Tracking the damned, the dead, or Chris Reifert down is tantamount to finding an honest politician. We had some close calls, a shiver of cold across the skin, a numbness down my spine, but alas he continued to elude me.
Deathgore’s legendary forefather along with the rest of Autopsy, (Danny Coralles, Eric Cutler, Joe Trevisano), are gearing up to enter Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA later this month to record a few new tracks for an upcoming collection entitled, All Tomorrow’s Funerals. The monstrous, 21-track release will contain remastered versions of all of Autopsy‘s EPs – everything from ‘Retribution For The Dead’ to the now sold out ‘The Tomb Within’ – as well as the new cuts.
All Tomorrow’s Funerals will be presented on CD and vinyl with all original artworks, liner notes from the band and a killer new cover from Matt Cavotta.
“This is something the band has wanted to do for a long time, having all these chunks of material in one cohesive release, with the best sound and packaging possible,” commented the band. “Autopsy will make every effort to make sure this death metal assault is top quality and worthy of your attention.”
The release date for All Tomorrow’s Funerals is tentatively set for March of 2012 on Peaceville Records.
Knowing the boys would be hunkered down in the studio, I fired off an email to the dark lord himself and offered up my third born child in sacrifice. Below you will find the response I received in return.
Metalholic: How are you doing brother? I hope all is well.
Chris Reifert: I’m doing fine, just working on some coffee here as usual. It’s in a lovely Reese’s peanut butter cups mug. Aaaahhh…
Let’s back way the fuck up to your teen years in the Bay Area. I’m from Concord, California, I believe that’s your old stomping ground as well. Tell us a bit about those early albums that inspired your musical direction.
Early albums, eh? The big one that really kick started things for me was the Ace Frehley ’78 solo album. I saw the TV commercial for it and had to go out and get it. It blew me away and I kept an eye out for the most rockin’ stuff I could find from there. Next thing you know, metal starts coming around and I jumped into that head first. It was killer seeking out all the new releases from bands I’d never heard of before. In those pre-internet days you had to read about a band in a zine or just take a chance and I did both of those things plenty of times. I still remember my original criteria for taking a gamble on a record. Cool cover art? Check. Cool band name? Check. Cool song titles? Check. Cool band photo? Check. Keyboard player? Forget it! Haha! Though I did make an exception for Silver Mountain‘s “Shakin’ Brains” album since the cover was too weird and intriguing to pass up. Turned out to be a great record and Ace Frehley still kicks ass as well.
What was it like growing up in the Bay Area when it was teaming with the seeds of the thrash movement?
There was definitely tons of great shows that I got to see. Seems like there was always something that was worth going to. Back then there weren’t really labels yet though. No one was concerned with this metal or that metal. It was either good bands or lame bands and of course there were both just like now.
You were in your early teens when you started playing. Why’d you choose drums as your weapon of choice?
It was my parents who got me going on drums. I don’t know why they thought it was a good idea since drums are loud as hell and really annoying to hear when someone’s learning. Haha! But anyways, that’s where that came from. I can even recall being really little and they would put pots and pans and wooden spoons in front of me so I could crash away. Must have sounded amazing, eh? Uuuhhhh….
Your first two bands, Guillotine and Burnt Offerings, were more on the thrash side weren’t they?
I suppose so, though again there really weren’t labels yet. In those bands we just tried to play fast and heavy. We played original material and actually had some songs that had lyrics based on violence and gore. Not a bad start at all.
What’s the defining element between thrash and death metal in your mind?
Death metal certainly has a darker, heavier sound with lyrics to match. That’s pretty much the difference in my opinion. Both categories have room for good and shitty bands just like anything else.
Surprisingly many people aren’t aware that you were part of Death with Chuck Schuldiner, and recorded both the Mutilation demo which got the band signed to Combat then the seminal death metal template, Scream Bloody Gore. Take us back and tell us what you remember about that period.
It was a pretty damn magical time for this scumbag. I was already a fan and had been collecting Mantas/Death demos, so when I got to join the band it was too good to be true. Chuck and I got along great and we had a kick ass time hanging out, listening to and creating heavy death metal. We were teenagers at the time so the vibe was fun and stress free. Things didnt get stressful with Death until after I left the band, so I have nothing but great memories from that time.
The same year Chuck returned to Florida you recorded the first Autopsy demo, and created your own signature sound. What were you going for musically at that time compared to what you had been doing?
Autopsy was going for the heaviest, most brutal and gutwrenching sound we could conjure up. We liked all the deathly stuff like Slayer, Repulsion, Master, Death, Terrorizer, etc. plus really doomy stuff like Black Sabbath, Trouble, Pentagram, Saint Vitus and figured those things went great together and created a crushing effect. The path had been chosen and here we are still!
Now nearly 25 years later, Autopsy has clawed its way back from the grave to bring deathgore back to the masses. In 2007 you said that Autopsy was buried for good. You reached the apex with Shitfun, and going beyond that would have eroded the band’s legacy. So what changed and why now?
We reserve the right to change our minds, ultimately. After many years of saying we’d never do it again, we figured ‘fuck it’.
Macabre Eternal is quintessential Autopsy, sick and filthy, but with modern production values. How have all the changes in technology effected the way you write and record?
I would say it’s not so much technology that’s changed regarding achieving our sound, but rather working with people who understand what we’re after. In the early days, we took chances with people who weren’t too familiar with Death Metal at times so we had to do our best and work together to make it happen. The engineer we’ve been working with for the last 11 years is Adam Munoz and he knows exactly what we want, so there’s no struggle at all. Plus Adam likes to make our Mr. T and Mr. Miyagi action figures do filthy things to each other which never gets old. Regarding the sound of Macabre Eternal, it was important for us to get a really good sound while making sure it still sounded like a real band, as opposed to something that was dissected and reassembled via computer programs. Yes, that’s right kiddies we actually played that stuff in the same room at the same time with no click tracks, scratch tracks, samples, triggers or any of that garbage. Crutches and cheats be damned!
I know you’ve never given a shit about what people think; “creative death” I think you called it. But you have to be pleased with the fan response so far to the new album…
I don’t recall saying ‘creative death’, but what the hell. Could have been drunk. Haha! And yeah, we’re really pleased with how it’s been going over. The only complaints so far have been that it sounds too good and it’s too long. If that’s what bothers some folks, I can live with that. Most importantly, we stuck with what we know is best for Autopsy. We’re doing our own thing as usual despite whatever’s trendy.
When you guys recorded Macabre Eternal, what was the feel like in the studio after 15 years, and what was the goal in your mind when you started writing and recording for this record?
Well, we’d already broken the bloody ice with the “Horrific Obsession” single and the Tomb Within ep so we were running full steam ahead by the time Macabre Eternal started happening. There was a good flow going on, nothing stiff or forced at all. Just a band trying to make the heaviest, sickest metal possible. As far as the writing, it went the same as always. Writing songs that sound like Autopsy, simply put. No other sciences were necessary at all, ya know?
I know you’re not a big fan of computers, the internet, etc. Do you feel all this technology, the illegal downloading access and such is killing metal and music in general for that matter?
Hell, I’ve acquiesced to the computer a long time ago. It’s unavoidable at this point when it comes to communication so I’m in the thick of it like everyone else. I’m only a mild technophobe. Haha! Downloading music is what it is and I have no control over it so I won’t go on any rants about it. I do feel though that anyone who is a true music fan would want to own an actual physical copy of an album that they like so they can get the whole experience of the art, lyrics, photos, notes, etc. There’s more to an album than just the music.
Outside of music and family what occupies your free time, such as it is?
Why, answering cool interviews like this one of course!
What’s pissing you off these days and keeping you hungry?
Fortunately I don’t need to be pissed off to keep hungry, though being really hungry pisses me off. I’ve got eggs and bacon on my mind at the moment!
Last question for fun. If you could take one living person and strap them down to undergo a live Autopsy who would you put under the blade?
Myself, though I doubt I would get far with that. Could make for good lyrical content though.
Chris, thanks for taking the time. And thanks for the new album, it is a much needed dose of necrotic ear candy.
No problem, thanks for dealing with my weirdness. Glad you dig the album. There’s more on the way, so brace your eardrums, brains and souls! I will now end this interview with a classic Tom G. grunt. Ungh! Ooooh yeah…..