If you’re at all familiar with the death metal band Cannibal Corpse, you’ll know the name Alex Webster. The bassist has been with the band since day one, guiding their sound with his fleet-fingered lines, co-writing some of their most popular tracks, and, more often than not, serving as their mouthpiece. After years of lineup changes, he and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz are the only founding members still standing. Find out more with these 10 things you didn’t know about Alex Webster.
1. He’s suffered from focal dystonia
During a recent interview with guitarworld.com, Webster opened up about his battle with focal dystonia, a rare neurological disorder that can cause muscles to contract involuntarily, resulting in repetitive, twisting movements in the affected body part. He started noticing that something was wrong a few years ago, explaining, “The normal fingerpicking that I would do would become very strained. It seemed as if my pointer finger would be going left instead of down. When I first noticed something was going wrong, it was very confusing and frightening. I was like, ‘What’s going on with my right hand? Why isn’t it behaving the way it’s behaved for the past 30 years?’“ After working with medical professionals and fellow musicians who’d experienced the same condition, he eventually managed to overcome the problem and is now back to playing at his best.
2. He’s written a book
As well as having a hand in writing some of the band’s biggest tracks (“Puncture Wound Massacre,” “I Will Kill You,” “Devoured by Vermin,” “Unleashing the Bloodthirsty,” “Scourge of Iron” and “Murder Worship,” to name a few), Webster has also showcased his literary talents in a variety of other projects. Between 2013 and 2015, he was a regular contributor to Bass Guitar magazine. In 2011, he wrote “Extreme Metal Bass: Essential Techniques, Concepts, and Applications for Metal Bassists,” a hands-on training guide to bass guitar techniques and concepts.
3. He likes keeping in shape
When he’s not playing in the band, Webster is either indulging in his love for traveling or working out. Speaking to Metal-Temple.com, he explained how the band all have their own ways of keeping in shape. “Paul [Mazurkiewicz] plays hockey sometimes, Pat [O’Brien] likes to go shooting and hunting, stuff like that,” he said. “For me, I like working out, I’ve been doing some martial arts stuff for a while now, so I just like to run, I like to go mountain biking, there’s no mountains in Florida, but there are trails and swamps and stuff like that.”
4. He’s never wanted to be anything other than a musician
Most kids change their plans for the future more often than they change their socks, but for Webster, there was only one thing he was ever interested in doing: playing music. He started playing the ‘drums’ when he was three, building a makeshift drum kit from an old butter container and using tinker toys as his drum sticks. “Music was always a soundtrack in my head to things going on in my life. I always wanted to play. I would never push music on someone, because it is something that doesn’t need to be pushed. If you’re going to make music, you’re going to make it,” he’s said.
5. He came up with the band name
Back before he joined Cannibal Corpse, Webster and former Cannibal Corpse guitarist Jack Owen were in the band Beyond Death. After they met Chris Barnes, Bob Rusay, and Paul Mazurkiewicz (who were all in the band Tirant Sin at the time), they decided to form Cannibal Corpse. Webster was the one to come up with the band’s name, something he’s since revealed he chose because it sounded “very catchy.”
6. He’s part of a supergroup
Cannibal Corpse might be the band Webster is best known for, but he doesn’t play with them exclusively. Over the years, he’s worked with numerous other bands, including Hate Eternal, the death metal band formed by Cannibal Corpse’s one-time producer and now permanent guitarist, Erik Rutan; Blotted Science, an all-instrumental extreme metal project headed up by Spastic Ink’s Ron Jarzombek, ex-Obscura drummer Hannes Grossmann and Webster himself; and Conquering Dystopia, a supergroup founded by Keith Merrow and Arch Enemy guitarist Jeff Loomis.
7. From Skin to Liquid is his favorite song
During a Q&A on Cannibal Corpse’s official forum, Webster was asked to name his favorite song by the band. The answer? “From Skin to Liquid.” “It was so different for us. It showed we didn’t necessarily have to be playing at warp drive and have gory lyrics to be heavy,” he explained.
8. Cliff Williams inspired him to play bass
Before Webster picked up a bass, he picked up a guitar. He started having lessons when he was six years old but abandoned it when his instructor made him learn “Mary Had a Little Lamb” rather than letting him play like Elvis Presley. When he hit his teens, he was ready to start lessons again, but this time around, he wanted to learn the bass, not the guitar. By then, he’d got into AC/DC in a major way, but figured he could learn Cliff Williams’ bass parts faster than he could learn Angus Young’s guitar parts. As his goal at that point was to join a band as soon as possible, he hired a kid who played bass in the high school jazz band to give him lessons for five bucks an hour.
9. He’s given his name to a fossil
Not many death metal bassists have given their name to a fossil marine worm species, but Webster is the exception. The death metal-loving researchers who decided to name the fossil “Websteroprion armstrongi” decided that Webster “seemed like the perfect fit for a giant worm with saw-like jaws.”
10. He’s Mr. Nice
If you were asked to describe the personality of someone who thought “Puncture Wound Massacre,” “I Will Kill You,” “Devoured by Vermin,” “Unleashing the Bloodthirsty,” and “Murder Worship” made good titles for songs, you’d probably come up with someone a world away from Alex Webster. Despite the band’s controversial material, Webster is known as one of the nicest men in metal, with a reputation for being friendly with his fans and only too willing to engage with them on the band’s forum.