Cephalic Carnage rides death-metal circuit

Deathfest, Hatefest, Grindfest, Metalfest. While some may shudder at the very thought of attending a concert with a scary name like that, Cephalic Carnage calls these places home.

"We're not making gobs of money," explained bassist Jawsh during a recent interview. "We're out doing everything we've ever dreamed of doing. It's happening right now. And I get a modest amount of money every week for touring, and it pays for food and stuff like that.

"I do laundry once a week, so it's just like any other job. But I don't have a boss screaming at me. I don't have to clock in, and I get to play my bass. I get to meet a lot of cool people and get to see cities that I would otherwise not get to see."

Touring hard

Cephalic Carnage, a self-described Rocky Mountain Hydro-Grind band, formed in 1992 in Denver. After releasing its 1998 debut, "Conforming to Abnormality," and years of pummeling audiences with its uber-heavy sound, Cephalic has made a name for itself on the death-metal circuit.

Earlier this year, the group (Jawsh, along with vocalist Lenzig, guitarists Steve and Zac, and drummer John) recorded a sophomore release, "Exploiting Dysfunction," with legendary grindcore producer Keith Falgout (Soilent Green, Acid Bath, etc.) and hit the touring circuit yet another time.

What: Metalfest.Lineup:* Saturday night: Hell on Earth, Cephalic Carnage, Deeds of Flesh, Haste, Hellchild, Mortal Decay, Disgorge, Truth, Killswitch, Full Power, Lead.* Sunday night: Dillenger Escape Plan, Candiria, Isis, Burn It Down, Origin, Not Waving But Drowning, Esoteric, Overture, Blue Harvest, Element.Where: El Torreon/Space, 3101 E. Gillham, Kansas City, Mo.

"Relapse likes to see their bands tour a lot," Jawsh explained. "They want to see their bands constantly active and always working on new material, not just putting out an album and waiting two years to get your royalty check. We tour in a 15-passenger Dodge van. We have a 19-inch television and a VCR bungie-corded in the back. We're like rock stars. You can sleep on the hot floor or on one of the amps."

"Dysfunction" was recorded in a mere 11 days at Festival Studios in Kenner, La., a studio better known as a sonic temple to regional rap empires Cash Money and No Limit Productions.

"We ran into Lil' Wayne at a (restaurant) at four o'clock in the morning," Jawsh recalled. "We were trying to buy po' boys and he and his posse cut in front of us. (expletive) Making more money than Donald Trump. I think that's what our next album's gonna be like. We'll carry around stacks of cash and diamond necklaces with Relapse Records on them."

Ragging on the mags

And what does the Cephalic bassist think of metal magazines like Hit Parader and Circus, which have been around for years, hopping on whatever trends happen to be popular?

"I don't see any support from those kind of magazines for this particular scene," Jawsh said bluntly. "They're always looking at the underground and cutting-edge and trying to be that, but they're hesitant.

"They've always been affiliated with hair-rock bands. It still holds true today. You see really heavy advertising for Limp Bizkit, Korn and Marilyn Manson. They're trying to have that heavy image, but I think they're trying to appease the parents of the kids they really want to target -- the upper, upper, upper middle-class whitebread kids. If their parents saw Waco Jesus or Dying Fetus on the cover of Hit Parader, I think they'd be less likely to let their kid buy it than if Fred Durst was on it."

The new breed of lite-metal doesn't do much for Jawsh.

"It's a pain," he said. "I wouldn't mind as much if the people making that music didn't claim to be the most innovative, the heaviest, the scariest, edgiest, the raunchiest. Anytime a band puts 'est' behind any of the words they use to describe their music, you know it's a lie! It's a blatant slap in the face to all the people who work hard to come up with really progressive and heavy music. We work hard at what we do, and it's really insulting."

No sympathy for Metallica

Jawsh was equally outspoken about the Napster debate, which has been fueled by Metallica's controversial decision to sue the burgeoning Internet company.

"I don't use programs like Napster, but I think it's a good idea. Our guitar player has found all kinds of stuff that you could never find anywhere. It's opening up availability. It hasn't really been detrimental to the success of Cephalic, and when someone hears one or two songs over the Internet, they might get excited enough to buy the whole CD or tell a friend. For exposure, it's great.

"The fact that they're being sued by Metallica makes them even better. If Metallica hates it, you know it's gotta be good. I remember watching 'Cliff 'Em All,' and Metallica was bad-mouthing MTV and corporate status. What's going on now? They got mad because they lost control. Wah.

"That's the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom to do whatever you want. Unfortunately, it's dipping into a few rich crybabyies' pockets and all of the sudden it's wrong? Plus Napster is providing a really good service, so I say kudos."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.