Brendan Crabb of Australia's Loud magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Bill Steer of reactivated British extreme metal pioneers CARCASS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Loud: Due to your hiatus there was more than 15 years between CARCASS albums, do you feel that ethos was beneficial when you were writing "Surgical Steel", that you could just create music that wasn't informed by anything other than your own creativity?
Bill: Yes. [Laughs] I think it was very beneficial, because we would have driven ourselves crazy if we really sat down and analyzed what would be an appropriate record for us to make in this current climate. Speaking personally, I don't think it's very impressive when an older band comes back and tries to keep up with the young guns, tries to have some new, modern edge to what they do. Firstly, it would have been dishonest in our case, because we genuinely don't like the direction that a lot of new metal has taken. But also, it would have just been embarrassing, because you just can't fake that kind of thing. So it's better to stick with the influences that you really feel, and just specialize, do what you do best. And also avoid things that don't suit you. [Laughs]
Loud: Were you a little taken aback by how seemingly universally acclaimed "Surgical Steel" was, though?
Bill: Yeah, very much so. I was prepared for a lot more in the way of slagging. Of course there was some, but it was just less than I expected. I mean, the whole thing took us by surprise. I was just thinking there'd be a substantial cluster of hardcore CARCASS fans around the world that would pick the album up and probably love it. And I figured it'd mostly be ignored by the rest of the metal world. We were very fortunate; it received a hell of a lot of attention, sold fairly well and it's being spoken about like it's a genuine addition to the CARCASS catalogue, which is how we view it. It's just lovely that other people feel the same way.
Loud: Indeed. I like much of the "Swansong" record actually, but at the time of the band's initial demise it was viewed as a disappointing finale. Were you anticipating some fans or critics would almost be cheerleading you to success; expressing sentiments like, "Well, at least it's better than 'Swansong',' for instance — those types of backhanded compliments?
Bill: Yeah, we definitely have had some of those. But I guess with "Swansong", I've said this a few times, I guess it's become the album that people feel obliged to say they hate, even if they haven't maybe heard it properly. I do know some people where it's the exact opposite; they find that their number one CARCASS album. So there's no hard-and-fast rule about this, but I just noticed as a fan of music myself, people tend to, with an artist who's done a string of albums, they tend to take on one record in particular as being the weak album, or the mistake or whatever. After a while, it's not even so much an opinion [as] it's just a platitude, this little soundbite that gets trotted out time and time again. And if people repeat something enough times, they start to believe it. If you look at BLACK SABBATH, there are a lot of people who just dismiss the "Born Again" album as being ridiculous because Ian Gillan's on it. But, I don't know, if I'm really into a band or an artist, I like to hear everything, and even give the records that didn't initially grab me a chance. I think "Swansong" has become one of those records. It's by no means a perfect album, it's not nearly as balanced as "Heartwork", but it has things on there that are unique to that record. For all of its faults, I think Jeff [Walker, bass/vocals] and myself are still fond of it.
Read the entire interview at Loud magazine.