“Who the hell are Carnifex?” As I no doubt asked back in 2011, I asked again when going through my archive and finding this feature. As it turns out, they were (and still are) an American deathcore band. I remember precious little about deathcore as a genre, but I think it was generally a bit too ugly for my taste back in the day. No idea how I’d go with it now, but there you are.
I honestly wish I had something a bit more engaging to say here, but look – I gave this my best shot. If you’re a fan just passing through, g’day. Hope you’re doing well.
Pop hooks, clean melodies and adorable lyrics of young love… yep, that’s essentially everything that CARNIFEX is not. As one of the most respected – not to mention one of the heaviest – acts to emerge from the burgeoning deathcore scene, the band have gone from strength to strength in a very short time. The band have just released a new half-hour of power in the form of new LP, Until I Feel Nothing. DAVID JAMES YOUNG caught up with vocalist SCOTT LEWIS to discuss the finer points of everything from loud guitars to selling out.
AHM: Hi, Scott! Congratulations on the new album. It feels like the direction taken on Until I Feel Nothing has been a long time coming for the band – how long did it take to put together?
SCOTT LEWIS: Thanks, man, appreciate it! We started writing material for this record not long after we had finished [previous studio album] Hell Chose Me. We just wanted to keep the creative vibe that we had going. I would say that we actually started writing this record in January, so we probably spent eight to nine months writing this record.
With the close proximity between albums, was it just a matter of striking while the iron was hot?
I suppose it was a bit of that, yeah. We definitely had parts where we would write for a month and then not write for a month. When it was there, it was there; and when it wasn’t, it wasn’t – y’know? It wasn’t as though we were all sitting down and going “Okay, now’s the time, clock’s tickin’, write a song.” We kind of just wrote when it came to us and didn’t try and force it out when it didn’t.
It must have been a lot easier on the band to be working as it came to you guys as opposed to working towards a deadline?
Definitely. You wouldn’t know it from how aggressive the music itself is, but it was a pretty easy writing process. We started early enough so that we had plenty of time to complete the record; and once we got to the studio, we’d been playing and rehearsing the songs long enough so that it was fairly easy to track. The whole thing was a really calm, no drama, straightforward process. Not only is it the album that we’re all the most happy with, but it was also the easiest recording experience all-round.
Going into recording Until I Feel Nothing, did Carnifex have an idea as to what sound you wanted to have on this record? Or was that something that came with the time in the studio?
I think that our direction sort of grew as the record itself was coming together. There were definitely some things, though, that we wanted to do more of that we didn’t do on the last record, or even the records previous. We looked back at the last three records and the parts of those albums that we really liked, and from there we just tried to refine those aspects and sounds. We added more of a melodic direction that we’d been moving in on the last few records. I’d say our expectations of what we wanted out of the record came as the record formed.
Of course. After all, it’s pretty much impossible to go into an album with the exact idea of what you want out of it. It must have changed and progressed significantly over those nine months?
When we sat down to write, it was never a matter of making sure that we wrote this record that fits into this box or whatever. We never did that. It was just a matter of holding on to what we really liked and not worrying about the rest.
Over the course of the band’s career, do you feel as though you’ve worried less about fitting into a certain niche, and just focused on writing and recording what you wanted to do?
[pauses] …Yeah, actually. [laughs] I kind of think that’s actually why the record is getting such a positive response. We didn’t really worry about critics or trying to write a record that’s going to get us some kind of large fanbase or get us some next step in popularity or whatever. That wasn’t our goal at all. We wanted to write something that all of us, as fans of heavy music, would enjoy listening to. I think that really came across on the record.
Y’know, a lot of bands these days – especially recently – have been really changing what they did to build up a certain fanbase and reputation, throwing a really big curveball. They’re incorporating all these styles from more popular genres of music, and it’s pretty obvious that they’re just pandering towards a larger audience. I think that’s partially why a lot of bands are losing their followings, or why people aren’t so interested in their new material. They are a fan of that band because they really want to listen to whatever type of music that band is writing. When you try and go and change it, to make it something that you never were before, the fans from your previous albums aren’t going to want to listen to it. It’s not what they want to listen to.
That seems to be especially the case with a lot of heavy music – everyone from Morbid Angel to Metallica have had really negative feedback to their more recent material. It’s good to know a band like you guys are sticking to your guns.
Yeah. As for the genre that we’re in, the deathcore genre, it seems like a lot of bands that built themselves up as such are now desperate to do anything in order to not be associated with that label. I dunno. To me, that seems pretty stupid. The only reason that you’re making a record now is because of the success of the previous records in that particular style. We’re not one of those bands who makes a huge deal about genres, titles, labels…we actually find it kind of funny when bands act all offended when they’re called a certain type of music. It’s like, “Really? That’s what you’re concerned about as an artist? What people are labelling your music as?” To me, that seems really sheltered.
We’re a deathcore band. We write deathcore records. We like that kind of music. We enjoy playing it. Our fans enjoy it. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about that – it’s how we got the success that we have now. To distance ourselves from that genre kind of seems like a desperate move to me.