The night before Carcass fly from their native U.K. to San Diego to begin a three-week U.S. tour that includes a high profile slot at Knotfest, vocalist-bassist Jeff Walker is at home throwing T-shirts and pairs of jeans into a suitcase.
"I always seem to wait until the last minute to finish packing everything," he admits. "There's always so much to do, like find someone to watch my cats."
Carcass are still touring to support their acclaimed 2013 album, Surgical Steel—though they did recently release the EP Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel. "It's basically the B-sides and import bonus tracks that weren't available on the regular release," he explains. "It'll have to hold everyone over until the next record."
For his part, Walker will have to hold himself over until he returns from the U.S. when it comes to enjoying the company of his two cats. "They each have their own personalities," he says. "Sometimes they're affectionate, but they can also be distant. It's like they're mad that I've been away."
Here, the extreme-metal pioneer growls the praises of his favorite animal friends, as well as his other creature comforts.
FAVORITE ROAD FOOD
"There are only about three Taco Bells left in the entire country. We took three hours out of our mixing time [for Surgical Steel] to drive over to Taco Bell. I know Americans think it's cheap and nasty, and I guess it is. It's part of the Pepsi Corporation garbage food. But when we first came to the States in 1990, nobody in the band ate meat, so Taco Bell was a lifesaver. We used to live off the bean burritos. So I've got a soft spot for the place. To be English and 21—it was a real alien menu when we first saw it. We'd never been exposed to Mexican food."
FAVORITE STAGE WEAR
"It's the one that El Cynico [Walker's stage name in death-metal supergroup Brujeria]. It's my lucky hat. It's kind of my tribute to Ian Astbury [of The Cult] with his death's head skull on the front. He used to wear a hat like that back in the '80s."
TWO STRAY CATS
"I'm a bit like that woman on The Simpsons. I took in these two cats that were sleeping by the side of my house. I'm not the sort of person who wants to have pets, but they kind adopted me. My ex named one of the Emily, which I thought was a bit girly. But it's got a piece missing from its ear, so I call it Nippy. In the end, we compromised and called it Nippy-Ems. And then my other cat only has half a tail. Both of these cats have been through the wringer a bit, but I've gotten quite fond of them."
FAVORITE PIECES OF ART
H.R. GIGER COLLECTIBLES
"When Giger did the [Carcass' 1993 full-length] Heartwork album cover, we got to visit his house in Zurich and he gave me a signed copy of the Alien book, a copy of a sketch book, and some tarot cards."
FAVORITE SURGICAL TOOL
"I really like the long one with a rounded edge. There's something about the shape, aesthetically, that looks really cool to me. But I'm really not really into medical instruments except when I had to buy them to use on the front cover of the album. For Surgical Steel, I spend a lot of time on eBay trying to track all this stuff down. It was a nice little hobby for a year or so, and we wound up spending about $2,000 on tools, at least. Now they're all sitting in a wooden box."