The spectacular new Torn Arteries from Carcass comes out on September 17th via Nuclear Blast. In our hearts and minds, this album ranks up there with the very best that Carcass has released. I had the great honor of talking with guitarist Bill Steer about the new album, their writing process, musical influences, first records, and breakfast.
In an interview with Rolling Stones, Bill had mentioned that no matter how far afield he, Jeff, and Dan may roam when creating music, it is going to sound like Carcass. I asked Bill what in his mind is the sound of Carcass? Bill replied “Wow, it’s difficult for me to say objectively” he added, “But I’d say there are certain elements that are just cornerstones.” Bill continued “We’ve always used the B tuning. That’s not a big deal in today’s world obviously, but back in the ’80s when we started doing it, it was unusual, to say the least…there’s a lot of distortion going on…there’s Jeff’s vocal style…there’s certainly a style of riffing, but covers quite a few bases. We still do some things that sound pretty twisted and atonal, but there’s a hell of a lot of stuff that is more melodic.”
There are so many great songs on Torn Arteries. I wanted to know what Bill’s favorites are lyrically and musically. “There are several I could pick, but the first one that springs to mind where the music still satisfies me as a guitar player and listener and a member of this band is “In God We Trust”. Just because that just seems to flow. It’s just a great drum groove and powers the song along.” Bill continued “As far as lyrics, that’s tricky. Cause even now, I’m in the dark as to what some of the intentions were behind the stuff Jeff wrote. He’s not the type to really discuss his lyrics and that’s fair enough. Cause I think he really wants people to arrive at their own conclusions. Like any good lyricist, his stuff tends to work on a couple of levels. You know you could just do a cursory reading of it, I might think it is about something. But then a deeper, lengthier reading might reveal something else entirely. I guess “Dance of Ixtab” is an interesting lyric, an interesting idea and it’s fascinating how it combines with the music.”
Our conversation with Bill Steer turned toward the songwriting process where Bill will bring in some riffs and the band works together in the rehearsal space to create a song. Bill mentioned that the band is pretty critical of new ideas. It is rare for the first draft to make the cut. Carcass will go through many iterations to come up with the finished product. I asked if there were any changes in the approach for Torn Arteries? Bill responded “Not really, except in the sense that the standard was going to be higher”. He added, “We needed to make a record that was significantly stronger (than Surgical Steel) and move things forward”.
In regards to touring plans, there aren’t any. Until things open up and travel is more widely available between countries, Carcass have no plans to tour. The hope is that after the Maryland DeathFest in 2022, they can hit the road in North America.
It’s fun to get a little bit of the origin story from your musical idols, so I inquired with Bill about the first album he purchased or was given as a gift. The first album Bill and his brother were given was a collection of 12 greatest hits of England which featured current hit songs. The record didn’t feature the actual artists. Instead, the songs were recorded by then little-known artists. In some cases, these albums became collectible as they feature now legendary artists such as Elton John. For Bill’s first album purchased with his own money, it was Deepest Purple by Deep Purple. Although technically the first vinyl purchase was the Golden Years EP by Motorhead.
Check out the full recording of our interview with Bill Steer of Carcass to learn about Bill’s first concert and his favorite breakfast food. Be sure to get your copy of Torn Arteries on Nuclear Blast starting on September 17th.