INTERVIEW WITH STEVE TUCKER OF MORBID ANGEL
Morbid Angel recently went through the biggest line-up change in the band’s history. The founder and guitarist and the mastermind of Morbid Angel, Trey Azagthoth, recruited the former singer Steve Tucker back to the fold of the outfit along with new second guitarist Dan Vadim Von and the new drummer Scott Fuller. The long waited ninth Morbid Angel album entitled KINGDOMS DISDAINED has eleven songsand shall most certainly crush. Metal-Rules.Com had the pleasure to talk with Steve Tucker about the state of the world as seen from his, and Morbid Angel’s, perspective.
Interview by Arto Lehtinen
How is it going there – Are you right now in Cincinnati / Ohio?
I don’t live in Cincinnati anymore. I live a couple of hours away, but yeah, I’m still at home.
You’re getting a new album out called KINGDOMS DISDAINED. Can you explain a little bit about the meaning of the the title and where you got the idea to have that kind of title?
Actually, Trey came to me with the title of the album. He asked me, “Hey, what do you think of this title? It’s what I’ve been thinking,” and I said, “Yeah man, I love it. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.” Essentially, I think it’s weird because it’s timing was a bit of a social and maybe tight on the timing, but the whole idea is not just one kingdom in disarray . It’s just the fact that all the kingdoms are pissed off. Everyone’s disdained and a bit uncomfortable and upset worldwide. I thought it was pretty timely because that’s sort of the way the world feels to me right now.
I think so man. Except that we’re really kind of looking at it from a different stand point. I mean, we’re not really looking at it from, say the aggressor or the other side of the coin, when it comes to war or when it comes to conflict. Really, I mean, it’s sort of looked at from a neutral perspective or kind of perspective of a God. How God could see the events that are going on and essentially a lot of the album that’s coming out is extremely negative and it comes across as negative, and it’s about destruction or whatever, but it’s not. A lot of times and things will get so bad that they need to to change to be refreshed and be renewed like the cycle of the earth. Every year we have to evolve and then we have winter, which kills off all the beauty of everything, but then comes spring and all the beauty comes back.
I think that it just seems earth, from time to time, every few thousand years on this planet that, that must happen. If you get too comfortable, people get too. Things go too easy, they become too easy for people. It’s all a pattern, as long as you just pay your bills and whatever, and don’t break the law, you can just go along every day and everything’s easy. You don’t have to work for food. By work I mean like you don’t have to go out, kill an animal, cut that animal up and cook that animal. People just go to a shop and they buy some food, and they eat the food, and they never think about where it comes from and then when people do think about it. They are like vegans and things like this, and that’s all fine. That’s just fine. I mean, but still, if you’re going to be a vegan, it’s my opinion that you should have a garden. If you feel that strongly about about not harming, then you shouldn’t be a consumer at all because you’re really counting on the cost of grain. So it may even make sense that then you would start to grow your own food and such, but that doesn’t happen, at least not in the United States. The people that grow food in the United States are mostly farmers. Some people have private gardens, but not as many people as actually should.
I think it’s great if people grow their own stuff. I have an orange farm and that’s it. I don’t really grow, because I’m not home enough. If I knew I was going to be home for the entire growing season, I would grow things. Now it’s just sort of wild earth and things like that, that are grown, and it’s for health reasons.
I don’t want to take medication. I don’t want to take anything that someone has spent years trying to imitate a natural product in a science lab. I would rather have the natural product of the same exact thing. To me, that’s what makes sense and it’s things like that that make the entire planet, pretty much. I mean, the majority of the planet is fairly distained at this point because they have nothing better to do. They really have nothing better to do than to sit and think about things to complain about and stuff, because there’s no effort that has to go into life now. You just show up to work, you’re there for your eight hours, most of us do the absolute minimum that they can get away with in those eight hours and then they go home and they consume some more and then they go to sleep.
That’s a way of life.
For some people, they may think that that’s what life is and that’s what it’s about. I mean, those same people spent their youth reading about people like Nicolo Tesla and all these other great minds and they say, “Oh. These people were such geniuses.” Well, what these people did was they thought, they used their brain, they experienced things, and they allowed new ideas to open up in their brain. So it’s like now, you’re idolising someone for doing something that you’re afraid to do.
Life’s very ironic and it’s no surprise that most people are anxious, and most people are medicated, and most people, if they’re not that, then they’re hyper aware and their very on edge, because they see the truth around them. And, if you really open your eyes and see the truth around you.
Our world’s in a spot where everybody feels that they’re right. Everybody feels like their the one that has the right ideas, everyone feels that their righteous in some way and their opinion and they hate everyone that disagrees with them. It’s a shame that we have so much social interaction now be online. It’s not really social interaction, it’s sort of fake on fake is really what it is, because of that people are so involved in other people’s business and people are so tuned into what they dislike and preaching about what they dislike and other people. “Liking” that and making comments on that, praising them and, essentially what social media has become, it’s a podium for really everyone especially idiots.
It’s really a place where idiots can find other idiots that think the same idiotic way that they think and take one tenth of information that is only barely true and they turn it into an entire situation and it’s really only out of boredom. The brain is bored. I recommend for all these people that spend all this time worrying about what other people think, and worrying about what other people say, and trying to fight them for that, I suggest they go out and travel. What they’ll end up finding out of it. If you travel, you’ll end up finding out that most people across this planet are very similar in the idea of what they want out of life and what they’re trying to achieve. Most people – they’re just trying to not get in trouble, trying to not owe money, trying to not be in debt, trying to not offend, trying to just live a life without someone jumping in their face and telling them every reason in the world that they’re wrong, or why they disagree with them. Not everybody likes to sit and argue all the time man and it seems like we’ve come to a world where whether you want to argue or not, someone is going to force you into it.
You mentioned the Kardashians – Gary Holt from Exodus always has a T-shirt saying that “Kill the Kardashians”.
I don’t think it’s a personal attack on them as individuals. But, the idea, I totally agree on man. That entire culture of, what is this? Reality TV, when you’re looking at a fake life of some fake person and you’re idolising it and trying to become like that person. I mean, nobody… I don’t see why more people don’t understand that that is completely ironic and it makes no sense. I mean, those people are fake. That’s not the way those people live.
It’s for the television man. It’s for entertainment. When things are for entertainment, like music, they don’t necessarily need to be real. In America, one of the big problems related to that is the fact that the news is now become part of the entertainment business. There’s so many competing news organizations that are just looking for ratings. So, everything is so sensationalized and even metal. Metal has become so sensationalized. There’s so many metal websites and metal magazines that are really just about gossip and not about Metal. And, really I have to say personally man, it breaks my fucking heart because metal was always a different culture man.
Metal didn’t have anything to do with pop culture what so ever. It was about people that want the same as everyone else and they didn’t just want to listen to candy-ass music. People were little bit different, a little bit of a counter culture. For ratings online and things like that magazines are doing it for gossip, and doing it for that big headline, and to make so many people click on it and read it and just like most everything else in all our planet right now, the truth isn’t what’s important.
The truth isn’t what’s important, it’s just the headline that makes people come and look at it.
I have noticed that the headlines are always drawing the people’s attention and then they are all checking out the headlines, then make own conclusion,but they don’t read that whole news or story around it. It goes a little bit out of hand after all.
Yeah. Absolutely. It becomes sensationalized and the real story isn’t interesting. What’s only interesting is if there was a conflict with another person and we can sensationalize it, and that’s just for pride. We’re metal-heads, I really honestly thought that we were better than this. I really thought metal-heads were not just another extension of pop culture, but really honestly by being a headline grabbing entity and by being a person that just wants to see the headline, and only wants to go read about something for gossip – you’re just like the rest of pop culture. You might as well just start listening to Kanye West and actually that’s probably on me because I don’t fucking know.
I don’t know a lot about Pop, but you might as well just start listening to that, watching TV ten hours a day and just buy the stuff they’re selling you because you’re not really as different as you kind of thought you were. I don’t know. I really wish that the metal journalists -And, I don’t mean any offence for any individual whatever – I really wish that metal would see it for what it truly is, a counter culture and I mean, to do things the same way the rest of the Pop world does things makes absolutely no sense to me and it’s a counter culture.
Talking about the social media; when you released the new song, “Pride Of The Little Arms” and it was immediately on the social media. Did you pay attention to what people though about the song or did you just close your eyes ?
Honestly, every single album that I’ve been a part of with Morbid Angel, when the album comes out the first reaction is always a weird reaction and it’s something I’ve never understood because Morbid Angel’s different on every album. Morbid Angel has always stretched the boundaries. When you’re the person that’s defining a genre, like in the past, when you’re defining a genre, it’s up to you to decide where that genre goes. It can either just stay the same thing this many years, or you can possibly make music that is new and fresh and Morbid Angel is always trying to something fresh. I’m not saying that it happens with every single song, every single album, or whatever, what I’m saying is that Morbid Angel is never trying to sit still and do exactly what they did before because it’s safe.
Trey is not, he’s not your average person. He’s not your pop culture guy, he’s the complete total polar opposite of that. I’m not quite the polar opposite, but I’m pretty far off myself. When we’re creating things, we’re not creating things thinking about what anybody else is doing, or creating things thinking about a trend, we’re not creating things thinking about what the last album was or the album before that. I mean, or anything like that. I mean, people always compare. People need to compare. So when someone says is it like or is it like GATEWAYs or is it like FORMULAS or something,It’s hard to say yes or no because Trey and I are involved. Trey wrote most of the songs just like he did those other things and I mean, there’s going to be similarities. Is it like the last album? Not really, but there’s different people involved and I mean, when you get different people, you get a different outcome.
When you started working together, how did you share what Trey was doing and what you were doing? Did you have some kind of mutual agreement about that – did you bring some input in the music writing?
I wrote as well. Coming in, it wasn’t really intentional and it wasn’t something that we talked about. We did a little bit. Trey asked me if I had anything I wanted to use or if I wanted to write any songs and at the time, actually I told him, “Man, you know what? Just go on and write dude. Just go ahead and write and I’ll write lyrics and if I have something that comes along that I want to contribute, if I start writing something, if I’m inspired, I’ll show it to you.” That’s really how we went into it and in the end, I wrote three songs, Trey wrote, I think eight songs. I wrote all the lyrics for all the songs, which sometimes Trey used in the past those written lyrics, but not on this album. He didn’t really feel he wanted to. I’m writing all the lyrics, so I had a plenty of stuff to do myself. I mean 11 songs is a lot of songs. Albums that I’ve been on, we done maybe eight or nine actual songs and the rest are Segway’s, instrumentals, things like that. Well, this album has nothing at all. It’s all songs, you know 11 songs, it was a lot to do. It was a lot to handle. so I had my tape for months on end with just writing all the songs.
How does a Morbid Angel song come together nowadays, because you and Trey are doing that? When writing a song, do you jam on your own and then putting ideas together as songs have to sound like Morbid Angel?
In the end it has to be a Morbid Angel song. You’re correct. I mean, there’s no questioning that. So literally, even if I’m writing a song, if I’ve written a song, every time, every day that I work on that song usually – Well maybe not every single day, but regularly – I’ll say, “Hey Trey, check this out”. What do you think?” If Trey doesn’t like the song, it’s not going to be a part of Morbid Angel, it’s that simple. In my opinion Trey is Morbid Angel. Morbid angel was Trey’s dream and Trey was very a young kid,very much a teenager it was his dream. It was a dream that he turned into a reality and he had going for over 30 years. I mean Trey is Morbid Angel in my opinion.
Every album’s been different. On GATEWAYS, Trey and I wrote songs together. I would write a part and I would go over to Trey’s house and show it to Trey. I’d bring him a tape of it or a CD probably at the time. I don’t even remember, but we would go back and forth like that. Trey would write stuff and give it to me. There ended up being a lot of songs that were mixed up and a lot of songs that were a combination of both myself and Trey, with Trey doing most of the arranging. We’ve done it all kinds of different ways. I’ve written whole songs, I’ve written pieces of songs. We’ve done it all kinds of different ways. It’s never a planned thing, it’s just how it comes out.
When we are speaking about the lyrics, in my opinion, Morbid Angel always had a strong bond with the music itself, but do you think that people are more fascinated or obsessed about the music or the lyrics of the band?
I think everyone has an opinion on what Morbid Angel should or should not be. I think all fans do and some of that comes with the fact that the band’s been around for 20 years. I think other bands like Cannibal Corpse – If Cannibal Corpse does anything different than what they standardly do, people lose their fucking mind. All of a sudden, Cannibal Corpse isn’t the same.
They do that with Morbid too, “Oh my God, they’ve failed us. They’ve failed us. Oh my God, they’ve…” Or, “Yes man, this makes me happy,“ and, the truth of the matter is. You asked me earlier do I look at what people have to say about it, I don’t and the reason I don’t look at it is because I plain and I simply know that the first people that are putting shit of the Internet, the first person who posts… I mean, a Cannibal Corpse song, or the first person who posts a new Morbid Angel song, it is never without fail that they always are the person saying, “Oh, I’m disappointed, but here’s a new post.” They’re starting to get -They’re the cool fucker who’s too cool to even like something. Yet they’ve got to be the cool guy that puts it up first. They’ve got to be the first person to have it up even if they’re saying that it sucks.
So, I don’t pay much attention to. If everybody on the internet obviously is saying something terrible, then it’s likely that it’s terrible. I mean, that like the truth is that all I see on the internet anyway are fights. All I see is disagreements and arguments. This guy saying that this is wrong and this guy saying that’s wrong and then… That’s all I see, so to be honest with you, as I said before, it’s a podium for idiots and it’s a podium for starting conflicts, so it’s not very interesting.
Erik Rutan was behind the desk. Did you have some kind of meeting with him that before starting working in the studio to talk about how the new album is supposed to sound because the previous album got little bit different kind of opinions from the fans ?
Well, it wasn’t necessary to kind of have a meeting with Erik because I talk to Erik regularly. Erik’s my personal friend. We played in a band together, of course. We’ve worked together, of course, but beside that, you take all of the music away and you take everything else away and Erik Rutan will still be my friend and I would still be his friend. I mean, if he needed help with something, I would help him if I possibly could and he will do the same thing for me. We’re really friends. We talk and we were talking. Erik was around the entire time. Erik was around when this all started happening and I mean, it all started happening with him coming back to the band and things like that. I was talking to Erik again. I even spoke with Erik. He was Erik always. So I talked to Erik about it and he gave his personal opinion because he’s my friend and I trust the man’s opinion because he has a very good opinion. He’s a very level-headed guy.
So of course, I talked to him about it, and of course when we’re talking we start to get into, “Oh man, the next album’s gonna be great.” If anybody knows what Morbid Angel should sound like, because he’s been in the rehearsal room and on stage with Morbid Angel so many times, it’s Erik Rutan. He knows exactly what the guitar tone is. Erik has a very keen ear, man. He can pull up an amp just like Trey’s and dial in Trey’s sound and be really, really close to Trey’s sound without ever listening to anything else. He’s very good at it. So, he knows what Morbid Angel should sound like. He knows what Morbid Angel sounds like when Morbid Angel rehearses and when Morbid Angel’s on a stage and that’s what Morbid Angel truly sounds like. He knows that and that’s what we we’re going for. That was the sound that we wanted for the album.
In a rehearsal room with Morbid or whatever Morbid Angel is going to encompass it – It’s very powerful, and it’s very thick, and big, and heavy, and intense. So, I mean, getting that on the tape then It’s difficult. Look at all the albums – I mean look at them all… Through the years, look at all the albums and I can go back and I can pinpoint one that, “Oh man, the sound on this one, I just can’t stand it, or this one is, it’s that and the other.” It’s all just a process of trying to get to the point where, the sound is what it needs to be and honestly, for me I think the sound is as close to what Morbid Angel really sound like in a room as you can possible get.
As for new guys in the band, Scott Fuller and Dan Vadim Von. How did you get these guys, did you have some kind of audition in general – How did they adjust themselves into Morbid Angel because they’re nearly 20 years younger than Trey Azagthoth and you?
Yes. Scott is, Vadim Von is not. He’s not in his 20s or something like that. He’s an older guy. Scott – To be honest with you, it’s one of those things where I think our management was letting some people know that we were interested, I looked around, I mean when Trey and I first talked about it, there was a question, “Was Tim still going to be around or not? And, Blah, blah, blah…” And,we found out, “No, Tim’s not going to be around.” And there was a question of, “Man, it’s Morbid Angel dude, who do we want?” Not saying that we can have anybody we want, but what I’m saying that it’s like a lot of people would jump at the opportunity. A lot of people would see it as a good opportunity for them and work hard for it, so it was really about what drummer was out there? Do we really like what drummer’s out there? Are they able to commit truly to Morbid Angel? Because, this isn’t a thing – Like, I’ve done projects with people. I’ve done projects with Flo from Cryptopsy even. To do a project with Flo was absolutely fun, he’s a great drummer. I could say, “Hey, let’s call up Flo, he’s a great drummer,” but the point is we want somebody that was going to be in Morbid Angel doing all the shows, doing all the rehearsals, doing everything.
I mean, you’re now this, you’re now a part of Morbid Angel. So, that’s sort of limited because some guys. There’s some drummers out there that are in four or five bands. They’re constantly for hire. It can end up being an event where we can’t do this because, we don’t have a drummer or he’s doing something else and we didn’t like that at all. I mean, maybe that sounds selfish, but I mean this is a band that does quite a few show. When an album comes out the touring cycle starts and this band plays a lot of shows and it’s demanding. So we wanted someone that was going to be able to handle, accept, and, pull under those demands.
And, Scott came in man, and to be honest, he did a fantastic job. When we started playing with him, I realised immediately that this kid had a fantastic spirit. I mean, he’s a great drummer. Then I ended up writing some songs with him, so during that process, what we were doing was him and I would come in hours before Trey would get there and we would work on songs.
We would come in and maybe work on these songs that had rifts and we were putting beats to them, and building songs, and at that point I really got to know Scott. I really got to become friends with Scott. When you’re writing and creating with someone, you learn a lot about them really rapidly. You learn what gets on their nerves, you learn their level of frustration, how much they can take before they lose their mind, and you learn a lot of different things and so, it was a good thing for me to get to work with him that way and then when we got out on tour, honestly man, Scott totally did a very amazing job. He was fantastic and Vadim Von was also great every night.
What kind of set-list we can expect to hear from you in Europe? (The tour got cancelled ed.note)
It’s going to be mixed. I mean it will be mixed. Right now we started out because we really wanted it to do a lot of songs that we never had the opportunity to play. A lot of them ended up being songs off of the albums I was on. That doesn’t just include the albums I was on. We want to do songs that. We just haven’t played 1000 times live, whether they’re from ALTARS or whether they’re from, KINGDOMS DISDAINED. We want to mix it up and do some new songs instead of the same songs that have been played on tour, year after year, after year. Those will be included from time to time too. We’re just trying to mix it up a little bit man.
All right. Thank you for your time and doing an interview for Metal-Rules.com and I wish you an extremely great tour in Europe and hope to see you in Finland someday?
Me too, I love Finland, I did another interview with a guy in Finland. I told him I played a festival that was in Finland. It was fantastic. It’s a great country and as long as it’s summer time, I want to come there. If it’s winter time, I’ll see you guys in the summer time.
All right. Thank you for your time.
All right, man. Have a great day man.
The Official Morbid Angel Sites
MORBID ANGEL: Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR February 8, 2001 / Pic by Ice Maiden