Cannibal Corpse Interview w/Drummer – Paul Mazurkiewicz (Video)
Cannibal Corpse with almost 33-year history and its own mind-blowing death metal assault has always added so much musical progress to their core sound and dynamism in each of their albums, and from past to present, they have been evolving musically and influencing the evolution of death metal through every decade and every line-up without compromising since 1988! Along with their latest album Violence Unimagined’s release,they have just dominated the first semester of 2021 so far! We got the chance to do an exclusive interview with Paul Mazurkiewicz ,the founding member and drummer of Cannibal Corpse. It’s a good chat with his detailed and cool answers. Enjoy!
-Hello Paul. Welcome. By the way Congratulations on your last album Violence Unimagined! What are you guys doing with this killer piece of art of brutality nowadays?
Thank you very much! Wow, wow! You know, just here we are released our 15th record. Really happy the fans are really embraced it. I mean, great numbers for the first couple of weeks throughout the world. You know, for the sales of the record, which is incredible. We are just really happy that the fans are digging it. That we are able to keep going into doing this 33 years and plus at this point. So you know, keep the ball rolling and here we go. Yeah, we are just happy to get this finally out as well amidst all this craziness and everything. It should’ve been out last November but what do you do? A little bit of a delay and all of that but finally it’s out. The fans are digging it and we are really excited about that.
So from the fans and the press, the reactions are really cool? What kind of reactions did you take from fans and press until now?
Great reactions. I mean, amazing. This is our biggest seller of all time right now. For the first of a week or two of sales. We’d never sold many copies upon release of a cd or a record. All the interview I’ve done and all things you read about the fans are saying are just great, great response. Very positive response. Ever since really we released our single Inhumane Harvest a couple of months ago, that was really big. A lot of talks. a lot of positivity just from that song. But yeah now but it’s out and really happy we are and all the amazing reactions from the press and fans are really awesome.
Glad to hear that. Let’s talk about this album again. What structures, tunes and ideas did you focus on while you were composing Violence Unimagined?
You know, just the usual stuff. You know, we don’t really stray away from our material in the subject matter if we’re talking lyrically. We do what we do, we didn’t change it up too much at all. You know it’s Cannibal Corpse. And musically, the next step in the game really. Next chapter, try to write some intense songs. Try to write what comes of us. We don’t really think about it too much. We’ve been doing it for so long. We’ve put out 15 records in 33 years. Now it’s crazy. One every two years we are doing it basically. You have to have time to create. We are not a band just sitting around. When we are ready, we’ll get to it. “Hey, we need time.” No. When the time is made to write and create and record we do at that point. We just, whatever comes out of us at a given time. As I said, we’ve been around for a long time, a matured band, we experienced a lot. We are just getting better as songwriters, we’re just trying to write better songs like I said doing it in a time frame that we are given. So here are, that’s Violence Unimagined. When we wrote, we came up with really good songs.
Really all songs are pretty catchy and brutal. So let’s talk about the recording and production process of Violence Unimagined. What could you say about it?
It’s just the same as always basically. We are recording at Mana Studios with Eric. This is the 15th one we did. We are no strangers to the studio now of course for doing that for so many years. We are just prepared as we can. In-studio you are wasting time and you are wasting money if you are not prepared. We really try to be prepared as much as we can. As we go into the studio and belt this out. So I think that’s just what I like I said, goes with experience. We know what to expect and we’ve done it with given time. Nothing changed too much. The only difference was that Alex actually couldn’t record his bass tracks in Florida. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Amidst all pandemic, he wasn’t able to travel and he had to record his bass tracks in his home studio which was fine, it all worked great. But that was kind of the only a little bit of a difference we had to contend with but it didn’t really make a difference at all because he did a great job. He has the ability to do that and he did. We made work so it’s business as usual when it comes down to recording these days.
By the way, you just mentioned Erik Rutan and his Mana Studio. Erik Rutan is on the rank of Cannibal Corpse as a full-time axe shredder. How did it happen? What can you say about Erik’s participation in the Cannibal Corpse in this album?
He wrote 3 songs and it’s a big thing of course. He wrote 3 songs, he composed them, wrote the lyrics and all that so obviously now that Erik’s in the band. He is, of course, he tributes as much as possible. Like I said we worked with him many times in the past. The 5th cd he is actually produced. We knew him for a long time, like forever. We were on a tour with him and things like that. He is a good friend living in the area. Obviously, when everything happens, we finished off the touring with Red Before Black, he was on a few tours with us. When it all came to be, it was really a brainer not to want to get him in the band and he felt the same way, had a mutual feeling for that. And it was great to work with him in this sense now. We have a new take on Cannibal Corpse, this version of Cannibal Corpse. The 3 songs he wrote, Erik Rutan, but Erik Rutan writing for Cannibal Corpse. It fits into that style. I think his songs turn out great, great fit for what we do. Great for him to have this contribution what of the band.
So he put some new songs on the table and you are going there well about that as far I understand. Really happy to hear that. You have just released a sick video for the song called Necrogenic Resurrection. Could you tell us the story and production behind it? How was it shot? It was pretty interesting and brutal by the way.
It turned out great. Both videos turned out great. Inhumane Harvest and Necrogenic Resurrection. They were done by David Brodsky. He worked with us in the past with Kill or Become.. He’s done in taste the concrete. Great director, the great team he has got. When it comes down to the video these days since of course, you noticed we are not in the videos. We were not there in filming They are all filmed somewhere else. Since we are not involved in being in them, we leave it up to the director to do his job. He wants to stay true to what the song is about. He gives us a little bit of an idea of what he is coming for. Talked to whoever wrote the song lyrically. Alex wrote Necrogenic so he was working more with him. But when it comes down to what it is, it is more question for him, we don’t know the details of what he does o get these things done. the worst thing that everybody else does of course you know, “Hey, here is the final video here, what do you think? “ “Oh my god this is amazing! How did they do this? This is like a movie.” Amazing stuff, so. It a great representation of what the song is about and it’s definitely Cannibal Corpse, he knows it needs to be that, yeah, it turned out great.
Pretty good and feels like a movie, actually. You have a solid brand sound and song structures totally belonged to Cannibal Corpse from the very first day. How did you discover your core sound in the late 80s and early 90s?
Who knows man. We just did what comes out of us. I mean obviously, you are always influenced by somebody, and of course, we are products of the late 80s and influenced by a lot of mid 80s thrash and the just regular metal of the 80s and all that. We grew up with them and it was true to our hearts and still is. But it was just kind of building with the movement. We were gaining experience that way. We were just kids, we don’t have an identity exactly but we know what we like. We know how what’s happening in the music scope at this point. Things changed so quickly in the 80s and mid-80s. But in the mid-80s and the late 80s, there was just something more intense and constantly changing. So we were moving with that style. We wanted to be just extreme, I guess. We wanted to take bands like Slayer and Metallica, Kreator and Accept, Sacrifice all the bands we really loved and take it to the next level. And then bands are coming out like Morbid Angel, Obituary and Death. We were right around the times just after and before we were forming. Everything was influencing us to be brutal, to be heavy, to be aggressive. That’s why we loved that kind of style. Of course, you are trying to forge your own identity. And you are doing what comes out of you. I don’t think we’d ever thought of it too much as I talk about earlier. You start writing songs and you just want to emulate your heroes but you are doing it in your own way. You try to anyways. I think that was it, as Cannibal Corpse we had our style, I had my own drumming style. I was influenced by Lombardo, Gene Hoglan and Gus Pynn or something but I am not trying to be them. I am trying to be myself here. And I have mine on taking on it. And I think that was key. We were onto something. We were those 5 guys having a common goal wanting to be an intense band taking to the next level. We were just kids, learning as we went and all that, so we are trying to forge our identity. We’ve got all the rest, we’ve got more experiences, we wrote more songs and that’s all you can do. That was basically the way I want it about.
Actually, I must say that you evolved into a different path for every decade of Cannibal Corpse music history without compromising your core sound. How could you define your musical evolution in Cannibal Corpse history? So from then and from now?
Well, like I said. We were kids, we were learning. I think we got very lucky in the sense that we got signed as early as we did. When we put out Eaten Back to Life, we were only on Metal Blade for what, the band was formed and then we were signing our contracts like 7-8 months later. And then we were recording our first record 6 months later. We were a very new fresh band that didn’t have an identity at that point. So you saw the evolution of Cannibal Corpse amidst our albums. Maybe if we didn’t get signed early on, maybe our 1st record’s the Vile or first record’s The Bleeding or something of that nature already where were supposed to be possible because we had years to develop our sound. I think that’s what it was. We were growing as we go. I think it took us years to find our identity. And I think we kind of found a more modern identity when we came around to The Bleeding. More modern kind of sound in Cannibal Corpse. It took us years to develop to figure out what we were doing just to get better as songwriters, better as musicians all those kind of things so I think modern Cannibal Corpse was pretty much formed around The Bleeding. And then it just took off from there and then it was just exactly always having that core Cannibal Corpse sound but yet just kind of progressing a little bit as we went. And that was coming from experience, coming just getting better. It’s interesting how our careers gone, how the band’s evolved like that. But exactly, I think no matter what it’s always Cannibal Corpse, I think you can tell that. You can put Eaten Back to Life and play every album up into the new one. They are all gonna be a little bit different but you are gonna know it’s Cannibal Corpse. So that’s a cool thing.
I want to talk about your drum skills. Both as a fan of Cannibal Corpse and a music author of 25 years I must admit that you have totally different drum skills and I can say it is both your trademark as a drummer and sound of Cannibal Corpse. Maybe you may find it weird but I remember I and one of my old friend described your drum style as Nicko McBrain of death metal in the 90s, probably late 90s. How did you discover your skills? How do you define your drum style?
That awesome to hear. Cool words. But I was self-taught. That may be a big reason it was just, you know, getting back to what we just talked about earlier about all like you know, growing as a band when we were kids and we don’t have an identity an all that. It was the same thing for all of us. When Cannibal Corpse was formed I was only playing the drums maybe about 3 years and most at the best time. Not even probably. And I didn’t sit around, just work on my chops trying to be the best drummer I could be. I wanted to play music. I wanted to play with a guitar player, with a band. I wanted to create music. It didn’t matter it was right or wrong in a technical aspect. I wasn’t trying to be this amazing drummer. I was just trying to get out what I felt that I could do that I wanted to do on the drums. It was, I think, the is the good thing about the death metal. Like I said there was no right or wrong. Especially in the early days. You are making up a genre as we go in a sense. And that was cool. The other guys are happy, we are all happy, none of this all matter it was technically right or whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as we are happy with what we were doing. I think that was probably the key for me to have my kind of unique style. Yes, I wasn’t formally trained, I didn’t start when I was 5 years old and know everything, rudiments, read music and be a percussionist. We’d be a lot different Cannibal Corpse, then. It wouldn’t maybe sound that savage, sound just primitive because I would be a different drummer. I’d be schooled differently so I think a lot of it like I said due to the fact that I was self-taught, we were just learning as we went. When the band was formed all of us were playing very minimum at that time. None of us was like guitar players forever. We just want to play some crazy music and It just what matters and we’ll figure it out as we go and that’s what we did. So it was the key for my drumming definitely.
So let’s talk about the last album again. What are your favourite songs from Violence Unimagined? And why are they special for you?
I am really liking Inhumane Harvest, it’s one of my favourite songs. I think it just got everything Cannibal, got great riffs. Rob is writing really great songs. All guys are writing great songs, they always have. In a personal setting, here thinking about it I really love Inhumane Harvest, I really loved to Follow the Blood. That’s another one. Very groovy, I like the groove in that. I like some of these moody parts. Another one I really liked is Cerements of the Flayed. I think Alex wrote a really different song for Cannibal Corpse. It’s a very cool, very eerie sound. They are all great but if I’m gonna grab a take towards them, it’s gonna be those 3 I really like.
I always wonder how do you work in the studio. Actually, it’s funny a little bit but when you write your songs, do you do anything unusual or have habits like listening to different styles of music or doing yoga?
No, really. When It comes down to the writing and recording, just trying to stay focused on that. I really tried to yet absorb the songs at that time and get them in my head more. I think of anything, I just try to stay, keep everything in routine. That’s what I like personally. We record here in Florida where Erik has the studio in Saint Petersburg, Florida. We live in Tampa. So when I go to my band practice to go play the drums and practice, our practice facility in Tampa, all I’ve got to do is to drive 20-30 minutes and I’m at the recording studio, I like it just kind of do what I do all the time. I like to just wake up, “OK, today I am driving to the recording studio, then I drive to the practice facility. Now I am driving to the recording studio and record. My routine has stayed the same. I am able to come home, sleep in my bed. do my morning thing whatever I do. I like that consistency. That’s what helps me the most. Of course, we’d done it very differently in the past. we go to record at a studio and got to stay somewhere else. Your whole routine then is off, which is fine. It was fine back then. But I think the older we get, the older I get the more I like to be just consistent every day. And that really helps me focus and do the best job I can so that’s important to me.
By the way paul, I know you mentioned some musicians like Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan? And they were amazing and are still amazing. But I must ask this question again. What bands and musicians were you influenced by and are there still some kind of influence left on you as musicians?
Well. I mean, It’s tough these days. It’s all the ones I grew up with. I don’t listen to them a lot and do stuff. I don’t know what’s going out there for the most part but I can respect everybody. I hear there are amazing drummers out there, and amazing musicians. But I don’t know if they ever gonna influence me anymore. Not in the sense that they did when I was growing up like the Lombardos, Gene Hoglan’s. Those guys are gonna be my gods, my main influences and what made me do what I wanna do. As I said, there are great musicians in the world and there are young kids that are doing some phenomenal things on the drums and on every instrument just blows me away. I can be looked at that as well. So cool. Am I really influenced by that? I’d have to say probably not. But I said I can respect what they’re doing and I’m happy that it’s, you know, that’s still going in especially in the extreme sense where there’s gonna be people keeping the torch going. There’s gonna be times where bands like us and our round, you know, you need bands to take the place of Cannibal Corpses, Iron Maidens or whatever, Metallica and stuff like that. So it’s great to have that knowing that there’s hopefully some up and comers to keep it going. That’s what we are gonna need.
As far as I know, you don’t have any sidebands or projects. If you have any chance and extra time, do you want to do any? And what kind of music would you like to play in that project?
20 years ago when Jack’O when still in the band, literally 20 years ago. He and I started a side project and we wrote some original songs and we played two shows here in Tampa in a small bar. The name of the band was called Path of Men. And we wrote about 15 songs, we made a couple of demo tapes. But we didn’t really do anything with it. We played two shows and then the band fell apart. It was 3 of us. We had a singer, another friend of ours, a friend of mine, Vernon Blake, that was 20 years ago. Lasted a year maybe. A lot of fun and fell apart. Last year around this time I guess, right around May or June, I said “You know what? Now is the time to if I wanna do this again.
Now is the time to do it because Cannibal Corpse is finished recording the new record. I had some time on my hands and all this. So I called my friend Vern played bass on that project and I said “Hey, you wanna start a project back up again. Let’s do this.” A total kind of hard rock project. More of a Rock n Roll, Hard Rock kind of stuff. Stuff that I was grew up within the late 60s, early 70s kinda stuff. Then that was Path of Men was to Jack. So Jack wasn’t gonna get involved in this. He doesn’t live in Florida anymore so we had to start fresh we’re like “Let’s start fresh” Vern and I. “Let’s find a guitar player and we found a guitar player and he’s following any of the stuff happening in the death metal community these days. He’s the guitar player that plays in The Absence right now and Inhuman Conditions. That they just released a cd, a smaller band but his name is Taylor Nordberg. He is playing the guitar with us right now. We’re trying to make this project go a little farther than we did the last one.
We actually recorded the songs. We had 10 songs written. Working on the singer that we just got into the fold right now. As the matter of fact funny you talk about this because literally, we got a singer the other day. Our plan is to get this music out to the masses. We were on forge in it to do that with the past project but in this project, we definitely wanna get it known. We wanna get something out there to see what can happen. A lot of fun, we got some cool songs. Playing some Rock’s Roll is really special to me and special to us so we’ll see what happens. But right now we’re called Umbilicus, which is gonna be the name of the band. Umbilicus. Hopefully, sooner than later you’ll be hearing from Umbilicus. Keep your ear out.
Actually, I am just really curious right now. So when we can find that band as cd or something?
Hopefully soon. We are working on it. Like I said still working on it. Just got the singer. We need a rerecording. We did record the music. We are hoping maybe within a few months. There’s no timeframe right now. Nothing is set. We might have to release it ourselves. We may do one of those Bandcamp things, you know where you release it yourself kind of a thing. But that is all yet to be seen so give it a few months but hopefully sooner than later we able to get something to the masses. It’ll be fun.
So let’s talk about another topic. You know censorship is still a serious thing in the art of music and you have dealt with governmental censorship on your art now and then. How did you deal with it? Do you still have problems with censorship for Cannibal Corpse? Have you ever had problems playing live shows in some countries or states?
Of course, we have some problems. The german thing is always known, that was our big thing. We actually had some problems. Couldn’t play some songs for many years and all that. That was our probably biggest problem throughout the world. I know I think we were, may have banned from Australia for a little bit there. It’s something we don’t even think about. Something we don’t really bother to think about because hasn’t stopped us. It’s gonna happen here and there. It’s unfortunate. It’s ridiculous why should this even happen. It’s just music. We are just people playing some crazy Death Metal. That’s it, you know. But it’s gonna, unfortunately, cause a stirring here and there. I guess we just don’t even think about it. We just do, go about our things. It’s unfortunate that it still happens. And then who loses out? The fans. We go to Germany, we can’t play Hammer Smashed Face. Well, OK. We have other songs, we’ll play them but who’s really losing out? It’s the fan that comes to the show? “I can’t hear Hammer Smashed Face.“ Well, you know that’s our sorry there’s nothing we can do, we have to move on. It’s something that doesn’t really bother us. Unfortunate that has to happen. Fans are the ones that lose out. We just keep forging ahead, here we are. If anything happens in the past which it has, as we just mentioned, it hasn’t stopped us. Here we are releasing our 15th cd, doing better than we ever have. That’s what we try to focus on but it’s unfortunate it happens. I think maybe it still happens here and there. In Germany and maybe a couple of the countries. I try not to think about it. I don’t waste too much mental space on this issue. Because it’s just you could be driven crazy, it’s ridiculous it still even happen and it did happen. So silly.
Unfortunately, these things are still around in the world. So? What are your plans for the future with this brand new sick album? This year and next year?
Well, we are gonna try to get it on the road as soon as we can. We are just kind of waiting it out a little bit like everybody else. I know some things are starting to open up in the USA here, some things are happening in Europe. So with any luck, we are doing some shows. Maybe end of this year. maybe early next year. That’s kind of the plan. Nothing’s setting stone but it looks like at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel in that way. So as soon as we are able to get out there we will with the other bands in the world. We just will support the record and get back to some sort of normal seat here. We are looking forward to hopefully that’s sooner than later.
So we are at the end of this interview. Thanks for your precious time and cool answers. I just wish you guys the best on everything. Do you have anything to say to your fans and Death Metal Maniacs out there?
Thank you for the interview. I appreciate it. It wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be here. So important. Fans are what drives the music and Death Metal and Cannibal Corpse. So, without them we wouldn’t be here and thanks to the Turkish fans. I know we only played Turkey once I think it was.
Yes. There was definitely a massacre in the scene. Fans have gone crazy.
It was a great show. I remember the setting and all that, playing outside. I remember that well because like I said the fact that we were only there one time. Hopefully, we get to come back again. Because that was awesome. We were not even there for 24 hours.
We hope the same thing.
– Yeah so we are looking forward to that. Hopefully, it can happen again. We appreciate the fans in
Turkey. Hopefully one day we are back to play for you guys. Thanks for the support for the Death
Metal and Cannibal Corpse.
Nice interview also, thanks