Rob Barrett and Cannibal Corpse: In town soon...

Rob Barrett on the possibility of Corpsefest, set-lists and his secret spicy side-project...

Rob Barrett, one half of Cannibal Corpse’s guitar brutality, is on his back porch in Tampa, Florida; he’s smoking a cigarette and it’s raining heavily, the sound is like muted white noise down the phone but luckily Rob’s drawling stoner accent is coming through loud and clear.

Cannibal Corpse has been touring heavily since the release of latest album Torture and I start by asking Rob about the US Summer Slaughter tour which has just wound up. So how was it? “It was great, man – a lot of great bands on that tour; Exhumed and Goatwhore and Cerebral Bore from Scotland, Periphery, Veil of Maya, The Faceless, Between The Buried And Me and Job For A Cowboy – there was a lot of progressive metal bands on the bill which was interesting, it’s always cool to see new and different stuff.”

Corpse also recently played the first annual Knotfest (organised by Slipknot obviously); what was your verdict? “I thought it was a great show. It was huge. I’m not sure about the whole attendance count but it looked pretty big. They did a live feed of the show and when I was watching it after we played, I was checking out Slipknot and it looked huge.” It seems like everyone is organising a festival nowadays, any chance we’ll see a Corpsefest in the near future? Rob seems quite taken with the idea: “That wouldn’t be a bad idea honestly. It definitely sounds like something we could pull off and we could just pick whatever bands we want on it (laughs). It’s something that may happen one day – it’s a cool idea for sure, but we haven’t actually sat down and planned anything yet but it definitely sounds like it could happen.” You heard it here first...

The Australian tour, supported by Disentomb, Entrails Eradicated and Psycroptic (Sydney & Melbourne shows only) kicks off in October; it’s the first time you’ll have been back since 2009. Do you find each country has it’s own personality or does it all merge into one big sloppy tour haze? “There’s definitely a lot of culture – we see the culture whenever we’re around whatever region of the world we’re in – we can definitely tell where we’re at.” He laughs as he continues to explain “It’s little ‘ethnic’ things; I don’t really know how to explain it but each place is unique and we can tell where we’re at when we’re there.”

So can we expect a heavily Torture based set-list? “Yeah. We haven’t really talked about what we’ll do set-wise; I’m not sure if we’re gonna do the one we were just doing or whether we’re gonna change things up a little bit; we were only doing a 60 minute set on Summer Slaughter and we usually do about 80 minutes when we’re doing our own headlining tours; we usually do half the Torture album – we’re doing six songs live when we do our own headliner - so we should be able to get at least four to six new songs into the set-list.” Torture has been the highest selling Cannibal Corpse album in aeons, how is it working out live? “It’s great. I think we all enjoy playing the new songs over the older ones just because we’re just now getting used to playing them comfortably live. We’ve only played these songs since the beginning of the year live. We started by doing Scourge of Iron, that was the one we were showcasing before the record came out, when we were in Europe, but now we’re up to doing half the record, which is cool; we like the new stuff and it goes over well live.”

And then after Australia the band will be hitting Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and China; is there much of a demand for death metal in Asia? “As far as I’ve heard; yeah! We get a lot of mail from there and they’ve been asking us to play in a bunch of those countries – unfortunately we’re not gonna go to all of ‘em this time but we are going to a lot of places we’ve never been before so that’s always exciting.” And then back to Europe for another run of shows? “Yeah, we’ve only been home for like a week and a half; we’ve got four [days] left and we only had ten days off between Europe festivals and the Summer Slaughter so we haven’t really been home much.”

Rob tells me he’s already working on writing some new Corpse material and “We’re probably gonna start practicing again some time next week and figure out what set-list we’re gonna do for the next tour.”

We last spoke just prior to the release of Torture and you mentioned a side-project with JC Dwyer and Doug Weber; are you still poking around with that? “Yeah, JC’s gonna come to Tampa on the 24th [September] and he’s gonna record the drum tracks for the 15 songs that we have complete and then  I’m gonna do the guitars and then John Bukowski [possibly from Ebony Sorrow *unchecked fact* - Al] is gonna play bass; he lives up in Long Island, New York and I’m gonna go up there during the holidays, when we have some time off from the next tour, and he’s gonna put the bass on it. Then we’re gonna mix it at our sound man/tour manager’s studio which is up in Woodstock.” He laughs as he finishes off with “...and then I might try and sing on it. It’s always cool to be able to branch off and do something else if there’s time, you know? I just haven’t really had time to get anything else together because Cannibal Corpse is a very active band.” Given this year’s tour schedule, I wouldn’t argue with that. So do you have a name for this side-project?  “Yeah but it’s nothing I wanna announce yet. We wanna figure out who’s gonna sing first and it’s still in the formative stage so...we’ll get the songs complete and then we’ll go from there.” As I’ve said to my dealer many times before, don’t hold out on me, man! But Rob remains tight lipped on the subject, though he does tell me that it’s not so much death metal though “...it sounds more like New York hardcore.”

Torture is the third album with the current Corpse line-up, is the band functioning like a well oiled machine at this point? “Yeah, we all understand where we’re trying to go with the band and what we’re tryin’  to get written and accomplished music-wise, lyric-wise and the chemistry is working really good and it’s awesome.”

Given the length of the tour, do you end up like a like a hermit; doing the show then pissing off back to the dressing room/tour bus? Or do you like to get out and see he towns you’re playing in? “On the Summer Slaughter tour, we were playing last every night, on average we’d play at ten o’clock till eleven and we weren’t really doing full sound checks ‘cause there’s so many bands that have to set up their gear so we would just get a basic monitor mix in the morning or noon time, and then that was it, you know? Usually we’d do a full sound check where we’d play at least two or three songs but after that basic monitor mix during the morning or early afternoon then we’re just kinda waiting for about ten hours to play so if we don’t have any press to do then we’re just sittin’ around waitin’...I was fortunate enough to be able to go visit some friends that live in various parts of the country; I would just call them up and say ‘Hey, I’m gonna be in town; do you wanna hang out?’ and they’d pick me up and they’d take me to their house and I could do laundry and take a shower and just do ‘normal’ stuff before doing the show.” My mind conjures up images of Rob doing mundane tasks to an elevator muzak soundtrack before cutting to him going absolutely mental on stage. The two images don’t seem to sit well together but even the most insane of guitarists has to do grocery shopping and the like.

I saw the post of US TV personality Rachel Maddow on the Cannibal Corpse Facebook page; what was that all about? “It seemed pretty funny – it doesn’t hurt getting mentioned in a forum like that; National TV – that’s always cool.” So are you interested in politics? “I’m definitely not too interested in that ‘cause it just seems like you could know everything you needed to know about it but your opinion is gonna be opposed by somebody else no matter what so I don’t wanna bother getting into it really; I don’t like arguing...”

I wondered how to broach my next question without sounding like a rude bastard...you were born in 1970 so, like myself, you’re not getting any younger, how do you manage such a punishing tour schedule? “I think everybody in the band could pretty much say that when you wake up things aren’t as smooth as they used to be when you were younger (he laughs heartily at this point so I figure I’m safe and he won’t try and find me and stab me up) but we’re still fit enough to be able to do this and we want to do it for as long as we can so we’re still gonna be around for a while.” So even if you get to the point where your hands are falling off from RSI, you won’t switch to playing a mellower style of music? “I can’t count that out but me personally, I wouldn’t want to do something like that - but you should be able to do whatever you feel like doing - so I wouldn’t count anything out. I wouldn’t start playing like, lame shit, but eventually when we can’t get up there and bang our fucking heads and play blast beats for like, 60 fucking minutes, if it comes to a point where the touring becomes less then we’ll still try and record. I’ll always want to write music and record until I physically can’t play anymore. But the whole live thing; we’re almost doing 200 shows a year; that might get reduced [when the Corpse become aged gentlemen] but we’re doin’ OK for now.” Indeed. Well said, sir. Management can always wheel you out on stage in your bathchair – it’s my preferred mode of transport. “Yeah! I look at guys like Ozzy and those kind of guys that have been around for a long time and as long as they’re still hanging in there then we can.”

And finally, given the nature of Cannibal Corpse lyrics, do you ever have any issues coming up with suitably ‘wrong’ lyrics? In that slow, thick accent he replies “No, not at all...I mean; there’s just so many possibilities really...it’s endless...you just have to try and make each one unique in its own way.” Spoken like a true artist.

Cannibal Corpse in Australia in October – hitting a stage near you.