Long running US death metallers Cannibal Corpse are set to unleash their new and ninth studio album The Wretched Spawn on March 8th. It's an album that cement their position as being among the absolute front-runners in brutal death metal. I was therefore really ecstatic when I was offered the opportunity to talk with bassist Alex Webster over the phone on an otherwise boring Sunday.

Alex Webster interviewed by PSL

So what do feel you can offer people with the new album The Wretched Spawn after so many years?
Well, I think every album we do of course is gonna be brutal death metal, so it's really no big surprise or anything for those who already likes us. But I do think this time there is a little more variety in the songs and it probably has our best production ever, and the guitar sound is better than on any of the other albums. I think it's an album with some pretty good songs on it. I think this time you can really tell that the songs are different from each other and the guitar sounds are really heavy so these are the two big things with this album that I'm really happy with.

I kinda thought the same, the production seemed slightly better than on Gore Obsessed!
I was happy with Gore Obsessed, but now The Wretched Spawn is finished I know it's a lot better than Gore Obsessed was!

The Wretched Spawn sound in my ears like it very well could be your strongest since Tomb of the Mutilated.
Yeah a lot of people really liked Tomb of the MutilatedI like Tomb of the Mutilated too but sometimes I feel like the drums were too loud where this one is my favourite for the sound. Maybe in a few years I'll change my mind, but right now my favourite album for the production is The Wretched Spawn.

So is it as easy to find the motivation and inspiration as back in the early days?
Yeah, really we just have a lot of fun with it. It's still very fun, it's the best job you can have, playing music and make a living doing it so there's definitely a motivation to keep trying as hard as possible so we can keep this great career you know and besides that we just love this kinda music.

I know you included a DVD in the 15 Year Killing Spree box set but is there any possibility of you making another DVD in the future?

Yeah actually for the The Wretched Spawn we did a DVD that features us recording The Wretched Spawn. We're just gonna call it The Making of The Wretched Spawn. This shows us recording and has interviews with us, I think it's pretty cool. Everybody will like it I think. It's all stuff that we filmed while recording in Al Paso at the studio.

So it's kinda like the thing Metallica did?
Yeah, the reason is that the record label wants to help people buying the CD instead of downloading it 'cause now if they buy the CD they get the DVD for free. So I think it's a pretty good deal for the fans 'cause normally something like that would cost 15 dollars maybe but now it's free.

So what do you think of Metal Blade's latest attempt to prevent your music from reaching the internet before it's officially released?
All those beeps?

I don't like the beeps, [laughs]. I don't think we'll do that next time! It wasn't our idea by the way. Metal Blade decided to do that for some of the albums to see what people would think but I think it's a better idea just to dub. Ok, you got three songs where there's no problem you hear the whole song and have the rest fade out after maybe ten seconds so people can get a little taste, but they don't get to hear the whole thing 'cause if we give people from magazines, internet sites and radio stations the whole album two months in advance, at least one of them is gonna put it on the computer and then everybody gets the album before it comes out for two months. So we want the album to sorta be a surprise for our fans. When it comes next month, most of our fans won't have heard it yet, you know.

But it's already out on the internet!
Yeah, yeah I know but I think the version on the internet is the version with the beeps!

Well, I can tell you I've already heard it without the beeps!
Oh, really. Well then here you go, it's too late then [laughs]. No luck, we had no luck [laughs], oh well.

On the box set there's two "best of" CD's. How did you choose the songs?
The "best of" CD's were actually picked by Brian Slagel from Metal Blade. He made a list 'cause we weren't really thinking too much on the box set until later. He was the one who started the planning on it and everything and he picked all the songs 'cause they were his favourites. Well there were songs, we looked at the list and changed one or two songs maybe and that was it. It was mostly Brian Slagel from Metal Blade picking the songs.

Do you think your cover artwork still holds the same offensive effect as it did earlier on?
I think, you know, all the gore image you know that our band has, everything we've done probably people are more used to it now 'cause there are so many bands doing it, like dozens and dozens of death metal bands that are singing really brutal and bloody stuff you know so. I think the key is to try and make creative subjects for songs that are still gory and we work really to make sure that the music and lyrics are working together well.

Is it really true that you've never met Vincent Locke in person?
Paul is the one who talks to him. I've never talked to Vincent Locke!

Yep, just Paul.

That's kinda strange isn't it? You've been working with the guy for the past 15 years.
Yeah, I know, I know I wanna meet him. I never even saw him. I don't even know what he looks like! He's a mystery man!

Where do you get the ideas for the lyrics? I mean, doesn't it get harder with each album to find new topics!

Well, a lot of, of course we've all watched horror movies and I've read quite a few horror books and on the news there are always all kinds of violence.

So some of it is actually based on reality?
Yeah, it is a kinda mixture of different things, mixture of fiction and reality. You know, we want all our lyrics to be fiction of course but you know sometimes we get some ideas from reality and then we write our own you know fictional story but a lot of the time we sit together in the room, in the practice room when we're finished practicing our music and we start talking about what would be good for lyrics and we'll make different songs titles and try to think about some things that would be great to write about. So a lot of the time, all of us are thinking about what the lyrics should be.

You had a short collaboration with Eric Rutan in Alas back in 1998! Do you have any current side projects?
Ahm, not right now. The stuff I did with Eric was when he needed a bass player and Eric is a good friend and a great guitarist so I was happy to help him but when that band got signed he needed a bass player that could spent more time working with him and I didn't have the time for it. Right now I'm not doing anything else except Cannibal. For a little while, I was playing with Gene from Angel Corpse, me and Pat were and Tony from Nile but we didn't have time to really do anything 'cause we were always going on tour. So I think now Angel Corpse is just going to reform. I think they are getting back together so that's good news for anybody who likes amazing death metal, but as far as we're concerned we really don't have too much time to do any side projects since we're always touring but Jack is trying do some kinda rock n' roll project. Besides that I don't know if any one else is doing anything.

So you don't have the spare time to do it?
Not really, you know if I wanna give 100% to Cannibal Corpse it doesn't leave much time. I would like to try something, it's not…I don't wanna make a project that sucks, I want it to be great and if the project is gonna be great then I'm gonna need to spent some time working on it and right now I have a band that I love and can make a living of it so that's enough.

So you can actually live of playing in Cannibal Corpse?
Yes, yes, we can live of it. We're not rich or anything but you know. We're doing okay.

That's really cool. Not many death metal bands can live of playing so you're probably one of the only if not the only one!
Well, it's like us, Morbid Angel and a couple of others. I don't think that very many bands are big enough to be living of it but there is a few, probably six or seven. It just sucks. I wish there were like thirty or forty because there is so many good musicians in death metal. They all deserve to at least make a little something out of it.

But now with the increasing use of MP3's this is probably not gonna happen!
Yeah, it's just not…ahm, the kinda music death metal is. It's my favourite kinda music but most people aren't like death metal fans. Like most people don't like this kinda music so it's never gonna be mainstream or anything where there's gonna be a big market for it. It's always going to be underground.

So it will cause a lot of damage when people download it instead buying the music?
Yeah I mean…ahm, it's something we can't avoid so it's not even worth thinking about you know. The way I look at it is that we probably do lose maybe 20.000 sales per album because of downloading and here is why, I think so. Up and till Gallery of Suicide. Like Gallery of Suicide, a lot of fans don't really think it's our best album or anything and some of them don't really like it, but it still sold about 30.000 more than Bloodthirst or Gore Obsessed, so I think that right around the time Bloodthirst came out was when Napster starting to get pretty big so it makes sense to me that those albums have sold a little less. You know because of the…you know it just makes sense 'cause our tours are still doing very good, but if we're selling less records but more people are coming to the concerts it means that something is going on, and I think it's the downloading. But it's very possible that the downloading helps to make our band a little bigger, because you know some people might hear the name of our band and now they can listen to it for free where normally they never can listen to it without buying it, and they might not buy it unless they hear it first. I think it helps in some ways. Some ways it's bad and in some ways it's good! We would always buy albums because we thought the album covers looked good or because if on the back of the album the guy was wearing a shirt of a band we liked, you know what I mean. If we saw a picture of the band on the back of the album and if they were wearing like a Kreator shirt, we knew I was a good album. But now you can listen first so I think it's a positive thing in some ways.

So what do you think of all the band reunions that are taking places?

You mean like Suffocation?

Yeah, and Obituary should be in the process of reforming too!
Oh really. That's cool if they wanna do that you know. I think that there's always room for some people to come back. Let people hear them play again. I do admire bands that never broke up in the first place, you know somebody like who's been trying for a long time. I'm not saying us but you know 'cause we've had a good career so we've never even had a reason to even think about breaking up. But some bands gave up because they weren't making very much money and then came back later. I guess I can't blame them but I'd rather see a band stay together the whole time. It isn't gonna be easy for any to just come back, though, 'cause I think what's happened over the past few years is that even though the death metal scene is not so big for audiences and stuff, the music has gotten a lot better you know. Well, some of these bands have been gone for five or six years and things have changed. Some of the young bands are really amazing, you have to work really hard to keep up with these young kids. There are some really great new bands out there.

You're about to make a video for "Decency Defiled" what's the purpose in doing so? I mean you rarely see any death metal videos on the music channels!
Well, things have been changing in America and it's getting really good. There's a show on a channel called Fuse called Urainum and they played death metal. They play Nile, Hate Eternal. They've played Cannibal Corpse before. They've played Morbid Angel and…well, not all the time. I mean, sometimes they play Pantera and Korn but a lot of the time they do play death metal and same thing for Headbanger's Ball. It's hosted by Jamey from Hatebreed and they play a lot of heavy stuff. They play Hate Eternal and Decapitated, so it's good now for bands in America 'cause we're getting video promotion.

So metal is really on the rise again?
Yeah, I think so. What is really popular in America right now is metalcore like Lamb Of God and Shadows Fall; those bands are really, really big in America.

So do you think people that like metalcore might wanna explore something even heavier?
Yeah I think so. All metal is related and the bigger one kind of metal gets, the bigger the rest of it gets. It's good for everybody. When one band is getting popular it helps everybody!

Nu-metal seemed to cause a lot of damage!
Nu-metal you know, some of it is really shitty and some of it is not too bad. I mean I don't own any of those albums you know, it's not the kinda music I would buy or sit around and listen to, but if I hear a song by a band like System Of A Down on the radio, I think it's pretty good you know. I mean, I don't really wanna buy their album but I tell you for being on the radio it's damn good. I think it's some of the best music I've heard on the radio and its pretty good stuff. I can see why people like them. It's heavy, not as heavy as death metal but it's still heavy in its own way. I think it's ok that kinda stuff. If mainstream people are listening to bands that are heavy, you know System Of A Down and Mudvayne, then maybe in a couple of years they'll be interested in death metal too.

I heard that you invited Swedish death metallers Spawn Of Possession to join you on the No Mercy Festivals. Is this your way of helping out smaller underground bands?
Yeah, I mean it's also my way to get to see them play [laughs] 'cause I think they kick ass. They didn't play in Florida on their American tour so it was like: what the fuck?! But I'm happy 'cause we were able to get them on our European tour, so yeah I think they are killer. The guy from Deeds Of Flesh gave me their album 'cause he does the Unique Leader Records, and I was like: Holy shit, these guys are great! Anytime we hear a new band that hasn't been around for so long and they sound really excellent, we always wanna take them on tour 'cause we want our fans to see them play too and we wanna see them play just cause we're fans of death metal, so when we have a tour with great bands we're happy every night. We get to go to a concert every night.

You're not playing in Scandinavia this time around?

No, but I think we will in October but I don't know who we will be playing with at that time - but we'll see.

Is it true that you're not allowed to play material from the first three albums in Germany?
Yes, it's true. It's really ridiculous but they have a list of albums that are illegal in Germany and our first three albums are on that list so we can't even perform these songs. It's really stupid but I guess we have to obey the law.

I remember there was a lot of turmoil around the departure of Chris Barnes! Are you in contact with him today or does he remain a thing of the past?
He's pretty much a thing of the past but we have played some shows with Six Feet Under and when we see him everything is friendly.

Any comments to finish the interview?
Thank you for the interview and you know, I wanna say thanks to all our fans, I always say that. It's a cliché thing to say in the end of an interview but it's true. We thank every one for the support. And thank you for the interview. I guess we'll see you up in Scandinavia sometime later this year.

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