Warbeast Bypasses Phoenix, Talks 9/11 Riffs With Us Anyway

Earlier this month, Gwar and Warbeast kicked off a tour and brought down the house at Tucson's Rialto Theatre. But the thrash metal gods, lo and behold, have forsaken us here in Phoenix, and the tour didn't come our way.

Hell, the duo is even going through spots like Des Moines, Little Rock, Greenville -- what a downer.

Touring with Gwar is an ideal fit for Warbeast, which started in 2006 as Texas Metal Alliance. Known for their pulverizing riffs, pounding double-bass, powerful leads, and lyrics that range from horror movies to national disasters, their retro-thrash only gets heavier with each album.

In 2012, Warbeast hunkered down in the legendary Phil Anselmo's studio to record their new album Destroy, released on April 2.

Even though we weren't graced with their extreme-metal presence, I got to chat with Warbeast lead vocalist Bruce Corbitt about playing their new album with Gwar, riffs written on 9/11, and future music.

Up on the Sun: How do you think this tour's energy -- given Gwar's crazy antics -- is different from the one with Down?

Well, the album was released right before the tour started, so we're excited about that, knowing that it's available for everyone to buy and listen to. It's just great for a band to go through all that work and then have your music out there.

Last time you went out with them on tour, they had just lost Corey Smoot.

I know. They were very strong and dealing with it. It was unbelievable how they were dealing with it. But it was hard at first to know what to really say or do. You don't wanna bring them down; you want to lift their spirits. But we also didn't want to not talk about it and not be supportive.

But now they've turned around to support us with the passing of Mike Scaccia. You know, they called both me and Casey within a day or two of that happening. That's just the brotherhood between bands. We're just going to go out and make Mike proud.

With that, do you think you guys will share the stage for any sort of tribute song?>

Well, we dedicated the whole tour with Down to Mike, so we're not going to repeat that on this tour. But I think there's never going to be another show for the rest of my life where I won't say something or dedicate something to Mike. I don't know about Gwar and Corey . . . but they will all be in our hearts and motivate us to be even better.

What is your favorite track on Destroy?

Well, that's been changing [laughs]. Every week is different. I really love "Egotistical Bastard." It has a catchy chorus and all the elements that make a good thrash song; different speeds and gets everyone going. Always been a crowd-pleaser.

And we just had a video come out right before the tour for "Blood Moon."

Which song are you most anxious about to play on stage, if any?

Well, we played five or six of our new songs on the Down tour, so we have a lot down pretty tight. But the one I'm probably most nervous about is "Blood Moon," and the reason is because I've never put so many lyrics into a song before, and there's just so many parts where it's back to back to back . . . I'm running out of breath just singing it at practice! So it can be tough to pull off live.

It's easier at a show, though, because you have the adrenaline kicking in. So somehow you manage to get it better than you did at practice. And "Destroy" is tough, too, for the same reasons. [laughs].

I love "The Day of..."

That's the other one; I'm glad you brought that up. That's the other song we're trying to learn. It's a good one, but we put in our own news clips that we obviously can't do live.

What was the concept behind that song?

Well, Scott Shelby . . . You know sometimes you dig some stuff out of your archives when you're writing good songs. He told me he wrote a riff on 9/11, on the actual day, and it ended up being the main riff of the "The Day of..."

So I used that concept as a way to talk about many tragic days in American history. Starting with Pearl Harbor, Kennedy assassination, some of the NASA tragedies . . . I was even thinking of stuff like Hurricane Katrina. You just never forget where you were when those things happen. The day of.

Is there anything really different about this new album?

Well, I think it's a lot better. You know, when you lose band members, or a key member like Rick Perry -- one of the founding members who wrote half of the music on the first album -- you get a lot of people who think you won't be as good because you're losing that key member.

But we have to look at it like, we don't want people to be saying that about our next album, that they like the first one better. So we were determined to sort of show that it didn't hurt the band or slow us down.

Not because we're stronger or because we lost him, but because we're getting better as a band. It motivated us to work even harder on our writing. We didn't want anyone to say the first album was better. Practice makes perfect.

You also wrote a couple of extra songs and held them back to do a two-sided single. One of those was about your brother, who you lost several years ago. Can you tell me more about why those songs didn't make the cut?

We went in with the intention of recording them all, but once we finished it and put it together, it was really long. We were thinking ahead that if we held a couple back we could release a two-sided thing.

Once [Phil] heard the songs in that order he thought if we just shortened it a bit the songs on Destroy would all fit really well together. It was a combination of both.

And the one about my brother, I've already laid the vocals for it and everything. It's the bonus song on the European release that comes out April. Probably later in the year it will be released in the U.S.

And now you and Phil are working on some songs about Mike Scaccia? Can we expect those to be more melodic and pensive, almost ballad-like? Or super-aggressive outbursts of emotion?

I'm pretty blown away I can even do something like that to show appreciation for the two most important people I've lost so far in my life; Mike and my brother. The music is already done. It's definitely Warbeast.

It may not be as intense as "Nightmares in the Sky" or "Blood Moon," and since Scaccia was the fastest right-handed guitar player ever, in my opinion, we're not trying to sound like Mike on the songs . . . But they are great songs. I haven't been able to start on it yet because I start breaking down; it's just too soon. But my brother -- I lost him in 2005, and I've wanted to do this for a long time, and I was just finally able to record that song last year, "Nameless." The fans will like both songs, even though they may not be as fast as others.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise