Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interview with Paul Mazurkiewicz from Cannibal Corpse Pt. 1

Last week I got the chance to talk to Cannibal Corpse's drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz. As I'm sure you all know, Torture was released on March 13th, so I talked to Paul about the new album, Cannibal's upcoming tours, and more. Part 1 of the interview focuses on Torture, while part 2 covers everything else.


SFM: When you guys were starting to write this album and recording it, was there anything differentthat you were trying to do differently specifically from Kill and Evisceration Plague?

Paul: I don’t know if it was specific, we’re just honing our skills and honing our songwriting over the last few years, but I think it all started with Kill. For some reason the songs just came together, they were just much more aggressive and had a great flow to it. It turned out to be a big album for us, and the fans really enjoy it. We kind of kept the wave rolling, with Evisceration Plague being the difference when we incorporated the click track into play, and I think Evisceration is a very solid album, maybe not as aggressive sounding overall as something like Kill but I think it was a good step in the precision department, like I said, just the fact that we added the click track, but looking back at both of those and looking at how we did Torture, I think Evisceration Plague had to happen, but for me, using the click that late in the game, and starting in the beginning of the songwriting process, I didn’t have time to adjust or get used to it, and it’s something that takes a lot of time and it’s an ever-going process. When I compare Evisceration to Torture, I think Evisceration is lacking a lot in the drum department. It’s good drumming, the songs are great, but I’m not doing as much and I do contribute that to the fact that it was a little difficult adjusting to playing to the click track, and as soon as we started writing the songs for Torture, obviously it’s not a new thing anymore and we’re going to go along the same lines in the way of writing using the click, things just seemed to fall into place more naturally for me. I felt I was absorbing the click a little more and it opened me up to feel like I could play around it, and I think that’s what you get on Torture. I was feeling 100% more comfortable and I did a lot of practicing, more so than I ever have and really wrapped myself around these songs, and did some subtle little changes in my own playing: using different sticks, and sitting up a little higher on the stool, using different pedals, and doing a lot of little things to get my drumming as best as it can be at this point. Using the click was huge, and like I said, it was a step in the right direction with Evisceration, we had to do that to get to this point, and when I look back at all three records, I look at Torture as being a little bit of a mix of Eviceration mixed with Kill, with a little bit of old-school thrown in there. That’s a good thing, though; we’re heading in the right direction for sure.

SFM: On this record, you wrote the lyrics for 5 songs. Are you finding at this point it’s getting easier because you have a lot of experience writing lyrics, or is it becoming difficult to come up with new ideas?

Paul: If anything, it might be getting easier. I remember when we first took over the writing duties after we got rid of [Chris] Barnes, and myself and Jack [Owen], and Alex [Webster] were writing the lyrics, Rob [Barrett] was in the band at that point, so we were writing the lyrics from then on. I remember at that point, I didn’t do it for a few years so when I think back and it seemed more difficult because it was new. I’m not in the vibe, I’m not into the swing of it. I do remember writing songs for Vile taking a lot longer and being a little bit more tedious in that way because we haven’t done it in a long time, but jump ahead now, and many albums in between, we know we’re going to be writing the lyrics, we’ve done it quite a bit now and I’ve written my fair share, so when I have to sit down and do it, I think it comes a little bit smoother now. It still takes a little bit of time, of course, but I think when you’ve got some good songs to write over, when you’re trying to come up with the patterns, and especially on this album, I noticed the ones that I wrote, they almost wrote themselves in a way. It was just kind of coming up with the subject matter, the patterns just fell into place. I think the important thing for us is we’re trying to come up with a little bit of a different title than we wrote on the last song or the last album. Obviously, we’re going to be talking about horrific gore, death, and zombies and that’s not going to change, so we’re always going to have to put a slight twist on things, and that’s key when you’re coming up with song ideas or titles, and I thought we came up with some good ones for this album that are a little bit different and you write accordingly. Overall, I thought the five that I wrote, I thought everything went fairly smooth; it took a couple of months for me to get them all together, but the fact that I’ve been doing it for quite a while and I had some great songs to write over, I thought it was a fairly smooth dealing for me.

SFM: I thought in particular on “As Deep As The Knife Will Go”, you did a great job with the vocal patterns on that. I thought it was pretty catchy.

Paul: Thanks, I appreciate that. When Pat wrote the song, like I was saying, it seemed like everything kind of wrote itself in a way. When I came up with the title for that, it just fit so perfect with the what the chorus ended up being with that riff. When I first put it together with the song, I was like “man this is going to be some heavy, brutal, catchy stuff”, and I’m glad that you feel the same way and I’m hearing some good things about that, so I’m definitely with pleased the way that one turned out.

SFM: Another moment on the record that really surprised me was Alex’s bass solo on “The Strangulation Chair”. What was your first reaction when he brought that in?

Paul: It’s cool that you mention that because he originally was doing something a little bit different when that happened. The bass break was always going to be there  in the song, but it kind of morphed over time. I think he was going to be doing more of the riff that was happening. You’d have to ask him this and he’d probably be happy to tell you, but from what I remember of when we were at practice and writing the song, it started out way different than it ended up being that’s for sure. I think it was just a work in progress kind of thing and when we were up to record the very last time we practiced that song, and then the next time I actually heard the bass part I was like “wow this is killer”. It was completely different from what I remember him doing, but you want to make it the best you can make it and do what you want to do, but I think it sounds great. Like you said, it kind of threw me [off] for a little bit because I wasn’t used to hearing that. What a great bass tone he got on this record and some great bass playing. It shines throughout the record, and he’s known as one of the best bass players out there and he really did a great job on this record.

SFM: Speaking of the bass tone, I thought guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, it’s probably the best-sounding death metal album I’ve heard. Do you think you’ll keep working with Erik Rutan in the future, or are you looking to change it up soon?

Paul: It’s hard to say. We did three great albums with Erik, and we changed it up on this one where we went to Sonic Ranch, but it’s really too hard to speculate and too early to call. We could work with him again, but by no means if we didn’t work with him would we feel like it’s the end of the world. There’s a lot of other really great producers out there as well and it would be fun to work with somebody different at this point. We’ll see what happens, we’ve got some time to think about that and to figure it out. All we know is Erik did a great job with Torture, and if he was to work with us again, of course it would be another great sounding record, how could it not [be]? You never know, we’re known to change things up. It’s healthy to mix things up in certain ways, to keep things fresh, so we’ll see what happens.