SIX QUESTIONS WITH CHRIS BARNES OF SIX FEET UNDER

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by Ryan Meehan

Death metal behemoths Six Feet Under are back, and with the seething “Unborn”, the tenth full-length of their imposing career, they are out for blood. Led by the inimitable Chris Barnes, owner of one of the most powerful and instantly recognizable voices in the genre, the band are returning with an overhauled line up that sees them reinvigorated and churning out some of the most visceral music they have ever put their name to.  Having begun as a side project while Barnes was fronting Cannibal Corpse, the band became a full-fledged and unstoppable entity in 1995, and over the course of their career they have consistently helped shape the face of death metal through their uncompromising approach to their craft.  We stand with horns thrown in respect, knowing that we were fortunate enough to have Chris as our guest today in a special extended version of 5 Questions.

FOH:  Within a three day period from June 20th to June 22nd, you’ll be playing three festivals in three different countries:  Germany, France, and Holland.  How do you maintain keeping your voice sharp enough to perform three festivals in 72 hours?  And how have you been able to keep your throat healthy enough to crank out such guttural vocals for over two decades?

CB:  I just stay well-rehearsed…I have a whole philosophy on the vocal chords and singing like I do it’s always been like lifting weights or exercising for a specific purpose like running or doing the shot-put…You’re only going to run into problems when you’re not well trained…So, I have stayed well trained and kept my voice well trained, rehearsed a lot, and had many years of practice very early on in my career. Like any other muscle in your body, the more you work your vocal chords and the muscles in your jaw and mouth as well as your neck, the better in shape and toned those muscles are going to be and they are going to be ready to use at any time.  It’s only when you don’t use something and then you try to use it that you’re going to strain your vocal muscles or a tendon or something, you know…So I always stay well-rehearsed, I just really look at that as something that’s very important to me, so I always take care of my voice and I do what I do and try to do it the best that I can.

FOH:  I read on your Facebook page that you recently parted ways with drummer Kevin Talley. How has Marco Pitruzzella worked out for you guys so far?  How much the fact that he had previously played with current bassist Jeff Hughell factor into your decision to have him join the band?

CB:  We definitely had to find somebody that was more focused and really wanted to be with this band and more current with us in order to move forward with things for the next album.  I talked to Jeff about the whole situation early on, some names popped up and Marco’s was the really main one and I asked Jeff about him, and I think it’s really important for the rhythm section to be fully comfortable in this band, it’s pretty important with our music because we’re a pretty rhythmic death metal band on certain levels.  I want Jeff to be comfortable with a drummer that he’s worked with before and is in tune with his writing style.  And for me that’s a great thing that I can feed off of that energy that those guys have together…Marco was a no-brainer just based on his skills and attributes as a drummer and a person since he was a mutual friend.  I kind of look at things on a few different levels, so he fit in all of the different ways that we needed him to fit.

FOH:  What was the biggest difference in “Unborn” coming together as a record as opposed to the other Six Feet Under albums?

CB:  Well, I think both “Undead” and “Unborn” and were a really different group of couple albums out that were put together in definitely a different way than we’ve worked before in the past.  In an interesting way it brought out a lot of ideas and good songwriting. It worked for that time and place, just like all of the other albums we’ve done we’ve tried to put ourselves in a different space, either forcibly or as far as just trying to think about things.

FOH:  You’re a serious advocate of marijuana decriminalization, and just this past week Vermont voted to decriminalize pot to the point where a user can possess up to an ounce without facing criminal charges.  But why is it that I keep reading about these stories involving states as opposed to the federal government taking charge and establishing legalization or decriminalization?

CB:  I had a brief conversation with someone in the government a couple of weeks ago when I passed through customs and the gentleman told me that it will never happen (federally) because the federal government makes too much money, it’s too much of an industry keeping cannabis illegal and keeping people in jail.  I’ve always kind of looked at it that way as well.  And it falls into our constitutional rights as states to be able to govern ourselves and the federal government shouldn’t be able to really step in and overpower what people of a certain state feel is right for them and where they live.

That’s kind of how this country was started, we wanted to break away from a government that ruled us from a distance without real knowledge of people believing in the basic freedoms that everyone should have.  Instead of drinking a beer which is legal, alcohol kills more people second only to tobacco which is also a drug – Cannabis has never killed one person, and it’s impossible to overdose on it. It really is different to use and it actually is different, and a much more peaceful thing to indulge in than liquor and healthier than tobacco. It’s really a silly thing and I think that things need to change.  And they are changing, the proof of that is that some of the states like Vermont are decriminalizing cannabis for personal use.  It’s a step in the right direction, but here again like I was saying with the government – Why won’t they just legalize it?  And I just believe that it’s just too lucrative keeping it illegal at this point.  We’ll have to see though, if everyone in the country steps up and every state legalizes it maybe things will change, but maybe not for another ten or twelve years or so…

FOH:  What do you think your legacy is in the world of heavy metal…When all is said and done how do you hope you will be remembered?

CB:  That’s for other people to decide, I don’t think anyone has a strong say in how they are remembered on different levels by different people.  I just hope people still enjoy what we do and it’s been important for me because it’s what I’ve done for over half of my life.  I’ve just been lucky to do this, so if someone wants to remember me for shaking their hand once or writing a song called “Fucked With a Knife” that’s all right.

FOH:  What’s up next for Six Feet Under in the remainder of 2013?  Anything new in the works that we should know about?

CB:  Well, we’ve got a lot of things going on.  We’ve got those shows in Europe coming up next week, and then the US tour starting in July with Cannabis Corpse and Decrepit Birth so we’re looking forward to that the most…We’re trying to put together some shows for Scandanavia, and then another tour for the rest of Europe this year as well as some East Coast dates. We’re going to be pretty busy with touring, which is really just getting started now…We did Scion Fest last week with Marco for the first time.  Everything is kind of falling into place and where we want it to be.

As far as side projects go, I have a release with Ihate that’s going to be coming out in October hopefully, I’m going to make some announcements on that really soon.  I’m really excited about that stuff because it’s super raw and really aggressive – No punches held back on that stuff, there are some real brutal lyrics in there, and I had a real good time working on that project…I have a couple other little studio things that I’m doing, I just don’t know if it’s right to mention it yet because the bands involved haven’t really told me when they want to talk about that, but there’s definitely some really interesting stuff coming up…

“Hell in July” Tour Dates:  http://www.metalblade.com/sixfeetunder/news.php

Six Feet Under on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sixfeetunder

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan

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