Cannibal Corpse. You’ve undoubtedly been exposed to Cannibal Corpse in some form or another. Jim Carrey is a total fan. The (thankfully) defunct PMRC were decidedly not. But no matter… Next only to chicken wings, Cannibal Corpse is the best thing to ever come out of Buffalo, NY.
One of Metal Blade Records’ finest acts, the group’s combination of brutal instrumentation and vocals, insanely graphic song titles, and Vincent Locke’s vomit-inducing artwork make them the ultimate go-to band to scare a parent. If you can bend your mind a bit, think of the group as an audio snuff film. Then, check out the album covers. Just be certain: If one thing holds true in the music world, you can rest easy knowing Cannibal Corpse will not be changing their style any time soon.
This afternoon, I somehow briefly convinced my mother that Cannibal Corpse, one of the most legendary Death Metal outfits ever, were a Progressive Jazz trio performing at the local elementary school in our neighborhood. I’m pretty proud of that and if I make it to 80 and I’m giggling in a corner somewhere, this is probably what I’m thinking about.
In a last minute bit of good fortune, I spoke with founding member and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz prior to their Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival run to talk about his lengthy career as hitter for Cannibal Corpse, their tour inclusion on Mayhem Fest, his take on current Death Metal, and what (if any) details he can divulge about their 13th (!) TBA announced album in 2014.
G- Paul, it’s a pleasure speaking with you and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today! How is everything going, man?
P- I’m doing great, man, and thank you so much for the kind words and the interview.
G- Not problem, dude. It’s really all my pleasure. You’ve done lots of these so hopefully I ask you something you haven’t answered before. (laughing)
Jumping right into it, Cannibal Corpse is currently touring both in support of your most recent release, 2012’s Torture, and well as the monster box set, Dead Human Collection: 25 Years of Death Metal, both on Metal Blade. The latter was released in 2013. How do you feel about all of this collective output that you’ve been able to accomplish since 1988, man?
P- It’s just incredible, isn’t it? To think we’ve been around 25 years now and still going strong, arguably stronger than ever. So, it’s just unbelievable the things we’ve done. We’re still going strong like I said, and we’re relevant. It’s amazing.
We couldn’t be happier honestly. Looking back, who would’ve thought this could happen? I was just a kid starting out, from Buffalo, NY like you said, and wanted to play some crazy music with my friends, and there you go… 25 years later one of the biggest Death Metal bands ever and still going. It’s incredible, man. We’re very, very appreciative of everything that’s happened to us all these years. We feel really great about that.
G- The amazing thing is that a lot of bands want to alternate their formula to go Pop. You guys ultimately went Pop by doing everything your own way and playing true Death Metal, some of the scariest shit on Earth. Everybody knows who the band is, and Cannibal Corpse is a household name. My mom knows who you guys are, so…
If it’s at all possible, I want to get some information on this upcoming release. You have it slated to drop in 2014, so can you tell us a little bit about what you guys have going on and what’s in store?
P- Right. I can tell you a little bit. I think Metal Blade wants July 1st for getting everything out there. Album title, artwork, etc. So, obviously we’re not that far away.
But what I can say about it, of course, is… I think everybody knows by now that we recorded with Mark Lewis in Sanford, Florida. No Erik Rutan for this album. We decided to do something new and different I guess just to change it up. Nothing against Erik AT ALL. He did an amazing job on the 3 that he did.
So, we did it with Mark and we started back in February, when we went in to do the drums. Man, it took us… We were at it for a good 3 months actually, which was a little bit longer than I thought we would’ve went, but it was solid. We took a couple of breaks in there, and actually it was a good thing. We’re usually done recording in 2 months solid, and having a few breaks in there and extending it that month actually worked out pretty well, especially knowing we had the time since this album wasn’t going to be coming out before Mayhem Fest. Basically, we’re doing Mayhem to kind of build up the album. We’ll do signing at our booth, and we’ll really push the presale for the new record at mayhem, but I believe it’s supposed to come out in September. I can’t mention the exact date, but I believe it’s supposed to be coming out in September.
And there you go, our 13th album. All I can say is yes, it’s Cannibal Corpse. It’s death Metal. It’s us. And I’ll tell you, we’re very excited for this record. I know it sounds cliché and you hear it all the time, but we really do try our hardest every time we go into this process. We try to do better, and you gotta do it in a certain time. I think it’s awesome. The whole band is really pumped. Everybody that’s heard it is pumped. I can’t wait for the fans to hear it. I think it’s gonna be one of the best and the fans are gonna dig it. It’s Cannibal Corpse and it’s Death Metal, and I think we’re at the top of our game, more now than ever.
So, we’ll see what everybody says, but we’re excited for it. That’s for sure.
G- Lucky #13! The previous 12 haven’t been that bad either, man.
P – I like to say it’s our “next chapter.” Everyone has their favorites, but when it comes down to it we’ll look back in 10 years and it’s all relative. It’s subjective. You never know. Everyone is going to have a favorite album. All we can do is do the best we can.
But Mark did an amazing job as well, if you want to speak production. It just sounds massive and it’s everything you want it to be. You want it to be clear, you want it to be massive, you want it to be heavy, you want it to sound brutal. It’s all that wrapped into one.
So, when people hear the production, they’re gonna be “WOW! This is awesome!”
G- Love it!
Now, speaking of the live shows, and we’ll get to your touring repertoire, because you’ve been nonstop for a while, but you guys are the heaviest band on Mayhem Fest, and right after that you’ve got a European tour with w/ Revocation.
Uhh, Cannibal Corpse pretty much plays any festival they want. You’re just that type of band and have that kind of pull. So, I just want to get your take on the festival culture in general, Metal festival culture, because it’s really blowing up and you guys have a white card for any one you want. So, do you find a lot of difference, better or worse ones, or one we should be checking out?
P- I mean yeah, the festival seen in Europe of course. Everybody knows by now that that is all that goes on in Europe in the Summer all over the place. Every country has 10 different festivals now, all the weekend festivals that the states just don’t have, or Canada for that matter, for the most part. Canada is starting to work up, and I’ll tell you about that in a second, but you go to a festival like Wacken or Download? These festivals are massive and put together so well, and they’re metal festivals. It’s incredible that they do that and I wish there were more in the states.
I mean, it’s cool to do what we do with Mayhem, but it’s just that travel kind of thing. Getting to the Canada ting, we just got back from playing Amnesia Fest. We just played that and it had the vibe of a European festival. You had 5 stages, all these bands playing, different kinds of bands, metal, hardcore. It was well run and when it runs smooth like that, it’s a great thing. It’s a good thing for the fans, and it’s fun for the bands, too. We had a great time seeing some friends and just playing in that setting.
So, it’ll be great playing Mayhem, but it’s a different kind of a metal festival in that way compared to the Europeans ones. But I gotta think the European kinda got it down for doing the weekenders like that. Wacken started out 25 years ago. When you go to Wacken, and I highly recommend anyone that is into metal, one time try to get to Wacken Festival for the weekend, because it’s just an amazing concert of metal. It’s an incredible festival, and it started out in just a little grove. They started out in that area where you can see where the original Wacken was with a couple of thousand people, and to know what it’s grown into all these years just because of Heavy Metal, that’s just remarkable. So, maybe the states will get some stuff like that in the future and maybe it will all rub off and we’ll start doing these.
I mean, we’ve got a couple. We’ve got Maryland Death Fest. I’ve never been to it before, but it seems like it’s getting a bit better. They’re always going to be trying to get the kinks out of stuff like that, but we’ll see. But yeah, the ones in Europe are amazing and always have a bunch of different bands. And for us, we get to play with our heroes, too. You play Wacken or you play Hellfest, and you’ve got Twisted Sister and motley Crue and stuff like that, and it’s just ‘Wow.’ These bands we grew up with listening to and idolizing. So it’s always fun in that regard as well.
G- Right on.
And to elaborate just slightly, Gathering Of The Juggalos. (laughing)
P – Yes.
G- (laughing) Discuss.
P- I don’t know. We’re doing it. I said yes.
G- That’s awesome and I think you are the banner act. I mean, ICP is definitely fun and it’ll be chaos, but Cannibal Corpse’s inclusion on the Gathering is really something else and no one was expecting it. What are you expecting out of that chaos? (laughing)
P- Well, all we expect is to go up and play a show. The whole thing, how that came up, if we got offered to do it as a one-off where we were just home and offered to play, we probably wouldn’t. But the logistics of this worked perfect.
What happens is a band of our status on Mayhem, you know… When there is a day off, of course Avenged Sevenfold is gonna have a day off, and Korn and stuff like that. But for smaller bands, to make up expenses, you play some headliners.
So we have that. We’re doing that, of course. We’re actually doing 5 headliners out to Mayhem because we’re coming from Florida getting to California. And dispersed throughout Mayhem, I know we’re doing headliners, and we got an offer. So there you go. Our booking agent says ‘Hey, we got an offer to play this festival.’ I didn’t even know what it was or that they had one. I know the band and all that, but I’m not a big follower of that scene at all. So, all I saw was we got an offer to play a festival. And of course that offer is a little bit better than it would be if we were playing down the road on an off-day, which would be fine, but hey… How can you refuse it when we’re going to be playing at a festival with thousands of people? And isn’t this what Mayhem is kinda doing in a sense? Yes, we’re the heaviest band on Mayhem, and we’re a little bit of a fish out of water, but it’s still a Metal fest. Is a typical Cannibal fan going to want to go to Mayhem, unless they’re rich, and pay that money to see Cannibal and maybe Wretched or something and not care about anybody else? So we understand that we’re doing Mayhem to pump up the new fans. It’s gonna be packed! How could it not? Avenged Sevenfold are HUGE! Korn? These are big bands and maybe we’re gonna get some new fans by playing in front of some new people that may know who we are, but they’ve never heard us, bought an album, or saw Cannibal Corpse. So, there’s our opportunity.
Doing this festival (Gathering) is the same thing. I won’t lie, there was a split between the camp, management and band members and all that. But the way I look at it? It’s better than a day off, it’s a decent guarantee, and they want us to be there I guess.
P- So, to me, if you don’t want to watch us and you’re at this festival, then don’t watch us. But we’re not here because we pushed ourselves on this festival. We were offered to play the festival. So I’m going to look at it like any other day. I gonna get up there and I’m just gonna do the best I can. Let’s play our music. Let’s shock some people. Let’s do our thing because that’s what we’re here for. Whether we gain their approval or not, to me it doesn’t matter… It’s just another show. It’s a fill-in show off Mayhem, and that’s the way I’m looking at that. That’s the way I hope other people can look at it too and not just look at it as… I can understand a lot of Cannibal fans are surprised we’re playing that, but they may not understand the logistics behind this, which is what I just tried to explain.
So, it’s got its pros and cons, and I can totally understand. At this point, it’s ‘We’ll see what happens,’ right? This will be a conversation for after the show. What did happen? Everything is gonna go smooth and we’re gonna go ‘It’s was fun. Good show’ or “Oh my gosh, we tried that and did that,’ but hopefully that’s not the case.
G- Oh no.
P- Hopefully everything will be fine and we’ll walk away going ‘What was the big deal? That was a killer show and people had a good time. Next.’
G- They are going to LOVE you at that festival, man! You are going to go over like the mob! (laughing)
P- That’s what I’m hoping. From what I understand from our booking agent, we’ve been getting requested to play it. I don’t know how they do that. Maybe they have some site that they set up to take polls or something, but apparently they wanted us to play this festival. So, like I said, it just worked out. The timing and everything fell into place. So, we’ll see what happens.
G- Alright. What I’d like to know now is, Metal or otherwise, what are you listening to right now, or do you have anything that you think I or our readers should check out in your opinion?
P- Well, I’m not the guy to ask on that. I revert back to the old days is what I’ve been doing. I mean, I love Metal and music and Death Metal and everything, but my interested have really seemed to go backwards in the past 10 years. A lot of Hard Rock from the early 60’s and 70’s and that’s kinda what my niche is and my era. So, a lot of that.
But I know the readers probably aren’t going to like this, but it’s known what I like and stuff, and the only band, not even a new band, but the only albums I’ve been listening to in a while is the new Presidents Of The United States Of America.
G- (Bursts of laugher) RIGHT ON! That’s awesome!
P- I’ve loved them for years now and I don’t know, they just get me. When they come out with something, I gotta get it the day it comes out. That’s how much I love that band. It’s weird and no other band really does that to me, in the newer sense, but yeah.
And when it comes down to Death Metal of course, there is some great stuff out there. The one band that we freak on, that I freak on and love so much that we try to bring to the states, that we’re doing the tour with Revocation with, is AEON. That is the epitome of Death Metal in our opinion, and I love them. I still love them a lot, but when they had drummer Nils Fjellstrom I guess is his name, in Dark Funeral now, he’s an amazing drummer… So, if anyone hasn’t heard the band AEON, check them out because they’re incredible.
G- Dig that.
And a couple of last questions because I don’t want to go too long, but given your tenure, 25 years, you’ve done every festival, you’re going on your 13th record, millions of records sol, millions of fans and still building: What else would you like to accomplish as drummer for Cannibal Corpse that you haven’t already done?? I mean, you guys are a big as it gets when it comes to this stuff?
P- You know, at this point, exactly. It just comes down to keeping it going. Longevity and staying true. That’s all we can do at this point. We’ve done it all. If it all ended tomorrow, that was a full career. We did what we wanted to do. For a Death Metal band? Wow… We were on top! That’s incredible.
So, what else is there? I think whatever comes along. There’s no technical personal goal of main. Like I said, we’re still going. We’re relevant. If we feel like we’re playing as best as we can and we’re having a great time, that’s all that matters, so let’s just keep going and go as long as we can and do it convincingly. I think that is kinda the goal at this point: How long can we take it? If we don’t want to go through the motions, then I’m sure we won’t. When it finally comes down to a time when it’s ‘Alright, I can’t do this anymore’ when someone in the band has to slow down or stop, but right now we’re feeling great! So, let’s just keep this going and see how long we can go. Let’s keep on getting better and that kind of thing.
It’d be cool to play some places we’ve never played before. We may end up playing in India or something like that. Those aren’t goals, but it’d be cool to come there. If we get an offer and it works and we can go to India, that’s awesome! We’ve never thought we could get to India. We’ve been to places like China, and it’s just amazing to be able to go to these places because of the band.
So, I think it’ll be a lot of variances, which aren’t goals, but just a thing we can say we’ve done. Whether in a movie, or in a TV show, or on a soundtrack, or who knows? There’s plenty of things that could pop up I guess. So it’s just cool to be a part of that and be sought out like that and various kinds of things.
So yeah, let’s keep this going and see what happens! I think we’d all want to go down in history as the Most Brutal Death Metal Band Of All-Time. We did it our way, we never gave up, and that’s it. We did it from the heart, and that’s how I think we’d like to be remembered and it’s what we’re gonna be shooting for.
G- Love it! We were there at 10, and 15, and 25, and we’ll be there at 30 as well, man. So whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.
G- We love you guys.
And just to finish up, you have fans that weren’t even a glimmer in their dad’s eye when you started playing. They listen to you and they love you and they can’t wait to see you play, for probably the first time, on some of these shows coming up. And they want to play Death Metal. They want your spot in Cannibal Corpse, or at least something like it.
So, with all your experience, what advice can you give some of the young kids out here who want to make it in Metal and go on the road, make records, and be a professional musician like yourself?
P- Well, it’s really a life lesson that applies to anything, I think. If you’ve got a dream, you’ve got a passion, you’ve gotta go for it. And that’s what it was.
It was as simple as that. Nobody thought this would be our career. Sure, you want it to be… Every kid dreams of being on stage and on the road or being an athlete, but you’ve got to push and work to achieve those goals, of course. You may be good at what you do, and you may work hard, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to make it. They key is if you love something, and not just Metal but in anything in life, if you have a passion, go for it.
You’re only young once, and you never know what’ll happen in the future. A lot of people say that who are our age now, and started out like we did. Bands from Buffalo, bands from everywhere. Everyone had counterparts and that band made it while that band didn’t. Well, if you didn’t try, you won’t know. You can’t go 20 years later and wonder the ‘What ifs.’ If you attempt it and it fails, so be it. But at least you attempted it.
And that was the thing. We had such a drive and such a goal to want to play music, to do that was all that it was. And luckily for Cannibal, it all kinda came together, and in a way very quick. We didn’t have to sit around. People were seeking us out, and our record label, and we’re going on tour. Ok, here you go.
So, we obviously love music that people are into, so you just can’t have a formula. You just have to go with your guy, and give it a try, and never give up. And if you don’t give up and you don’t make it, at least you tried. That’s all you can do in life, really, and it applies to anything, like I said.
But, you gotta stick to it. It’s not a job. You can’t look at it like a job. You can’t go ‘I’m gonna be in a band to make a lot of money.’ That’s doing it for the wrong reason. Those are the musicians that’ll just do anything to make it. Well you know what? We wanted to be Death Metal, or we wouldn’t have made it, because I wasn’t interested in playing any kind of music or just be a drummer to make it. I wanted to make it with what I loved to do.
So, I think if you have that will and that passion, and it doesn’t work, you tried. And that’s the key.
G- Awesome. Well look, it’s been an honor speaking with you today and thank you so much for your time. I want to say safe travel, play hard like I know you’re going to, and we’ll see you at Mayhem. Can’t wait for the next album in 2014!
P- I appreciate the interview and all the kind words. Yes, we will see you soon, and thank you for the interview again. And to all the readers out there who support Death Metal, we’ll see you soon, too.