June 9, 2016 Interview – Scott Ian Lewis of Carnifex
Death Metal has been one of the most misunderstood genres of Rock for over a quarter of a century. Breathing in the most maniacal and vicious form of Rock, it quickly becomes an element of sound that makes some uncomfortable. Although, for Southern California based band Carnifex, it was never about extremes or trying to fit it, it was about playing what they love. Come together back in 2005, Vocalist Scott Lewis met up with the gifted drummer Shawn Cameron and an immediate Vulcan mind meld occurred. Both had played in a number of bands over the years, but they never felt like they quite fit. Deciding on their band name, Carnifex, they quickly hit the road and refused to be another flash in the pan as they drove for the soul of longevity.
After many trials, tribulations, and line-up changes, the solidification for Carnifex was sealed by late 2007, ushering the release of their debut album, Dead in My Arms. Building a following from the ground up, the band’s reach grew upon the release of 2008’s The Diseased and the Poisoned and continues to expand as they draw closer to the release of 2016’s Slow Death. Holding no pretension of what they should be or what others expect of them, Carnifex is a dangerous force to be reckoned with as they seem to be just about to peak to a new level. Recently we sat down with Lewis to talk the band’s vision, their history, the work behind Slow Death, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Too often fans and critics seem obsessed with labeling, yet here we are opening this interview asking about Carnifex’s sound, known to many as Deathcore. Is it possible to describe the art that defines itself as Deathcore?
Scott Ian Lewis – I agree 100%, and to that effect, I wouldn’t have an answer for your question. A label is subjective to whoever is using it. We have never used a genre description as any foundation for our creative process. When we started writing Carnifex songs, the term didn’t exist. Our goal initially was to write music we enjoy hearing, and that has remained unchanged.
CrypticRock.com – Honestly, that is the way it should be. The best music is made when an artist creates something they would actually listen to themselves. Since your start in 2005, what have been some of the changes along the way in your music writing and structural development in the sound of Carnifex?
Scott Ian Lewis – When the band started, we were complete outsiders; no industry connections, no producers, no booking agents. We had to learn as we went. This was true for the band as a business and for our creative path. With each album, we learned how to write better songs, how to play each instrument better. Across the last 11 years, you’ve been able to see us grow and learn in real-time. We improve with every album. Slow Death is another example of that growth.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is certainly heard from album to album. Does the same learning curve go along with live performances?
Scott Ian Lewis – This goes hand in hand with developing as a musician as a whole. As we became a smarter band, our live shows improved.
CrypticRock.com – That certainly shows. The band’s brief hiatus has been rehashed enough, but when you decided it was time to come back together, was there a different mindset?
Scott Ian Lewis- It was the same mindset. We were just able to express that mindset in a more capable way. We had no restrictions on our creative vision, no arbitrary delivery dates. We have the ability to control what we put out, who we work with, and when it’s released.
CrypticRock.com – One can imagine that freedom has to assist in creativity. The band is set to release their new album, Slow Death, on August 5th via Nuclear Blast. Where was this album recorded and who produced it?
Scott Ian Lewis – It was recorded at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford, Florida. It was co-produced by Mick Kenney and Jason Suecof.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent production choice, seeing both Mick and Jason have worked on a plethora of other albums in the past. What was the process you took to develop and create Slow Death, and are you glad you took the path you had chosen?
Scott Ian Lewis – Absolutely glad. The writing process was nearly two years. We would write in between tours, listen to what we tracked, and rewrite and rewrite until we had exactly what we wanted.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it was a lengthy process. Do you have a desire to convey something different in modern Death Metal that maybe has not been before? In addition, how did you go about your focus in developing yourselves?
Scott Ian Lewis – We never tried to create anything in modern Death Metal. We just wrote what we wanted to hear. Trying to use a genre description as a guidepost for creativity doesn’t work. The focus was to develop the elements we touched on in our previous album and take them to the next level.
CrypticRock.com – Point well taken. On May 25th you released your first single/video from Slow Death, “Drown Me In Blood.” There is an impressive list of talents that worked on the music video.
Scott Ian Lewis – We put together a great team of professionals that all contribute to an excellent video.
CrypticRock.com – They certainly did accomplish that. Hopefully fans have checked out the video. Are there plans underway for the next release/video prior to Slow Death’s release? If so, will you be working with the same team?
Scott Ian Lewis – Yes, we have another video coming prior to the album release. We worked with the same team as “Drown Me In Blood.” Both videos were shot back to back. It took lots of work and we’ve been putting the album together for over a year. It feels good to get the music out there, but still a very long road ahead of us.
CrypticRock.com – Well, it will be exciting to hear the album upon its release. In your mind, are there tracks in particular off Slow Death that really strike the core of Carnifex?
Scott Ian Lewis- The album, as a whole, represents everything we’re trying to accomplish musically.
CrypticRock.com – That is excellent to hear. Reading over the comments posted on your YouTube channel for the single, it would seem Carnifex has struck the pulsating vein of magic with listeners.
Scott Ian Lewis – We write what we love and stay true to our artistic vision. I think the fans are able to recognize the passion in the music we create.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. It is easy to spot when a band is mailing it in or perhaps come across insincere in their approach. The passion Carnifex projects is clearly a driving force in the music’s potency. Our last question is pertaining to the upcoming tour scheduled to kick off in July with you a part of the Summer Slaughter Tour 2016. What does Carnifex want to bring to their dedicated, as well as potential new fans?
Scott Ian Lewis – We want our passion to radiate live. Bringing all the emotions our music to the surface and experienced on a very real level.