|n.||1.||(Antiq.) The public executioner at Rome, who executed persons of the lowest rank; hence, an executioner or hangman.|
Some might say this is a fitting description for Deathcore band Carnifex which emerged from San Diego’s metal scene and has gone on to record several albums and continues to channel insane amounts of brutal tone and carnivorous rage. In a Voices of Metal first, we talk with Cory Arford (guitar), Ryan Gudmunds (guitar) and Freddie Calderon (bass).
Cory: “I’m not too sure about the rest of the guys, but, I started playing guitar in high school, as lame as it may sound, because I wanted to hang out with the people I thought were cool. Then I went to a KoRn and Staind tour when I was 15 and decided that I wanted to do that for a living.”
Ryan: “Carnifex started playing about 7 years ago. I’ve been in the band for about 5 years. I used to be in a band called Legacy of Pain. My previous bands first tour was with Carnifex. My band was at its end, Carnifex said they wanted me. Rest was history.”
Freddie: “A friend of mine found a guitar at his grandparents place and he decided to learn how to play guitar. I originally planned on buying a drumset but the bass starter package was a more financially viable option. Since I was already playing baritone and trombone it made more sense to continue playing a low end instrument.”
We’ve interviewed many metal bands from Sweden and Scandanavia, do you think the metal scene is as vibrant in America? What differences or similarities do you think exist?
Cory: “I think that both scenes, here and there, are both very vibrant but I believe that the Scandinavian audience still has a more traditional death metal fan base and the people here usually like whatever’s big or hot.”
Ryan: “Swedish/Scandinavian bands have a huge impact on how Carnifex writes. I am hugely impacted by At The Gates, In Flames, The Haunted, and others. I think their scene is their scene. Ours is ours. But I do believe both sides follow and mimic each other”
Freddie: “There seems to be more bands per capita out in the Scandinavia region. The music scene in America seems to be pretty vibrant. The access to music to listen to and the tools to learn how to make your own and capture it are pretty accessible. I think that bands in the Scandinavia region seem to benefit slightly from being isolated a bit since bands are constantly trying to break into the North American market.”
Tell us about the gear you use to get your maniacally fast and brutal tone.
Cory: “Well, for me I use a Peavey 6505+(hopefully a 5150 3 soon) and I run a Boss NS-2, an Ibanez TS-7 tubescreamer, and a Peavey wireless – that’s basically it. Besides a furman power conditioner and a tuner, that don’t effect tone. My main tone tone comes from my super dry settings. I usually run my mids at 8 out of 10 on the dial and my highs are usually between 3 and 5 on the dial. High mids makes a clear responsive sound so with our fast playing you can hear every pick of the guitar pick. The highs add a bit of heat with the gain. And I usually run the gain on my head as high as I can until it feeds back and then I back it off until it stops, haha.”
Ryan: “I play only Ibanez guitars, into Peavey wireless, into Peavey heads (6505+). Boss noise suppresor. La’bella strings and Vader cabinets.”
Freddie: “I use two custom Acacia Gladius 5 string basses. One has a canary wood body with a one piece bubinga top, a walnut neck with a quilted cocobolo fretboard, and is equipped with Seymour Duncan Blackouts. The other is mahogony body and neck with a california buckeye burl top and zircote neck and is equipped with passive Seymour Duncan Soapbars. I string both basses up with La Bella stainless steel strings, .45, .65, .85, .105, .130. I have a rack case that has a Peavey Tour Series 700 head, SansAmp RBI, and a Peavey ProCommPCX U1002 wireless unit. When I go overseas I like to travel light so I bring a Korg DT-10 pedal tuner and my SansAmp Bass Driver DI pedal.”
Why did you choose Blackouts and what is it about the tone that makes them work for you?
Cory: “I have a 707 EMG in my 7321 and I noticed with the Blackouts they have a higher and hitter output plus they don’t sound so digital like the 707’s do. It’s like having a real passive pickup with the heat and gain of an active pickup. Seymour Duncan really nailed it with those
How do you enjoy playing the big metal festivals as opposed to smaller shows along a tour?
Cory: “I like both equally. At the fests you get the honor of playing in front of so many people, it’s intense, and playing smaller shows are usually a little more crazy because you share the energy with the fans there that are right in front of you.”
Ryan: “I love playing shows. I kinda have a 1,000 mile stare. So playing a small club or the biggest festival, I don’t feel the gravity of it until the show is over. But I love both.”
Freddie: “I actually prefer either really big shows and small shows over the in between ones. When we go overseas for the festival circuit it’s fun to play the huge fest then hop into the van and play a string of very small club shows on our way to another big fest. Some of those cities are usually devoid of shows and the crowd consists of people who don’t get to enjoy the festival experience and they make up for it by raging with us.”
What advice can you give to aspiring metal players around the world who are looking to make a career of creating brutal music?
Cory: “Play shows, get out there, hand out demos, hand out flyers for your shitty little shows at big shows so you can gain a percentage of people. The more people you talk to and show your band to, the better your chances. That’s all we did, and occasionally got on a show with some nationals acts by being at a ton of shows and getting to know the people around the venue, and offering to sell pre-sale tickets and not just paying for the tickets but actually tried to sell them. Be seen, be heard, be known around your area and you can get out.”
Ryan: “I guess my only advice would be not to be worrying about what other bands or people are listening to. Pick your style and stick with it.”
Freddie: “Lot’s of dedication and compromise. Not only within yourself but with others. Being a part of group means a lot of give and take and knowing when to be there or when to back off. It might be hard to find people to depend on, but it pays to be someone dependable.”
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