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Interview with Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster

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One of the most controversial metal bands in North America (and ultimately the world) is the hard, heavy, and gory Tampa area group Cannibal Corpse. These guys have quietly developed a very strong and loyal fan following despite little to no help from TV and radio and tons of backlash from groups who label the band’s lyrics and messages as hateful and violent. With all the adversity and controversy that the band is forced to endure, they are consistently selling out their concerts and their latest record Kill has sold extremely well in North America. In a very candid interview while the band was doing a show in Toronto, Cannibal Corpse’s bassist Alex Webster answers questions about the band’s latest album Kill as well as all of the “haters” and how he feels about them.

So just to start off, you just began touring the US and parts of Canada with Dying Fetus, Necrophagist, and Unmerciful. Even though it’s in the early stages, how has the tour been so far and what are your expectations for the rest of it?
Alex: Well the first show was a little small and that was in Asbury Park, New Jersey and that was a little small you know, just a few hundred people, but the rest of them have all been really big and the shows have been great just because the bands you know, we all get along great and we’re all very complementary bands. We’re all death metal, but we’re all a little bit different from each other so it’s been working out really well. It seems like the fans are pleased with every band on the bill and it’s just been great.

Speaking of the tour, are there any particular shows or dates on the tour that you are looking forward to?
Alex: Probably, um all of them of course we’re excited about but being able to do the House Of Blues in Orlando, Florida, it’ll be the first time we ever played a venue that big and that prestigious in our state of Florida where we’ve been living since 1994. So we’re pretty psyched about that, I mean playing up here in Canada is always great too, last night in Montreal is probably going to be the biggest show of the tour actually it was like thirteen hundred people and tonight in Toronto it’s sold out so we’re really looking forward to these as well. But on this tour, we’re looking forward to all of them but we’re extremely curious about how things are going to turn out in Orlando playing such a big venue like House of Blues, we’re hoping it’ll turn out well.

How did you come to have the three other bands, Dying Fetus, Necrophagist, and Unmerciful on the bill?
Alex: I actually do a lot of the band management, my drummer Paul and I do it pretty much all and I was talking to our booking agent and you know I like listening to those bands that are on the bill so we work and see which ones are available and put the tour package together and there it is. We definitely are directly involved with this one, handpicking bands that we like....

During the early part of 2007, you guys are scheduled to do a fairly extensive tour of Europe. Have you toured Europe recently (or before) and are you excited to be heading over?
Alex: Yeah we’ve actually toured Europe probably about as many times as we’ve toured North America, but we’re still very excited to go every time we go and we’re going to be playing a few different countries on that tour and then some other countries we haven’t played in a long time. So we’re going to be covering a lot of new ground on that upcoming tour, like we’ve never been to Bulgaria, we’ve never been to Romania and then we haven’t been to some of the other countries we’re playing like Spain or Portugal in years so we’re very excited about it, Europe is something we’re always excited about.

Okay so 2005’s Kill, is your latest release and has been getting rave reviews everywhere. In all honesty, it is a truly phenomenal album. That being said, have you started discussing new material and a new album?
Alex: We’ve already started talking about it yeah, because we’re going to be doing so much touring for this album that we want to make sure that we’re writing in between so that we don’t you know, end up falling so far behind in the writing process that we end up not getting a record out for three years. We really like getting a record out about once every two years and even though we’re going to be touring well into 2007, we don’t want to miss getting an album out sometime in 2008, even though it’ll be probably be very late in 2008, we’re still hoping to get one out that year. I’ve already begun writing a few riffs so I’m going to gradually chip away at it so that I’ve got a lot of material ready for when we start writing together as a band.

Do you feel any pressures going into your next album, given all the success that Kill has had?
Alex: You know it has been doing so well that we... we always feel pressure but it’s always been pressure we’ve been putting on ourselves anyways but yeah, definitely this time I think there’s a little extra pressure because the album has been so well received. So you know we are going to do our very best and I’m pretty confident that if we do our very best and really work as hard as possible, we’ll at least make a record that’s as good as Kill.

I know you get this a lot, but it has to be touched upon. Cannibal Corpse is one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood bands in the world. If you could say one thing to all the “haters” out there, what would it be?
Alex: I don’t know, I think that you know, they should just take a closer look at us. They should give us a good listen, if you can really sit down and listen to what we’re playing and everything and you still don’t like it and you still think there’s nothing there of value then fine, then at least you’ve given it a chance. But I would say to anyone that doesn’t like the band, don’t write us off until you’ve genuinely checked out some of our material and given it a chance.

Yeah, definitely don’t jump to conclusions you know….
Alex: Yeah and it’s easy to do with this kind of music, people see it and they think it’s three chord, kill your mother crap or whatever, they have no idea how much time we put into it and where we’re actually coming from so if they look a little deeper, they might find more than they expected.

Does it ever piss you guys off, that moralists and other “hating” groups and people will say nothing when watching war-related atrocities on CNN, yet make a fuss about your gory, yet fictional images and lyrics?
Alex: Yeah I mean there’s a bit of a double standard and I mean, I don’t know, they’ll show all kinds of stuff, I mean it’s one thing to show it on the news but it’s another thing when they show a documentary to get ratings and they show dead bodies and whatever. And that’s fine with me that they show that stuff, but then to complain about what we’re doing is very hypocritical. In fact, the same news channels might even do a report about how death metal is wrong but Discovery Channel I guess did a report that kind of put death metal in a negative light, I have not seen it but that’s what I’ve heard so I’m not going to completely pass judgement on it yet. But if they did indeed do something that put death metal in a bad light and at the same time they’ve had plenty of things on their channel that have had to do with serial killers and things like that then they’re being hypocritical in my opinion. But like I said, I need to learn more about that particular show before I pass judgement but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Death Metal is kind of an easy target, it’s a bunch of long haired guys who are into metal, it’s not an author, it’s not a film maker you know, so we don’t have that air of respectability about us the way other horror entertainers do.

Why do you feel that people are so lax and desensitized when it comes to real-life gore, yet are more put off or liable to make a fuss when it comes to imaginary carnage?
Alex: Well you know it’s weird, I think people probably aren’t that desensitized to it, you know including myself, like you know, we sing about all this stuff and you watch a movie where you know it’s not real and it’s no big deal, but if you really saw someone get their brains bashed in right in front of you, I think it would have a pretty dramatic impact on any human being you know what I mean? Or some terrible, gross act of violence or whatever done right in front of you, I mean you’d react to it, no matter how many movies you’ve watched or how much gore metal you’ve listened to or whatever, I’m sure it’s a completely different thing when it’s right in front of you. So, I think that the idea that we’re desensitized might be a bit over-stated, I mean if anything, I think there might be less violence in our world, I mean they use to have public floggings and public hangings you know hundred of years ago, not even, it’s probably just about a hundred years ago when they stopped doing it in the United States for good. So I mean if those times were genuinely suppose to be more moral than our times now then I don’t know. Even though we’ve got crazy entertainment now, our social realities are actually a bit more civilized than they were back then, I mean we’re not hanging people or whipping them in the street and I think that’s positive improvement for any society in my opinion.

In your music, violence seems to oftentimes run hand in hand with sex. Do you care to elaborate on this issue?
Alex: Sex and violence? Well I think you know, one of the most offensive and despicable kinds of violence is that which is related to sex, you know, sexual assaults and things. So when you’re making a band like ours where you’re trying to have extreme music and extreme subject matter as well, it’s only natural that we’re going to go for something very extreme like that. That’s why we’ve had songs like “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” and “Raped By The Beast,” and that sort of thing. It just makes sense, like if you’re going to be an extreme band. One thing that I do think is interesting about sex and violence is how sometimes violence is more acceptable than sex, at least in the US media. Like they freaked out about Janet Jackson’s nipple, but yet they’ve shown all kinds of violent things on television that I think were a lot more harmful than Janet Jackson’s nipple so it’s a strange double standard they have for censoring sex and violence. And I think the reason for that is because we’re basically a country that was originally settled by puritans leaving England you know, the pilgrims were religious extremists and I think they still have an impact on how the entire country operates, we’re one of the most religious western countries you know, so that’s only natural that they’re going to still have taboos that other less religious, more secular countries like France might not have or you know the Scandinavian countries or even Canada I think, is a lot less religious than the United States, I don’t think you have a bible belt in Canada do you?

No not really, I mean there are places where religion and bible thumping is more concentrated than others but I don’t think it’s as bad as in the US.
Alex: Yeah I mean definitely in the Southeastern United States, there are some people who really believe the bible to the letter like I mean, they think absolutely every word in it is completely, one hundred percent true.

So tell me, what does the Metal powerhouse Cannibal Corpse, have lined up for next year, post-European tour?
Alex: Um, this year it’s mostly touring, like I said we’re going to try and write when we get the chance, but we have no plans to record anything in 2007, it would just be cutting things too close really. We want to do a lot of touring for Kill because we feel that it’s a really strong record and we usually only do about a year’s worth of touring, this year we felt like we could go for almost two years of touring, well it’ll be about a year and a half of solid touring before we get into complete songwriting mode again. We’ll probably be done touring by October; we do want to do one big blowout North American tour in September, we might do a handful of dates in the spring in the United States too just based around the New England Metalfest, but yeah, just lots of touring, we want to tour all over the place!  [ END ]
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