Morbid Angel frontman's take on music: "I don't really look at labels. I like good music"
Formed in Tampa -- the home of death metal -- in 1984, Morbid Angel (due Friday, November 22, at the Bluebird Theater) may not have put out the subgenre's founding document (an honor generally bestowed on Possessed's 1985 masterpiece, Seven Churches), but it can rightfully be considered one of its pioneers.
The group's own debut album, 1989's nightmarish Altars of Madness, proved very influential; Trey Azagthoth's aggressive, slashing guitar style and technical yet creative leads can be heard in the sonic DNA of countless death-metal and thrash bands that followed in its wake. Morbid Angel enjoyed some breakthrough commercial success with 1993's Covenant.
This year, Morbid Angel is touring with a show performing that pummeling storm of an album in its entirety -- a gift to old fans and a reminder to younger fans of the roots of an enduring and consistently creative style of music. We recently spoke with the cordial and gracious David Vincent, the band's long time vocalist and bassist, about how he really got into playing bass, why he appreciates performances of classic material by bands he admires and his unexpected Colorado connection with electronic musician and traveling soundman Chase Dobson.
Westword: Presumably you've been playing bass for a long time. Who were your inspirations early on?
David Vincent: Wow. Mel Schacher from Grand Funk Railroad. Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper's band. Geezer Butler, of course. And then Chris Squire, Steve Harris, later on. Fun stuff.
Those guys are all completely different from each other, so what is the connection you see between them?
They are. But it's living it. It's note choice. It's sort of not necessarily background type stuff. It's integral, and it's something I heard because I have a really low voice. So naturally, I gravitated toward how low you can go.
How did you get involved with what would become the death metal and heavy metal thing in Tampa?
You know, that's a much longer story than what we can [talk about today in short]. I think it was everything. The stars aligned. Obviously everybody goes through it. You meet people, you have this in common with this person but not with another, and it was a question of getting the right team together.
How did you get into playing bass?
I actually played the upright first in the school orchestra type stuff. But, truth be told, I wasn't really serious about it then. There was a girl I liked that played viola, and I thought it was a good way to get out of class and hang out with her. That's the truth. Why else would I lug this huge thing around. It was difficult to get on the school bus and everything else. It was a two quarter but still huge for a kid.
What got you interested in Sumerian mythology before you wrote Blessed Are the Sick?
Well, I'm interested in all sort of left hand path thoughts. You know, whether it's from the Lovecraftian point of view, or whether it's more from the Crowley end of things, or the LeVey end of things. There's a lot of different schools of thought, and there are things that aren't schools of thought so much as things that have been traditional and put together in an easy-to-understand box. Then there are philosophers who discuss different things and opine on different things and find ways of incorporating things that lead back to the same thing. It's personal empowerment along with some horror and dark imagery. But it adds an awful lot of entertainment to it.
What sparked your interest in the Roman Empire, and what about it fascinated you the most?
I think it was a very advanced pre-Christian society that in mind put value on things that I would find value in, and it extinguished that which had no value. Sure, there's good and bad in any culture, but it was always something that intrigued me as a kid. Anything I look at, I look at it first factually and then fantastical. When I combine the two, I create an imaginative story for myself that I can live within my mind and find creativity and inspiration from.