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Carcass interview: Torn Arteries and Phoebe from Friends

Carcass promo pic
(Image credit: Ester Segarra)

When Carcass crawled out of the UK extreme metal underground with 1988’s graphic debut album Reek Of Putrefaction, few would have expected them to still be here more than 30 years later, let alone be held up as a major influence by so many bands who followed. 

The Merseyside band’s seventh album, Torn Arteries, smuggles in plenty of classic metal riffs under the harsh vocals and percussive blitzkrieg. “I still think of us as an underground band,” says guitarist Bill Steer. “So it’s strange when people name-check us as an influence.”

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It’s been eight years since the last Carcass album. Why so long? 

I was still living in the nineties, where a band would release an album every couple of years. But Jeff [Walker, singer/bassist] thought if we fired off another record too quickly it would maybe not be taken as seriously purely because of the timing. But it’s good – some of these songs have been through a lot of changes for the better. 

Torn Arteries is a title that’s been kicking around for decades. What’s the story? 

It’s the title of a bedroom recording that Ken [Owen, original Carcass drummer] made back when he was about fifteen. He recorded all this stuff on a primitive tape recorder, using a Spanish guitar, and books as drums, with him screaming over the top. The tape recorder was completely overloaded, so it sounded really heavy. I remember being really impressed with it. 

There’s a brilliant old-school guitar solo at the end of the track In God We Trust. Who were your guitar heroes growing up? 

There’s so many, from Fast Eddie Clarke to the Maiden guys and Michael Schenker. By the time I hit my mid-twenties I was getting into stuff like Eric Clapton and Johnny Winter, bluesier stuff. When Johnny Winter is playing in the pocket, it’s just amazing.

How weird was it hearing Carcass name-checked by Phoebe in an episode of Friends in 2001? 

Very weird. It just seemed incredibly random. This was after we’d split up [Carcass were inactive from 1995 to 2008], so when my neighbours mentioned that episode, I was completely shocked. We heard on the grapevine that somebody involved in that show was a Carcass fan and they shoehorned it into the script. 

Will you ever resurrect your blues rock band Firebird? 

I’ve been working on a bunch of tunes on and off for a long time. They’ll probably come out as Firebird, cos that’s a band with a past and a kind of pedigree. I just need to figure out the hows, whens, wheres and whys. 

You’re also a member of Gentlemans Pistols. What’s happening with them? 

James [Atkinson, Gents’ frontman] worked with me on Torn Arteries. And yeah, there are plans afoot for a new album. He’s got a big backlog of songs and some are outstanding. 

And will we have to wait another eight years for a new Carcass album? 

I don’t know. The sense of relief from getting this album out will be enormous for all of us. Beyond that we’ll just play it by ear. 

Torn Arteries is out now via Nuclear Blast.