EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MAZURKIEWICZ OF CANNIBAL CORPSE. NO INTRODUCTION NECESSARY!
Seriously. If you don’t know who Paul Mazurkiewicz is, you probably shouldn’t be reading this website.
First of all, I just wanted to say thanks so much for the Centuries of Torment DVD. It’s not only the best band DVD I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the best crash course on Cannibal Corpse anyone could have expected.
Cool, man. Glad you like it.
Yeah definitely, but I was wondering, how does an ambitious project like that comes to fruition?
We were thinking about possibly doing just a piece on the Kill tour and we knew of this Denise Korycki girl who ended up doing the whole thing herself. When we decided to do something in any regard, like maybe on the road with Cannibal Corpse for Kill, she was going to come out for a week at the end of the tour. So she did do that, but it turned into, upon talking to Metal Blade [Records] and talking to us, she actually came up with the idea: “It’s going to be your 20th anniversary, what do you think about expanding on this and making it more of a history of Cannibal Corpse? I can get more in-depth.” And we said “Hey, if you’re willing to tackle a project like this, then sure. let’s do that.” Metal Blade were down with it and all that. So when we decided to do that then she came with us on Kill for the last week of the tour and then it took off from there. Then it was like she’s going to be coming to Tampa a bunch and we were going to Buffalo and she’s going to do all the interviews and finding people and all that. So when it did come to fruition and it was a go, it was really all Denise that was the one. Obviously we had to compile some footage and things like that from our archives, but it was really all her just going here and there interviewing the people that needed to be interviewed and just taking control of the whole project. It was great that she wanted to do it because it might not have come to light if she didn’t really push it. So basically that’s what happened.
So how long did it take to compile all the old footage and new footage as well?
It was over the course of, obviously, a few months. I mean the old footage for us was just a matter of getting it to her, us going through our kind of thing and going “This is maybe interesting, this could work.” On our end it wasn’t that big of a deal. For her it was hours and days of flying here interviewing and spending days and days interviewing everybody and things like that and her editing and getting the footage together. So like I said, 90% of this is just Denise on her own and of course the couple of people that she had to work with in her company, but for us it was quite painless. Couple of days, like I said, we had to fly up to Buffalo [NY]. Myself, Rob [Barrett, guitarist] and Alex [Webster, bassist] would spend a few hours with her here and there, so it eats up some time but in the whole scheme of things when you think of what we had to do in comparison with what she was doing, I mean she was just working her ass off, non-stop around the clock! That was great. She had great dedication and of course I think it shows in the final product because she did an amazing job.
Was it enjoyable for you to walk down memory lane and visit the old spots?
Yeah, of course. It was pretty cool. We don’t do it very often. It’s always in the back of your mind but to actually go to some of these places you know… like the River Rock Café, Alex went there and I’m sure it was a big deal for him, I didn’t go to that [but] just to go “Wow, you’re standing in the River Rock and now it’s a very different place and this is where we had our very first show.” I went to Border City Studios and talked to Dennis Fura, our first producer for our first demo. It brings back some memories and it’s pretty cool because we have a history. For us it’s weird because here we are still doing it, but obviously we think about it: “Man, we have been around for 20 years!” It’s not a short amount of time and we have a history. There’s a lot of things you forget about over the years and things change, and what have you. It was cool to visit all this and to re-establish ourselves with the past. It was fun.
After doing this for so long now, do the tours and shows begin to blur together a bit?
A little bit, it seems like it’s almost impossible not to. Obviously there’s going to be stand-outs and certain situations you cannot forget, but unfortunately a lot of times for me it’s like: “Oh yeah, what tour was that? Oh gosh, I can’t remember. What band?” We’ve done so many, so for me anyways, it is easy to get it all mixed together and muddled.
Do all the interviews blur together, too?
A little bit, too! We do a lot of that as well, so sometimes that does get in the mix and [becomes] easy to forget.
What do you do to keep things fresh when you’re on the road?
You just really try to keep in a routine. I like to keep it a routine of sorts. You try to keep healthy and you’re obviously concentrating on the show at hand. That’s the most important thing, that’s why we’re here, playing to the best of our abilities. So I think at this point you’re not really trying to do anything different, just trying to make the day go and not be too bored. With technology today, obviously, we’re on a nice bus so we can have satellite and get onto the internet and such. It helps to pass some time and keeping the boredom from fully hitting on.
You guys have a lot of really great support bands for this tour [The Faceless, Neuraxis, Obscura]. Did you handpick any of them?
Pretty much. We’re always working close with our booking agents and our management to help get the tour we want and we feel is going to be effective. Of course they help out as well. I know Alex was really pushing for Obscura big time because when he heard that he was really into it. All three of the bands are awesome bands. We have a little say here and there and we just want to make the best tour possible.
And it’s been good playing with them so far?
Yeah, it’s been great. All great bands, everyone’s getting along, we’re having a good time. It’s been a lot of fun.
Good. So congratulations of Evisceration Plague coming out.
Cool, man. Thanks.
I’ve always been impressed with you guys because you continue to make relevant music while still sounding like yourselves. Other bands have sometimes slipped off the path and tried sound like different bands or younger bands but you guys have always stayed the way you are.
Right. Yeah, well that’s the thing. I think that’s what’s kept us around for 20 years, we’re doing what we do. It’s funny, well not funny, but there’s been lulls in metal and death metal since we’ve been formed and a lot of people ask “Oh what was the low point?” Well you know what, man? We’ve never really had a low point. Every album we come out with, every tour we do, we do our thing and we get our fans. Even if “Oh, death metal’s supposed to be dead,” well, we wouldn’t have known because we go into a show, a tour and it’s great! I really think that if you stick true to what you do like we have for the most part; we’re brutal death metal, it’s Cannibal Corpse. I think you can tell the differences over the years, but it’s still Cannibal Corpse and we’re trying to write the best music we can. We’re not going through the motions and I think that’s a big thing. It’s going to go a long way. Fans are going to know what to expect from us, they can count on Cannibal Corpse as opposed to, like you said, some [other] bands. We hated seeing that as fans growing up. A band would come out and we’d be like “Oh my god, they’re my favorite band! Listen to that record!” And then the next record: “Oh man, what happened?!” By the third album they suck. You’re just totally devastated! You’re devastated! It’s devastating when you’re a fan of music like that growing up and it scars you kind of. I know that I’ve felt that personally and we all have. We’ve always been in the same boat where we didn’t like that so we thought: we’re going to go down as a band that never compromised. We did it our own way and that’s that. We’re playing Cannibal Corpse music. Call it whatever you call it, we’re doing what we want to do. We’re able to come here and play shows, and record albums and do whatever, play the world. We’re doing that on our own terms and we’re playing brutal music.
By now has the writing and recording process become routine? Or does it change up each time?
It’s going to be somewhat routine. There’s going to be some different things. We’ve been in there enough and obviously we’ve been doing it enough. I’ve always truly believed that it’s in us and that when we have to really do it we’ll do it. We’ve never had a problem. There’s never been a time in Cannibal Corpses career of going “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what we’re doing. We’re out of ideas! What are we going to do? We got a new album to write!” No, we just do it. New album to write? Ok, let’s get to it, let’s get to work. So we write and we record it and we work to the best of our abilities to get that done. I think it’s just in us. It comes out of the songwriters. Like I said we’ve never had a problem and I think we’re putting out the best piece for that time period. We’re doing it to the best of our abilities. Sometimes it works better than others. I don’t feel our formula has changed too much over the years but why did Kill do better than Gore Obsessed? Or why is Evisceration Plague doing as well as it is? Obviously, we’re just trying to write good songs and maybe society has something to play into that, being that heavy music is more popular than ever, so of course that’s going to help us. I truly believe that we just do what we do and when we’re ready to write we write. When we’re ready to record we obviously learn from our last experience and do some different things a little bit but for the most part you know what to do, you know what to expect. It’s not like we’re going in blind like a new band going into the studio going “What the hell? What’s this? This is crazy.” Over the years you learn and you mature. You can know what to do and what not to do, what to try differently or what have you. I think that’s another reason that’s kept us going: just constant moving. Constantly playing, constantly recording, writing and I would think that we’re doing it with utmost quality.
I would agree.
Besides Evisceration Plague, I also really liked the Making Of DVD that came with it. In addition to that and Centuries, more so than other bands, you guys seem really keen on documenting all the behind the scenes stuff that comes with the band.
Yeah, why not?
Is there a reason for that sort of transparency?
Not really. If you’re going to make a “Making Of,” you want to make it interesting and not just be like “Oh that was nothing.” I don’t know. You’ve got Denise at the helm again doing that DVD. She’s going to get more in-depth I think, and that’s cool. We’ve never done [anything] up until Centuries, well we did Live Cannibalism that really didn’t have much in the way of behind the scenes footage. I guess the Making of The Wretched Spawn was really the first glimpse of behind the scenes with us but really when you look at even that one in comparison with Evisceration Plague, the Evisceration is definitely much more about what we’re doing in the studio as opposed to the ranch. It wasn’t as in-depth into the whole recording process as I think more of the Evisceration one is. I think it’s just about time. A lot of people don’t really know who we are and what goes on so why not give them a good in-depth look. It’s not like we’ve done this our whole career. So that’s why it was good to do the whole Centuries thing and why not open it up for the “Making Of?” We just have to make it as interesting as possible or else people aren’t really going to care about it.
Do you see yourselves working with Erik Rutan in the future?
That’s a hard question to answer. I can definitely see that but I can also see us wanting to try something different. It’s hard to say at this point. If you talk to anyone about the two albums he’s done for us, and he’s done an amazing job. It’s a tough position to be in because you can say “let’s try something new and fresh” or you can stick with what’s working. I can definitely see us working with him in the future, of course.
Now when I was watching the DVD the one thing I kept thinking was that when Erik Rutan smiles, he looks just like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
Do you agree?
You know, I don’t know that. I can’t really remember Alice in Wonderland too much, so I’d have to see it again to make that comparison [laughs].
Ok. Another thing I noticed on Centuries is that Brian Slagel praises you guys for having become intelligent businessmen as well as being a fantastic band. I was curious if you’d noticed any effects that the economic recession has had on the business of metal?
Luckily, not for us. Everyone was worried that the economy was so bad, [about] the state of the record industry, CD’s aren’t selling what they used to be, but then how did we sell 10, 000 in the first week, more than ever? I think we’re defying logic. Getting back to how death metal was supposed to be dead in the mid-90’s, well, don’t tell that to Cannibal Corpse and Cannibal Corpse fans, because they were out in numbers and we were recording records and doing, like I said, world tours! Luckily in certain ways it might not affect us as much. It might affect bigger artists. It’s funny when you hear a big artist going “Well yeah, the album flopped because we only sold 10 million copies” because they sold 22 million [copies] of the record before that, so it’s a flop selling 10 million and the economy is bad so people aren’t buying [records]. In the scheme of things I think for us and metal and death metal it’s not as bad. We wouldn’t have noticed. For us just selling the amount of records we have and the tour’s been doing great… What recession? What economy? What’s the problem? Here we are playing metal, selling records and doing what we’ve always done.
Same as ever.
Do you have any advice for younger bands trying make music their career on the business side of things?
Not really, you just have to try what you do because you can’t look at it that kind of way. It’s not like we started going “Dude, we’re going to be huge. This is going to be my job, we’re going to make a business.” No, you can’t look at it that way, man. You got to look at it like “I’m in a band, let’s write the music that we like to write.” If good things happen from that then that’s killer, man. You just got stay positive and stick to what you want to do as an artist. I think that proves in music and in anything in life. If you want to do it you got to have that want and that will to succeed. It doesn’t mean you’re going to but if you don’t try you’ll never know. We started out as being musicians and luckily we had decent heads on our shoulders to be able to figure things out and not be complete idiots going “Dude, we just play music. We don’t know anything about anything.” Luckily we knew things about other facets like the business side and things like that. So if anything just go to school! If you go to school and you’re fairly intelligent you can figure things out. That’s what we did, it’s not like any of us went to business school or tried to become managers. We’re well-educated in a sense where you can figure things out if you’re not an idiot [laughs]. I would say just stay true to what you want to do and hopefully good things happen. That’s really all you can do.
I just a had a couple more questions. Firstly, can we expect another DVD in 20 years?
That’d be nice, you know, the next 20 years. It’s hard to say at this point. Obviously, we just take it more as a day-by-day thing. We’ve been around 20 plus years, we’re all getting up there. We feel great, we feel good so there’s no end in sight but you never know. I would hope that, yeah it would be great to do something like that again and have a next 20 years sort of a thing. We’ll see what happens, only time will tell.
My last question was just out of curiosity. Florida is a really popular place for Canadians to go to retire, but where do Floridians retire to?
Yeah, good question. I guess they just stay at home. They’re already there, so not much moving going on. I think that’s pretty much what happens.
But it will be a while before Cannibal Corpse retires, right?
It looks that way, man. Like I said, we take it day-by-day now. Who’s to say that it couldn’t go on for another 20 years? As long as we feel good and we’re feeling like we’re still on top of it. You don’t want to feel like you’re just going through the motions just because. We don’t want to be 50 year old men up there just playing because we don’t know anything else. That’s not good either. I think as long as we feel good about ourselves and the music we’re playing and we can go up and do it in a convincing manner there’s no end in sight. Unfortunately, the way it goes now a days, you get up there in age and you just never know. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Sure. Do you have any last words to add?
I just appreciate the interview and appreciate the support from all the fans. Canadian fans especially, we know the new album has been doing really well up here and the video did well. We’re just happy for all the support and keep it up.