DFW Music News

Bruce Corbitt of Rigor Mortis: "One Day We're Getting Signed To Capitol Records And The Next I Am Getting Stabbed In The Back Five Times At A Show."

Hugely influential on the local metal scene, Rigor Mortis' violent live performances throughout the mid-to-late-'80s are the stuff of legend. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt was fired in 1989 and the band was never the same. Luckily, after a 20-year cooling off period, the original line-up has been playing reunion shows since 2005, and recently finished recording a new album with Ministry's Al Jourgensen at the helm.

From his home in Dallas and in anticipation of Saturday's show at The Rail Club in Fort Worth, Corbitt spoke about a new chapter in the life of Rigor Mortis.

You have been a part of the area metal scene for over 25 years. What are some of your thoughts concerning the scene, then and now? The big difference between now and back then was that we were just starting to create a scene. It was just starting to blossom.Today, there are just so many more bands. Back then, the people who were at the shows were mainly in their 20s and maybe their 30s. Now that metal has been around for so many years, you go to a show and you see people in their 20s and into their 50s.

Does Dallas have a good metal scene? Some claim San Antonio and even El Paso have better environments for heavy metal to be successful. It may seem that way on the outside, but if you go there, you will see that it's not really any better. All of the scenes around Texas, they fluctuate. Some scenes are just better at different times. We have a good scene here. We have a lot of really good bands. Sometimes we lose good venues and that hurts. Having fewer places to play certainly hurts us.

Dallas has quite a very diverse metal scene, including a lot of emo and Christian metal acts. The term Christian metal doesn't really sound right, but to me, it depends on what the band wants to write about. Some bands want to sing about love and sex and some bands want to sing about death and murder and some bands want to sing about Christianity.

Why did Rigor Mortis decide to get back together after such a long time? We have just grown up. We knew that we made a lot of mistakes back in '80s. We didn't like the way it ended and we patched up our differences. We decided to try again and, hopefully, we have learned from our mistakes.

When was the first reunion show? The first one actually happened back in 2005, but everyone was so busy with their other projects over the years. [Guitarist] Mike Scaccia is in Ministry. [Bassist] Casey Orr has been in GWAR and I formed a new band called Warbeast. We just now are able to finally release a new album that we did back in February.

When will that be released? We don't have an official date yet. Hopefully, it will come out sometime in the fall. We are shopping it to labels, since it has been so long since we put out anything. I know there is interest out there. We want to get with a good label who will get behind us and who believes in us. We did the album in El Paso in Al Jourgensen's studio. Al Jourgensen was the producer and that was a really cool experience. He is a good guy.

What's the title of the new album? It's going to be called Slaves to the Graves. My other band, Warbeast, will be heading to New Orleans on May 5 to record our new album with Phil Anselmo producing. This is going to be a really great year for me. And I am getting married next weekend as well.

You once said that one year in Rigor Mortis was like five regular years. What did you mean by that? Back then in the '80s, there used to be many problems at our shows.There were always fights breaking out. When we first got into the Deep Ellum area, we were fans of punk rock. The punk clubs were the only clubs we could play at. There were conflicts with the crowds.The skinheads caused problems. It was a nonstop roller coaster rush back then. One day we're getting signed to Capitol Records and the next I am getting stabbed in the back five times at a show. At our record release show, me and the drummer, Harden Harrison, ended up going to jail.

Why did you go to jail? It was the same stuff, a big brawl after the show between the skinheads and the longhairs. We were out there loading our equipment.The police showed up and started hassling the wrong people. Our drummer saw some of our friends getting arrested and he started shouting about the things he didn't like. The next thing you know, they had us handcuffed and put in jail, too. Rigor Mortis was such an insane thing that I am writing a book about the experience.

Before Rigor Mortis entered the local scene in the '80s, a lot of punks disdained most metal. Like I said, Rigor Mortis was a big part of the crossover thing. A lot of us are fans of punk. We like to go to those shows.The punks started to see the similarities in what they did to what we did. We both had the same attitude. We were accepted by many in the punk scene.

What were the circumstances that led to you being fired by the band in 1989? That was harder than any other time in my life. It was personal differences between some of us in the band. You can always say musical differences and all that, but it was mainly that we started getting on each other's nerves. You move in with one of your best friends and after six months, you can't stand him. They just start getting on your nerves for leaving the cap off a tube of toothpaste. It got like that with a couple of members and that made everything else worse. We were young and couldn't overlook our differences at the time. That was unfortunate.

You have stated that the Beatles are the best band of all time. That is a very surprising statement. People are surprised by that, but you have to remember that I am pushing 50. I will be 50 in December. I was a little kid at the height of Beatlemania, but I had an older brother who exposed me to it at a young age. The Beatles changed the way music was recorded and they influenced so many other bands that went on to become the godfathers of metal. Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford would say the same thing.

On Rigor Mortis' new album, will the sound be at all different from what it was in the '80s? It will definitely sound like Rigor Mortis, but it will be more mature. I don't mean that to scare anyone. I just mean that we have all gotten so much better than we were when we did our first album. We have the experience to make a better album. We always had some melodic parts to our music that some people haven't noticed. We wanted it to flow nicely. It can go a million miles an hour and then it can get into a melodic, evil-sounding part. I would say it sounds different, but it undeniably sounds like Rigor Mortis.

Rigor Mortis perform with World Beneath World, Orthodox Fuzz and Skillet Head on Saturday, April 14, at the Rail Club.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers