Interview with Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel (1998)
by Jeremy and Jesse
This interview was originally almost 90 minutes of philosophical discussion, but it's been boiled down to some of the nittier and grittier stuff.
Smother: The lyrics on new album not as fueled by hate as
past with Dave...why?
Trey: Maybe hate that's not the right word. But dissatisfied they're definitely very dissatisfied with certain things in the world, like certain types of social conditioning and ignorance and things like that. Just about every song talks about that. What's the problems? What's the true enemies? Not as much names and places as much as ideas and ways of thinking. The whole lyrics are base do me meditating on things. I experience a lot in the world. I think a lot about what I see and read and I meditate on a lot of it and I've always been kind of in my own way when I evaluate things. I evaluate it with my own internal reference points and question things and don't really accept just what people say. I like to look at it and evaluate it and see why is it that way? How can it be different? How can it be changed? What does it mean? I spend a lot of time thinking about that kind of stuff. Meditation is about tapping into the higher energy and going beyond the personality spheres of the tree of life go into the higher, like Tipperuth. The soul which is connected with the abundant flow of all energy. That's meditation, so you just tap into that and put together some of these things. Think about them and flow with them and see what happens. So, all the lyrics are the result of a lot of meditation on these types of things about life, people, whatever.
Smother: Explain the concept of lava to us.
Trey: Lava is just something funny. It's just talking about an abundant flow of energy. A vibrant flow of energy.
Smother: Where did you derive that idea?
Trey: Just because I'm silly. I like to have fun. I believe in being serious and still having fun at the same time.
Smother: How did Steve Tucker get the job?
Trey: I had people send tapes and out of all the tapes I heard, I liked him the best.
Smother: How does Morbid Angel affect you family?
Trey: Everything's cool except for when I tour, I guess.
Smother: Yeah, don't you have a son?
Trey: No, I don't have any kids. Just some dogs, and some turtles...
Smother: What would do if you met a guy named Carbomb?
Trey: Hmm...I don't know.
Smother: What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen on
Trey: Can't think of anything...
Smother: How do you like these bands you're touring with
Trey: Great. Vader is one of my favorites. I wanted to get Angel Corpse on as well, but something in the scheduling wasn't going to come together.
Smother: Are Angel Corpse as good as Metal Maniacs just
Trey: I think so. The new album is excellent. It's a big step above "Hammer of the Gods", which was a really good album, too. But this new album, it's just phenomenal, I think.
Smother: Have you ever worn make-up on stage?
Trey: In the demo days, when we played parties, like in '84. Back in '84 when we used to play acid parties and stuff.
Smother: If you were parachuting from an airplane with you
entire music collection and could only save one CD, what would it be?
Trey: I don't know...Maybe my Deepak Chopra tape- "The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success," If I could hear that on the way out...
Smother: What are the laws of success?
Trey: A lot of it is talking about karma, meditation, stillness of the mind, going beyond making judgements, and labeling things, and just becoming part of the unmanifest, the energy that makes up everything. One is to move on the path of least resistance.
Smother: What are your thoughts on the current state of
the Metal scene?
Trey: Cool with me.
Smother: What do you see in the future for Morbid Angel?
Trey: I don't know. Whatever happens. Just continue.
Smother: Was Morbid Angel your first band?
Trey: I had different project bands.
Smother: What really inspired you to start playing?
Trey: Feeling. Feeling of guitar players that I really enjoyed when I was younger, like Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, stuff like that. Just the feeling I get from the playing. To me, music's all about feeling and vibe. Feeling is what taps into the spirit. And that's pretty much what it's all about. It's just letting this energy flow through with the notes.
Smother: Your solos are really unique and you've said it
comes from the "Power of the Ancient Ones".
Trey: That's just what I call it. It's just words. It's just energy.
Smother: Do you guys converse a lot on the bus?
Trey: Yeah we play video games like Twisted Metal 2. We have battles. All of us have battles together. It's pretty cool. Play Station's great! I really like it.
Smother: Are you more of an action or RPG guy?
Trey: I haven't played many role-playing games much lately, but I like to play Dungeon and Dragons without the computer. Just actually the old school lately. You use a lot more imagination there. My favorite game is definitely Twisted Metal 2. I don't think any other game compares. Or Killer Instinct Gold.
Smother: Have you ever been asked to do soundtracks or
spots for commercials?
Trey: No. I don't think we're at that level. I don't think we'll ever be at that level with this kind of music. We're just going for feeling. Whatever we do is about fun and feeling; you know, it's art. Art is an expression of spirit.
Smother: Why did you decide to put so many instrumentals
at the end of "Formulas...?"
Trey: They're just bonus tracks. It brings up the running time to about 52 minutes, so it's just extra stuff to listen to. I didn't want them to upset the flow of the album.
Smother: How long did you spend in the studio?
Trey: About a month, on and off.
Smother: Do you have your own studio?
Trey: I got something basic for some guitar parts. It does the trick.
Smother: Do you have any connection with the official
Trey: Yeah. I'm the one that's paying for it. I designed it, but I don't program it. I just work with Ancient One and Nusrub, and just send them ideas about how I want the layout, the colors, the different pages. It's a lot different since February. The beginning was more one certain way and now it's branched off in so many directions. I wanted to up the fun factor on it. It's going to cost me about $600 a month to run that motherfucker, because people hit it so much. We're going to switch our server. But it's over 40,000 hits combined. Even the two different sites. That was my idea. "Just Floating On By" and "This Is My New Home."
Smother: I've never gone to "Just Floating On
Trey: It's just a quick load, nothing fancy, for people who don't want to get bogged down. The icon's gray and boring. I got in with all that and the "Incredible Dreamer" page, the orange with the green chewer fish and the bowl of lillith underneath the picture collection and the chant at the bottom. The "Love of Lava" syntax, syntax for all the leads. You know how people say tablature for the leads and they write it out on the bar sheet? Well, I wrote it out my own way and it means nothing to anybody but myself. It's just a bunch of nonsense, but it does have a kind of order to it. It's just fun. For myself. Going back to your first thing about hate-Hate is not the thing move towards; it's the thing to move away from. It's the thing to get motivated more like being dissatisfied and fueling the energy to where you can destroy its influence. Not as much destroy it. It's easy to destroy it because it's easy to just wipe out the things you don't-like kill somebody. To be in their presence and to not be affected by the negativity they're displaying. To actually let them do their thing, and do your thing, and have a shield or an aura that cancels out whatever would make you bothered by them. It's more powerful to live in the midst diversity and to clutch onto your obscene or weird ideas that are so different to everyone else but you still hold onto it, and they don't rival you at all. There's a lot of wars that break out because of people having to destroy the source, the people that stand in opposition. To me, it's better to focus our energy towards building. Building your tower to unstoppability.
Smother: It's easier to destroy than to create, though.
Trey: Sure, I can see that. I think that hate, in itself, is something that leads to being miserable. I don't want to be miserable; I want to be happy. That's why the website is fun. There's a lot of stuff that's serious, like the Incantations page and the 80 Foot Gallom. That's funny, but it's also a lot of stuff that I study about psychology and the occult. I throw all this stuff together and it's what the lyrics are based on and different concepts like that. It's just my opinions. It's not like that's the only way it is, but a lot of it is similar to what a lot of other people talk about. There's similarities everywhere about the actual foundation of what is magic?, what is power?, what is? It breaks down to everything is nothing more than energy and information. Those are two words that Deepak says and I accept. It makes sense to me. It's on a scientific level. All matter is nothing more. Everything is filled with space. There's a continuum of exchange of information between all of us and everything around us. Our bodies is rebuilding itself like once a year. That's where the idea that I create myself as well as my world is based on. The way it formats itself is consistent with your thoughts about yourself. Your internal reality. Are you capable or a loser? Healthy or sick? That dictates how your body gets rebuilt. That's how some people develop cancers and all that stuff is because they have the wrong energy. That's where it all comes together with science and with the metaphysical. Deepak Chopra is the best today author that shows how it connects.
Smother: So, all of this isn't something you dug up in a
dusty book about Sumerian culture?
Trey: The Sumerian stuff, the chants, in my best use of the language is still saying today statements. The whole album, like the Great Incantation of the Living Continuum, all it's doing is it's moving toward or away from values. It's saying you what to be a part of what is great, moving, living, prosperous, and productive. You want to separate yourself from the things that would cause disease within yourself, that would foil your plans, that would deceive you, that would trick you, that would be treacherous and destroy your seed to the throne. That's what I call the triumvirate. The spirit, which I use Cthulhu, my own spelling. It's nothing about H.P. Lovecraft, other than it might look the same. Lovecraft's god was more about a god of entropy. I really didn't study this stuff, but in The Necronomicon, it says when the ancient Ones come forth, they're going to destroy everything, and they're from a place crooked and not straight. That could be due to perception. Someone could say that a certain kind of music is garbage, and this kind of music's great. But, this other person says that music is garbage and this is great. The music has not changed. This is still, say Death Metal, and this is still Country music. The Death Metal fan might not like country music. It's going to ugly, awkward, negative, and give him a headache, maybe. It's not the music, it's the meaning given to it. Good and bad is in the eyes of the beholder. When you look at that kind of stuff, it takes away a nice, orderly package. It makes it broad. Life, existence, is huge. I break it down to the activeness and the stillness and the fact that life is full of the paradoxes. Different things are supposed to be spiritually connected, even though rationally they make no sense.
Smother: How's hygiene on the tour?
Trey: It's pretty tough. We take showers whenever we can, like at truck stops and shit. Sometimes a venue has a shower. Usually we wash our clothes in a sink. I'm pretty disgusting right now, actually. Last night was a sweat factory.
Smother: Do you like going outside and talking to kids?
Trey: Yeah. Especially after the shows, man. Before the shows, I'm trying to chill out, clear out my mind, return to the silence. Be focusing on playing and vibe. I always want to see what people thought. What kind of feeling did they get? It's an exchange of energy.
Smother: Do you ever get trouble form religious groups?
Trey: No. They don't see us as a threat. Which is cool. In the old days we had a few things like that.
Smother: Why is Florida such a breeding ground for Death
Trey: Maybe it's because of the cost of living, and the studios and practice places.
Smother: Why did you decide to have just you on the
Trey: It's just because it's my band. I started it; I started the style. I wanted to do it myself. A lot of bands when they lose someone that's been with them for a long time, everyone thinks the band's going to fail, so I wanted to make sure it was going to represent what I think the band is.
Smother: Are you still on good speaking terms with David?
Trey: Yeah. We don't hang out or anything, but I don't have anything against him. I'm actually glad he left because he had already left internally. He was losing interest. It's good he went after what he's interested in. Art without inspiration is dead.
Smother: Have you ever had someone approach you and say
that something you wrote changed their life?
Trey: Yeah. I've had people who have been inspired by things. I still read some of those lyrics like "Chambers of Dis" and I think it's funny. It's things that sound cool. They don't mean anything, they don't invoke powers, they're just chatter. "Words spawned by the cultureless beings disclaimed by the once attentive gods." God-what is god? God is the affluence of the abundant flow of energy. It is the spirit that animates. Without it, we're mundane shells. It's inside of us our soul. Some people say we're a body with something deeper inside, but we're something deeper that just clothes itself in our personality. Without the spirit, we're animals.
Smother: The spirit goes son after the body dies?
Trey: The spirit is what causes us to be brilliant and grow. It's the vital health and energy. You have to look at the map. The ultimate spirit is the ocean. Our spirit is a cup of its water. We have this likeness of the ultimate spirit-the creator. Whatever it is, there's some energy that makes it that way. To me, that's the absolute spirit. It's just a title. There's a life there, it's not just random. I don't believe in god like a Christian god, but I believe that whatever makes everything the way it is is an ultimate source of energy and that is what is the creator.
Smother: Do you believe the Christian god is that, and is
the same as Buddha or Allah-just different names.
Trey: Yeah, different names, but also different interpretations, different rules of things that man writes about this energy. It all taps into an energy, but there are different labels. Everything is manifesting as trinities. There's energy and it's a balance of extremes. There's a dualistic format. Some books say you go beyond that. With humans, it works good for us. We can say hot and cold, right and wrong. I just call it the Living Continuum. That's what I call God. It's useful to talk about activeness and stillness. Activeness is living your life in pursuit of goals and making you desires come true, rather than just floating around and just being a puppet. What we all need to do as people is arrive at our feelings. We want to be happy.
Smother: Does Morbid Angel offer you that fulfillment?
Trey: Yeah. It's also a lot of work. The kind of stuff we do doesn't come easy. It totally goes along with the Triumvirate and pushing against resistance. The songs are always resistance-the speed, all the shit that's going on. It's never easy. It's always a battle, but it's great.
Smother: Is everyone else in the band in your mindset of
Trey: We all come together in similar ways. We're not clones. We agree that there's spirit and when we play, we tap into that energy.
Smother: When you write the music, do you tell Pete
exactly what to do?
Trey: In a lot of it, I do have the ideas for the beats worked out. When you write a rhythm, a rhythm is not just a series of chords, it's an actual movement. A movement means a timing, a timing means a beat-upbeat, downbeat, double bass blast, skank. We work on a lot of stuff together as well.
Smother: So, you collect guns?
Trey: I collect guns. I had some money and there were some good gun shows and some stuff for sale. I bought most of them like 5 years ago. I don't hunt or anything. I'm not in a gang. I just like to collect them. They may be outlawed one day. I believe in the citizen being able to protect themselves. I do know that criminals will always be able to get guns. They can always get crack and all that.
Smother: What years were you in high school?
Trey: '79 I think I was in 9th grade.
Smother: So, did you get into new wave?
Trey: I was into the Sabbath, Judas Priest, Van Halen. I went to see a lot of Metal shows. I saw "Mob Rules" tour and "Born Again."
Smother: How well do you eat on the road?
Trey: After the show, we always hit a truck stop, or Waffle House, or Denny's, so it's alright then.
Smother: Thanks a lot. This is our longest interview yet.
Trey: Sure, no problem.
- Jeremy and Jesse