Interview with Trey Azagthoth

from Tartarean Desire
This interview with guitarist Trey Azagthoth of the American death metal band Morbid Angel was done by Andres Castro at their show on April 13th, 2004, at the House Of Blues in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where they performed together with Suffocation and Satyricon.

When Morbid Angel began their career they quickly rose from the Florida swamps to become one of the most influential and important American death metal bands of all time. The band's legendary guitarist Trey took some time off to talk to our journalist Andres Castro about the present status of the band and his wishes to work with the female vocalist of Holland's The Gathering among other things. [The Editor]

Well, how are things working on for Morbid Angel right now?

I think its been going pretty damn good this year. We did a really nice tour. We just got finished about 2 weeks ago. It was a 5-week tour in Europe. We played like everywhere in Europe. We visited all the countries, the main cities, didn’t really have any days off. There were a bunch of shows in a row. We got out to places like Croatia and Hungary, Down in Spain, Greece, we played in Greece a Few shows. That was a great tour; I thought that was really awesome. Most of it was Krisiun and us. Krisiun from S. America, those guys are great, they play awesome, and it was very fun to tour with them. The fans were very into it, had a great time. They liked the shows and told me they were into the new record, and hearing the new songs live and that kind of stuff, so that was cool. We were working on this new video that took a while to get edited properly, but it’s finally getting aired on like MTV2 and on URANIUM. We have lot more touring, we gonna go and do some fly in festivals, like after this tour. This tour we’re on now is about four weeks and then we are gonna have like 5 weeks off. Then we are gonna go to Europe and I think we’ll go to Finland and some other shows, I don’t remember exactly all the scheduling. But somewhere in there we are gonna play a show in Denmark, I think it’s in Copenhagen, I’m not sure. But there’s a really huge festival they invited us to play to, one of those festival that have like 75000 people, almost like a Castle Donnington kind of thing and we are playing the main stage and they invited us to play like 90 minutes, like a full set. It’s amazing for us to be able to play such a big set on the main stage in this kind of concert that’s so big and all that. And we are gonna do some shows in S. America, some in Mexico coming in the summer and then another states tour in the fall possibly. Then we are gonna do the Christmas festivals in Europe, it’s like two weeks leading up to Christmas in December in Europe. So that fills us for the whole year I think.

I saw Tony from Monstrosity playing with you tonight. Is he a permanent member of Morbid Angel or just for the touring?

Well, It’s kind of a weird question because as far as like doing records and stuff like that I really like to do all the guitars myself and do all the writing so I don’t that Tony is gonna be on the next record but I can’t really say any announcement on anything but he is definitely doing the touring with us, he’s having a good time doing it plus he is on Monstrosity and they do records and things like that. He’s not a sideman, so he is the band and we are doing stuff together sure.

When I first listened to your new album I was surprised because this is a record I wasn’t expecting in many ways. I find it very experimental and more complex than previous stuff you have recorded, was it intentional? What do you want to approach with this album?

Well, like going back to Formulas and Gateways. I was trying to build more songs with lots of polyrhythms where the two guitars are independent from each other doing different parts. Not just a variation like harmony but actually doing a whole independent movement and have it pan left and right, kind of make it this big fighting kinda thing. The guitars are fighting each other or bouncing off each other and I think Heretic is like pretty much… Every song has this kind of idea in it. It’s really like trying to maximize this idea, even make it like… the song Beneath The Hollow is actually like two songs in one, where the left guitar is almost playing a different song than the right guitar is playing, and then have this really swinging beat. Very groovy swinging beat, very snappy, in the pocket kind of snare action. Really catchy but yet it’s not easy. Like some bands’ songs are really catchy and are not playing anything complicated at all, it’s just really easy to get into. I want to make really complicated, tricky weird stuff sound easy, but it’s really not. Like make it really catchy but yet to have obscure and strange and weird morphs, because that’s the way I write, I like to write stuff that’s all about feeling and imagination not just about aggression, we have aggression too. I think Heretic has tons of that, polyrhythms, grooves, swinging, tight stuff, because to me our music back to the beginning was swing, not just brutal death metal, it wasn’t just a straight line of pa pa pa pa pa (imitating a blast beat), or whatever, it was swinging, the groove, going back and forth, get the body moving, and I think Heretic is really far into that, very complicated guitar playing but the sound in which you can just hear everything so clear and not like having to search for which string played what like in Formulas or like Gateways where everything is so down tuned. Heretic is more like in the face. Just positive, exciting a fun record.

How about those hidden tracks which to me sound very experimental. What was the intention behind that?

Well, basically, we did the record in a way that you know; we didn’t go to a big studio. We went to a small studio with Punchy who has mixed us live for many years… so basically it was such a relaxed situation we had more time spent on everything, it wasn’t so expensive every hour so we could like play with it and I just wanted to do anything and everything, have fun, I didn’t care what the people would like. It was about doing our own thing and exercising our freedom. In a band you always bring the kind of songs you wanna write, put whatever on the record, arranges and so. This is just something we wanted to explore, because a CD can hold so much time and I wanted to play around with silent tracks, a little short tack, then silence, kind of the work on Love Of Lava idea. It’s mainly made that way for random play, random shuffle. You play the record and put it in random shuffle then it goes down to silent tracks where you listen to nothing for a while, then you got two songs, it’s really weird. Just basically having fun. I always try to search for ways to having more fun with it and keep it exciting, like with the mic techniques, I always use guitar effects and things like that but I also use mic techniques like use weird things like an air fan between the mic and the cabinet just for the weird sounds. It’s really old school like Pink Floyd or something. It’s about these kind of people that are really into the music to where they not just skim to the surface of it, they are like very into the vibrations, the feeling and the flow, the way I’d listen to music and there’s all this extra stuff from those people.

I understand Eddie Van Halen is your favorite guitar player…

I’d say my favorite all time guitar player. I don’t listen to Van Halen all the time right now.

But besides that I’d like to know where your influences come from.

I’m influenced by a lot of things. I’m influenced like by playing Quake III Arena on line, I’m influenced by Doom; I’m influenced by the band The Gathering from Holland; I’m influenced by all kinds of different things, I’m into these things that are just fun and it’s kind of the way I do things. As far as bands, I don’t just listen to metal; I listen to like hip-hop, Pink Floyd. I listen to all kinds of stuff and stuff that is really trippy and groovy and swinging, something that makes me move the body, because I try to stay away from just pure aggression or some rock bands like Iron Maiden, I never liked Iron Maiden. I like stuff that has a certain feeling; it’s a personal preference. My favorite band right now is The Gathering.

What do you think of their acoustic album?

It’s awesome. I wanna do a project with Anneke; I’ve been talking to her trying to get something worked out. I think somewhere in the future there’s gonna be a Trey and Anneke record. I don’t know what’s that gonna be called. It’s gonna be awesome. It’s gonna be other thing. This is going to be something different. It’s definitely going to be epic.

Well, thank you so much. Anything to add?

Morbid Angel is always going to be heavy and extreme, it’s all from the heart. I open myself to all this energy and freedom and not having any kind of walls or rules, that’s the way I write and it’s the way Morbid Angel will always be.