Now 25 years deep in the guts of a career in the genre it helped to forge, Cannibal Corpse is still considered the quintessential death-metal group. The Buffalo, New York-based goremongers have somehow managed to keep the quality of their records consistently high while maintaining the original vision that placed them forever in the (eviscerated and still beating) hearts of the metal community -- and on the blacklists of censorship-bent politicians and parents everywhere.
Now touring on its 12th full-length release, Cannibal Corpse is next up on the docket of world-class heavy metal hitting Miami's Grand Central. County Grind caught up with founding member, drummer, and nicest guy ever Paul Mazurkiewicz to discuss the band's longevity, trends in heavy-metal drumming, and just how good Bad Company is, in preparation for tomorrow night's "relentless beating."
New Times: South Florida loves heavy metal, but we particularly love death metal. Would you consider Florida the best place to play death metal in the world?
Paul Mazurkiewicz: I don't know about that. I don't know if it really fully ever was. Of course, it has a great scene, and a lot of great bands came out of Florida, and that might be more of a misconception because of that -- especially Tampa -- when you look at all of the bands that spawned from there.
There's are a lot of great places to play in the country, you know? And it's not like we come down to Florida and they're the best shows, but to say it's like the capital or that it has the most death-metal fans is a misconception. But great shows, and we always have a great time when we're playing there, of course.
How has this tour been so far?
It's been great, man! We're almost done playing with Misery Index and Hour of Penance. We had some great shows! It's a little short one for us, only like 18 or 19 dates, but it's been a success, and we've got four more to go!
As an originator of the death-metal style, how do you feel about the athletic direction metal drumming has gone in?
It's obviously taken on a life of its own since extreme music started out; it's a lot different than when I started playing, of course. There weren't really the drummers or really the musicians of today. You know, if the music's good, that's really all that matters. It turned into a competition -- who can have the fastest drummer and who can play the most technical and what have you -- I think that's not the way to look at it. To me, it's always been about playing for the song, and it doesn't have to be 100,000 miles an hour. To each their own, but in my personal view and perspective, it doesn't have to be that way.
I look at someone like Dave Lombardo, who has been my idol and the guy I've looked up to growing up and makes me do what I do, and you watch him play and he's a great drummer, and he's fast and all that, but he's got taste, he's got flavor, he knows when to lay back, and that's what I really like to do. There's a lot of great drummers, and it took it to another level and it can be very athletic and physical, but as long as the music and the songs are good, that's all that really matters. So if you're playing that fast, make sure you have some good songs, because it's only going to go so far in my eyes.
The way everything has gone now, a 9-year-old can go online and see a drummer just blazing, and that's all they know, and I look at it as running before walking kind of, but to each their own.
Looking back, did you ever think Cannibal Corpse would become your career?
It's crazy, dude! Here we are 24 years later and still doing what we do, arguably better than ever, and still relevant and all that, so it's remarkable. We never would have guessed, thought, speculated, or even dreamt about that. We just started playing music as kids. Playing music we loved to play and expressing ourselves. We always had the attitude of "We're doing this for ourselves," and we just took it day by day, you know? We always thought of writing the next song or playing the next show and nothing farther than that. So for the things that have happened to us, it's just like, wow! We never would have thought ever that this would be our career for this long. It's a dream come true, and we're very fortunate and lucky to be in this situation, and we don't take it for granted -- which is probably big part of why we're still around today.
I know you're a big classic-rock fan; have you been getting into any obscurities lately?
Aw, man! Late '60s early '70s hard rock is my passion! I love finding old bands that I didn't know existed and digging back into catalogs and hearing stuff that isn't on the radio all the time. I always bring up Steppenwolf because they really got me going in the last five years into digging deep into finding other bands and moreover seeking albums and songs from the bands we do hear a lot from, that people don't always dig deeper into. I've got a buddy out in Germany that hooked me up with a bunch of CDs from bands from the late '60s early '70s that I had never even heard of, but the one that has really gotten me the most these days is Bad Company!
We played Sweden Rock with them over the summer, and I saw them live for the first time, and it was basically a reunion with all of the original guys, except the bass player, who passed ten years ago. But that show blew me away! Paul Rogers sounded amazing, and it made me appreciate them so much more, and I can't stop listening to that first album lately!