Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 17, 2017
San Francisco's lords of all things gore, pus and slimy guts, Autopsy, don't really need an introduction. Since starting out way back in 1987, they have followed their own blood-soaked and gory path without compromise and have become one of the legends in Death Metal.
In 1995, Autopsy split up for several years only to come back more gore-soaked, filthy and abominable in July 2009. The band's comeback album, Macabre Eternal, released via their old label Peaceville Records in 2011, proved the old corpse was sufficiently reanimated and Autopsy still sounded like Autopsy.
Albums like The Headless Ritual (2013) and Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves (2014) preceded the 6-track Skull Grinder EP (2016), all boosting the band's reputation as the goriest band the world of Death Metal had ever witnessed.
Now at the end of 2017 there's a new Autopsy EP coming out soon titled Puncturing the Grotesque. Expect more slime, bodily fluids, pus and gory tales about once dead people who have returned from...eh, just hold on, hold on... let's allow Mr. Gore Maestro Chris Reifert tell us what's been cooking in Autopsy's dark basement...
Luxi: Hey old friend, how's life in S.F. these days? Anything changed since Mr. Trump(-et of Doom) took the leadership role in your country?
Chris: I'm doing well despite the fact we have a dangerous idiot at the wheel here. It's grim, man. The only good thing about it is people are standing up and speaking out about it. Beyond that, I'm keeping plenty busy with music, which at least keeps me a little bit sane. Or is it the opposite.... Who knows? Haha!
Luxi: Stupid politics aside, Autopsy have a new 7-track EP titled Puncturing the Grotesque coming out on Peaceville Records on December 15, 2017. I was just listening to the title track and it sounded more Punk-ish, like early Venom on steroids, which is cool. Does this song set the tone for the rest of the EP?
Chris: No, that song is its own animal. We thought it would keep people on their toes for the teaser track. There's plenty of death, doom and other assorted craziness in there as usual. But hey, we can rock the fuck out too as long as it sounds like Autopsy.
Luxi: Would you say the songs on this new EP have more of an Abscess feel to them than, let's say, Autopsy's Severed/Mental era?
Chris: No, it's another Autopsy record for better or worse. Haha! Hell, it's all twisted music no matter how you slice it, ya know?
Luxi: How did each of you in the band come up with ideas for the songs on this new EP? Was the process different than usual?
Chris: It was done the same way as always. We usually write stuff separately at home, then whoever has a song ready to go brings it into the rehearsal room and the rest of us learn it. I did handle all the lyrics this time, as I had a story idea in my head for all the songs. That's right, kiddies; a concept record from Autopsy! And of course, there's no happy ending for anyone.
Luxi: Normally you use Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, for your recordings but this time you decided to use Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA. Why the change?
Chris: Greg at Earhammer had expressed interest in recording Autopsy a while back and it was after we did a Violation Wound session with him earlier this year that we actually thought about going for it. Greg is cool as fuck and knows his stuff, so we gave it a go. It sounds great and we're really damn stoked with it!
Luxi: The Puncturing the Grotesque EP also contains a cover song from guitarist Danny Coralles' ex-band, Bloodbath, a now dead Thrash Metal band. The song is called "Fuck You!!!", which is taken from the band's self-titled 1986 demo. Why did you cover this particular song? Obviously, it was Danny's suggestion, correct?
Chris: It actually came from their first demo which was called Fuck Society. Eric and I used to listen to that tape over and over in the early days of Autopsy, even before we knew Danny, who was in Bloodbath at the time of Autopsy's formation. Anyway, no one suggested playing it at first. One night in the rehearsal room we just started goofing around with it for the hell of it. It's super easy to play and fun because it's pretty fast and with a snotty Punk attitude. We didn't think anything of it until Peaceville asked if we'd do a cover song for our new record. They've never asked for that before and normally we'd say, "hell no" to such a request, but instead we said to each other, "what if we actually record "Fuck You!!!" for the album?... How nuts would that be?" Next thing you know, we're in the recording studio going for it! It came out awesome and it's also a cool tribute to Dane Petersen, who was the original Bloodbath vocalist and who has passed away.
Luxi: The cover artwork for Puncturing the Grotesque reminds me, in a way at least, of the style The Accüsed have used on their EP and albums. How much has this band been an influence on Autopsy? From what I understand, all of you like old Punk/Hardcore stuff, correct?
Chris: We do dig punk/HC stuff and I love The Accüsed but they haven't had any influence on us at all. I think it's your imagination, Luxi. Haha! (ed: Just admit it Chris, you were influenced by The Accüsed, hahah! - Luxi)
Luxi: M-kay, who's responsible for this sick cover artwork then?
Chris: Mr. Dennis Dread himself. He did a bunch of Abscess covers as well as a few things for Autopsy over the years. A very talented dude, who also happens to be a good pal.
Luxi: Do you feel that the artwork on Puncturing... supports the EP's musical content perfectly, raising a middle finger to every Autopsy-purist who takes the music and art for granted and won't give the band much space to move out of the "comfort zone" (which is gore, gore and even more gore-infested lullabies)?
Chris: It is a good fit indeed. It's horrifying, disturbing, ugly, nasty, gruesome, filthy and... Grotesque. What else do you need, ya know?
GORY TALES OF TORTURED HUMANS
Luxi: What inspires you nowadays as far as the band's gory art is concerned? When you were in your twenties, undoubtedly horror and gore movies surely influenced you a lot, but what about now when you are nearing your fifties? Does Mr. Reifert get inspired or influenced by other things?
Chris: If you're referring to lyrical content, that's the ongoing challenge. There's no point in recycling the same subject matter we've hit on before so it's always interesting figuring out how to do something new that still fits what Autopsy should be all about. For this record, I got the idea of humans de-evolving to the point of torturing each other for pleasure and in time, getting affected by radiation and mutating. And when it's all said and done, the dead who have already been buried crawl out of their caskets and continue to war with each other beneath the earth. Living in the insane times we currently live in, this theme sprang to mind without having to think about it too much.
Luxi: I guess you also have your next album in mind to record sometime during 2018. How much material do you have ready for it at this time?
Chris: That could happen but at this point there's nothing written for it, at least not by me. We had such a busy year this year with the travelling we did and recording the new MLP, we haven't had time to think of anything else. But now we have a whole new year coming up to do stuff with, so it's possible that we'll make a new album. We'll let you know as soon as we know, so stay tuned.
Luxi: Where do you arrange your band practices with Autopsy? Is it easy to get all four of you together at the same time?
Chris: We have a rehearsal studio in Oakland, which is central enough for everyone. And if we have something in the works like a live set or new songs to work on, we'll always make the time to get out there and crank it up, so it's no problem.
Luxi: Many have said that your most Doom-oriented album Mental Funeral, released back in 1991, is their favorite out of the band's whole catalog. Do you think you'll ever go back to that musical direction on some future Autopsy album?
Chris: If you ask me, we've always had doomy stuff, fast stuff and whatever else on pretty much everything we're ever put out. The production on Mental Funeral probably makes it sound even doomier than some of the songs themselves, as there's no shortage of speedy stuff on that album. It's a really weird sound, but it did the trick. So, no we're not going to try and recapture the vibe on that because it would be impossible. Same with any of our albums. They're moments in time and then they're gone, but fortunately with the albums to document those times.
Luxi: Autopsy have played very few gigs this year, just a few festivals and that's about it. Is this about going change next year? Any touring in sight?
Chris: Nope. I think we'll stick with the select show approach as it works for us and keeps the band healthy. We're our own band and that's the way we like to do it. If that ever changes we'll let you know, but I wouldn't count on it.
Luxi: What about making a promotional video in the future? Does Peaceville Records have any budget for the making of videos? Paying out of your own pockets would obviously be too expensive, I assume?
Chris: Well if Peaceville ain't paying for a video, you can be sure we aren't either. Haha! They don't usually ask us for those, which is fine. Personally, I'm not really a fan of music videos in general. I've seen some cool ones but mostly lame ones. It's just not something we feel compelled to do.
Luxi: Are there some new bands out there that you have found interesting and possibly the flag bearers of Autopsy's sound?
Chris: I don't know. That's certainly not something I've ever sought out. It's flattering if any band likes what we do enough to be influenced by us. After all, we're music fans ourselves and had our own influences when we put the band together. We're just passing it on, as Keith Richards says. I would hope that Autopsy is the real flag bearer of the Autopsy sound though. Otherwise we must have seriously fucked up along the way somehow. Haha!
WHAT'S ON YOUR TURNTABLE?
Luxi: How much do you follow what's new in the underground Metal scene or are you the type of a guy who would rather stick to the past?
Chris: I listen to tons of different music and have different moods when it comes to listening. I'm aware of some of the doings in the underground but only to a limited extent, as these days with the Internet there's information overload around every corner and you can never know about all of it unless you make that your mission in life. I'm definitely not stuck in the past but I can't think of anything new that has rocked my socks off lately. Hhmmm...
Luxi: What was that one particular album that you heard back in the day that changed your view of music for good?
Chris: I can tell you the one that got it all started for me and that was the Ace Frehley solo album from 1978. I liked some of my parents' albums that were in the house, but I remember like it was yesterday seeing that TV commercial for the Kiss solo albums and it instantly sparking something for me. Ace's album was the first real Rock album that I ever picked up myself and it blew my head off. I still love it to this day.
MORE MUSIC TO COME
Luxi: Besides Autopsy, you recently told me that Violation Wound, your old-school Punk-orientated band as well as Painted Doll (a progressive Rock band that you have together with Dave Hill) all keep you busy. Would you like to share some current news with the readers of The Metal Crypt regarding those other acts?
Chris: Sure. Besides Autopsy, which is the focus of this here chat, I also play guitar and do vocals in Violation Wound, which is basically a Punk/HC band. We have a bunch of stuff out and just finished recording our newest full-length album for Peaceville Records. It'll blow your face off! You can find us at www.facebook.com/Violationwound
Painted Doll is a psych-edged Rock band I have with my friend Dave Hill and our debut album comes out in February on Tee Pee Records. We're doing a couple of shows with Monster Magnet next year which is super exciting for me since MM is one of my favorite bands. Painted Doll isn't Metal in any way, but it's nothing like modern day Rock. We like lots of cool older psych stuff and some of that has definitely crept into our music. You can find us here www.facebook.com/PaintedDollRock
So yes, I'm keeping super busy with music. I'm not really good at much else so I might as well fill up my time on earth doing what I love.
Luxi: Lastly, the toughest question of all (even if summer is over, at least here in Finland); if Autopsy was an ice cream, which flavor would it have?
Chris: Nothing that anyone would want to put in their mouth. Haha!
Luxi: That was it, you made it right to the very end. Thank you, Chris for getting this done for the readers of The Crypt, and keep up the great work with Autopsy as always (plus your other bands as well). If there's anything you'd still like to add, or remind people about, here's your chance...
Chris: I can't think of anything else at the moment. Thanks for the time and support, Luxi. And thanks to anyone who read this. Cheers to all of you!
|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|
|Review: Puncturing the Grotesque|
|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)|
|Interview with vocalist and drummer Chris Reifert on May 8, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Video: My Corpse Shall Rise|
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