For Cannibal Corpse fans, frontman George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher's windmill headbanging is as synonymous with the band as their gruesome lyrics and face-melting riffs. Seriously, we can't begin to understand how he does it, show after show, year after year, like if his neck was made of some indestructible alien material.
And while George's hair continues to spin all over the stage between his vocal lines, one of his bandmates, Rob Barrett has revealed in a recent interview with the Riffhard podcast, that he's hung up his metaphorical neckbrace, opting for a more focused stage presence.
"You have to be aware of your abilities. It's the same as an athlete — you don't see any championship athletes still doing it in their 50s at the level that they did at their 20s. So you really have to be smart about trying to maintain that level as long as you can." Barrett explained.
"I stopped headbanging probably four or five years ago," Barrett admitted. "I just felt like I'd done enough of it, you know? Like, why prove myself physically when the music speaks for itself?" He cites legendary Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi as inspiration, noting that even without headbanging, Iommi commands the stage with his iconic riffs.
"I was, like, 'Hey, Tony Iommi ain't headbanging.' I think if your riffs are good enough, you don't need to prove yourself physically and visibly like that. And aside from that, all the other guys in my band are headbanging like crazy around me. So I just felt like I didn't need to do it anymore."
But there's more to the story than just a well-earned break from neck strain. Barrett's decision has actually boosted his onstage performance. Freed from the synchronized headbanging duties, he's laser-focused on his guitar playing: "And I play better live because I'm not halfway focused on, 'Oh, I need to headbang at this speed during this part.' It's like you're driving a stick shift — you've gota change gears with riffs. Now I'm just focused on the guitar and not having to do something else along with it."
"I think I did pretty well at least up to my 30s. As soon as I hit my 40s, though, it was just kind of, like, 'Damn, man.' I was almost, like — not dreading it, but just, like, 'Fuck, here we go. I've gotta fucking headbang again.' I still love playing guitar, but the headbanging became something that I didn't really wanna do anymore. I mean, when you've got Corpsegrinder next to you doing those crazy headspins, nobody's looking at me anyway… I'd rather be heard, not seen," he added.