Devil’s Interview with Chris Reifert of Autopsy

Autopsy are one of the pioneers of the Death Metal Genre. They are also the type of band that most people either love or hate due to their excessively gory imagery and lyrics, however, this gory imagery spawned countless imitators and made the band legends. Their new album “All Tomorrow’s Funerals” is a a compilation album of some old stuff and a little new. It’s a great introduction to the band for those new to them, and a tasty treat for those who have been into the band since the beginning. Check the album out, after you read the interview with drummer Chris Reifert.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me! I was pleasantly surprised by your latest album “All Tomorrow’s Funerals” as it’s totally killer and sounds like a full complete album, where most bands who release compilations end up taking a bunch of unreleasable crap and sticking it on a CD. How do have you found the response overall from the fans? I’m seeing some great reviews of it.

No problem, let’s get this thing ripping! First of all, thanks for the cool words about ATF. We are really happy with it, but you never know how something will go over until it’s out. I was pretty surprised at the good reviews considering this is a compilation album essentially. It’s great to know folks are digging the new stuff and are enjoying revisiting some of the old stuff or maybe even discovering it for the first time. We tried to make it worthwhile with cool packaging, art, notes, etc.

Can you give a brief overall history of Autopsy for the few people who may not be familiar with your music?

It would be hard to do that briefly, but here goes. Eric and I formed the band in 1987 with the intention of creating the most heavy, crushing and morbid music possible. Danny joined the band in 1988. We recorded a few albums, did a few tours and broke up in 1994. We ended up reforming in 2009 and have been busy recording, writing new material and playing shows and are feeling quite inspired to keep the Autopsy corpse animated and hungry for bloody flesh!

You guys are considered one of the fathers of gory Death Metal. How do you keep going and how do you manage to keep writing the type of lyrics that you do? A lot of Death and even Black Metal bands have toned down their lyrics and sound as they’ve gotten older but you guys haven’t.

No, there’s no point in doing that for a band called Autopsy. We need to stay true to our vision for the band and besides that, we still dig the brutal stuff. I can’t imagine us having lyrics about relationships, politics or anything like that. It needs to match the music, you know?

Have your family and friends been overall supportive on your career choice? Have you been able to make a living off music or do you guys all work day jobs?

We get plenty of support from family and friends indeed. I think everyone knows this is in our blood, after all. As far as making money, that’s not the reason for doing what we do though it is nice to be paid properly for our hard work. I have been told however, that folks would be disappointed if they found out we had any sort of regular jobs, so I’ll just say we live in the sewer feasting on maggot filled rats and rotten human flesh. That’s what you want to hear, right? Heh heh!

How do you feel about the overall state of the genre that you helped create? Do you feel that there are too many gore type bands and that other bands are riding on your coat tails or do you take pride in knowing that you have influenced so many musicians and bands?

I don’t really think about any influences we may have had on other bands, but if we have, that’s fantastic and flattering. As long as a band believes in what they do for better or worse, that’s what’s important. For us, we are usually too busy working hard on new material or preparing for a gig so we don’t think about much but keeping things on track. At any rate, death metal is very much alive and going strong which after all these years is great to see. Fuck yeah!

How do you feel about the fact that many people are downloading music instead of paying for it? What do you think would be a fair system for both a. Fans to get music either cheaply or freely and b. Artists to be fairly compensated for their work? I know many people feel that artists should primarily be compensated via shows and merch. What do you think?

I remember being a young teenager wanting to hear all the metal I could get my hands on but not having much if any money to get it. I would work or do whatever I could to earn enough to buy the albums I wanted. Sometimes I would sell or trade albums so I could get some money to get other albums. Often I would later regret doing that when albums I traded in were not available anymore, but I did what I could to discover new bands. Plus my friends and I would record albums we bought for each other so we could all hear the latest heavy records. Now it’s so easy to click a few things and you have a whole band’s catalog instantly, but do you really enjoy it or is it just disposable collecting? As a music fan, I still like to actually buy a record or cd so I can get the cover art, notes, lyrics, photos, etc. and I think anyone who is a real fan would want the full album experience instead of just thousands of songs that get lost in your ipod or computer. CD’s have actually gotten quite cheap over the last few years in an attempt by labels to get people to actually buy albums which is great. At the end of the day, it absolutely hurts the bands in a big way when folks download their recordings for free, no question about it. It’s up to the fans ultimately whether they want to support their favorite bands or just scoop up their music for free before moving on to the next downloading conquest.

Who are your main influences musically? What did you listen to when you were growing up?

I don’t have any influences to speak of, but I listen to tons and tons of music daily. I consider myself more of a music fan than anything. Lots of things probably work their way into my music subconsciously, but I do believe Autopsy has a life of it’s own and we let the songs more or less write themselves. As far as growing up, there was always music playing in the house. My parents would play The Beatles, CCR, Beethoven, Jazz, Bluegrass, Country, Blues, Folk, etc. A pretty wide range of stuff which I always liked. But also, like a lot of people my age, I discovered KISS in the 70’s and they blew my mind. After that I found out about Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Black Sabbath, Sweet and more. Next thing you know, I started hearing about bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Saxon, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, then Venom, then Slayer, then Possessed and on and on.

What albums have you been listening to recently? Anything newer or is it primarily old school stuff? Anything we’d be suprised about?

Well, today I listened to the first Rush album, Genesis “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, Beethoven “pastoral’ and Cannibal Corpse “Gore Obsessed”. I like anything that sounds good to me whether it’s old, new, brutal or weird. Whatever my mood asks for, I deliver.

Who came up with the artwork for the new album?

It was Matt Cavotta who also did the art for “the tomb within”.

I’ve had this discussion with several musicians in the past where it has been brought up that fans should be buying vinyl releases of albums as they are more complete experiences with artwork and sound etc. Are you someone who also feels that vinyl is the superior format? If so, why?

I like vinyl, cds, tapes, whatever holds music on it. Having said that though, it’s great to stare at the cover art on a record for a long time and find all the cool details. Plus lp’s smell really good, don’t you think? Some people talk about how good the ‘new car’ smell is, but I much prefer the new record smell!

What are your all-time favorite horror films and books?

Films, I usually go back to my favorites like the Romero zombie stuff, the Fulci stuff, Universal and Hammer flicks, but I also love the Human Centipede, the first 2 Saw films and plenty more. Anything with Vincent Price in it rules of course! There’s lots of books that are great too. I started off with Stephen King, Clive Barker, but later discovered Brian Keene and Richard Laymon who do ruthless, absolutely brutal horror. Plus I like mysteries. Ruth Rendell has written some really creepy and disturbing stuff like ‘The Killing Doll’ and ‘Master of the Moor’ among others.

Any funny tour stories that you have that you would be willing to share?

Seeing how we don’t really tour, I can’t really do this question justice. Plus the fact that I am not a very good story teller in general, I prefer to remember things in my head. Boring answer, I know. Hah!

Anything else you’d like to say or mention?

Just thanks for reading this far. Hope to see you all sometime. Cheers for supporting Autopsy. There’s more to come and we will not let you down!

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