Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with vocalist Chris Barnes of Florida death metal veterans SIX FEET UNDER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Assault: Your new album is sounding pretty intense. Would you say it’s probably one of the most aggressive albums you have done, at least in a long time if not ever?
Barnes: Yeah, yeah. I always think whatever we put together is good, and I’m really proud of everything. But this one is pretty special for me, I think. The whole process of writing and recording was so amazing, and working with Rob Arnold, Kevin Talley, Steve Swanson and a couple of other people that I worked with. It was such a great writing experience that something really exciting was bound to come out of it. I surrounded myself with some really amazing writers this time.
Metal Assault: Well, I’ve been following you on Twitter, and you’ve been interacting with the fans a lot. They give you their opinion and you retweet it, and stuff like that. So, do you think you get more of a direct feedback these days as compared to the age before Twitter?
Barnes: Well, I was still very active when MySpace was big and all that. I didn’t really give much time to the Facebook stuff, but yeah. Ever since Day One, a lot of people criticized me, saying things like how I don’t like to sign autographs and stuff that. I guess that a lot of those times they caught me on a bad night or something. But, going back to the beginning of this band, during the time we released the “Warpath” album, we had a fanclub. I used to respond to fans by mail, personally. I got hundreds and hundreds of fan letters that I would write back and spend time on them myself. I still run into some of the people who wrote to me back then, and one of them said to me, “Hey, I remember in ’98, you wrote me a letter back when I wrote to you. That was the most amazing thing, and I still have that letter.” People come up to me at shows and show me those letters, you know, still to this day. And it means a lot. I remember doing that, and this [Twitter] is just another new way of talking to the people that really mean the most as far as the music goes. I like talking to them, man. For me, it’s fun. If I act like a dipshit at times, it’s just because I’m a real person like anyone else, and when fans understand that, they find out that I’m real, you know. I actually enjoy listening to what they have to say. I can’t reply to everybody, but I do as much as I can.
Metal Assault: You mentioned the members of the new lineup. I think that’s made a pretty big difference, wspecially Rob Arnold coming in on guitar and bass.
Barnes: To work with Rob has been amazing. It really wasn’t anything to do with the fact that Rob already has a great fan base. That was not even a question in my mind when I wanted to work with him. It was really when I worked with him in 2005, when we were on a tour where SIX FEET UNDER opened for CHIMAIRA, we became really good friends, and even Matt, Kevin, Mark and all of the guys in the band. At the end of that tour, myself, Kevin, Matt and Rob gave each other a hug, and we were like, “Let’s work together sometime, do a side project or something.” It was such a blast, and it’s been a long-lasting friendship. We didn’t talk all the time, but we definitely crossed paths, and Rob was always the first guy at the back of my head as a writer, as someone I wanted to write with, just because of the things we talked about and how enthusiastic he was to meet me and how he’s been a fan of the music all these years growing up. He’s a very honest person. I could tell that he’s a very real person, and there’s nothing hidden in him. He does what he wants to do and I respect that so much. This guy knows my background. He knows what I’m about, and it was immediate when we started writing together as to how much we were in tune with each other. While writing the music, he was very conscious of my vocal parts and what I do. It’s been a really refreshing experience working with him and Kevin on the album.
Metal Assault: SIX FEET UNDER has invariably played a slower, more groovy style of death metal. Do you think that separates you from the other bands that started out around the same time as when SIX FEET UNDER did?
Barnes: Yeah, probably. We’ve always been kind of different in how we approached things. We’ve not really tried to write a new style of music. We just write what sounds cool, for us anyway. I work closely with the other guys in the band and write what makes most sense to me as far as the lyrics and the vocals go. So, the guys that I have writing music for me in myband have always laid the foundation of it all.
Read the entire interview from Metal Assault.
“Frozen At The Moment Of Death” audio stream: