This band has been around for more than 20 years, April marks the US release month of their latest album: "Corpus in Extremis". These crazy doctors bring back old school death metal with some hints of grind.
Infernal Masquerade:: First of all, thanks for the interview and let's get started with the questions:
The band was formed over 21 years ago, but was inactive during 12 or so years, what was going on during these few years?
Dr Carlsson: Pretty much nothing happened. We all had other band commitments, started or joined other bands and so forth. We recorded Necrology in late 1990 and then we put the band to rest immediately after, we weren't even a band anymore when the first 7" came out in summer of 1991.
Dr Mitroulis: I was probably just listening to Metallica and riding on my skateboard.
I.M: One of the founding members are with the band now, can you elaborate on this? No lawsuits about the name, or anything like that, are going to happen? (like the Gorgoroth name battle)
Dr Carlsson: I'm the sole original member now, since Grant departed the band a couple of years ago. Not much to say about that, when we reformed in 1999 we asked some of the old crew to join us but it never happened, so we got other more dedicated staff to fill up the vacant positions.
We just played our release party and Matti was there, so there were no hard feelings, he even asked to join us on stage at some point during the year. As for lawsuits, GS would have to be a money making venture for that to make sense... There's no hard feelings between the existing line-up and the people who were in the band earlier. Just because you're not in the same band anymore doesn't make you file a lawsuit, at least not here in Sweden.
Dr Mitroulis: Me and Dr Wallin has been in the band for seven years or so now and we are still new members. I guess we'll never get rid of that. Even though we've been in the band longer than any of the formers.
I.M: What are the main influences musically and lyrically that the band has? How have they changed during the years?
Dr Carlsson: We started as a homage to Carcass, which have been widely documented by now and should not come as a surprise to anybody. These days, we have broadened our spectrum slightly which means ripping off other bands from the same period, such as Repulsion, Autopsy, Terrorizer and so on.
Lyrically, everything we write about is gathered from our own experiences. Maybe not. I think the lyrics have changed from the early complete Carcass worship to something else which has a lot more dark and morbid sense of humour. I think we have really good lyrics. Not just that we have actual lyrics, but they're good too. Read 'em and weep!
Dr Mitroulis: The Carcass worship is pretty much gone and we're just making good death metal now.
I.M: After your brutal comeback release (and first full length) "Left Hand Pathology", describe the bands activities between the release of "Corpus In Extremis: Analysing Necrocriticis"?
Dr Carlsson: When the LHP album came out, we were in pretty bad shape since the line-up fell apart. Dr McWilliams had left the band, and Dr Sykes announced his departure to move back to the US. So we had to get a new bass player in, which was fairly easy. We recruited Dr Van Tuominen and taught him the material and he took over the bass duties after Dr Sykes moved in September 2006. Since we had the tour of Japan coming up in Sept 2006, we talked to Dr McWilliams and he agreed to join for the tour and things were going pretty well, but after a while things started to go back to the usual old ways, so we both decided it was time to move on. Around the same time, Dr Van Tuominen also had to leave due to personal reasons. So, back to square one. We then recruited our old bass player Dr Eriksson, and then Dr SahlstrÃ¶m joined our vile ranks. This was around May 2007, and after that we started writing the songs for the album as well as playing live shows. So that's what we focused on until we started the recording in October of 2008.
Everybody participated in the writing for this album and that's why it came out a bit different than LHP, a change for the better in my opinion. We also recorded it on our own, which was a big change for us. A lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end. We're very happy with the final result.
Dr Mitroulis: As Dr Carlsson said, everybody in the band took part of the song writing. It's not just one guy who makes the music and one guy who does the lyrics. We're all involved in the creation of songs and we don't finish the writing of a song until everyone is totally satisfied.
I.M: How do you rate your most recent album against all the older releases from the band? How do you think the bandâ€™s sound has changed (because of influences or musician changes)?
Dr Carlsson: Personally I'm always convinced the last thing we did is the best, the rest of the world seems to be of the opinion that we'll never better Necrology..
To hear the changes between Necrology and the new album, well, let's just say I hope we made some progress in 20 years. The main change between LHP and the new one is that we have a new vocalist and that I didn't write as much of the music this time around. This has resulted in a different dynamic which I personally find more interesting than LHP, but then again opinions change all the time.
Dr Mitroulis: I feel that the new album is more complete than the LHP album. Every song fits perfectly with one and other.
I.M: I know it's too early, but what is next for the band? Has the song writing machinery already started for a next release? Will the band take another 12 year break? What's in store for General Surgery in the future?
Dr Carlsson: We haven't started writing yet, this one is still sinking in so it's still early days yet.. I guess we'll try to start recording sometime next year, this year is way too early for us. We're not a full time band, so it takes time for us to get a full album together.
Dr Mitroulis: Yeah, after recorded a new album you gotta find inspiration and motivation to write new and even better songs. But now it's time to play the new songs live for a while I guess.
I.M: You are doing a couple of death fests in the USA this year. Are you prepared for American fans? How different is playing in the USA versus playing in any other parts of the world?
Dr Carlsson: Well, I think we're quite well prepared considering we've done Maryland Deathfest twice already. The US fans have been good to us both times so I don't see why we should bomb this time. It will be awesome to visit the west coast for the first time though, it's gonna be an awesome tour hopefully.
Playing in the US usually means no food and no beer for the bands, why that is I have no clue and nobody has given me a good enough explanation yet, still waiting.. Also, Bud Ice, what's up with that? A beer blasphemy, I tell you!
Dr Mitroulis: I think the west coast will be a blast since we've never been there before and I know there are a lot of people waiting for us there. After playing the Maryland Deathfest I know that american fans are one of the best in the world. Can't wait to go!
I.M: The gore/death metal music scene, from what I can see and from the albums/ bands I listen, has staid 'pure' to its roots. Would you agree with this? And if so, why do you think this is? If not, please elaborate on how the scene has changed over the years.
Dr Carlsson: I'm not very active in the scene, so for me it's like time stood still for about 20 years. My influences still come from the olden golden recordings of the late 80's, so maybe that is why the stuff that comes out from our part at least might seem a bit conservative. But hey, no need to fix something that ain't broken, right?
Dr Mitroulis: I don't think the scene is as fun as it used to be when I was younger. I don't have time to check out all new bands that pop out from everywhere. So I stay safe with the old bands instead. Sometimes I can hear a good new band but that's usually because they play old stuff.
I.M: Do you think that technology has helped the gore/death metal scene? Since now it's easier to record songs (cheaper recording tools). It's easier to get people to listen to your stuff (myspace, etc). And you can get instant feedback about your releases, news about the band travel faster and getting press is much easier? What do you think about all of these things, how they have evolved from the good old-tape trading days? And how has this helped/not helped the band?
Dr Carlsson: Probably technology has advanced the whole music scene, not just the death metal scene. It's all across the board now, especially for bands or artists who doesn't use any real instruments I guess it's way more convenient these days, not to mention cheap. You can virtually have a recording studio in your laptop now, all you need is a few good microphones, maybe some mic preamps and off you go. It's like the good old 4-track portable studio from back in the day, only upgraded to the nth degree.
Of course Myspace and other internet outlets is a faster way to distribute your music than tapetrading, but the feeling is not the same anymore. I don't necessarily prefer the old tape trading days, but there was something special about waiting for your stuff to come through the mail, a sense of anticipation that I guess you don't just get today when everything is just a click away. The problem with the greater availability of stuff today is that people's attention span is shorter than ever, they just listen to the first 20 seconds of a song on a shitty sounding stream on Myspace, and judge a band on those merits. Sometimes all is not revealed in 20 seconds, you gotta give it more of a chance than that.. But my verdict would be that the new technology is certainly beneficial for us as a band, although I'm really glad that I have experienced the old way of doing things as well.
Dr Mitroulis: I suck on almost all technical stuff, but I can manage to handle myspace and e-mail. I'd say it helps a lot. Especially doing interviews and if you need to be in contact with anyone really fast. But of course I miss the magic of tape trading and writing letters sometimes. Maybe it will come back, like everything else. "Who's the most old school?" -"I am, I tape trade".
I.M: Any interesting and/or weird stories about playing a live show?
Dr Carlsson: There has been some occasions where I'm surprised that we actually played at all. One of the all time lows must be the Fuck The Commerce show in Germany 2004. The gig itself was pretty good, but the circumstances were beyond horrible... We almost didn't get paid and had to threathen to not play at all, sleep outside in a tent in the rain, after the show we didn't get any access to a shower or even a sink, so we had to wash off in a field with sparkling mineral water. That was rock stardom galore, I'll tell ya. Never again.
Dr Mitroulis: Yeah, that fest wasn't too funny. I remember, almost, a show we did in Hamburg. We had a drunk maniac guy from the crowd standing on stage and pouring rhum in Dr Carlsson's mouth through the whole set. That was weird.
I.M: If you could have unlimited resources for props to put on a stage, what would you select and describe a bit more of what you would do with this?
Dr Carlsson: Not sure, because this involves an actual budget, something we're not likely to ever have. I wish we could bring the gore nurses to every show we play though, they are fun!
Dr Mitroulis: I think we're pretty satisfied with having some bloody nurses on stage. Maybe a blood canon would be cool. Someday I hope.
I.M: Well, I think I'm all out of questions for now, anything else you want to add for all our readers?
Dr Carlsson: Good timing since I'm pretty much out of witty things to say.. So, thanks for the interview, see you in the US soon. Buy Corpus In Extremis!
Dr Mitroulis: Get our new album and hope to see you all soon! Cheers!
General Surgery Is:
Dr. Erik Sahlstrom - Vocals
Dr. Joachim Carlsson - Guitars
Dr. Johan Wallin - Guitars
Dr. Andreas Eriksson - Bass
Dr. Adde Mitroulis - Drums