Carcass' Jeff Walker: "Life Is Just Food For Maggots"
If heavy metal makes you bang your head, then extreme metal will make you take a cheese grater to your face until shredded skin piles at your feet and blood drips from your chin.
A band named Carcass helped invent the style in 1985, and 17 years after the release of the group's 1996 breakup album Swansong, founding bassist Jeff Walker and crew returned to prove with 2013's Surgical Steel that they are still the masters of shred.
The new album topped a ton of year-end rock and metal lists. It reached number 41 on the Billboard 200, and also charted in heavy music strongholds like Germany and Finland.
But the band was born in Liverpool, England, and Walker still lives there today. "I didn't grow up here," he says. "I'm from a little industrial town about 10 miles away."
He started out as a singer for a punk band called Electric Hippies. And when that outfit fired him, he bought the bass player's guitar ("It was a piece of shit"), and got together with guitarist Bill Steer to form Carcass.
Walker was raised on the rock music of Thin Lizzy, as well as American hardcore punk. "It was played on BBC Radio One," the bassist remembers. "John Peel had a show every night where he played everything from reggae to punk. He played Black Flag, D.O.A., D.R.I., Crucifucks, Millions of Dead Cops. We're talkin about 1983. To buy any of these American records would have cost, like, $25 for a seven-inch. Really fuckin' expensive. But luckily we got to hear it on national radio."
In 1988, Carcass released the debut album, Reek of Putrefaction, on Earache Records. The band famously adopted highly technical medical terminology in its lyrics and exhibited a level of fascination with realistically gory literary imagery heretofore unheard in music. The BBC's John Peel rated it the best album of the year, and the harsh, discordant sounds of Carcass came to be known as grindcore.
By 1990, thanks in large part to the worldwide distribution of the group's music, Carcass was steadily accumulating fans in the States and set out to conquer America.