Exclusive: CARCASS Frontman Discusses Reunion, Upcoming Reissues

Reactivated British extreme legends CARCASS recently announced that they will perform at next year's installment of the Wacken Open Air festival, set to take place July 31 - August 2, 2008 in Wacken, Germany. The group has also revealed plans to make a number of other festival appearances during 2008, a list which is currently rumored to include Tuska in Finland, Hellfest in France and Evolution in Italy.

In an exclusive interview conducted by e-mail, BLABBERMOUTH.NET got the lowdown on CARCASS' touring plans and other future activities straight from the group's bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker. The question-and-answer session follows here in its entirety:

Q: Mike Amott revealed in a recent interview with Sweden's Close-Up magazine that he got together with you, Bill Steer and ARCH ENEMY drummer Daniel Erlandsson last year to rehearse some of the old CARCASS material with a view towards possibly playing some festival shows in 2007. Who initiated these rehearsal sessions and how did they go, from your point of view?

Jeff: Well, it's no secret that I'd said around the time of Tuska 2006 [annual heavy metal festival held in Helsinki, Finland] that Mike was saying he was gonna try and get Bill over to Halmstad [Sweden] and stick a guitar in his hand — I wished him the best of luck at the time.

Me and Mike had started to come to terms with the idea of playing again as CARCASS. I came back from gigging with BRUJERIA and imagine my suprise when Bill rang me all excited to say he'd been over jamming with Mike and Daniel. Me and Bill went back out there around this time last year and just started going through all the stuff we used to play live.

How did it go? Well, I remember saying to the other three that most people would have killed to have been where I was sat in the rehearsal room, ha ha!

Q: It has just been announced that you will play next year's Wacken Open Air festival. This will presumably be one of a number of festival appearances you will make in 2008. Can you give us an indication of how many shows you expect CARCASS to play next year and which territories will be covered?

Jeff: Wacken, as you say, is confirmed. Let's just say that two other festivals should be making an announcement when they're good and ready. I imagine about five or six at the most European festivals next summer due to the "politics" involved and the competition that's realistically the most we can do. The idea is we'll see what comes up and how it goes. We've got an opportunity to go to Israel, we can do South America, Southeast Asia… We just want to have some fun and go to some cool exotic places that we didn't get to do before. You know, this is just "organic" — it will provide its own momentum.

As for the USA, that's a tough cookie — it would be nice to do something that actually excites us. You know, ultimately things like Wacken are more an "event" and not just another show on the same old circuit. I'm also not sure how comfortable I'd be doing what I refer to as "an EMPEROR."

I've hinted on more than one occasion what I think would be a cool thing to do, but I know "the twins" [presumably referring to former AT THE GATES and current THE HAUNTED members Anders Björler [guitar] and Jonas Björler [bass] — Ed.) would never go for it, as Adrian [Erlandsson, former AT THE GATES/CRADLE OF FILTH drummer] would tell me...so we'll see what comes up in that respect.

Q: Some detractors have already accused you guys of reuniting for no other reason than to "cash in," especially since it's been well-documented that Bill Steer is simply not into this kind of music anymore. How do you respond to those people?

Jeff: If I was "cashing in," then I would have been playing this summer and doing some long-haul slog, soul-destroying tour that the others wanted to sign up for. The reality is, there is money involved, but this isn't gonna set anyone up for life. What makes this "credible" is that Ken [Owen, ailing CARCASS drummer] will get the same split as me Bill and Mike. After all, it's not his fault he's not in a position to do this.

I personally don't do anything just for the money with the exception of my part-time job. The reality is we're doing it 'cos we think it will be fun. I'm sure Mike and Daniel have better things to do with their time, ha ha! Plus you know we get hassled constantly to do it — CARCASS means a lot to some people.

As for Bill Steer not being into "this music" anymore — we have a saying in England, "the proof is in the pudding." I've played the CARCASS stuff with him, he can more than still cut the mustard and as far as I'm concerned after everything he's contributed to "this music," he can do what the hell he likes.

You know we've NEVER sat around listening to metal 24/7 — we have very big bullshit detectors, we've been into rock and stuff since we were kids. Sorry if it's heresy, but we don't like every single new-breed metal band on the planet!

Mike was telling me the other day that he was boring his band on tour blasting old-school hardcore punk on the tour bus — does that question his integrity as a metal guitarist? Of course it doesn't!!!

Q: Do you feel you could play those early songs with the same conviction today as you did back when they were first written and recorded?

Jeff: Maybe with more so. It could be argued that we'll play them better — it depends what you're looking for — soul or technicality? Both?

To be honest, I don't particularly feel we have ever had to "try" back in the day. For the first time we will be making sure we don't disappoint anyone — we have a reputation to uphold, after all. Ultimately it's nothing some "Just For Men" can't put right — ha!

Q: Both you and Mike have stated that the drumming duties at the upcoming shows will be handled by ARCH ENEMY's Daniel Erlandsson and that Ken Owen may make an appearance on stage but that he will not be able to play the full set. Do you feel that a CARCASS reunion will be cheapened, to some extent, by Ken's absence?

Jeff: Yeah, I could also name four other drummers who are more than keen to do it. Maybe we should have a "buy-on" for the position?!

Joking aside, Daniel's killer. Anyway, I like to think of him as EUCHARIST's Daniel Erlandsson, thank you very much!

Of course, in an ideal world we'd want to do this with Ken, but we have to be realistic. Sadly it HAS to be this way. Daniel's learnt all of Ken's parts, so it's not a case of some session dude coming in and trying to make his mark — there'll be no "cheating" on the "blast beat" on my watch, ha ha.

Q: Mike said in his Close-Up interview that he didn't think it was "necessary" for CARCASS to write any new material in order to embark on a reunion tour and he implied that it would be a one-shot deal with no plans to make it into an active band again. Would you personally be open to the idea of recording a new CARCASS album if things went well with a reunion tour?

Jeff: No. Funnily, that's at odds with how him and Bill were talking last year — but in their defense they were getting carried away on a tide of renewed enthusiasm. I simply don't see what else there is to bring to what we already did. Our back catalogue consists of over eighty songs, five albums that all sound different. I'm sure the literally hundreds, if not thousands, of bands we've influenced since have covered anything we might possibly have missed, ha ha!

Q: A lot of people consider ARCH ENEMY to be a modern version of CARCASS, to some extent, at least in musical terms. However, you have been quite vocal in the past couple of years about your dislike for ARCH ENEMY's music — so much so that Mike said in his interview that you think they "flat-out suck." What is it about ARCH ENEMY's music that you find so repulsive?

On the suggestion that people consider ARCH ENEMY to be a modern version of CARCASS: I disagree — this just seems to be writers, reviewers and journalists. I've never met anyone who likes both bands (their first album seems exempt in this respect). In fact, it provokes quite partisan responses from people who like either of the two, so....
On Jeff's dislike for ARCH ENEMY's music: I might have said they were shit? (JOKE!) As far as I'm aware, I've never said that they "suck" — so as to why Mike would say that, I dunno — it makes good copy? Right? I actually wrote "Arch Enemy Rocks" when I signed Angela's [Gossow, ARCH ENEMY frontwoman] copy of "Symphonies..." (though she was suspicious of my motives, ha ha!). That said, I have made comments purposely to Adrian, knowing it will get back to Daniel — but it's all tongue-in-cheek, just to try and wind Mike up!

On what it is about ARCH ENEMY's music that Jeff finds so repulsive: Ha ha! Again putting words in my mouth! I've never found them "repulsive?!!!" What does it matter what my opinion of Mike's band is?!! After all, it's just OPINION! But for the record. I am 38 years old — as far as I'm concerned they don't write for or target their music at a 38-year-old audience. I don't shop at Hot Topic. I don't read Kerrang! Q.E.D. [an abbreviation of the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum," meaning, figuratively, "I rest my case" — Ed.)

Q: Mike also mentioned that there are plans for Earache Records to reissue CARCASS' back catalog with bonus material, including DVDs/video footage. Can you give us any more details as to a possible release schedule and what people can expect to find on these reissues in terms of rare/bonus material?

Jeff: No idea what the schedule is. I think it's all still being compiled. My understanding is that "Heartwork" will get released first. Hopefully it will be a DualDisc thing with a half-hour documentary. If I have my way, a bonus CD of the full demo of "Heartwork" that we recorded with Colin Richardson will also be included. That will be interesting as it's more raw than the album, even to the point where my throat was burnt on a hash pipe (Kevin Sharp's fault!). I'd like to see it all definitively mastered for the last time (we've never been consulted in the past). There's also some footage of a show we did from Munich '93 — only camcorder stuff, but it's interesting as Mike only ever performed the "Heartwork" stuff PRIOR to the album getting recorded so...hopefully it's not TOO much scraping the bottom of the barrel by the label.

Watch MTV "Headbangers' Ball" "Gods of Grind" tour special from 1992 featuring CARCASS live footage and interview conducted by Mille Petrozza of KREATOR:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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