Australia, prepare your devil horns, legendary American death metal band Cannibal Corpse are heading to down under early September \m/.
The writers of classic hits ‘Entrails Ripped From A Virgin’s C*nt’ and the eloquently simple ‘I Will Kill You’ have of course faced their fair share of controversy over the years. Though what has landed the five piece in hot water isn’t their actions off the stage, but their lyrical content which is interesting seeing that their works are barely audible anyway.
Australia seems to be one of the harshest countries when it’s come to censoring the band, in 1996, the sale of any Cannibal Corpse audio recording then available was banned in Australia and all copies of such had been removed from music shops, thanks to the Australian Music Retailers Association “labelling code of practice” system. It wasn’t until 10 years later (2006) that the band’s records were released in Australia (of course these were accompanied by an over 18 only restriction).
Ahead of their visit to Australia, we chatted to Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster about their history with this country and their upcoming record the (considerably) tamely titled A Skeletal Domain.
You’re returning to Australia this September for the first time in two years –what memories do you have of your last visit to our country?
“We’ve been to Australia quite a few times now and it’s always great. I don’t remember anything in particular from last time, but the whole tour was a lot of fun. It’s just a really nice country and the fans are very friendly and full of enthusiasm. We love it there.”
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Australia despite the controversy? For instance, the band’s reaction to having the sale of your music banned until 2006?
“We really didn’t know that much about the controversy. That’s the sort of thing our record label keeps close tabs on but the band doesn’t know much about it. So we had heard about the ban but we weren’t sure about the details.”.
Do you still get grief from authorities over performing in Australia? Does it affect what songs you can actually perform live?
“I’m not aware of any current problems with the Australian authorities. If there are any problems our label might be more aware of them than we are. We don’t know about any restrictions as far as our set list goes, so we’ll be playing a full set featuring songs from throughout our career.”
Do you think metal music is unfairly targeted by the media?
“Maybe. It seems to be largely ignored by the media in the USA, at least nowadays. It was targeted a lot back in the 80s and 90s, but it seems like kind of old news at this point. Maybe the situation is different in Australia though.
But anyway, I do think that if the media target metal at all it’s a waste of their time. Extreme metal like death and black metal have some very negative imagery, but I think a closer inspection would reveal some extremely positive aspects- camaraderie amongst the fans, stress relief through moshing, etc. Extreme metal might look negative to someone outside of the scene, but it’s really quite positive in my experience.”
You’re typically targeted for the content of your lyrics, do you think is fair when there’s more explicit (particularly sexual) content widely available?
“Well, again, the targeting takes place outside of our own country so it’s not a problem we think about too much, unless we’re planning a trip to an affected country. I do think that a band like ourselves makes a convenient target because we don’t have enough money to fight back effectively in court. A bigger band with a better financial situation might have been able to get some of the problems we’ve had reversed, but we’ve just had to wait things out in most cases.”
Just curious – have you seen the lounge music rendition of your music as performed by Australian satirists, The Chaser? What were your reactions to it?
“Yes, I saw that quite a while ago, it’s very funny! That guy is really talented.”
How much does the controversy affect your creativity (if at all)? Does all the offense taken by lobbyists, governments, and other groups distract you? Or does it inspire you in your metal mission?
“We really try not to let anything interfere with our creativity. I don’t think any of this stuff has affected my songwriting and I don’t think it has with the other guys either. We’ve had problems but if anything the controversy has helped advertise the band. We aren’t afraid of that sort of publicity and we would not tailor our music or lyrics to meet the expectations of censors.”
How is your new album, A Skeletal Domain, shaping up compared to your previous releases? What can fans expect?
“We’re very happy with how the album turned out. It’s still a full-on death metal album but I think it’s the most different sounding album we’ve done since “Gallery of Suicide”. There’s a lot of variety from song to song- we tried to have a wide range of tempos, tonalities, and rhythms. I think our die hard fans will be satisfied but also excited by what they hear.”
You’ve been making music together for over 25 years, would you say you’ve ‘mellowed’ at all in that time?
“Musically, I don’t think so. We’ve tried to keep things as heavy as ever, and in fact each album we do represents our best effort to make the heaviest, most aggressive music we could. We tried to make A Skeletal Domain our most brutal album, hopefully our fans will think we succeeded.
Now as people, sure, we’ve mellowed out a bit. Most of us are quite settled down by this point. But when it comes time to write we tap into the aggressive sides of our personalities- we all probably still have that side, even if you’d never know it by looking at our daily lives. I suspect most people are this way, and that’s why violent entertainment of one kind or another is so popular- things like shooter video games, combat sports, horror movies, true crime novels, and of course violent music like death metal. Everybody needs a release of some kind, and as long it doesn’t harm anyone then I don’t see a problem with it. Hopefully the people who’ve tried to censor us will realize that too, sooner or later.”
Cannibal Corpse Tour Dates
Sept 9th – Capitol – Perth, 18+
Sept 10th – Fowler’s Live – Adelaide, All Ages
Sept 11th – The Metro Theatre – Sydney, 18+
Sept 12th – 170 Russell – Melbourne, 18+
Sept 13th – The HiFi – Brisbane, 18+