Bill Steer Of Carcass [Interview] – “We Should Have Been A Little More Frightened”

bill steer - carcass

After 17 years, Carcass is back with a new album, Surgical Steel, and are currently on the Decibel Magazine Tour (check the dates on Facebook).

After forming in 1985, and disbanding just prior to the release of 5th album, Swansong, in 1995, Carcass forged new roads in heavy metal. In those first 10 years, it’s said that Carcass developed not one, but two, new sub-genres of heavy metal: grindcore and melodic death metal. Needless to say, but we’ll say it anyway, Carcass is a legendary and influential band that’s generally underrated.

We had the distinct pleasure to talk with founding member and lead guitarist Bill Steer about the new album, the Decibel tour, and Carcass in general. Regarded to be one of heavy metal’s premiere, yet underrated, guitarists, he was a delight to talk to and completely open to our questions. Check out our interview with Bill Steer:

Carcass-Surgical-SteelCongratulations on the success of Surgical Steel. How did it feel to have a new album after 17 years?
That’s hard to actually verbalize. At times it’s hard to believe that we’ve got to this point, but it’s a wonderful feeling to be honest with you. We just had so much fun working on the material and recording it. That alone made it all worthwhile. Ultimately, we had a finished album that we were happy with and that we felt confident enough about to put out there. We didn’t really go into this with any high expectations, so the reactions we have had have come as a surprise really.

Order Surgical Steel: MP3 – $6.49 or CD – $11.99

17 years is longer than some heavy metal careers, did you have any apprehensions or fears about coming out with new material after so many years?
No, that’s probably in some form the question we get asked the most and it’s a natural question really. Now, looking at it from a distance, I think, yeah, we should have been a little more frightened. But we weren’t, I think because we were very focused. When you’re embarking on a creative endeavor, you just have to lose yourself in it. And we did, it was just the three of us locked away in a rehearsal room for a long time; the outside world didn’t really have a say in what we were doing and we deliberately kept it as quiet as we could. Speaking for myself, the only time nerves entered the equation was around the release of the album, because that’s when you realize it’s going public.

You guys had the advantage of touring together for a few years before the release, which could have helped settled the nerves as well…
I guess that was a different scenario because that reunion cycle, as enjoyable as it was, it did have the atmosphere of a nostalgia trip because there was nothing new on the table. That, to me, was the one element I was uncomfortable about. It’s a lot more enjoyable playing live now because we have more of a band vibe. It’s just a much tighter sounding group and because we have new material it’s gone from what it was before to something that feels like a current band.

bill steer - carcassIn regard to this album, what bands, if any, influenced you in the last 17 years?
I would say it’s very much the same pool of influences we always drew from in the old days, especially around the middle period of the band. That would be all kinds of different old-school metal, from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts to Budgie to Merciful Fate to Slayer to Death. None of us really keep up much with what’s happening with newer groups, so I guess we avoided the usual pitfalls whereby an older band tries to keep up with the youngsters. That can be embarrassing. In our case there was no danger in that happening because we just don’t listen to that stuff.

As far as stuff that I listened to in the interim that maybe crept into this new music, I’d say it’s quite subtle but it’s maybe there. I’ve had comparisons from people saying “that lick sounds like such and such.” It’s nice of people to make those comparisons really, but I was just responding to the environment I was in.

Back in 2008, Jeff Walker said that it was unlikely that there would be a new Carcass album because there would be too many guys “thinking they know better” — what happened to change everyone’s idea? Was it hard to get everyone on board?
There’s a very simple answer to that. When we reformed to play festivals and do a bit of touring, the initial reunion period featured Michael Amott and Daniel Erlandsson from Arch Enemy and with that lineup it was simply impossible for us to make new music. It was established very early on that they weren’t up for anything like that. We could understand it because their primary commitment was to Arch Enemy and that would not have gone over well with their bandmates if they got stuck into making a new album with Carcass. That’s a whole other level of commitment and work that would affect their own group. So Jeff and I couldn’t even entertain this idea until 2010 when Mike and Daniel quit.

Find out what song on Surgical Steel Bill Steer likes to play live and what his thoughts are on Angela Gossow stepping away from the Arch Enemy mic after the jump…

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