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Interview: Chris Reifert (Autopsy)

Autopsy in 2012 (more photos by Greg Cristman)

For many, Autopsy’s brand of roiling, gore-drenched music is the definition of good death metal. Since 1987, the California-based band have created some of the genre’s most intense, atmospheric, and horrific albums, with subject matter ranging from horror movie mayhem to coprophilia. But, not happy resting on their laurels, Autopsy have spent the last five years making arguably their best material to date, including last year’s riveting The Headless Ritual and this year’s incredible crusher, Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves. In 2014, Autopsy are still a band to be taken very seriously.

Drummer/frontman Chris Reifert takes his music very seriously. Underground metal blog interviews, on the other hand, less so. When we received his responses, Invisible Oranges discovered that the Autopsy mainman, while providing ample information about the new record, had taken some time to take the piss out of our overly serious questions. Witness the carnage below:

— Scab Casserole

Less than a year after Headless Ritual came out, there’s another Autopsy album! How’d things come together so quickly? Should fans begin expecting steady output?

Hey, if we’re on a roll, just open up your ears and let them be filled with audio nightmares. Don’t worry about when the sickness is unleashed, that part isn’t important. Besides, we offer no apologies whatsoever for our actions, anyways. If steady output means yet another album out this year, the answer is no. When it’s time for another album to be dropped into your quavering ear holes once again, you’ll know it, but we don’t have a set schedule or anything. We’re making this up as we go, folks. Don’t waste time speculating when you can spend time listening. That’s what these albums are for, after all.

I’ve read that you had the art for Headless Ritual while writing the album. What about for Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves?

Not quite. More like we had the album cover ready to go by the time we entered the recording studio. Adam had it up on the screen while we were laying down tracks at some points, so the vibe could be well established. Plus, it just looked fuckin’ cool. As for Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves, we had the music done first, then the album cover came later. That’s the way it usually goes, but again, there are no rules. Things go as they go. All we can do is to keep the chaos reigned in as much as possible. Or just let it rush forth.

Was there a conscious choice to have Wes Benscoter return for the artwork?

No, it was a total accident. We really wanted Picasso to do it, but it turned out that he was dead. Damn. We then went for that one guy that lives next door to you, but he was busy as well. . .or so he said, anyways. After that, we tried to call Dr. Phil for advice, but the wrong number was dialed by mistake and Wes answered the phone and the rest is history. Happy accident I guess.

Tell me about the recording process of Tourniquets: How did it differentiate from Headless?

It didn’t. We have always recorded the same way since day one and that’s the unholy gospel truth. Drums, bass, and rhythm guitars live, then guitar leads and overdubs, then vocals. Always the same.

This album continues with your more driven sound — even the doom parts feel stronger and riffier. Was this your intention?

We actually wanted it to sound shittier and more halfhearted than The Headless Ritual, if you can believe that. Ah, well. . .so much for the ol’ college try. To cast aside the sarcasm for a second, we set out to create the heaviest gut-buster of an album that we could possibly muster. That was the intention. Of course, that’s always the intention, otherwise there’s no point in making an album at all. If you’re not going straight for the throat with talons extended, why would you even have a glimmer of desire to do something as insane as to play death metal in the first place. It’s basic math, ain’t it?

You guys go for the pure horror angle — was there a type of horror that inspired you this time around?

The horrific kind, of course. Besides that, I have no idea what you mean. All I can say is horror itself knows no bounds. . .there’s the obvious blood ‘n guts approach, the psychological mindfuck approach, the visions one experiences in daily life, the conjuring of horrific imagery in the mind for no reason at all; the list goes onward.

The title track rules — can you tell me about the themes behind it? Love the triptych of tourniquets, hacksaws, and graves.

Sounds like the ultimate death metal party, doesn’t it? Lyrically, it’s exactly what you’d automatically come up with in your head. You sick fuck, what’s wrong with you? Then, there’s the album cover art that has absolutely nothing to do with the song itself, but holy fuckhammers, what a classic. What else do you want to know? Just listen. . .

You guys finally wrote a track named “Autopsy.” What inspired you to write a name-check track?

Looking backward, forward, and letting the eyes roll in reverse into the true fermenting block of the brain. And of course, nothing at all. Just letting it flow, ya know? Fun fact: For anyone at all familiar with our history and paying attention, there are bunches of references in the lyrics to keep yourself busy. It has plenty of titles, themes, and other assorted Autopsyisms woven together for your inevitable displeasure. Life’s a bitter pill, ain’t it?

You meet a young death metal fan who has just gotten into the genre and wants to listen to an Autopsy album. Is there one you’d want him to hear above others?

Without knowing anything about the aforementioned fictitious young fan, I would recommend pretty much anything we’ve done. It all sounds like Autopsy. But on a more personal level, I am usually partial to the newest album, which in this case is Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves. Of course I am entitled to be a wee bit biased, you know? Otherwise, one of the two collection CDs is a good place to start. As a crazed music fan myself, I dig finding a track-packed-compilation sort of affair to provide a somewhat well rounded view into the window of the band that is of interest.

You’re one of the only death metal bands I know who are prolific yet don’t tour a bunch. Any plans for a tour any time soon?

If you want us to stay prolific, the answer is going to be no. Actually the answer is going to be no regardless. We are simply not equipped to be a proper touring band for various reasons, which have been well documented for the most part. However, we have been spotted in various places all over the world for crazy one-off appearances and the like on several occasions. To put a cap on it, just know that if we end up in your area at any time, it won’t be something to miss, and standing around looking bored will absolutely fucking not even be an inkling of an option. Be prepared to risk life and limb and leave your mortal blood on the stage. Case closed.

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