Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 3, 2023
Autopsy, California's undisputed servants of guts, blood, and gore, have been terrorizing us for quite a few years since they got back together in 2009. They have released five studio albums since their reunion, and the band's newest menu is filled with the following delicacies: Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts. Yes, correct. That's the title of the band's forthcoming album, scheduled to be released by Peaceville Records on October 27, 2023.
It's been just one year since the Autopsy team let us taste their last thick and juicy soup of blood, limbs, and entrails, Morbidity Triumphant, which was a truly delicious yet familiar recipe of what this band has represented since the band's first inception back in 1987.
The Metal Crypt's representative decided to dial up Chris Reifert's number to inquire about the new album, Autopsy's touring plans, and such.
Chris Reifert: [*clears throat*] Good evening, Finland!
Good evening, Chris. How is it going there?
Chris: It's going good, man. I've got my third cup of coffee and am waking up a little bit. How about you, man? How are you?
Well, actually, I've been suffering from [*clears throat*] this annoying flu for the past two weeks. I have had no fever whatsoever, but still I haven't felt too well lately.
Chris: Oh, that's sucks.
Autumn is coming to Finland, so I think it has something do with that because the weather is also cooling down. I don't know.
Chris: Yes, changes in the weather. It's so cool to talk to you, man. It's been a long time.
Yes. It's been a few years since we last talked.
Chris: Yes, I think so.
Anyway, to get this interview started, about two weeks ago you visited Mexico, and did the Candelabrum Metal Fest. How was it?
Chris: Oh, man. It was cool. It was awesome. We hadn't played there since 1992, so people were ready for it or maybe they weren't born the first time or whatever, but it was great. It was super fun. It's a really good fest. Super well organized and professional, and all that. The lineup was great. I'm actually looking at the poster right now. They had bands like Satan and Agent Steel. Yes, man, old death metal bands too, like Immolation. It was cool, man. I saw some old friends like the Immolation guys. I've known them since the very old days.
From the old demo days I believe...
Chris: Yes, exactly. I remember when they were Rigor Mortis. I'm sure you do, too. They were hanging out in our dressing room tent and King Fowley from Deceased [*laughs*] started bugging us. It was great [*laughs*].
King is always a very nice bloke, talking a lot all the time. He's actually very good at that.
Chris: Oh, yes. He's always on, man. He's so funny. He's a good friend from way back. I remember ordering the Deceased demo when it first came out because he was advertising free demos. You just asked him for one and he would send it. I did that way back when and have been in touch with him since then.
WHAT'S ON THE SHOPPING LIST?
Let's have a few words about Autopsy's newest collection of morbidities called Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts, which sounds very much like an Autopsy album title. What can you tell us about the songwriting process? Was it a team effort or did some of you have bigger roles in this soup of blood and entrails?
Chris: That's quite a shopping list, isn't it? [*laughs*].
We pretty much do it the same way we always do. Everyone writes individually at home on guitar and then we send our song to everyone. Now you can do it on your phone, just record it, or we can make videos, like, here's how my song goes, or. We do those and then also we get in the rehearsal room and show everyone how the song goes. Let's say Eric wrote a song, he sends us the whole song complete. We write the whole music to a song and send it to everybody.
We get the chance to try and learn it at home a little bit and then get into the rehearsal room, and then everyone learns everything all together, and that's pretty much it. I do the lyrics. I did all the lyrics this time. I can wait till the last minute for those because I don't need to have them until it's time to do vocals in the studio. We never rehearse with vocals unless it's to get ready for a show. Once we get in the studio and I do the vocals, it's the first time anyone's heard them, including myself [*laughs*]. It's like a surprise. That's pretty much it though, so it's pretty simple. Nothing too crazy or complex.
Do you already have your favorite songs off this record?
Chris: No, I don't. I haven't been listening to it because I don't want to get tired of it before the copies show up. Oddly enough, I think our band copies are supposed to show up in the mail today.
In the past, I've made the mistake of getting the songs as they appear on the album as soon as we're done, and I listen to it way too much because I'm all excited. I think we've all done this, and so I just listen to it too much and then I get tired of it. Then the physical copy shows up in the mail and I look at it and I go, "Oh, cool." Then I put it away. [*laughter*] We're trying not to do that this time, some of us, anyway. I know Danny and I are doing this. We're intentionally trying to forget what it is until it shows up, and then we can look at the album cover and the packaging, and listen to it, and kind of like pretend it's the first time, like a first-time listener.
I don't know. I don't usually pick favorite songs because all the songs are so close to us, because we wrote, learned, and rehearsed, and everyone was involved so closely with them, you know. Not to sound generic, but I say all of them, they all turned out cool. Otherwise, we wouldn't put them on the album.
Indeed. That makes a lot of sense. You have a song title on this new album called "Throatsaw". What is a throat saw? Is that a real, flesh-cutting instrument, or some sort of imaginary thing?
Chris: I guess anything could be one. Think about it. [*laughs*] It's your choice. Or you can pretend that I'm going into a very specialized hardware store and say, "I'll take your sharpest one, please" [*laughs*]. I say it's on sale. It's your choice really. I didn't get specific about a brand or something, but maybe someone will create and market one after reading that, that's possible.
Yes, it's always possible. Did you write more songs than the 11 that made their way on to the album and if so, do you have plans to use them for an EP in the future perhaps?
Chris: No, nothing extra. We don't have anything extra. We use every moment we have to get the songs that we do have ready for the studio. We're always getting it together at the very last second to get in the studio in a hurry to record. Everything's in a hurry, hurry, hurry. We barely have enough time to finish what we bring in because that's just how we go [*laughs*] trying to beat the deadline.
Yes, I hear you. Do you think the material on this album has a lot of variety, from the band's doomy Mental Funeral era to some faster and more brutal stuff, which the band has also become known for?
Chris: Honestly, it's got all the things that you would expect from us, you know? Like repeats. I mean, pretty much any album we've done has got fast stuff and slow stuff. Mental Funeral's weird because everyone talks about how it's such a doomy album, but there's actually a lot of really fast stuff on it, too. I think it's the weird production that makes it sound extra doomy, I guess. It's just got this murky sound, so even the fast parts sound slow. It's hard to describe. It's really weird.
Even Severed Survival has lots of slow doom on it. It's not like we have a formula. We like to have a variety, a little bit of everything, fast, slow, stuff in the middle, maybe an unexpected tempo once in a while that you wouldn't normally expect from us, but like I tell everyone, we're not going Dream Theater, are we? We are as old-school as always.
Since the reunion of the band in 2009, you have been pretty active recording-wise. I mean, six albums in 14 years is definitely a decent amount, so would you say the band has been in a creative state since the reunion? Six studio albums in 14 years can be considered quite an accomplishment, right?
Chris: Yes, that's somewhat true. I think our records, well, a couple of them we're not sure if we're supposed to call them albums or mini-albums, or whatever. Call it what you want, I guess. We've been keeping super busy. I don't know why. We've been getting slower and lazier in our older years, but we're still, "Go, go, go." I don't know why. It's weird.
It's a good thing if you feel creative, which may make you feel you are busy basically all the time. Also, a good thing about it is we, the fans, don't have to wait five, six, or seven years until a new Autopsy album comes out, so that can be considered a positive thing.
Chris: Yes, hopefully not. We made it, and we waited 15 years once, so we're trying to make up for it, maybe.
MR. GOREMEISTER BENSCOTER
Wes Benscoter, who else, has done the artwork for this new album. What makes his art so special for Autopsy? Does he read your sick minds, knowing what type of artwork you are after?
Chris: I mean pretty much. He's well versed in metal and death metal, and all that. He's done a lot of work for a lot of bands. He knows how to tap into the morbid gore stuff. We don't have to tell him too much. Sometimes we give him nothing. Usually, I'll give him a few song titles or if we have an album title, we'll give that to him and maybe some lyrics. He usually ignores things like lyrics. I know not to even bother now, he doesn't need them, I guess. We'll give him a suggestion, which he usually ignores and just [chuckles*] does what he's going to do.
Then we'll maybe offer a couple of thoughts, very minor changes or additions or subtractions, but not very much. It's cool. On the last album, Morbidity Triumphant, that was tricky because he did the cover and we didn't have a title yet, we couldn't think of one, and looking at that art and just trying to think of what to call it was really hard. I finally came up with something cool. Mostly, we just let him go, see what he comes up with, and didn't have to steer him very much in any direction.
Would you say Wes feels like the fifth member of the band due to all the visual, bloody, and gory stuff he has done for you over the years? He at least seems to have an understanding of what you guys need...
Chris: Yes, he does. I don't think anyone's the fifth member, but he's definitely a really cool part of the package. We're really happy with what he's done. I think it's going to look cool on vinyl and stuff.
NO MORE LONG TOURS
Let's move on and have a few words about doing gigs, shall we? Autopsy hasn't extensively toured recently, just some weekend shows and single-off gigs here and there since the reunion in 2009. I guess there's a good reason for that. You all have jobs and stuff, so doing 2–3-week tours is out of the question, right?
Chris: Oh, yes, no we're not going on any long tours. I think it's funny that people still ask if we're going on tour, or when we're going on tour. Man, the last time we did that was 1993.
[*chuckles*] Yes, that's a long time ago.
Chris: Yes, fuck that, man. We're not going to do that. We have home lives that we actually enjoy, we like being at home and like sleeping in our own beds. Traveling on a fucking bus for a long time is just terrible and the idea of moving from one place to another by bus for a month sounds horrible. I would never do that. We just do what works for us and this is great, going away for a weekend or a night or a few days, that can be cool, too. No weeks or months, nothing like that anymore. We did it a couple times in Europe and once in the States. We know what it's like.
Some bands, it's in their DNA. They have to do that. I have friends who were always on tour. It works for them. That's cool, but that's not our thing. Also, the other side of it is when we do play somewhere, it's like a special thing instead of, "Oh, shit. I just saw them a couple months ago" or "I just saw them last year." If we're coming around, we're hoping it makes it a little more exciting too, because you just never know when or where we're going to show up.
What does 2024 look like for Autopsy as far as gigs are concerned? Have you already got some invitations to play at some European metal festivals next summer, for example?
Chris: We've do have a few things. We've announced a festival called Hell's Heroes in Texas. That's another one with just a ridiculous lineup. Fuck, we're playing with like Sodom and Queensrÿche and Candlemass and many other great bands. It looks like it's specialized to mostly like '80s bands and or '80s sounding bands, which there are plenty of now, which is cool, but that's going to be wild. We keep hearing how cool that festival is from friends that have played it and that's super exciting. We just confirmed just the other day another fest which we can't announce yet. It'll be soon. Then there's another one that we're talking about. We'll do a few things, not too many, but a good handful of stuff, I'm sure. Maybe we'll have a local show too. We'll see what happens. There's still lots of time.
COLLECTING MUSIC THE OLD-SCHOOL WAY
Indeed, there is. As you know by experience, metal music has taken different shapes over the past 4-5 decades and there are so many metal bands out there nowadays that it's really difficult to follow what's going on all the time. Also, our habits of listening to music have changed quite a lot because now we have the Internet with its countless music platforms, from Spotify to YouTube to Deezer and so on. How do you digest your music these days, Chris? Do you still prefer collecting physical stuff rather than listening to music through digital channels?
Chris: I think we've had this discussion. I think it'd be the same thing. Keep buying music and then you run out of room for it. I do that, but now I've got a whole room just for records and CDs, and shit like that. Listening to music has not ever changed for me because I don't listen to music on the Internet or streaming. I just like records and CDs, and shit like that, and that's it, man. I haven't changed.
Do you still visit Amoeba Music in San Francisco from time to time to pick up some music?
Chris: Yes, I go there when I can. He's got a few good record stores around. I do buy. I buy records off the Internet like Amazon and shit like that. If I can't find something in the store, I can't get to the store, I will still buy the record or CD, but I do like going to the record shops. There's a few of them that are relatively close that I like to go to when I can. Hell, yes, definitely.
OK, I have one last question for you Chris, and then I let you go grab that extra cup of coffee. Is there still something that you'd like to achieve with Autopsy even though you have already achieved quite a lot?
Chris: No. I can't think of anything off the top of my head. I think we'd be happy to just keep going the way we're going until we can't do it anymore. [*laughs*] Until we fall apart or something, or we start dropping dead or something like that. We just kind of continue in the same direction, slow but steady, I guess you could say. It's exciting not knowing what's coming up and the elements of the unknown are fun and then when something comes up like Hell's Heroes or some shit, it's like, "Oh, fuck, this is cool." You know what I mean. That's something that we would've aspired to.
A lot of the bands on that festival are ones that I was first discovering as I was getting into metal as a young teenager. If someone told me when I was 13, "Hey, you're going to play with Queensrÿche someday..." [*laughter*] Or Sodom, or whatever. I don't know. I like life being filled with surprises and then it's funnier to look back on something we did and look at the poster or whatever, show or festival and be like, "Oh, yes, that happened." That works pretty well.
How about getting a luxury Autopsy box set released someday, you know, with some cool extras like demos, live stuff, unreleased rehearsal songs, and such? Now that would be cool as hell, I think.
Chris: Yes. I'm all into stuff like that. We had something like that, like a four CD book. With a full book and I think it has the demos on it and then live shit and a bunch of other things like that. I love box sets and collections and things like that. Those are super fun. I actually just got a killer Incantation triple record set that came out I think last year that's got all sorts of shit like demos. Rare stuff, and this and that. I love things like that. Anytime Peaceville is into an idea like that, we'll probably say yes.
Actually, there was this Autopsy compilation of demos titled Critical Madness: The Demo Years that Peaceville Records put out in February 2018, remember?
Chris: Yes, that was the last thing they didn't have in their catalog. They have everything now. Every single thing we've ever done they have. That's cool though. I like having it all in one reliable place.
Well alright, buddy. That was it on my part. It was nice talking with you over the phone. It's very different to have a talk this way instead of doing an email interview.
Chris: Sure, man. It was really nice to actually talk to you. I'll let you go get some sleep and I hope you feel a little bit better tomorrow.
Hope so. Thanks, Chris, for your time and have a nice day! I guess there are no better-ending words than keep on rocking! Bye for now...
Chris: No, there's not. Unless you want to say rock and roll. [*laughter*] Rest up and we'll talk more soon. I'll be around. Bye-bye!
|Other information about Autopsy on this site
|Review: Mental Funeral
|Review: Severed Survival/Retribution For The Dead
|Review: Dark Crusades
|Review: The Tomb Within
|Review: Macabre Eternal
|Review: Puncturing the Grotesque
|Interview with Chris, Eric, Joe and Danny on September 17, 2011 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert on January 2, 2013 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
|Interview with vocalist and drummer Chris Reifert on May 8, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert on December 17, 2017 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert on October 18, 2022 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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