Interview with Trey Azagthoth (2001)
By Brant Wintersteen
from Metal Update
Metal Update: Before we get into 'Gateways To
Annihilation', I have a bunch of stuff I want to talk to you about
that's not related to the album.
Trey Azagthoth: Is it about how I'm such an incredible dreamer ?
MU: Yeah. That's part of it.
TA: OK. (laughing)
MU: Heavy metal has a longstanding history of breaking
down boundaries. Is this why you got into metal ?
TA: I got into it to express feelings and in this expressing of feelings, I guess it broke down some boundaries and definitely rivaled many opinions. That wasn't the main reason why I did it. I did it because I have this energy that had to come out.
MU: You are a fan of Tony Robbins. Can you share a little
about what he is doing and how it relates to you ?
TA: Even before I played guitar, I was always into spiritual things. Even before I knew anything about it, I was just into daydreaming and things like that. I kind of spent a lot of time by myself creating my own world and my way of thinking - witchcraft and magic and meditation and things like that. Tony Robbins to me - what he teaches is a really great way to present the fundamentals of magic without all the hocus pocus. He talks about the power of belief and the power of values. He kind of lets you look at your mind as a big computer. That's a pretty good way of looking at it. It doesn't have to be looked at like that, but it's a decent reference point. Your computer is only as good as its files and its programs. You can have the greatest hardware, but if you have crappy software or corrupt files then you are not going to get it to reach its potential. So bad beliefs are like crappy programs or corrupt files. That's a really good analogy. Tony Robbins is about getting all the things in your mind so that they are complimenting your efforts.
MU: What are some of his main themes that hit home with you ?
TA: Being unstoppable. I think that's really what it's all about. Being unstoppable - not being stopped by other people's ideas and by your own ideas. Being able to focus yourself and concentrate your efforts. Being able to program yourself to be able to reach your potential. Tony Robbins, to me, is like a medicine or something for you to read to help you understand how these things work. It's the idea of initiating your life as opposed to living in a state of reaction. Personal power is about the ability to initiate your life and not to be moving from reactions to outside influences and stimulations.
MU: It has something to do with breaking down the barriers
that society imposes on people.
TA: Sure, that's the first step, you know - to get back to that innocent state where you don't have the programs at all. You know, when we're a baby, we don't have beliefs about anything. We just look at things completely clear. Then we get trained as to how things are supposed to be represented, and then we fall into habits and then we become kind of programmed in one way or another. A lot of it is stuff that happens to us because we are too young to know any different. We get molded. I think that a lot of the stuff with Tony Robbins - and not just Tony Robbins - is to realize these things and to realize the importance of someone's programming inside their mind. Their values and beliefs and associations and how all that stuff has an impact on your life. How to evaluate that and get it to where it's supporting your efforts towards what you want to do. To be initiating your own life rather than being in reaction all the time.
MU: Do you think you have reprogrammed yourself ?
TA: Through Tony Robbins ? Tony Robbins has helped me in a lot of ways, but a lot of the things he talks about are things I kind of believe anyway. It was just reconfirming things - to hear someone like him (being so successful) saying stuff that I kind of felt a long time ago. I've been through a life where I didn't really seem to fit into the normal flow of things. As people developed, I kind of developed differently and I found myself wanting to spend more time by myself rather than spend time with other people and playing that game. I've definitely, throughout my whole life, had people say, "things are supposed to be like this" and "this is supposed to mean that." Talking about what's cool or what's the right way to do things. So, I always felt that I could decide for myself what's right and wrong. To hear Tony Robbins say stuff that comes to the same thing was incredible. I am like a heretic. In the past, the heretics were the ones that had a different opinion about things. If it was contrary to the church, they would be considered a heretic or a threat. Tony Robbins, and other things I read, kind of shows me what is the fear that people would have of a heretic. . . what was this thing that they were trying to maintain that they wouldn't want this heretic to be speaking of. . . what's all that mean right down to. . . When I was younger I was accepting of language, numbers and signs and all that kind of stuff. I would just think, yeah I guess that's the way it is, but that stuff is just man-made and it's not any more right than anything else. It's just that someone came up with a language and people accepted it because, I guess, they respected this person 's opinion. The language could have been anything. It's not like the truth of the universe or anything. No god made it.
MU: The truth is what you create.
TA: Yeah. Another person that's also brilliant is Deepak Chopra and one of his sayings is "the meaning that you give the event is the event" and "the only difference between joy and suffering is interpretation." When I really soaked that up, that really opened a lot of doors for me. Deepak Chopra is more about the spirit and the different levels of existence. Tony Robbins touches on that a little bit, but he's more engineered for western thinking. Some people think the mind is everything and they forget about how the mind is so limited.
MU: How does the spirit relate to the mind ?
TA: The mind is trapped in the realm of time and space. It ages, it's mortal, it's dated and it has boundaries. The spirit is beyond all that. The mind is like a cup and the spirit is the water from the ocean that fills the cup. When someone identifies themselves and says what they are is the cup, the ego, then that can be destroyed. But the water can also be separated by time and space - like the cup is a mile away from the source, the water. When you find yourself being the water, then you are never separated.
MU: How do you take the mind and lead it to the water ?
TA: Well, basically, it's about meditation. It's about the idea of finding those silent spaces between man's thoughts. In our thoughts there is a bunch of turbulence, a bunch of judging and it works in a certain way. To me, there's no inherent meaning to anything that's any more true or false than anything else. Meaning, itself, is only inside the mind. Outside the mind, there is no meaning. Without the thinker, there is no meaning. All the labels that we put on things - when that thinker goes away, those labels go away too.
MU: Is the self the highest power ?
TA: There's different levels of existence. We are existing in these different levels at the same time - simultaneously. There is a higher self that is not so separated, so individual. It is just the whole of all different things - the energy that produces all things. That's the higher self. It's like the great ocean. The higher self becomes separated from that as it goes into the ego. As it goes into the ego, you take a cup of the water which is like the energy from the ocean now becoming separated into this container. So, when you identify yourself, you can either look at yourself as being the ideas, your ways of thinking, your behavior and all that kind of stuff, or you can think of yourself as the one who creates all that kind of stuff. What I say is that the higher self, the true self, is the water not the cup. The cup is just temporary. If you find yourself in the water then you are never separated. It doesn't matter if you are a mile away from the source or floating in the source, you're still the water.
MU: Is the water related to the spirit ?
TA: Yes. That's what I would call the spirit.
MU: How does the spirit relate to religion ?
TA: I guess religion is all about trying to find out where we came from, what is this higher spirit and give it some terminology.
MU: How about Satanism ?
TA: Satanism is really not something that I study that much or use as a reference point. There are all these interpretations. If you judge it by the Satanic Bible, a lot of it is about being the opposite of the spirit. Trying to base things on the ego and saying the ego is god. That your self is your ego and that the ego is something that can be taken advantage of and can lose. That you must defend it. Also that you are defined by the way you bounce off of other things - how you reflect off of other situations. That's how you find what you are. But the spirit is always perfect. It is always adequate and exact. It is everything it needs to be already and the only time you think that you're not is because you are building barriers in the ego. In other words, some of the basic laws in the Satanic Bible are definitely based on the idea that something can be taken away from you. It's up to you to take it back. It wants to reverse the idea of - if someone punches you in the face - turn the other cheek. That's all based on ego. For someone to be like, "Oh my god, they got this one over on me, now I must punch them back." That's because their whole existence is so vulnerable to attack. See, like in the song "Nothing Is Not" - how can you defeat that which finds nourishment in your attack. It's like the idea of being something that no attack can touch, that no change can be made, that nothing can be taken away. You cannot become less or more. It just always is. You just are. There's no can or want. There's no levels or standards. All that's in the ego. See, to me, what's real is when you get those spaces between your thoughts when you are not thinking about anything. There's a profound power there and it goes way beyond the analytical mind. It's actually blank. Nothing. It's just nothing. The mind would say, "That's worthless. I can't measure it. I can't eat it. I can't cook with it. I can't buy or pay my bills with it. It's worthless." But it is not worthless because it is like recharging your batteries, kind of. The thing is, our conversation is into such big things that it's kind of hard for me to tell you what I think in a very accurate, in depth way really quick. There's so much to it. We could talk for weeks and still not cover everything.
MU: So, let's reel it in.
TA: At the end of the day, it doesn't matter about anything that you did if you don't feel good about it. Really, the only thing important is feeling good, because at the end of the day that is the value. It's a feeling not a thing. When your whole self worth is determined by how other people view you, that is the idea of totally living in the ego. But when you are spirit, that stuff doesn't mean anything. You are not attached to other people's opinions about you. It doesn't make you change how you feel, because one person says one thing and you're up and another person says another thing and then you're down. You're not living in reaction. There's a knowing without knowing - without thinking about it. It doesn't need to make sense. It's just there. That's what you get from the meditation. It goes beyond words. It's just a feeling, because really all of it's about a feeling anyway. At the end of the day it's a feeling that matters more than the physical accumulation of things.
MU: How does one go about learning about meditation ?
TA: Read a book.
MU: What author do you recommend ?
TA: Deepak Chopra. But to give you a basic idea of what it's about: It's a posture. It's a breathing. It's a thing about - not as much about trying to turn the mind off, but when the mind is wanting to judge instead of thinking that the mind is attached to you, you are watching it like a movie. In other words, you separate yourself from your ego and you look down at yourself as you're watching the movie. It doesn't effect your life. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't have any effect. You are totally unattached. Like sitting in a boat and just watching it go. You're watching the stuff on the sides, to the left and to the right, just go by and it doesn't mean anything. It's like watching an event and saying this helps me, you know, this helps make things work for me. Judgments are not what is most important. If you can step out of that - it's part of the game. It's like getting into sports or something like that. You know, winning the game is really important, but if you don't win are you supposed to go jump out a window ? Are you worthless now because you didn't win that game ? It's like being able to separate it from what's really important. It's like saying, "I'm worth something because I won the game, but since I lost, I suck and I' m worthless." That's someone who is letting the rules and the standards dictate to them their worth. It's like looking at it like, "Yeah, I want to win the game, but I love playing. Win or lose, I love playing."
MU: There is a way to relate to life like you might relate
to a football game.
TA: I think so. A lot of it, I think, in meditation, is to somehow find that place where you're higher than all the babbling in the mind - you're thinking about the past, the future, what this means, what kind of house you have compared to your friends or where you want to be and measurements, definitions and all that kind of stuff - when you move away and look at that as just a picture show. But Tony Robbins is saying, "Yeah, look at it like that, but now when you are going to play the game, lets go and play it great." Not forget that it's just a game - he says that the people that win lose more than anybody else because they don't worry about the failures. That's also part of detachment or representing things to yourself. That's another thing - representing things to yourself which goes back to the thing where nothing has any inherent meaning. There is no "right" way to represent things to yourself that should be the only way. That's something about the Christians where they would draw the line. They'd say, "If you are on this side of the line you're OK, but if you're on this side you're wrong." They'd try to pass that off for everybody. And they're not the only ones, but it's a good example and I think everyone can relate to it.
MU: How do you think these ideas relate to heavy metal ?
TA: I don't know. I don't think I look at it like that. I just happen to love playing guitar. I love music. It's a great way to express energy that I have. In addition to that, I've always been interested in the occult and spirit and things like that. It mixes together very well. I guess the band could sing about whatever, but I've just always been interested in it because I'm one of those people that definitely is a freak, a heretic, one of those people that doesn't fit in. Everybody knows their lines, but I don 't. I just think differently. If I would have been out in that environment with other people saying that they didn't believe it was going to be good or I wasn't good - if I was around all that negativity maybe I would have strayed away or eventually got influenced somehow. Without even knowing what I was doing, I spent more time by myself developing my style. That was kind of cool. I was kind of rebelling, I guess, and developing my own style of playing. People would say, "Your way of playing is out of key" or "it doesn't make any sense." Even with the first album, I had some critic saying, "You guys are too late with the satanic lyrics." That showed me how they were looking at it, but I was beyond trends. I was just going to do whatever whenever I wanted.
MU: You are known to really express yourself through your
TA: Yeah, with all my leads on this album, none of them were planned. It was all just me winging it. I wanted to come from intuition and not from a bunch of theory and technique. Obviously, I've learned theory or technique, so I had some order to my playing. But I just heard the music go by and I just started playing. It's kind of like the feeling of playing with your eyes closed. Playing with the inner psyche, as opposed to trying to engineer and calculate.
MU: Would you identify yourself as a guitarist ?
TA: Sure. That's one of the main things I do, definitely. I love the music I play. I love whatever I've created and whatever impact that's had on the musical field. Sure, I like the idea of smoking some killer solos and thinking, "Man, that fucking solo is so fast and unlike anyone else can play." Not that it is better or worse - just unlike - it's different. I like being different. That's something that's really cool. What I try to do with my music is capture stuff that's from another world - where I'm really from - and bring that into this world. I was influenced by Eddie Van Halen, but I can't play like Eddie Van Halen. Even if I wanted to, I couldn 't play his licks like him. I certainly think like, "What would Eddie Van Halen do if he was playing this lead ?" and try to bring some of that out. Or a mix of an Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix approach. In my own creative imagination pretend that he is playing through me. Other times I just want to play whatever. Sometimes I like to think of some weird style - like drunken kung fu style - and think of what a drunken guitar style would be. What's a drunken scale ? Me and Mike Davis used to joke about drunken scales and what that would be like. I think of guitar runs and I think of a hot rod doing a whole shot burnout and what that would be like - leaving the little bits of rubber on the pavement, it's sittin' there just burning, and finally it lunges forward - trying to get that feeling into a lick.
MU: Does your music speak ?
TA: It doesn't have any one pattern, I don't think. It's all over the place. Some music, I think of building a dungeon for Dungeons & Dragons. I think of a song and I think of each rhythm being a different room or a different encounter and that's a song. I did all sorts of creative stuff because that's just the kind of guy I am. I am very creative and imaginative. That's just what I like to do. I look at things really weird.
MU: How does that relate to the words that are eventually
put to the song ? When Steve Tucker writes the lyrics, for example, do
they relate directly to the thoughts that are in your head when you
write the music ?
TA: Well. No. The leads being like a whole shot with the muscle car or the dungeon from Dungeons & Dragons - the words have nothing to do with that. . . on that level. But if you back up several layers higher and you look at it from another perspective, it's all one. It's all self-expression. The details don't matter. It all comes from this place of energy inside and letting it come out. It changes with each person's mind that would look at it. The way life is.
MU: Is there any theme on 'Gateways To Annihilation' ?
TA: Sure. An example of this theme is, like, someone like the Christians of the past - who felt their beliefs were so true that everyone must abide by them because it makes so much sense to them that that's the way it's gotta be for everybody - and that person coming to terms with finding out that it ain't that way. So that their whole structure - the mental belief structure - when it's all based on something that they find out was not so right - it crumbles and their stomach falls out. You really believed that something was a certain way and all of a sudden you find out that it wasn't quite that way. That's stunning. Someone's whole world caves in on itself in a symbolic way. In other words, everyone's always faced some time in their life where something hit 'em. Some news that was stunning and they went blank. The ground underneath them fell in. It's something about belief. Deepak Chopra says very much about - I mean, not even him, but science - do we really think everything we're seeing is the truth ? There's more empty space in all things than any solid particles. There was a belief back in. . . I don't even know all the terminology because I am not a science student. But, like, the difference between Newton's Law and Quantum Physics - the idea of things being separate parts. They thought there were all these parts that make up the whole, but now that they can look into things deeper they find out that the makeup of stuff is just waves or energy. It breaks beyond every little part that they thought was a part and that was where it stopped. That thing breaks into other things and it gets to where there's not even any particles anymore. There's more nothingness than something. There's more space than substance. So with that all business and medicine and everybody's way of thinking shifted. It was a paradigm shift. That's why there's now this other type of healing - holistic healing which is witchcraft. It is, basically, the witchcraft that people would burn witches at the stake for way back when and now it's accepted. Have you heard anything about holistic healing ?
MU: I have, but I don't know much about it.
TA: Well, it's the idea of chokras or energy levels. This is something that cannot be touched. It's not physical. It not based on fact. . . I guess, through Quantum Physics, through calculations, they think, "Yeah, OK that kind of does make sense." Even though maybe they can't look at it with a microscope - can't really see the soul - you can see stuff that you can think is the soul. They're starting to really believe that, "Yeah, there really is a soul. Yeah, there really is a lot more to stuff than just the physical stuff." They're starting to actually believe that.
MU: When you take your beliefs and ideas and put them out
there for public consumption, do you do that just for yourself, or do
you have an interest in sharing the information ?
TA: Well, I've always had an interest in sharing stuff when I learn stuff. I'm not trying to preach, and I'm not trying to say that I have all the answers or that people have to accept what I have to say. That's why I always try to give reference points. I say the Kabbalah, and I study Deepak Chopra, and I say these different things - Tony Robbins - and if anyone is interested in any of this stuff, besides just trying to go by what I say, to go and check it out for themselves.
MU: Are you trying to teach or enlighten people ?
TA: I'm just trying to share stuff, I guess.
MU: Is that something that's exciting about putting out an
album and going out on tour to perform ?
TA: Yeah, but the whole thing is, too, that for me, the music doesn't even need any of that. You can take the music - with this album I am really more focused on the feeling and the energy beyond the music. This album is more about the silent spaces between the thoughts. There's not a lot of focus on trying to tell people what things mean. It's more like, take this and get your own meaning. Put it up against your own reference point, your own experiences. Like, when you listen to the record, just listen to it and don 't think about what anything means. Just see how it feels.
MU: You could sit and play guitar all day long. What's
exciting about recording an album and putting it out there for everyone
to hear ?
TA: I don't know. I think back to when, before I learned to play guitar, I was just a listener and how I enjoyed the feeling of music. The feeling of Eddie Van Halen. The feeling of Pink Floyd. The feeling of any of this kind of stuff. What I would get when I listened to it. How I'd be moved by it. I didn't know music, so I didn't know what these scales meant. It's just all about the feeling. It was just vibrations and notes and sounds and flow. To me, that's really the most important thing about the band - and music. Not the image and not the meaning.
MU: There is some interest in sharing that.
TA: Oh, yeah, absolutely. The interest of showing this feeling - there it is on the record.
MU: You share it on disc and then you go out on tour and
you perform it.
TA: Yeah, because I think that's the best way to enjoy music - to close your eyes and shut off the mind and stop thinking about how the pitches are and what key or how fast something is or whatever. Just let the mind kind of go. Step outside of it. Flow with the music and see how it flows through the self. What it does for you, how it moves you. Trying to get more of a pure experience besides having a bunch of filters that it has to go through.
MU: Do you relate to this as solely as an artist, or are
you a business person, too ?
TA: I just think of it as an artist. If I was a business person. . . You mean as far as trying to make a lot of money with it ? I think I'd be playing a little bit different kind of music.
MU: It must be a good feeling to know that people are into
it so that you can continue to play the stuff you want to play. You've
made a living out of something that you love.
TA: Yeah. I definitely feel very fortunate about that. I think a lot of that, too, goes into what kind of energy it is. I don't think that people just like Morbid Angel because of this idea of, you know, all the philosophy or the evil or the fury or whatever. I think it's that they hear the music and it's just, "Wow! This stuff is cool, different. I can't hear that kind of stuff by listening to this other band." It's Morbid Angel. They also see how we've stuck to our guns and keep doing it. I think a lot of it is just a special approach to songwriting and performance. I think there's something that makes us stand out a little bit in a different way. The energy - I think people pick up on the energy. The purpose - because it is a spiritual thing. It is coming more from nothingness, than, like, fabricated in the mind and constructed like that - engineered a specific way to fit into something. I think it's got more depth to it than that. I think people tap into that. At the end of the day, it's a feeling. It's all about feeling. Everything that results is a feeling. Anything you're doing is to achieve a feeling. That's something Tony Robbins said that's so brilliant. That's something that really gets to where the bottom line is about life - that everything we do is to move toward a favorable feeling and move away from a disfavorable feeling. Move towards pleasure and move away from pain. A good example is someone who is into physical pain and they get pleasure out of it. The end is still to move towards pleasure.
MU: Does it make you feel good to play to a room of 5000
people as opposed to a room of 10 ? Do you derive pleasure from
expanding your fanbase ?
TA: I think it's great to have more people like it than less, but when I play I really don't pay attention to how many people are out there as much as I'm in my own zone. I kind of transcend. . . When I play, I play from a meditative state. I am not a performer that is out there performing for people in the same way. I'm just there doing my thing in all directions. It goes further than the sound can reach.
MU: Well, what's more pleasurable about playing for a room
full of people than just playing by yourself ? Or is it ?
TA: Well there's energy. You can feed off of other people. There's just an energy that happens. I definitely find pleasure in playing guitar, there' s no doubt about that, and these songs are ferocious. They have a lot of power. In the past, I've said a lot of things about how I think that our music is so exceptionally powerful on big scale levels. There's people that think I sound arrogant, but I think that our songs are fucking over the top. I don't think they play games. I think they come out and they seriously show people what extreme music is about.
MU: The tour with Pantera has been rescheduled.
TA: Now it's going to be a little longer. I was kind of concerned if we'd still be considered part of the bill, but we found out that we are still on it. I'm definitely looking forward to that. I think that's going to be totally incredible; even if we only play for a half an hour. It's a great opportunity, and it's going to be a lot of fun.
MU: There's going to be a lot of energy in those rooms.
TA: Yeah, I think so.
MU: What's different about 'Gateways To Annihilation' than
previous Morbid Angel material ?
TA: These songs are more based on groove, a real heavy groove as opposed to just lightning speeds. And most of the songs are played on seven-string guitar, so they're downtuned. The thing is with music, fast songs can do certain things and slow songs can do certain things. If you got so much stuff going at the same time and real fast and complicated it kind of turns into a rumble. But if you slow it down, it gives things a little bit of breathing room. You can make it out a little better. So, there's a lot of technical types of polyrhythms with some of the guitar parts where the drums at a speed that's not so super, super fast all the time. It is able to breathe. We've definitely played lots of technical stuff where everything's going real busy, and then it's super-fast and it blows by. You never really know what's going on until you watch it, and then you see what actually happened. But on this, some of it you can hear the interplay of polyrhythms and stuff like that.
MU: Was that a decision that you made, or did it just come
out that way ?
TA: Well, we always like to make a contrast from one album to the next.
MU: Nobody can accuse Morbid Angel of putting out the same
album over and over again.
TA: Formulas mostly was fast - blitzkrieg - and had a more raw sound. This album is more drawn out, and actually I think shows a little of the influence of Pink Floyd - or the Gathering, they're my favorite band right now. My favorite album is 'How To Measure A Planet'. I like the first disc. I think that's brilliant - an absolutely brilliant piece. But I also like 'Nighttime Birds' and I like the newest one as well. I think the Gathering is one of the most brilliant bands today and America needs to realize that and give credit. They really should be something here 'cuz they've got a lot going on. They've done - like what you said about Morbid Angel. Their albums don't sound the same. There's a big change in the production and vibe of 'Nighttime Birds' going into 'How To Measure A Planet ', and then into 'if_then_else'. So, they are not thinking, like, "this album did really well, so let's do Part Two." We've never done that. 'Altars Of Madness' was a great success, and Blessed is nothing like 'Altars Of Madness'. We certainly didn't take the safe road and do 'Altars Of Madness' Part Two. I think that's something that people like about our band is that we're not worried about stuff like that. We just do what we want. We're risk takers.
MU: There's a lot of feeling on 'Gateways To
TA: Oh, yeah! I think there's a damn lot of feeling - and, I think, right down to the guitar solos. Those guitar solos step out, and show something different.
MU: Were the solos done in one take ?
TA: Some of them. I do my guitar solos at my house with my ADAT. A one-take solo is the one on 'Secured Limitation'. From beginning to end - one take. Even when you hear a change in sound, that's me changing my program. There's one little extra sound that I don't know how the hell it got in there at this transition. I think it was something in mastering. But that's definitely one whole. . . It's just me not knowing what the hell I was gonna do and just doing whatever.
MU: Do you have any favorite solos on the album ?
TA: Yeah! I think that one definitely comes out, and that's got the drunken style and you can hear the single coil pickup. I really like to get some of that stuff going. I am into guitar. I am into loud, exploding, feeling guitar that's just busting out. I always picture Eddie Van Halen when I think of guitar. I think of Jimi Hendrix, too, of course, but Eddie Van Halen was the flash, technical guitar player who was larger than life. He came out and just changed everything. He blew people's minds with stuff that had never been on record before. He just did it like a master. He was a god. So, that to me is what guitar is supposed to be about. It's supposed to jump out and do that. That's what I think of when I try to play. I want my guitar solos to really speak. So, it's not about what scale it is. It's just about - man - raging. It's a feeling. It just comes out. I always think of stuff exploding - or melting. You know, totally melting.
MU: Did you take a different approach toward your playing
this time around ?
TA: I don't know. Not really. A lot of it's because of a different guitar tone that turned out from different tubes and amps. The way that I used ambient mics. Then the drums - being acoustic toms - the sound of that. The drummming on Gateways is all triggered stuff. So, all the sounds are real nice little, tight, compact sounds. They're in and out, and they don't leave a bunch of extra air laying around. The snare is really perky and bup, bup, bup, bup, bup. It's not some big sound that covers up other stuff. When the leads come in, they get a lot of space. But, no lead has ever been as big as the lead in 'Nothing Is Not'. That lead was the biggest. That's because I used this special micing technique called the anti vacuum culture. It basically makes the guitar sound like you're outside of a big coliseum in the parking lot listening someone play guitar inside going through all this big PA's. It's all coming through the walls, so all you hear is the body and the size, but not the presence. So, when that lead comes in on 'Nothing Is Not' it almost suffocates everything because it's got more body than presence. It's funny.
MU: It's unique stuff.
TA: Yeah, I think so. That's why in the very beginning - about the incredible dreamer - 'cuz that's what I am. I like to use my imagination and have fun with this. That's one of the reasons I love being in this band. I am not just doing this stuff for myself and just listening to it on my little homemade tape. It's actually in the store. People in all these different cities and states and countries are hearing this and getting moved in some way or another by it. Somehow there's some impact. It's created, and there it is. If I hadn't done it, then it wouldn't be there. Somebody else would do something maybe like it, but I did it and there it is. I try to do special things. I've done a lot of creative types of things. Like with my fan technique where I use an electric fan between the microphone and the cabinet to make this weird sound that comes in on some of the tracks. You can hear that in the last lead of 'At One With Nothing' and a few of the other ones too. It goes beyond a guitar effect. It gets into actually manipulating how the sound goes into the microphone. I started doing that on Formulas, but I carried it into this album, too. That's definitely the more acid approach. The more psychedelic, Pink Floyd - see, Pink Floyd would do something like that. I really like to go beyond just looking at a lead as a lead by looking at it as landscape - like a dungeon - like a special little room with a trap. (laughing)
MU: Do you feel like you are constantly expanding in new
directions, or have you always been at the same level of creativity ?
TA: If it wasn't continually growing and expanding, I'd quit. I can't do things half-assed, not things that are important. I couldn't continue in this band if someone said, "Well, do it just like this because that was a sure success." If I didn't want to do it that way, I wouldn't. I get a little selfishness, or something, but I do what I want, when I want. That's the way it is. That's the way it should be for everybody. That's what Tony Robbins says. He says, "I can do what I want, when I want, with whomever I want, for as long as I want. . ." That was one of his definitions for success. I like that idea. That's the way that our band is set up. Even when we were on Giant Records, we still gave them what we wanted and they put it out. So, that was a first.
MU: Where do you want Morbid Angel to go ?
TA: I don't know. Wherever. Just keep going.
MU: It's experimental. There's no map.
TA: I don't think there's any map. It's just do what you feel. Let it come out. Have fun with it. You know, this stuff with manipulating the sound as it comes out of the cabinet adds more fun to it. I want to do some fresh stuff to keep it fun and exciting. That's why I did it in the beginning. It might be some riff that I come up with that I just think is so cool - that's where I get my excitement from.
MU: And don't you want to be like a little kid and run out
into the street with your new toy and say, "Look what I got ?"
TA: Definitely. (enthusiastically) I am a little kid. Definitely.
MU: So you come up with this new toy and you want to share
that with people.
TA: Exactly. That's it! Trying to be the kid. In this world where kids aren't cool and "you're too old for that." I didn't listen to any of that. But it's definitely paradigm scrambling because it's something that makes other people uneasy. They don't understand it. The normal way of thinking is, "Oh, that's kid stuff, you shouldn't do that anymore." It's like, "Welcome back to the real world." Well, I wrote it in the last album, I create myself and my world.
MU: You still enjoy playing with your toys.
TA: Yeah, guitar and playing Quake III - I have a clan called the Sailor Scouts. It's a fun clan. I go through phases. I like to ride my BMX bike and do some silly things with that. Whatever. I definitely like to play and have fun. I think that's great. It goes back to the belief thing. It' s not normal. It's almost the kind of thing where people categorize me as being a sick. . . "You're sick. When are you going to grow up ? That's not the way it's supposed to be." Who says! ?! Who says it's not the way it's supposed to be.
MU: When are you gonna grow up, Trey ?
TA: (laughing) I don't know. . .