Warbeast vocalist Bruce Corbitt talks about new album, recording with Phil Anselmo and loss of bandmate Mike Scaccia

One listen to Warbeast and it’s easy to imagine that whole nü-metal thing never happened. Sonically mining the fertile thrash metal sound of the late 1980s, Warbeast burst out of the Texas metal scene in 2005, boasting an all-star lineup of musicians from Lone Star powerhouses Rigor Mortis and Gammacide. Warbeast soon caught the ear of metal god Phil Anselmo and were signed to Anselmo’s own Housecore Records. Now with one full length – 2010′s “Krush the Enemy” – a split EP called “War of the Gargantuas” with Anselmo’s solo songs already out and a new full-length “Destroy” ready to drop in March, Warbeast are taking the show on the road with metal supergroup Down on the “Weed and Speed Tour.”

Vocalist Bruce Corbitt (who also played in Rigor Mortis) took some time out to talk to American Rock Scene about the new album, Anselmo’s influence on the band and the passing of Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis, Ministry), Corbitt’s buddy and bandmate.

Bruce Corbitt

American Rock Scene: “Tell me a little about how Warbeast started? I know you were in Rigor Mortis in the 1980s, but how did Warbeast start?”

Bruce Corbitt: In 2005 some bands in our area, like Rigor Mortis and Gammacide, were doing reunions. About a year later of friend of ours from Hammer Witch (lead singer Wayne Abney) was involved in a serous motorcycle accident. We put a benefit together, but none of those bands (Gammacide, Rigor Mortis and Hammer Witch) were available so we decided to put together a tribute band called the Texas Metal Alliance. We learned two songs from each band and brought up special guests. Well, the next day the three guys from Gammacide (Scott Shelby, Allan Bovee and Rick Perry) called and asked if we wanted to make it a permanent thing. So we decided to keep it going. We took awhile to find a drummer, but about eight weeks later we found a really young talent named Joey Gonzales who was in a death metal band called Demonseed. He’s been our drummer ever since. Then we got signed with Phil (Anselmo) and decided to change the name to Warbeast.

ARS: So how did you hook up with Anselmo?

BC: Phil and I go way back. He had moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in the 80s. That’s when he was in Pantera and I was in Rigor Mortis. Phil is a big fan of extreme metal, as you probably know, so when he came to town he started coming to shows to check out the underground thrash scene. So we all met him and became friends with him. We liked him right away. In about 2007 he asked Rigor Mortis to go on a tour with (Anselmo side project) Arson Anthem a band he plays guitar in. So I filled him with what was going and told him about the band. He wanted to hear our demo so I sent him one after the tour. He contacted us later and said he wanted first chance at signing us (for Anselmo’s own Housecore Records). So we had a verbal agreement from that night on.

ARS: How has that partnership worked out for you now that you’re two albums and an EP into it?

BC: It’s been great. I think we made the best decision we could have to not check out any other labels. It’s a pleasure working with Phil, not just because we’re friends. Of course he’s got all the knowledge and experience and he knows our side of the business from being in a band. So he treats us fair, but it’s honestly more like a family-type of relationship we have with Housecore. We want him producing our albums, I don’t see us working any differently in the future, we’ll probably just keep going the same way.

ARS: So what does Phil bring to the table as far as a producer?

BC: He becomes another member of our band. We invite his input. We get the chance to keep control of our own thing, but we invite Phil to come up with ideas to make the best possible album. He’s always got ideas popping up from little things to big things. It all adds up though, so in the end we’ve made a better album by having Phil as our producer.

ARS: How did the split “War of the Gargantuas” (a split EP out on Housecore featuring Warbeast tunes and Phil Anselmo solo songs) come about?

BC: It’s been a few years in the making. Our first album “Krush the Enemy” (released in 2010) was already out and we were writing a couple of songs. Phil meanwhile was writing some solo material. He didn’t even have that much written or even any members. That’s when I offered to let him use our drummer. Then he said it would be cool when he got his stuff together for us to come and record our two songs and put a split out later down the road, as a good way to get some exposure to Warbeast and give people a tease for what was to come off both of our full lengths.

ARS: It’s a great idea it reminds me off all the punk rock split EPs from back in the day?

BC: I agree. It was just throwing out an idea and here we are two-and-a-half years later and we’ve done it. It was a brilliant idea and it’s doing wonders for both of us.

ARS: So tell me about the new Warbeast album?

BC: It’s going to be released in March, it’s called “Destroy.” We recorded in May, June and July at Phil’s home studio Nosferatu’s Lair. Again it was a group effort with Phil helping out. We’re really proud of it, we feel like we’ve advanced a lot since we made the first album years ago. And I think it’s evident in the new songs on the album. We’ve kind of unleashed ourselves, but we’re still playing that old school thrash that we’re known for.

ARS: How does it compare to “Krush the Enemy?”

BC: It’s a heavier album overall. We had a lot of heavy stuff on our first album as well, but we also mixed in several of our old influences, styles that might resemble songs from Sabbath, Maiden or Priest. But on this album I think it’s more straight forward thrash, most of it. We had changed a couple members since our first album, replacing Rick Perry with Bobby Tillotson and our bass player Allan Bovee left and we got a new one named Dré Karst I think the power of the new album overall is just more relentless. We’re very proud of our first album. But I think it’s normal for any band to think their new stuff is great, you know what I mean?

ARS: How is it touring with these songs, like on the “Krush the Enemy” tour, do you get sick of the songs from playing them so much?

BC: Yeah, we play so much at practice and shows. But to be honest, since we started the first leg of the Down tour back in September we’ve been playing half of the new songs from “Destroy” on the playlist, the two songs from the spit and maybe getting only two or three from the first album on the set list. We were wondering how that would go but everybody’s coming up afterwards saying ‘Man, I love the new shit.’ So that’s a good sign, that they’ve never heard it before but that’s the one they’re talking about. Nobody has come up and said ‘Damn y’all didn’t play something off the first album.’ Sometimes when you play all of those old songs you’re just so burned out on them it all sounds like slush.

ARS: How big of a boost is it playing with a band like Down? How much exposure is that for you?

BC: Man it’s great. Not only are them guys our brothers and we all know them and get along and they treat us so well on tour, but we’re also getting people that might not come to a Warbeast tour. Down’s got a pretty loyal fan base and some of them probably like thrash, but not all of them. It’s a good thing for us though because a lot them are seeing us and they’re liking us and know who we are now. They come out after the show and tell us they’d never heard of us or kind of knew who we were but now they’re going to come out and see us next time we come to town. And (Down) took us to Europe for the first time and we played in those countries for those fans. We just can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for us. On our social media sites, like Facebook, the number of people adding us after every show is booming.”

ARS: Plus you get to see Down every night.

BC: I know and that’s always fun! We get to watch from the side of the stage if we want and at the end of the encore on “Bury Me In Smoke” some of our guys get to go up and collaborate for the finale!

ARS: I want to ask you about your influences a little bit. If you had to give five albums that defined Bruce Corbitt and the music that you make, which five albums would you pick?

BC: I’ll pick five albums but I don’t think they define the music that I make. I have so many influences. So I’m just going to pick the albums that when I was growing up, in my teens and twenties, made me dream of being in a band. I’d pick “Abbey Road” by the beatles, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, Aerosmith’s “Rocks”, Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” and all Slayer albums!

Mike Scaccia

BC: Mike Scaccia was born with a gift. He was put on this Earth to play guitar and it was obvious at a very young age when I first met him at 14 or 15. The great thing about Mike is he could play every style of music, and I’m not kidding when I say that. He’s known for Rigor Mortis and Ministry and stuff like that, but I had the pleasure of sitting around and watching him. It could be classical, jazz, blues or country, whatever. He could do it. And then to invent your own style of picking, one that was authentic to Mike Scaccia. That’s what he did with Rigor Mortis. I still think he had the fastest right hand in the history of all guitarists. To just be able to do all that and not to mention he was just a great guy. No ego or attitude, just a down to earth guy who loved to play his guitar. He would have been just as happy to sit there in his bedroom and play guitar as he would have been to play for thousands of people. I’m devastated that I’ll never get to talk to my friend again. It’s starting to really hit us all. First, you think about losing your brother and friend. Then there is Rigor Mortis. Rigor Mortis is never going to perform again as Rigor Mortis. We just couldn’t because he is the guy that gave us the sound. And then to not be able to get on stage and play with him again, it’s taken part of my life away. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same. Even though I’m proud of Warbeast, he was the reason I got in a band in the first place. I owe everything to him. I love the guy.

Warbeast is currently opening for Down on the “Weed and Speed Tour: West Coast Assault”

For more information or to purchase Warbeast albums visit www.warbeast.org or www.thehousecorerecords.com

About Skager

Shawn Skager is a hack. After more than a decade kicking around local community newspapers in Washington State, someone made the mistake of putting a camera in his hands and giving him a photo pass to a concert. Surprisingly, the photos turned out okay and connections were made in his brain and suddenly he fancied himself a music photographer and journalist.