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Interviews : “There’s a little bit of room for changing things up” – An interview with Bill Steer (Carcass)

By on March 9, 2020

When Lars and James were busy figuring out how to make Metallica sound like Mötley Crüe‘s dreadful Dr Feelgood (’89), then stupefying the thrash icon’s sound to appeal to mainstream hard rock’s lowest common denominator of fandom via the self-titled (aka Black) album back in 1990, a crusty quartet of grind aficionados from Liverpool, UK, were tinkering away in the grindcore department of the death metal workshop.

Carcass is a band whose name will live long in the psyche of extreme metal. Their evolution from splatter grind upstarts to undisputed heavyweight champs of melodic death metal is rivalled only by the superb At The Gates. The driving force within the band is Bill Steer. He’s the bloke the late great Ralph Santolla (DeathDeicideObituary) said was the most charismatic guitarist he’d ever seen. High praise indeed!

The good news for Australian fans is that Carcass are touring Australia in March, appearing at Download Festival and in selected capital cities. Steer for one is excited, and he’s almost an honorary Aussie having lived here on and off over the years.

“I think the longest stretch I stayed there uninterrupted was probably, like, seven months or something,” he said.

“I had been to Australia several times before that, but staying for that length of time, you start to get the essence and the lifestyle, I was very taken with it.

“(The band) all look forward to it tremendously, we like to travel, but Australia is one of the big ones for us.”

Australia is a strong territory for Carcass. The band has toured here regularly on the back of album releases which brings us to this year’s appearances. With a new album said to be in the pipeline and the presence of a killer cut called “Under the Scalpel Blade” how does Steer, and the band sort out a setlist?

“It’s tricky because sometimes you’re given 45 minutes, sometimes it’s an hour. There’s plenty of debate that goes on between the members of the band, and there are certain songs that we more or less have to play, “he said.

“There’s a little bit of room for changing things up, but we try and represent each of the albums we’ve done. There’s going to be more songs from a particular record for various reasons because we prefer it or because it’s a more popular record, whatever it might be.

“Just this week we’ve been practising for the first time in ages and we just really wanted to change the setup, for us first and foremost, but also for the audience so that it doesn’t too closely resemble what we’d been playing last few years.”

Steer is a modest fellow, to be sure, but he must be aware of just how influential the sound he pioneered in Carcass has been over so many heavy metal bands post 1995?

“To a degree, I guess, we do, but I don’t think it’s healthy to get too hung up about things like that because, for every person or band member you meet who claims you’ve been an influence, there’s always somebody else who’s not aware of your stuff,” he said.

“I mean, metal is more diverse than it’s ever been and there are just countless sub-genres. But yeah, in our little corner of the scene, I guess we’ve had an impact, and that’s fantastic.”

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith