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Six Feet Under Interview

A Conversation With Vocalist Chris Barnes

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Six Feet Under
Metal Blade Records
Death metal veterans Six Feet Under return with their seventh studio album, Commandment. Frontman Chris Barnes fills us in on the latest with what’s happening with him and the band.

Chad Bowar: How has the sound of Six Feet Under changed from when you started to your new album?
Chris Barnes: It’s changed a little bit here and there. Ever since we added Steve to the lineup our sound has definitely progressed. We have our own style. It’s changed a little bit, but we’ve stuck to our formula over the years and progressed in a natural way.

You wrote the new album in the studio. Do you prefer it that way, or was it just a time constraint?
We feel more comfortable writing in the studio. We don’t write as we record, we just block out time at the studio and use it as a rehearsal space. That’s all we do.

On the last album Steve Swanson wrote most of the music. How was it for Commandment?
As far as the music goes, Steve is the main songwriter, but Terry really contributes a lot with ideas for rhythms. We work through it and make adjustments and put beats to the riffs. But for the most part Steve comes up with most of the riffs.

You produced the last album. How come you decided to go with Erik Rutan this time?
I produced it and he engineered it. I’ve been producing our albums for a while. He recorded the basic tracks and did the mixing. I’m very comfortable with producing.

How did you decide on Commandment as the title of your new CD?
It’s a very powerful word and I felt it could be interpreted in many different ways depending on who was listening to it. I felt it would be a really powerful album title for us.

Is the songwriting process easier as time goes on because you have more experience doing it, or is it more difficult because you have to be concerned about repeating things you’ve previously written?
Writing is the same as it’s ever been. I just take it one song at a time and try to accommodate the music and write a storyline that fits.

Are your lyrical themes on Commandment similar to what you’ve done before, such as fantasy and horror and dark subjects?
It’s pretty much the same things I tend to deal with: death, murder. That’s pretty much what it encompasses. I don’t really draw inspiration from movies or anything like that. As a writer I mostly draw from things I see, hear and feel and my general imagination. I try to reach the far corners of my imagination and come up with good storylines.

What are your upcoming tour plans?
We’re still working on things. We’re getting ideas together for packages, but nothing has been confirmed.

Is there anywhere in the world where you haven’t played live that you would still like to go?
Not really. I don’t really care to travel much, so we usually stick to touring the U.S.

What was the first concert you attended as a fan?
My first concert was Kiss in 1979.

Was there a particular song or artist that made you want to become a musician?
Not specifically. I was just a fan of music and had my favorite singers that I followed. One thing led to another. I went from listening to music to being in a cover band to being in a band where we wrote our own material. I have a love for heavy music and metal.

What are your best and worst personal characteristics?
I don’t know. I don’t like analyzing myself.

What are the best and worst things about being in a band?
The best thing is being able to create music that didn’t exist before. That’s one of my favorite things. The worst things are having to travel, for me at least.

What’s the biggest misconception fans have about you?
That they think I’m the person in my lyrics that I’m writing about.

What’s the best advice someone gave you?
One of the favorite people I’ve collaborated with is Ice-T. I heard him do an interview and he said, “It comes to a point where you figure out this isn’t just what you do, it’s what you are.”

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