Morbid Angel interview with Trey Azagthoth: From the Vault

Below is a cleaned-up version of an interview D.U.‘s editor conducted that appeared in Deathcheese ‘zine #1 back in 1991.

So there I was, standing at the upstairs bar of the Bayou [in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.] with the one and only Trey Azagthoth, lead/rhythm guitarist for the godly Morbid Angel, who was tuning his Gibson Flying V. The guitar resting on the bar top, he and I chatted about this and that, as I noticed the raised scars on his forearms. I wasn’t going to do my scheduled interview with Trey exactly, for I assumed I would be talking to David Vincent, the bassist and vocalist and therefore most probable spokesman for the band. But our talk kept going on and we decided to go ahead with it. Trey is a pleasant person to talk to and very passionate about his beliefs.

Deathcheese: Do you feel that people are too worried about your religious beliefs, and that your music is overshadowed by it?

Azagthoth: No. I’ll share the motive of the band with anybody, and I’m glad to, because there’s two sides of the band. There is the outward motive, and then there is the inward message, you know, the inward side.

Okay, the outward motive: The only real motive for our band is for people to do what thou wilt. For people to think and not to lump in with everybody else. In other words, make your own decisions. And don’t do things because they’re cool; do things because you honestly like them, and not just because you want to fit in, y’know, because everybody’s … got their natural place where they fit in being themselves. And nobody has to put on a front to be cool or whatever. I think that’s ridiculous.

And as far as religion, our band is the weapon against any kind of conformity organization such as, y’know, one would be Christianity here in the States. The oppression of Christianity, not the personal religion. I have nothing against anybody’s personal religion. My mom’s a Christian; I don’t hate her just because she’s a Christian. But, see, she doesn’t oppress me with it. She doesn’t sit there and tell me that I’m wrong. She understands that I have my way and she has her way, and I respect her way and she respects my way.

So, basically Morbid Angel just stands for: be your own master, and, y’know, just live your own life, and don’t worry about what Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks about you. You worry about what you think about you.

Yeah. With King Diamond, no one ever talks to him about his music. They always ask him, “Are you really a Satanist?” and all that.

Yeah, but I don’t know anything about King Diamond. I’m not impressed with him. I don’t like his music. I think his music’s pretty lame.

I was going to ask if you would be better off not doing the Abominations of Desolation album, since it didn’t work out?

Yes, for a debut album, it wasn’t up to our standards, and I learned a lot from that. Basically, the drumming and the bass playing, there just wasn’t a good overall timing. And a debut album is gonna mark you for life. If you release something and everybody hears it, then that’s their first impression, so it was not good enough for a first impression. So we didn’t release it. We just, y’know, let it slide as a demo.

I guess the music was good, since you still use the material.

Oh yeah, it wasn’t that the music was bad. It was just that it wasn’t executed properly, it wasn’t played properly. Basically all the songs are pretty much the same. Any ones that we updated, we just added timing and a bit more conviction in the drums and stuff. And we all got better as musicians as we kept practicing anyways.

So the new album is like how the Abominations of Desolation would have been. See, the Altars of Madness came out and we ended up speeding up a lot of stuff, and in some way it lost a little bit of the feeling that was in the slower tracks as they got faster. But now, the Blessed Are The Sick is, like, the perfect, um, combination of new stuff with the old feeling. So, yeah, that’s basically what Blessed Are The Sick is.

Okay. Do you mind being labeled as a Florida band? Like, “Morbid Angel, they’re from the Florida scene.”

No. I mean, I don’t like that at all. We have our own scene, and we’re not a part of anybody else’s scene. We form our own scene, and there’s really no bands out there that I would want to be compared with, because I’ve met the individuals in these bands that are supposedly death metal bands, and I just think they’re a bunch of kids. And I don’t think they’re really musically, um [pause] they don’t have a magic, I’ll put it that way.

There’s a few bands, like, Nocturnus is a great band. Carcass is a band that’s got a lot of good ideas, and they need a little bit of work in some areas. And, y’know, Possessed, on their first album, was a great band, I thought. But a lot of these other bands, I think that they’re kind of a dime a dozen.

If you had to put yourselves into some sort of metal music category, what do you think that would be?

I would say Morbid Angel will always be a death metal band. Death metal to me is the most extreme form of metal or music. But our band has a classical feeling to it also. So it’s death metal with a gothic, classical feel.

Cool. You guys tune to standard, don’t you?

No, it’s D, uh, one step down. D …

D sharp.

Yeah, one fret down from standard.

Why did you decide to tune down?

Basically, the overall pitch of an E [Azagthoth picked the guitar string], of an E string, chopping an E, a normal E is a little bit, um [pause] it’s just the, well, you know how the different pitches come across with a different frequency, which’ll give you a different feeling, y’know what I’m saying? Like, different keys, it’s, um [pause] music is all frequencies. Everything has got a little frequency to it. Everything is moving, all the molecules are moving, and the frequency [pause] basically it’s for the frequency. I can’t explain any better than that. I like chopping a D# or whatever it is better than an E. It had a more evil feel.

Do you figure if you tune down more, to, like, a C or something, then you’ll get more of that tone? Or is it fine where it is?

Well, right now up to date, it’s fine where it is. But for the third full-length album, for something which won’t be out for another year or whatever, we will do different tunings for different songs, just to expand.

And have a guitar in each setting.

Right, right. See, ‘cause our band, um, always likes to grow and never stay in one level. And myself as a writer, I feel like I’ve covered as much ground as I can with this tuning. And once you change your pitch, then it’s a whole new guitar almost, y’know, because you can [pause] basically, yeah, I’m gonna be writing songs in different pitches on the third album, and that way just add more variety.

“I say stab the system. I say fuckin’ take an Uzi 9mm and just blast the system.”

You know those parental advisory stickers they put on the albums?

Yeah, PMRC kinda crap.

What do you have to say about those? What’s your opinion?

Well, my opinion is, any kind of that’s crap, ‘cause that’s censorship, and that’s against the Constitution. But what can one say, y’know? It’s like, basically you’re always gonna have the Christians. The Christians and the moral majority always have the loudest voice. I don’t believe in any kind of censorship. I feel that everyone should have the freedom to choose what is right for them. I feel that if somebody wants to listen to death metal, then they’re responsible enough for their actions.

Basically, it’s like, the parents should scold their kids. If their kids are gonna get brainwashed by this music, then that’s a parental problem. That’s not a problem by the artists, y’know? Because if you want to start censoring stuff, then you should censor movies, you should censor literature. Because you could read a book, and that could influence you to commit a murder just as, y’know, Ozzy Osbourne or whatever, like these people say. And that thing about Judas Priest, that’s bullshit. If anybody gets influenced by music to do something, well, that was in them anyways. That seed of that problem was in them anyways. And if it wasn’t this band bringin’ it out, then a movie could have brought it out, or a news program or something could make somebody snap. If anybody’s gonna snap, they’re gonna snap regardless of what snaps ‘em.

Do you write everything, or does the whole band?

As far as the music, like, for the latest album, I wrote all of the riffs, and did the majority of the arranging. And, um, as far as all the new songs, David writes all the lyrics, and when he’s gonna add his lyrics, then sometimes the arrangement will change a little bit to accompany his lyrics. But I sit down and in my head I write the whole song, music and drums and everything, and then I come with our drummer, Pete [Sandoval], and I relate to him what kind of beats I want. And then sometimes he comes up with something better than what I thought of. But usually when I write a riff, I’ve already got a drum beat in mind. So, in other words, I sit there and I write all the music, yeah.

And then everyone else has their input.

Right. I don’t write Richard [Brunelle]’s guitar solos. I mean, of course that’s his full creative there, but as far as the rhythms, yeah, I have a style, and I just come up with it.

How was it for you to be the only Americans to be on the original Grindcrusher tour? Did you feel that you were out of your territory?

No, because we’re very popular in Europe, and some shows we were much more popular than Napalm Death was. But I’m not saying that in any kind of smart-ass way. In other words, Napalm Death had already toured these places, and, y’know, people said, “Well, I’ve already seen Napalm Death. We came to see you guys this time.” So, basically, that was it, and we’ve always had a good following in Europe from the demos and stuff that we’ve sent over.

Have you been picketed at shows a lot?

Picketed? We’ve been picketed mostly in Houston, Texas, man. The Christians, they just were shocked, y’know? They couldn’t believe that there was such an abomination coming through their town.

Do you get a kick out of it?

Well, I mean, to me it’s just so stupid. Why can’t they just fuckin’ keep their shit in their church, you know what I mean? Why do they have to bother me with it? I don’t think the way they do. And I sure as hell don’t beat down their church doors with my music.

Yeah. Well, that’s about it.

Alright, man.

Just one more thing, though. Do you have anything to say to the fans that’ll read the ‘zine when it comes out?

Well, basically, I want people to understand that we don’t promote devil worship. We don’t promote any kind of one way. We do not try to dictate to anyone how to do their thing. The only message that Morbid Angel has is for people to be themselves. And, y’know, everybody has got a great person inside of them, and everybody is different, and everybody has a natural, um [pause] a natural height that they can achieve naturally. And somebody could come in there and try to bother and suffocate that person. Like Christianity and stuff, they try and suffocate you. And a lot of political people, they don’t want people to think. They want people to just follow the system. Well, I say stab the system. I say fuckin’ take an Uzi 9mm and just blast the system, whatever. [laughs]

So eventually Morbid Angel made its way onto the stage and played an amazing set, opening with “Immortal Rites” and playing plenty of new material [and songs] such as “Lord of All Fevers and Plague” and “Evil Spells.” Actually, that particular song had an interesting introduction courtesy of David Vincent. He dedicated the track, the last one of the night, to “Evil” Chuck Schuldiner, and warned that Chuck should keep his eyes open, for if David ever saw him, he’d steal Chuck’s soul. ■

Related: Check out our additional coverage of Morbid Angel, as well as our interview with David Vincent in archive ‘zine issue #2, page 26, also from 1991.

Read more old-school content in our From the Vault section.


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