Anthrax, Lamb of God and Obituary are the bands who are touring with Slayer in the European leg of their final tour, which had a date in Oslo, Norway, last December 6th. Just a couple of hours before the show started with Florida’s Death Metal legends Obituary, RISE! had a conversation with their bass player Terry Butler, who previously was part of Massacre lineup in different times, also Six Feet Under for almost twenty years and he was part of Death playing on their “Spiritual Healing” album as well, among other projects. He’s an institution when it comes to Death Metal scene. On this interview, he reveals the insights of the bands he was part of, how he joined Obituary, his opinion on Crowdfunding platforms and record labels, the Slayer final tour and much more!
RISE!: – First of all, how’s the tour going with Slayer, Anthrax, Lamb of God so far? It’s the Slayer farewell tour, how do you feel about it?
Terry Butler: It’s a great feeling to be part of it, you know? It’s always been a dream to be on tour with Slayer. It just took 30 years to get there but we are here (laughs). The tour is great, all the bands are killer and everyone’s getting along well, so it’s a nice tour.
R!: – You’ve been playing in Obituary for eight years now, but how did you join in the first place? When did you meet the guys?
TB: I’ve known them since the mid-80’s, we live in the same town. I’ve known them for a long time, over thirty years. But they gave me a call one day, I heard that Frank (Watkins, R.I.P.) was fired from Obituary and they needed some help on a tour. They called me to ask if I wanted to help and I said “Yes”. So I’ve helped them for a year and quit Six Feet Under in 2011, then I joined Obituary full time.
R!: – Why did you decide to leave Six Feet Under?
TB: Well, the drummer (Greg Gall) and myself left at the same time. It was just time to go, it was getting very stagnant to stay in the band. There was a benefit show for a friend of ours and Chris (Barnes) backed out of it over the last minute and that was the last straw, we said “Goodbye”.
R!: – Obituary is one of these classic old school death metal bands that are still making good albums. “Inked In Blood” and “Obituary” are perfect examples for that and you’ve been involved on them. What do you think is the key for this machine to keep going?
TB: Well, there’s always a fire there within the band to do better than the last album. We’re not done yet, you know? We wanna keep going and with the injection of Kenny Andrews on guitar and me on bass, we brought some new blood into the lineup. We’re just as excited about playing today as we were 25 years ago, the passion is still there.
R!: – For “Inked In Blood” you started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. How was that experience and what do you think of these funding platforms? Do you think they’re going to be the main tool in the future to produce and release your own material?
TB: I don’t think it’s the future. I mean, we did that five or six years ago, a lot of bands don’t do that. It’s just that we were at a point where we needed a little help, you know? And we tried that and it worked. It was a lot of work everyday, but it got us where we needed to be and we appreciate everyone who contributed and who was involved on that.
R!: – But you don’t think this is going to replace record labels in the future or something like that…
TB: I mean, who knows? Maybe we get to a point where there are no labels anymore if everybody just does the wrong thing. But labels these days are good for promotion, you know? Magazines, TV Ads, etc., you don’t really sell a lot of records these days. No band really does, unfortunately. But labels still provide promotion side of things.
R!: – So bands need to sell more merchandising than before for example…
TB: Of course. I’m from back in the 80’s when you did sell some good amount of records, so you can rely on that a little more, maybe not tour as much. But now you get nothing from selling records, so now you got to tour, make money from playing and merchandising, that’s how it is.
R!: – What is your personal favorite Obituary album from the ones released before you joined the band?
TB: Well, obviously “Slowly We Rot” because it’s the first and it’s amazing. “Cause of Death” is great and I would probably choose this one because of the songwriting and song structures are awesome.
R!: – What’s the most complex Obituary song for you to play live as a bass player?
TB: Some of the earlier songs like the ones on “Cause of Death”, “The End Complete” and “Slowly We Rot”. There’s a lot of rhythm in the songs, it’s not so much of a technical rhythm, it’s just remembering the stops and starts with different rhythms that come and go and this and that. But I love to play some of the earlier ones, you know? “Intoxicated”, “I’m in Pain”…
R!: – Something that Obituary haven’t done in the past but in recent years were those animated videos which are actually very funny and very well made. How did you come up with the idea and who was responsible for that?
TB: The animator, Balázs Gróf, he contacted us and said “Hey, I can do a video for you”. And we said “ok, can you give us 20 seconds of what you can do?”, so he sent us 20 seconds of the video and we were like “Go for it!”. Because we always had videos where you’re on stage playing or you’re in the woods with some fog or whatever, so we were like “Let’s try it”, you know? So we give him an idea, he did it and it was a success. There was a part two and we did one for the Slayer tour. We’re still doing the other videos but we do some cartoons as well.
R!: – Back in the day, you played in Death, what special memories do you have from that time, specially from the “Spiritual Healing” sessions?
TB: Overall, basically just the fact that we were out on the road playing some really cool Death Metal and a lot of bands weren’t touring playing Death Metal, so we were kinda blazing a trail for future bands. Touring in ’87 for “Scream Bloody Gore”, how many Death Metal bands were touring in 1987? None. It was cool to be part of something that was going to be huge. We were not at the time but it’s huge now, you know what I mean? Just everything (laughs).
R!: – What was the reason why you leave the band at the time?
TB: That’s really complex, but basically at the end of the second part of the “Spiritual Healing” tour with Carcass and Pestilence, Chuck (Schuldiner) didn’t want to come to Europe and we had a big tour set up with Kreator. We knew at that point that that was the end of Bill (Andrews, drums) and I’s career in Death, but that’s was when we started Massacre again. I was just glad for being there for four years and do all that stuff.
R!: – Some minutes ago we were talking about Six Feet Under. You’ve been playing with them for almost twenty years, it’s a long time. How is it to work with Chris Barnes? People always say many things, but I’d like to know your point of view.
TB: (laughs) It was fine, you know? I’m not going to start with… It’s been a long time since I left the band. The working environment was ok on the musical side. We would present music to him and he put the lyrics on it, he didn’t write any music. But it’s just got stagnant to me and it was time to move on.
R!: – Did you find any differences between playing in Obituary and the other bands besides music of course? I mean in terms of people, management, label, etc.?
TB: Well, Massacre were always destined to rip itself apart because of the people in the band. Bill and I were pretty focused on what we wanted to do, but the others in the band, Rick (Rozz) and Kam (Lee) were pretty much behind the scenes doing things to benefit themselves only. And Death was great, it was a good work environment. Six Feet Under, as I said, it was not the best work environment. But Obituary is amazing, everyone’s equal, everyone’s has an opinion, we’re friends and we get along.
R!: – Do you have any side projects going on right now?
TB: Yes, I’m in a band called Hideous with Ed Webb who was in Diabolic, he’s in Generichrist, he sang on the “Back from Beyond” record from Massacre. Then it’s Matt Bishop from Human Artifacts and James Whitehurst who played in Lividity. It’s in the early stages right now. We don’t have anything out yet.
R!: – How do you see the Death Metal scene these days? Would you recommend any newer bands or are you still listening to the old school legendary albums?
TB: I still listening to the old stuff. I hear a band here and there and say “that’s cool”. I think the Decrepit Birth’s first album sounded very well. There are lots of killer bands out there, I know, but I just don’t listen to new music that much. I know it, I hear it, but I don’t really absorb it and listen to it (laughs)
R!: – Do you think the genre got stuck in a way?
TB: I mean, there are tons of bands out there and a lot of the bands sound the same. It’s like “Ok, I got a drummer who can do 280 bps per minute, he can lay down a killer blast beat, I can write a lot of crazy rhythms over the top of that and pig squeal vocals” and it’s like “ok, that’s a band”. But the riffs are important, that’s what I mean.
R!: – Have you ever been confused with Geezer Butler by someone even though you don’t look at all like him and he’s almost 20 years older than you? (laughs)
TB: Actually, believe it or not, yes, it happened a couple of times. People sometimes think he is my uncle or my father which would have been really cool. I would have got cool bass lessons if he was my uncle, but it’s just a total coincidence. I never even met him, you know? (laughs).
R!: – Do you know any metal bands from South America apart from Sepultura?
TB: Well, I know the older bands like Masacre, Vulcano, Sarcofago. I know those bands but not any ones (laughs).
R!: – Do you have plans to extend this tour worldwide?
TB: That’s up to Slayer, we would like to, but it’s up to them.
Slowly We Rot – 1989
Cause of Death – 1990
The End Complete – 1992
World Demise – 1994
Back From The Dead – 1997
Dead – 1998 (Live Album)
Frozen In Time – 2005
Xecutioner’s Return – 2007
Left to Die EP – 2008
Darkest Day – 2009
Inked In Blood – 2014
Ten Thousand Ways to Die – 2016 (Live Album)
Obituary – 2017
“The End Complete” (1992):
“Don’t Care” (1994):
“Ten Thousand Ways to Die” (2016):
“Sentence Day” (2017):