Interview with vocalist and drummer Chris Reifert
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 8, 2014
Legendary Californian gore-masters Autopsy have kept themselves busy for the five years since the reformation of the band in July 2009. Autopsy's comeback album, Macabre Eternal, was released on Peaceville Records in 2011 with The Headless Ritual coming out two years later. It didn't take too long for Autopsy to begin work on their third album, Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves, which Peaceville Records released on April 21st 2014.
The table is set with the usual, one-and-only Autopsy style and the man in charge, Chris Reifert, wanted to share a few thoughts about it with the readers of The Metal Crypt. Expect no less than armies of hungry, vicious flesh-eating zombies crawling on your neck on this opus...
Luxi: Autopsy seems to be working like a machine these days. It's only been a year or so since you released the band's sixth studio album, The Headless Ritual, and now you have a new record coming out (April, 2014) titled Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves. You really don't care for resting on your laurels for too long, do you?
Chris: Our laurels are covered in rusty spikes, barbed wire and broken whiskey bottles so they are simply not fit for resting on. It's better to berate and insult the world via horrifying darkness in the form of metallic noise anyways. Yep, ANOTHER album that will make your neighbor's garden wither and crumble.
Luxi: Were you surprised by how quickly Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves came together? What made it possible for you guys to get this album written and recorded in such a short period of time?
Chris: Nah, not really. We try to be a one release per year kind of band whenever possible. We had plenty of stuff built up from around the time of The Headless Ritual and with a few more conjurations, the repulsive puzzle was complete and lo, it was foul to the ear and mind. Just how we like it! I say don't worry about when the fucker comes out, just crank it up to an inhuman volume and let your brains turn into bloody cream cheese that oozes out of your tortured ears.
Luxi: Like your two previous albums, Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves was recorded at Fantasy Studios, with Adam Munoz at the production helm. How was it different this time compared to the recordings sessions for both Macabre... and T.H.R.?
Chris: Recording-wise it was the same as always. We have the routine down solid and when we work with Adam things flow smoothly and it's a good time, as well. In other words, the way we went about things was the same as Macabre Eternal or even Severed Survival, in terms of recording method. We record the drums, bass and rhythm guitars live, then overdub leads, harmonies and vocals. Done. They did get a new mixing board at Fantasy right before The Headless Ritual though and that thing is a badass monster!
Luxi: How was the band involved in the actual production this time? Or do you rely on Adam's skills and let him figure out how an Autopsy album should sound?
Chris: We work very closely with Adam when it comes to mixing and production but, at the end, the band has the final say. It's a great arrangement and Adam really knows what we're after and how to get it. These days he'll just kick us out of the control room while he gets a mix of a song ready. Haha! Once he's assembled the skeleton, we get called in and get to drape the flesh over it. That part is really fun, as we get to hear all of our crazy ideas turn into reality. Adding in the delay, reverb or whatever... doing fades or cuts... all the icing on the putrid cake.
Luxi: What can you tell us about the songs on this latest collection of guts, blood, bones and gore? Did you try to push the envelope as far as the album's gory side is concerned?
Chris: More horrors, weirdness, dark brutality and terminal insanity. Everything you'd want from an Autopsy record. But for us, it's, not about pushing the envelope. We'd rather puke in it, seal it up, put a nice bow around it and send it to your Aunt Jane (thanks Alice!). Wonderful idea aside, it's more important to have the lyrics fit the music, so it sounds like they read and vice versa. Hell, it's all been done at this point to some extent, so going for shock value is useless these days. However, littering the darkness with visions of bloodshed, sickness and ugliness is not. It still works for us!
Luxi: Will there be any songs on this album that may take Autopsy fans by surprise, in one way or the other?
Chris: I'll leave that to anyone listening to decide. There's a bit of mindfuckery here and there, but nothing that doesn't sound like us, ya know? We're not changing the general formula, but we're not repeating ourselves either. Ultimately, if you like Autopsy already it should be right up your alley. If you're not a fan or simply want us to try to duplicate Mental Funeral or something, this one won't change your mind, ha-ha!
Luxi: What about vocals? Did you give Eric an opportunity to growl his lungs out for some of the songs on this new Autopsy record, or did you handle all the vocals this time around?
Chris: That sort of thing is up to him, honestly. If he's in the mood to vomit forth some vocals, he'll say so. On the new album, he does indeed do vocals on one song. It turned out brutal and violent as hell! As for the rest, yes...guilty as charged.
Luxi: How about the lyrical content on Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves? Where there any specific movies or books that worked as a good source of inspiration? Did some of Brian Keene's books, a modern writer of horror, have any influence on Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves lyrics?
Chris: There are two songs that are directly inspired by outside sources. One is "King of Flesh Ripped," which Eric wrote. It is based on the movie Ichi the Killer. The other is "Savagery," which I wrote about Brian Keene's book Castaways. Great author, great story. The rest is stories made up by me or Eric. All kinds of ugliness, like unrelentless slashing for the sake of it, being taken over by mutant eyes growing in places they shouldn't, experiencing burial first hand, shadow hordes wreaking havoc, undead feasting and more pleasantries to thrill and titillate.
Luxi: Was Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves any easier to make than the previous full-lengths that you have released since Autopsy was brought back in 2009? Obviously, Autopsy has a recognizable musical formula that you follow and which people already know you for, at least the ones that have been following the band since day one. In your opinion, what makes Autopsy sound like Autopsy?
Chris: I don't think making music or albums gets harder or easier. It's something we've all been doing for a long time and it feels natural and unforced. That's the best way to put it, I think. As for what makes us sound like us, it is the fact that it's us. When this particular band of musicians gets together to play Death Metal, the result is what you hear. And anyone who's been along on the ride with us since day one can tell that we've never really strayed from the path that we started on, going back to the first demo. Hell, we still play songs from that thing live today and have rerecorded all of the songs from it on different albums. With that in mind, when we first formed the band, we created a vision for what this band should sound like and staying true to that seems to make sense, to us anyways.
Luxi: Is Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves the most pleasing Autopsy release for you personally, as far as the artwork, the lyrics and especially the songs on it are concerned?
Chris: Every time we do a new one, it always feels like we're making our best album. That should be the feeling, otherwise there's no point in doing it at all. We can't go for anything less. That's the way we've always felt, going back to the early days; always shooting for the moon instead of trees. But yeah, the whole package is rock solid. The music, lyrics, production, cover artwork and packaging all meld together perfectly. It's a separate little world you can enter.
Luxi: Do you believe your fans expect something more brutal and more gruesome from Autopsy with each new release?
Chris: No, I think fans of the band expect what Autopsy is used to delivering. Like I said, going for shock value isn't what it used to be, not that we really tried for that to begin with. We just write what we think is cool and fitting for the band. If people get freaked out in any way by what we do, that just makes it better. Haha!
Luxi: You guys in Autopsy seem to be fascinated by Wes Benscoter's art, as far as album artwork is concerned. Do you believe he is on the same wavelength with the band?
Chris: Well, this is our second time working with Wes, the first being Macabre Eternal. And, once again, he created an instant classic, in my opinion. Fucking amazing! And yes, it holds up with our music and, best of all, compliments it. We've been lucky enough to have worked with some amazing artists over the years, honestly. Wes of course, Joe Petagno, Matt Cavotta, Kent Mathieu, Kev Walker, Andrei Bouzikov... all fantastic!
Luxi: Do you have any plans to shoot any videos to promote the sales of the new record??
Chris: No, not this time. We'll let the album do the talking and leave it at that.
Luxi: Have you ever wondered how cool if would be if someone made some sort of horror movie about Autopsy, with tons of gore, blood, zombie and horror scenes in it, and in which you would also play some of the main roles?
Chris: Sounds great! Any takers?
Luxi: How has it been working with Peaceville Records since Macabre Eternal? How has the label changed over the years, compared to the days when Autopsy split up after the Shitfun record in 1995?
Chris: Things are cookin' along nicely and they are doing a great job with promotions and all that jazz. Definitely a far cry from the days of Shitfun. At that time, Music For Nations had bought Peaceville and were doing their best to sweep Autopsy under the rug. They were NOT thrilled with us and made no secret about it. Fortunately though, that whole thing didn't last too long and they moved on. All of us in are a much better place at this point, so thumbs up here.
Luxi: You really have Autopsy working like a well-oiled machine since digging the band from its grave in July 2009. Since that time you have recorded three full-length studio albums in just 5 years, which seems incredible. Are you amazed at how smoothly things have been going since the reformation of Autopsy?
Chris: Well, I can safely say we've been taking this ride very seriously. We've all seen bands reform for one reason or another and it doesn't always work. The last thing we wanted to do was to totally blow it after a 15-year wait, you know? Things aren't always smooth and easy; there's plenty of hard work and headaches, but that's par for the course. So, getting to the root of the matter, we've been doing our best to do things right and if that reflects in reactions and such, then that's a good feeling.
Luxi: You mentioned that you probably won't tour as much for this new record as you have for your previous albums, due to other commitments each of you have. Obviously, you all have daily jobs, girlfriends/wives, etc. to be taken care of which, naturally, cannot be taken lightly. That said, how do things look for 2014, as far as gigging and/or touring are concerned?
Chris: At this point, we don't have anything booked, but that could change at any time. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and unexpected things can happen. Keeping a stable home life is important and helps keep us sane; that's something we simply can't take for granted. I'd just say keep your eyes open and if we end up in your area, don't miss it. I promise we won't disappoint. And for the time being, crank up Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves and let it consume your ears, mind and filthy soul!
Luxi: Do you believe that the older you get, the harder it becomes to go on the road and do all these tours, especially the ones that last a month or longer? Touring is a pretty physical activity, something people tend to forget...
Chris: Honestly, we haven't done a full tour since 1993 and haven't had a desire to do one since then. Remember, that was the one that killed the band in the first place. However, we have done plenty of travelling all over the world in recent years for one-offs and stuff. The physical part isn't hard. I'd say that sort of thing is more mentally taxing with flights, time differences, lack of sleep, etc. That will fuck you up a bit no matter what your age is. End of the day, for some bands, touring is a way of life and maybe even a joy. We just don't happen to be one of those bands.
Luxi: Besides Autopsy, you also have a side project called Violation Wound and that band's debut album has been completed as we speak. Would you like to share a couple of details about both V.W. and the record with the readers of The Metal Crypt?
Chris: Violation Wound is a straight up, old style Punk band that's been together for almost a year. It's raw, pissed off, primitive and energetic. The songs are really short and to the point, but well written and, dare I say, catchy. Not in a sanitized commercial way, of course. It's the real deal. The band is me on guitar and vocals, Joe Orterry on bass and Matt O'Connell on drums. They are friends of mine from the town we live in and Matt also plays in Fog of War. Joe used to play in Fog of War as well. Our debut album will be out on May 26th on Vic Records. It is 18 songs in just under 26 minutes, so you know there's no fucking about. If early Punk/HC is your thing, check this shit out!
Luxi: Obviously you will do Autopsy as long as it is fun and exciting, without giving a shit if some of the die-hard fans of the band expect Autopsy to be around until the end of the world. I know that you are no Nostradamus or a wizard with a goofy crystal ball or anything but can Autopsy fans around the world safely expect to get at least a few more albums from you guys before it's time to retire this legendary Death Metal band for good?
Chris: There's no way to predict the future, of course. If you told me, seven years ago, that Autopsy would be back together at any point, I would have said you were out of your fucking mind. Haha! Now here we are five years after reforming with a brand new album that we feel is our best yet. It's crazy how things go sometimes. But, like you said, as long as we enjoy what we're doing, that's just what we'll do. Don't worry too much about the future, just enjoy the ride. That really goes for anything in life.
Luxi: I guess that's all I had in mind at this time, so thank you Chris for taking some time to chat with me about this latest baby in the Autopsy family and all the best for with future endeavors with the band. Last words are yours, of course!
Chris: Just the usual thanks, cheers, thumbs up, salutations, handshakes, backslaps, high fives, greetings, and all that good stuff. Thanks for reading and of course, listening. And oh yeah, support the underground resistance, dammit!
|Other information about Autopsy on this site|
|Review: Mental Funeral|
|Review: Severed Survival/Retribution For The Dead|
|Review: Dark Crusades|
|Review: The Tomb Within|
|Review: Macabre Eternal|
|Interview with Chris, Eric, Joe and Danny on September 17, 2011 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert on January 2, 2013 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Video: My Corpse Shall Rise|
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