Carcass are not chuffed about the way they've been perceived by the metal community and they ain't makin' no secret of it. James Sherry talked to noise merchants Jeff Walker and Michael Amott to find out if they are as bitter and twisted as some would believe.
Carcass are special and different. Compared to the dross that floods and infests the thrash/death scene, day by day, Carcass are a breath of fresh air in terms of originality and breadth of ideas. That's what happens when a band is given the chance to develop, instead of just jumping on the bandwagon - imitating whatever is popular at the time. Something a good percentage of today's death bands are guilty of. Guitarist/vocalist (sic) Jeff Walker explains: "The difference is, all of us listened to hardcore bands at some point or another. Bill and Ken grew up with metal, but Michael and I grew up with stuff like Discharge and Anti-Climax. That's how it gels - our music now is just rock."
"We don't even compare ourselves to all those Roadracer bands," continues Michael. "We think we're head and shoulders above all that."
A modest statement to make, but it does also happen to be true! Earache Records - the home of Carcass and a whole horde of extreme bands has, as I'm sure you're all aware, experienced a great deal of success in the last few years.
Beginning life as a small time, bedroom hardcore distribution service, the label and its creator Dig, have gone from strength to strength, bringing with it a whole new scene, with fans being into the label almost as much as the individual bands. How do Carcass feel about being involved in the whole grindcore, Earache thing?
Jeff: "I know what you're saying about people being into the label, but that has happened a million times before. You know, Neat, Sub Pop, Clay, Crass..."
Michael: "I think that will die out a bit anyway because Earache are putting out more and more diverse stuff! I think there's a lot of kids out there who can't get into whatever John Zorn or Godflesh project is coming up."
Jeff: "We've got absolutely nothing in common with most of those bands anyway! We don't feel that we tie in with the Earache grind thing - we can't help it if Earache advertise it like that, it's not the way we want to be portrayed."
Whether they like it or not though, Carcass are definitely part of that scene. The reason why Morbid Angel or Napalm Death are bigger is due to the simple fact that they had product out at the right time - Carcass didn't.
Jeff: "It's like punk in a way because there's all these bands coming from nowhere, trying to emulate their favourite bands. It's not like we've been left behind, because in the underground Carcass has always been there, but these other bands are getting popular because they've had product out at the right time and we haven't. Let's face it, that's what this fuckin' rock 'n' roll circus is all about; having a record out. All these bands have totally ripped our ideaas off - bands we've toured with that have heard us talking about what we wanted to do with our next record and done it themselves. The funny thing is, they've tried to do it but they've just missed the point completely!"
Yes, it could be said that there are just a few bands in the death metal scene that lack, shall we say, ideas and originality!
"Their idea of being original is sticking thirty second keyboard introductions at the beginning of each track!" states Jeff and in one sentence, sums it up. If death metal as a scene is going to survive the next few years and make an attempt to be taken seriously, then bands, as with heavy metal in general, are going to have to start pushing back the barriers and experimenting with different styles and ideas. Carcass are one of the very few doing this - keeping the sound fresh, raw and alive. The scene is their oyster.