Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cannibal Corpse's George "Corpsegrinder" Fischer

It’s been 25 years since Brian Slegal founded Metal Blade Records and there’s never been a better time to be a metalhead. For this most brutal of anniversaries, the label sent Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Red Chord, The Absence, and Goatwhore to shred the American country-side with a violence unseen since the days of Manifest Destiny. In San Francisco, a line formed outside Slim’s hours before the box office opened on the second night of performances. Cannibal Corpse bassist, Alex Webster, chatted with waiting fans over a boxed dinner. And before the sun had even gone down, Goatwhore ripped into their set. The Red Chord, riding on their new album Prey For Eyes, allowed their Boston roots to shine, mocking the crowd, then launching into their signature blend of complex time changes, noise, and grindcore. Next up were The Black Dahlia Murder, who’s guitarist, John Kempainen owes his playing ability to “just the pure chronic intake of it all” as much as practice. It was the night before the official release of their new album, Nocturnal, and I was lucky enough to speak with singer, Trevor Strnad. And later, I got to speak with pummeling vocalist, George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer, of Cannibal Corpse.

Just before Cannibal Corpse came on stage, a bouncer stated, “there’s gotta be like 700 people in here.” For a venue with max capacity at 420, that’s pretty brutal. Cannibal opened with The Time To Kill Is Now. Their ninety minute sets always seem to stretch the concept of what is physically possible. The band looked like a bomber flying straight into the crowd, Corpsegrinder as the propeller. Before the show, we talked in between drummer Paul (Mazurkiewicz) icing beers and everyone cracking the vilest of jokes.

Mattie: You’ve been on the road since September 6th. How’s the Metal Blade 25th Anniversary tour going?

George: We’re having a really good time. All the other bands are great. We’ve toured with everyone besides The Absence before.

Mattie: Any special things taking place for the anniversary?

George: In L.A. Brian came on stage. Trevor from Black Dahlia Murder was singing Stripped, Raped and Strangled with me, and near the end Brian came out and put us in a headlock. I didn’t know who it was and I was ready to kill, but then it was Brian and I was like, ok. Brian sang some of the lines, too. Twenty-five years is a long time, and I think when we look back we’ll be like, wow we were a part of that. A lot of us are here because we listened to and bought records that were Metal Blade records.

Mattie: Has Cannibal Corpse always been with Metal Blade?

George: Since the beginning. Brian’s like a friend, it’s never a business meeting, like: Hi Brian, how are the records selling? (laughs) No, it’s like, hey Brian, how’s it going. We go to football games.

Mattie: I’ve noticed during performances that you take a particular stance when screaming the high vocals. Is that to keep the air flowing?

George: I used to lean back because I thought it’d give me more air. I used to think that. Then I stopped. (laughs) It’s one of those things, I don’t think about how I’m singing when I’m singing. Kids ask, How do you do that? Well, I don’t smoke anything. Period. I don’t drink before the shows. Sometimes, if I can’t get the “catch” from the deep stuff, you know (growls), I drink some soda. Someone told me that once, when I couldn’t get my growl to go over the hump. Cause the syrup coats your throat. I was always against it, but it worked.

Mattie: Since the music is so technical, how do band practices usually work for you guys?

George: If we’re doing a tour we pretty much do the set list. If there’s one song that particularly, we’re having trouble with, we practice it. If we’re doing a record, obviously, it’s different. It’s more a question for the other guys cause they write the music. But, when it comes to a new song, if Alex wrote it he has to teach the riffs to Rob and Pat (O’Brian). He probably has a general drum beat in mind. He’ll say, Paul, why don’t you do a skank beat or a blast beat here and then Paul will tweek and tinker with that. In the studio everything is under the microscope, that’s where I tweek things.

Mattie: About The Wretched Spawn DVD included with the album, it’s incredibly informative…

George: Yeah, I think that the reason it was so popular was because of that part with Frantic Disembowlment. It made people, who maybe doubted the band’s ability to play, open their eyes. We aren’t the most technical band compared to some bands. We have some songs that are slower and just heavier than shit and aren’t the hardest thing to play. They have more groove to them. And some songs are outright hard to play. Make Them Suffer, is a great song, but really difficult. Even if people have no love for the music, they may at least respect it, after seeing the DVD, which for me is the biggest thing. No one knows how hard it is to sing these songs except someone who plays in a band. And me.

Mattie: Kill is the fastest, most brutal, no bullshit CC album to date, in my opinion. Was there anything in particular that motivated you?

George: I just think everyone writes what they write. Gallery of Suicide is where we got people saying we were experimental, if you will. But we don’t sit around like a meeting board and go, OK, this is how we’re gonna write this record. This is the first album without Jack (Owen), and we thought, Let’s clean-slate it. The title is short and sweet. It sums everything up. I like the brutal covers but it’s cool having a cover with just the band name and album title. No one’s looking at how brutal the album cover is, they listen to the music.

Mattie: What’s it like being part of the Metalocalypse cartoon?

George: I actually just did some more stuff in L.A. three days ago. It’s great. (Creators) Tommy (Blacha) and Brendon (Small) are awesome, super cool guys, and totally into metal. The fact that they get guys in bands to do voiceovers is awesome. It’s good for us cause people who aren’t metalheads are watching it. All the help we can get, every person wearing our shirt, is a big bonus. We play an underground form of music. And I think there’s a misconception that they are making fun of metal. There are some things in metal over the years that, you know, you can laugh at. I could look at old pics of myself when I was a metal teenage and go--(makes pained face). If you can’t poke fun at yourself, you can’t laugh at anyone.

Mattie: It’s funny to hear you say that CC is underground, it’s been around eighteen years. You’ve just been THAT band.

George: Yeah, and there are a lot of other bands that have been around for that time. There’s Morbid Angel, Immolation… and its because of the music and the fans. We all help each other. We bust our ass at the shows. We’re more visible now cause the band was in Ace Ventura, I’m doing these cartoon things, we did Sounds of the Underground, we played a birthday party for Cher’s son Elijah. All the bands are a community, so a victory for us is a victory for death metal in general. And it’s better than ever right now.

Mattie: It’s been an honor, anything you’d like to add?

George: Stay METAL.