INTERVIEW: David Vincent of Morbid Angel
SoCalMusicToday.com caught up with Morbid Angel main man David Vincent prior to the bands performance at The Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on Friday November 29 to discuss their current tour which celebrates the 20th Anniversary of their 1993 masterpiece Covenant which they are playing live in its entirety. Check back soon for a full live review and photo gallery of the Morbid Angel show on www.socalmusictoday.com.
Happy Black Friday – did you get all your early morning door-buster shopping done?
I did not . . . I am recuperating from a couple nights of being hung-over and a food coma from yesterday (Thanksgiving Day).
Being out on tour during Thanksgiving did you do anything special for the holiday?
Well Yes. At the hotel we stayed at last night they did have a full buffet with all the trimmings. I don’t usually eat that way out on tour but I figured why not.
You are currently about ¾ of the way through the 20th Anniversary Tour celebrating the release of 1993’s Covenant album which you are playing in its entirety – how is the tour going to date?
It’s going well, it’s going really well. The level of enthusiasm has been off the chart the meters have been in the red . . . and that’s so cool. I think about where I was 20yrs ago but I look out and see people in their 20’s and I’m thinking man you guys were in diapers when this album came out. Also I am seeing parents bring their kids to the shows. The other night in San Francisco there was this little kid that kept getting launched over the barrier and in the middle of the show I said “hey what are you guys doing to this kid” and this really big guy yells out “this is my kid brother and this is his first death metal show” and I’m like alright cool and I’m looking at the kid and he wasn’t even born yet when the album came out.
This whole celebration gives me some positive reflections on what we have done. At this point the album has touched many different generations and for that I can only be thankful.
How did the idea come up to do a tour to celebrate Covenant?
Well one being it is the 20th anniversary of the album. I would say this was a pivotal record for us but honestly they all have been pivotal. This was the first record on a major label as part of the Warner Bros family and we just had a really good team . . . this was the record that just opened up so many new opportunities for Morbid Angel. We have never done anything like this; we have never done a themed tour (except for Altars of Madness as that was the only release for us at the time) this is just a great way to celebrate the material by playing it in its entirety then adding a sprinkling of other classic tracks at the end.
Does playing the entire album live pose any challenges?
I am surrounded by excellent musicianship so there is no challenges – definitely not any challenges.
Do you have any distinct memories of making Covenant back in 1992? Did you know you had created something special?
You know everything we do is special . . . that is so subjective. It’s hard for me to be objective on these things. We are so introverted when it comes to our creativity; we never concern ourselves with what others are doing we only focus on what we are we doing and that’s why I think we don’t sound like anyone else and have been so successful.
How did the album cover for Covenant come about?
It was kind of a collaboration between the band and our label Earache Records (our UK label) and we wanted to put together something indicative of a pact and that pact being our way of doing things and the strength and deliberateness behind our creative intent . . . it’s a lot of symbolism but I think it’s spot-on for what we were looking for.
Were the written pages included in the album cover from a specific book?
I have that book in fact (The Book of Ceremonial Magic) . . . yes its various ceremonial magic musings from times past.
Tonight you are playing at the Fonda Theater. Has Morbid Angel ever played the Fonda before? Is the approach any different to the live show when you are playing a familiar venue vs a new venue?
No sir we have never played here. Well we do what we do and tweak the sound to give the people the best show possible – it’s that simple.
On this tour you do not have any other national touring acts as opening bands. Local Death Metal bands are performing as the openers in each city. I think that is a great way to give exposure to up and coming death metal bands. How did that decision come about and how involved were you personally in that decision? Tonight there is a great local band playing – Abysmal Dawn.
Yes we were involved in that decision. It’s still very hard to get noticed these days. Look if there’s already a four band touring package and then you throw in one or two local bands, the doors have to open early and the only ones that see them play are their friends and family and they are not playing for the bulk of the crowd. This gives them an opportunity to play to the larger audience. Most of the bands I have spoken to on this tour have been very thankful that we would do this and it’s giving back to the underground scene that has allowed us to get where we are.
Nile had done the same thing earlier this year with allowing local death metal bands to open their shows . . .
Well Nile and Morbid Angel have the same management and the concept worked and worked well so we said let’s do that. It’s a great idea and a good way to pass the torch to the people that are in the position we were in 25 years ago. Nile is also a great band and good friends of ours.
Let’s talk about technology for a moment . . . What’s it like to be onstage rocking out at 110% and look out into the crowd and just see a sea of cell phones up in the air either taking photos or videos ?? I know from my side in the crowd it is very annoying and distracting.
The thoughts I have on this are that people are just trying to make a name for themselves by putting up live shows on their own youtube channel or social media site . . . it kind of ruins the show for other people . . . give people a chance to buy a ticket and see the show for themselves. I have never been a fan of that stuff. I wish people would be a little more into the moment and just enjoy the show. Unfortunately it’s the kind of world we live in these days . . . cell phones everywhere and short attention spans.
In addition to the Covenant album you are also playing several other Morbid Angel classics to end the show including the Steve Tucker era “Ageless Still I Am”, “Bil Ur-Sag” and “Curse the Flesh”. How/why did you choose those two songs versus any other Steve Tucker era songs?
Well it’s simple . . . I asked Trey what songs do you want to do and he said let’s do those so I said OK let’s do them. I do those songs a bit different than Steve did them just like he did my songs a bit different than I did. Hey, it’s part of the history of the band.
Death Metal has a very guttural and abrasive vocal style. Has that become any easier or harder with age? Do you have any special routines while on tour to keep your voice healthy?
Well the main thing is keeping yourself hydrated . . . and not just on whiskey. Sometimes in these dry air environments – that bothers me. I live in a lung (Tampa, FL) and humidity is my friend. Dry, dusty and polluted is not my friend although it’s raining abit today so that has calmed down some of that stuff. Basically just drink lots of water and make sure I get proper rest and I’m usually good with that.
You have your own signature bass (the DEMONATOR) made by Dean Guitars. How did that relationship with Dean Guitars come about and how much input do you have on the instrument itself?
I was very, very hands-on with that. From the shape, type of wood, type of electronics, spacing of the pickups, the balance every little aspect of the design was a complete collaboration. Originally they were just going to make instruments for me but after the owner saw it he said to me we need to make this available to the public and I said “sure let’s do it”. It just worked out where they offered to make anything I wanted so we just made it work. I’ve known the guys at Dean Guitars for a long time and we just did it.
A lot of bands are putting out live DVD’s these days. Any chance we will see one from this Covenant tour and if not any future plans to do a live DVD?
We have discussed it; we don’t have anything to announce right now but it has been discussed.
Would you ever consider doing a “Big Four of Death Metal Tour” . . . say Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Deicide or something like that?
Well . . . you are not the first person to ask me that question. All I can say at this point is we’ll see . . .
I have read you are a “Hot-Rodder”? That you like to build engines and cars. I am assuming that is a hobby of yours . . . can you elaborate on what that is all about?
Yes it is a hobby. I enjoy late 60’s and early 70’s muscle cars. I think those cars are gorgeous, I am a car enthusiast and I have not seen anything coming out of Detroit that makes me very enthusiastic about new cars today. Being a car enthusiast is what makes me happy.
So do you collect cars, build them, help out friends with cars?
All of the above, it’s really a space issue with cars. I have a couple now and I do everything myself. I build my own motors. There is quite a sense of accomplishment when you have a bare piece of steel or iron that is completely dis-assembled and putting it together with all these high performance parts that are supposed to fit together so easily but never do and putting it all back together then getting in the car and turning the key and hearing it run. That feeling of accomplishment is second to none.
What’s next for Morbid Angel in 2014? Any new album plans, new tours, etc?
I have so many plans for 2014 . . . I am just trying to get this year over with because 2014 has a lot going on . . . but I can’t talk about any of it at this point in time.