Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster Talks ‘A Skeletal Domain’ Disc, ‘Bible of Butchery’ Book + More
Cannibal Corpse's Alex Webster was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show this past weekend. The bassist spoke about the band's new album, 'A Skeletal Domain,' which is due Sept. 16, as well as their forthcoming book 'Bible of Butchery.' Check out the chat below.
How are you, Alex?
I'm very good, thanks for having me on the show.
We're here to celebrate the release of 'A Skeletal Domain,' coming out Sept. 16 along with Cannibal Corpse's first ever official authorized biography. Alex, controversial is usually the first word used to describe Cannibal Corpse. When the idea came up to do a book, how much discussion was there about making sure other aspects of this band were documented just as much?
With the book, the biggest thing we talked about was trying to make it not redundant, having done a history DVD just five years ago. We really didn't want to have too much overlap. That was a big thing with the book. We weren't really concerned with there being controversy. A lot of the book is to do with the lyrics and it's us talking about the lyrics. Some of the lyrics are really really controversial, so that's going to be built in. The big goal with the book was trying to cover things that the DVD didn't. The 'Centuries of Torment' history DVD we did back a few years ago. That covered our history so well, the author of the book Joel McIver, he really had to look around to find things that the DVD didn't cover in depth. He didn't want it to be just a repeat of what we had already done. That was the big goal, trying to avoid redundancy with the DVD.
The new album really showcases Pat O'Brien's songwriting. In terms of importance, where does it rank that this band has more than one primary songwriter?
I think it's one of the most important things for our band. There's several different songwriters in the band. Really, everybody in the band except for George [Corpsegrinder Fisher] takes part in the songwriting process. You've got four minds instead of one. I think it just creates a lot of variety. When people check out the new album, 'A Skeletal Domain,' I think they're going to hear a collection of 12 songs that are each very individual. It is all still death metal. There's that thread tying it together. It is all really extreme death metal and it's all very horror orientated. But there's different lyric ideas. Some of it's surreal. Some of it is very realistic. Some supernatural, some not. Musically, there's a lot of variety from song to song too.
We each have a little bit of a different style of writing and I think variety is really key. It's a very important part of why our band has done well, because you can listen to our albums start to finish and still stay interested. It's hard sometimes, some really extreme albums kind of just end up pummeling you into the ground by the end and you can start to wonder which song is which. But with ours I really think each song is an individual.
Even for a band like Cannibal Corpse, 'A Skeletal Domain' is a noticeably darker album. Alex, what makes darker music so much more fun to play?
It's just really the kind of sound we like. That's probably why we're all jamming together. That's the thing that we like, me and Pat in particular. But Rob [Barrett] too, and Paul [Mazurkiewicz]. And George of course, even though he's not one of the writers. It's all what we like. It's kind of, I guess, strange for people outside of the death metal scene and the extreme metal scene in general. To see people being so happy and enthusiastic about music that sounds so grim. It's just really fun, trying to capture these dark sounds and figure out different combinations of notes and different rhythms. It's really the creative process that's probably the most fun for all of us, trying to write these things and think of new ways to make the songs on the album sound dark. The darkest ones on this album are 'Funeral Cremation,' 'The Murders Peck' and the title track 'A Skeletal Domain' is probably the darkest sounding one of them all. They're all pretty dark, it's just the sound we like.
Cannibal Corpse played the Mayhem festival over the summer. What stands out most in your mind about the exposure and reaction Cannibal Corpse got on that tour?
I think with a tour like Mayhem fest, there's just so much variety represented. There were all kinds of different bands on that tour. You had black metal bands, death metal like us and Wretched. Stuff that's more like a modern kind of extreme metal or deathcore, death metal kind of thing like Veil of Maya or Suicide Silence. You have nu metal stuff like Korn, all these different styles of bands. So you've got pretty much a huge variety of people coming to these shows. People that like all these different bands and everybody gets along. People from the death metal scene there and from the other more mainstream metal scene all just together and everybody is checking out all these different bands. Everyone is kind of representing their own genre. All the bands were a little bit different from each other and it was fantastic, all the bands on a tour like that are going to be good at what they do or else they wouldn't be there in the first place but they're all a little bit different. That makes for a really large crowd.
When we do our own tours, they're usually much more focused on our scene. So we're playing in front of people that are already very aware of what our band does. Especially if we're headlining, they're probably there to see us in particular. But on a tour like Mayhem, we're playing in front of a lot of people that are seeing us for the first time. And for a band that's been around for a few decades like us to be playing in front of a brand new audience, having a certain percentage of the audience seeing us for the first time, that's really exciting. We're happy to do tours like that, where there's a wide variety of metal acts.
Once the new album comes out, you're on the road in Australia, Japan, Russia and throughout Europe. What commonality is there between Cannibal Corpse fans around the world, regardless of nationality or location?
Everybody is into death metal or they wouldn't be there. I really think you can take people from all over the world and have them all at the same concert and they'd all react in fairly similar ways. Headbanging, stage dives, mosh pits. It's surprising, we've played in over 50 countries in our career, probably around 55 as the total. There's a lot more similarities than differences. Some places there might be more stage diving or something like that, or for example in the Northeast of the U.S. you find these really violent mosh pits probably in part because of the hardcore scene has so much influence in that area so they kind of trickle down to the metal scene to where there's really aggressive mosh pits. Where some other places it might be more of a headbangin' kind of thing. Like I said, there's a lot more similarities than there are differences. I think from one side of the glove to the other, death metal fans are death metal fans.
Alex, tell us what's to come for the rest of 2014.
We've got a lot of touring lined up. We're going to be in Australia at the time of the release of the album, that's coming up, Sept. 16 is when the album is out. I think we'll either be there or in transit between doing those Australian shows and going to Japan. After that we're home very briefly, just a few days, then we head over and do a fairly extensive tour for Russia, for us. Normally we only play a couple of shows over there but this time we're playing eight, so that's going to be exciting. After that we go and do a big European tour throughout October and November with Revocation and Eon. For next year, we're working on lining up a headlining American tour but I can't give away any details yet. Really, we're just going to be doing a lot of touring for this album. We're really proud of how it turned out and we want to get out on the road and support it for a long time.
Thanks so much and good luck!
Thanks for having me, we'll see everybody on tour!
Cannibal Corpse's 'A Skeletal Domain' is currently available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes. Meanwhile, you can get the 'Bible of Butchery' autobiography at this location. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.