Interview: Bruce Corbitt of Warbeast Talks Split Album with Phil Anselmo and Upcoming Full-Length
By Andrew Bansal
Texas-based heavy metal band Warbeast recently released a split album with Philip Anselmo titled War of The Gargantuas, featuring two previously unreleased Warbeast tracks — "It" and "Birth of a Psycho" — along with the first-ever solo material released by Anselmo in his 30-year career.
Of course, this album was put out on Anselmo’s own Housecore Records, and as a celebration of the release, Warbeast joined Down on a short US tour last month. Now they are preparing to release their second full-length album.
Just before the Down tour, I caught up with vocalist Bruce Corbitt to discuss all things Warbeast. Read the conversation below, and check out the official Warbeast website for more info.
REVOLVER: Let’s talk about the split-release with Phil Anselmo. It must be a big accomplishment for Warbeast to be on that, specially because Phil hasn’t put out any solo material before.
Yes, it’s a very big thing for Warbeast, and it was part of the idea Philip had when he came up with this thought of doing a split a couple of years ago, not only to give everyone an idea of what’s to come in our upcoming full-length, but he knew it would get more exposure for Warbeast. So yeah, we’re very grateful to be on it.
You said he came up with the idea a couple of years ago. What took so long for the release? Was it a delay on his part in terms of completing the songs?
Yeah, pretty much. Our debut album [Krush The Enemy] had just released at the time, and we were already writing a couple of new songs. Phil was still writing for his solo album and trying to figure out the musicians he was going to get to play on it. It’s just one of those crazy things about working with Phil is, any kind of wild ideas people spell out usually never happen, but a lot of times with Phil and Housecore, they actually come to life.
So he just thought it would be cool if we do this split when he gets his album recorded. So we went and recorded our songs a little over two years ago and there was kind of no timeframe on it. But we decided to have it there, waiting for when Phil finished his album and recorded his stuff. So it was like a long, planned-out thing and it’s a good idea to do stuff like that, you know, to think ahead and be ready when the time comes.
It must have been pretty easy for you to get those songs ready for the split album because, as you said, you already had them written.
Yeah, the band came up with the two songs and I was going to do the lyrics, of course. On one of the songs, I asked Philip if he was interested in getting together and working on the lyrics with me, to team up and write them. He said he would, so I waited till we went down to record. The band was recording their tracks and Phil and me got together and put the lyrics for the song "It." So that was a really cool thing too, to collaborate with Phil on some lyrics. Then our drummer, of course, he plays on Philip’s solo album. So the whole thing is a brotherhood-type of album, and I think it sits together with two different bands. When you listen to it, it’s just a good album, you know?
Warbeast already has a strong following, but for people who are Anselmo fans and don’t know your band, they’ll definitely dig your music.
That’s the thing; we knew they’d be getting the album for Phil, but then Warbeast is on there too, so people can check it out, hopefully. It should get more fans for us if they like what they hear. I can’t express it enough just how grateful we are to be part of it, and I’m excited as anyone else for the new Phil Anselmo solo album, so to be on a release with the first tracks, you can’t beat that!
Speaking of your next full-length album, it’s also supposed to come out very soon. It’s called Destroy, correct?
Yes, sir. It’s going to be out April 2. It’s all finished, recorded, mixed and mastered. We’re just getting the final touches on the layout for the sleeve and the cover and everything. This full-length album is another thing we’re really proud of, and the two songs on the split-release are exclusive to that release, so everyone’s going to get nine brand-new Warbeast tracks on the full-length.
Yes, I was wondering if the songs are going to be different from the split. That’s good to know — so people are actually getting two releases this year from Warbeast.
Yeah, and then there’s also talk about doing a third because we recorded a couple of extra songs when we made the full-length, and we held them back to do a two-sided single thing. In one song I wrote lyrics about my brother, who I lost several years ago. And then Phil and me decided recently to team up again and write lyrics about our brother and bandmate Mike Scaccia, who we lost a few weeks ago. So that could be three releases right there for Warbeast within one year. I’m not sure when that’ll be out, maybe the end of 2013 or early next year.
You talked about the loved ones you've lost, and that’s very tragic, but it must be kind of satisfying to get closure by expressing yourself through your lyrics.
It’s very meaningful to me to be able to do this. My brother’s my hero and the biggest person in my life that I lost, and then Mike was like my most important friend and bandmate that I’ve lost. I’m just blessed to have known both of those guys and this is just my way of honoring them.
You have a US tour coming up in a couple of days. Can people can expect you to play the two new songs as well the old ones?
Actually, we are playing both songs off of the split — some from the debut album, and then we’re playing like over half of the new album, Destroy, even before it comes out just because we believe in the material so much that we think it’s going to go over well even though no one’s had a chance to hear it. We actually did that on the recent tours with Down before this, and there’s just been a great response to all the new material. So the people are going to get a bit of everything that’s been released so far, and some of what’s about to be released. Our set list just keeps getting better the more songs we have in the archives, you know.
On this tour, I’m pretty sure the split album will be on sale, but are there any other items being made specifically for the Anselmo-Warbeast thing or just the CD?
I know they’ll have CDs and vinyls, and I heard that Housecore was making some shirts to sell as well, hopefully with the cover art of the split on it. So they should be able to get us shirts, CDs and vinyl.
On January 16, you’ll be hitting the Key Club in LA. What do you generally feel about playing in LA? I’m sure it must be a good vibe always. I think I saw you open for GWAR in LA a couple of years back.
That’s always a very big highlight for me when I notice that we’re getting to play in LA. For one, I grew up a Los Angeles Rams and a Los Angeles Lakers fan, so I just always had that going. And then we, as in Rigor Mortis, got signed to Capitol and they were in LA. We’ve made a lot of friends in LA, the crowd is really cool, we usually get to go on KNAC and visit some people up there and do the interviews. It’s just always great to play there.
What other shows do you remember from LA?
The first time we played there was when we came through with Destruction, and that was just an intense show with the stage diving and everything. I remember Schmier from Destruction saying, "God, this is the most intense crowd of the entire tour!" And then of course before that, it’s so long since I played there back in 2005 with Rigor Mortis when we did our first reunion. But that tour wasn’t promoted very well and we set it up ourselves. I remember not seeing a lot of people there at the show, but the people that turned up seemed to be glad to finally see Rigor Mortis again. Anything other than that goes back to the '80s when I was first in Rigor Mortis when we came out there a lot, finalized our deal with Capitol Records and went to the Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years premiere and all that. Some good memories there every time.
You mentioned the lack of promotion. These days, the main source of income for metal bands is touring. Are you extra careful now as compared to before in terms of what promoters you go with? You don’t want to travel to a different city and play for a small crowd, right?
We don’t want to, but sometimes it happens, and for that tour I mentioned, we didn’t have a booking agency or anybody. We kind of just lined it up ourselves. I know the club did the best they could or whoever the promoter was, but it just didn’t have the attention we’d get when we’re out on a tour with Down. They have everything already set up with booking agencies and PR people. They’re a big band, so the word just gets out easier for something like this.
The smaller tours are hard because you’ve got to rely on the opening bands, the club and the word of mouth, and you’ve just got to hope that it’s a night when Slayer’s not playing [laughs]. It’s always hard to get people out on a Wednesday or Thursday, and people are hurting financially these days because of the economy and gas prices. So you know, that’s why we’ve been slowly working our way up, and going out with bands like Destruction, Gwar and Down has done wonders for Warbeast.
That’s also a problem with bigger cities — there are usually other shows going on at the same time. You never get an exclusive show in LA or New York.
Right, and we find that out easily when we get to town. It’s hard to sometimes know in advance when you’re booking something. Then we show up and find out who else is playing on the other side of town, and we’re like, "Damn! Too bad we’re not on the same show and too bad we can’t even see the show ourselves!" And when you hear something like that, we think there probably won’t be too many people at our show tonight [laughs]. But then the people that are there are the true loyal fan base. It gets to the point where it doesn’t matter to us whether there are five people or 5,000. We still enjoy getting on stage and we do not change our performance just because the crowd’s smaller. You’ll see us giving everything we’ve got, no matter how many people are there.
Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. Up till February 2012 he was based in Los Angeles. After that, he had to move to India, but is still carrying on his heavy metal endeavors with the same intensity.