Backstage With… Cannibal Corpse.

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When I left I didn’t even have a plan to re-join Malevolent, it just kind of happened,“ explains the guitarist, “Phil (Fasciana, Creation’s lead singer) heard that I’d left Cannibal and the guitar player on ‘Cold Blood’, the record that they had just released at that time, couldn’t do the tour. So he just called and said ‘hey, why don’t you just come back into the band’ and that’s how it worked. It wasn’t planned.” Deciding to leave CC was apparently something that needed to be done and Rob doesn’t regret his decision. “I think it was necessary [to leave], to be able to come back and then everything’s sorted out, all the differences and whatever.”

Re-joining the outfit in 2005, Rob has been a permanent fixture since then and has in total featured on five of the band’s albums, with two coming from his first session, and three from his secondary membership. When asked which one he is most proud of, Rob answers with his debut offering with CC. “’The Bleeding’ would probably be the album I’m most proud of because that’s the first one that I was on after I had joined and I think it was actually the top seller out of the whole catalogue.” He’s right; ‘The Bleeding’ is in fact their most commercially successful record to date which, as Rob so rightly quips, “…is far from commercial.”

CC’s latest album, ‘Torture’, is also a favourite of Rob’s, as it has “lots of cool stuff on it”, some of which the guitarist penned himself. Of course the album has the usual dark and twisted themes that run throughout all of CC’s work and what we want to know is where exactly does the inspiration come from to write such violent songs? “The violent stuff comes in after all the music’s done. We’re musicians that write songs, we write music and then we throw the lyrics on there because we’re not an instrumental band. So, yeah, we always try to keep dark themes, like horror film kind of stuff,” says Rob. Yes, lyrics about bunny rabbits wouldn’t quite be the same would they? “Yeah,” laughs the axe man, “Any other sort of lyrical content would, to us at least, not fit what we’re going for with the music.”

Again, we have to agree, death metal music is far too heavy not to have equally heavy themes. And besides their fans seem to like it, even if the establishments don’t. From Australia to their home turf, the US of A, CC have been banned in quite a few places over the years. However, it’s the country of Germany that really took a disliking to them, so much so that the band couldn’t even announce their track titles on their last show there. “We just played in Munich several days ago,” explains Rob, “and the government didn’t want us to announce any of our song titles, and we couldn’t play two songs off the ‘Torture’ album. We just replaced the two songs, George (the singer) didn’t say anything about the names of the tracks and then everything was okay.”

That’s pretty bizarre but not as strange as the rules the they had imposed on them the time before that, “Last time, we couldn’t play anything off the first three albums. They change it every time and I don’t understand how it’s helping anything. I don’t get it at all… The fans had to be able to show that they were eighteen years old just to see our merchandise.” It’s hard not to laugh when you hear these stories but for Rob and his bandmates, these restrictions can be very inconvenient. “It is a hassle sometimes, you know it defiantly digs into our routine when we have to change what we’re used to doing but at the end of the day I think it’s just making more attention in a positive way for us.”

Indeed it is, and whilst censoring the band may have momentarily stunted some of their gigs and sales, it has never stunted their abilities or desires to make the music they love, which is why they are still here today, after twenty-five years at the top of the death metal totem pole. Did Rob ever imagine CC running this long? “No I never really imagined it. Honestly, I don’t really know what I was thinking back then, other than that I loved playing guitar and that I wanted to be in a band. It just became part of my life, it’s what I do.” Robs adds that he would “still be doing it [music] even if we didn’t have the following because I’m doing the music for myself first” but he also says that, “it’s great that we have a good amount of people that appreciate what we’re doing.”

That they do, Rob, that they do. This answer marks the end of our chat, but not before we ask the guitarist to do us a little favour: could he hold a small sign up, dedicated to our friend who had to work instead of come to the gig? “Sure,” he says, even going upstairs to work it over with a Sharpie before the picture so that the writing is visible. SNAP. We have the picture and he has our utmost thanks. There aren’t many well established musicians, or people for that matter, who would be so thoughtful.

Original article first appeared on the Vibrations site on 09/04/2013

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