When one thinks of stoner metal, it's usually associated with something low, slow and possibly sludgy. But this summer's weediest metal tour is of a different variety. First, there's Six Feet Under, fronted by pioneering death metal vocalist and marijuana-reform advocate Chris Barnes. Then there's Decrepit Birth, another death metal band whose merch just so happens to include a shirt with a giant pot leaf on it. Opening is a band called Cannabis Corpse.
"We've been smoking weed, yeah," confirms Cannabis Corpse bassist-vocalist Phil "Landphil" Hall. "I mean, we just hang out just like normal dudes, just kicking it. We're all in it to win it."
Hall, who also plays bass in the crossover thrash band Municipal Waste, started Cannabis Corpse as a marijuana-themed homage to death metal forebearers Cannibal Corpse, the band in which Barnes (the original frontman) was instrumental in introducing the low growls that would be associated with death metal. Talking to Hall over the phone, he's obviously stoked on touring with Barnes, who was replaced by George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher in 1995.
"I remember being in middle school and a friend of mine had a Walkman, and I was just starting to get into metal," says Hall. "He put the headphones over my ears and went, 'Check this out.' I was like, 'Holy shit.' It just sounded like this evil wall of noise, and I was hooked. I thought it was the ultimate, and I liked the fact that it bothered everyone else."
While Cannabis Corpse writes original material, they don't stray from their primary influence.
"We're not really ripping them off or anything," says Hall. "We're just sort of borrowing from them [laughs]."
Song titles allude to such Barnes-penned classics as "Butchered at Birth" ("Blunted at Birth"), "Tomb of the Mutilated" ("Tube of the Resonated") and "The Bleeding" ("The Weeding"). Hall has even gone so far as to tap Cannibal bassist Alex Webster for info on the gear they use, and he hired some of the same people who recorded Cannibal's last album to track Cannabis' Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise.
"I'm just on this never-ending quest to be like my favorite band," Hall admits. But before it all began, Hall says he contacted Cannibal drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz for the band's blessing to start Cannabis Corpse. "I don't think he expected us to put out four whole records and tour."
And as the resident death metal guy in Municipal Waste, Hall gets to venture out more with Cannabis Corpse. "I had never sang in a band before this one; it was the first time I had ever attempted it. We were looking for a new singer and I was like, 'You know what, fuck it. I'm just going to do it.' "
But he did recently get a chance to hand over vocal duties to someone more experienced on an as yet unreleased track. Barnes lent his pipes to "Individual Pot Patterns" (a reference to Individual Thought Patterns by Death). Hall also said that Barnes wrote the lyrics, though any mention of getting "baked" in the songs he penned for Cannibal Corpse probably would have involved actually putting people in an oven.
As for which band is easier to play in while stoned, Hall doesn't, like, give it much thought, man: "I would say Municipal Waste songs are faster, as far as the speed-picking goes, but obviously Cannabis Corpse songs are more complex. But I've been playing these songs for a while now, so it's almost like second nature."