Rigor Mortis / Warbeast Vocalist Bruce Corbitt – The full in bloom Legacy Interview

Rigor Mortis vocalist
Bruce Corbitt

full in bloom: What band were you playing in before you joined Rigor Mortis?

Bruce Corbitt: I wasn’t in a band prior to joining Rigor Mortis. The only band I really ever sang for before Rigor was a band called Spectrum. That was the band Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis, Ministry Guitarist) was in when I first met him. That was back in 1982 and we were both still in our teens. We never really had many original songs and we mainly played a lot of Black Sabbath songs. Mike quit the band that same year and not too long after that he met Casey Orr (Rigor Mortis, Gwar Bassist) and Harden Harrison (Rigor Mortis Drummer). I sang off and on with Spectrum for a couple of years after Mike left, but it was never the same once he was gone.

full in bloom: What lead up to you joining Rigor Mortis?

Bruce: I had moved out of the Dallas area in early 1985. I worked with my brother for almost a year down in San Antonio and Corpus Christi. I came back to Dallas to visit for the Christmas holidays in late 1985 and never left the Dallas area again. That was when I started to hang out with the guys in Rigor Mortis. They had formed the band back in 1983 and were starting to do more gigs around D/FW around that same time that I got back in town. I was just one of the many friends that were helping out with the band any way I could. I kept hinting around about being their singer, but they were happy with the band the way it was at the time. I got to sing with them just for fun at a couple of times at practice and at a couple of gigs.

About the time I was giving up on the idea of singing with them, and I decided I would go ahead and look for another band to sing for, Casey let me know that he had been thinking about just concentrating on his bass playing more and that they were talking about adding a singer to the band. He told me I was one of the singers they were considering. So of course that gave me new hope and luckily not too long after that, they let me officially join the band. I remember that was the biggest moment of my life. so far. and I devoted every moment of my life to the band.

full in bloom: How soon after joining the group did you sign with Capitol Records?

Bruce: I joined the band in July of 1986 and we signed with Capitol Records in October of 1987. That doesn’t really seem like a long time, but 1 year with Rigor Mortis was more like 5 years. As far as so much crazy shit happening all the time while I was in the band. It was just like a never ending up and down roller coaster ride.

full in bloom: What are some highlights from the Rigor Mortis self-titled recording sessions?

Bruce: Well, I conquered Mike Tyson’s Punchout and Wizards and Warriors on Nintendo during the recording of that album (laughs). After the first few nights when we recorded the basic tracks to get the drums and bass parts down. I had about a week before they started doing my vocal parts. So I did play a lot of video games, Ping Pong and Basketball with friends that were hanging around the studio. We also were so pumped up with adrenaline about making the album. We went through cases of beer every night and honestly we never felt drunk one time. It was as if we were just drinking water.

But seriously, I guess just listening to Mike recording some of his solo’s always stands out in my mind. Harden got his brand new drum set the day we got in the studio. I remember he didn’t really get a chance to break them in or get used to them.

One funny part I will always remember is while we recorded my vocals. I guess I had somehow developed a habit of humming the rhythm part of the song to prepare my tone for my vocal parts. Of course at practice or at gigs no one could hear this since I wasn’t on the microphone as I hummed along. Then when I started to record the vocals for the first album I could see our producer and everyone else looking at each other and laughing behind the glass window, they were watching me from. After the song was over, our producer Dave Ogilvie asked me what that noise I was making was. I honestly had no clue what the hell he was talking about. Then he played back the song for me and turned up my vocals really loud so I could hear myself humming along like an idiot to the song. It was funny as hell and one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

full in bloom: I once worked with a guy named Kerry Crafton, who engineered the self-titled album. What are your memories of him and how was it working with him?

Bruce: Kerry was cool as hell to work with and he seemed to be the calm, cool and collected one during the recording process. He always just seemed to take everything in stride and was always dependable. I remember we gave him the nickname of Kerry ‘Bar None” Crafton during those few weeks, because every time we took a break, he made his way to the candy machine and would walk back in eating a Bar None candy bar.

full in bloom: Did Rigor Mortis do any touring before you signed with Capitol?

Bruce: We never really set up a tour to hit a lot of cities all at once on one trip. We would just get an out of town show once in a while and make the trip there and back. Mainly just other Texas cities like Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi etc.

full in bloom: How did your life change once you signed your record deal with Capitol? I remember, in Dallas, you guys were labeled the next Metallica.

Bruce: I don’t remember the comparison to Metallica thing myself. No way did we ever think we would be as big as Metallica or Slayer, to be honest. We only hoped we would be able to eat and pay rent doing what we wanted to do in life. Our lives changed once we signed with Capitol only by how others around us changed and suddenly treated us. Some of our parents were no longer bitching at us to cut our hair and to get a real job. They became proud of us and excited about everything after that. Our friends were now asking us if they could work for us etc. People that never treated us with much respect suddenly were asking for our autographs. We didn’t really change ourselves to be honest. But, we were kind of a state of shock about everything and of course we thought it was just the beginning of many good things for us.

full in bloom: Rigor Mortis and Pantera were both playing the club scene in Dallas around the same time. What are your memories of the early version of Pantera?

Bruce: I never went and watched Pantera perform until I was out of Rigor Mortis in 1989. Back in those mid-80s years Rigor Mortis and Pantera were just on different paths musically. They weren’t the Pantera of the 90s that everyone knows and loves now. So no way could the two bands do a show together back in that period. They were still into their glam period and we thought they were just posers to be honest. We were all into the thrash scene and they weren’t that heavy at that time. Of course I had heard of them for a couple of years before I ever joined Rigor Mortis. I always heard about Darrell and Vinnie’s talent. Many people always told me that Darrell was the best guitarist in D/FW etc. Like I said, I still never had even seen them play or listened to those early albums. But, in my area around Irving… we all knew of Mike Scaccia and, to us, he was the best guitarist around in our minds. Rigor Mortis and Pantera were always bands that people either loved or hated, especially around here back in those early days. But, the fans that both bands had were as loyal and devoted as they come. So naturally, most Pantera fans hated Rigor Mortis and most Rigor Mortis fans hated Pantera.

Once Phil Anselmo joined the band and moved to D/FW, he started coming to see some of our Rigor Mortis shows. He was into extreme metal bands and that sort of broke the gap between Rigor Mortis and Pantera. I finally met Darrell and he was just a cool dude and it was just impossible not to like him, even though the fans of both bands had turned it into sort of a rivalry between Rigor Mortis and Pantera.

When I got fired from Rigor Mortis in 1989, I talked on the phone with Phil a lot that first night. He could tell I was in shock and hurt about it all and he tried to support me that night, which I will never forget. One thing I will always remember that he told me that night to try and cheer me up – he said Pantera had been talking a few nights before about certain people in bands that give a band this certain look that can’t be replaced. He told me that Darrell had said that Bruce Corbitt of Rigor Mortis was one of those people.

Then Phil invited me out to see Pantera play at the Basement not long after that. I mean, the very instant I walked in the club, Darrell was the first one to come up to me and made me feel welcome. So that was really the first time I ever watched them jam. Of course I noticed the talent and gained a lot more respect for them after that night.

I sometimes wish now that we could have lasted long enough to do some shows with them once they got heavier. I realized there is never a rivalry unless there is respect to begin with. Nothing ever was personal and we all got along whenever we were around each other. Mike was even on tour with Ministry last year and they ended up running into Damageplan during their tour in some city. This was only a couple of nights before the tragedy happened. Mike told me that he and Darrell talked about actually getting together and jamming for fun after their tours were over. Man, I can only imagine what that would have been like now.

full in bloom: Who did you tour with after you released the self-titled album?

Bruce: The only band we toured with was Death Angel not long after the first release. As soon as that tour was over we took a break for a few weeks and began to prepare for the next album. I was out of the band a couple of months later. But, I don’t remember ever hearing them actually go out on another official tour with another band after that. Since I wasn’t around, I don’t really know why.

full in bloom: Where did you tour?

Bruce: We only toured the US and we also hit a few cities in Canada on that tour with Death Angel. We never made it overseas, but I hope that happens some year.

full in bloom: What are three fond memories of those early days in Rigor Mortis?

Bruce: Opening for Slayer back in 1988 at the Arcadia Theater in our hometown of Dallas will always be the highlight for me. They were the rulers of that era and that was just an honor to open up for them. Even though back at that time Slayer was the hardest band to open up for. No other band was going to blow them away for one, and all you were going to hear throughout your entire set were loud chants of “Slayer, Slayer, Slayer!!”

Recording the first demo not long after I was in the band was another great memory. It is just a cool experience for a band to record for the first time and to finally hear their ideas come to life.

Then going on that tour with Death Angel has to be one of my best memories. Just that feeling of taking off on a long journey with the band and not having any idea what to expect. I just loved being out on the road trying to make it to our next destination to play for a crowd that had never seen us before.

full in bloom: How long were you in Rigor Mortis and why did you leave the band?

Bruce: I was in the band from July 1986 until February 1989. I didn’t leave the band, I was fired. They had their reasons for doing it at the time and I didn’t take the news very well when they told me.

full in bloom: Did you ever receive royalty payments or was the band always recouping?

Bruce: No I didn’t. I was out of the band about 7 months after the album was released. If I had any royalty payments coming to me, I never ended up getting any of them. It also cost so much to hire a lawyer to check into all of that shit that I just blew it off. I don’t know about anything like if the band was always recouping or if they got royalty checks, because I wasn’t around then.

full in bloom: While you were with Rigor Mortis in the early days, were you able to survive playing music only or did you have another job?

Bruce: We started doing a lot of gigs and we got paid, but it wasn’t enough to pay rent and survive. I did anything I could to make it so I could put all of my time in the band. I moved back home so I wouldn’t have to pay as much for rent. I sold weed, gambled… whatever I could do just to get gas and food money. It was like living every day like I was on Survivor. To be honest, I don’t think I could have done nearly as much for the band if I had to work a steady job during that time. All the other guys in the band didn’t really work steady jobs either and had their own ways of surviving as well. But that is how we were all able to devote every moment of our lives to Rigor Mortis.

full in bloom: Why did it take so long to get the self-titled debut re-released? Were you aware that it was selling for $50.00 to $100.00 on Ebay, prior to the re-release?

Bruce: There were some legal issues Casey had to hire a lawyer to take care of before he re-released it. Yeah, we knew about it selling for high bids on Ebay. We thought it was crazy that people had to pay so much to get a copy of it on CD. It was just so rare on CD because in 1988 CDs were still kind of new, so Capitol made a lot more copies of it on vinyl and on cassette. Very few CDs were made and so it was rare to find a copy. Casey is the one that licensed it and re-released it in 2003.

full in bloom: How did the reunion come about and why in the hell did it take so long?

Bruce: The reunion was the last thing I ever expected and I never thought it would really happen. It had been talked about a few times over the years. But, after so many years, I didn’t think I would even be part of it, if it ever did happen.

Anyway, Casey started a Rigor Mortis fan group a few months back on Myspace. He sent me an invite and I read where he posted that he had been talking to Mike and Harden about possibly doing some Rigor Mortis shows in October. So I sent him a message and just told him that we should stay on good terms if the reunion happened and if I wasn’t part of it. I mentioned that I would even help them promote it. He replied back and said they wanted me to get up and sing a couple of songs at the Dallas and maybe the Ft. Worth show. I thought that would be cool and so I agreed.

About a week later, I talked to Scaccia on the phone and he brought up the Rigor reunion. He said they now wanted me to sing more than a couple of songs and asked if I would sing a lot of the songs from the first album. He also said they were going to do some other Texas shows and he said I was welcome to come along. So everything just took off naturally and it turned into a full-blown reunion.

I don’t know what it is, and in no way am I saying it has anything to do with me, but when the four of us announced that this was going to be the lineup for Rigor Mortis, good things just started happening for us and falling into place. That is what happened when we had this lineup back then, and like déjà vu, it is starting to happen for us again. I don’t really know why it took so long to happen. I am just happy we are all still alive right now for it to even be possible.

full in bloom: How has it been playing with those guys again?

Bruce: We all have been working on the songs individually right now to be ready when we start rehearsals in early October. So we haven’t actually been jamming together yet. We sort of had to go into training and preparation for a few months to get ready to do Rigor Mortis again. But it has been cool just being friends with all of the guys again. We talk a lot on the phone and we are all psyched up about doing this reunion tour. We are more like family now and all of us know who are true friends are now. Hell, I know that they know that I would take a knife for them… and I already have (laughs).

full in bloom: Any chance of a new release?

Bruce: Tentative plans are to record some new material after the first of the year. That is if everything goes well for us on this tour and we can keep the momentum going. We want to record a new Rigor CD and have talked about it. Mike told me that no matter what happens he would like for us to at least do one new Rigor CD with this lineup. So I think there is a chance that it will happen… but, that’s too many steps down the road. Let’s just see if we can make it past our first show in Austin on October 21 right now.

full in bloom: You did some vocals on a K.O.D. album. How did that come about and how many tracks are you on?

Bruce: Yeah, that was some friends I had known since my teens. They just asked me if I would sing a song on their new CD and I said I would. They liked the first one and kept asking me to do another. I ended up doing three songs. What stands out to me the most is that I didn’t even practice the song with the band one time. I just went in and sang the lyrics I had come up with and it was recorded. Also, I remember so many thought I was actually in the band and I got asked about it all the time. I sang at a couple of their shows once the CD came out. But, I was never in the band and I was just doing it for fun. Funny enough that was my last official recording in the studio.

full in bloom: Bruce Corbitt is transported in time, back to the year 1987. Is there anything you would do differently?

Bruce: I would have worked even harder once we got our deal with Capitol Records. I know now that is really when the band has to work and prove itself. Getting the record deal is a dream come true and a big break for a band, but it really just a chance you are given when it comes down to it. I remember I did sort of think we had it made once we got signed to a big label like Capitol. I sort of got lazy and relaxed, and that was my biggest mistake. It’s like if a young talented college football star signs a big contract with a class organization and team like the Oakland Raiders. He has to go out and perform and prove himself so he can be a starter. They aren’t just going to give him the starting job because he was a college star and he signed a big contract. He has to go out there and kick some ass over and over or he will lose his starting job and maybe be cut from the team or traded. Now I know that I made a mistake and if I ever get the chance again I am going to remember the lesson I learned back then.


full in bloom: What is your most disgusting habit?

Bruce: Smoking.  I have had to cut back on smoking now that I am about to sing again.

full in bloom: What is the most feminine thing you do?

Bruce: I remember certain days, dates and anniversaries, like when I met a chick the first time or when our album came out or when my dog died etc.

full in bloom: If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?

Bruce: Is there other intelligent life in other galaxies?

full in bloom: Greatest Rock band of all time?

Bruce: The Beatles.

full in bloom: What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?

Bruce: Taking a few bong hits and listening to some Iron Maiden.

full in bloom: Thank you so much for doing the interview. It was truly an honor.

Bruce: No problem Adam, it was fun. I hope some of you will check us out on our reunion tour. It should be a blast.