A succession of tragic losses, a national controversy, and some necessary personnel changes have all been part of the narrative for one of the industry’s most triumphant underdogs. Currently making headlines on the strength of their latest release, CARNIVORE, Body Count find themselves on a three-record winning streak that has introduced the band to whole new generation of fans. Though the road up to this point was not without it’s setbacks, Body Count is currently enjoying a victory lap that frames the Los Angeles natives as the pioneers they always have been.
While the band’s earliest years proved influential, they were also tumultuous. Though the controversy surrounding the band’s “Cop Killer” single was always a focal point, Body Count most enduring trials was the loss of three of their original members between the late 90’s and the 2000’s. It was a reality that untimely stalled the band. Guitarist and founding member Ernie C explained, “There was depression going on. Those were high school friends that we lost. We all needed time to mourn.”
In 1996, Body Count would suffer it’s first loss. Victor Wilson, better known as Beatmaster V, would succumb to a bout with Leukemia. In 2001, the band’s bassist, Mooseman, was the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting. Then in 2004, Dennis Miles, known as D-Roc the Executioner, would pass from Lymphoma. The succession of tragedies tore at the fabric of the band. For Ice and Ernie C, the loss of bandmates was coupled with the loss of lifelong friends. Even now, some 16 years after D-Roc’s passing, there is a reverence that remains at the core of Body Count. “You can never replace the original members,” said Ernie C. “There have been a few incarnations of this band and while you can replace the person that filled in for the original members, you can never replace that original line up.”
Skip ahead to 2014. After an eight year layoff, Body Count would deliver yet another incendiary single in, “Talk Shit, Get Shot.” The first track off of the MANSLAUGHTER release was a return to form that properly introduced an assembly of musicians that proved powerful, potent, and punishing. Ernie C attributed the resurgence to the right team. “We had the right personnel,” he explained. “We had known guys like Juan (Garcia - Agent Steel/EvilDead) for years so they were familiar with what we did.” With Vincent Price on bass, “Ill Will” Dorsey Jr. on the beat, and Juan "of the Dead" Garcia on rhythm guitar, Body Count ushered in the modern era of the band. Though Body Count’s evolution would always carry a respect for it’s foundation, the current line-up was set on the future and the result was undeniable.
In 2017, the band would return with BLOODLUST and again command the attention the industry. Earning a Grammy nomination for the track “Black Hoodie,” the album would also include features from metal’s elite in Dave Mustaine, Max Cavalera, and Randy Blythe. Body Count was a part of the heavy music conversation and because of the band’s recent strides, no longer was the discussion prefaced with “Cop Killer.”
The third album in just six years, CARNIVORE, continues Body Count’s run of success. Working again with collaborator and producer Will Putney, Ernie C explained the partnership. “We like Will a lot. We consider him a member of the band. We let him continue to drive the car because he hasn’t wrecked it yet.” Under Putney’s tenure, Body Count has churned out some of it’s finest work and forged their identity apart from the controversy that marked their started in the 90’s. The bravado and unapologetic ethos of the band remain in tact while the sound and song dynamics showcase a conglomerate that is seemingly hitting their stride after decades in the game. Ernie C discussed how Body Count's foundation led to longevity. “Slayer. Megadeth. The Ramones. Those are the bands that we patterned Body Count after. We toured with bands like DRI and Exodus. Those were the bands we connected with.”
Tracks like “Bum-Rush,” the title track “Carnivore” and even the tip of the hat to Lemmy in the band’s rendition of “Ace of Spades” shine as a testament to the timelessness of Body Count. The songs summarize how unwilling the band has been in compromising just why they started 30 years ago. “We are a bunch of guys cut from the same cloth. We stand for what we believe in and that comes out in our music.” said Ernie C.
Experiencing three decades of historic highs and tragic lows, Body Count has reached a pinnacle in their career, but more importantly, did so on their own terms. Transcending the preconceptions of being a metal band fronted by a legendary rapper, the legacy of Body Count was earned, not given. CARNIVORE punctuates that fact as the appetite for the band is as fervent as ever.
“You have to move forward or stop,” explained Ernie. Given the "Bum Rush," stopping just isn't an option for Body Count.
Watch the latest video from Body Count for "Point The Finger" featuring Riley Gale of POWER TRIP.