After just getting back from a European Tour and the release of their latest album “Torture,” death metal legends Cannibal Corpse are getting ready to take over North America for the upcoming “Summer Slaughter Tour.” Bass player and founding member Alex Webster was able to take some time to talk with ReviewFix.com’s Chris Butera about his thoughts on the upcoming tour, the new album and much more.
Review Fix: For torture what was the recording process like?
Alex Webster: We had rehearsed written the songs in about seven or eight months in 2011 and we had all the songs ready to go in September. We went to Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornado Texas. That’s where we did the basic tracks, meaning bass guitar, drum, and rhythm tracks. We did that over the course of September. Then we returned home to Florida and finished the album in October at Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida. That’s where we did the mixing, guitar solos and vocals. We split the recording studios over the course of two months. The producer for the whole process was Erik Rutan. He was with us in Texas as well. It went really well. The usual ups and downs and some equipment related difficulties but, that’s par for the course and it turned out really well and it was a big success in our eyes.
Review Fix: What gear did you use?
Webster: Well, there’s lots of different stuff. I’m trying to remember what drum set Paul used, it was probably a DW. The bass, that’s easy for me to remember. I used a SWR 750x head and a SWR Megoliath cabinet, my Spector bass – I used a couple different Spector basses for that and DR strings, but I use the same strings everywhere. Monster Cables and we used a boss overdrive bass pedal to get a tiny bit of growl on the sound to get the cut through. That was pretty much it. We used some compressors they had there and a really good microphone they had there. One of the really cool things about working at Sonic Ranch Studios is that they have a huge wealth of killer gear there for you to use. In addition to the gear we brought on our own like our amps and basses, we also had a lot of great mic preamps and microphones and compressors and a lot of great “rack gear” that’s part of the studio for you to use. The guitar was recorded with Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier heads. I believe some of the rhythm tracking was done with that and some of the rest of the tracking was done with a Mesa Boogie Mark Five head and the cabinets they used might’ve been this one Marshall cabinet that Erik had that’s really good. The guitars we used I believe were B.C. Rich and Dean for some of the tracking. Not 100 percent sure it may have been all B.C. Rich.
Review Fix: The sound of the album sounds a lot darker and lower. Is this because of the tunings or the mixing and production?
Webster: It’s a little bit of both. We’ve been using two tunings for awhile now. We have a low one and a really low one. The low tuning we’ve used throughout our career is a half step low. The old albums were a six string guitar tuned a half step low. Now, it’s technically a seven string guitar tuned low even though we use six strings more often. Those are just a half step and then there’s this tuning we use that’s ultra low that we use for tracks such as “Scourge of Iron,” “Demented Aggression,” “Caged, Contorted” and “Crucifier Avenged.” That’s a minor third low, which is three half steps lower. We used that tuning for half of the album and we used the other tuning for the other half. It’s definitely a little bit of a lower record and we definitely have a heavier tone. So you put those two together and you get a darker, sludgier, heavier record which is what we wanted.
Review Fix: “Followed Home Then Killed” sounds like it was lyrically inspired by stalker horror movies such as “I Spit on Your Grave” and “The Last House on the Left.” Were these movies being watched at the time or is the song about any of these movies?
Webster: That song was actually written by our drummer Paul (Mazurkiewicz) so I can’t really say too much about that one as far as the lyrics go. He’d be better to talk about that with. I would say in general that we do not copy things that we’ve seen in movies. There may be some inspiration from those movies but we really try to come up with our own stories. Having said that, a lot of the stories we come up with have been touched upon many times by other people. A stalker idea is certainly not an original kind of idea but I don’t think that he was basing that on any original movie. Again he’s the better one to answer this question, but I think it’s something he just whipped up on his own and it may sound like that because it’s a fairly common idea.
Review Fix: What inspires your lyrics?
Webster: Just trying to use our own imaginations to come up with things. This time around I did try to do a little research. I was just very interested in torture and execution. It’s just something about the idea of such, a premeditated killing and torturing of another person is disturbing to me and therefore interesting. I certainly don’t think torturing and executing people is good, but I thought that this would be an interesting topic to talk about for an album this time around. Not that we haven’t touched upon that sort of thing before, but I got a little more in depth with it. I went online and looked at various torture and execution methods and I also have a book called “The Book of Execution.” It’s a book I got in a bookstore down here at least 10 years ago, or maybe even longer and it’s a British book, so it was expensive and it covers a lot of different execution methods. So the book was a good place to draw from because that was where I wanted to focus the lyrics under some of the songs that I did.
Review Fix: Your big solo comes in “The Strangulation Chair,” which is a bit late in the album. Usually they come earlier. Did you plan on making the fans wait or did this just get placed in the track listing by chance?
Webster: We didn’t have an arrangement of the tracks we wrote for the album. Once the recording got done we decided on where they would fit best in the album and that seemed to sit well where it was. It’s really nothing like that as far as the bass break goes. I’d call it more of a break than a solo, I guess it could be called a solo. It’s something that I thought sounded really good that the fans would like. I definitely didn’t go into it like I did with “Hammer Smashed Face.” We’ve had some songs with the bass break that comes late in the album like “They Deserve to Die” on “The Wretched Spawn”. That’s the last song on that album. We didn’t think about the bass break when we were arranging the album.
Review Fix: What is your favorite bass break out of all your breaks in Cannibal Corpse?
Webster: I’m definitely proud of “The Strangulation Chair.” That one’s a tapping solo. That’s why its so fast. Having to pick all those notes would have been difficult so we have a two-handed tapping pattern there. “Hammer Smashed Face” of course. That’s the famous one, although a lot easier than a lot of the other ones. The “They Deserve to Die” one I’m really proud of. That one had a lot going on in it. I definitely like them all because they’re all a little bit different. The one at the beginning of “Coffin Feeder” is really good too. To me it’s not a matter of how hard they are, it’s how good they sound and if they make a song sound better which I think most of them do. I’m pretty proud of all of them I guess.
Review Fix: In 2006 the ban on early cannibal corpse songs being played in Germany was lifted. Did it feel a little surreal playing these songs for the first time in Germany after being not allowed to play them for all these years?
Webster: It was definitely a good feeling. It’s been a bummer to us that we haven’t been able to play ’em all these years. Everything started to loosen up around 2007. It’s really Germany that we have the problems with censorship. For some reason, even though it’s a really liberal and democratic society they have some censorship issues. It definitely affects us that we can’t do the show that we wanted to put on for our fans. We’re happy that it is not an issue anymore. There have been a few times in Munich and Bavaria where we’ve had to censor things but we just played all those places and there were no problems this time. I think its something that the censorship type people are gradually giving up on which is good for us.