJ: No, they're gone. We may cannibalize some of the riffs...I don't know at this point.

WC: Any talk of you guys heading over to Europe?

AS: There's been talk of that. Nothing set in stone. Hopefully that will come sooner than later, be it a tour, be it a festival, be it whatever.


WC: On "Haven for the Insane", is there a theme running through it? I got the impression that more than one song is about mental illness.

AS: Oddly enough the whole idea for the "Haven For the Insane" came from a fucked up day at work! That's how some of my inspirations happen! After a bad day at work, I asked myself, how the fuck do I do this?! Then, when we wrote the first track "Insanity's Grip"...I didn't want to do a title track for this record! I was pretty dead set on that.

GJ: He really fought us on that. We wanted that to be a title track but...

AS: I stuck to my guns on that one. Be that a blessing, be that a curse. But hey, that's the way it is on the album. But getting back to the lyrics on the song, the term "Haven For the Insane" appears in the lyrics. I got the idea from a movie...perhaps you've heard of it...called "Don't Look In The Basement".

WC: The guy with the popsicles?

AS: (laughter) The guy with the fuckin' popsicles! Yeah, basically he was in a very unorthodox mental ward and all the inmates are running wild with their fantasies. It was a really cool concept for a movie. I was thinkin', that's gotta be a song, that's gotta be a song!

GJ: I remember writing that song. We finished it, played it and just looked at each other. That's the vibe! And it just kinda snowballed from there. And that was the ...what, third, fourth song we'd written? In retrospect, it's easy to say this in hindsight, but I think the material we are writing right now is more along the lines of what we thought "Haven..." was originally gonna be. "Haven..." kinda turned into "Cadaverous Presence Part 2", though I hate to say that. It's the same vibe as "Cadaverous Presence" but everything is amped up a bit. I always describe a Cardiac live show as the fast parts being faster, the slow parts being slower. "Haven..." to me is really "Cadaverous..." done with that live approach.

WC: There's been a very straight line progression between all your albums. There's nothing that would make you say, I can't believe this is the same band.

AS: If you think you're going to write the same album again and you're a serious band, you're dead wrong.

GJ: I want to go on record and say this. On our album "Morgue Mutilations", Adam had most of the stuff half way written when I came into the band. He and I worked on all those songs together. When Dave came in, he gave us a few new influences. On that record in particular, I had something to prove. We have that older death metal vibe, we always have and I felt it was important for us to prove that we could hang tempo-wise with any of the over the top groups like Origin. Don't get me wrong, I love Origin. I wanted to prove that we could hang with the best of them. So when "Morgue.." came out, it was a smash hit with the goregrind fans but it was not really our sound. When "Cadaverous..." came out, we had Tom in the band, Dave was contributing more and that record became the core Cardiac Arrest sound. We've figured out what we really want to do. "Morgue Mutilations" was really just Adam and me. We were getting our feet wet. Then when you get the other two guys involved, we have a lot more ideas to bounce off each other. Adam and I got a tendency to get really excited with what we're doing, but Tommy and Davey would say, "No, wait a minute. Try this." And by doing so, that made Adam and I think a little differently.

AS: Or it can work the other way around. Sometimes, I'll take Tom's position when he's looking for input. A lot of times, I just go with the flow. Most of the times, I'll like the idea, I'm not super picky

WC: Some of you guys have side projects beyond Cardiac Arrest.

AS. Ah, not me, I'm busy enough!

WC: But you do. (indicates Jim) Anything to report on that front?

GJ: Sure! I'm in two other bands currently. I'm in Sallah, which is a blackened thrash band based in Chicago. It's based lyrically on the Indiana Jones movies. Our first album is called "Fortune and Glory" and it's going to be released shortly. I didn't perform on that one ...don't ask me why!...but we're getting ready to do our second record. We're going to play a Halloween show in Chicago at Metal Up Your Tap. Dave and I also have another side project with Paul from Morgue Supplier on guitar. That's called Ladybug Death Camp and it's like Godflesh meets Autopsy.

AS: Pretty heavy duty stuff!

WC: Is Tom still playing in Severed?

AS: Oh yeah!

GJ: That's about all we've got going on right now.

WC: Sounds like that's about enough...

GJ: (laughter) It is, it is!

AS: It's hard enough for me being in one band, so I'm just continue with Cardiac. I've been doing this shit for way too long to try doing anything with any other band.