Just like listening to Heavy Metal, smoking marijuana is a preference, and Richmond, Virginia’s CANNABIS CORPSE happen to prefer both…a lot. Succeeding two full-lengths and their 2009 EP, “The Weeding,” these pro-pot/Death Metal advocates have successfully helped ignite an untold number of bowls with the release of their latest release, “Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise.” A few days before the band was set to embark on perhaps their most extensive, and therefore haziest, tour yet, The Metal Observer was fortunate enough to speak with bassist/guitarist Philip “Land Phil” Hall concerning his thoughts on being called a ‘hippie,’ the new MORBID ANGEL album, and how it ain’t always easy gettin’ green on the road.
I’m gonna be honest here, and I think a lot of Metal fans will agree, but I was always a bit hesitant about CANNABIS CORPSE. A band that only wrote songs about reefer? Come on, that’s like…a band who only wrote songs about gore…yeah, totally groundless reluctance over here, but guess what, your latest album, “Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise,” has completely vaporized those misconceptions. It’s catchy as hell, heavy as fuck, and it has more than enough riffs to burn. What’s the reception been like so far, and does every review concerning CANNABIS CORPSE have abundant marijuana references?
“There are a lot of pot references in our reviews but that has to be expected. I know it has to be a relief for the online Death Metal reviewers to come up with jokes about pot instead of trying to come up with something original about the 128,485th Black Metal album they had to write about this month.
“We are very happy about the reaction the new album has been getting out there. We worked very hard on this record and it feels good to know that people are responding to it positively, so we're looking forward to hitting the road this summer and playing the new tunes for all the diehard head-bangers out there.”
Do me a favor, Land Phil, tell me how CANNABIS CORPSE got started. Who thought of the name and how did things steamroll from there?
“My brother Josh (Hallhammer) and I thought up the name CANNABIS CORPSE in about 1999 when we were 18 or so. We just did not have the resources to get anything together until a couple years later after I had been touring with MUNICIPAL WASTE for a couple years. In 2006, I had a little bit of extra cash saved up so I bought a BOSS digital 8-track to screw around with in my free time - that’s when Josh and I started recording the first CANNABIS CORPSE demos that later became the "Blunted at Birth" album. Some friends of ours in Richmond, Virginia were starting a record label and decided that they wanted our band to be the first release on their fledgling label called Forcefield Records. After they released the album the band started to play live and people seemed into it so we immediately jumped right into writing our second record. We have continued writing, recording, and touring non-stop since then. This new record really showcases how much we have improved at writing and performing since those early days way back in 2006.”
As a former pothead turned recreational smoker, the front cover alone has me pining. Who did the cover, and did the same person do “The Weeding”? Pretty awesome stuff.
“Yes, The artist that did the last three record covers for CANNABIS CORPSE's name is Andrei Bouzikov. He also has done covers for MUNICIPAL WASTE as well as a bunch of other bands. He is a total badass and does quality work. I have never met an artist that can take an idea and bring it to life quite like he can."
Honestly, how much weed do you guys smoke on a daily basis?
“I smoke weed every day but it has become more of something I have to do than something I want to do.”
So you have long hair and you smoke bud, if someone called you a hippie, how would you react?
Musicians who tend to smoke a lot of pot tend to think their music is a lot better than it actually sounds, yet you guys sound great. Does this mean you think your music is God’s gift to Metal? Does marijuana boost your creativity, and are you a productive stoner or a lazy one?
“I am the poster child for productive stoner syndrome. When I smoke weed, I want to play music, record music, clean the house, feed the dog, take a bath, and punch a cop all at the same time! I hate sitting around and doing nothing, it's depressing. I don't think weed boosts my creativity, but I do think it helps me focus on writing and playing all fucking day.”
So the new album is an ode to DEICIDE and MORBID ANGEL, huh? Why did you guys select them out of so many Death Metal legends, which of their albums do you enjoy best, and what do you think of “To Hell with God” and “Illud Divinum Insanus”?
“We chose them for this record because we want to stick with bands that have achieved legend status and have very recognizable song titles. Plus we are huge fans of their music. If I was going to choose my favorite DEICIDE album, I would point to the fantastic live record they made called "When Satan Lives," because as a kid this album had such a 'scary' and 'satanic' vibe to it that my parents made me throw it away, ha ha, but I just went to the store the next day and bought another copy.
“I have not heard the new DEICIDE record but I have heard the new MORBID ANGEL record and I must say that despite a couple turds, there are a couple of really good Death Metal jams on there.”
When you guys are on tour, do you ever have to smoke your own weed? I’m thinking no.
“You would be surprised. Sometimes we have trouble finding pot on the road because people generally only bring enough weed to smoke a joint or two. Then we are left with nothing to smoke for the entire eight-hour drive we have the next day. That can make CANNABIS CORPSE very irritable.”
Clearly you guys have never been branded for your pro-cannabis lifestyle…has Johnny Law ever been a problem? Why should weed be legalized?
“I think that there are worse problems out there than people smoking a little bud every now and then.”
The album has a huge step-up in production from “The Weeding.” Why does this thing sound so good?
“Well, we stepped it up in the mixing department with the help of Death Metal master Erik Rutan behind the knobs. He has been cranking out killer album after killer album so we knew that he was the perfect choice to help take our music to the next level. He did a great job too! He has a knack for mixing brutal drums in a way that doesn’t get overbearing, and he dialed in the guitar tone so it shreds my face right off. I am very happy with how it sounds and hope to work with Erik again on the next record.”
The upcoming tour! Where you heading?
“We are getting ready to embark on a 33 day European tour starting August 9th. So be sure to check out the tour dates online all you Euro pot-smoking Death Metal freaks! We are hitting countries like Holland, Russia, Germany, Italy, the UK and many more!”
If you had the choice to tour with any three bands of any decade, who would they be?
“MERCYFUL FATE, DEATH, and CANNIBAL CORPSE, of course!”
What are some current Death Metal bands (or any genre) that blow your mind?
“OBLITERATION is a band that I have heard recently that I liked.”
What’s the best pot you’ve ever smoked and where can I get some?
“I would say the best pot is in California.”
That’s it, Land Phil. What enduring words would you like to leave your fan base?
“Smoke weed every day.”
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