Carcass are locked in a war of words with their old record company, Earache.
The two parties started rucking after Carcass split in the Spring to team up with the massive Columbia organisation - where the Scouse Grind troupe already had a US licensing deal. Currently in record company limbo, the band allege that their last - and most accomplished - album, Heartwork, is no longer getting a push.
Presently on the road in the States, Carcass are now writing material for the follow-up to last year's Heartwork disc. It will be the first to feature 20-year-old guitarist Carlo Regadas, and will finally sever the band's contract with Nottingham indie Earache.
Explains drummer Ken Owen: "Heartwork was our last record for Earache, which covers Europe and the rest of the world, except for America which goes through Columbia on a licensing deal. Now we're signed to Columbia, but Earache still own Heartwork. So Columbia can't really promote it or handle it!"
Sighs frontman Jeff Walker: "Any other record company would still carry on selling Heartwork, but we're not talking about any record company! Earache don't even wanna talk about us! On the next UK tour, we'll just be doing it ourselves - probably with no press!"
"If we didn't have this problem with promoting, we'd be selling even more records!" he reckons. "But we could spend the whole conversation dissing Earache, and we really don't wanna do that. It'll come out in my book, soon!"
Of the Columbia signing, he ventures: "For the first time we're gonna be on a record company who are gonna use hype and all the usual bullshit that other bands get and we've never had!"
"It will be interesting to see what happens. We've done the groundwork, and we've taken it as far as we can go, being a 'cult' band, if y'like."
Walker admits that the band have really had to get their act together since the last album.
"We're at the point now where we have to take things more seriously. Columbia are really into what we're doing," he assures, "and they're trying to build a really good roster up. They got rid of stuff like Warrant or whatever, and now they've got Corrosion of Conformity, The Obsessed, Carcass..."
Is a major label daunting?
Ken: "I don't find any pressure. Columbia have seen our development since Day One. They know we're gonna write a better album than the last one, because we know we're gonna write one."
How about the moral aspects of signing to a major?
"What morality's involved?" frowns Jeff. "There's not much difference between indies and majors at the end of the day, except major labels are probably more brutal than an indie at screwing bands up!"
"Independent music was bought out a long time ago! Most indies now have links with EMI, or Sony - and you can rag on a major label all y'like, but the music isn't gonna sell out or go commercial! We're not gonna try and water it down, and that's all that matters. We've still got the same mentality."
"We've got some ideas kicking around," says guitarist Bill Steer of new Carcass material. "Riffs, words. We haven't had a chance to do much more than that."
Adds a confident Walker: "I really don't feel any trepidation whatsoever about the next album. I don't think it'll be any problem at all. It'll just be a case of writing songs for a month!"
On the question of UK live dates, Ken chimes in: "We haven't really toured properly here for Heartwork, but we'll remedy that by touring later this year."
In the meantime, the only definite new Carcass item on the way is a promo video for 'No Love Lost' - a clip which Walker jokes he may have to deliver to MTV's Vanessa Warwick personally, as Earache are unlikely to!
When asked by Kerrang! for a comment, a spokesman for Earache said: "We wish Carcass every success with their new record deal and sincerely hope that they become the next Metallica!"