Joseph Schafer of Invisible Oranges recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker of reactivated British extreme metal pioneers CARCASS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Invisible Oranges: To me, “Surgical Steel” sounds at its heart to be a very sad record.
Walker: You think?
Invisible Oranges: I think so.
Walker: If anything, “Heartwork” and “Swansong” were, lyrically, very serious. This is a throwback to the old days of CARCASS, where it was very lighthearted. But this is cool because you’re extracting something from this album. Which is fine. I’m not here to dictate how people should perceive or enjoy this album. People who look at the lyrics and titles and think what the fuck they want are ultimately fragile and stupid. There’s no real agenda here, no real issues, nobody’s trying to brainwash anyone. I’m not Barney Greenway [NAPALM DEATH]. You can look at it at whatever level you like. You can view the lyrics as throwaway, or look very deep into it, and that’s fine. People keep asking me what the chorus is, the numbers on “The Dark Granulating Satanic Mills”, and I’m not going to say. I’ve heard some interesting theories as to what those numbers are about, and that is far more interesting than the reality.
Invisible Oranges: Would you describe to me the moment when you realized you were happy doing CARCASS again.
Walker: The first rehearsal. I was just happy to be playing with Bill [Steer, guitar] again. He’s a far superior musician to me, and a far superior human being as well. It was cool to be back where we started.
Invisible Oranges: It really seems like, retroactively, CARCASS is the relationship between you two.
Walker: Yes, you could argue that. If I hadn’t met Bill, Bill would have achieved musically, but I don’t think CARCASS would have existed, so in that sense you’re right. But the central songwriter of CARCASS has always been in flux. In the old days it was Ken [Owen, drums] who wrote a hell of a lot of the riffs. If you look at “Reek”, we had an equal three-way split. On “Symphonies”, Bill started doing more, and I did more of the lyrics. “Necroticism” is 95 percent Ken and Bill. Mike [Amott, guitar] came in at the end with one riff. “Heartwork” was all Bill and Mike’s riffs. So as you can see the core of the band is constantly changing in terms of who’s writing the riffs. On “Surgical Steel”, it’s all Bill who’s coming up with the riffs. The more I think of it, you can’t really call the band mine and Bill’s because in the past so much of it really was Ken. Ken cast a long shadow on this album, and his ghost is in the drumming, is in the lyrics and the songtitles. And he even tracked some backing vocals. He’s still there in spirit very much.
Invisible Oranges: That’s sort of poetic considering the way he is mixed into the record, his vocals are lower, so he almost literally is a ghost in the songs.