Talkin’ Meat and the Future with Bill Steer of Carcass

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Carcass is… well Carcass. They are the one and only, the first and the last, the greatest in the world and the oft forgotten. They are unfuckwithable in the purest sense of the term. I got a chance to see them back in August (yes I know I’m behind!) and had the unique opportunity to sit down with Bill Steer and talk with him about everything from vegetarianism to the nature of being in a band. While 15 year old Matt quietly peed his pants I couldn’t help but to be amazed with how collected and downright intelligent Mr. Steer is – a sort of death metal pioneer and visionary who still very much fits in the modern age.

How the hell are you?

I’ve been worse! It’s a short tour really, we’re right around the three week mark and we only have a few dates left. It has kind of blazed by. It’s mostly been very positive. I didn’t know if we could justify doing another US tour since we have done several on the back of this album but I’m not too familiar with the business side. Between our agent and Jeff, they felt we could come back. The turnouts have proven that. I can’t complain about any of this. I’m just looking forward to getting some sleep at the end of this thing.

I heard you were partying hard!

I wouldn’t say that much. Most of us in the band drink, that’s standard for a lot of bands. It’s easy to do it every day in this line of work and after a while that’s the standard practice!

One thing I wanted to get into with you is obviously you’re a vegetarian and have been for a long time, and I’m a vegetarian pretty much because of Carcass and Napalm Death and I have a dozen friends who have the same story – what is that like to be this weirdly influential person because of your dietary choices?

I’ve never thought of it that way but it’s come up twice on this tour! People come up and say that my band is why people have stopped eating meat! That’s great to hear! On the other hand we never went out of our way to preach. To me it’s just a lifelong habit. I haven’t eaten meat or fish since 1986, I think. It’s just something I do. Personally speaking, I find it to be a big turn off when people get too self righteous or sanctimonious about a personal choice they’ve made. Each person is a different set of values and no one will see eye to eye about every moral issue. But for Jeff and myself that was a personal thing. It was easy for me because I wasn’t too keen on it to begin with.

It’s strange to be influential in that way though. Especially because on the surface, the early stuff is underground grind. It doesn’t scream ‘we are militant vegetarians’ but it’s true that many people who got into the band started to see something beneath it. It didn’t take too much effort to see that we had, not an agenda, but we are definitely not pro meat.

My best friend growing up was also a huge Carcass fan and his favorite Carcass records were the first two and my favorites were Decanting and Heartwork. That was kind of how we branched out. How does it feel to be a sort of father to both grindcore and melodeath?

I kind of feel fortunate to be honest. We were around at a very good time. This music was just beginning to happen and it’s easy to innovate when there is all this fresh territory to invade musically. Nowadays it’s a lot harder to do something fresh and new. With every genre there is a time when it is cutting edge and dangerous and shocking but then there comes a time when it’s assimilated and almost safe.

Do you think there’s any truly dangerous music left today?

There probably is, but I’ve never heard of it! I’m sure there’s an underground scene bubbling away somewhere that will get a reaction from people. I’m out of touch with a lot of stuff that’s going on.

It’s weird because now we are seeing people selling Carcass shirts for $80 in fashionable outlets…

I didn’t know that! That’s crazy! I mean, I knew about models wearing Maiden shirts and stuff. I don’t like to get bent out of shape with that. It does make it amusing definitely. If you’re a hardcore Iron Maiden fan it must feel weird. You can’t assume you have a connection with someone wearing a band shirt anymore!

How do you feel about the Noisem dudes?

Great people! We always enjoyed playing with them. They are very sincere. They are doing it for the right reasons. You can see ambition in their eyes, a sort of desperation to be a star. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing those aims but to go in straight away demanding that stuff is hard to relate too. Whereas the Noisem lads will do whatever to get out and play. Slumming it but thoroughly enjoying it. It was inspiring being around them. They knew their music and not just metal!

You said you saw they were doing it for the right reasons, what are the right reasons?

I shouldn’t use the word right. For everyone it’s a slightly different story. For some musicians it’s purely the love of music. For my part I would say I was so into music and so excited by it I really wanted to be involved in it. I started playing when I was quite young and kind of drifted into it. I didn’t have any grand aspirations, I couldn’t see it happening living in a small town. Before you knew it though I was hanging out with older guys and I was in bands and I realized I could do something! Once you get to that point you realize you could one day make an album or play out of town! That’s how I perceived it. There’s other people who love the lifestyle, other people are magnetized by the business end. You need to have those people. Our band wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for the drive Jeff has. He enjoys doing that stuff! A band needs something like that!

It’s a weird balance to find!

It’s an uneasy balance. It’s never going to be perfect. I don’t think you can have a band full of introverts who are all about music. I mean you can but it’s a rare thing. Someone has to be a leader figure.

What’s fascinating about your partnership with Jeff is that it has lasted so long and seen you through so much…

It’s fascinating and remarkable but we did have a long break which keeps things fresh, especially with making the album. When you’ve been away that long then you have tons to say and loads of material to bring to the table, or at least that’s how it felt!

At this point Carcass has been a band for like 30 years, do you worry about what the future of the band will be? Will you still be doing Carcass when you’re 60?

I’d say it’s unlikely, but you just don’t know do you? I don’t want to assume I’ll get to 60. That’s a big assumption to make. I try not to think about the future, I find it unsettling. I’m not someone who likes to plan ahead. With this band I could imagine us doing another record, that would be nice, but beyond that I can’t say. It will be a feel thing. If we feel things tapering off the way they did in ’95 then maybe we would break up, but right now there is serious momentum, there’s still an urge to create new music.

So you think there will be a new Carcass album?

There will be, I think. We have tons more live work this year but it could be done!

What do you love so much about music?

When I first heard music I was tiny. I was exposed by television and radio and my parents’ record collection. I think early on I realized music is speaking to you and from you. It’s sort of accessing some really deep stuff within you that you can’t necessarily verbalize. It stirs up strong emotions in people. It’s big in metal at festivals in stuff but you see that in every genre. It might not manifest itself the same way but they are experiencing something that touches them deep inside. I’m biased as hell but I think it’s the ultimate art form. Sometimes you’ll see a guy playing on stage and you’re seeing a fair chunk of their life on that stage. Everything they’ve been through should be coming out. If you spent years playing an instrument that in itself is a big part of your life. I wouldn’t necessarily want to meet some of my favorite musicians, but I don’t need to because they’ve given me so much. When I put on their records their sounds come out and I feel a certain way that’s all the conversation I need!


Big thanks to Bill for talking with us! Stay up to date with Carcass on Facebook.

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  • Butts4Gutts

    Solid interview cheeki breeki.

  • Back in 1993, my brother bought “Heartwork” and I bought Entombed’s “Wolverine Blues” on the same day at a little record store in Quebec that always had tons of metal. Both albums were the heaviest shit imaginable to my 11-year-old self. Good memories, good tunes, and it’s cool to see Carcass still fucking tearing shit up!

    • Butts4Gutts

      Some would say your brother had better taste, but I digress. Death’n’roll on.

      • Howard Dean

        And the brother who bought Left Hand Path and Necroticism at the same time had even better taste.

  • Space Monster W.

    Thank you, Bacon.

  • Waynecro

    This is an awesome interview! Many thanks to Matt Bacon and Bill Steer. I’m a massive Carcass fan, but I never got to see the band live back in the day. I was so psyched when they came back, and I managed to see them twice following the release of Surgical Steel. I’d see Carcass again in a heartbeat, and I look forward to hearing any new music the band releases.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Carcass is my favorite band, in my eyes they can do no wrong. I even love Swansong. And like you, it wasn’t until after Surgical Steel that I managed to see them live. But I must say this: I’ve seen Carcass live 4 times, in three different cities and two different countries, and every time I’ve seen them it has been the exact same setlist. I want to hear new stuff

      • Waynecro

        Dude, I like Swansong too. I also still jam Blackstar’s Barbed Wire Soul from time to time.

      • Max

        I first saw them in late ’93 on the Heartwork tour, but they only played songs from that album and Necroticism because Mike Hickey apparently hadn’t had a chance to learn anything older at that point. But it’s no secret that they weren’t particularly enamoured of their first two albums by that time.

  • Óðinn
  • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan2

    thats is so cool i’m a fan of this band but not a freak like others who alwats menchine them my fucture is to start a band but i won’t menchine the name cuz u might jack it so u will see me doing guitar up on the stage and say oh i know her she is 1 of my friends

    -G@bby, 10/31/2007

  • Bill Steer: All Class No Sass.

  • KyleJMcBride
    • Black Unbeard

      OF COURSE they do the AVL date on St Pattys day. the day we are going down to ATL. What a BUNCH OF FUCKING MOOKS

      • KyleJMcBride

        Ugh, don’t you hate when that happens?

        • Black Unbeard

          especially when metal tours dont usually hit Asheville

  • Howard Dean

    Well done sir!

    Bacon (the foodstuff and the interviewer) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    https://thethingsithinkabout.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/photo.jpg

    Sidenote: I honestly can’t imagine being a vegetarian.

    • more beer

      Nope everything is better with bacon.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Its not that hard if you have lots of money and/or a lot of self discipline

      • Howard Dean

        I could probably afford it, and consider myself relatively well disciplined. I just can’t imagine being one because I love to eat meat so much. No amount of gourmet beans and veggies could replace fish, beef, and pork for me, and it’s not a big enough moral issue for me to seriously consider it.

        I could probably do a pescatarian diet. I do love me some fish.

  • more beer

    Awesome interview.

  • Óðinn

    Wait…Bacon is interviewing a vegetarian? 😉

    Great interview. Thank-you.

    Carcass >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Óðinn

    I remember back in the day when CDs used to come in these long boxes. Carcass CD boxes (Reek of Putrefaction, Symphonies of Sickness) were covered in collages of rotting flesh.

  • Black Unbeard

    Heartwork was def my intro to Carcass. These guys were amazing on tbjs tour, as well. I had a killer time.

  • JWG79
  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
    • more beer

      Anyone feeding that to their kid. Should be in jail for child abuse.

  • Óðinn
    • Black Smallbeard

      will check this out in the morning, thanks

      • Black Smallbeard

        this not bad. its not A Spell For the Death of Man but its a little more straight black than Quietly, Undramatically/Withdrawal

  • Óðinn

    ~~~

  • Max

    Wow, quite a coup for TovH to get an interview with the mighty W.G. Thorax Embalmer!

    Funny how times change. Veganism is all the rage now. (Not that Jeff and Bill were ever specifically vegans, although their eating habits did pretty much line up that strictly at one point. Like a lot of people, they lapsed due to the sheer difficulty of maintaining the diet.)

    And Bill still looks so handsome after all these years.

    Anyway, I’m hoping the next Carcass album delves somewhat back into Symphonies of Sickness territory (which may well be my second all-time favourite extreme metal album after Entombed’s Clandestine). But I guess that’s unlikely since Ken Owen doesn’t contribute riffs anymore, and much of that early vibe came from him.

    Now for some bragging self-indulgence: I still get a warm fuzzy feeling inside when I remember the day, back in 2013, when I read a review of Surgical Steel which actually quoted a comment I’d made elsewhere:
    http://www.invisibleoranges.com/review-carcass-surgical-steel/
    http://www.stereogum.com/1424501/premature-evaluation-carcass-surgical-steel/franchises/premature-evaluation/#comment-8187522

  • Doc Torluv

    THE most underappreciated/unrecognized guitarist in all of metal. Chops for days and a feel that most musicians would die for,

    Hell, the solo in “Thrasher’s Abbatoir” is a full guitar technique clinic, dispensed in a mere 20 seconds.