Interview: Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse released their brand new album Red Before Black on Friday last week to some pretty amazing reviews from across the world of musical press. Prior to the release, I fulfilled a childhood dream of chatting to one of the founding members and drummer from the band, Paul Mazurkiewicz. As well as chatting about the latest album, we discussed vegetarianism, analogue recording and the one ambition the band has yet to fulfil. Read on for the full transcription…

You’re gearing up to release Red Before Black in a few days. How do you feel the response has been?

So far so good I think. It’s been a while since we’ve put something out and we’re kind of excited to see what people think. We’re about a week and a half away from release and we can’t wait for it to come out and for the fans to hear the whole thing. But yeah, so far folk seem to be digging what we’ve come up.

You worked with Erik Rutan again on this album. Was this for convenience or because he did a really good job on previous albums?

It was kind of both but it’s funny you mention that as we kinda thought it was incredibly convenient that we have a guy that’s kind of in our back yard basically. I think at this point in our careers and lives we kinda felt that we could be more productive by recording close to home as it means we don’t need to alter our routines with our families. The way things are recorded these days with all the Pro tools and things means that I can just play to the scratch tracks and I don’t need anyone else to be there. Then when I’m done with drums I can stay at home and come in if I’m needed. I live about an hour away from the studio so I’m the furthest out but it’s still far more convenient than going somewhere else.

And then of course we looked at who we’ve got in the area and it was a no-brainer to go with Erik at Mana. And plus, as you say, he did a really good job on our previous albums so it was a no-brainer to go with him and stay in our routines with our families. I think it totally helped with the making of this album though.

Did he break out the tape machine?

Aha, not this time but he’s always wanted to. I mean with the convenience of Pro Tools it’s kinda of made tape a lot harder to record with. There’s obviously the argument between analogue and digital but I just think that for us it’s easier to record digitally. I’ve nothing against it at all, but I don’t think we’ll be recording to tape anytime soon.

What was the split for song writing on this album?

It’s pretty equal actually as we figured that if the three main writers can write the most of the songs then it’ll be an even split. So, Pat wrote four songs, Alex wrote four songs and Rob wrote three, and I collaborated with him on one as well. I wrote the lyrics for Pat’s songs as per usual, and the one I collaborated with Rob on, and then I wrote the lyrics for one of Rob’s songs as well. So in total I wrote the lyrics for 6 songs and Alex wrote the lyrics for his songs. It’s the fair way to do it and it’s worked well on the past couple of albums.

You’ve got some extensive tours coming up in the next few months. Are you looking forward to them?

Yeah man. I mean we’ve been off the road now for just over a year and we’re ready to get out and play. It’ll be good fun to get back on the road and play some new songs for our fans. It’s tough to try and work out the setlist for them as we really want to push the new album in the set. We’re hopefully getting six new ones in and we’re going to try and get one off every album in. It’s tough because we have fourteen albums out and you want to push the new songs but I think we’ll hopefully be able to.

Aside from “Frantic Disembowelment”, what’s the most difficult Cannibal Corpse song to play?

Well, I mean it’s kind of funny as we’ve only played “Frantic Disembowelment” once live and that was without George. He’s always struggled with that song so we ended up not really playing it. It’s tough for the string guys as well and it’s probably one of the reasons why we’ve not played it. I’ve kinda got the easy part as it’s nothing too crazy and just a simple in your face part. I mean, you can’t really say it’s easy as it’s still a tough song. I think it’s more of a question for the string guys I think as we may well have some harder songs to play now. They tend to all be songs by Pat as well!

Are the nicknames still around?

They’re still around! George still calls Pat “Ricky” but I don’t think I’ve ever called him that. I’m still “Buzz” and that’s not going to be disappearing anytime soon. I get it from George, Alex and Rob a few times but not really Pat. I wouldn’t actually give Pat a nickname as he’s that kind of guy that needs no nickname.

What sort of equipment are you using these days?

I’m still with DDrum as they’ve been supporting me for a few years now. They’re a great company and I really like the sound of their drums. I’m also still using Czarcie Kopyto pedals as well and they’re awesome pedals.

There’s a funny story behind them as well. They were a fairly unknown brand back when they approached me and it was at Brutal Assault a few years ago. This guy approached me with this case about 5 minutes before we went on and he started chatting to me and I was like “Ah cool man! I’ll need to chat with you later.” After the show I went and had a chat with him and the guy did his sales pitch kinda thing and I said that I’d try them when I get home. I wasn’t going to try them then and there as we were in the middle of a festival run and I can’t easily change up my setup in the middle of something when I’m used to a certain setup. When I got home and tried them on my kit I instantly noticed the difference and I’ve never looked back.

[Cat meows in the background]

Sorry, my cat’s wanting to get outside by ringing the bell. We’ve not got a lot of room in this house so trying to find somewhere quiet is difficult.

Is this the farm you’re still on?

Yep, this is the farm. I mean it’s not really a farm but we have a few acres of land. Normally the animals are fine and don’t make a lot of noise but my one cat is being a bit of a nuisance. Anyway, we kinda wanted some land for some animals to basically express our love for animals. The chickens have been very good as it means we can have eggs in the morning as I’m vegetarian and not vegan.

We don’t really grow a lot of things as you can’t really put anything near the horses as they’ll eat it and the backyard is where we play with dogs. We have tried it a few times but we’ve never got to the stage where we can be self-sufficient with growing things. It would be nice to maybe grow some more things in the future so we’ll see what happens.

Do you think it’s easier now when you’re on tour to find appropriate food than it was a few years ago?

Oh of course. I’ve only been a vegetarian for 14 years now and I think there’s only been one or two times where it’s been a bit “really? That’s what I’ve got to have?” but I’ve not really had a lot of problems. Every day it seems to gaining popularity and there’s more and more options for things now. It’s still tough in some places that are so meat based and particularly Japan where it’s so fish based. But in the States and in the UK there’s no real problems and I look forward to those as I know I’m going to get some good food.

Back on topic now, are there any plans for any more DVD releases?

I think because we’ve done it we’ve not got any plans to do one as of right now. Typically it’s the label that organises stuff like that and we sorta go along with it but there’s been nothing from them on that so at this moment I don’t see it happening.

If there was one band you wanted to see that you never did, who would that be?

That’s a really hard question. Gosh, I’m not really sure. I guess if you think about it I’d probably have to say The Beatles. I love The Beatles and they were arguably one of the bands that made rock music happen and without them there would be no us basically.

One of our crew members wanted to know if there was one ambition as a band that you’ve yet to fulfil?

I mean, we’ve done so much beyond any of our wildest dreams and way more than we ever thought we would. One thing though and we don’t mind if it doesn’t happen, is to open for Slayer on a club tour. We kinda did that on the Mayhem festival tour but it’s not the same. There’s nothing like being on a club tour and if it was with Slayer then that’d be really cool. If it didn’t happen though, we wouldn’t mind. As I said we kinda did it on the Mayhem tour and we actually got to see the band with the classic line-up with Hanneman which was awesome.

Pat played with Slayer for a bit as well if I remember…

He did yeah. And Kerry’s said to us that we should tour together but obviously they’re the bigger band and then there’s always other things involved with it. I don’t think it’s impossible though so we’ll see what happens.

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