Saturday, February 21, 2009


Originally published in: Chord Magazine

Album: Choice Cuts (Earache Records)

Random thoughts: It was a thrill to interview the drummer from Carcass, but I had mixed emotions going into this one knowing I'd have to talk to Ken Owen about his pain and suffering after a brain aneurysm. Still, it worked out good, and Owen was in good spirits throughout the conversation. 

Keep on rotting in the free world

By Jason Schreurs

The best news for Ken Owen (and Carcass fans everywhere) is he is on his feet again. Owen, ex-drummer of the gore grind purveyors who broke up in the mid-‘90s, developed a sudden brain hemorrhage in early 1999 and was in a coma for the next 10 months. He’s been in recuperation ever since, able to walk again last year, and even back behind the drum kit in the past few months.
“I literally bent over to scratch the cat and passed out,” says Owen of the hemorrhage. “It’s been a long, uphill struggle, but I’m getting there now. I’m drumming again. I’ve got a real big drum kit and I’m going to start my double bass drumming again, so it’s coming.”
The burning question on every Carcass fan’s mind, especially with Earache Records releasing a CD collection called “Choice Cuts,” is whether a reunion might be in the cards somewhere down the road. Owen loves the idea, but he’s realistic about his slow recovery and the other members’ current situations.
“I’d love to get back playing with the other guys but they’re fairly busy doing their own things these days [Bill Steer is in Firebird, Michael Amott doubles in Arch Enemy and Spiritual Beggars, and Jeff Walker’s somewhere in hiding]. So I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I wouldn’t want to start any rumors that way. But at some point I would like to jam out with them, perhaps, to see whether I can still do it,” says Owen.
Originally shelved in 1999, “Choice Cuts” was resurrected after a spark was ignited in Owen to take on the project. The disc includes material from Carcass’ four albums, as well as Peel Sessions from 1989-1990. Putting the CD together ended up being therapeutic, says Owen. “Helping out with the CD has been great because it’s good to be immersed in all of the things that I used to love.”
It’s also been a form of closure, with Owen providing extensive liner notes, archive materials, and interviews on the disc. “This is the final nail in the coffin, so to speak.” A small but significant change was made by Owen to the original CD’s track listing. “This Is Your Life,” a chunky, melodic piece of metal that became the staple of the latter Carcass sound needed to be on there, he says. “I’m really proud of the drumming in that song.”
One of the first bands in the gore-grind genre, Carcass used medical terminology and body part-littered album art to create a visually disturbing and often thought-provoking package. It’s a style copied to a tee by modern gore bands, which is fine and dandy with Owen.
“It’s complete flattery, basically. At the time we were at the top of our league and if bands want to continue that vein, as long as they cite us as being their influence, that’s brilliant,” he says.
Surprisingly, Owen’s favorite metal these days is of the “nu” variety; he cites Slipknot as his personal fave. He’s also taken a keen interest in Detroit techno and hopes to start a one-man project that would be quite a departure from his skin-bashing days in the mighty Carcass. “I’d like to make contemporary electronic dance music, but with a live element so I’m actually drumming it as well.”
Over the years, ex-members of Carcass have stayed good friends with Owen, providing much-needed moral support during his recovery. “They’ve been absolutely fabulous to me, especially when I was in the hospital. They used to come and see me. They’re good friends, you know, especially when I needed it most.”
So, if they decided to start jamming again, would he be in? “If I’m fit enough to play it, yes!” Keep hoping, Carcass fans.

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