DISMEMBER Talks with ROC in Texas

by: Frances Cain

ROC: We've read about the lawsuit against the band. Could you explain that?

Fred: Okay. Yeah, it was when our first album was out, we, like...Nuclear Blast sent a shipment to the UK, and the customs, they were looking for drugs, with dogs and shit, and they saw this...what do you call it? The paper you send with the records to, like show what's in the shipment. It said "SKIN HER ALIVE-Picture disc" They were like, "Skin Her Alive! What is this?" They ripped the fucking boxes up, and they saw the cover art and read the lyrics. They thought it was quite offensive, and they also thought they could gain some money by suing us.

ROC: Who did it?

F: The U.K. Customs.

ROC: So, what happened?

F: Well, I mean, they confiscated our album and banned it for like a year. And then we had this trial. We went to the U.K. and stood up for our music and you know, our lyrics, and we won. I mean, they listened to the whole CD in court and everything...

(At this point, a couple of friends of mine and I pause for a moment to imagine this, with Xan saying just what was on everyone's mind, "Could you imagine just sitting in court listening to Dismember!?!")

F: Yeah, just me and Matti. (Matti Karki, the vocalist for Dismember). Matti was supposed to talk and, you know, to defend our lyrics and shit like that but he never had to, so.

ROC: Bands like Sepultura and Morbid Angel are supposed to be on major labels now, and of course, when everybody's on an indie, nobody, you know, gives a shit--you can do whatever you want. Do you think that now that they're getting on major labels, that they're gonna pay more attention to what the death metal bands are writing about? Because, now with a lot of bands, it just seems like they (major and chain record stores) just put the "18 to purchase" sticker on there because of the album cover. You know, they don't know what the band is writing about.

F: Yeah, yeah. that's right.

ROC: I mean do you think that will change the focus of it?

F: Yeah, I think so. But on the other hand, it's gonna be like...I mean being on a major label could be cool, you could get your name out. But if you don't sell enough records, they're gonna drop you very soon, so...I think you should stick with the independent labels and make them bigger, because they started off where the bands started off. I think it's a good relationship.

ROC: So, how did the trial and all that...did it maybe affect the writing of this album?

F: Yeah, in some way it did, because we got even worse, with the cover art, and also I mean...like the song "SKIN HER ALIVE." I mean that wasn't, like offensive lyrics in it really. So, I got so pissed off after that trial, so I wrote a song called "EVISCERATED BITCH." That one is far worse. Just to show people that we're not gonna fucking stop doing this, just because people tell us we should.

ROC: What about the difference between, like in Sweden is there a big hoopla over all the bands and what they are writing about. Are there a lot of problems with censorship and stuff!

F: No!

ROC: Over here we now have Tipper Gore in the White House.

F: I know. That, that sucks, actually, because it's like, I mean perhaps Clinton could be god, but that woman, she's got something wrong in her head. I think it's like this over here, it doesn't matter which government you have, some covers are supposed to be banned. You have to change covers and not to print the lyrics and stuff like that. But in Europe, it's like somebody has a problem with it, and they have to struggle. If it doesn't work, then they ask the band or label, "We have to do this, otherwise, we can't sell records." But over here, it's like, it's so obvious that you have to change it, so nobody asks you.

ROC: You already know beforehand what's gonna cause trouble.

F: Yeah exactly. So, I know if we do, like a picture that is very offensive, we know that in the U.S. they are not gonna put that picture out. But I think it's gonna, hopefully it's gonna...I hope it's gonna change, but I don't know. It doesn't matter, because this is such a big country, and there is a lot of...I mean, like so many religion fanatics out here.

(Here I explain to Fred briefly about my story on Davey Roever in the #11 issue of THE ROC.)

ROC: So, basically you don't like censorship?

F: No! I hate it! That's a fucking threat to humankind, and to free speech. I mean people should, as long as you don't hurt anybody else with purpose, you should do whatever you want.

ROC: Yeah! I was just thinking that, as a band, I'd rather have my album sell based on my music and everything, as opposed to somebody buying it just because there's a little "Parental Advisory" sticker on there. Because that's gonna make people just want to buy it more, don't you think? They're gonna say, "Oh, cool! This must be something horrible. I better go out and buy it."

F: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we have refused to let people put those stickers on. Nobody did so far, even though we have those covers and those lyrics, but we said that we're not gonna take that, you know. I hope they respect it.

ROC: So, thanks a lot Fred.

F: That's cool, thanks a lot! Keep up the good work.

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