CANNIBAL CORPSE's ROB BARRETT: Why I Stopped Headbanging During Live Shows

January 5, 2024

During an appearance on a recent episode of the "Riffhard" podcast, CANNIBAL CORPSE guitarist Rob Barrett spoke about the evolution of his live performance as he approaches his 55th birthday. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "You have to be aware of your abilities. It's the same as an athlete — you don't see any championship athletes still doing it in their 50s at the level that they did at their 20s. So you really have to be smart about trying to maintain that level as long as you can."

He continued: "I stopped headbanging probably four or five years ago. I felt like I had done it enough to the point where I just grandfathered myself in and I was, like, 'Hey, Tony Iommi ain't headbanging.' I think if your riffs are good enough, you don't need to prove yourself physically and visibly like that. And aside from that, all the other guys [in my band] are headbanging like crazy around me. So I just felt like I didn't need to do it anymore. And I play better live because I'm not halfway focused on, 'Oh, I need to headbang at this speed during this part.' It's like you're driving a stick shift — you've gota change gears with riffs. Now I'm just focused on the guitar and not having to do something else along with it."

Asked if ever hurt himself while performing live or he felt like he was "getting close" to hurting himself, Rob said: "I didn't hurt myself. I mean, there was definitely times where I'd be, like, 'Jesus, I've pulled something in my neck' or 'My back's killing me' — something seemed out of socket for a little minute or two. But it wasn't to the point where the chiropractor was saying, 'Oh, it looks like you got in a car accident.' But I've heard some people actually have that said to them, and that's something that — you might end up not being able to walk eventually. I mean, it didn't scare me into not wanting to do it anymore. Sometimes, if you don't headbang at the right pace or something, it just doesn't look right, and I think I felt like I was getting to that point. I'd see videos and I'd be, like, 'Wow, I'm starting to look dumb doing that.' So I just stopped doing it."

Elaborating on when he decided that he had had enough of headbanging, Rob said: "Yeah, I think I did pretty well at least up to my 30s. As soon as I hit my 40s, though, it was just kind of, like, 'Damn, man.' I was almost, like — not dreading it, but just, like, 'Fuck, here we go. I've gotta fucking headbang again.'

"I still love playing guitar, but the headbanging became something that I didn't really wanna do anymore," he added. "I mean, when you've got Corpsegrinder [CANNIBAL CORPSE singer George Fisher] next to you doing those crazy headspins, nobody's looking at me anyway… I'd rather be heard, not seen."

CANNIBAL CORPSE's sixteenth studio album, "Chaos Horrific", was released last September via Metal Blade Records.

CANNIBAL CORPSE recently completed a month-long North American co-headlining tour with MAYHEM. The journey began on September 22 in Nashville, Tennessee and ran through October 21 in Louisville, Kentucky. Support was provided by special guests GORGUTS and BLOOD INCANTATION.

CANNIBAL CORPSE will support Swedish heavy metal icons AMON AMARTH on a North American tour this spring. The 24-date "Metal Crushes All Tour 2024", produced by Live Nation, is set to commence on April 21 and run through May 25. Additional support will come from OBITUARY and FROZEN SOUL.

Photo credit: Alex Morgan

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