An Interview With Cannibal Corpse guitarist Rob Barrett

A brief discussion of peace,flowers and pecans...

I was under the impression I'd be interviewing Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O’Brien so it was a bit of a surprise when Rob Barrett, the other guitar player with the Corpse, jumped on the phone and apologised for the change of plan. No dramas, I say, tell me all about the twelfth album Torture. Rob obliges in a drawling accent, reminiscent of a heavily stoned surfer dude “We started writing for the album in January [2011] and went into the studio in September, at the Sonic Ranch studio, Texas, and did most of the tracking there, and then we mixed and did whatever other tracking we needed to finish up at Erik’s [Rutan] studio in St Petersburg, Florida at Mana Studios.”

Isn’t Sonic Ranch the world’s largest residential recording complex? 2300 acres of fun for all manner of metal musicians to run and play and generally gad about in? “It’s actually on a pecan ranch in a farming town called Tornillo, Texas which is about 40 minutes away from El Paso and it’s out in the middle of nowhere, out on a ranch, and there are pecan trees all over the place and there are like four studios on the land. And the Mexican border is about five minutes away – I was riding a bike up to the big fence that borders Mexico, during the day time.” Surely living on site 24/7 would be like being in prison? Did you freak out and try to escape? “It depended if I was actually doing something in the studio at that moment. There were times, for sure, when I was getting a little bit of ‘cabin fever’ because I wasn’t actually tracking anything or I wasn’t needed in the studio when the other guys were doing their stuff. But I was just working on what I had to do and what was coming up for me to actually have to be done so I was pretty much preparing when I wasn’t needed – but there were some times when you weren’t needed and you just wanted to get out of there, or at least get off the property for a while.”

As you say, Erik Rutan worked on production and mixing of Torture, is he a nice bloke to work with? “Yeah, he’s great – the only difference between the last two albums; Kill and Evisceration Plague, is that [this time] we flew Erik out with us to Texas and tracked most of the stuff out there and then he finished up whatever tracking was left at his studio here in Florida, like George’s vocals and solos and the mix was done at his studio in Florida too.”

So what happened with Pat O’Brien nicking out to play with Slayer? I’d planned to ask Pat about this but seeing as he’s not around right now, I’ll get your take on it. “There was a situation where Gary Holt [Exodus] was filling in for Jeff Hanneman during a European tour and it came to a point where Exodus already had some shows booked - in South America, I believe – so Gary Holt didn’t wanna fall through on his prior commitments with the Exodus tour. They [Slayer] kind of had to find someone to fill in for something like ten shows so they gave Pat a call and flew him over there, and fortunately Gary was still doing a handful of shows before he had to leave to go with Exodus so Pat flew over there, met up with them and he got to rehearse with them whenever there was time during the day, during sound-checks and whatever and I think he did like ten shows maybe? It was definitely an awesome thing, you know? A dream come true to say ‘Yeah, I played some shows with Slayer!’ He sounds kind of amazed at this turn of events and seems mighty pleased for Pat to get the Slayer gig on his resume.

So bassist Alex Webster has been doing Blotted Science on the side; what about you; any side projects on the go? “Yeah, I’ve been doing a couple of things – they aren’t really anything that I’ve recorded that have been released yet but I’ve been working on a hardcore band that I’ve been doing for a while with the ex-drummer from Pro-Pain JC Dwyer: he lives down in Florida and we’re old friends so we just get together and write hardcore songs whenever we have downtime from our bands and Doug Weber who used to be in the hardcore band Terror, he’s playing guitar with us but he lives out in San Francisco so we’re very rarely actually been able to all get together more than once this year so it’s just a fun thing that we do, hanging out with friends and writing music. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to release something with it but right now I’m busy doing the Cannibal thing.”

Given the ‘extreme’ nature of Cannibal Corpse, do you ever get an urge to pick up an acoustic guitar and bust out some tunes about peace and flowers? He starts laughing as he answers: “Not the peace and flowers thing! I actually do not, at this point in time, own an acoustic guitar.” I can hear Corpse fans everywhere breathing a collective sigh of relief. He continues “I used to have one but I got rid of it a while back, but yeah, I wouldn’t mind gettin’ another one just to have around the house; sometimes when I’m just sitting on the couch, watching TV; it’d be cool to play some acoustic guitar [Now I hear a collective gasp of fear from the fans] but at this point in time I’m just playing the heavy electric guitar. But yeah, it would be cool to maybe do some different style of music some day when the time’s right – I’m just pretty occupied doin’ what I’m doin’ right now.”

So with Torture puncturing the Top 40 on the US Billboard Charts, do you reckon there’ll be any airplay for Cannibal Corpse? “I think it may open some doors for a lot of the main rock radio stations possibly...I don’t really listen to radio so I don’t even know what they are...(laughs) I mean, radio to me is not important with this kind of music. Personally, in my opinion, it’s more like it’s an underground movement and if you wanna listen to it then you’re gonna buy it or download it or however you’re gonna get it; but the radio!? I guess that’s just an added bonus if you happen to listen to the radio and are into something heavy, but I don’t really listen to the radio.”

So you must be getting fired up about the upcoming tour? April to July with Exhumed, Abysmal Dawn and Arkaik, across the US, Russia, and Europe? “Yeah, that’ll be great because I know a lot of our hardcore fans; they really appreciate it when we do a full death metal package when we do a tour, as opposed to sometimes we’ll try doing tours with mixed styles of bands just to try and open up the death metal scene as a whole.” Yeah, that last tour with Justin Bieber just didn’t cut it for me....

So what’s your pre-show warm up? According to Rob, it’s a sensible routine; “Pretty much stretch the body a bit, loosen up and make sure the muscles are not too tight, hydrate myself and drink lots of water, make sure that I eat something not too long before the show, make sure I’m well rested...” he’s laughing again so he might well be taking the piss...
And any plans to bring the tour to Australia? “Yeah, there’s something being worked out as we speak; I think we may well land over there some time in October.”
There you have it, MaF fans - the Corpse; quite possibly coming to Australia in the next couple of months - most definitely coming to eat your flesh.