Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster opens up about his battle with rare neurological disorder called musician’s cramp

Author Arto Mäenpää - 26.7.2021

Propably the most well-known bassist in death metal, Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse has given an open interview to Bass Player magazine where he opens up about his battle with focal dystonia (also known as musician’s or writer’s cramp), a rare neurological disorder that involves involuntary spasms in small muscles in the body.

“Focal dystonia is essentially an injury, but not the kind of injury that people would normally think of — it’s not carpal tunnel, or a tendon problem, or something like that. It’s essentially a neurological problem, and it happens in a lot of disciplines that require precise, repetitive movements, and not just in music.”– Alex Webster

Webster was asked in the interview what were the first symptoms he had and he said the following:

“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?'”

“Basically, the signals from your brain are going wrong on the way down to your fingers. Imagine your legs walking. What if the signal from your brain was telling both legs to go forward at the same time? That’s not exactly what was happening with my picking fingers, but certain signals were definitely getting through and certain signals weren’t.”

Webster said in the interview that he solved the problem by embracing a natural therapy based on cutting-edge research in neuroscience. He offered the following to the subject:

“I saw a specialist named Joaquin Farias, who helped me out very much, and I also spoke with a classical guitarist, Apostolos Paraskevas, and the bassist Scott Devine, who gave me tips on their bouts with this,” he said. “It’s something that can often be resolved, which is good news for anyone who gets it. You just have to work through it, learn what you need to correct, and then take the time to correct it.”

Cannibal Corpse released its 15th studio album, “Violence Unimagined”, in April via Metal Blade Records. The album, which was recorded at Mana Recording in St. Petersburg, Florida was produced by the band’s new guitarist Erik Rutan (Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal) who replaced Pat O’Brien in 2020 officially.