Interview with drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 18, 2022
San Francisco's long-running goremeisters Autopsy hardly need any introduction. Everyone who has been following the death metal scene should well be aware of the band's blood-soaked and putridity-filled albums, eight of which they have churned out since forming in 1987. The band called it a day in 1995 and officially reunited in July 2009, making their first comeback live appearance at Maryland Deathfest VIII in 2010. Since then, there's been no stopping them, and this gory patrol have stayed true to form ever since.
On September 30, 2022, Peaceville Records released the band's ninth full-length album, titled Morbidity Triumphant, containing 11 new cuts of slime, pus and blood from our much beloved meatgrinders, in the one and only Autopsy vein. The album also introduces new bassist Greg Wikinson, who replaced Joe Allen (in Autopsy between from 2010 to 2021).
The Metal Crypt contacted the band's head butcher Chris Reifert who was willing to tell us briefly about the new album, one badass bassist named Greg Wikinson, Wes Benscoter's sick art, old habits, and what 2023 look like for them so far...
How's life, Chris?
Chris: Taking forever! Just kidding, it's good, thanks! Rocking, rolling, right out of controlling. Just being a 16-year-old in my mind, as usual. Like Twisted Sister said, I'll never grow up now!
FRESHLY COOKED MACABRE TALES
I am sure you have been pretty darn busy lately due to all the promotional madness that you have been doing for the new Autopsy album, titled Morbidity Triumphant. You must feel pretty stoked about it considering it's been eight long years since your previous full-length, Tourniquets..., which came out in 2014, right?
Chris: You nailed it. Yeah, we've been pretty damn busy promoting the album and also running around in airports, sitting in airplanes and laying waste to stages here and there. It's been a wild year after two years of nothing. We haven't been thinking too much about how long it's been since the last full-length, but we've been getting lots of reminders about that lately. Haha!
Instead of Fantasy Studio, where you recorded your previous album, you chose to record this new macabre and vulgar opus at Opus Studios in Berkeley. Why is that?
Chris: That's an easy one. Sadly, Fantasy Studios is no more. It closed a few years back, so we asked Adam Munoz, who recorded all our stuff at Fantasy, where he was working now, and he told us he was at Opus. We actually went there to mix the live album in 2020, so we got to see what it was like. It's a cool studio so we figured we give it a go with the new album, and it turned out pretty fucking sick!
How many songs did you write for this new album, and do you have some leftover stuff from those sessions that you may use for a later release, like an EP or something?
Chris: We used everything we had for this one as we normally do. We pretty much never have leftover tracks. We like to write just enough material for an album or EP or whatever and give each song 100% focus.
NEW-OLD 4-STRING POUNDER
Greg Wilkinson joined Autopsy in 2021 as the band's new bassist, replacing Joe Allen. How has Greg been sitting in since he became a part of the lineup on a more permanent basis? What has he brought to the band from your sincere point of view, besides his humorous and friendly personality, of course?
Chris: He's been standing more than sitting... so far. We keep telling him to relax and put his feet up, but he keeps defying us and playing the bass while upright like a lunatic. Bass players, am I right? Otherwise, Greg is a great player, all around pleasant person to be around and metal through and through. A perfect fit for Autopsy!
Greg's also the owner and engineer of Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA, and has produced many bands (High on Fire, Necrot, Phrenelith, etc.). Do you think all his studio experience has helped the band in the studio environment?
Chris: As for the new Autopsy album, Greg got the rare opportunity to just be a bass player for a change. I know it's been many years since he's been able to do that. He couldn't help but throw a few suggestions out there while recording (ingrained habits, you know) but Adam Munoz really did the deed when it came to making the album with us. It was a crazy whirlwind, let me tell ya!
Are there any songs on this new Autopsy album that Greg has had a huge influence on, either musically or lyrically?
Chris: Musically he wrote "Final Frost" which turned out super heavy and sick. He wrote cool bass lines for all the songs but otherwise the rest of us were responsible for music writing and I handled all the lyrics. I'm sure he's chomping at the bit to write more next time!
NO NEED TO REINVENT THE SKELETAL WHEEL
When you guys started writing this new album, is it safe to say that you wanted to maintain the typical gory and brutal Autopsy sound without any compromises, to give the fans what they expect to get from Autopsy? I am sure you wanted to please yourselves knowing in your minds that Autopsy's past legacy is something that needs to be respected and treated a certain way, correct?
Chris: What can I say, it's more Autopsy as it should be. Again... old habits. We know what we need to sound like and have yet to deviate from that. We don't recycle or regurgitate old ideas but we're not trying to reinvent the skeletal wheel either, ya know?
Wes' art on Morbidity is really stunning, to say the least, fitting perfectly with Autopsy's concept when it comes to sick and gruesome art. Is the album artwork a product of his sick mind or did you give him some sort of a concept of what you'd like this time around?
Chris: Wes rules, no doubt about that. As usual when working with him, we didn't give him much to go on. Just a couple of titles and lyrics which he largely ignored. He comes up with this stuff via his own imagination and I don't know where he pulls it from, but DAMN! That's a beastly cover there and we are extremely pleased with it. Totally badass!!
Do you have any plans to tour to support the release of your new album either this year or next year or will it only be some weekend shows that you are able to do due to family, work, and all that jazz?
Chris: It's funny, we still get asked about touring and we haven't gone on a proper, grueling, make you want to blow your brains out tour since 1993. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again. However, we've been very busy with scattered shows this year. Lots of airports, airplanes and hotels, lack of sleep, etc. All the shows have been killer, though, and the crowds have been amazing. As for next year, your guess is as good as mine so far. Let's wait and see...!
This year isn't over yet as far as opportunities to play live is concerned. Besides UK Deathfest on September 3, 2022, and one show in Chicago at the end of October 2022 with Cardiac Arrest and Bones, what else do you have in store?
Chris: Nothing else this year. Chicago is the last one.
Autopsy was formed in 1987 and even if there have been a few hiccups along your way, it's still incredible the band has basically been around 35 years. When you formed in the late eighties, I am sure you just had no idea how long you would keep Autopsy's gory and blood-soaked wheels running and here you still are today after all those decades, keeping this old, mutilated corpse alive, doing music and touring the world. Honestly, that's quite fuckin' incredible, isn't it?
Chris: Yeah, it's nuts. We would have never even believed the year 2022 could be something real, let alone a year where we'd still be playing this stuff. And we're not even done yet! Unreal.
DEATH METAL IS GOING STRONGER THAN EVER
What do you think of the state of death metal in 2022? Do you find it as compelling and exciting as it was 30 years ago? Have there been new death metal bands that have impressed you lately?
Chris: It's going strong, that's for sure. Stronger than ever you could say, which is cool since lots of subgenres have come and gone and death metal has clearly been weathering the test of time. If we stop doing it, you'll know we don't find it compelling or exciting, but we'll probably fall apart as mortal humans before that happens. It's ingrained too deep to just dismiss it, ya know? And yes, of course, there are some new younger bands doing it right, which is fantastic.
Up next you need to grab your crystal ball and tell us what kind of plans Autopsy has for 2023, although it's always hard to predict the future. Is there anything concrete that you could reveal about your plans for next year?
Chris: We have Stonehenge Fest in the Netherlands in July but beyond that... we'll see. We'd like to not wait a bunch of years to do another full-length album so maybe we can blast one out. Looking forward to whatever cool shit happens!
Is a full Autopsy documentary, with old live footage and interviews, picture slideshows, etc., in your personal bucket list at some point in the future? I believe there would be many Autopsy fans out there who would like to grab such a thing for their collections. There's just not the slightest doubt about that, I guess...
Chris: No one's asked about that lately, but if they do, we can certainly talk about it.
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
OK, here's my last question and then I let you go for a beer or something... Uh, analog or digital?
Chris: For recording? It's pretty hard to find an actual analog studio these days and if you do, everything will get digitalized for streaming, CDs, etc. I don't worry about that as long as we can still make our records sound the way we want them to, which we do. At least we got to experience analog in the old days, so we really got the best of both worlds. No complaints!
That's it from me, so thank you very much for your time, Chris, and all the best to you and for all the band's future endeavors as well. May they all be successful and rewarding in every possible sense. Keep on rotting...! Any closing comments perhaps?
Chris: Thanks, Luxi. Always cool chatting with you. It's been quite a few years, eh?! As for last words, just the usual thanks to everyone reading this and for supporting Autopsy. Cheers to all of you!!!
|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)|
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