Morbid Angel - Steve Tucker

MORBID ANGEL released a solid piece of Death Metal titled “Kingdoms Disdained”, and what better way to take a peek of what’s going on backstage other than talking to the band’s growling voice. Yes, METAL KAOZ got on the phone Steve Tucker, who was recovering from a cold, and had the following Q&A. Enjoy!

Morbid Angel - Steve Tucker

Hi Steve, it’s great having you here in METAL KAOZ. How are you?
Hey man, I am good, what about you?

It is a bit cold here in Chicago but everything’s good.
Yeah, it is fucking cold, man, it sucks.

Well, it is the perfect weather for MORBID ANGEL…
Oh, I am not down in Florida, dude, I am up here in West Virginia.

That’s ok, I was talking about the cold weather matching MORBID ANGEL.
Oh, yeah? That’s cool. I always associate MORBID ANGEL with the swamp.

Ok, I get it. The new album has been out for about a week, so what is the feedback you are getting?
It has been overwhelmingly fantastic, to be honest with you. A lot of people seem to be happy with the album.

Although I don’t like doing so, for the sake of organizing an interview I always check the online comments and there are some complaints about the mix and how the drums are louder than they should, so the guitars are getting buried. So, my question is, do you care about these comments?
(laughs) I actually think they are fucking hilarious. I wonder why all these people are not sound engineers (laughs). Everybody seems to have an image in his head of how this album should be, but, you know, the album is how we think it should be. We worked with Erik Rutan who is a fantastic producer, so if people have an issue, they should take it up with him. I disagree with them; I think it is a big-sounding album and some people have been used of hearing guitar-emulators, you know, guys not playing through an amp but all of this is real. It was recorded with 4x12” cabinets, Marshalls and it is real guitar, just all seven strings. In the past, MORBID ANGEL did some songs with six strings as well with seven, you know, to kind of break it up and bring to a higher register but we did not do this this time around. So, I don’t know, maybe this is what they are missing, but to me, the guitars sound fantastic.

All this technical details sound Greek to me (laughs). I mean, as long as I remember MORBID ANGEL, there was always the double bass drum, the heaviness was also there and this swamp-like mix, so I have no objections with how “Kingdoms Disdained” sounds.
There are a lot of different mixes from “Altars Of Madness” all the way up to “Kingdoms Disdained” so I am sure there is something about each one that you may not like but at that time this was the way we felt it should be done. It is what it is, man, everybody has a preference and there is no way to change it. You can’t make everyone happy and if you try, you are going to go crazy.

I guess this is something we have to live with because nowadays, with all these social media, everyone seems to be a professional for everything.
Oh yeah, everybody is a professional and has an opinion and this is totally cool, dude; I mean, the only reason why they are talking about is because they care. They talk about the new album because they care about MORBID ANGEL, so they want this to be an awesome album. And if the only thing is about the guitars being low in the mix, then I think we did a really good job. After all, we play Death Metal so our goal is not pleasing people.

Right, in fact, it should be the opposite.

Is there any story about how you rejoined with Trey and MORDIB ANGEL?
Not really. We have been always in contact with each other and I think he decided to ask me if I was interested into making more music. And I was interested, so it was pretty simple getting back. Trey wanted to do an album that would be mean and aggressive and I think this is why he asked me to do it.

So, third time's a charm for you?
I really hope so. You know, the first time I had to step away for a short period and the same thing happened for the second time and the situation could not be handled, so I had to step away from the band. Now, I am living in a completely different situation so, yeah, I think everything should be really good.

Does this mean that whatever was done wrong in the past has been fixed?
Honestly, it was all about my personal life and did not have much to do with the band.

I see. Let’s talk about the album; how long did you work on “Kingdoms Disdained”?
I guess, it was a about a year before we started to actually rehearse for it and this went on for a couple of months, so I’d say the whole process took about a year and a half from the time we started writing songs to when we started recording them. We mixed things up; part of the album was written with demos that I and Trey worked on from home, and then, the rest of it was written, like the last four songs, in the rehearsal space together as a sort of a live format.

Basically, it was you and Trey and for the last four songs, let’s say, the new guys contributed to the making, right?
Yeah, it was pretty much Trey and myself who started rehearsing, and then, we got Scottie [Fuller] involved. This time we decided to use only Trey for the guitars in the album, although Daniel [Vadim Von] did contribute a solo to the album, but all the rhythm guitars came from Trey. The songs we did in the rehearsal space sound more mean, fast and aggressive, while the others seem to be cleverer and deep with a lot of stuff going on.

What do you think Daniel and Scottie will be adding to the MORBID ANGEL sound?
We expect from Scottie to be the MORBID ANGEL drummer and this means that he has to be able to play any MORBID ANGEL song. He is a fantastic and diverse drummer; he has blast-beats, his single-foot blast is tight, oh man, we have already toured together and did about a month’s worth of shows and Scottie did an incredible job. We have also played with Dan Vadim Von who is our touring guitar guy and he has done his work in perfection every single night.

This sounds exciting.
Yeah, it is always exciting when you work with new people. Honestly, it sucks that Pete [Sandoval] is not in MORBID ANGEL anymore; it really sucks. But if Pete is not going to be able to do it, you need to be playing with someone you like and someone who is equally amazing on drums.

Yes, it is not only finding a good musician but a good person to be able to tour with, right?
Yeah, because touring in a band is essentially like being married with all these different people. I mean, you have different relationships with everyone involved and you have to live in a bus which is small, so you have to able to deal with each other and communicate and not kill each other. There are a lot of things you have to consider; people have asked us how we chose Scottie and really, it was so many different things. It was about how we could associate with the guy, how he blend with us so there were a lot elements for why he became the drummer for MORBID ANGEL.

Let’s talk about the lyrics of the album that sound as brutal as the music does; for example, in “The Righteous Voice”, one can see how these lyrics are relevant today.
Indeed, they are relevant to today. The thing about this, man, is that I always write lyrics from a spiritual stand and this is my approach. I am not in any way judging but allowing me to speak about it. Nowadays, spirituality seems to be out there and it seems to be clashing with society. What people feel inside compared to what they see and with what they’re experiencing in a daily basis start to conflict. When someone walks into the subway and pushes someone else out of the way and that person hits another one who knocks down a little kid and the kid gets hurt, he doesn’t realize the chaos he has just caused. He just keeps walking and in his mind he thinks he is righteous, so he just had to bump this fool out of the way because he was in his way, so it was that person’s fault and not his. And this is a constant situation for every person all around the world. It conflicts with who we are and it really takes all of our patience to deal with people’s righteousness. And that righteous voice gets old and if you are trying so much to be righteous, it really loses its quality, so I think there is some irony there and especially with that song; if someone is robbing a bank and somehow he feels that the money there should be his, then in his mind what he is doing is right.

It seems to be alright to do whatever you want as long as you believe it is the righteous thing to do, no matter the consequences or the collateral damage.
All of that does not matter if you are righteous or if you’re doing it for the right reason or if you are doing it for your god or whatever. This is something people have been taught for so long and this is why we have so many clashes. The world has gone smaller and keeps getting smaller because there is more people and more means of transport. I mean, I can go to whatever place I want like Bangladesh and it is not a big of a deal as far as the travelling goes, but then, I am as foreign as they are to me and my ideas are foreign to them, so these things start to clash. There are so many people traveling all around so all these different opinions are spread everywhere; these different opinions always existed but they were always sort of held in a specific continent or region. Now, all is mixed up and you see everyone fighting for their rights and this causes chaos.

However, we should be able to live together, no matter what we believe in, no matter the color of our skin is, no matter whatever…
With music, this seems to be the case - I think it has always been the case. I think musicians, poets and artists have always been crossing these borders. But when it gets into religion, then this starts to be the thing people are willing to die for; even politically, some people prefer to die instead of seeing the other side gets its way. It is just extremism, man, and I definitely agree with you; we should be living together and be able to travel to different places and experience that place for what it really is with its culture. Instead, in every country you go, you start seeing the same things like McDonalds and Walmart.

This is something that you cannot force people to understand; this is the responsibility of every person to act like that.
I agree 100% with you; I think that people do not hold themselves accountable.

And this is what “Declaring New Law (Secret Hell)” is about…
This is exactly what this song is about; it is really about who can live here and the ones who can’t dispose them as you like. Every new leader that comes, he brings all these new laws just like it is happening here in the States where the new president is changing everything he doesn’t like.

How is the album’s cover artwork connected with the lyrics?
I think this artwork and the one in “Gates To Annihilation” are the two artworks that go together with the lyrics as one. This one is amazing and is essentially the Earth rising up to destroy all the humans. In principal is the ancient gods being reawaken and when they rise, all the foundations crumple. It really ties with everything we have been talking about the lyrics in the album.

Did the band have anything to do with the making of the artwork?
For the most part, Ken [Coleman] created this after we had talked about what the album was going to be about. We talked a bit about the colors and things like that, but we just told him the album’s title and what the lyrics are about and, man, he came back with this! At that time, we were looking at other artists and when Ken sent his work, we immediately picked him. So, it started with this creature he created, but since then, he has added a lot more depth to the entire image and all of the album’s artwork. We used a lot of different images of the same monster and it is very exciting. For me, this guy is a pure genius.

This will look great as a backdrop…
You know what, man? I cannot wait to see it. I have already seen the t-shirts and, honestly, they look amazing. I am happy with the layout of the artwork, the album, its sound, everything; I have never been happier with any other project I have ever been a part of.

What about touring, Steve?
We are going to be touring extensively in 2018; we had some things to take care of and we will be going pretty much everywhere we can.

Do you know with what continent you’ll start with?
I am not sure right now, but I think it will be the States or North America.

Thank you very much for you time, Steve. Take care and stay warm.
Thank you too, I really appreciate this. The cold is about gone but you know how things kind of linger on.

I guess it is a death Metal cold (laughs)
It is indeed (laughs). Cheers!