Interview with Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel (Novembre 1997)
by Adam Wasylyk
from Chronicles of Chaos n°26
Morbid Angel is arguably one of the best death metal bands to come out of North America to "Dominate" the four corners of the Earth -- a band that has changed the face of modern death metal. The world will soon be graced by the band's sixth album, to be titled _Formulas Fatal to the Flesh_, which will mark the absense of second guitarist Erik Rutan and long time bassist/vocalist Dave Vincent. Chronicles of Chaos was selected to do one of a limited amount of interviews with guitar genius Trey Azagthoth before the record's release. Even though this turned out to be a shorter chat than expected (and a bad connection made transcription of this interview pure hell, no pun intended), it should help update fans on their upcoming record and other events concerning this most unholy group.
CoC: I'm sure all of your fans know by now that Dave has left the band.
Just to recap, what were the reasons for his departure?
Trey Azagthoth : I would say it was a change in interest. He was with us for ten years, and now I guess, like what he's doing now with the Genitorturers is quite different than what he did with us. A lot of it was when _Domination_ came out, I wasn't really happy with the lyrical content as much. [The lyrics were written by Dave.] I didn't feel it really tapped into the true purpose of the band. I felt that he was moving away from that purpose, which is a spiritual thing and giving praise to the Ancient Ones. He was moving on to different subject matter. And I told him that for the next album that we were going to do, I wanted to start writing the lyrics again and get things back on track with the true purpose. And I guess he didn't feel so good about that; he wanted to continue in a different vein. And we parted on good terms.
CoC: You've replaced him with the relatively unknown Steve Tucker. How did
you find him, and what was it about him that made you want him to join Morbid
Trey Azagthoth : He's from a Cincinnati band called Ceremony. He has a very deep type of growling vocals, and he's also part Indian -- so he's a very spiritual person, and that's what I really want in the band: very spiritual type people. He's 23 years old, and he's a talented bass player. This time I wrote all the music and lyrics and worked with him real close on the phrasing of the words, and he was great at that. He didn't come at me with some attitude like he wanted to write the lyrics or whatever. He's the perfect person.
CoC: How does Steve compare to Dave in respects like vocals and bass style?
Or are they both completely different?
Trey Azagthoth : As far as his vocal style, I would say that his natural range is really close to David when he was singing the more deep-toned, growling type of vocals. You know, Dave did different kinds of things on different albums, but when he sounded on _Covenant_ or material like that, I thought that was the better range that he used. He [Steve] is very comparable to that. And then also there's parts of new songs where the vocals are sung very quick, and that's something I've been wanting to do for a long time. So everything is more fast: vocals, bass, guitars, and drums, everything rough and powerful. He does a few things like harmonizing, doing a low vocal part and a higher, screechy vocal part together in one section. That was also something I had wanted to do for a long time, but David wasn't really too open to that idea; he didn't like the idea of using a harmonizer on anything. I personally think that it adds some dimension to the band, because the voice isn't supposed to sound like a person; it's supposed to sound like a great being. And sometimes [we used] several voices that would make up this great being. But definitely, it's the roar that I was looking for. I didn't want someone to come in and cup the mike and sing like (he proceeds to blow hard into the phone, which sounds like a growl, causing me to laugh). I want to hear the words, and I want to hear the articulation of the syllables as much as possible, and that was something Dave could do as well. He was very articulate in what he was saying; most of the stuff you could understand the words, and plus it was powerful. Steve does a really good job at that.
CoC: About your upcoming record _Formulas Fatal to the Flesh_: how much
has been recorded, and how does the material compare to that on _Domination_?
Trey Azagthoth : Well, at this stage we've done the vocals, the drums, the rhythms, and the bass. I'm going to do my solos at home, and we're going to do the mix at the end of this month. As far as how they [the albums] compare, a lot of it returns to the roots of the band in purpose and in style. The past couple of albums we've used a metronome, which has its benefits, but it can also sort of sterilize the feeling. The benefits would be timing and keeping it "correct". But later I realized the live feel of playing the songs would circle a bit -- a bit faster or slower, that's a live feeling. And I realized that with a metronome it would sterilize things a bit. Look at _Domination_: there was too much digital type stuff as well. So this is very analog, very lively. The guitars are also maybe a bit more raw. As far as the style or the music, most of it is fast and furious, and there's a few tracks that are some of the older feel, heavy type of riffing like "Abominations", "Ancient Ones", or "Angel of Disease" -- that kind of feeling from the earlier stuff. Then there's a song, another down-tuned, seven-string sludge song called "Nothing is Not" [this title may be wrong due to our bad phone connection -- Adam] that has a slow groove and slow, heavy type feel to it. There's quite a few polyrhythms that I'm using on different parts and variations. I would say that most of it's fast and some slow stuff, very furious, very sick, and very ugly.
CoC: Were you happy with how _Entangled In Chaos_ came out?
Trey Azagthoth : Yeah, I think for a live album it came out great. I was also the one who produced it. It's very lively. With all the crazy things that happened: tuning, mistakes, cymbals falling down... With all that stuff happening and with the speed at which we're playing, I think things turned out great.
CoC: Will it see a domestic release? (The album is currently only available
Trey Azagthoth : I don't believe so; I think it'll be strictly for import.
CoC: Eric Rutan left the band a while ago as well. Why did he leave?
Trey Azagthoth : I guess I wanted to get the band back into the way that I created it to begin with. I was the one who created this band back in 1984, before I had met any of the people in the band right now. I wanted to get it back on the right track, lyrically and musically. Basically, I wanted to be the sole creator of everything on this album, except for a couple of segues. There's one segue where Pete [Sandoval, drums] created the underlying melodies and I enhanced it with the performance of a keyboard on it. And there's going to be a drum solo, like a tribal drum thing that was created by him. But as far as the actual tracks, they're all my thing. Erik is now working on a couple of projects himself.
CoC: So for tour purposes a second guitarist will be added, right?
Trey Azagthoth : Well, actually we're working on getting Richard Brunelle back. [Brunelle's guitar work appeared on _Altars of Madness_ and _Blessed are the Sick_. -- Adam] Because all I want is backing guitar now in a live situation.
CoC: Pete and Erik have been involved in side projects in the past. Do you
have such a project?
Trey Azagthoth : I've been messing around with the idea of a guitar album that I was going to do with Mike [last name is unintelligible on my tape -- Adam] from Nocturnus. I've been really busy doing other things, and Morbid Angel is my principal priority. Maybe something will come from this project; it's called Chewing Inc. It's going to be just a bunch of guitar stuff and instrumentals. It was fun, and hopefully something will come out from it.
CoC: Has Earache expressed interest in releasing it, or do you think it
would be on another label?
Trey Azagthoth : I don't know, it would probably be on Earache.
CoC: When will _Formulas Fatal to the Flesh_ be released?
Trey Azagthoth : I think in January.
CoC: And a tour will follow?
Trey Azagthoth : Yeah, probably in February we'll start doing some touring.
CoC: Finally, what do you say to people who think that with Dave's departure
Morbid Angel's glory days are gone?
Trey Azagthoth : That seems like a statement which has a lot of limitation written into it. I can't really say it affects my being. I guess it goes with the old saying, "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time." You see, the thing is that with this album that I'm creating, it's about the triumvirate and the Ancient Ones; that's who [the album] is built for. For them, first. So they will love it, period. Because it's their manifestation. If the other people don't like it, then whatever.