DATE OF INTERVIEW:
31st March 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: There’s an outtake from the DVD online where you randomly met Jesse Jackson at an airport…in Belgium was that?
ALEX WEBSTER: Yeah, that was at the Brussels Airport and we had just played Graspop, and we’d probably managed to squeeze in a couple of hours sleep somewhere before heading to the airport. So we’re at the airport at six in the morning, Denise films us doing our stuff because she wants to show everybody life on the road so she’s got her camera out, and it’s a fairly big camera, you know, it looks like a TV camera…
(Alex Webster on meeting Jesse Jackson at Brussels airport)
"...it was a pretty big deal to meet him. I mean, he’s somebody who could call the president and there we are hanging out with him at six in the morning!"
Cannibal Corpse - uncredited promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
MD: Not too discrete!
AW: Yeah, and I think that might’ve gotten his attention so he was kinda looking and thinking, who are these guys? So he came over and started talking to us, and a really nice guy. You can see why a person like him ends up doing the things he does because he’s just one of those people that’s really good with people. He’s just very easy to talk to, a very nice person, and gives off a really warm vibe. In the States, he is extremely famous. I don’t know about over there…
MD: Oh, he’s known of here, yeah.
AW: Here, he’s a well known public figure and has been for almost half a century at this point. He was friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. and everything, who’s an extremely, extremely famous person. So, yeah, it was a pretty big deal to meet him. I mean, he’s somebody who could call the president and there we are hanging out with him at six in the morning! [laughs] And it all happened very quickly and Denise captured it on film. Right afterwards we were like, “wow, did that just really happen?!”
MD: That’s just totally random!
AW: Yeah, you travel enough and you do occasionally have those weird kind of things happen. I’ll tell you an old story if you want to hear one real quick…
MD: Yeah, definitely.
AW: When we first started touring in 1991, the first year that we really did any touring where you could actually call it a tour…we’d just finished a tour of Europe, we got back home to the States, and then we were gonna fly to Mexico to play in Mexico for the first time, way back in November 1991. If you remember, that’s right around the time The Black Album by Metallica came out, the Fall of 1991. So we’re on our ‘Butchered At Birth’ album, you know, our second album had come out and we’re feeling that people are starting to learn who we are. We were at the stop over from Buffalo – we flew Buffalo to Chicago, Chicago to Mexico City. At Chicago we walk in and see this guy with long hair and a leather jacket and the first thing we say is, “oh, he’s into metal, maybe he knows who we are”, and then we get a closer look and, “hey, it’s Jason Newsted”.
AW: Unbelievable. That was like the first famous person we’d met and he was in a band that we liked so we walked up to him and talked to him and, “wow, Jason Newsted, awesome”. I can’t remember if he’d heard of us or not but, anyway, a kind of cool story that shows what a great guy he is - our guitar player, Jack, he had a girlfriend at the time who’s a really, really big fan of Metallica and he walked up to Jason later because Jason was at a different gate – we’re all waiting at our gate and Jason was at the next gate over. Jack goes over and asks him for an autograph and he says - “Sure. You and your girlfriend like us? I’ll put you on the guestlist for all the American shows.” [laughs] So he put ‘em on the guestlist and gave ‘em backstage passes for most of ‘em too!
MD: How cool is that?! That’s amazing!
AW: Yeah, just meeting a guy in the airport, you know, meeting a fan and doing something that nice for him because he didn’t have to do that. So we never forgot that. Jason Newsted is just a really good dude. I’ve never met the rest of ‘em but I met him and, like I said, I was always impressed because he had just bought five copies of Rolling Stone which had his face on the cover along with the other three guys from Metallica to take home and give to his family. He was on his way home and we just happened to meet him in Chicago. I guess that had an impact, you know, no matter how big you are you can still be a nice person and cool to your fans, and going out of your way for them, and if you can do it, do it while you’re here. That kind of stuff with me, if Jason Newsted can do it, we definitely can. We’re never gonna be as big as Metallica, so we always take time out and try to talk to as many fans as we can.
MD: I guess the equivalent recently would’ve been Jesse Jackson inviting you to the Whitehouse or something!
AW: Yeah! [laughs] Well, I suspect that Jesse Jackson never found out what band it was he was talking to!
MD: Oh, you didn’t actually introduce yourselves?
AW: No, no, it was fairly quick. We mostly let him do the talking because we were all kind of stunned to meet him, really. It wasn’t the other way around! He didn’t know who we were. He knew we were a band and we told him, “oh yeah, we’re just playing some shows around Europe, so what are you doing?”, and then he went on to tell us that he was over, I believe, part of it was him talking to some people about trying to get more aid to Haiti because of the earthquake crisis ongoing there and then, also, I think they were in Belgium to celebrate Congo’s independence from Belgium.
MD: Talking of random things, I stumbled across a clip on YouTube recently of the lounge music arrangement of ‘Rancid Amputation’ by The Chaser. I presume you’ve seen that?
AW: [laughs] Yeah, sure. It’s so awesome!
MD: What do you actually make of that?
AW: It’s just so funny! It’s one of the funniest things anyone’s ever done, you know, parodying us. We’ve been subject to a lot of parodies – you do something as extreme and crazy as making an extreme gore metal band and then you become relatively popular like we have, people are gonna be like, “what the hell is this?!” and make a joke about it…[laughs] We were completely comfortable with that. We take what we do very seriously – we want to make great horror and make great music. We’re serious about what we do; we don’t support violence or anything like that and we’ve always made that clear in a number of interviews, but we want to make great horror entertainment. But, if people want to make fun of it we’re completely okay with that too. And especially if they do such a great job of it like that guy did! [laughs]
MD: Definitely. And I saw it as a nice tribute too rather than just a parody and taking the piss kind of thing. It was a nice tribute as well.
AW: I agree. I think he actually kind of did us a favour as he brought up a good point. He was like, “hey, look, I’m gonna sing these same words but I’m gonna sing ‘em in a goofy, humorous way, and why am I not censored?” It’s because of the music, and that’s what he said. He makes a brilliant point with his comedy. I can’t tell you how much we think that little clip rules. As I said, out of all the stuff people have done parodying us and having fun, I think that is the most clever of all of ‘em.
MD: Exactly, which is what all good parody should be with an interesting political point in there, and changing the musical context of the words he’s reciting it becomes acceptable, particularly on what I’m presuming is mainstream Australian TV. It’s quite amazing, really.
AW: Yeah, it’s really pretty brilliant. I’m super impressed and kind of flattered that a comedian that talented did something on us too. It was really cool and nice because he did it right before our return to Australia and we hadn’t been there in many years. At that time, there had been a terrible tragedy in Australia, like some sort of a serial killer murder had happened, in Perth I believe, so they were feeling it was a bit insensitive. Certain elements over in Australia thought it was offensive to have this band who sung about serial killers coming over at a time like this, and that’s why he brought this up, like come on, you know, the band has nothing to do with the horrible crime that happened over there. We appreciated that kind of call to reason through comedy; it was well appreciated.
MD: And that clip’s had over two million views on YouTube so great attention for the band too.
AW: Yeah, we certainly had a great tour when we played Australia. That’s one of our favourite places to play. We don’t get there very often so, when we go, we want it to be good and it was really good.
MD: You should get that guy to support you at a gig at some point, I think.
AW: Well, we want to meet him. We’ve never met him. If he ever wanted to come out and bust up that song between bands or something, like when the opening band’s tearing down and we’re setting up, he’s welcome.
MD: You should get him to do a whole set of Cannibal Corpse songs in that style! That would be brilliant…and weird!
AW: That would be very hard for us to do a convincing, heavy set right after! [laughs]
MD: It might be tougher on him!
AW: But yeah, man, we were really impressed. A very funny comedian who did it and the message was also good.
MD: So how was the whole Bloodstock experience for you last year because, remarkably, over twenty years in existence, that was your first UK festival show?
AW: Yeah, you know, it actually is. I mean, we’ve done festival tour things a long, long time ago…or maybe not. Now that I think about it, I think that is really the first thing that’s even close to being a festival that we’ve played. And then, obviously, it was a great big killer festival and we loved it. That was just a really good day. We had a number of really good days last summer playing some of these big festivals and seeing all these different bands. It’s a great thing to do these shows because you get to meet a lot of new bands that you haven’t met before. Also, you’re running into people that you’ve toured with a lot. You know, people that you’ve known for years. We’ve never actually toured with Suffocation but we’ve known them for a long, long time. They played early on so we never got to see them as we were still working our way through customs, I think…or, you know what, we passed customs with them together so they must’ve went right to the site after they got off the plane whereas we might’ve gone to catch a couple of hours sleep at the hotel before we went to the festival. But, regardless, we know those guys and we ran into them there and that was fun. Nick Barker was there and he’s a good friend of ours that we’ve known for close to…nineteen years we’ve known Nick.
MD: Ah right, yeah, from his Cradle days when you toured with them years ago.
AW: Yeah, but originally from his Monolith days…a Swedish death metal kind of band. We toured with them in 1992 and Anathema as opening support…our 1992 tour of the UK. And that was the first time we had played the UK, I think…yeah, our first UK shows were in 1992 with Monolith and Anathema opening for us. We still run into Anathema once in a while too and they’re still great guys. It’s great to see people that we’ve known so long and you run into those opportunities at the festivals. It’s like a big metal family reunion. So we really enjoy it and the crowd at Bloodstock too was amazing. I mean, I’ve seen some YouTube footage of the pits for ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ from an audience perspective and I’m like, wow, you almost feel like you’re in the middle of a riot or something like that! So we were super impressed with the whole festival.
MD: Bloodstock is still a growing festival too – last year was the first time they hit over 10,000 people.
AW: So Download is the established one then Bloodstock is the up and coming one…
MD: Yeah, Bloodstock is the biggest independently run festival in this country. You need to do Download next, of course, or maybe Sonisphere.
AW: Yeah, you know, we’re definitely looking at trying to do either one of those and we want to return and do Bloodstock again too.