From Schoolyard to Spotlight: The Formation of Carcass

The members of Carcass first crossed paths in record stores and at hardcore gigs, little knowing they'd soon redefine a genre.

Bill Steer, Jeff Walker and Ken Owen

The Humble Schoolyard Beginnings of Carcass and Bill Steer’s Detour to Disattack

Ah, youth—the time when friendships are forged in the fires of adolescent ambition and garage bands. For Carcass’s Bill Steer and Ken Owen, this fire ignited in their school years when they formed the very first iteration of Carcass. Picture two teenagers jamming out, fueled by dreams of metal glory. But like a firework that shoots up and fizzles out too quickly, the band disbanded shortly after its formation. Though brief, this early chapter was the first footprint on a path that would lead Carcass to become a cornerstone in death metal and grindcore.

But wait, there’s a twist in the tale. After the curtains closed on the first Carcass act, Bill Steer took his show on the road, joining another band called Disattack. This wasn’t just some after-school project; Disattack was a D-beat band that had its own unique flavor. Alongside drummer Middie, bassist Paul, and vocalist Pek, Steer helped release a four-track demo in 1986 titled “A Bomb Drops…”. Think of it as an appetizer, offering a taste of the musical journey that lay ahead.

So there you have it. The early days were far from glamorous, but they laid the foundation for a band that would eventually roar through the metal scene like a freight train on a one-way track to legendville.

Not Just Another Demo

You know that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, the same can be said for Disattack’s 1986 demo “A Bomb Drops…”. At first glance, it’s a UK hardcore punk affair. But, oh boy, does it have layers. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill D-beat or UK82 stuff. We’re talking about a demo that’s got shades of ONSLAUGHT, complete with a cover track named “Power From Hell”. It’s like ordering a basic burger and finding out it’s got secret sauce and gourmet toppings.

Initially, folks gave it the side-eye, dismissing it as a Discharge knock-off. A clone, they said. But isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Fast forward to the present, and “A Bomb Drops…” has done a full 180. It’s no longer the awkward kid in the room but the life of the party, gaining cult status and being described as “Six raw bursts of sonic bloodbath”. If that’s not a glow-up, I don’t know what is.

Hold on, we’re not done waxing poetic about this demo. Fans have given it the VIP treatment, restoring it for that crystal-clear sound quality. It’s like finding an old, scratched-up vinyl and polishing it until it shines. And the cherry on top? A 28-page booklet jam-packed with interviews, reviews, and photos from the era when hair was big, and the music was even bigger.

The Birth of Carcass

Picture a local record store, Probe, the kind where vinyls are as cherished as holy relics. It’s where Jeff Walker first spotted Bill Steer, a guy with long hair and a blue car coat, flipping through records like a kid in a candy store. Meanwhile, Ken Owen, always a bit mad in the best way possible, crossed paths with Walker at a hardcore gig. Both Steer and Owen had their own brand of metal fashion—Steer in a denim jacket with neatly sewn Venom and Slayer patches, and Owen in a cut-off battle jacket that looked like a graffiti wall of his favorite bands. These unique styles were almost like a secret handshake, an unspoken nod to their individuality and shared passions.

Fast forward a bit, and the bass player of Disattack heads for the exit. Enter Jeff Walker, formerly of the Electro Hippies, a band that dabbled in thrashcore and had a knack for low-fi, primitively produced music. With Walker on board, the band began to shift its musical gears. Around the same time, Steer had a brief stint with Napalm Death, lending his talents to the second side of their album Scum. It’s as if the universe was aligning the stars for what was to come next—Disattack transformed, changing its name and its beat, and morphed into Carcass with Ken Owen back behind the drums.

In April 1987, the metamorphosis was complete. Carcass recorded their first demo, “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment”, featuring Sanjiv on vocals, who would depart shortly after. But Carcass was far from done. Later, Walker, Steer, and Owen decided to share vocal duties for their debut album, “Reek of Putrefaction”, an endeavor they wrapped up in a whirlwind four days.

And thus, Carcass was reborn, not as a phoenix from the ashes, but as a beast forged from the meeting of minds and the crossing of paths, ready to tear through the metal landscape.

The Prologue to Pioneers

You know how every superhero has an origin story, usually packed with ups, downs, and dramatic turns? Well, the tale of Carcass is no different, minus the capes and radioactive spiders. This early period we’ve just dissected serves as the prologue to a story where Carcass would eventually rise to become a pioneering force in death metal and grindcore. From disbanding as a school band to forming, transforming, and finally settling into their identity as Carcass, it’s a roller coaster worth every twist and turn.

It’s a fascinating look into how a group of individuals, each with their own musical leanings and quirky personalities, came together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s like the universe threw a bunch of musical elements into a blender—D-beat, UK hardcore punk, thrashcore—and out poured Carcass, a perfectly mixed sonic cocktail ready to shake up the metal scene.

So the next time you’re headbanging to a Carcass track, take a moment to appreciate the winding road that led them there. Because like any good story, the beginning sets the stage for all the groundbreaking, face-melting action that follows.