Cannibal Corpse, out of New York, has just released its second album, Butchered at Birth, the follow-up to Eaten Back to Life (which the band came out with after signing with Death Records on the strength of its demo). Vocalist Chris Barnes called in order to do an interview and to push the new effort, which he calls the first of its kind, an all-concept death metal album.
D.U.: The lyrical concept of the album in general is about butchery in different forms, but what specifically and in more detail is it about?
Chris: Well, basically what it’s trying to say is that mass murder and serial killing has been going on for centuries. It’s nothing new, y’know, it’s been going on forever. So I just kinda wanted to put across that point, and just tell in my own way how sick it is.
Concerning Vincent Locke doing art for your album covers and shirts, will you continue to work with him in the future?
Yeah, definitely. He’ll be doing the next [cover]. And shirts, his art will be featured on the shirts too. I mean, the new shirts that we got has got the artwork on the back and stuff.
So is that a sort of trademark for Cannibal Corpse, the artwork?
Um, yeah, I guess. I mean, he’s just a great artist, you know? That’s the only thing I’m thinking of. Just by talking with him, he knows the whole feeling of the band.
Do you see yourself sticking with Death Records for the whole seven album, seven-year contract?
Yeah, I mean, whatever happens, happens. But right now, we’ll be doing another record for them, and we’ll take it from there.
Will you sometime in the future make a music video?
I hope so, man. I’d like to do either, like, a home video or a half-hour one or something like that or some shit. Yeah, I’d like to do one. It just costs a lot of money to do a video. It’s expensive. [Doing one] hasn’t come up yet, but I’ve asked [the label] about it.
I guess you’d want to put a lot of imagery into it that would preclude it ever getting played on MTV anyway.
Yeah, pretty much. Y’know, we’ll just wait for the time when MTV opens up their fuckin’ audience.
“If there’s a fuckin’ cartoonish picture of babies hanging from meathooks, all of a sudden it’s horrible.”
I heard that the new album cover got banned. Is that true?
Well, yeah, a lot of record chains in the U.S. aren’t gonna carry it because it’s too grotesque for them or something, which I can’t understand. I dunno. It’ll be available pretty soon with a different cover for the record chains to carry, and there’ll be something on it to have the kids send for the artwork and lyrics separately.
How did that make you feel when they told you all this was happening?
Uh, it was pretty surprising, you know? Because, I mean, it seems like if there’s a half-naked woman on the cover or something, or in a video, it’s just brushed off. It’s brushed aside, it’s, like, nothing big. But if there’s a fuckin’ cartoonish picture of babies hanging from meathooks, all of a sudden it’s horrible. It makes you think, and they can’t handle that. It’s pretty stupid, man. There’s no reason for it as far as I’m concerned.
Would you say that the song “Vomit the Soul” is Satanic?
No, I don’t think it’s Satanic. I wrote the one part for Glen [Benton of Deicide]. It’s just telling that people like to fear death or something, and they’re always trying to avoid it, and all religions are just full of shit, y’know? It’s like, [religion] is an unnecessary thing. I don’t think it’s Satanic because I think Satanism is unnecessary too.
Is that why you’ve shied away from Satanism in the lyrics?
I just don’t think Satanism is Satanism. I mean, it’s like, there are evil things in the world that go on, and I’ll say something about that. But to say I believe in Satanic stuff is wrong, because I think any religion is false.
Do you believe the current rating system for movies is fair?
Yeah. It’s just that I’d like to see more films out there that are under that new rating, that NC-17 or whatever. I’d like to see more horror films come out uncut like that, now that there’s a rating like that, rather than putting out cut R versions or something. I still haven’t seen too many NC-17 films.
Did you ever think about tuning down lower than D sharp to get that whole death metal grunge more?
No, because the guys write more heavy parts as it is, y’know? And a lot of the bands that tune way low like that, it seems like if you tuned those parts up to E flat, those parts would sound so wimpy. So, I mean, it’s more than just tuning to make a heavy band or heavy music. We try to make the regular parts sound heavy as they are.
Do you think there’s too many attitudes or too much politics in the scene, or is it okay?
Oh, it’s okay, man, definitely. I mean, a lot of bands that I know, we all hang out with, we’re good friends with, and whenever we get together, we always have a blast. So I don’t really think there’s any competition or any politics like that at all. We have a good time together. We’re all out there supporting the scene ourselves, trying to make everything better for each other.
Do you have the customary comment to say to the fans, besides “kill and eat rotten birth”?
[laughs] Try to go out and buy the record. See if you can find it with the original art. Support that type of thing, and, um, if anybody gives you trouble, shove it down their throat and rip out their guts. ■
Originally published in ‘zine issue #2, 1991