Reflections of the Forgotten

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Back in 2012 I interviewed Carnifex drummer and founder Shawn Cameron before a show they were opening for Fleshgod Apocalypse and All Shall Perish. The dude was polite, friendly and more importantly unwilling to go into too many details and throw then label Victory Records under the bus (on the record anyways…) . Almost two years later and a lot has changed. The band is gearing up to release their fifth album, Die Without Hope on new label Nuclear Blast Records, and embark on a headlining US tour. I caught up with Mr. Cameron again to see how much better things are for the band in 2014

So here we are almost two years after we last talked in Lawrence, at an All Shall Perish show and a lot has changed; new album, new label, new guitarist.You were not very happy with label and other stuff last time. I assume you are doing much better now? 

Yes much better now! We signed with a label that really believes in the band and Jordan stepping in as our lead guitarist really has helped us get to the next level musically.

So finally off Victory Records, which you were hesitant to bad mouth, and now on Nuclear Blast… what has that change been like?

It’s a night and day difference. When we signed with Nuclear Blast I was talking to Markus Staiger and his philosophy is that when his bands are doing well then HE is doing well. So far they have done and are doing everything in their power to help us succeed. It is the exact opposite of what Victory did.

When last we spoke , I think you had mentioned you had most of the new album written. Is Die Without Hope essentially 2 year old material or did you add some new stuff or start from scratch?

Die Without Hope is the material I had already written combined with the new material that Jordan contributed. So I guess it changed quite a bit from when we talked. He really did help put the finishing touches on the music. The album changed even more when we recorded it because of Mark Lewis’s (the album’s producer) input. All the changes were definitely for the better.

You mention Jordan Lockery — he really  adds a new dimension to the new album with his solos. Was that something you wanted to add to Carnifex’s sound, or did he just start playing them?

We had been wanting solos for a long time now. I had tried to get some solos on Hell Chose Me but our guitarists at the time did not have that ability. There was one solo on Until I Feel Nothing and that was because I wrote it! So Jordan really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Solos were happening!

Carnifex went on “hiatus” back in 2012. What was the reason behind that and was the band ever in danger of disbanding? 

The reason for the hiatus was because of Until I Feel Nothing being very poorly or not promoted at all combined with Victory having us in a stranglehold financially. The only way the band could sustain itself was to stay on tour but we weren’t getting the tour offers we needed in order to do that. We had been on the road for 6 years straight with no breaks and no support. We were a little burned out and were starting to resent the whole thing. So instead of continuing to grind ourselves to death we decided to take a break from the touring part of it.

The only reason the band was ever in danger of disbanding was if we had to do another record with Victory. We were on the second option in our contract and album sales determined whether or not we had to give them another record. We couldn’t bring ourselves to let them shit this record out like they did the last one. Luckily because of the lack of promotion of Until I Feel Nothing we didn’t hit that number and we were able to get out of that contract.

Explain how this album continues the sound on Until I feel Nothing, but also expands it a little bit. 

I guess the sound being continued is our writing style that we’ve had since we started but the expansion is us as a band refining it and getting better at what we do. We’ve always wanted to write our music like this. It’s not like we didn’t know what we wanted to sound like. It’s just that we didn’t have the know how or the tools to make it happen. Now we’re at the point where we are able to expand and create bigger and better music.

Have you found your final sound or are there some more changes coming for future albums?

If there’s one thing you can be sure of is that none of our albums sound exactly the same and if think they do then you’re not listening and your argument is invalid. I’m sure there will be new things on the next record because we’re always trying to improve but one thing you can count on is that it will be fucking heavy.

Keyboards and synths in deathcore/death metal seem to be getting a little more popular, what makes Carnifex different and better (in my opinion) than bands like say, Winds of Plague?

I wouldn’t ever say that we’re better than anyone else but I think it’s just a matter of writing the music that we as fans would want to hear. If somebody else were writing it then we wouldn’t be a band, haha. We try and bring the heavy epicness and it manifests itself as Carnifex.

I know you consider Carnifex death metal with breakdowns rather than deathcore, but has deathcore run its course? It seems to have peaked and be in a bit of a lull right now?

Deathcore is just a word that describes a certain type of death metal. It’s death metal with breakdowns NOT breakdowns with breakdowns. So in reality, there are very few bands that are actually Deathcore. I don’t think that it’s run its course at all. I think that the market was saturated and now it’s cleaning itself out. For a while there everybody was in a Deathcore band but when that happens ideas become stale and the bands that don’t continue to come up with fresh material eventually fall by the wayside.

You are in the middle of a tour with I Declare War, Here Comes the Kraken, Assassins and Lorna Shore. Is that a bill you are excited about or do you prefer a more varied bill with some traditional death metal?

I am excited about this lineup. Good bands. I think to me it really only matter if our fans are excited to see the bands we’re touring with. That always makes for a better overall show and tour.

Also, it was just announced that you will be supporting Whitechapel along with Within the Ruins. How excited are you to be on a tour with Whitechapel, one of deathcore’s big hitters vs headlining your own tour?

I feel like the Whitechapel tour is a great opportunity to play for new people and gain new fans. Our headlining tour is a chance for our fans to hear us play all their favorite songs and give them the best show possible as well as give the other bands an opportunity to play for new people.

Any insight or opinions of the All Shall Perish drama? They were former label mates and tour mates.

I see both sides and I really hope ASP can work something out because they are definitely a favorite band of mine.

The life span of your kind of music seems to be shorter than others, but the fact is you guys are on album number 5. Even the aforementioned Whitechapel only has 4 albums, but you never seem to be in the same conversation as them. Why is that?

Being on Victory kind of made us the redheaded stepchild. We were purposely left out of those conversations because of it. That’s about to change.

How many more years and albums does Carnifex have left? is there a plan or goal?

It really depends on if the our income allows us to keep making records. We’ll be doing it as long as we can. We’ve kind of viewed Die Without Hope as a new beginning so I guess you can expect a lot more from us.

How far have you come as a person and as a band since Love Lies in Ashes way back in 2006?

I’ve definitely grown a lot. Seeing most of the world will do that. I’ve matured emotionally as well as the rest of the band. Having to travel and room with 4 other guys for the last 8 years kind of forces you to deal with problems like an adult. The people that can’t do that are eventually weeded out or their bands break up. Us still pressing forward as a band is a testament to the growth as individuals we’ve had.

Any final thoughts?

Please go preorder our new album Die Without Hope so we can come perform for you!

http://www.facebook.com/CarnifexMetal

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