Skip to main content

“Just headbang and yell at people”: the world according to Cannibal Corpse’s Corpsegrinder Fisher

Corpsegrinder
(Image credit: Press)

George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher was born to sing death metal. A giant with cascading hair, a V8-throated roar and a neck engineered for headbanging, you can see why he’s fronted brutal death metallers Cannibal Corpse for 25 years. Their new, 15th album, Violence Unimagined, proves yet again that metal is rarely as punishing as when Corpsegrinder is involved, seething from start to finish. But away from the mic, the frontman’s heart beats just as much for charity and claw machines as it does for horrifying music… 

Metal Hammer line break

Fake it until you make it

“When I was learning how to sing I was just in my room listening to records. I had a piece of wood – a support board from under my bed – so I’d take that and use it as my ‘guitar’! Ha ha! My friends called it the ‘Rickenboarder’, instead of the Rickenbacker. Me and my brother shared a room in our house, and on the walls I’d tape all the lyrics sheets from my records, put the album on and just go! I wanted to sound like whoever I was listening to. I pretty much sang every single day. People always ask me about technique, but I basically pounded my voice into submission!”

Death were one of the best to ever do it

“I went and saw Death play, and it changed everything for me. It was right before Leprosy came out [in 1988] and there were, like, 50 people at this show. It was a short stage and I was standing right in front of Chuck [Schuldiner]. I could have literally walked right up to him and said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ I’d already heard Death records, but the way he could scream live made me go, ‘This is the way I want to sing.’ The long, high screams that people know me for in Cannibal Corpse, the biggest part of that is Chuck Schuldiner.”

Florida death metal didn’t feel game-changing 

“Think about this: Morbid Angel are still around, Deicide are still around, Obituary are still around, Cannibal Corpse are still around, Florida death metal’s still going! But when I first came to Florida in 1990, I wasn’t thinking about it like that. I wasn’t thinking, ‘Wow, this is something special.’ It hadn’t really hit yet. It was just about doing a band, making music and playing shows. I wasn’t thinking about how magical it all was because me and my band, Monstrosity, were just trying to be players in the game. But, by ’93, it was on everyone’s mind. That’s when Monstrosity relocated to Tampa and started meeting big bands like Cannibal Corpse.”

https://youtu.be/qFiGYtX4ey0

(Image credit: Metal Blade)

I didn’t change when I joined Cannibal Corpse

“When I went from Monstrosity to Cannibal, the crowd size went out the window – I jumped from playing to 1,000 people to 5,000. When we went to Europe together for the first time, it was crazy. But I still did the same thing as I did in Monstrosity. I just headbanged and sang. That’s all I did and I took that into Cannibal. I probably talk more onstage now but, in the end, I still headbang and yell at people! Ha ha!”

No one can headbang better than me

“I try to be humble, but you have to be the best at something. I’ve said onstage, ‘Try to keep up with me. You will fail.’ I’ve seen some kids hold their own. There are some in the front row [saying], ‘I can beat you!’ It’s a fun game and, I wouldn’t say they’re better than me, but there are competent headbangers out there. Headbanging at the start of I Cum Blood is my signature part, so there are some great kids out there, but I’d never say anyone beat me.”

Death metal doesn’t run in the family

“My oldest daughter will be 17 this year, my youngest 15. They’re not into Cannibal Corpse. My youngest plays Minecraft and she’ll listen to the Harry Potter soundtrack, or she might play to one or two Dragonforce songs. I don’t think they’re into music in the same way I was. My youngest sings chorus though, and she’ll sing to Japanese Vocaloid music. She’s the big one music-wise, but metal? Cannibal Corpse? No, I don’t think so.”

Good songwriting is more important than technicality

“In death metal, you need to have a sick vocalist – obviously, coming from me – and some good songs. If you’re playing in a band, for me, it’s not about speed or how technical you are. If you have technical songs that have a great structure, then I’ll listen to it. I don’t need one song with five million riffs to show me how great you are. There are people who can play circles around anyone else in the world, and they write great songs as well. And there are so many different styles you can think about: Obituary, Morbid Angel, Death and Deicide are the biggest bands in the genre, and all four are totally different. They all have their own style as far as death metal goes, and I love all of them. Cannibal had more groovy shit. Their parts were more slamming than a lot of the other bands; Morbid Angel were more about speed and precision. In the end, I just want [to hear] something memorable – and if the singer’s great, that helps.”

Playing to a crowd of Juggalos is brilliant

“Playing The Gathering Of The Juggalos, that was something different, 100%. There was some backlash and people gave us a hard time. But, if you don’t like it, too bad. We do what we wanna do and, you know what, they treated us great. The fans were great to us. I don’t think they knew us, but I’ve heard the stories: if they don’t like you, they let you know! People were body slamming and there were shopping carts in the pit. It was wild!”

My favourite guest performance? Suicide Silence

“We did a tour with Suicide Silence and Black Dahlia Murder in South America. We had a day off so we went to the bar, and I was talking to Dan Kenny [bassist] and Mitch [Lucker, their former singer who passed away in 2012]. They asked me about doing a guest spot on a record, but they were downplaying themselves: ‘I know we’re not traditional death metal…’ Listen, they’re death metal, it’s just a different style. I told them I’d do it, and then of course Mitch passed away. I remember him saying I was a big influence and it’d be an honour for me to do it, so that one is near and dear to my heart.”

Do more for charity

“I once won 12 prizes in a row from a claw machine. That’s my biggest haul. I’ve done tours where almost every truck stop has a claw machine – if it doesn’t, I’m disappointed! I’ve done tours where I’ve had three garbage bags full of stuffed animals I’ve won. Most of the stuff I win I donate to my daughters’ elementary school or the mall by my house. There was one lady collecting toys to sell and raise money for St. Jude’s [a children’s hospital in Memphis]. I gave her four garbage bags full of stuffed animals I’d won. She was almost crying!”

Watch more slasher films

“Erik Rutan [Cannibal Corpse’s new guitarist] and I, when we were touring last year, we’d watch loads of horror movies. There’s a slasher film called Madman. I saw it when I was young and I loved it! There’s one called Don’t Go In The House, which has one crazy scene in it that, in today’s world, some people would be pissed off by. A guy clubs this girl, knocks her out, and he’s built this fireproof room. He hangs her up there nude, throws gas on her and lights her with a blowtorch. It’s just insanely brutal! Watch it with your daughters. Once we get back on tour, hopefully me and Rutan will watch some more – the wife doesn’t wanna watch that stuff.”

Make your best mates your bandmates

“Erik was basically the sixth member of the band. We’d known him for so long and he’s produced so many of our records. When I did vocals for [animated series] Metalocalypse, I did them at Erik’s studio. So he was a natural choice for me, and for Alex [Webster, bass] and Paul [Mazurkiewicz, drums]. I’ve been in the lowest points of my life as far as recording goes, where my voice just isn’t working right, and he’ll come in, put an arm on my shoulder and go, ‘Hey. You’re the man. Don’t get down on me.’ Super-positive, ha ha! I love recording with him, I love touring with him, he’s already been in two legendary bands [Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal], he’s toured with Pantera – when we needed a new guitarist, no one else even came to mind.” 

Published in Metal Hammer #348. Cannibal Corpse’s Violence Unimagined is out now