After having reformed in 2002, released a few splits and played some shows Sweden's gorefreaks #1 General Surgery recently released their long awaited debut Left Hand Pathology, an album that pays tribute to goremeisters like Carcass and Autopsy as well as classic Swedish death metal in general. Guitarist Joacim Carlsson and one of the only members remaining from the old days was the one appointed to answer the questions I had prepared.

Joacim Carlsson interviewed by PSL

A lot of people keep saying that this new instalment of General Surgery isn't the real deal referring to the Necrology line-up when Matti Kärki among other was in the band. What do you think of this?
Well, those people can always listen to Necrology while the rest of us live in the real world. It's up to them, it's not like we care about it. This line-up is established as General Surgery nowadays, but of course it's your own choice if you want to live in the past or not.

Why did Matti Kärki and Richard Cabeza eventually leave the band?
If we're talking early 90's now, the reason for them leaving was Dismember who were seriously taking off at the time. I can't say I blame them; General Surgery was a side project then as it is now. They were both asked to come back when we reformed the band, but they both were too busy to participate. Matti is doing some guest vocals on Left Hand Pathology though so listen carefully!

The Necrology EP made quite a splash in the underground back in the day, but you haven't been able to follow it up properly until now. Why have it taken more than 12 years to do that?
Because the band split up in 1991 and reformed properly in 2002. From then on, we've been building it slowly but surely with several underground split releases and some touring and festival shows.

It appears as if you've had some trouble maintaining a stable line-up over the years. Latest change is the addition of bassist Dr Van Tuominen. Why aren't you able to secure a stable line-up?
Dr Sykes is moving back to the US with his family in October, so he had to be replaced. Dr Van Tuominen is a good friend of mine, so it was a pretty easy thing getting him in the band. The line-up hasn't changed the past two years apart from that.

I understand Grant McWilliams is back in the band again for the time being. What happened?
In his own words: "For some reason I can never muster the energy to commit myself to a band for a lengthy period of time, i.e. I'm a useless, good-for-nothing, lazy bastard. Seriously though, I'm not really a musician, so I don't have the same motivation as the others to commit to such an extent."

Obviously Carcass has been a major influence musically, but which other bands have played a part music-wise for General Surgery?
Old-school stuff that we listened to back in the day such as Autopsy, Repulsion, Terrorizer, Napalm Death, Unseen Terror. The old classics. Mix that with some good old Swedish death metal, and there you have it. It's not original, but then again that's not what we're looking for either. We just try to play the kind of music we enjoy the most which is filthy and dirty death/grind.

There's death metal, deathgrind, deathgore, goregrind and honestly it's often difficult to tell one apart from the other. Where do you feel that you belong in that spectrum?
If I had to pigeonhole the band, I'd say we're a death/grind band. We have elements of both in the music, that's for sure. But as always, it's always best to listen to the music and judge for yourself.

Your debut Left Hand Pathology is out on Listenable. Adde Mitroulis' other band Jigsore Terror is also on that label. Was it him who suggested teaming up with Listenable?
As far as I remember Listenable contacted us about the deal, I'm not really sure if Adde being on Listenable with Jigsore Terror had something to do with it. However, they were really eager to sign us so here we are.

The title of the album is this meant as some sort of reference to Entombed's famous debut Left Hand Path?
It's whatever you want it to be. It has no deep meaning. It's just a light-hearted tip of the hat to the old-school scene we came out from, plus it ties in really well with the album cover art and concept. It has no deeper meaning.

If I recall correctly there was some talk about the album should have been released already in the spring of 2005. Was there any particular reason why this didn't go as planned?
That's something I was not aware of, so I can't really comment on it. In the spring of 2005 we were still writing the material for the album and playing the Maryland Deathfest, so it seems unlikely to me.

Most of you are involved in other bands besides General Surgery. Is General Surgery your main priority?

Nope. My main band is Face Down. General Surgery is a side project for everybody, and it will always be that way. We like to do stuff on our own terms and it has worked out well so far so why change it now? We do some shows each year, and usually manage to record something each year as well, but we're not a full time band. We prioritize General Surgery when it's needed and it seems to work.

I know you released a split EP with The County Medical Examiners on Razorback Records a few years ago as well as split EP's with Spain's Machetazo. Do you plan on putting out more split releases or will you instead concentrate on putting together another full-length release?
The next release will be the famous split LP/CD with Japanese goremongers Butcher ABC, which has been in the works for the past three years or so. It will be released in early 2007 on Obliteration [CD] and Living Dead Society [LP]. We're thrilled to finally get it done, as well as touring with them in Japan in September.

You recently had to cancel your European tour - are there plans about rescheduling it?
Not right now, but you never know what will happen later on. We don't really have a lot of time to tour with General Surgery what with all the members other commitments. We like to do some festivals next year though, that is really the best forum for us. We're open to all suggestions, so if you have a good offer for us please don't hesitate to contact us. We'll play anywhere as long as the deal is fair.

How does the remainder of the year look for General Surgery?
A couple of shows coming up in Sweden. The Uppsala Blodbad on August 25th and a show with Regurgitate in Stockholm in September and then we're off to Japan for the Gore Over Japan tour with Butcher ABC and Impaled. I can't wait to go! After that, we'll record the next split release. That about brings us to the end of 2006, I guess.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks for the interview, I hope the readers will go out and pick up a copy of Left Hand Pathology and support the band. It's really worth the price of admission, I assure you! Hope to see you on the road some day. Cheers!

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