Cameron Edney of Inside Out webzine recently conducted an interview with vocalist Chris Barnes of the Florida-based death metal outfit SIX FEET UNDER. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Inside Out: Congratulations of the latest SIX FEET UNDER album, "Death Rituals". I can't get enough of it dude! How has the response been from friends, family and fans that have listened to the album?
Chris Barnes: Really good, actually; that's always a good thing. When we get done with a new record, we have some people that give it a listen, and they all really liked it, and we actually based some of our promo track releases on certain people whose opinions we respect. It's always helpful to get good insight from people that are close to you. A lot of the fans that have heard the new tracks have really dug the new stuff, so I am hopeful that all of our fans are going to think that this is a really good album for us!
Inside Out: This is album number eight for SIX FEET UNDER, not counting the covers albums. After so many years of writing and recording, what were you hoping to achieve this time around?
Chris Barnes: Just to continue on our path, doing things the way we do it and hoping that it would come together and we'd come up with some good songs and surprise ourselves. We always attack every song and the beginning of songwriting process for a new album like it's our first album. I throw away everything I have done, and I know the other guys are like that too, and we let the music take us on a path that it wants to lead us on. I like to work that way and we let it flow that way and not think about it too much. I think that's the only way to do it. If you start to think about the current vibe and what people are really digging, then you're always going to be one step behind. You can't please everybody; you have to write the best album that you can and the one that will make you feel good.
Inside Out: Chris, there is no doubt that you're an amazing vocalist. How long did it take you to record the parts for "Death Rituals"?
Chris Barnes: I spent about three or four days doing stuff.
Inside Out: You also produced the album, which has been the case with a lot of the SIX FEET UNDER material. Why don't you guys use a lot of outside help when it comes to the production? You're obviously comfortable doing the production yourself!
Chris Barnes: Yeah, I have learned and realized in my life that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. It's really difficult; I say it every time… "I'm going to let a producer do this one," but then I get into the record and I think that there is no way that I am going to let anyone else fuck this up! If it's going to get messed up then I'm going to take full responsibility for it, I feel too close to it to let go! I have problems with that in every part of my life [laughs], music is no different. I really like to keep it pure and simple, raw and to the tones that we really like ourselves!
Inside Out: [Laughs] Now that "Death Rituals", has been released I would assume that you will be hitting the road soon. What touring plans do you guys have over the next couple of months?
Chris Barnes: We really don't have anything going right now. We have some offers that we're looking at, we have some festivals in Europe for the summer that are pretty much booked, but we just haven't released the information yet. We are trying to get something for the United States in the late spring. We're also looking at Europe later in the year. We have some time to get out there and explore and do some touring that we haven't done in a while. It would certainly be cool to get back down there with you guys [in Australia], for sure!
Inside Out: Over the years you have shared the stage with many great artists. Who has given you the best advice whilst on the road and what was it?
Chris Barnes: Oh wow, not too many people have given me advice out on the road but Ice T gave some really good advice in the studio once, I overheard him giving an interview and it was something that hit home with me. The interviewer asked him, "How difficult is this? Do you still rehearse a lot? Is it difficult to start writing an album again?" I was sitting there listening in and he said to the interviewer, "At one point in time, in your life you realize that this isn't what you do, but it's who you are." That really struck me and it's something that I'll always remember.
Inside Out: What have your parents thought about the bands you have played in, especially early on?
Chris Barnes: Oh, they have always been super supportive and proud of me. I've been really fortunate to have a family that is really open-minded and that's where I get my creativity from and outlook in life. My mom really supported me early on and helped me buy my first P.A. system, so without her I never would have been able to be in a band. My dad and everyone else have been really supportive over the years.
Inside Out: More than twenty years on what motivates you to keep making music?
Chris Barnes: It's still fun; to me it's the most fun about being in a band. Writing new material and getting into the studio to record. Some of the studio stuff can be hard work and stressful, but writing and creating new music, writing new lyrics to me is the most fun.
Inside Out: You have a great voice and have been singing this form of metal for years now. As you get older do you find it easier or more of a challenge to get onstage and belt it out?
Chris Barnes: It's easier and more difficult on certain levels. It's easier for me to get up there and sing. I know what I can do and what I can't do, where I can go with it, but the body just doesn't recover as quick as it used to. I have to stay in better shape than I used to [laughs]. I have to watch what I do, pace myself a little more and stay in good shape.
"Death Rituals", the new album from SIX FEET UNDER, recently entered the German Media Control chart at position No. 64. The CD sold around 2,300 copies in the United States in its first week of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The LP debuted at No. 14 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200.
"Seed Of Filth", the new video from SIX FEET UNDER, can be viewed below. The clip was filmed on October 31 at Gasoline Alley in Largo, Florida with director Mario D. Framingheddu, who previously worked with the group on the videos for "Ghosts of the Undead" and "Doomsday".