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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

The County Medical Examiners

Interviewed by Mike Korn
Interview with Dr. Morton Fairbanks of The County Medical Examiners from 2007

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at

Editor’s Note: It is important to note in reading this interview that the members of The County Medical Examiners are (in addition to playing heavy metal music) all doctors working in the field of pathology.
MSJ: Let me first ask you if you could have imagined being where you are now when you first conceived of the idea of the County Medical Examiners.
No, never. I thought we'd put out an amazingly stupid demo (which we did) and disappear forever. Now we're on Relapse. Imagine that!
MSJ: Do you feel that you have now reached the band's final line-up with the addition of Dr. Guy Radcliffe? Other than maturity and sound medical judgment, what does he bring to the table for the band?
This feels like the final lineup to me. I can't imagine continuing without Guy. This is just too comfortable now and it would throw me off to have to find someone new. Guy is a great musician, and even though metal riffs are sort of beneath him and he laughs at some of the things he has to play, he can learn songs really fast and his memory is great. I don't have to worry about him at all. Most of the rehearsal time is spent getting the guitars and drums right.
MSJ: Do you feel that freely accepting the "Carcass Worship" label instead of fighting it has been liberating for you?
Most definitely - we advocate cloning proudly. By parading it around, being so extreme, we own it. Sure, most people don't respect it or understand it, but we don't care. It's just a bit of fun for us.
MSJ: If classic Carcass had had a non-medical image, and their lyrics reflected politics or Satanism or some other subject, would you guys still have started a band in tribute to them?
No. Thematic and musical consistency are key.
MSJ: Two related questions here. 1) Are you all involved in pathology, emergency medicine or something similar? 2) If so, do the lyrics reflect actual cases that you have worked on?
Jack is a hospital pathologist, Guy is in hospital administration, but he used to be a medical examiner, and I'm working through my forensic pathology apprenticeship, so I'm basically a medical examiner now (I used to do what Jack does). Some of our lyrics detail common aspects of the morgue, but I've never written exclusively about a case.
MSJ: Are the lyrics meant to disturb, to be educational, to be satirical or are they strictly in tribute to Carcass?
All of the above! Most importantly, we do this as homage to Carcass. TCME is just an elaborate fan letter. But all those other aspects are important elements to the project. By its nature, it disturbs (and fascinates), as well as instructs and makes the reader laugh.
MSJ: What exactly are "Casper's Dictum" and "The Virchow Post-mortem Procedure?”
Casper's dictum is an old forensic rule of thumb to determine general rates of decomposition. We have other ways of more accurately determining time of death now, but Casper's dictum is still a handy way of thinking of things. The song about Virchow is just a bit of history, and an excuse to have a song about Virchow, who is one of pathology's founding fathers.
MSJ: The cover of Olidous Operettas is striking and seems to me to be more intricate and thought-out than Carcass' own covers. Who put this together for you and will you continue the "morgue collage" art style in the future?
Thanks for the kind words on the cover. I do think it shows more careful intent than Carcass' own covers. Myself and the band put that together with help from the people who recorded us, and the inside layout, which is really brilliant was put together by Relapse's designer, Orion. We'll keep to the morgue collage artwork for future albums. I have ideas for the next one, another triptych.
MSJ: A lot of folks are skeptical that you are what you claim to be. Some think that Dr. Radcliffe in particular is some kind of "put on.” How would you react to this claim?
I've heard a lot of the rumors. Fans send them into me through myspace. I think they're a hoot! I suppose I could tape one of our rehearsals for the next album. That would quash any rumors. But I think I've come to enjoy them, like I'm part of some conspiracy. Still, I would like to video record Guy jamming. He makes funny faces sometimes and I love giving him a hard time about it.
MSJ: Are any of you involved in musical projects outside of the County Medical Examiners?
No. I don't have any interest myself. Jack plays in some noise projects. Guy is a real musician and plays bass and cello in jazz and classical bands. He's amazing.
MSJ: How do you walk the line between being a totally Carcass oriented band and a band that has some freshness and innovation to them?
Well, we don't want any of the latter. None of it. We seek to purge any originality from TCME. It's only about emulating Carcass. There are a ton of other clone bands that combine Carcass with other bands and more original influences, bands that strive for an individual sound. TCME wants only to wear the skin of Carcass.
MSJ: With your medical careers, I imagine it would be very difficult to play live or more than one-off shows. Do you have any shows planned in support of Olidous Operettas?
We really want to play live, maybe a large festival where lots of fans could see us at one time. A tour is out of the question; we're just too busy for that. We have families and professional careers to hold down. I think my wife would kill me if I even mentioned the word "tour."
MSJ: You keep your real identities concealed. Have their been any "close calls" with your cover being blown?
Not really. A couple of Jack's coworkers know, but they're younger and into the punk and metal scene, and Carcass fans themselves, so it's not a big deal.
MSJ: Do you admire or correspond with any other bands on the Relapse label?
We don't really correspond with any bands, unfortunately. We hate to be recluses, but we don't have much time to be "active" in the scene. There are certainly other Relapse bands I enjoy, like High on Fire, Antigama, Cretin, Exhumed, Regurgitate, and others.
MSJ: How did you come to be on Relapse?
We sent a demo in. We didn't have a label to put out the new album, so we sent some songs out to various labels, and Relapse responded. We were floored. It's been so great working with them.
MSJ: What was the last CD/album you got just for your own enjoyment?
I think it was the new Regurgitate Sickening Bliss. It's such a beautiful album. I was blown away listening to it. The production is brilliant. I felt like a teenager again.
MSJ: What was the last concert/gig you saw because you wanted to?
I don't go out much to live shows, and when I do, it's usually to something my wife wants to go to - not much metal. I took her to see that blind opera singer guy. She's a big fan. I think the last metal show I went to was the Immortal show a few years back.
MSJ: Is there any Spinal Tap incident in the history of the CME that you could share with the readers? Or maybe some twisted medical story?
Well, when we get together, the three of us, it sort of feels like Spinal Tap. We're not the average metal heads, so it feels like a farce half the time. But as far as any funny stories, I can't think of any offhand. Jack did have a bad back spasm at one rehearsal and we had to take him to the hospital because we were worried he slipped a disc. Ironic, considering we're doctors and in TCME and we had to rush off to the hospital. I can't really remember anything else.
MSJ: Any last word for aspiring grind merchants or pathologists out there?
Keep it up! Grind!
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