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Jeff Walker (Carcass)

Interview with Jeff Walker from Carcass
by Lex Mishukhin at 10 September 2013, 11:22 AM

CARCASS made a name for themselves as the forefathers of Grindcore Death Metal. With various of classics throughout the 90s, the abruptly stopped, until now. Signing with Nuclear Blast Records led to the release of “Surgical Steel”, a swift comeback to the Death Metal years embraced with melodies. Lex had a chance to Skype with Jeff Walker, vocals / bass, and chat about the new album, new era of CARCASS and more. 

Hey Jeff, what a pleasure to talk to you, how are you?

Fine, just kicking a hangover as usual, a night on the tiles.

When did the idea for a new album come up? I heard Bill say a few years ago that there wouldn't be a new album.

Well, obviously you say things at the time that you believe are true and things change, don't they, I guess after the reunion Bill was back in the zone, he was interested in playing aggressive metal again and you know, you got the fire, and that's what's necessary to make a new album, I needed Bill back on board.

Excellent, cause I do know that he didn't play metal for a few years.

Well, it's debatable what you call metal isn't it? He was playing with FIREBIRD which was more blues/rock and then he's been playing with ANGELWITCH for a few years and he plays in another band called GENTLEMANS PISTOLS as well so he gets about, yeah, we went off in a more kind of bluesy direction you know? So I guess he's gone full circle, he's back to having a love for old, classic new wave of British heavy metal again.

What was it like working on the new album?

Easy, fun, enjoyable, eh, yeah, it was cool, very fulfilling.

I know you have a new lineup right now, it's Bill and you and two new members, what was that like for them and the band itself working with new musicians?

Yeah, I can't really answer for them, the album was written and recorded as a three piece, which is basically how CARCASS has always done it in some respects, and you know, Bill, myself and a drummer called Dan WIldling, and we then auditioned and found Ben Ash earlier this year, and so obviously we need two guitarists to play live, so we were lucky enough to track down Ben as well, They seem pretty on fire you know, a lot of enthusiasm in the band now, youthful exuberance you know, Dan's nearly half my age so that's kind of… You can underestimate what youth can do.

And what was the writing process like? Were these songs previously written during the tours or did you go into the studio with the idea of making a record and these are the new songs?

Some of the riffs are from years ago and some of the riffs are brand new, it's a mixed bag you know, Bill had tapes, or at least one tape of riffs from the 90's,  stuff that were never presented to CARCASS, so you know, we went through some of them and some of the stuff's completely brand new, so it's a mixed bag you know? I think that's why it sounds so cool, because its not been forced and we didn't get into the rehearsals back in late 2011 and start from scratch, we had some solid ideas to start working with so yeah, some real cool stuff.

The album itself seems to be really reflective of your career, it starts, other than the "1985" intro, it starts very brutally, very heavy and it gets very melodic as it progresses much like your early albums as opposed to Heartwork or Swansong.

Yeah, I think it's definitely a kind of musical journey, you're correct, it starts with a kind of punch to the face almost, in a way we've sequenced the album as if it was on 12' vinyl, it's 48 minutes long and it's you know, almost has an A and a B side, and in some ways possibly the B side is stronger than the A side, you know, the material is great, but as you pointed out, yeah it does seem to get more melodic as it progresses, it's accidental in a way to be honest, but yeah, you're correct, it's weird because if we were trying to be smart then maybe we would have started the album more melodic so we don't lose the listener.

It actually flows very seamlessly from the heavy to the more melodic and it actually seems to work better I think than had it started more melodic.

Yeah, but it's a case of you know, you want to keep the listeners attention, and maybe some people might be put off by it starting so aggressively, cause you know, let's face it, Heartwork was our most successful or biggest selling album and we don't want to alienate those fans because you know, that's sales, but you know, it's a difficult one, isn't it? Because if we had started the album with wimpy songs then you're gonna lose the people who like the more aggressive stuff so you know, you can't get too bucked down and try to over think it, the sequencing of the songs just seemed like the best sequencing we could come up with, I mean, we've definitely left material off the album that could have disrupted the flow, and there's another four songs that rock out a bit more that aren't as aggressive that I think had we included some of that stuff it might have diluted the album and took away some of its aggressiveness.

How much was Ken (Owen, the bands original drummer) involved in the album?

He came down and did some backing vocals for a day, that said, the spirit of Ken is in this album, it's there in Dans drumming style, it seems to me he really kind of has taken on board what Ken has done in the past, song titles or lyrics or ideas have definitely been influenced by Ken like "Thrashers Abattoir" , the lyrics and the subject matter are definitely taken from a song he wrote back in 1985, so yeah, his spirit is alive and kicking in the album, even if he wasn't involved in the songwriting process you know, 100%, his influence, you know, his shadow is cast on this album.

How is Ken nowadays?

He's fine, he's doing as we'll as he was doing 10 years ago, I mean, I always get the impression when people ask that question they're expecting some miracle cure, I mean at the end of the day the guy was in a coma and had two brain operations and it effected part of his brain and his short term memory is a bit shot you know?, but at the end of the day it's still Ken,  it's just that it effected his physical health slightly as well, it's almost like he just had a stroke you know?, but he's fine, he's getting on with shit and on with his life.

That's great to hear. You can say that this is a new beginning for CARCASS, what was it like working with a new record label (Nuclear Blast)?

Eh, it's good, they're definitely stuck in their ways about how they wanna do things, sometimes I don't see eye to eye with what they wanna do, but ultimately they're in the business of selling albums and they've had some very successful acts so its nice to be dealing with a label that's got a lot of money, you know? That's prepared to spend money to promote the album, I think they are kind of surprised at what kind of you know feedback this album is getting, the success that this album might deliver to them cause I think Nuclear  Blast tends to pigeon hold its bands, ok, this album is for Power Metal fans, this album is for female fronted operatic vocals fans, this band is for Death Metal fans and I think this album has the ability to not necessarily have to be pigeon hold in the Death Metal  ghetto, I think this album could appeal to thrash metal fans as well, I think Nuclear Blast are gonna be surprised by, well, hopefully, I'm quietly confident, I think they're going to be surprised by what they have in their hands.

Do you have any plans on releasing a live DVD?

No, I'm pretty resistant against that at the moment, for me I think it would be important to do a DVD when the bands no longer playing live, you know, at the end of the day, there's a lot of shit on YouTube, and you know, to make a DVD is a long winded process, because as you're probably well aware of as a journalist there's no such thing as a live DVD I mean, the bands just record the footage and then go into the studio and re-record everything, so it's very difficult to do, it takes a long time, I'd rather concentrate on playing live, I mean damn, you're asking us about a live DVD and the albums not even come out.

The reason I ask that is because there are fans in some countries have never gotten to see you live, obviously the live experience is much better.

Yeah, we try our best to go as many places we can to perform live, you know, so I think that's part of the attraction for the reunion, people got to see us for the first time that couldn't back in the 90's, so we intend on sticking around for a few years so people shouldn't write us off just yet.

I certainly hope so, which brings me to my next question, Surgical Steel, honestly, I've been listening to it non stop for the past few days, excellent album, I'm not even gonna call it a comeback album since it flows perfectly from the original material, and so my question is, is Surgical Steel a one off or can we expect more from you guys in the future?

Well, you know, we've got no plans, I mean, I've said to Bill, is he still writing  riffs? And he is, so from my bass I still have the desire to better what we've just recorded and I think we can, I'm still searching for the perfect Carcass album and I don't think we've made it yet, so as long as that's an unfulfilled ambition then yeah, there will be more material, at the end of the day we signed a two album licensing deal with Nuclear Blast , so the option is there, we're under no obligation to deliver but you know, as long as we feel creative there will be more material.

First of that's great news for me as a fan, and one thing that I have to ask is that you've been very influential a lot of bands, so what I wanna know is who influenced you in picking up the bass and starting to make music?

Ehm, well, whatever bands I was into when I was a kid at whatever given time, it could have been RAINBOW  or THIN LIZZY or it could have been the SEX PISTOLS, bands like THE CLASH, so I've always been interested in music and I've always had this kind of peacock thing in me, wanting to show off, and I was always interested in performance, you know, so, yeah, I've always wanted to, I wouldn't say be famous, cause I really can't stand the idea of being a stuck up asshole just cause I'm in a band or whatever but I've always wanted to make my mark,  it's tough to explain, some people just have that drive, don't they?

Thank you very much for the interview, myself and the Metal Temple crew wish you a lot of success, I love the new album, so my final question is, what are your final thoughts for our readers, for the future of the band?

Well, I don't really have anything grandiose to say, well, I hope people enjoy the album, and I hope that if they download it and they enjoy it they'll put their money where their mouth is and buy the damn thing, you know? I have faith that if people download it, they're gonna buy the damn thing, I think it's a strong album.

It's an excellent album, that I can tell you, and it was a real honor for me as a longtime fan to talk to you and hopefully I'll get to catch you live sometimes, once again, lots of success in the future, thank you very much.

Thanks, have a good day.



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