David E. Gehlke of Dead Rhetoric recently conducted an interview with guitarist Bill Steer of British extreme metal veterans CARCASS. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Dead Rhetoric: I remember Jeff [Walker, bass/vocals] saying when you first got back together that there were a few high-profile guys who wanted the two open spots. In hindsight, do you feel like you've nailed it with Dan [Wilding, drums] and Ben [Ash, guitar]?
Steer: "Yeah, we are very lucky. I think the key to the whole thing was Dan, really. The pair of us — Jeff and myself — had made the decision we were going to plow ahead and do a new album because the ARCH ENEMY guys [Michael Amott and Daniel Erlandsson] had quit. It was a real fork in the road; either we give up or carry on. Given the stubborn nature the pair of us share, we naturally wanted to do some more stuff. I had always wanted to do a new record. I couldn't realize it with that lineup, with the ARCH ENEMY angle."
Dead Rhetoric: You'd have to be sharing time.
Steer: "That, and they had no interest in making a new album. It was totally counter… in their minds, ARCH ENEMY is the main job, the CARCASS thing was, 'Let's do a couple of tours and forget all about it.' We were at cross purposes from the start, but it didn't really commence the opening until the end. It was back to me and Jeff and I said, 'I've got a bunch of ideas which I think sound like CARCASS music. We should at least try it. No one has to hear it if it's embarrassing.' Of course, the first thing was a drummer. That was always the first thing. I already had somebody in mind from one of the U.S. tours we had done, and that was Daniel Wilding, who played in ABORTED. I saw him in ABORTED and I remember just being very impressed with his playing."
Dead Rhetoric: Now with Ben being around the last three or four years, for the next album, will he contribute?
Steer: "At this stage, it's not clear whether he will actually be on the record, in all honesty. What he does live works in that environment. Recording is putting everything under a microscope. If somebody's bringing in influences that are not within the scope of the band, it's going to be problematic. Ben's a killer guy and he works hard on his playing, but some of his favorite stuff is not our favorite stuff. If some of those things bled into our music, it would really dilute it, to be honest with you. It remains to be seen, but I'm just saying we wouldn't just take another album. We want everything to be as good as it can be. You could have the best guitarist on earth, I'm sure if Steve Vai played on it, that would excite a lot of people, but it would dilute it. It wouldn't work with our stuff."
Dead Rhetoric: As you get further into your career, are you more of a control freak with stuff like that?
Steer: "No, only with that. Everything else, I have zero control. It is completely Jeff's band. He makes every decision."
Dead Rhetoric: But the guitars, riffs…
Steer: "That's the only thing. It cracks me up when people refer to us as my band. I just laugh. They have no idea. The only thing is the music. I bring in a lot of riffs. That's it. But in terms of where we're doing things, how we're doing them, everything is down to Jeff."
Dead Rhetoric: "Surgical Steel" is the all-encompassing CARCASS album that will be difficult to top. Where do you go from there? What's the direction going to be?
Steer: "You're right, it does have to be a step up from the last record. All I would say is there has to be small stylistic elements that haven't appeared on CARCASS records before. We're going to be walking the tightrope of sounding like the band CARCASS and bringing in new elements. There's nothing valid to say if we're going to do a retread… what's the point? That was a very nice summary of our previous records. We updated all of the stylistic parts of those albums without trying. It just happened."
Dead Rhetoric: Is there a timeframe to release a new album?
Steer: "We've got a couple of festivals next year, so in other words: an enormous amount of free time. Once we get started, we work very quickly, especially with Jeff. Jeff's got a real work ethic, so we'll have something we feel is in very good shape to play to him, then he comes in and critiques that. It's just like a distillation process. Sometimes it takes a while for a song to reach a point where we're all happy with it, other times, it happens on that day. I think we should have an album that's available by the end of the year . But I know how the industry has changed…so if it's not happening, it's not happening. We can't really rush this. We don't want to waste anyone's time, including our own by putting out something substandard."
Read the entire interview at Dead Rhetoric.