Interview with Trey Azagthoth
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
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
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.