CARCASS// Jeff Walker Thinks I’m a Massive C***


I always make Jeff Walker mad. Imagine this: Balding, overweight, twenty-something Me and Carcass’ beefmaster general sitting uncomfortably and silent. As the sun sinks down, our tea cools to stone and our cakes go savagely uneaten. This means war in Britain, I’m pretty sure.

At first, it’s pleasantries and how-dya-dos. Then, an innocent little phrase sours Jeff something shocking. Last time on Carcass-Hysteri-Theater, I mistakenly compared some Middle Eastern vibes in Surgical Steel to Nile, the Florida death metal band with a Ph.D. in Egyptology. 3, 2, 1: “Pfft. Fuck off,” Jeff scolded. He didn’t hang up, but for one gut-punched moment, I sincerely thought he would.

I couldn’t see it, but I could hear Jeff scowl death at me from then on. Pauses shuffled between us like knee-bumping fucknuts at the movies. Oh, pardon me. Excuse me, sorry. I’m so sorry Jeff. I’m sorry for being alive.

Yep. I went two for two.

This time, I steel myself to face him. Sort of. I prepare, and well. Time to shine or die. He answers. “Is this Tom?” It sure is Jeff! Where are you at the moment, Jeff? “I’m at home in Liverpool,” he says, annoyed I couldn’t GPS him using my brain. “I’m a bit jetlagged.”

The magic word “jetlagged” seems to absolve him of any and all sins, just like munching wafer and drinking vino while wearing a big sparkly hat absolves Churchy kiddie fiddlers of theirs. “Oh, come on,” chided a friend of mine when I retold him this very story. “He was jetlagged.”

OK, cool. We’re not asking the man to jump into the cockpit of an F-14 and do loop-the-loops, we’re just asking for 15 minutes of pleasant conversation. On a scale of 1 to doing brain surgery on the Space Shuttle, it’s a cakewalk on easy street. Really.

How was your recent tour with The Black Dahlia Murder?

“Yeah, it was cool,” he says with apparent enthusiasm. “It was good… for a US tour. Good crowds. I guess on a certain level it was successful.

I chuckle for him, in good humour. A beat.

“For Carcass, yes. We’re not Metallica, we don’t pull tens of thousands of people.” Jeff warms up. “It was fun. It’s the only reason we do it. Because it’s fun.”

Hmmm, yeah, maybe.

A question spiking the tip of my tongue for some time was this: bands like Carcass don’t play many festivals because they don’t make sense at festivals. Watching four fleshy dots a kilometre away play windswept gusts of Arbeit Macht Fleisch just doesn’t cut it. Compressed down into a sweaty room – that’s where Carcass thrives.

“It depends,” Jeff answers. “Hellfest the second time was a really good vibe, a really good reaction. On the tour we just did, the best shows we did were the smaller ones. It’s even better when the club is sold out. You’re closer to the audience, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s fun to do both.”

Fun, you say…

Carcass are coming back to Australia this July. Carcass fans in Australia are naturally excited by this. Is Jeff?


OK then.

“We’ve got a lot of shit to do in between now and July, so. We’re going to Japan in about a week, so. We have to do that first, so… yeah. It’ll be cool, hopefully. As long as the reaction is the same as last time, I’ll be happy. If people save their pocket money and come out, it’s cool.”

Foolishly, I pressed on with another icebreaker. We might be tapped out after Soundwave but over the year, we just stop buying so many $10 beers. I got a better reaction out of my carpet. I half-imagined tapping a mic on stand, wondering, “Is this thing on?” Never mind.

At the height of Carcass’ power 17 years ago, metal papers cowered under the loom of weekly deadlines. Kerrang! didn’t clickbait. They didn’t need to. Was Maiden really hiring Blaze Bayley? That guy sucks, man.

Some outlets are seemingly obsessed with celebrity. “MUSTAINE TAKES A SHIT: VIDEO AVAILABLE” is the new “Halford on Judas Priest’s 50th album.” Jeff and Carcass stormed back to confront the puckered asshole of TMZ-style snark blogging. This is where they live, now.

“It’s not like someone who’s into Avenged Sevenfold is gonna give a shit about who I am,” says Jeff, scoffing at the suggestion he’s a celebrity. “I’m quite happy about that, because I wouldn’t wanna be famous. Sometimes people in the pub come up to me and wanna talk about Carcass, but I’m off duty. I’m a private person so I’m happy putting my head down.”

Looking at Jeff on stage, you wouldn’t know it. Jeff’s voice and bass feels like a monstrous presence invading the space between bodies and beer glasses. Down from where I’m looking —

“It’s an act,” Jeff barks.

Is it?

“It’s performance.”

Yes, and it’s not theatre. You aren’t playing a character. There’s a distance between you as a band and the audience.

“The music is very heavy and aggressive,” Jeff concedes. “But… maybe it’s something on the inside that’s coming out for that time we’re onstage. I don’t go around walking on the streets, screaming at people. You just get into the role, you know. It’s like getting possessed by the music.”

Monty Python alumni John Cleese believes black humour is a release. By laughing at the morbid and profane, it loosens a mental vice. It’s a comforting moment realising it’s OK to think about ripping out your boss’ guts and serving his severed intestines as dinner. For his kids. All that mondo bizarro ‘taboo’-type shit bouncing around your brain is a joy shared by hundreds, if not thousands of people.

“There’s definitely that in Carcass, but there’s a lot of bands in death metal and grindcore that are completely humourless,” Jeff says. “That’s the point, I think. It’s definitely gallows humour. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, like a lot of bands do.”

Which bands we’ll never know.


“Well, I don’t want to be rude, but… I’ve got another interview to do in a couple of minutes,” he says rudely.


The thorn in Jeff’s sallow craw is any mention of Mike Amott. Mike, current Arch Enemy ringmaster, was Carcass’ guitarist for much of their career up until their ’96 swansong, Swansong. Last year’s Surgical Steel kicked ass. Makes sense if you assume Bill Steer and Jeff Walker are Carcass’ DNA; the genetic blueprint for the band’s comeback success.
“It is now. The original DNA was Bill, Ken [Owen] and me,” he replies, tipping his hat to Carcass’ original drummer callously paralysed by a brain haemorrhage. “Obviously Ken is incapacitated to the point that he can’t play with us, I think there’s enoof between us to make our band sound like Carcass.”

Mike Amott’s absence glows hot in the air.

Here’s a question I figure will go either way: Carcass have returned as a fully fledged touring band and not some reunion one-shot. Do people react differently now? I mean, Mike’s not there —

“Listen here, my friend,” Jeff snaps, in a tone that declares I’m definitely not his friend, “You keep mentioning Mike Amott and the reality is, when we go out playing, honestly, no one ever asks questions about him. I don’t know what that says about the current incarnation of the band. It’s kind of forgotten, you know?” He cools down some. So does the pace of the conversation.

Do Carcass plan their moves?


It seems like there’s a new energy in the band with new members.

“That’s a statement, not a question.” Jeff feigns a dry chuckle. He gets right fired up talking reactions to Surgical Steel, though.

“Kerry King says it was the best calculated and executed comeback he’s ever seen,” Jeff subtly beams. “What I find funny is nothing about it was calculated. It’s a series of random events, the stars have just aligned. Our touring schedule’s the same. We just want to go to the places we’ve not been yet.”

Stumbling through a couple more questions and hostile non-responses, Jeff calls time ahead of schedule.

“Well, I don’t want to be rude, but… I’ve got another interview to do in a couple of minutes,” he says rudely.

My heart sinks to my feet. Sure thing, Jeff. Thanks for your time. I have a new Game of Thrones to watch as well. Christ. //

Carcass Australian Tour:

Thursday June 12th – Capitol, Perth
Friday June 13th – The HiFi, Brisbane
Saturday June 14th – The Metro Theatre, Sydney
Sunday June 15th – 170 Russell, Melbourne



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