The Deciblog took to sober prayer and genuine concern when Cannabis Corpse brought their marijuana death metal party through Europe. The big worry was in the logistics: just how were four weed-obsessed death metal dudes from Richmond, VA going to negotiate over ten border controls, navigate themselves across the continent without some Midnight Express fucking horror story cutting the trip short? Cannabis Corpse's tour success is like some kind of triumph of fringe science, but y'know, death metal has always flourished in the supernatural. Drummer Josh "Hallhammer" Hall, bassist Phil "LandPhil" Hall, guitarist Nick ''Nikropolis'' Poulos and the gore-throated vocalist Andy "Weedgrinder" Horn are living proof, glorious testimony, that a diet of marijuana and death metal is a design for life, road-ready and incorrigable. This is what they did on their holidays...
U.K. What’s it like touring in a band called Cannabis Corpse, is that not asking for a strip-search? LandPhil: “One thing’s for sure, they always have sarcastic comments waiting for us in the U.K., every time. The first time we went into the U.K. the border guard was like, “What is the name of your band?” And I say “Cannabis Corpse” and he’s like, “Isn’t that a bit niche?” Ha ha ha, I’m like, “Fair enough, you got me, you got me…” Y’know, this time I asked where the bathroom was and he was like, “It’s back there but you can’t smoke cannabis.”
What about finding weed, is that not a concern? LandPhil: We always find generous good Samaritans that want to hook us up with weed. Weedgrinder: Friendly weed warriors! LandPhil: Sometimes we’ll trade t-shirts for weed. CZECH REPUBLIC/GERMANY LandPhil: This tour started in Frankfurt, which was like a warm-up show. We got all our merch, collected our merchandise girl there and just had a show to work out the cobwebs before we went to Brutal Assault Fest, which was a significantly huge show, probably the biggest show we’ve played as a band. Even though we played early in the morning there was still over 1000 people watching us. Weedgrinder: Everbody woke up to come see us and then a lot of people went back to go to sleep. It was great to see everybody get up so early to see us. It’s pretty ballsy coming over on a headlining tour—so many bands struggle with that. LandPhil: We’re very fortunate with that as far as how often we are over here—we definitely appreciate the response we get. We get decent responses, we can’t complain; people show up every night and none of the shows have been bad on this tour and we’re very excited about it, and extremely thankful to all the fans—we’d definitely like to go out our way to thank them for showing up at the shows and try to let them know that we appreciate them being Cannabis Corpse fans.
HOLLAND/FINLAND/RUSSIA You had some brutal routing on this tour. Weedgrinder: We always try to fly into Amsterdam and fly out of there so that we have the day off to smoke weed at the beginning and the end. And it’s like an easy airport to come into, it’s relaxed… In about three days we’re gonna fly into Amsterdam and take a 9/11 flight to D.C., a September 11th flight. LandPhil: We had some brutal traveling, zig-zagging across Europe. Mikhail, our driver, definitely put work into getting us across some major expanses of Europe and once we went to Finland we had a flight in and then drove in to Turku, and then from Turku we flew to Saint Petersburgh, Russia, which is a place we’ve never been to before—even Municipal Waste has never been to Russia before. We played St Petersburgh and it was a fantastic show, but as soon as that show was over we jumped into this teeny fan; there was nine people in that van and we drove overnight from Saint Petersburgh to Moscow, ten hours, still wearing our clothes from the set, soaking wet, trying to sleep but the roads to Moscow are like KA-DOOSH, KA-DOOSH. It was a very intense drive. Hallhammer: I’d wake up in the middle of the night and look out the window and see something gnarly and just close my eyes to try and sleep just hoping we’d stay alive and try to ignore this. Weedgrinder: Some of the guys from the bands that we played with drove us and shared equipment with us. But it was like we only really had one day to meet them and they explained to us that they were going to drive as soon as the show was over and they were really nice guys but we didn’t understand what was going on. Like, on this tiny van? It was a bit nerve-wracking but the shows were both awesome.
Did you do a lot of sightseeing? Weedgrinder: In Moscow we got to check out Red Square, a war museum... It was cool, we got to do some tourist stuff, seeing the Kremlin. LandPhil: Being in Red Square was definitely wild; it was like, “Wow, I can't believe I'm standing here right now” it was very far away from home. That used to be the biggest deal ever, playing behind the Iron Curtain. LandPhil: I remember seeing an old video of Cannibal Corpse playing in Moscow and they were standing in the Red Square and stuff, and the whole time I was just imagining to myself that I was in Cannibal Corpse.... They're my heroes. Have you played with them yet? LandPhil: No, but Alex Webster did come and hang out at the studio when we were mixing the new record, Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shall Rise. We went down to Florida to hang out with Erik Rutan and, sure enough, Alex Webster came by and ate pizza with us and we were blown away that he came and took time to hang out with us. Yeah, he's the nicest guy you could ever meet.
Who did you play with in Russia? LandPhil: Well, we played with Transylvanian, Internal Damage, Gorilla Troops and Komatoz in Saint Petersburgh. http://youtu.be/6vUMXMg_EQE Weedgrinder: Komatoz was the band that we travelled with. They were cool dudes played like grindy, d-beat political crust, something like that. Transylvanian was more a hardcore mixed with crossover, and the other bands where thrash crossover. But the show in Saint Petersburgh was wild, constant circle pits, stagediving, high-energy. Moscow was great, too, but both places seem a lot more Westernized than I thought, especially as far as the music scene went. I expected maybe more more tough-guy hardcore/old-school punk style but there were tons of kids with patchy vests, long hair, and like obscure Demolition t-shirts, they were real collectors. LandPhil: They were very happy to see us there, and they all wanted to let us know how happy they were that we had come.
Can you get away with more stagediving there? LandPhil: That's where we had the most stagediving, I guess, yeah. Nikropolis: You don't really see that much stagediving back home unless you're in California.
After Russia, you went straight up to Finland, how was that? LandPhil: I always have a good time in Finland. We had some friends come and visit us up in Turku, and I never really have a bad time ever in Finland, it's always so drunk and debaucherous, just a total party. Hallhammer: It's like every girl is the hottest girl you've ever seen and like every dude is a metal head. It's really weird in Finland.
ITALY LandPhil: One day we showed up at the venue we were playing that we were playing the next day. We show up and they're like, “No, you're playing here tomorrow!” Oh shit, so we make a couple of calls and find out that the place we were supposed to play was a couple of hours away, so we just booked it over there and... Hallhammer: We got there and it turned out it was this really cool outdoor fest, full of Italian kids. Weedgrinder: There was like merry-go-rounds and rollercoasters, with families and stuff, it was really cool. LandPhil: That was the only show where I have ever got a bra thrown at me while I was playing. That was the only show where that's ever happened to me. I was playing and I was hit with something and was like “WHAT THE FUCK!?”and I looked down and was like, “Oh, that's kinda cool!” Hallhammer: I saw it! Weedgrinder: It was a training bra... LandPhil: NO! It was actually a really big bra. Weedgrinder: It was enough for three boobs. You know people are pleased to see you when they throw underwear at you. LandPhil: Italy is very different from the rest of Europe, it's like the people there are much more, just, excited to fucking rage! Nikropolis: Yeah, they're very animated, it's like you'll hear horror stories from some bands going to Italy and not getting paid, like dealing with shitty promotors but... Weedgrinder: One of our previous experiences with Italy, on the last tour, was just awesome, loads of energy, untamed brutality as far as punk and metal are very connected and the kids just love to go wild. LandPhil: Any shows you play in Italy aren't going to be the highest quality venues compared with the rest of Europe but the fans that show up at the shows are very high-quality, ready to fuckin' party no matter who's playing and that can make any shows fun. Hallhammer: The girls are as horny as shit! ALL: Ha ha ha! No! Hallhammer: … I'm just putting that out there What sort of bands did you play with out there? Nikropolis: It was like hardcore bands that played both shows. Weedgrinder: Yeah, and one of them kinda reminded me of Dark Corner, kinda proggy, they played at the venue we turned up to twice. Goddamn! I wish I could remember... It's just so difficult because all the bands that we've played with, like 95 per cent of the bands we've played with on this tour it has been my first time of hearing the name or the music. Like we've had a few surprises, like, “Oh, I know this band!” Like in the U.K. we played with Virus, not the Virus, Virus the old U.K. speed metal band, and it was like OK I know these guys but the rest of the time it's been my first time hearng them and that's been cool, there have been a lot of cool bands, a variety of bands. LandPhil: Yeah, we never choose bands to play with us, like ever.
How has the merch been selling? LandPhil: Over in the U.K. we've not sold as much as the rest of Europe but overall we've been selling a lot of t-shirts. I think [in the U.K.] people need to save their money for beer. Weedgrinder: It's the economy, man, it's just like us. I'm sure we'll all pull out of it but it looks like you're doing better than us. We really wanted to go to Greece but it's real difficult to go to Greece right now. Maybe next year it'll be more realistic for us to go to Greece, for us to get everything together.
You hit a lot of countries. LandPhil: A lot of effort and a lot of planning goes into every tour, of course. We just wanted to go out there and play shows for people who are excited about marijuana death metal. Hallhammer: And, y'know, we'll play some shows and there are a bunch of people who are there just to party and see a band and then we'll play a show where it's just Cannabis Corpse fans, and a lot of times it'll be bigger shows with people just there to party but I would rather go there and play to just Cannabis Corpse fans, it seems like the atmosphere is better at those shows. Weedgrinder: I like playing the party! It's just a good time, too, I mean there's such a variety of shows, we had the whole spread on this tour, it's been great.
With the likes of Deicide idle and Cannibal Corpse in the studio, you can totally go out and scratch people's itch for that style of DM. LandPhil: I hope that this band goes on to become its own entity, and people won't only be comparing us to the fathers of death metal because, y'know, they are the great ones, they are the golden gods of death metal, and we're just trying to bring our own music to the table and our name was just a way for us to kind of be a little bit different to the normal death metal band name, lots of blood and death.... Blood and death and stuff.
Do you ever regret the band's name? LandPhil: No, I've never thought, like, "Oh man!" because I like the name, I think it's funny and cool, and all the artwork, all the stuff that comes with having our band name, it really makes people go out of their way to create cool flyers and cool artwork for us 'cos it's easy; you take death metal, you take weed... Like we got this incredible flyer on this tour where it's like this crazy skull lady giving a blow job to like this plant dude, and that would happen to a normal death metal band but we're like holy shit! Ha ha, I think it really gets people creative. You grow into the name, because if you didn't have the songs you'd be nowhere and none of this would happen. LandPhil: We put a lot of effort into our music and we don't half-ass it in any way. I think we put as much effort into creating music as any other normal band does. We spent about two years writing and recording the new record. It took a while because I was doing stuff with Municipal Waste too but it's a love for me, I'm not trying to make fun of [anything] it's because I legitimately love death metal. Weedgrinder: Weed and death metal; it's our darkest desire! Hallhammer: But we wouldn't come over here if we didn't believe in our band. We think it's a really cool idea and I think we play some really cool tunes. And we all really like playing death metal. Any opportunity to come out and play death metal for a crowd is cool, y'know. What's exciting you in death metal right now? LandPhil: I like Obliteration a lot, a cool old-school band that I really like. Weedgrinder: A lot of Autopsy worship from Norway. LandPhil: The new Autopsy album is pretty cool, and of course Exhumed just put out a record. There's a lot... I feel like death metal has never had a shortage of cool music coming out, this year especially has seen a lot of amazing releases from bands. Hate Eternal came out with a record that was actually really, really good, and... Nikropolis: Morbid Angel! LandPhil: Morbid Angel!? Ha ha ha. Decapitated came out with another album. Nikropolis: Death metal will never die.
It's advantage old-school at the moment with what death metal bands are putting out: where do you guys stand with this new wave of old-school? Weedgrinder: It has staying power. You can remember it, it's catchy parts and it is often a lot more listenable, repeatedly. Nikropolis: It's not just blastbeats and sweeppicks. LandPhil: If you cram everything that you can possibly do into one song, every song, then what differentiates the songs from the next songs? The bands that really have memorable stuff have like a slow song, then a fast song, then... There's something different between each song. Weedgrinder: A make-out song and then a fucking song and then a cigarette after song. LandPhil: Yeah! I heard Lars Ulrich say that the only way to sound fast is to put a slow part in front of the fast part, that's his genius.
BELGIUM LandPhil: Oh, Belgium is wonderful. Not only is it beautiful but it has the most dank beer you could hope for, and the most dank weed. And they just give it to you. By the end of the night you're obliterated. Weedgrinder: Yeah, a killer old-school promoter who rules, killer fans... All the people. Some of the people we saw came last year. This guy, I won't read his name out, but he was a really young kid, he was like, "This is my ninth gig. I really like metal now," and then he says, "but, I've never smoked marijuana and I wanna smoke it with you guys!" And I'm like, "You're 18, right? All right." But he came back to the show this year and it was awesome; he was like, "Now I've been to 200 gigs!" He was all decked out in metal gear. It's cool to see the same faces on different tours. LandPhil: I just don't wanna be that dude who's like smoking out some 12-year-old kid for the first time, ha ha ha!
GERMANY LandPhil: All the shows in Germany are really cool and all of the shows we did were really packed. Nikropolis: It was really successful. LandPhil: They are really just diehards there. We played at a few squats, we played at this place called Zoro, which was just like this really well-run squat; they gave us good and beer and a place to sleep at the top floor of the venue. Nikropolis: Definitely, at the bar, as far as squat venues go is really cool.
Sleeping at the venues must be really convenient. Nikropolis: Yeah, especially for the driver who gets to kick back and have a couple of beers. You don't have to hurry to load all you gear out. Weedgrinder: Yeah, it's like you don't want to do the dishes right after the Thanksgiving meal.
FRANCE What's this Vannes Motocular Fest all about? LandPhil: Oh that was this crazy outdoor fest we did in France, and Marduk played, umm, what were some of the bands that played? Weedgrinder: Marduk was definitely the one that stood out. Aborted. Oh yeah, New Model Army and Buzzcocks. LandPhil: Yeah, it was a big outdoor fest but we had a really killer set at it. They really responded well to our music, and we also got this great video tape of this old guy dancing to our music. Mikhail taped it. It was just this guy boogying his ass off and he looked like he's in his late 50s. http://youtu.be/nKIJXTkz4kQ Weedgrinder: He looks like Bob, the evil guy from Twin Peaks, and he's wearing short shorts, he's crazy and he's loving it, loving the music. LandPhil: For our first month-long European tour I can say that it has been very successful, we've met a lot of cool people and done a lot of memorable thing and we're very excited to come back. Weedgrinder: Yeah, there's just hungry, fucking death metal kids that are keeping it alive, and it's stronger than ever it seems.
What's next? LandPhil: Well we've got a month off then we're doing a tour with the Black Dahlia Murder in the States, which will be our first support tour with a band of that calibre and I hope that it will bring Cannibis Corpse to a new legion of young death metal freaks. It's definitely the most high-profile tour we've done.