An Interview With Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under

An Interview With Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under

I read that you are working on a new album…


What is going on with that?

(laughs) It’s the best album I’ve written in a long time. So, I’m really excited about it. Yeah, Rob Arnold [guitarist] writing some songs, got Ben from Whitechapel writing some songs. I’ve got Jari [Laine] from Torture Killer writing some songs and Steve [Swanson, lead guitarist]. So we’re really happy with it. It’s really good stuff.

How do you feel you’re connecting to it more so than you did with Death Rituals, so far?

Hmm… Good question. I think that each album’s a different journey for me, you know? The music speaks to me, so I kind of write from what it tells me and this album’s been such a pleasure to be involved with because it’s so interesting and it’s given me more options to do different things or do things I haven’t done in a while, so it’s a lot of fun on that level…

As you just said; actually my next question… Music itself is a journey, every time you make an album or go on tour, what have been some of the best parts of the journey you’ve taken thus far?

Just the exploration of the music and finding how it speaks to me. I think that to me, when I write and stuff, and I listen to the music first to get my lyrics from; just that is so exciting to me. It’s a puzzle, you know? It’s like a puzzle to me. Like a fourth dimensional puzzle; and it comes from nowhere but it ends up somewhere. And that to me is like pulling something that didn’t exist before and then all of a sudden it’s beautiful, you know? To me it is…It’s a weird-beautiful.

You just said, you find how the music speaks to you…. How do you let it speak to you?

Well, I’ll go into a “meditational” type of trance smoking a lot of weed and that helps me to focus on that– whatever this plane is or something that I’m hearing, it’s very spiritual to me… So, I think that it’s not really me that writes those things, it’s something else out there that kind of goes through [me].

When you’re writing songs, like even for this new album, and for your past ones, how have you brought your songs to life?

They just tell me what to do when I hear the riff, I just concentrate on them. I hear something in the music, it keeps repeating to me and I just have to keep listening to it over and over again until I hear it. So, like I keep, you know, keep going back and hearing the thirty second part of the song, and I just keep replaying it, and eventually it tells me what it should be, what I need to write. So, now that I’ve written so many songs and stuff, I’ve kind of like let my self go and let that happen. So, when I try to force something, I just put it down and just wait, and come back to it. Certain songs, like on this album, I just couldn’t write at one time, but they just kind of want to be written.

That’s interesting…

Yeah. I kind of think of them as alive… (laughs)

Yeah… Songs do make people alive in a sense…

(laughs) They have to.

Exactly. That’s why so many people are so passionate out there… Even though you kind of answered this in my last question… How would you say you take the visions of what you see while you’re writing and translate them into words?

Again, it’s really how that song speaks to me and I think it just kind of– sometimes I’ll have an idea, like a song title or maybe one word, like maybe I’ll have it written down on a piece of paper somewhere, and I’ll come back to it, and I’ll be listening to the music, and I’ll look through stuff, and something catches my eye, and from that moment, it– or I’ll write; I’ll be writing and nothing’s really clicking, I don’t know where it’s going. It just comes together by itself. It’s very strange now. I used to have a really clear idea of things, but now I kind of let it all flow through me…

Again, like you just said… The songs speak to you… Which song has spoken to you the most that you’ve written?

It’s hard, I think they all speak to me in a different way. It’s kind of hard to say that because there are songs that have made me more money and those are songs that are really, that really click, you know? But each song I wrote, there’s something in there that has an anchor to my soul. Even though some of it’s kind of disturbing, but a lot of it’s metaphorical.

Horror is obviously a huge impact on your music; Phil Anselmo, for example, takes Edgar Allan Poe and integrates it into his music/lyrics sometimes, do you do that with your lyrics with any horror books or films?

Nope… None of that. I don’t think about other things when I write about than what that music is telling me, you know? It takes me on a journey, a quest of some sort to figure out the puzzle to kind of complete it. I don’t really think of anything. I’m not really a big reader or anything like that. I like movies, but I’m not really just into horror movies, I like just well written things that interest you, you know?
So, that’s kind of how I really write…

Yeah… You’ve been doing this for, don’t take this the wrong way (laughs) probably since I’ve been born… So how do you really know when a song is complete?

(laughs) I feel a song is complete the second I’m done with it, when I’m done writing the lyrics…

That’s it…?

Yeah, it ends there, for me. To me, that’s where perfection is. After a lot of people get their hands in it and stuff, I don’t know, I go on like a little bit of a depression… But I like it right when I’m done because it’s only for me, you know what I mean? It has that connection somehow between that. Then after it gets released, something fades in that… (pauses) It’s almost like people say getting your picture taken steals your soul. When a song gets released and everyone hears it, it kind of becomes less about you.

I’ve never heard it put like that before…

Yeah. It fades a little bit…

You’re a deep person…

Yeah… Too deep sometimes, people don’t get me like that, you know? They think I’m nuts. But I’ve experienced stuff most people have never experienced as far as weird things…

In your previous answer…. You kind of said each song you write is like a picture with it stealing your soul…?

Yeah… Well, that’s because I’m forced to analyze myself at that point, but I’m not like that every minute… So like, when I’m just hanging out, just me, like when I go up there, I kind of have to do the whole thing, it’s a weird fucking lifestyle. It’s not meant for everybody, it’ll definitely drive you nuts sometimes. I try to let myself open up to what I’ve done out there and forget about it out here, you know? As much as I can…

How do you want Six Feet Under to be symbolized through the eyes of your fans?

However they like it. They interpret it to what it means to them and then when they tell me how they found it or how they feel it, that’s their own thing, I can’t tell them how to accept it…

True… How do you think you guys are symbolized?

I don’t know. I don’t know… But if it makes them happy…Then that’s a good thing.

When you are out there on stage, how do you take that energy that you have and let it just connect through you, through the fans?

Well, they’re doing it… Yeah, they’re feeling it… Their energy. Their energy reaches me. That makes me feel good, and put on a good show, and try my hardest, which is kind of hard sometimes, but that helps.

When you’re recording, how do you try to take that feeling of the energy you get while you’re on stage and translate it into an album while in the studio?

Well a studio is different, it’s a whole other animal, you know? You have lots and lots of takes to do to make things perfect and stuff, you know, you piece things together and make things interesting and more dynamic and a little more tight. I just really want, when I’m in the studio, I really concentrate on that, I worry on the live situation later. (laughs)


If I can write it, I can perform it. (laughs) You know, it’s pretty simple. I guess it’s hard to see from the outside how it all comes together, but it’s really, it is a little magical sometimes…

Yeah, do you ever feel that “on fire” feeling?

Like I feel like I’m just right there where I feel like I need to be?


Yeah. I’ve had those nights. Tonight was one of those nights. (laughs)

Music gives fans an escape…Especially with heavy metal… Your lyrics are kind of graphic…But…How do you feel your music gives your fans an escape?

Well, I inject some of my lyrics with true to life themes, maybe. Some current type of ideas, events maybe. Songs like Manipulation [Warpath] and [Human] Target [Haunted], stuff like that. Caged and Disgraced [Warpath]. I was lucky enough, a kid, the other night, it choked me up even thinking about it. This kid from Iran, he escaped Iran to Turkey and you know, he kind of was like, “Your songs about freedom inspired me to fucking leave and to fucking save my life and that’s fucking heavy duty…” I think they, the kids that really look at what I have to say deep, understand.

Yeah. How do you feel it gives you, yourself an escape?

Well, it’s just made me realize things in my life I’ve been able to express myself in a certain way that isn’t dangerous… (laughs)

You know how certain genres of music want to have their certain vibes or feeling like black metal wants it to have it’s iciness and darkness; how do you want Six Feet Under’s music to feel like, or what kind of vibe do you want it to have?

I just don’t, I don’t really force it… Like you said, a lot of people have a preconceived notion of it, certain styles of metal or genres, I just don’t, I don’t put myself in a corner like that. I think there’s, I’ve kind of been able to experiment, I’ve always been able to experiment, I think that’s another reason why death metal vocals are kind of looked at like that because I was able to experiment back in those days that kind of pushed me in a certain way and that kind of set a standard, maybe. So, I’ve never really stopped wanting to express myself, you know, I don’t want to express myself the same way every time. It’s just not the same day.

Well, that’s why every album is different.

Yeah, it’s a little bit more about more what it is at that time instead making the idea of what it is have to be this way.

It’s a new transition.

Yeah. You just try to do it good enough to make it feel right.

Yeah.. You’re very passionate with metal and obviously very, very deep with the answers you gave me…What impacted you in that way…?

That’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t know. I think that it was just someone took a chance on me and thought that I could do something good and could focus my energy towards that, you know? I never really knew what I wanted to do when I was a kid or really knew what I wanted to do when I was growing up, and I just was lucky enough to fall into something that made sense to me… (laughs) I was lucky, on certain levels.

Does luck really exist though?

Well, I think fate is luck.

So, you’re a believer in fate?

I believe that everything that happens in life is mapped out for you. There’s a path that someone keeps you on. I think that each of us have spirit guides that guide us through life and they keep us on the right path, like we have to listen to those people… Or those things, or those people…

With the passion that you have, how do you incorporate that into the way you perform?

I just do the best I can and try to present what I have to do, you know? The best I can. Sometimes I mess up. (laughs) But only because I’m distracted usually (laughs) by something. But yeah I just have fun with it, I like doing this, if it’s easy, you know, like it has been… (laughs)

Yeah. Your songs have so many different meanings I’m sure… Other artists have told me that they don’t really want to give away the meanings of their songs… How do you feel about that?

Yeah, one hundred percent. I don’t really like to outline it and I don’t reveal the secrets behind the verses, a lot of it’s sad, is really what it’s all about… Just sadness, loneliness…

But it really creates such amazing music…

Yeah, that’s kind of how art is though. Art is seriously fucked up people that are kind of lonely and sad even though they have no reason to be. Any day you’re breathing is a good day though…

Very true… As you were talking about earlier, you believe people have spirits that guide you through life… How do you feel that has affected your music, or how do you want it to affect it, I guess you could say?

Well, I don’t know if it affects it other than it’s in my every day life and I’ve accepted that as the truth of what life is and I just listen to those whispers.

Your music has left a legacy in death metal, there is no denying that, how does that really make you feel?

I love it, you know? I try to really, I feel good about it, but I don’t think I’m done yet.

When everything is done with, how do you want your music to be remembered for?

Hmm. However those kids experience it, you know? I want them to experience it their way. I think I could say one-hundred times over what a song means to me, but it doesn’t translate to what it means to you, you know? You can’t really feel it unless you really know me…

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