San Diego. Beaches, palm trees, endless sunny days. A place coming straight out of a dream. San Diego also has a part coming straight out of a nightmare. It takes the form of a deathcore band and goes under the name Carnifex.
Our head of editorial Valerie had a chat with the bassist of the living nightmare, Fred Calderon. Labels, metal genealogy, the future of the genre, and the love from the fans are just some of the topics that came up. Fan of Carnifex? You should definitely check this conversation out.
How important is touring for Carnifex?
When the record comes out, we need to get the word out there.The best way to do it is with shows, so we’ll do a headliner for every record, usually pretty early. Then, we’ll do support tours and package tours, so we’ll play in front of other people’s crowds or crowds that wouldn’t have seen us on our own. This was the case with the Never Say Die! Tour in Europe. It was us playing with a bunch of bands; Make Them Suffer was different, Polar was different, but Whitechapel and Thy Art Is Murder were more our style.
You’re talking about different crowds, different genres. Carnifex is at a cross point of genres, but you’re generally labeled as deathcore. How do you feel about labels?
Some people can get very specific. I do it too sometimes, with certain bands. I’ll go on my IPod, and label bands, that way I can easily search what I want to listen to.
Having the deathcore label gives us a lot of room. The term “deathcore” aims to be very specific, but it’s still a generic term, so we can flow out of it. We don’t have to play straight death metal riffs, or straight hardcore riffs and breakdowns. We’ve been adding a lot of melodic stuff. We write maybe one metalcore song every record, and then, we add a lot of black metal melodies and darker melodies.
Do you put yourself boundaries, and try to fit somewhere?
It’s self-imposed. I don’t wanna have any boundaries. I want to incorporate everything possible and do everything possible, but I know once we start getting in the room together, someone is gonna say that we can’t do that, or that we shouldn’t do that. I don’t know if it’s important to have these thoughts.
Scott and Shawn definitely have a lot of say in the final product of what we ultimately record. There are a lot of structures where they say “This needs to go, we can’t do this”, and many riffs where they say “we can’t use that, that’s garbage, let’s get that outta here”. Our boundaries are definitely self-imposed. It’s not a label or a producer telling us what we can’t do, it’s within ourselves.
Where do you place Carnifex in the death metal family tree?
Oh, it’s tough! A lot of the older bands are still around, like Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation. There are bands like Whitechapel and Suicide Silence, we feel we’re brothers now, but we’re still so much younger than those guys. There are also younger bands we’re touring with now, like Lorna Shore. We’re in the middle. We’re at the 12 years mark as a band, so there are bands that I listened to that are still going, and I still look up to them. But now, there are also bands that say that we’ve influenced them
How does that make you feel, to know that you influence other musicians?
I’m pretty stocked! I never thought that I could have influences on somebody, in terms of what they listen to, what they play, what they wanna do with their musical endeavors.
Who pushes you, as an musician and as an individual?
I can name 2 people. On this tour, Rob from Fallujah pushes me. He is an amazing bass player. He is always very encouraging and he always gives me kind words.
Another one is Nick Schendzielos. We toured with Cephalic Carnage, and now he is in Havok. Every time I see him he has kind words to say and he is always motivated.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I never thought that we would be at this point. If you would have asked me this question when we started touring, I would have answered you that I hope we will still be doing it. It was 10 years ago, and we’re still doing it! It has been an incremental rise, it has never been this big thing where everything happens at once. It’s just a little bit every year, so I hope it’s still gonna be this way. This way, in 10 years, we’ll definitely be above the point where we are at now.
Where would like like to see metal music going?
I would like to see it back to when everyone was showing up at gigs. There are certain areas where we’ve gone to where people just don’t go to shows anymore. There are cities that we’ve hit that were always packed, and now we go, and it’s always less and less. The metal bands from these regions don’t perform anymore, because other bands don’t visit them anymore. So I want to see a resurgence where people want to go see live music, and get the live experience.
Every time I go to Europe or to Russia, it’s still so incredible. Everyone is so grateful that we’re there. Everyone shows up and no one is afraid to come talk to us and tell us how they feel. It’s so encouraging to be out there and having everyone talking to you and telling you to come back. We’re always gonna come back, I just want you guys to keep coming back too.
Is the relationship with your audience important to you?
Definitely! With social media, the interaction doesn’t end at the concert. Once we leave, people who are afraid to approach us can find us. They reach out, comment, or send messages. We show our gratitude by responding. All of us are talking to our fans, we’re commenting on their posts, answering their messages and questions. Even if the question is “What time do the doors open?” or “What time do you go on?”, we’ll tell them. It’s important. I know they could get the information out there and that’s available all over the Internet. I feel they like it a lot more if I just tell them. It might encourage some to come up and talk to us in person.