I had the chance to chat by phone with Rob Barrett, rhythm guitarist for legendary Death Metal band CANNIBAL CORPSE not too long ago. In the wake of their phenomenal new record A Skeletal Domain the band has been touring virtually nonstop in America, Australia, Japan, Europe, and now back in the States on a co-headlining run with BEHEMOTH. With the tour hitting Philly tomorrow night at Theater of the Living Arts, TLA I figured what better time than now to share our conversation with you maniacs, right? Check it:
Amps: Most of the Cannibal Corpse albums have been recorded in Florida with a couple exceptions being in Texas. Do you feel like it’s more comfortable recording closer to home or is it the same either way?
Rob: The Sonic Ranch near El Paso, TX was where we did three or four. I really liked recording there. I only did Torture, but I know they did The Wretched Spawn and possibly two others there. Gore Obsessed and Bloodthirst, possibly. It’s definitely a cool vibe out there on the Ranch. There’s a lot of seclusion and no distractions. We recorded at Audiohammer Studios here in Florida for this new one. We got a great production out of it.
Amps: A Skeletal Domain is pretty damn crushing. “Icepick Lobotomy” is the one I can’t get enough of right now. Any favorites for you?
Rob: Well, that’s cool that you like “Icepick Lobotomy” because I wrote that one (laughs)! The standout track to me would be “Kill or Become”. We actually shot a video for that one. Brian Slagel (head of Metal Blade Records) and us, we had a dinner meeting in New Orleans before we started the Mayhem Fest last summer and he said, “I think you guys should shoot a video for that one” because he thought it was the catchiest song. It’s got like a sing-along chorus kind of thing goin’ on. “Fire up the chainsaw!!”
Amps: Do you guys generally have all of the material written prior to entering the studio? or is there still room for new ideas once you’re there?
Rob: Everything is demoed and written the way we want it before we even get in the studio. But that doesn’t mean we’re not open to ideas once we’re in, you know? We’ve never rearranged a song, but we might have changed parts of certain riffs.
Amps: I feel, and this is just my take, that much like KREATOR and OVERKILL, CANNIBAL CORPSE is doing the best writing of your career here in the second half of that career. What do you think about that?
Rob: Yeah, definitely. I can play way better than I used to and I think I can credit Alex (Webster, bass) and Pat (O’Brien, guitars) for that because I need to keep up with two of the most incredible Death Metal musicians around. That definitely keeps me on my toes when it comes to playing.
Amps: You guys seem to have gotten pretty comfortable be with Erik Rutan. But you also like to change things up. What are some differences in working with Mark Lewis in terms of studio approach and recording?
Rob: I think the best way to describe it is Erik is more old school and Mark is more of a modern producer in the way he edits stuff. He’ll dissect parts to the point where we get them super airtight. We’re definitely never going to say anything negative about Erik and his work at all. It’s just been known that every three or four CANNIBAL CORPSE albums we end up trying out a different producer.
Amps: What do you like to do when you’re not touring? It seems like the Death Metal train hardly ever stops, but when it does, do any of you work jobs or is it mainly music-oriented stuff?
Rob: Fortunately we tour so much that we don’t have to work a day job when we’re at home. We’ve gotten to that point now. It wasn’t like that the whole time, but it is now, and that’s attributed to us staying out on the road so much.
Amps: I caught your set at Mayhem Fest in Dallas last summer and as always you guys smashed! I know your current lineup has been intact for about ten years now so how does that effect rehearsals for a tour?
Rob: Well we always practice hard before a tour. When we get home we might take a week or two off and then we start it again. On average we practice four days a week. We start around 11 a.m. and go for three hours or so, simply going through all these songs that we do in our live set. You’re in that routine so you don’t get rusty.
Amps: How long do you intend to be out in support of the record?
Rob: Oh, it varies. After this run with BEHEMOTH we’ll probably keep going well past summer. Most likely till the end of 2015, I’m guessing. Our average tour cycle is a year and a half, two years, depending. We constantly have tour offers coming in and at some point you have to turn some down, you know? But we’ll be out for a while.
Amps: If you weren’t in CANNIBAL CORPSE for all these years, what do you think you’d be doing, work-wise?
Rob: Not sure, really. Hopefully not in prison or dead (laughs)!
Amps: Say something to all your fans out there.
Rob: Oh, man I gotta say thanks to all of you for making this possible for us to be able to be around this long, almost 26 years. It’s all because of you guys; we can’t thank you enough and that’s why we keep coming to your town to play this Death Metal for you.
If for some reason you haven’t picked up A Skeletal Domain, please hit yourself in the head with a hammer and THEN go buy it. Fucking record’s been out since September, what’s wrong with you?!? And if you’re looking for tickets for the Philly show with BEHEMOTH, TRIBULATION, and AEON, you can get them HERE. You’re welcome!!
LIVE PHOTO: DANA ZUK PHOTOGRAPHY