Interview with Morbid Angel (1999)
By Laurent Ramadier
from Soundscape Webzine
Laurent : So Steve, how did you get in touch with MORBID ANGEL exactly?
Steve : "Oh, basically, I met the bass player who was playing in GRIP INC., which is Jason Viebrooks. They are managed by the same people as MORBID ANGEL. So I called, got Trey's phone number and address, called him and talked to him and then, he asked to send him a tape. So I sent a CEREMONY tape, he liked it, I flew down and I tried out and it worked out great! I mean, we get along great, you know?!"
-What was your opinion on MORBID ANGEL's music before you joined them?
"I liked MORBID ANGEL. I really don't know as far as what was my opinion. I mean they were MORBID ANGEL!"
-Yeah, but I mean did you grow up listening to their music?
"Yeah! I had 'Altars Of Madness', I had like MORBID ANGEL demos and stuff like that. I was into Death Metal man and I'm always going to be into Death Metal so.."
-And how did you feel when you knew that you were in?
"Hum...I wasn't surprised or anything like that. I expected it. I mean, I gave it the best shot I could, we got along perfect so I mean, I expected it. Before I even went down, me and Trey talked for hours and hours and hours... We got along great! It's just a matter of, you know.. could I sing? I went down with my voice and I was in."
-So how do you feel about that new album?
"I think it's great! I think it's probably the most brutal thing MORBID ANGEL did since 'Altars Of Madness'. I mean, I think it's very aggressive.."
"Yeah! It's got some real fast songs, like 'Chambers Of Dis'. I think it's a lot more underground, obviously, than 'Domination', but... I like it man! I think it's really diverse, it's got everything you can want, from slow stuff to complete speed. I like it!"
-Do you also plan to write some lyrics on the next album?
"Yeah, I think I'm gonna contribute. I mean as far as that, Am I going to write like whole songs? I don't know. I think it'll probably be more like I'll work with Trey and that type of thing."
-So you were in a band called CEREMONY before. I'd like to know if you recorded
something with 'em, like demos...
"Yeah we had a demo, that's about it."
-But you're not from Florida?
"No, I'm from Cincinatti."
-I was kinda sure about that. Somebody told me, like one year ago, that
they had found somebody from Ohio. So how do you feel after that very first
long European tour?
"I'm tired man! We've already done something like 38, 39 shows and I'm pretty tired.."
-And it's not too hard for the vocals?
"Well, usually after the show, I don't... I mean I won't talk to anybody or anything and I let my throat resting and stuff like that. I mean it's all different things! It's like in the sun; you gotta completely prepare your body and doing everything just trying to take care of yourself, trying not to get sick, you know. On tour, you just have to stay healthy."
-So what's your opinion of the European crowds?
"Some places, they're incredible! Some places, they're not. I mean to be honest, I think we're here at the wrong time. I think there's too many festivals going on! There are too many big tours with like six bands or something like that.."
-There's OBITUARY at the same time.
"Yeah, there's a bunch of those... Like the ones with CANNIBAL CORPSE, ANGEL CORPSE... And I think IMMOLATION is on it... Is IMMOLATION on it?"
-Yeah, I believe so...
"And EMPEROR or something like that. And there's the other tours with DEICIDE, SIX FEET UNDER and whoever is on that... BRUTAL TRUTH, I think or something. So it's like, there's too many big things going on, so it's been allright but it could be a lot better. I think next time it will be a lot better. I think people are unsure of me. They don't know how I'm gonna be like, so.."
-Well that's stupid I think.
"I'm gonna say that most people are that smart."
-Like you see all those reviews saying, well the album is great but we didn't
expect so much since David Vincent is not in the band anymore. That's bullshit
'cos Trey is MORBID ANGEL!
"Well, I tell you what. Trey wrote every fuckin' music from the very fuckin' beginning.."
-Exactly! And that wasn't David!
"Exactly! I don't know why people have that perception David wrote, because he didn't write. David wrote lyrics and he only wrote couple of songs. The whole time, he was in fuckin'..."
-But maybe because he had the charisma...
"Well, I can't think just because one person has charisma, another person doesn't, you know what I mean? I mean, I don't think I'm as cocky as David Vincent, but I'll tell you what; you'll see tonight when I'm playing, I'm every bit as fuckin' intense and you know, maybe more."
-I hope so, 'cos David wasn't really intense on stage. I mean, David was
good but not perfect on stage. But that's my opinion, only. Anything to add?
"Hun.. No man... Yup, I hope people will just come up to the show and give me a chance! I guarantee that you will leave happy! I guarantee it! I mean usually, before the shows, people are pretty skeptical and shit. After the shows man, everybody smiles, haven't had anybody come up to me yet and say the show wasn't good so.."
-Okay, let's talk to you Pete now. Satisfied of the new album?
Pete : "I'm very happy with it! I'm very satisfied."
-About everything, production..
"I could have done a few changes on the drums but other than that, everything else I'm just happy with it. It's one of the best record that me, personally, have done. My playing is better on this new record. It has improved, so..."
-I think that your drumming is even faster than on the previous albums.
I don't know if I'm right but it sounds like that to me.
"Yeah. As long as you guys think that's it's faster, then it's great because that's the purpose of that record to be as fast as possible... extreme... All over the place, it is! It's fast 'cos I play fast... Especially on this new record, I just wanted to make sure that the songs are gonna be fast, period. In the past, there was like some..."
-Yeah on that record, the songs are super fast except one or two. In the
past it wasn't the same, like on "Domination". There were no slow
songs but medium pace stuff, know what I mean?
"Yeah, medium pace speed. Yes man, every album is different. Different songs, different and still you know the feeling is MORBID ANGEL kind of style of music. We just wanna satisfied all our fans, you know what I mean: The fans do like speed and extremity and stuff. So we wanted to have a lot of speed on those songs and tons of changes too in our tempos. Different kind of tempos. A lot of fans seem to like it! They say, 'hey man, that's a great album' and all. Most of the people I talked to seem to be very happy with the new album... I mean we are doing the right thing pretty much, working on the right thing and the right way too, the right path to... our dreams! My dreams!"
-I recently got a Live tape of the show you did in Amsterdam, Holland. It
was the first show of the tour I believe...
"You got a tape of that? How is the sound?"
-Great! Very good!
Erik Rutan: "A tape from Holland?! Damn, already! You got a copy of it with you?"
"In these areas, you never know who's recording those shows! I've seen somebody with a camera. I don't care, you can tape everything. I've seen that guy with a video camera... I don't care, tape it! You never know what's gonna happen to you, so.."
-On that Live tape, I know which songs you're playing in your actual set
and most of the songs are very fast songs. I wonder if sometimes you have problems
to keep up with the timing and stuff, 'cos you play for something like eighty
Pete : "I don't have any problems with tempos. It's just problems of keeping up with the set, the stamina, the energy level. But playing those everyday, you get used to those songs easier. I mean the songs become a lot easier to you, you know what I mean?! You master the songs. My purpose is to not think about if those songs are fast or they're are gonna be difficult or not... I just go there and do the songs and I don't think about that. There's a lot of other problems that happens around; the sound! Sometimes the sound is not the sound you wanna hear.. But you know, it's great! I wanna think that, you know, I'm having fun playing those songs. It's more fun now than it used to be in the past. I have done better shows on this tour than those ever done in the past so..."
-What kind of material do you use Live to obtain such a crystal sound? I
mean you hear perfectly every roll and stuff!
"D-drums! Triggers. I use that on toms, snare and kick. D-drums is electronic samples made for accoustic drums, but they sound much better with microphones.."
-You think it's the best?
"For this music, yes! This music is so fast, so many rolls and stuff! This is a help for the drum sound to come through, you know what I mean!?"
-Yeah. What kind of stuff do you listen to nowadays? I know you listen to
a lot of Classical music.
"I listen to some classical, I listen to some bands, early classic Rock bands, Heavy Metal bands from the eighties.."
-Like MERCYFUL FATE, maybe?
"No! Like BLACK SABBATH. I grew up with SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, you know! I go back and listen to that old stuff. I listen to some eighties Speed Metal like SLAYER... The classic.."
"Not DARK ANGEL, not much. Some bands from Florida. There's a band that I like, they're called DIABOLIC. It's a Tampa based band, a very good band. I like VADER! VADER are a great fuckin' good band! I listen to ANGEL CORPSE... I listen to some Industrial dark techno like movie soundtracks, those kind of doomy things... You know, the Dracula soundtrack, those kind... Like Halloween. I listen to a lot of piano... I listen to some jazz too.."
-Because of the drumming, maybe? 'Cos the drumming is fuckin' excellent!
"The drumming, yeah!"
-And what are some of your influences as drummer?
"My influences starts with the early Heavy Metal bands like IRON MAIDEN, the 'Killers' album... That was Clive Burr... He kind of got me in that direction to start playing with one foot (and he plays the beat on his legs) and from there, I went up to Dave Lombardo. Hey, he was my main influence for Speed Metal! He's number one influence for me! Gene Hoglan from DARK ANGEL. He's great and you know, early SODOM! That first SODOM album, they had lots of speed, they were more underground... 'In The Sign Of Evil'. They were totally fuckin' chaotic, know what I mean?! I was into that style, those kind of music kind of influenced me to play. The early REPULSION too, with his one bass drum doing those fast beats (and he goes on playing a REPULSION beat), this drumming influenced me."
-What about a guy like Neil Peart from RUSH?
"Neil Peart, I knew about this guy but the thing is, I was beginning to play drums and RUSH, well that was a different style of music. Very Rocky/Jazzy. Too hard for me. He did not influence me because when I was playing, it was speed and Neil Peart wasn't... Also early METALLICA's 'Kill 'Em All' and 'Ride The Lightning'! Hey, that influenced me too, especially the first album 'Kill 'Em All'. That album, I got it and I was like 'Waouh!', know what I mean?! It's like everything else was like MÖTLEY CRUE, RATT and other bands that were happening in the Metal scene. Then METALLICA came with their 'Kill 'Em All' album. And after that SLAYER! The 'Show No Mercy' and 'Haunting The Chapel'... I was into that! Neil Peart was too much beyond my abilities for that time. I was beginning and that was too hard for me doing what Neil Peart was doing."
"But now, I do stuff that Neil Peart does. They don't even realise it 'cos I'm doing it my way. I learnt it my own way but now, of course, I listen to RUSH and I respect him! He's a great drummer, but still that's a different kind of music. It's very Jazzy, it's very off, you know! I'm not that Jazzy, I'm more into extremity."
-Yeah, but in a song like "Sworn To The Black", there's a drum
beat similar to what he does.
"Yeah, RUSH has some extreme parts too. The drummer, he's got double bass... It's different because I grew up playing really fast. I didn't grew up playing like Rock. When I started playing drums, I was already into fast stuff. That was with one kick... I didn't use double bass in the beginning, until I played in MORBID ANGEL... That's when I started playing double bass. It was in the early days. TERRORIZER days was just one bass drum because when people used double bass in the past, I was thinking; man, I don't want to be like everybody else, I wanna just do what they do with double bass with one foot... So I learned some beat, double bass on my single kick. So yeah, I became so good with one kick. Very good because I can do a lot of things with one kick."
-Sure! I remember that when I got the second TERRORIZER demo/rehearsal tape,
I saw a picture of you with just one bass drum and I was like, how can he play
so fast with just one bass drum?!
"That's how I learnt blast beats! (and then he does one!) I had only one kick, 'cos I practiced so much on just one kick back then.."
-So I suppose it was easy for you to play with a double bass when you joined
"No, it was hard 'cos I'd never done that before! The first days in MORBID ANGEL was hard. It took me a few months to get the double bass down for songs like 'Blasphemy', 'Maze Of Torment', 'Chapel Of Ghouls'... Anyway, when I was in, I had to practice for four/five hours or more a day just playing double bass, just by myself. Dedication, I wanted to learn. I did knew how much a band can be more powerful with double bass. I gave up at one time, when I was auditionning for MORBID ANGEL. I said 'I can't do it so I'd better go home' but the guys said, you can do it! I listened to the songs and I pictured me play the songs and I knew I could do it. I got positive confidence and then it came, a magical moment! Suddenly one night, I was jamming training my other leg for like one hour... A whole fuckin' hour man! It was a lot of pain, total fuckin' dedication, 'cos if you wanna do it 100% from your heart, then it happens very easily."
-Have you ever heard of MORBID ANGEL before you joined them?
"Tell you the truth, no!"
"Never heard MORBID ANGEL before they called me, you know. They had to send me a tape of the 'Thy Kingdom Come' demo!"
-And how did you got in touch with them exactly?
"They got in touch with me because of the TERRORIZER demos. They had one, not the 'Nightmares' one but the second one.. and they were looking for a drummer. They just called me and... that's it! We made a deal and I went to Florida. I was in California..."
"Just doing nothing, really! Just working at a job..."
-Talking about jobs, do you make enough money off MORBID ANGEL now to live
without working at a day job?
"I live of MORBID ANGEL now."
-Good living or so so?
"No it's not rich you know! I mean they pay my rent, buy my food and you know, that's good enough. I'm not rich but I'm still working for my career! I wanna make a success at a point, you know?! Everybody has this dream... and this is my way to play this music."
-When did you start playing drums?
"I started at around 17, 18..."
-And you are now..
"I'm 31! I've been playing for twelve, thirteen years."
-I wonder if TERRORIZER was your very first band?
"Yeah. My first band."
-When you left TERRORIZER to join MORBID ANGEL, I think they got another
drummer to replace you, right?
"No. TERRORIZER wasn't doing anything at that time, so I went to MORBID ANGEL and Jesse went to NAPALM DEATH and that was it, you know! They probably did a few gigs overthere with Eric.."
"Yeah, Eric from NAUSEA. He probably helped them on some shows... He was always there. He could play fast but not as fast as I could, so.."
-Any memories about the TERRORIZER gigs that you did mainly at Hoover Park
with CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER, DISSENSSION...?
"Yeah but one of the show we did at Hoover was very bad for me. That wasn't a good show. That's the very last thing I wanna memory, so there's no good memories of that show with CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER. There's only a few gigs, a couple of gigs that I remember a few things but that wasn't really big gigs. That was the beginning. We'd just started. And I was starting to play Live, so I was shaking and shit..."
-Back in 1994, there were rumours about a possibility of a second TERRORIZER
"I don't know man, it's just rumours.."
-But I remember being in your apartment, back in 1994 and hearing a tape
that you had recorded, with you on drums and Jesse on guitar, doing old TERRORIZER
tracks that had not been used on the album.
"Oh, that was like a rehearsal! We practiced with Jesse but we didn't do a record. We had some songs but who knows... We've got like five or six songs, seven songs. It's just a matter of being together and do it. Like Jesse was to do it in England and I don't want to go in England. I wanna do it at home! That was the problem; he was to do it in England or California and I want to do it in Florida where I live. That's where I have all my equipment!"
-But there's still a chance that you'll do it in the future?
"Yeah! I want to do like a couple of weeks of TERRORIZER tour! I wanna do some shows in Europe!"
-Man that would be great!
"You know, like play some festivals with TERRORIZER... I'm sure a lot of people would come up to those shows 'cos they have never seen TERRORIZER Live!"
-I haven't either man! That would be the ultimate thing!
"Yeah I want to do those shows man! It might happen, I don't know."
-That's a killer idea! Do you still see Jesse or Oscar sometimes?
"Jesse yes, but Oscar... He's pretty much out of that business man! He's not doing anything musically. He doesn't play guitar anymore, he doesn't care anymore... And I don't want to play that music with somebody that just don't care. Fuck that! I want to do music with someone who wants to play music."
-What's your favorite show ever with MORBID ANGEL?
"My favorite shows have been here with this tour! Because I've been playing better on this tour and my feeling is that when I'm playing better, I feel better. But my favorite show on this tour was in Czech Republic. That was a great show, thousands of people and they were all dying for our band! The show in Italy; Milan, was a great show. Great shows as far as the attendance and the way the people were at the shows. In Germany people were just standing there. We were playing and they were just like 'Huh'..." (and he applauses slowly)
-In Germany, really?! That's surprising!
"Yeah! A lot of shows were like that. I don't know why but what the fuck..."
-"I'm really surprised!
"Yeah but with that Black Metal bullshit..."
-I agree. I am not really into that stuff, so I don't get what can people
find in that music...
"That Black Metal bullshit... I mean everybody is getting into it man. I don't know what's the deal with Black Metal.."
-It's a trend!
"It's fuckin' chaotic.. But I don't know what the fans want now. Maybe they're getting tired of extremity. But, anyway, I had some great fun on stage and that's what matters."
-And do you remember that show in Santiago, Chile in 1996? Man, I have a
video of it and the crowd was insane! At one time, you even talked to them in
Spanish, I think! I think that was the first time you ever did that!
"That was a great show! That was the first one, because I don't say much. But they were like..." (and he yells) "Yeah! That's another one of my favorite show. That show in Santiago was great! There was like six or seven thousand people."
-How did you feel when you heard that David was leaving the band?
"I didn't care man! I knew we were going to find somebody and we were writing new songs anyway, me and Trey, working on new songs, so... I mean it's good now, I feel better with this new singer, Steve. I'm feeling more confident, more into the songs with this new guy. Steve's first show in Amsterdam wasn't perfect 'cos it was his first show with the band. But he has improved also, so... That's it man."
-What about Richard? He was supposed to play on that tour! I mean, I've
seen it in several interviews.
"Yeah, yeah! I got it! He was telling me that he was going to come but he didn't get the songs down on time. He didn't learn the songs in time. He was taking too long, I guess and you know, he was working hard. He was trying to get them down but he's not a guitar player for this kind of extreme music. He's not Eric. Eric, he's got everything! A taste to play those songs... Nobody is like this guy... That's it, that's the story about Richard."
-But you still get in touch with him?
"Yeah ! I mean, we live in the same city!"
-I think he's into a new band?
"Yeah, he's still playing. He's in a Metal band but I don't know, I haven't heard them."
-Okay, cool! I hope my questions weren't boring!
"No man, that was great to be able to talk about different things, beliefs and stuff..."
-Well, it's now time to hear Erik talk. So you're back in MORBID ANGEL,
for the touring aspect of the things. I know you're going to do the European,
Mexican, Japanese and American tours. How did that happen?
Erik : "They asked me if I could do it and you know, of course! I like MORBID ANGEL, so I learnt the new album in a week! Then I practiced with them..."
-In a week?!
"Yeah! I've been a MORBID ANGEL fan for a long time! I've been playing Death Metal for a long time... In RIPPING CORPSE. I did my first record in '91."
-Why did you leave MORBID ANGEL back in '96?
"Pursue my own ambitions. I wanted to do my own band. Trey wanted to write this next record and I'm a writer! I can't play in a band if I don't write, basically. I write some great shit, I think. I have a lot to express... Trey has a lot to express too, so I understand that and I'm happy with HATE ETERNAL and ALAS. On my record, I wrote all the music and lyrics for both." (He did a CD featuring both bands-Laurent) "At my age... I'm 26... I really wanted to do my own thing. But I came back in MORBID ANGEL to help them out. These guys are my friends. First of all, I wanted to show support to Steve, the new singer. He's is great, I really like the new record. I help them out 'cos they didn't have anybody. Richard couldn't really play the songs. He was trying to get them down for over a month and he couldn't keep it up with the intensity. It's like I love playing in MORBID ANGEL, yet I have my own ambitions, so it's very difficult. But I enjoy this as it is."
-So you really like the new MORBID ANGEL record?
"Oh, I think it's great! I love all the fast stuff! That's always been my favorite, like 'Blasphemy'..."
-That's surprising that most of the stuff you wrote on "Domination"
wasn't that fast, except for "This Means War"... It was more medium
pace stuff, like "Nothing But Fear"...
"Hah, comparing to what?"
"That's a different thing.... It's triple timing. So triple is a different thing. 'Dominate' is 4/4 and 'Nothing But Fear' is still fast. I don't think it's slow!"
-Not slow but it's not very very fast, you know?!
"I disagree with you."
-Okay, you did the song... But "Eyes To See, Ears To Hear"...
"Yeah okay, that's mid pace song... or 'Sworn To The Black', that's medium pace. It's like 'Prayer Of Hatred', for instance. That's a pretty fast song, I think. It has its medium pace parts cos its got slow stuff but it still has its fast parts, kind of similar to 'Nothing But Fear' with its slow stuff. There's some fast stuff but you're right, with 'This Means War', which was like all fast, I understand what you're saying."
-By the way, I was really surprised that you never did "This Means
War" Live, 'cos it's one of the best songs, you know?! That's a great song!
"Thanks man! That's one I wanted to play Live, but David really didn't want to play it. He had this fears that we'd play too fast... But I would have liked it too, you know... and HATE ETERNAL, all the songs are like 'This Means War' type. I really like fast stuff, like my favorite song on the new record is 'Heaving Earth'..."
-"Chambers Of Dis" also?
"Oh yeah! That song is great too."
-And I'm really surprised that this one is not in the set!
"We might do it in America, I don't know. That's the only song we don't play off the new record. I'd prefer to play that one over 'Invocation'. It's a slower song... It's a great song but I enjoy more the fast stuff. It's a good set."
-I think it's the best set I've ever heard from MORBID ANGEL, ever...
"The lowest point of the set is 'Invocation'. It's like a ten minutes long song and I think it kind of drags a little bit. It's a great song, people like it but I'd prefer to play 'Blasphemy'..."
-Or "This Means War"!
"Yeah, 'Blasphemy' or 'This Means War' or something... But you know, that's cool. We have lots of fast stuff so..."
-That's cool. What are some of your main influences?
"SLAYER, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST. IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST are the first Metal I really started to listen to. There's a lot of classical music, like Vivaldi, Bach... I love MORBID ANGEL obviously. I like older DEICIDE, like first DEICIDE, CANNIBAL CORPSE, VADER... I think they're great! ANGEL CORPSE, they're a fuckin' great band! I still think MORBID ANGEL is the best! I know I can't really say that, 'cos I'm in the band, but MORBID ANGEL, to me, has always been the best."
-There's something different in that band. And do you still listen to some
old stuff like POSSESSED, DARK ANGEL...?
"Oh yeah! I still like DESTRUCTION, POSSESSED..."
Pete: "Yeah DESTRUCTION! I forgot to tell you about DESTRUCTION man! 'Infernal Overkill' and 'Sentence Of Death', there was good feeling, man."
Pete: "Yeah, the first one and 'Pleasure To Kill'."
-After that, they suck!
"I still listen to DARK ANGEL
Pete: "HELLHAMMER man! I forgot to say those names!"
-I think they still sound as fresh as initially!
Pete: "Oh yeah! 'Darkness Descends'! Just like 'Haunting The Chapel' or 'Hell Awaits'. One band I do like is SUFFOCATION. They're one of my favorite! They're very technical guitar players, they got a new EP out and it really smokes! Excellent, devastating!"
-What are your best memories of all the time you spent in MORBID ANGEL?
"I think Australia was one of my favorite time 'cos it was fuckin' all the way across the world. I had a real good time in Australia! That was a blast! And going to South America; Chili and Argentina were definitively very good memories."
Pete: "The best show man, above all, was on planet Mars!"
-Where? Oh yeah, I got it!
Pete: "Planet Mars, man!"
Man you were the first to play there haha!!!! Okay guys, thanks a lot for
your time and have a good show tonight!