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Warbeast: Bruce Corbitt Discusses Phil Anselmo and the Passing of Mike Scaccia

Warbeast
Warbeast
Chris Trainor

Texas-based thrash metallers Warbeast thrive off meat-grinding riffs, jackhammer double bass, a range of lyrical topics, and 180-degree hooks. Made up of veteran rockers that have been creating music for decades --the members' resumes include Rigor Mortis, Gammacide, and Demonseed-- Warbeast formed in 2006, and in 2010 released its debut, Krush the Enemy, via Phil Anselmo's underground label Housecore Records. The band further refined its approach with its second full-length, Destroy, which was released on Tuesday, January 8.

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Now, the band -- Bruce Corbitt [vocals], Scott Shelby [lead guitar], Joe Gonzalez [drums], Bobby Tillotson Jr. [lead guitar], and Dré Karst [bass] -- is touring with Down to bring its crunching sound to cities all over the country (including a stop at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Monday, January 14).

Vocalist Corbitt is starting down a busy 2013: he's contributed to three highly anticipated albums. In addition to the new Warbeast offering, he's featured on War Of The Gargantuas, a split featuring two songs from Warbeast and well as two songs from Phil Anselmo's upcoming solo album. Also headed to record stores? The long-awaited Rigor Mortis album, Slaves To The Grave.

Unfortunately, I spoke with Corbitt only a couple days after the death of guitar legend Mike Scaccia, a close friend and bandmate of Corbitt's. In fact, Scaccia's cause of death, a heart attack, occurred on stage while he was performing as a part of Corbitt's 50th birthday celebration.

While I could hear the pain in his Corbitt's amiable Texas draw, there was also a rightful glimmer of excitement when he discussed his musical plans for the upcoming year.

Up on the Sun: First off, I wanted to say happy belated 50th birthday, and also I'm very sorry to hear about Mike [Scaccia]'s passing.

Bruce Corbitt: Oh yeah. Well thank you about the birthday, but with Mike, it's been such a nightmare. We're just trying to make it through it you know?

I understand. Will you be speaking at his memorial on the 30th?

Yes, yes I will. It's gonna be hard, but of course I wanted to do that for Mike and his family.

Is there anything you'd like to share about that at all?

[Long pause] Well, just that you know I hope that everyone who can come out will to support his family. It's tough times right now. What makes it worse is it was sudden.

I know it's really fresh.

Yes, he was a great guy, and a guitar hero, and he meant so much to me. I've said my whole life he's the only reason I got in a band to begin with. I owe everything to him. So his spirit will just live on through me and many others.

I didn't realize he was the reason you originally got into a band.

Yeah, that's a very true story right there. I wasn't even thinking of being in any bands until I met him. And I just thought, "What do I have to do to get in a band with him? I can't do anything. I wanna sing, but I can't sing!" But I wanted to be in a band with him so bad I did whatever I could, and then I just became a singer. His influence on me has been strong during the last 30 years.

In 2013, there are at least three different albums I've heard featuring your vocals, including the Rigor Mortis first album with the original lineup in 25 years, and the split album with [Phil] Anselmo. What are you most excited about?

Well, all three actually! It's unbelievable to me that in one year I'm going to release more material than I have in my entire career so far. But of course, I'm so proud of the new Warbeast album, and the split coming up. The Anselmo material...recording with his solo material....that's unbelievable right there. The Rigor Mortis album means so much to me because it's been so long you know? People have been patiently waiting for a new album, and now, you know, so...cool that we got to do this album before Mike left us.

There might even be a fourth release by the end of the year, because we did so much stuff with new Warbeast, and we originally had planned to release it as a two-sided single type of deal. But emotionally, the one that will touch me the most is the recording I did with Mike, because of what's happened of course.

Destroy is supposed to be heavier and harder than anything else you guys have done. What's something else fans can expect?

It's one of those things like "Reign in Blood," where it's just start-to-finish intense. We've always been a thrash band, but we're even more so on this album. There's no weak tracks on it; we don't think anyone's going to want to skip over songs. I think it's one of those albums that people can play from start to finish and like it, which is hard this day in age with the iPod thing and putting it on random.

Over the years, Warbeast has toured with bands like Down, eyehategod, Gwar, Otep...and before that even you've been doing music for years. Is there any band you've shared the stage with or tour that particularly stands out in your mind as a favorite? When we did our first really big tour, and we went out with Destruction, it was really an honor. They were our guitarists favorite band, and also one of mine. They were a big influence on us back then. I was getting into Rigor Mortis, and it was kinda what just launched us in the first place.

Then touring with Gwar...those guys were going through such a devastating time when we toured with them. It was right when they lost Corey [Smoot, guitarist]. They were just so strong...just to be able to continue the tour. They treated us so well. Going out with Down is just like going out with some brothers and friends. There's no competition and we're just there to support each other, and we want the crowd to have fun while they're there. I'm just proud of every tour I've got to do. Hopefully they'll be more to come.

 

How was it working with Phil? What did he bring to the table for Warbeast during recording?

Well, the man has so much experience and knowledge when it comes to the recording process. He taught me quite a bit for vocals. He's always there so every step of the way with me, he'd give me little tips and tricks. So I always seem to be thinking, "Well, this is what Phil taught me!" [Laughs] I just learned so much. Plus, the man just makes you feel so comfortable when you're recording with him. Every recording Warbeast has done, he made it better than it would've been originally.

What's an example of a tip or trick he's given you?

Well, little small things that seem to just pop up in his head right there. He has this little thing he does, an old-fashioned thing, where he cups his hand around his mouth so he doesn't have to use any effects. Cup your mouth two inches away, then more, six inches away....it makes each vocal sound just a tiny bit different, which is something I hadn't thought of before. But when a certain line needs to be a little different than another, we do the hand effect now. Laughter. Another thing is echoes. People easily just do "echo" on the soundboard, but he does his own echoes and now I always do my own echoes which just means that I have to go back and record the same word three times, just going back and recording it half a second later, then bring the volume down on each one to create the echo effect. I could never explain everything I've learned from him.

Yeah, that's something I've always loved about his Pantera vocals, because they were all so much about doing their own effects and sticking with old-school methods.

Exactly! That's the big thing I've learned from him. Warbeast plans to always record with Phil in the future.

So, Ministry's Al Jourgensen provides a speech in one of the song intros on the Rigor Mortis album, Slaves to the Grave. How did that come about?

Yeah, Al and his wife invited us to his house while we were making the Rigor Mortis album. Now, Al's producing the album. During recording I wrote this song inspired about gladiators and warriors, and I had this idea to have an Intro that has a trainer coming out to give a speech before the gladiators battle. At first I thought I would do it, and just disguise my voice or something, but then I started thinking how cool it would be to get Al to do it. He was into the idea, and I let him know what I wanted him to say. He said he'd do it but I didn't know if he was serious or not. Then the very next day he said he wanted to do his part right then. He went into recording, knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he did it in one take. It was just like, "wow." I found out the genius of Al right there. He's just like Phil; a master when it comes to the studio.

Warbeast is known for some killer live shows. What's the first show you went to? Mine was Aerosmith and Nazareth, back in like '76. Aerosmith was my favorite band at the time, I was 15 or something. Then I just went to concerts every week after that; I became addicted to rock concerts. You know, back then, we were going to see huge acts for $5 like that, then it slowly went up to $6 or $8, but times have changed so much now it's expensive to see big names. In the seventies we didn't have an underground, we'd see these shows in big arenas. I miss that.

Now tickets are like, $300 to see The Who.

[Laughs] You know? Back then it didn't matter. Every ticket cost the same, it was just whoever got in line. You'd be in front row or last row for same price and that made it fun. When tickets went on sale we'd just camp out. It made the whole process much more fun.

I just have one more question for you; I was curious as to what bands you are listening to right now.

Well if you would've asked me last week I probably would've had a different answer. But right now, I'm just listening to my brother Mike Scaccia's music. Anything he's ever done and any band, all his side projects. Just honoring him and showing my respect. [I'm] just missing him so much that I just wanna hear some music by him.

Of course. Well, I hope it helps soothe your soul a bit.

Warbeast and Down are scheduled to perform on Monday, January 14, at Marquee Theatre.


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