Carcass Guitarist Bill Steer Talks ‘Surgical Steel,’ Tour Plans + More
Bill Steer of the veteran UK extreme metal band Carcass was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show over the weekend. Steer discussed the band’s new album, ‘Surgical Steel,’ their upcoming tour plans and more. If you missed Full Metal Jackie’s show, check out her full interview with Bill Steer below:
Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each week. Excited to say that on the show this week I’ve got guitarist Bill Steer from British extreme metal pioneers Carcass. How are you?
Very well, thank you.
Thanks so much for being on the show; we’re here to talk about the new album ‘Surgical Steel’ out on Sept. 17. Bill, with a history as long as Carcass have had, what’s the most important thing you needed to consider when you recorded new music for the first time in 17 years?
Well, whether the music was gonna be up to scratch. I don’t think either [lead vocalist] Jeff [Walker] or myself could actually face doing anything that wasn’t gonna be good enough. So yeah we took it quite seriously. We just got down to the rehearsal place and wrote a lot of material over a period of months really and once we were happy with what we had that’s when we went into the studio. But really if we’d had any doubts whatsoever we wouldn’t have got to this point.
The new album is ‘Surgical Steel’ coming out on Sept. 17. Bill, the advance reviews have been favorable. What aspects of ‘Surgical Steel’ make it a definitive Carcass album?
It’s difficult to say because obviously I can’t really be objective but I guess when the pair of us get together and write material it tends to sound like Carcass. Which sounds like a really obvious thing to say given the past but we did have a long way off there so it’s kind of interesting, when we embarked on this mission just to hear how Carcass-y the material started to sound like almost immediately. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know, that’s a really difficult one. I mean, I’ll be honest, it’s my favorite Carcass record, but then, you know I really want to feel that because I’ve just spent a long time working on it and I’m quite pleased with what we achieved.
I also understand that for some people it’s not gonna be something they’ll want to consider because they’d like the Carcass chapter to be closed, not even with just one song but the album prior probably or even before that, you know it depends on the person you speak to. So first and foremost, this recording was very much for ourselves and the hardcore Carcass fans who are curious about where we think music is at now. We’ve just been surprised at the number of positive responses. We knew that it was good and that we’d get some good feedback here and there but I think we expected more negativity whereas now it’s kind of, yeah of course there is some of that stuff but it’s just less than we expected.
Bill, even though his health prevented him from playing drums, Ken Owen does appear on this new album ‘Surgical Steel.’ Why was it important to make sure he was involved?
Well it was essential really because he’s one of the founding members of the band and he’s a very very dear old friend. It just would not have felt right if he wasn’t involved in some way and we knew he was more than capable of doing some vocals on this record and he was totally up for it. So it was the obvious thing to do just to make sure that we had the Ken Owen stamp. Obviously, another factor was just playing the entire album because we wanted to be sure that it felt ok for him, too. He’s been supportive all the way; you know he was the guy who was pushing us to re-form in the first place and also the one who preempted everybody with the whole subject of the new album. So there was never really a question in that regard but yeah as you said I mean unfortunately he isn’t really able to play drums in the way that he used to but we were able to get him on a number of the songs as a backing vocalist and he sounded great. He really put everything into it.
Bill, how is the adrenaline rush you get from Carcass different from the early days?
Good question. It is different actually, because I think experience changes things you know because again, stating the obvious, we’re a lot older now so that does affect things because I guess on some level you’re more grateful for anything good that’s going on. Another thing is in some ways maybe you’re less neurotic because you just start to accept how you are and how things are around you. I think, speaking for myself, I’m just able to enjoy it a bit more. I mean, I was incredibly serious about the whole thing when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and that’s a good thing on the whole because we got some work done but it also prevented me from really enjoying it at times, I think. But I’m sure Jeff would give you a different answer on that one.
Full Metal Jackie with guitarist Bill Steer from Carcass on the show. Pick up the new album ‘Surgical Steel’ out on Sept. 17. I know you’ve got some dates you have happening in the States and I have to imagine there’s going to be a ton of European touring for the rest of the year. Is it just nonstop touring in the future for you guys?
There’s breaks here and there I hope but yeah I mean the U.S. stuff we’re doing is just a brace of club shows. We’re doing an intentionally small thing just to generate some interest around the album release but we don’t consider this to be a proper North American tour. I mean that’s gonna happen next year when we actually get to cover all the places we need to play in the States and Canada. So for now it’s just a handful of club gigs and then yeah we’re off around Europe for five weeks or so which should be interesting and that takes us through to almost Christmas I guess and then next year, as I said, the States will be high on the list.
Fantastic, looking forward to it. Congrats on the new release, so happy to have you on the show. Thank you again, Bill. Appreciate it.
Thank you. Cheers.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada to her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.