May The Rock Be With You recently conducted an interview with bassist Alex Webster of Florida death metal veterans CANNIBAL CORPSE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
May The Rock Be With You: 24 years and 12 albums the band has been in existence for. How much do you feel the way you tackle songwriting has changed?
Alex: It's changed gradually over what's been a long history of the band, and it has been a gradual change. It was very, very collaborative in the beginning, where we would basically be in the practice room and nobody had done any homework and we would just show up and start writing together. That did work out well, but some of those songs really did show that lack of direction. I guess we were really just winging it and a lot of them seem like one riff after the other because that's basically what they were. But we felt that, lately, having one person writing an entire song works really well and having them prepared in advance, rather than working on a song in the practice room; that's been working better. But that's not to say we aren't open to still doing a collaborative type of song where a couple of us might write it on the fly at practice. The song "Scalding Hail" off "Evisceration Plague", that was a song collaborated between Rob [Barrett, guitar] and I, so we've had some of that stuff in our recent history, but most of it now is written by individuals at home.
May The Rock Be With You: In the genre of death metal, CANNIBAL CORPSE seems to have consistently remained at the forefront. What do you consider to be the key things that you guys as a band have done to maintain that vital relevance of the band in extreme music?
Alex: For sure, I think consistency, and that's consistency on a few different levels. We are not a band that has ever quit for a period of time and never had more than a couple of months layoff. We are always practicing together and we've always maintained a constant cycle of albums and touring for us. There hasn't been any broken points in that cycle or hiatuses for us. Most other bands have had that, although there are a handful of other bands such as MALEVOLENT CREATION that came out around the same time as us as well. But the vast majority have had a layoff of a few years. I think with us keeping going, we've never been that far out of people's minds. People forget about you if you're gone from the scene for five or six years, you know. Then also is that we are consistent artistically. We're a death metal band, every album we do is going to be a death metal album with horror-oriented lyrics, and people can always count on that.
May The Rock Be With You: I guess also another factor I must say has been your relentless preparedness to tour the world consistently and take your music to the fans.
Alex: Yes, there's that, too — touring is something we enjoy doing and not every band does. I look at some other bands' tours and they're, like, maybe 15 to 20 shows long. Ours are usually 25 to 30 shows and then we will back up a couple of them in a row. We just did a 33-show tour, had a week and a half off, then went out and did a 31-show tour. This year we've already done around 120 shows and we will still do another 30 or so before the year's done. That makes around 150 shows for 2012, which is a lot. We've kept that going for every album we do, and I think that's the key. The bands that do a lot of touring are the ones who have a more personal connection with their fanbase and are the ones who stick around. That's the key, I think. If people get a chance to see you perform live, it sets you apart from all the bands they can only just listen to on an album.
Read the entire interview from May The Rock Be With You.