A short chat with Bill Steer of Carcass

A few minutes before the band left their hotel in Tilburg, where they stayed during the 2010 edition of the Neurotic Deathfest festival, I had the chance of a short interview with the guitarist Bill Steer, credited as one of the founders of Carcass. He was hanging in the bar, talking to fans, so I just took the opportunity to interrupt and ask him a few questions.

After seeing the show that you guys put on stage yesterday, I was wondering about the images that were projected behind the drummer, what is their story or meaning? Do you always have these at your concerts?

Since we reformed, yea. It is more Jeff’s thing, really. He kinda plays the director, he kinda controls which shows we do and how the shows are, but in a way it's a throw back to the old days when we did have a slide show. The first time we went to the States in 1990 we had a slide show which was very radical and very similar to the thing you saw last night, lot of extreme images. So I think in a way it is Jeff's attempt to bring all that together, the past and the present. To be honest, when I'm playing I completely forget that that stuff is up there.

But do you watch them before or you trust him to put whatever he desires?

I do trust him. I'm not really sure what's going on out there.

Besides images, did you ever use any kind of stage setting? Puppets or so?

No, only what you saw on the background.

How do you feel after last night? How did you feel the crowd reacted, was it below or above your expectations?

Oh, I thought the audience was great. I felt bad about our performance because we haven't played for so long. We haven't done a show for 7 or 8 months and we haven't rehearsed either, so… It was never gonna be a perfect show. We knew that before we started since you have a band formed of guys who are involved in several different bands and living in different countries. Sometimes it's impossible to get together and practice.

How different are the places we are talking about?

Michael and Daniel are living in Sweden, in two different towns, and obviously with Arch Enemy they are extremely busy. That's the main issue. We can hardly do rehearsals because they have the Arch Enemy stuff going on. Jeff meanwhile was busy with Brujeria. Jeff lives in North West England. I live in the South now, I live in London and I'm in two other bands, so it's really hard. But before we do Hellfest, we will practice so there it should be quite a bit tighter.

How does it feel to be headliner in a festival? Do you still get nervous, do you feel more pressure because of that?

Yea, it's a bit true, especially if you haven't done it for a while then it's scary. When we did the festivals in 2008, I had never played to a large crowd before, like 40,000 people. I was used to do like max 3,000. And to be really honest, most of that period I've been playing with Firebird to just a couple hundred people. So any big crowd is tough, but this was just off the scale for me. The other guys had done it, but for me it was quite scary when we went out to one of these festivals like Wacken. But after a few of those, you sort of reset the computer and it just gets normal. After you've done enough, you can just go ahead and say “Ok, it's just a show” and you go back to concentrating on what you play.

What’s the future of Carcass at this moment? Do you work on new stuff or just shows?

We have 3 more shows this year. Only festivals. France, Portugal and Finland. And as far as I know, that's it. But considering the workload it's unlikely we'll be doing any record. Arch Enemy is a very active band and if Carcass gets busy, then it affects Arch Enemy and this is Michael and Daniel's priority. And they have a loyalty to the band, they are all friends in the band.

But would you want Carcass to go on no matter what or just let things happen and see if anything happens at all?

To be honest, we hardly ever communicate. We are all good friends and when we see each other we have a great time but in between, it's impossible to talk. I can hardly get a hold of Jeff and when he's trying to reach me, I'm always busy. I just don't know what's gonna happen in the future.

Did you see any of the concerts at the festival?

Not really. As I mentioned, we didn't practice and when we arrived at the venue we went straight downstairs and just started practising. We were sharing the dressing room with Lock Up and that was quite nice to catch up with some old friends. The time went by really quickly so I didn't get to see much.

What’s the overall experience with the festival though? Did you like the organization, facilities?

It's a super venue, so organized. I played here just a week before, with my other band, Firebird. I've been here a few times before.

Any preferred places to play or where you enjoyed the most?

Different things can be answered here. With Carcass South American audience was totally amazing. But so were the fans in Japan. With Firebird, we did Japan for the first time last year, that was amazing. And for example Belfast in Northern Ireland has always been amazing. We probably do better there than we do anywhere else.

Any plans to go to Romania?

I'd love to, since I've never been there and I'm looking forward for a B. Steer: chance to play in Romania.

By Andrea Chirulescu