Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse: The Heavy Blog Is Heavy Interview

Cannibal Corpse are the most famous death metal band in the world for a reason. They’ve been pummeling the metal scene since the late 80s and have been unrelenting in their quest for the death metal crown, which they have carried for the better part of their career. They are the quintessential example of how death metal should sound, be played, and the attitudes they should have. SO I was truly excited to finally get to sit down with Paul and talk to him about all things death metal, and also about the state of the scene, how he likes his eggs, and more!

So, first thing’s first. Today is the first date of the Summer Slaughter Tour, and there are some absolutely killer bands on this bill. The last time you guys did this tour was back in 2012 and you absolutely killer it then, and surely will tonight. Have you played with any of the bands on this bill before?

 Yep! As a matter of fact, we just got off of a tour with Krisiun in Europe a couple of months ago. We’ve also toured with Revocation a while back, right around the time when Deathless was about to come out. We were in Europe with them. We’ve known the Suffocation guys for years, but technically we’ve never toured with them. But we’re all good friends. Nile toured with us back in 2000 in the states. Pretty much all the bands give or take like 3 we’ve toured with at some point or another.

It’s also worth noting that this show was, until recently, supposed to be in Orlando until the Pulse tragedy occurred. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we appreciate you guys being able to adapt so quickly to the circumstances surrounding the venue change. 

Oh, for sure. Yeah, the funny thing is, the way they had our routing has always been Orlando and then Tampa, which to me doesn’t make sense. You essentially have a fest like this roughly an hour from each other and completely avoid the southern part of the state. I like the way this worked out much better. That way people from down here get to see the show, and logistically it worked out better that way. Of course it’s a shame what happened in Orlando, but it’s a way to look at the bright side.

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Always a good thing to do! You guys are now at the very end of the tour cycle for A Skeletal Domain now, so it’s pretty safe to say you guys basically haven’t stopped touring since the record came out. Now that the cycle is almost over, are you guys just going to take it easy for a bit or are you going straight back into the studio to record again?

Well, yes and no. We’ll definitely relax and spend time with our families, but we’ve never been one to take that long of a break. We’ll take a short breather but then get right back into it. That will basically consist of getting the new record going. If shows come about then those things come up, but touring-wise the time to end is now, and other than taking a short break, we’ll start working on the new album. But we don’t have anything like studio time set in stone yet.

You guys also really haven’t been one to dwell in the past. You’re one of the few bands that have gone this long and still never done a full album front to back from your discography. Would that change anytime soon or do you think you guys will abstain from doing that?

It just doesn’t seem like it’s our thing. We were never huge fans of that. I mean, we don’t mind when other bands do it, like when Slayer did Reign In Blood it was like, ok, we all love Slayer, so that’s cool, ya know? But the way I look at it it’s like you are going backwards. The only album that would make sense is The Bleeding, because at one point or another we’ve played every song live. Every song is a so-called “hit” for us of that record. But we don’t think of it as something forward-thinking. We’re not like “oh what can we do to drum up excitement?” because at the end of the day, if people aren’t already excited to come see us doing what we do, then maybe it’s time to stop.

Plus, the last time I saw you, you guys broke out some songs you hadn’t played in a while, and I really think that’s what keeps people excited.

Exactly. Thing is, we have so many good albums and so much good material since we’ve been doing this for so long that we really don’t have to rest our laurels on one album or anything like that. We have good songs up to this new record. We’d be neglecting all of those great songs from other albums if we did something like that.

While the music has always been consistently great, death metal itself has still really been a niche genre. It’s been nearly 30 years since the first death metal bands began popping up all around. Has anything really changed in the scene itself since?

I don’t think so, at least not to us. Within the expanse of death metal slightly, but we tend to believe and think that we have the same attitude we had when we started. We wanna play brutal death metal, and we still do. Around us, it’s changed. The music has gotten bigger, more complex, and the scene has expanded too. You really can’t change that much or it won’t be death metal anymore! [laughs]

Have you noticed any changes in age, sex race, etc? I know when death metal first came out it was similar to thrash metal and stuff. Basically it was long haired men in their mid-twenties from a similar demographic, primarily white, within a certain income range.

Yeah, you notice that stuff. You see young kids coming out, and there’s more diversity ethnically and stuff. Like we went to India. When we started, we didn’t even think people in a country like India would listen to a band like us. It was unbelievable how passionate they were when we went there recently. We didn’t think it’d be possible then, but now it’s not a new form of music, and with the Internet, it helps the culture expand and diversify. There’s so many age and ethnic groups that love death metal now that it makes it difficult to peg who likes it and who doesn’t, when back in the day you knew who was into death metal just by the look.

Exactly. Like nobody could guess Jim Carrey is into you guys.

[laughs] Exactly!

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Going back to touring, you guys are generally playing small to midsize venues on this run of shows. Do you enjoy these venues more than the large, festival-type shows where the stage is huge and the crowd is a bit larger?

This is where it’s home, man. This is where it all started, venues of this magnitude. Death metal started in clubs and is made to thrive here. Of course when more people are into you guys it’s insane and incredible, but it’s a different kind of feeling. It’s not the feeling we love, though. If every time we went on stage we played a festival show we lose connections with our fans. There’s nothing like a venue like tonight where it’s hot, sweaty, crowded, and the energy is unparalleled. This is where we thrive and like it the most. The big stages give you more room to move and stuff, but I still know we’d take a small venue any day of the week.

Do you think there’ are any misconceptions about the economics of death metal?

Obviously I’m sure some kids think that because we’re a big death metal band and have a bus and stuff that we must be millionaires and rich. We make a living. I don’t think you can ever be a millionaire with death metal. The fact that we make a living is incredible, and if we can sustain that and live off our art and support our families, it’s good enough for us. We didn’t get into it for the money and the famousness. We got into it because we loved this music and loved what the music has brought us. We never take it for granted, that’s for sure. We’re extremely grateful for every opportunity we’ve been afforded in our careers.

I think it’s also evident in your music too. You guys have been extremely consistent over the years, never having a “down period” of bad albums like many bands that are around 30 years tend to have. Every album has been solid, and the newest album is one of your best works, and the passion comes through in the playing.

Well, thank you! It’s there for the fans. They know we’re truly doing it for the right reasons, not going through the motions. We write every song like it’s the best one we ever wrote and always give 100%, live and in the studio. It goes a long way, because we want to be where we are today.

I also wanted to ask about the songs you’ve written, because I know you originally played guitar before drums. Do you think that passion for where you personally started helps?

Oh for sure. On the newest record I wrote “Asphyxiate To Resuscitate”. That song is 75% me. The way I wrote that was all in my head. I hummed the riffs to Rob [Barrett, guitars] and he put it all together for me [laughs]. Now the way I’m working on a new song now is that I’m doing it Garageband on the iPhone, which I never thought I’d do. We’re in the stages of very minuscule ideas for the new record now, though.

So obviously have been touring a lot this year, but is there anything that’s come out recently that you liked?

Unfortunately I don’t listen to anything new. I am just such an old school guy when it comes down to it. I can tell you about an album that came out a decade ago! [laughs]

I’ll be sure to keep it secret from the Revocation guys then!

[laughs] Oh, man. It’s funny because I actually just heard the new Revocation song. We know them so well that I knew I had to give it a listen. And it was a great song. But a lot of new music doesn’t grab me like it did in the past. A lot of my “new” music is music that’s been out for a while that I just heard for the first time now. It’s unfortunate, because I should want to care, but it’s almost like I don’t care since it’s a different ballgame sometimes. It’s rare that a new album comes out that just absolutely floors me. The last album to do that was Bleeding The False by Aeon that came out back in ’05. When I heard that, I said, “wow, this is what Deicide should sound like. This is the epitome of death metal”. It was just a great sounding record. That’s the only thing that’s blown me away in like 20 years or something that’s relatively new.

Are there any new places you’d like to tour that you haven’t yet, that you wanna hit before you can’t or don’t want to play with Cannibal any more?

Honestly if it all ended tomorrow I’d be happy. We’ve played so many places and been all over the world. What this band has brought into my life, the places and people I’ve seen over the years, it’s amazing. I’m so lucky to do the things I’ve done. Now if you ask Alex [Webster, bass], he might say something different because he’s a travel junkie. We’ll go anywhere there are fans. It’s exciting when we play a new city or a new country, of course. I don’t know if there’s a specific place that we want to play or we’ll be bummed, cus we’ve played so many places we never thought we’d ever play.

Any first show jitters?

Not anymore, no. I used to get them back in the day but now it’s become a routine in a sense where we just get amped up to go play and excited to play for the fans.

One final question: how do you like your eggs?

Good question, cus I eat them every day. Usually I just fry them. I just break them and crack the yolk and let them fry up and flip them. These days I’ve been cutting out carbs so I’ll just eat them straight. And I’ve been eating home grown eggs that my own hens lay. They’re a super food, good for you, and great protein.

 

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