Interview with Steve Tucker (2 September 2003)
By danowar

from Into Obscurity

What prompted you to join up with Morbid Angel again?
What do you want to know, dude? To be honest, Trey called me and we talked and just worked some things out.

Why did you leave in the first place?
To be honest, it was some personal stuff. There were a lot of things going in the band and in my life. Basically, it was time for me to deal with life instead of the band for a little while. When you're a musician, you write records and tour, but you also have a life and sometimes that needs to be dealth with.

How was the writing process on "Heretic" affected by the band being a three-piece for the first time since the "Covenant" days?
I don't think any difference. "Formulas" was written as a three-piece as well as most of "Blessed". Richard was in the band, but I don't think he contributed very much. The only difference on this one is that I didn't write any music. Trey just showed me the songs he had and that was that. The last record, me and Trey wrote some songs together and this time I got songs that were like 75% done.

So Trey pretty much wrote all the music?
Pete wrote an instrumental. Trey wrote all the music, I wrote all the lyrics. That's pretty much the traditional way that Morbid Angel has always done stuff.

Why was the decision made to record at Diet of Worms Studio this time rather than the usual Morrisound? Are you happy with the sound on "Heretic"?
Boredom. You do the same thing over and over and it gets fucking boring. We just wanted to do something different. A lot of bands have done that. Cannibal Corpse go out to El Paso these days. We wanted a different feel. The guy, Punchy, from D.O.W. has worked with the band for years. He knew more about what we were looking for than the guys from Morrisound.

Who composed the two classical sounding tracks at the end of the CD?
Pete did. He plays classical piano. I heard them and I was shocked. Myself - I think they're pretty moving. They sound really old. They sound like they could've been written 500-600 years ago. I think it aligns itself to what Morbid has always done. There's stuff on all the albums like that, so it's really nothing new to use instrumentals like that, but it is new for Pete to do them. He brought his own vibe and I like it.

What's the deal with the Pete Sandoval drum solo on "Heretic"? Is this because he's a terribly underrated drummer?
I don't know if Pete is underrated. I think he's been doing it so long that the people who are overrated now are the ones that give credit to him. There are so many good drummers, but every single one of them, whether it's the dude from Cryptopsy or the dude from Behemoth or the dude from Vader... any of them would give credit to Pete.

So Pete is kind of the godfather at this point.
He definitely is. He was the first guy doing the single foot blast properly and his doubles are still to be reckoned with. His rolls are amazing. He does what we call the 'race track rolls'. Every single show I've taken part of with Morbid Angel, there are people behind Pete just watching him. The drum solo came about because they were just recording Pete during a soundcheck. Anyone that has sat in a Morbid Angel soundcheck knows that just how it goes. We turned it into a bit of a joke on the CD.

Have you worked out any tour plans yet? Can you give us any details?
They're talking about us going on that Blackest of the Black tour with Danzig, Superjoint Ritual, Behemoth and a couple other bands. It'll be pretty interesting. We've done shows with Danzig and a lot of the fans crossover. But I think Superjoint Ritual bring in a different kind of crowd these days. It's not the Pantera crowd. They're a little bit more intense, not to rag on Pantera. It should be interesting.

I read that you guys were working on a video for the track "Enshrined By Grace". Have Morbid Angel made a video since "Rapture"? Are you submitting it to MTV, etc?
I just got home about two weeks ago from shooting. They're probably editing it now. We hope to get it out when the record comes out. I hope we get it played on Headbanger's Ball. If the show is there, I hope we can be part of it. I love the idea of Headbanger's Ball. I grew up with it and worshipped it. I waited for it and I waited through all the bullshit to see the one good video at the end. It's a lot more hardcore now than it was back then. They still throw in some Adema and Powerman 5000 and shit like that, but they're playing Hate Eternal and Meshuggah. I'm getting pretty burnt on the whole idea of death metal, power metal, etc. To me, it's all just metal. I'm just glad to see metal doing good. I don't care how you label it, it's still metal.

I agree about labelling metal. I always tell people that I have two categories: music I like and music I don't like. I only label stuff when I'm describing it to people because they need that to relate.
It's ashame that that's the only way people can understand, but that's the way life is. I went to see Dio, Iron Maiden and Motorhead a few weeks ago. I saw people there with Morbid Angel shirts and Deicide shirts and Pungent Stench shirts and Exodus and Testament shirts. It didn't matter, they were all metalheads. The bands I was there seeing influenced all those people. If Judas Priest had been on the bill, Satan himself would've shown up that for that show. Them and Venom and old Metallica on that bill and that's every band that ever influenced me to play music. There were people next to me that were probably accountants and they were banging their heads harder than I was. I think it's great that metal has influenced that many people.

I saw that Iron Maiden show too. It was great. Those guys haven't lost a step.
Man, I think Bruce Dickinson is in better shape than I am. He was running all over the place. I wanted to put him a chokehold and say "calm down, man". (laughs). I'm just kidding. They were fucking brilliant.

Can you tell me a little bit about the signficance of the album's artwork for "Heretic"?
The image is of Lilith, the female god. Morbid Angel is a pagan band. They started off more as a Satanic band, but I think as everyone has gotten older, philosophies have changed. I don't think any of us can really comprehend being christian and without christianity, you can't have satanism. Having said that, everyone in Morbid Angel has our own philosophies. Many of our ideas focus on paganism. So we took the idea of Lilith. The image of the right is a picture of her standing in fire and then the left is a mirror image of her standing in water. Without getting into it for too long, the fire and the water look at each other and make the whole. To get into it more than that, you want to sit down face to face with someone and answer questions as they come. That could be a whole other interview. If anyone wants to talk philosophy, come up to us on the road. If we have the time, we'll talk to you about it.

Is there any reason the alphabetic naming of albums? What do you plan on naming the 27th album if you get that far?
It's become a tradition. It gives people an opportunity to guess what's coming, even though they're usually wrong. I think it started off by accident. I think after that the first two or three albums, they realized they were going in order and just made it a tradition.

In your opinion, who are the kings of metal?
I'd say Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer. They influenced me like no other. Venom and Possessed. Bathory. They were totally out of left field when they came out. I like Dio and Black Sabbath and they stuff they did together. There's so much out there. Even further back, I like the freaky shit The Beatles did and Pink Floyd for the dark stuff they did. It depends what genre. In death metal, you can't deny that Morbid Angel is one of the most important bands ever and you can't deny other bands like Deicide.

Being a big Judas Priest fan, were you happy to hear that Halford is back with them?
Actually, I didn't give shit. People seem to forget that the last couple albums they did together no one gave a fuck about. People look back fondly on those days, but I happen to remember "Turbo Lover" and everybody kind of cringing. Am I wrong? They sort of started to disintegrate anyway. To be honest, I think the person that needs credit is The Ripper. He stepped in and kept Judas Priest going while Halford did his own thing. That's not a hit on Judas Priest - I think they're legendary. I just don't think Judas Priest would be around long enough for Halford to come back if it weren't for him. This is going to come off bad in the interview, but I don't give a shit. What I am happy about is Lombardo back with Slayer. Slayer didn't have the same feel without him and I didn't like the things he did with Grip Inc. and the other things he did. I like those two together. That'll sound bad too, but I don't give a shit.