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Cannibal Corpse interview (02/2021)

With: Paul Mazurkiewicz
Conducted by: RaduP (skype)
Published: 21.02.2021

Band profile:

Cannibal Corpse

It's Cannibal Corpse. What kind of introduction do you expect from me?

Violence Unimagined

Radu: So we're here with Paul Mazurkiewicz. Did I say that right?

Paul Mazurkiewicz: Yeah, that was good.

Radu: Okay, sorry. I have to brush up on my Polish. The only Polish word that I can truly say is kurwa.

PM: Ah, right. That's a good one, yes. I understand. (laughs)

Radu: (continuing his thought of several sentences ago) of Cannibal Corpse and not much else, apparently.

PM: No, no.

Radu: So how is the experience of releasing an album without touring?

PM: Yeah, it's pretty unique, I guess, right? We've never had to deal with this kind of situation, so it's a little obviously unprecedented and very weird in a lot of ways, right? To me, as long as we get the music out - it's so important, especially in this dark time we're in right now, just to get music available to fans, and I think that's just gonna be a big inspiration and a big help to move along here, to have something positive. I mean, obviously we'd like to be on the road and I'm sure the fans obviously wanna come see the shows as well, but at least getting the music out there is a huge thing, so like I said, it's definitely weird, you know, we're gonna be putting it out and to not be attached to a tour, it's never happened that way, but like I said, just the fact that the music is getting out there - so far, the response has been amazing from putting the one song out and everybody's hyped and excited, so just knowing that kind of makes you feel pretty good all around, that the fans are happy and if you can help in any way here in this dark time, that's a big positive.

[Ed: Paul is a surprisingly wholesome and positive guy for someone whose writing credits include "Hacksaw Decapitation" and "Submerged In Boiling Flesh".]

Radu: Yeah, I'm glad to hear that. Was this being - had you started writing it before the actual pandemic hit?

PM: Yeah, the whole thing was we recorded this back in April of last year, so we were done, we were just kind of getting the final touches on it in March when everything went down, so we were ready to go into the studio, the pandemic hit, shut everything down, and we were actually a little concerned that we would not be able to record in April, because we're going in next month and everything's shutting down and this is craziness, right, so luckily it didn't affect us in that way and we were able to stay on schedule for the recording, so that was all - most of it was done pre-pandemic and then it was just having to deal with the recording while all this nonsense was happening.

Radu: So you didn't manage to write any songs about pandemics? [Ed: Nah. Plenty of death, but not enough stabbing.]

PM: Well, if you looked at the song titles - I don't know if you heard the album yet or if you saw the song titles or anything - but the song "Condemnation Contagion" is kind of having to deal with it a little bit there, and that was one song that Erik [Rutan] wrote and he wrote the lyrics for and it was kind of like, "Well, it's a horrific subject, and it's a tie-in kind of basically to what's happening at the moment in the world here", so the songs were done musically, but sometimes the lyrics aren't done until the very end in a lot of instances, so I think Erik was able to write a little bit about what's happening in that song.

Radu: Right. And now that you cannot tour but you've been a band that has been touring for 30 years, that's a really long time, so I expect that in those 30 years you've had a lot of really bad tour experiences, so can you tell us what was the worst one?

PM: The worst experience?

Radu: Yup.

PM: Well, one comes to mind and it always does come to mind, and I was just reminded of it earlier; I have a picture of this. It was back in 1994 and I guess we were touring for The Bleeding over in Europe and we just got over there, so it was the beginning of a tour, and we were in Holland. I can't remember where we were in Holland; some small, little town - it wasn't like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or anything - but I remember we played the show, I believe it was the second show of the tour, we played the show, the show's over, it's late at night, all the fans are gone, we're packing up the equipment, we're getting ready to leave, basically, on the bus very soon, I think there was some sort of a food stand was open down the road, everybody was getting some food, and I remember being on the bus and a couple of guys - not everybody was on the bus yet, some people were still outside. We were touring with a few bands - I can't even remember, there was, like, four bands on the bus - and somebody said, "Hey, there's a fight going on outside of the bus!" And everyone ran out there that was on there, myself included, and all of a sudden, yeah, there was a scuffle going on and I was like, "What the heck is going on here?"

Couple of our guys were fighting with - who knows what these, where'd these people come from, who are they, right? And it ended up being maybe five or six, like, drunken hoodlums that happened to be walking through the town at 2 in the morning, just happened to pass us and start this little bit of a brawl goin' on, and I remember just sitting there - not everybody was fighting. Before you knew it, we had, like - our whole entourage was around, so there's, like, 20, 30 of us, and there's, like, six of them, and the fight kind of starts up again. To make a long story short, I remember looking - I was not, I'm not a fighter, I wasn't involved at all, I'm just an innocent bystander to this whole situation, and I remember looking over to my left and there's this guy lunging at me and he hits me. He's almost fly-kicking, I'm like, "What the heck?", I put my arms up, and he hits me, and I remember feeling a pain in the side, my left side, kind of in my abdomen, and I look down and I'm bleeding a little bit, and I'm going, "What the heck just happened here?" I go, "Great, I just got stabbed or something!" and for that instant, I thought, "Great, I'm gonna die here, I just got stabbed, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna be keeling over in the street here and that's it!"

So about a minute goes by, 30 seconds, and I'm bleeding but I'm not collapsing, I'm going, "Well, okay, I guess I'm gonna live", but I've got this bleeding, gaping hole, basically, in my side here, you know, so I remember the fight's over, the hoodlums end up leaving - I think a couple of guys beat the crap out of that group or whatever - but I was the casualty of the whole situation and I didn't even do anything! And I remember having to go to the hospital - second show, I gotta get in an ambulance, I gotta go to the hospital because they gotta check me out. Luckily, it was a superficial wound; they figured that I must have gotten hit with a key, like the guy probably had keys in his fist and he punched me and he just got a little hole there in my side, very superficial, didn't go in deep or anything of that nature, and I didn't even need a stitch or anything, but I remember going, "Great, okay, well, that's fine, but I'm in pretty good pain here, now, I got a hole in my side", and we gotta move on with the tour, it's only the second show, and I remember that night having to try to get into my bunk in the bus and it being very painful and it was hard to sleep and everything, and then I thought, "How am I going to play? We got a whole tour to do!"

Luckily, I was able to play and it got better pretty soon, but it didn't really affect my playing. If anything, it affected, right, sleeping and probably walking, but just sitting still and drumming it actually wasn't that bad. But I'll never forget that, because that was probably the craziest thing that has ever happened on tour to me, so there you go. (laughs)

Radu: And you haven't written any song called "Stabbed By Hoodlums"?

PM: (laughs) I might have to now, right? It's funny, because like I said I just found a picture - somebody posted a picture of that tour and I found it and it's a live shot of me, and I got the little bandage on my side, and I'm like, "Hey, there's a picture from that tour! Must've been two days after!" And I have it in my phone and everything and I just looked at it literally earlier, so it's kind of funny that you bring this up now. I think it's inevitable that a song is gonna have to be written soon.

Radu: It might blur the lines between fiction and reality. [Ed: Sometimes that's what transcribing these interviews is like.]

PM: That's right, right. (laughs)

Radu: So when you're writing songs about murder and things like this, when was the last time you thought, "Hm, should I write a song about a man murdering another man? Oh, no, I've already done that before"?

PM: (laughs) Yeah, it's a little tougher these days. We always want to try to come up with something a little bit different than we have in the past, though most of our subject matter of course is very similar in context there, you know? Like, right, on this record, I wrote two songs lyrically; I wrote the song "Murderous Rampage" and "Cerements Of The Flayed". Now, "Cerements Of The Flayed" is a very different song - it doesn't have to do with the typical killing song - but "Murderous Rampage", well, what's that? Oh, of course, it's about somebody killing people, right? Oh, we've never done that before, right? (laughs) So it's just kind of coming up with a little bit of a different twist, just trying to do something different that you haven't done within the words, within the phrasing perhaps, how you're writing the song, so it gets a little trickier, but I think we've done a good job overall for the last - for our career here to stay consistent in those ways and, like I said, come up with maybe just little, subtle differences within the writing that makes it not exactly the same as the last song you wrote or the one before that or the one before that. But, yeah, it gets a little trickier.

[Ed: Cannibal Corpse Picnic Of Love when?]

Radu: Do you ever get bored with it?

PM: Not really, you know. I always think that it might be getting a little harder because, exactly, you always gotta try to do something different, so I don't get bored with it. I mean, I only wrote two songs on this record, like I said, and if you look back at the last couple of records, I wrote half of Red Before Black, I wrote half of Skeletal Domain, so I've written a lot of lyrics on the last few releases, so to only have two made it maybe a little more, "Okay, I've just got two and I don't have to be worn thin in the sense of writing six", or something like that, but, you know, it doesn't seem to get boring, it doesn't seem to get old. I have fun doing it, I think we all have a good time coming up with some stories and lyrics, so that's good. I think it shows, and I think when you read the lyrics they're as fresh as they can be for being typically the same kind of themes, but we just do what we do and just try to do it a little bit different every time.

Radu: Well, next you could try something different, have the lyrics be some kind of essay about violence in political culture or something like that or in the media, or something ironic making fun of bands who have violent themes. [Ed: No. That would be boring. More songs about meat-hook-based sodomy.]

PM: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if that's really us. [Ed: Don't worry, you don't have to humor Radu.] I think it's just coming up with different forms of horror; like I said, "Murderous Rampage", the one I wrote, is, like, okay, that's a typical - you can understand what that is. "Cerements Of The Flayed", on the other hand, that's a little like, "Okay, whoa, what's that about?" That was a different theme that I never really wrote about, Alex's song that he came up with the title, and it's about a guy that's basically buried alive, he's skinned himself and he's wearing another human's skin and he's buried alive, but then he lives through that. It's very horrific [Ed: yes], but it's not about really any murderers or killing or anything of that nature, you know, so it's kind of themes like that that we really try to make it a little bit different as we go. But I don't think we'd ever really want to get too political; if anything, we get a little bit -

Radu: Yeah, not political, obviously, but -

PM: Yeah, I know what you're saying, I know what you mean; just different themes of that nature. One theme on this record that was maybe a little different than normal for us, 'cause it's usually all these kind of fantasy horror stuff, a song called "Follow The Blood" that Rob [Barrett] wrote and wrote lyrics for, it ends up being more like a wartime story, which we never really have. Usually 98% of our stuff is very fictional-oriented that really doesn't have any kind of tie-in of reality, but "Follow The Blood" is kind of that, because he's talking about war and actual warfare with guns and things, so that's a little bit different for us.

Radu: It's tying to what I said before: bridging the gap between fiction and reality.

PM: Right, right. We do it a little bit. A very little bit, but when it does happen, it's something that's unique for us, but it still works.

Radu: Yeah, because the horror/serial killer stuff is really isolated incidents that do sometimes happen, but warfare is violence on such a large scale.

PM: Yep, yep, you're right.

Radu: And most of those people who are committing violence in wars, they're not psychopaths that you usually write about; they're normal people like you and I [Ed: You're normal?] and they're put in a situation where they do commit violence.

PM: Yep, so it's interesting, for sure.

[Ed: Well, anyway, enough historical deconstruction. Back to eviscerating people with knives made of their own legs.]

Radu: All right, so back to the new album, how would you say that the songwriting dynamic has been influenced by you having a new guitarist?

PM: Well, it's pretty much the same as we've always been. We've been a band of individual writers for the last few records, if you noticed; when you read who wrote what and everything, there's hardly any collaborations going on anymore. Alex'll write his songs, Rob'll write his songs, and on this album, it's no different; Erik wrote his songs. So we got basically three distinct songwriters contributing and it being Cannibal Corpse, so if anything, Erik's songs are gonna be the most unique, of course, because he's new to the band and they're his songs and he's never written in a Cannibal style of sorts, so that's the main difference. Rob writes the way Rob writes, Alex writes the way he writes, and it's just, here we are, and they wrote for this album in the time frame that they had to come up with the material, this is it. So it didn't really change too much; it's just you're trading off and you're having Erik write his own songs and that would be the main difference, but in all reality it's basically how we've been doing it for years.

Radu: And which are the songs that Erik wrote?

PM: He wrote "Condemnation Contagion", "Overtorture", and "Ritual Annihilation".

Radu: Okay. I'll make sure to pay more attention to those when it comes out.

PM: Yeah, I think you'll notice. It seems almost apparent these days, for the most part; if you follow the band, you're gonna go, "Oh, that's a Rob song", "I can tell that's an Alex song", but I think when you hear Erik's songs you're gonna go, "Okay, these are Erik's songs". He's just got this - even though they're Cannibal-style, they're still Erik's. I think if you know how Erik plays and writes, maybe with Hate Eternal or something, that you're more than likely'll pick it out. But maybe not. But either way, yeah, when you listen to those songs, listen and you'll hear maybe a little bit just difference because it's Erik writing.

Radu: Prior to you releasing this new song, I don't think I've actually listened to Cannibal Corpse ever since you released Red Before Black [Ed: Why didn't I do this interview? I listen to Evisceration Plague regularly.], so I was kind of in a period where I was too cool to listen to the AC/DC of death metal, like a lot of people call you -

PM: (laughs)

Radu: But when that song, I heard it, I kind of felt the difference that you having a new guitarist had, and I think it's the first time in a really long time that I'm actually excited for a new Cannibal Corpse record.

PM: Well, that's good to hear. It's definitely a good song we put out there - I mean, this is really an intense album. I think the fans, I think the people that listen are gonna really be blown away by it. But yeah, the song we put out, "Inhumane Harvest", it's just a really catchy, good, heavy song, you know, so I think it's turning some heads and I'm glad you were able to notice that as well and I hope you enjoy the new record, too.

Radu: Yeah, I will, when I get to hear it. So I want to ask, because I introduced you as "Paul of Cannibal Corpse and not much else": when I'm looking through the pages of the individual Cannibal Corpse members, I see that each of them has been at least in some other band, but you've only been in the pre-Cannibal Corpse band, and ever since it's been just Cannibal Corpse. Why do you think that is?

PM: Well, I'm obviously a founding member of Cannibal and I love playing death metal and playing Cannibal Corpse for the longest time - still do, of course - and it just seemed like I never really had a lot of time to do anything else. Ironically that you're asking me this, so I'm gonna fill you in on it a little bit - there was a little bit of a side project that Jack and I had, Jack Owen, who was the original guitar player, him and I and another friend of ours had, like, a rock'n'roll kind of a project back in 2000, 2001, and we made some songs and we actually did play two shows here in a small bar here in Tampa, Florida, and we were doing it for fun and it never went anywhere. Like I said, we wrote some originals and it was really cool, it was a little bit of a change of pace to be able to just sit back, rock out, groove out, and get away from the whole Cannibal craziness that's been happening, so that was about 20 years ago now, and that fell apart, but - you were just talking about it, and it's really not known yet to anybody here, when the pandemic hit and I had a little extra time here after we were done recording here and all that, the guy that played bass on that project I was just telling you about, he's still a really good friend of mine, Vernon Blake, and he lives in Tampa, so we said, "Hey, let's get this project back together again!" It was a lot of fun, we love that kind of music, and it gives us something to do here in this time, so we did. We got the project back together, we got a different guitar player 'cause Jack Owen doesn't live here anymore and he didn't want to be involved, so we're working on that right now, actually. We wrote some cool originals and we're gonna see what we can do with it, but that's all to be known a little bit more in the future here, because you're pretty much the first person I'm telling, that anybody that knows what's happening with this or that it is happening, so - but I'll leave it at that, because hopefully soon enough you'll hear some things about it, because I think the plan is gonna be to try to get some music out, maybe get it out on a deal or something, and see what happens. So if that all goes as planned, there you go, that'll be the band that I'll be associated then other than Cannibal Corpse.

Radu: Well then, am I allowed to publish this interview? [Ed: I actually feel kind of tingly knowing that we're getting a special inside scoop from Paul Mazurkiewicz. I feel almost relevant.]

PM: Yeah, if you want! I mean, sure, why not? I just won't give you any more information on it, but, yeah, if you want to say that, that's fine.

Radu: But then give me your personal feelings on this, because you are a drummer and death metal drumming has some certain limits to what you can do with it. You cannot do something that you would do in a rock'n'roll song or in something else. Has it ever felt like you really wanted to do something with your drumming that you could not do in a Cannibal Corpse song?

PM: Well, that's what it is; I mean, that's what this project is about. I love rock'n'roll, I always have, and that's kind of my love for the last 20 years, is just really old '60s, '70s kind of rock'n'roll music. It's very different, of course, from death metal. It's more just song-oriented and more groove and more feel, right, and I love that, I do love it, so the fact that we can write some songs that are just a little bit more easy-going and sit back and just have fun and groove fun is a relaxing, cool thing to do. So we've had fun with it and we're really excited for what we've got going here with this side band and, like I said, we'll see what happens. If nothing really does come out of it - I mean, we're hoping it will, but if it doesn't, at least we've had some fun writing some cool rock songs and just enjoying each other's company and playing together and all that, but we're gonna see what happens. We're gonna try to get this out, and hopefully that'll be sooner than later.

Radu: Okay. Has it occurred to you that no member of Cannibal Corpse was born in Florida?

PM: (laughs) Oh, of course, I know, because we're obviously all originally from Buffalo, New York, and not everybody was born in Buffalo, I guess, at that time - well, I guess the original band was all born in Buffalo, except myself, which I was born in Montana because my father was in the Air Force and even though I'm from Buffalo, I wasn't born in Buffalo, which is a little kind of a weird thing, but the other four original members were born in Buffalo, so technically Cannibal Corpse is a Buffalo band, and then we moved to Florida about 27 years ago now - it's been a long time - and of course the member changes that we've had, everybody else is from a different part of the country, all the members, basically, so, yeah, it's kind of weird how that goes. I think it's mostly the Florida bands, when it's known for the death metal capital of the world, where a lot of the bands that were in Tampa or started in Tampa weren't from Tampa; they were implants, kind of like we were. But yeah, a lot of people look at us as a Florida band because we've been here a long time, but obviously we're from Buffalo and we just made our base in Florida for many years now and I can understand why people would think that, but, yeah, nobody from Florida in Cannibal Corpse.

Radu: Okay. Since you've had such a long career and you've been so influential that I can say that the only death metal bands that weren't influenced by you were the ones that came before you, have you ever felt, listening to the bands that came after you and that were influenced by you, that they're doing something different, taking your sound, and thinking, "I wish we could do that, too?" I mean, feeling like a feedback of influence from the bands that come after you?

PM: Nope, not at all. Never, never once. I mean, I'm just happy that bands can be influenced by us. It's a big compliment; it's very flattering that bands are gonna go, "Wow, you're a big influence", and then you hear the music and you're going, "Awesome", and, hey, if you guys are happy and you're doing what you're doing, that's fine. Everybody's gotta be themselves. And then you may listen and go, "I don't hear any influence", or "I don't know what's going on here", but, hey, all means, to each their own, kind of a thing. But never once did I ever think of any of that; it was always we're doing what we're gonna do, we're doing what's in us, and no one's gonna influence us after the fact. I really don't feel that whatsoever.

Radu: Okay. And last year, it will have been the 30th anniversary of Eaten Back To Life.

PM: Yes, yes.

Radu: Were there any touring plans that were crashed by the pandemic for it?

PM: Oh, no, not at all. We're not a band to do anything of that nature, either. It's a big accomplishment, we always will want to think about it and it will be noted, and we're like, "Wow, that's awesome, what a milestone", but other than that - that's all it is. To us, it's like, "Okay, great". We're just moving forward, we're doing our thing, and we're not a band that's gonna go, "We need to do Eaten in its entirety because it's 30 years old", or something of that nature. It's just, celebrate that it's out for 30 years, and basically that's about it, but that's how we've always done it.

Radu: And you've never felt like returning to a thrashier sound like the one there?

PM: Well, I think we did on Red Before Black a little bit. When you listen to Red Before Black, it's definitely -

Radu: A little bit.

PM: Yeah, it's definitely got a little bit of a thrashier sound overall, so I think it's - we're always progressing. You're never gonna want to really go backwards. We're always a band wanting to go forwards, you know? But I would look at an album more than any of the recent albums is Red Before Black as being a lot of that thrashy kind of influence in there, for being a newer Cannibal record, but, yeah, I don't think we'd ever end up writing songs the way we actually did, because it's just like going completely backwards and we don't want to do that.

Radu: Yeah, I get it. Other than Dave Lombardo, who would you say was the drummer who made you feel like you needed to pick up the drums?

PM: Well, Lombardo, definitely - Neil Peart was such a phenomenal percussionist and drummer and Rush is such a huge band for me. That was definitely another big influence. Even guys like Lars Ulrich and Charlie Benante, drummers like that were huge influences, but the big two for me would be Lombardo and Neil Peart.

Radu: Okay. If you could get any living director to direct a video for Cannibal Corpse, who would it be?

PM: I don't know; that's a tough one. Maybe it would be cool to have, like, Sam Raimi, I guess. [Ed: I'm honestly a bit surprised that we haven't had this answer more often.]

Radu: Oh yeah.

PM: Such a great style with Evil Dead and everything, so I would go Raimi.

Radu: Yeah, if you can get Bruce Campbell to start in it as well, that would be -

PM: Yeah, why not? (laughs)

Radu: Have you written any songs about Evil Dead?

PM: No; I mean, there's probably some that might be similar, but we never really sit down and go, "Hey, we're gonna write a song that actually is this or that or directly influenced from this movie", or something like that. I haven't. There may be some similarities, I guess, but definitely never a conscious tie-in or anything of that nature.

Radu: Okay, so there will be no Evil Dead II concept album from Cannibal Corpse any time soon?

PM: Nah, I don't think so.

Radu: Too bad. I was looking forward to it. So this was my last question; do you have anything else to add to our readers?

PM: Well, I just appreciate the interview and thank you for taking the time, and I just hope the fans really love the new record and I appreciate their ongoing support, so thank you.

Radu: Thanks. You're welcome. And have a nice rest of the day and do other interviews that I hope are more boring than mine.

PM: (laughs) Yeah, it was a lot of fun. On to the next one, though. I appreciate it, so thank you, sir.

Radu: Thanks. Bye.

PM: All right, have a good one, man.

Once again thanks to SSUS for transcribing the interview.

Posted on 21.02.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 7   Visited by: 324 users
22.02.2021 - 09:08

Can't wait to hear Erik's songs.
None above. None equal.
22.02.2021 - 15:45
Daddy Pig
I wonder what the name of the rock 'n' roll band is and what it sounds like.
25.02.2021 - 21:44

Another good interview, well done on your little scoop
26.02.2021 - 18:02
He sounds like such a nice guy, doesn't he?
Like you, I am excited for a new CC album after a long, long time. The first single was fantastic.
26.02.2021 - 19:32

Awesome interview thanks for posting, always loved Paul's drumming plus he seems like a great person 🤘❤
02.03.2021 - 18:09

Sincerely, sounds like such a genuine person. Great job guys, getting all those in the written format.
Leeches everywhere.
13.05.2021 - 08:55
Cynic Metalhead
Nasha Vich Paisa
Written by Daddy Pig on 22.02.2021 at 15:45

I wonder what the name of the rock 'n' roll band

Tirant Sin, I guess. Not sure about it.

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