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Morbid Angel

Hoe vaak krijg je de kans jeugdhelden te spreken? Als je in sport- of muziekjournalistiek zit wordt die kans ineens stukken groter. En zo hang ik ineens aan de lijn met één van de belangrijkste muzikanten uit mijn jeugd: David Vincent, zanger en bassist van Morbid Angel, die na drie albums afwezigheid weer terug is op de nieuwe schijf getiteld 'Illud Divinum In Sanus'. Er valt te veel te bespreken om in één interview te vangen, en alles wat je met David Vincent bespreekt wordt interessant. Het meest verbaasd was ik over zijn muzikale openheid. Ik wist van Mozart en Laibach, maar hij onthult nog een voorkeur die mijn hele jeugdrivaliteit in een ander daglicht plaatst, in het bijzonder omdat het van hem afkomt. Als journalist hoor je soms door te vragen naar de voor jou soms bekende weg om je lezers te informeren. Maar ik vraag hem niet zijn religie nader toe te lichten, want als je daar echt in geïnteresseerd bent, dan stuur ik je met alle liefde zelf op reis, want die benadering past ook beter bij de houding die hij er zelf bij heeft. Met grote dank aan mijn goede vriend Eric Oor voor de ondersteuning bij dit interview.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

Hello mister Vincent, this is Ramon from Lords of Metal in the Netherlands, for interview number two hundred and twelve today
Hahahaha, well there's been a lot. But I suppose that is not a bad thing. It's good that there's attention.

It's an occupational hazard, right?
Well, I don't know, it just comes with the territory, I guess. It comes with this form of art that I am in. it's a good thing so I can express what we're all about and tell about my experience and stuff.

Well, welcome back. Does it feel more definite now that you also recorded another album, although you have been back for quite some years now?
I don't know if it is definite. It's been a while now, but you never can tell if anything is definite. I think things happen for a reason and the time was right for things to happen. And I enjoyed making the record, I enjoy playing live and talking to all kinds of people

Likewise. After losing the Earache deal, there must have been quite some pressure on this one. Did you feel any of that when you recorded it?
No, not really. At some point we felt like we had enough material to record it. We didn't take anything in consideration. Everything came together, it was like a really organic thing.

That's how a ban should work, right?
I think so.

I only had very little chance to hear the album, we'll get to that later, but what I heard was dressed up with telephone beeps. Was there that much fear for theft
Yeah, the record company decided to do that, because they had some of their releases of lately… you know… they sent it to someone to listen to it and it ended up on pirate sites. They have made a big investment with a lot of interest in it. So they had to put the bleeps on there with our album. They protect their investment, I support that.

To be the devil's advocate here: some bands have become more famous because of someone illegally downloaded the music and shared it with friends. That is one side, the other one is that artist don't get paid back for their expenses. You are clear about where you stand in this matter, aren't you?
I buy music. I don't like the low quality of Internet rippings or MP3s. Millions of people do it. I maybe listen to a song or two, just to check it out, but I want quality. Even when I convert it myself, I convert it at a much higher rate. I hear the difference. Even after I-tunes doubled their sample rate, I still don't like the low quality of the sound. But that's just me. More importantly, I've been a fan of music ever since I can remember walking. I did whatever it took to make a little extra money and I would go down to the record store and buy the record, because I'm a fan of music. And now, being a musician myself, I know what that support means. Stealing music of movies off of the internet…

It is actually theft…
It is. When someone goes into a car dealer and says “I'm gonna take this new Mustang” and the guy sais how much you need to pay and you go “no I don't! People steal my music, so I'm gonna steal your car.”

Once you succeed in getting a Mustang like that, please give me the address
The point is, I look at it the same way. People work, not just myself, people work really hard to go through the labors of making records. And to just take it, it's not right.

I hope you understand I wasn't serious about the Mustang. You may choose to not answer the question, if you even can, but to get an idea, what does it cost to record a Morbid Angel album?
I don't deal with the financial side of it, our management takes care of that, but I'm talking six figure number here. But you've got to understand that it is not just the recording, you've got to fly in a bunch of people in and out and there's the mixing. The studio alone costs a thousand dollars a day and then there's the extra things that go around it. Everything adds up. If you got a recording place of your own, some people, including myself have, you know… a lot of people make electronic music, or dance music, they can do just about the whole thing on their laptop. We are a band and we like to deliver quality, so it costs money to have that quality.

Immediately after I got access to the promo, I requested a lyric sheet, but you insisted on no-one getting them. Why is that?
Did I insist on no-one getting them? I don't remember insisting on that, but OK. Once the record is out everyone will have it, everyone will have a lyric sheet. It was probably for the same reason, I want there to be some sort of anticipation. A couple of songs have been sort of released that people have heard prior to the record coming out. We put something on a compilation for a magazine in Germany. But honestly, most etude listeners shouldn't have any problem with hearing the lyrics. I feel that my vocals are pretty articulate.

One of the things that makes you different from this industry is in fact your meaningful lyrics. But lyrics will be enclosed on the album?
Yes, they will. We try to keep some level of…some magazine from Germany wanted me to do an interview track by track, you know, go through each track and tell what it's about. But I don't want to spit it out for people, I never wanted to do that. I want people to get to the stuff and to interpret it the way they're gonna interpret it, instead of spelling it out and that (raises voice a bit) just makes shit too fucking easy for everybody. People don't own a piece of it when they don't think about it, when they are not emotionally involved in it. All of this stuff, all of this music, you know, I am very emotionally involved in it and to put that into… part of the answer is that it is my desire for all our listeners to sit down, listen to the music and read the lyrics themselves and decide what it means for them. I don't like to spell it out, there needs to be SOME creativity at the part of the listener, opposed to just sit in front of the television and being told what to think.

You probably couldn't have answered that question any better. That is indeed the ultimate musical experience I always enjoyed most. The titles slightly unveil that you are on track of exposing a dark side of man, maybe even yourself, rather than your sexual preferences or any political content. Was that deliberate?
Everything that do is pretty much deliberate. It's not political, you know. Politics are such a negative thing. There's a lot of other things to concentrate on, rather than that. There's definitely some social messages and there's some fantasy and there's some philosophy according to me, with a twist and sometimes it is dark and sometimes it has a sense of humor. It is what it is. It came about and it came about very organically and it just started flowing and I just went with it. I don't think about it.. I didn't want to overthink it, I just wanted to feel it.

band imageThe album title could be interpreted on different ways, but you translate it in previous interviews as “Those Insane Gods”. Is that referring to yourself, or to any Christian, Jewish or Islamic god-worshipping?
I didn't say it means “Those Insane Gods”, no! Listen, I use creativity as something that's divine. There's something that is divine about creativity and about expression. It taps into the trueness of the soul. And in our case that creativity is chaotic and it's insane. So I crafted a title that sounded interesting to me that I choose to represent what I heard it was on this collection of music for this record.

That makes sense, so it is not about any Christian, Jewish or Islamic people and their god-worshipping at all?
Well, Christianity and Islam or any of these organized religions they don't have any place in my life.

On the good, nor the bad side, it is just there for you and that's it? Don't care about it?
What, about religion? No, I disdain religion… other than my own.

We'll get back to that later on. With the last question I sort of hinted on your status. Do you feel comfortable with guys labeling you and Morbid Angel in such an iconic way?
It's taken me a while to find a way, what I consider to be a healthy way to look at it. People have said things… somebody's comment on me is no different than the way I feel about the artists who have inspired me. So, in a sense, if other people… the artists who have inspired me, are a part of me. And if I'm able give that same kind of gift to the people it is a wonderful thing.

You mentioned the computer crafted music a while ago. I know Trey loves this Rotterdam Gabber House, which is quite ironic, in my youth it was metals against gabber, but that's how things evolve. Do you have a musical faux-pas (guilty pleasure)?
I listen to a lot of music. It doesn't matter what style it is. If I am moved by the music than I like it. It transcends all the different boxes that people put stuff into. There's so much great stuff going on. If I'd just listened to the genre that I'm part of, I suppose that would be a pretty small world. I wouldn't probably feel as inspired to do interesting things if that's all I'm interested in. I listen to all good music. I set my iPod on random. And it goes… hahahaha…It goes all over the place. And I actually think that some of that gabber, some of that Rotterdam stuff is pretty badass too. It is just hard. It is very aggressive. There's no guitar, there's not an instrument that we play…

Some have…
..I think the atmosphere is brutal. I don't hang with these people, I just remember being in a club one night and they put on some track of this guy, Paul Elstak. It was so different than the genre I was in and I went “WHAT IS THAT?”, so I went to the DJ and asked what we were listening to and he said “it's from this guy from Holland”. I immediately got onto it. It just goes BAM! BAM! BAM! (as he imitates gabber noise out loud) in an intense, crushing way. I thought, fuck, this is really interesting.

That is so weird to hear you say this. Paul Elstak did have a pop period too, although he also made gabber.
I'm in a club and I'm watching all these really pretty girls dancing to some song that blasts out of the speakers that's called 'Your Mother Socks Cocks In Hell'. What is there not to like that. Are you kidding me?

Do you even feel that your years of absence have changed your perspective on the band or life in general? Did it give you another scope?
I get a different scope every day. I read a lot, I like to experience things. Every day you can meet someone new, taste a new dish, or hear something new, or smell a different smell, or anything… anything that is new can keep the spirit running..

But did the distance add anything to the experience that you otherwise would not have?
I don't know, I can't answer that. “What ifs” are hard to answer. I'm glad the way things turned out. Maybe I should have done this, or I could have done some things better. You can find a trap like this when you start regretting things, you know. You can't go through life regretting things, because we have such a short period of time. Whether you feel happiness or you feel pain, it is part of the experience. Sometimes an experience can be too painful, but if it is something you can overcome, you know… if something can't destroy you, it just makes you stronger. It is one of my favorite quotes, because it is so true.

It is indeed, that's why it has become a cliché. Which is a cliché in itself by the way. Like you yourself once said, pain can be divine (see the 'Covenant' album, R-LoM)…
It can. It creates a challenge. Sometimes pain could be a challenge and when you overcome it, it allows you to grow.

When you were asked back, what song did you look forward to playing live again the most?
I can't answer that.

I think that Steve has done a wonderful job in trying to replace you, at least he had a fairer chance than Blaze Bailey had in Iron Maiden, but what's your favorite track from his era?
Hahaha, I suppose he had, yeah. I would say probably 'Formulas…' as a record. That's my favorite record in general. But I listened more to the guitars.

Your return is a whole new and fresh start. I'm not telling a secret that you follow the alphabet with your albums, but did you consider dropping that, or maybe jump back to the letter “F” again?
You have one chance to have what we have and you have one chance to make a change. I don't think there is anybody else who has this.

On a personal level, you have mentioned your religion and you have unveiled some of it in the past: how do you think Peter Gilmore is handling things at this moment?
(long silence, I almost draw the question back)
I wanna work this carefully. When doctor LaVey passed from us, it was almost like the death of a family member. And everybody was scrambling because they wanted to rule it. I think Peter is doing a pretty good job. I think he's doing as good or better than anyone else.

band image

The reason I am asking this, is that when I hear the man speak, it is as if I hear your vocabulary and your intonation, at least that you used to have, only with a bit less charisma you have. There's a lot of similarities I detect.
He is a fellow traveler of the left hand path. So if we have expression that are similar, it wouldn't surprise me. Neither of us look for guidance. I'm happy that he is in the position he is in as oppose to some other people that may have slipped into that position.

To leech upon it
Probably, yes. It's never been my intend.. I don't hide the fact that I'm a Satanist.

But you're not “bragging” about it either, right?
I'm not trying to recruit people. If people find their way… the right people need to be in it. I just want a strong army, and that's when people volunteer for it, you have to be on the quest. It is much stronger. If you force people into something, it won't work.

I'll leave that topic for now, although we could go on for hours…
We could after the interview, if you'd like.

It is sad to turn that down, but I can't afford the time. I go back to the band. Morbid Angel will be demanding a lot of your time, undoubtedly. Does that mean you will be shifting Genitorturers aside for a while?
I haven't played with them for years.

You did do their production right?
I help them on stuff. I haven't played live with them in years, but I have helped them and I will continue to help them, so long as my help is welcome. But I'm working all the time, not just with them. In fact I'm working on a record right now.

Really, which one?
Well, I can't talk about it yet. But it will come out.

I will not put you in any compromising position then. Not that you are comprimisable. Speaking of the Genitorturers (in which David's wife Gen is the lead singer), how could you stand so many guys getting their kicks of your wife?
I'm not jealous. Jealousy is a thing for people that don't have confidence, that's not me.

Back to the album. Seasons Of Mist, your new label, states that you pick it up where you left after 'Domination'. I don't think you do, despite some recognizable elements, it seems to me you took an entirely different approach, while maintaining a Morbid Angel identity. Who is right?
Maybe they feel like it is a revisit since Trey and I are working together again. 'Domination' was the last time we did. I wouldn't disagree with them, but there's been a lot of time since that. So, did we pick up where we left? We left so long ago, I wouldn't know what we would sound like if I never left, so I don't know the answer.

We look it up when we find a proper glass bowl, then. Do the two of you have an equal saying in the band? I mean, when someone comes up with a part that the other one doesn't really like, can you turn eachother propositions down
We haven't really crossed that bridge. We take turns, we are very different people. In the past for example we took turns in making videos. That helped in our relationship. Trey he has his opinions, he's also a very strong personality.

And how about 'I Am Morbid', is that a statement?
No, not a statement. It is not about myself. Each person who has come to our shows, they're coming and share the energy with us on stage. And they at some point started chanting that. That was recorded at a live show. We were just happy to record that show and I said “fuck, I'm gonna use that, I'm gonna make song out of that”, because that was so powerful.

The final song I'd like to discuss is 'Radikult', that most certainly is something else than anything you ever did, isn't it?
Yes. I was in the studio one day and… if there would be any statement on the album, 'Radikult' is more of a statement. It is probably the biggest departure from anything we've done in the past. That was something that is part of us too.

But it is such a weird song, which makes it a very harsh song. That's what I like about it, because that what in turn makes it a typical Morbid Angel song, because it is so different.
I wanted to put some snap on it. It's telling a story from my eyes about where we are coming from for so many years. It's putting in a different light than the traditional death metal. It's much more direct.

It felt to me as if it was told to and about a heavy metal audience, was that right?
It's the idea of just not being capable of being normal man. I wanted to do it within in a song that in itself is sort of absent.

The pieces fell together then. How is Pete's recovery getting on?
You know, Pete is better. He's not all fit, but he's getting there. He is recovering. It takes time and he may need some... he's having sessions for this. I care about him, the guy's been a band member and a friend since years, he's like family a family member for years.

Yeah, you go back as long as Terrorizer and maybe even earlier.
Yes, and that was in the eighties. He's a really good guy and I don't want to see him in pain. He has wonderful doctors and now he is playing cautiously on the drums, but you know, he's trying to build himself back up. But he can't go out there and attack it for hours. Not for a time that's needed for us to have him.

Take it from me. Backpains: don't ever rush your recovery.
No, you can't.

What was his share on 'Illud Divinum Insanus'?
He didn't play at all.

I know, but I heard some people say that he instructed Tim (Yeung), did he?
There's one song, called 'Nevermore', it is a song we've been playing live for a few years to people. It was important to Tim and Tim said “listen, I want to play this song the way Pete does it”. So, he watched a bunch of videos. But they're not all the same. Pete changes think up, depending on the mood he was in or whatever. Tim watched a lot of video stuff and he came up with a way of playing like Pete would have, but still put his own signature on it, but it was important to him… Tim likes Pete too. Everybody does. We're close, Tim played with Eric Rutan, Eric has played with us. Tim has played with Nile and Nile is also managed by our manager. We have a group of really talented people that we know and the fact that Tim was not only available, but he was also interested in doing this, tit made the record very strong.

I guess that if you would have wanted it, you could have destroyed a lot of bands, by asking their drummer. But if you can solve it in this way, that's better, right?
For sure.

A Morbid Angel album usually has to grow on you. When you hear it the first time, you have an opinion, but it always changes. I think it is a success already. At what point do you consider the album successful?
Well listen, it is successful on June 6th. That is when we know if it will be successful. My point is, we do this stuff and we rise to the challenge. It is not unsafe, it is a pretty bold record. There's a lot of grind and I think it is very Morbid Angel and it is very extreme.

But you didn't feel like going into safe territories, you wanted to expand again?
Well, we always wanted to do these things, with every record. 'Altars Of Madness', the first album, came out and that was sort of a culmination of the work that we've done. When 'Blessed Are the Sick' came out, guess what, it was a lot different. It sounded different, we had different kinds of songs on there, we started putting some more musical interludes in there. People were talking like “what is Morbid Angel doing”, you know, and it ended up people getting used to it. And when they did it was very successful. And when we did 'Covenant', 'Covenant' was totally different than 'Blessed…'and the very last track sort of slipped in this song called 'God Of Emptiness', you know, that was different and that one literally has become one of the bands most popular songs. And on 'Domination', we had a few things. We had the song 'Hatework', which is really different than anything we had ever done. It's still extreme and it still is all these things. On this record we didn't wait until the last song, we started the record at the end, hahahaha. I don't want to hide stuff, I want people to know “yes, we are Morbid Angel, we do things differently than other people do it”. There's no reason to sort of hide that… it's obvious.

It is you prerogative and you have proven it is successful on numerous occasion…
We do what we do. I appreciate you saying that, but listen, I'm done with the record. Obviously I have a lot of touring to do, but on this record I've done my work. The work is finished and on June 6th everybody else gets to decide if it's successful and what they are thinking. We signed off at the mastering of the album.

I'm turning 35 this year, so you can figure what impact you might have had on me. It was huge, take it from me. I just realized this is our first encounter, although I spoke to Trey dozens of times. Therefore I deeply thank you for your time. The best of luck with the album and the coming tours. I'll give you the honor of the famous last words.
That was a big word and I've appreciated everything you said. I'm honored by these kinds of sentiments. I'm a music fan myself and the things you just said to me are the same things I told to Tony Iommi when we toured with Black Sabbath. Guys in bands are fans of music themselves and they appreciate it. Your words are very kind and they are not told to deaf ears. I look forward to seeing you on one of these shows. Either way, thanks for your time too. Have a good day too.

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