This is an early interview from Grimoire of Exalted Deeds Issue #4. conducted by Bill Zebub
Do you wish to explain the line-up change?
With Erik, you mean?
Well, yeah… Richard left the band and we had to replace him. We had known Erik from Ripping Corpse as well as we’ve been friends with him for years. We asked him if he’d like to do some touring with us, and he accepted. After that, he worked out well. It was a natural choice.
There is a rumor that when Ripping Corpse was not yet signed…Earache Records was interested in them, and you told Earache that you did not want them on the label.
It was spread.
Well, people have nothing better to do, obviously. Why would I not want them to get signed? That’s, like, asinine.
You were jealous and afraid that they were going to blow you away.
I just like to address rumors.
You’ll find more rumors about our band than any other band because people have nothing better… if these people spent half as much time worrying about writing good music and, like, making something of themselves besides fools, everybody would be better off.
Lyrically, I heard that you are trying to be more open-minded and a nice guy.
What do you mean?
Some ‘zines are saying your lyrics are weaker. What was going on when you were writing words for this album?
I was angry. I was trying to show relationships between what’s truly oppressive and what truly needs to be squashed, on a tangible form, what you could actually put in your hand, as opposed to… you know, pie-in-the-sky relationships which, you know, people, without actually coming out and spelling it out… there’s some times when people are really clueless. “Do I live for Satan, or do I live for myself and draw power from where whatever power-names or power-thoughts need to be used for the specific purpose at hand?” Now the point is, is that anger and violence and brutality is all weapons of the dark side. Whether… if somebody picks that up, then they do. If they don’t, then they’re not very astute.
How do you feel about the whole black metal thing? Do you disdain those people?
Do I disdain who?
A bunch of poser Satanists calling LaVeyans the posers. How do you feel about that?
Well, we had a talk about laVey when I went up there, and I think that they saw what my reasons were for embracing LaVey, and even though that we don’t agree on LaVey, they felt like what I had to say about him was valid.
So out of all the Satanic philosophies, would you say that you agree most with LaVey?
No. I tell you I agree mostly with myself, and I probably could pick and choose, and maybe have some similarities with a whole number of different people.
Are there any forms of the occult that you do not condone or accept?
There’s probably a lot of different forms that I don’t… that I don’t practice myself.
You had bones on your tour bus many years ago, and you were busted for grave-robbing. Is this true?
Well, we weren’t busted for grave-robbing. We were busted for carrying illegal guns. They did confiscate the bones that we had, and they tries to run tests on them because they thought we might have killed these people. We got arrested. But it was right after that silly Geraldo Rivera Satanic special, and we knew that they were looking to make a sacrificial lamb out of somebody. They tried to expand on that. But they had to drop all the charges and everything. They were completely baseless.
So how did you get the bones?
That’s neither here nor there.
But the fact is, you did have them.
Well, we had a human skull.
Isn’t that illegal in the United States?
Um… I don’t know.
You did not get busted for having one? Do you still have it?
No. They kept it for testing.
I heard that you were interviewed live on the air over the phone by a female d.j. who asked you what your favorite cereal was, and you started chanting a spell. Is this true?
I did what?
Supposedly, this girl asked silly questions to see how uptight her guests are. She asked you what your favorite cereal was, and you started cursing her.
No, no, no. (pauses) Who knows?
Could that have possibly happened? Do you blow up on people?
I’ve done many interviews and, quite frankly, if somebody says something stupid, I usually say something more stupid just to illustrate the stupidity.
Lovecraft had a place in your lyrics.
Absolutely. He still does. Well, I mean, he’s the greatest Sci-Fi horror writer that ever lived. Of course, with that type of strength, it’s gonna have some kind of impact on somebody that walls a similar path.
Do you acknowledge, though, that the Necronomicon, as presented by Lovecraft, is a work of fiction?
Well, I’m not going to answer that question because I have to agree with a statement in order to answer it, and I don’t agree with that statement. The whole Sumerian religion – that’s the actual religion of ancient Babylon. There are actual temples built for Pazuzu and et cetera in the area that is now Iraq, and it’s a very real belief. Because Lovecraft based a lot of his shorts on various entities and sub-entities of this religion doesn’t do anything besides give power to it. It doesn’t take power away.
Ripping Corpse was thanked on the album as a stepping stone. Is that an insulting thank you?
What, from Erik?
I think Erik was real happy to… I mean, he’s a very hard worker. He’s a great guitar player. He’s a very strong being. He’s a very strong entity, and yes, Ripping Corpse… it was his first band. He put out a record. He wrote a lot of songs, and he went from that. It was a stepping stone, not like he’s walking on people, but as that was part of his structure – a building block in his development. I think he was very happy with what he was doing at the time.
Your vocals have changed. On “Altars of Madness” they were very throaty. Now they are from the pit.
You know what? It’s weird. I used to smoke. I smoked probably like two and a half packs of cigarettes a day when I did “Altars…”. I quit smoking because touring was just tearing me up. I mean, I was winded. I just didn’t have the power like I felt I needed. So yeah, it’s all about development.
So it wasn’t really an influence of any of the bands you were listening to. It was just a physical reason?
Well, just like, being addicted to anything, short of sex, is completely asinine. I just woke up one day and said, “Why am I smoking” and just quit. Because of that I made a lot of other changes in my life. I tried to ween myself away from things that I saw as potentially very destructive, not only to my professional career, but, you know, it’s my health. When you’re healthy, when you have more strength, when you have more power, in addition to working on technique, you tend to grow.
If your drummer ever screwed up at a show, afterwards, you would beat the crap out of him.
You’re kidding, right?
No. I am serious. You came off the stage once at the China Club in New Jersey, and you were in a hurry. Someone from Revenant said that you were going to slam the drummer because he fucked up.
What he did was he cut himself and he was, like, bleeding all over the place, and he lost so much blood that he passed out.
See how rumors get started?
Let’s talk about, like, the new record… why my band is better than any of those other fuckin’ bands. Let’s talk about what we’re going to be doing in the future and continuing to conquer and dominate this whole scene like nobody else could ever dream of doing. And why? Because we have the fortitude. We have the conviction. We have the strength. And we have the talent. And we continue to kill ourselves, push ourselves, and pressure ourselves into delivering stronger and stronger records, better songs, a brutal show – everything about it. Because we care and because we know our fans care. They’re not gonna accept some sort of second-rate band – somebody putting out the same record over and over and over again and not touring. Let’s talk about that.
You played in Pennsylvania, at the Trocadero. That club refused to book that scene’s sickest death metal band, “Insatanity”. How do you feel about that club putting weak, low-power bands in front of yours when the local death metal bands deserve those slots?
Well, I think, whatever the local promoters do at those shows… I personally don’t book shows, so the only thing that I care about is me personally, going out on stage and delivering the goods. So whoever else plays, that’s up to them to work to get themselves on the bill. I don’t know what the mitigating factors were, one person getting booked over another one. Obviously the promoter had whatever reasons for him to do it. But I’ll tell you, the only thing I know about a how is, when it’s time for me to go up on that stage, and whatever happens before or after that, I don’t really care.
Trey once said in an interview – and I wonder if you will back him up on this – was that the notes he chooses stir the air.
Well, it’s magic. It’s pulling something out of nothing and making it have an impact that goes beyond. It’s just a tone or a note of just a passing thing. The way he writes riffs just moves people and things.
So do you believe that gates are opened in the universe?
Do you think that good comes out of these gates, or are you channeling something dark?
Well, anything is good as long as it’s harnessed and as long as it’s used to its maximum potential, whether you’re a common man who wants to see it as being good or evil… I mean, one man’s good is another man’s evil, et cetera, et cetera. It all depends on the benefits from it. But the point is that, when we set about to do something, we’re gonna use whatever means necessary in order to achieve that goal, short of dishonor.
How do you feel about skinheads… their attitude of “unity is power”, the attack of many against one. Do you find it to be cowardice or power?
Well, not being a skinhead, I can’t really, you know… I mean, they have their thing going for them. And as long as it works for them, that’s great.
Would that philosophy work for you?
What, being a skinhead?
No. the many-on-one odds. Do you see that as cowardice?
Well, I mean, if you’re… ultimately, in any kind of war, it’s who’s got
the bigger army or who has more guns. If someone’s in battle mode, which, from what I see of skinheads are on an ongoing basis, then I think it would stand to reason that the most logical thing to do is to do what they do. Self-preservation, if nothing else.
Would self-preservation be more important than honor?
They’re one and the same. I mean, you have a duty to your honor, to preserve yourself so that you can procreate yourself.
Is it true that you do not answer to any name other than “David” -that you do not like to be called a nickname?
Well, I don’t. Usually… I answer to cuss words. (pauses) What are you talking about? That’s what my name is! David! Yeah!
So a shortened version of your name wouldn’t really be accepted by you?
Like “Dave” I or something like that?
Yes. Did anyone ever say to you, “Davey Davey stick your head in gravy”?
What? (pauses) That’s not even worth answering. That’s just really stupid.
I’m sorry. I was told by Vegi from Revenant that you don’t like to be called anything else.
Well it’s weird because my mother never calls me anything else. So that’s the way I kind of grew up, although now it’s like I don’t really care. But before… if someone calls me, like, on the telephone, and my wife answers and she says, “It’s a friend of yours… says ‘Is Dave there?'” Obviously it’s not a friend of mine, is it? You know what I mean? It’s to illustrate that if someone older is such good friends with Dave from Morbid Angel, they must not be great friends because nobody calls me “Dave”.
So you are not insanely militant?
It’s a meaningless thing. It has nothing to do with music. It’s just a quirk.
You did say years ago that you would be one of the bands that would still be around.
You have to agree that there are a lot of differences between each record. Blessed is a lot different from Altars. Covenant was a lot different from Blessed. Now Dominion is a lot different from Covenant, and the next record will be equally different. We really take the time and spend the time to really go in and try to deliver something that’s not just repeating ourselves – not just rehashing, not just getting into some kind of mode and doing whatever. We really try to deliver honesty and integrity.
You have grown without weakening.
Other bands can choose to do what they wish. But our band… the death is me.
Do you expect to incorporate clean vocals or female operatic vocals?
It’s not Morbid Angel. But I do little departures in vocals, you know. I like that as well. There’s just got to be the purity of emotion. It’s not to do it just to make it sound commercial or like a ballad or whatever. It’s done to invoke a certain type of mood,
Have you made enemies?
But they don’t really mean anything to you?
That’s negative. That’s not fuel for growth. I look at things as how it’s going to take me from one point to the next.
You actually talked to Norwegians about differences?
Well, what it was, was last time we played up there, there was a bunch of interviews that wanted to be done and I didn’t feel like being redundant and answering a whole bunch of questions twice. So I told them that I just wanted to have a press conference where I just stood in front of all of them and there was seven interviewers at once, and they were asking me questions and I would answer them. There was a couple of guys from the Black Metal Mafia that were there, and they were listening to my answers. They wanted to hear what I had to say about things. Afterwards they came up and we had a good chat.
So you didn’t really walk away with any negative feelings about them or visa versa?
No, on the contrary. I think that those people really have something going up there that’s really deep. The people who are truly into it and truly are a part of it – I think it’s wonderful.
You seem to be confident about yourself.
Well, I know what’s going on with me. I don’t have any questions about myself or what I’m doing. So I mean, a lot of your questions that you’re asking me are contingent upon being effective by what little rumors or little skirmishes or little things… various interpretations from a lot of people, most of whom I may or may not know. How can any of that really have anything to do with me? Those are lines and circles that don’t intersect with mine.
How involved are you in your local scene?
There is no scene. There is only Morbid Angel, period.
So if someone gave you a demo…
When someone gives me a tape, I listen to it.
So you are not totally shut off.
In terms of a scene, a scene… what that is, is that’s like a communist thing. That means that the strong and the weak are together because they’re all part of a scene. I don’t agree with that philosophy.
What elements do you think weaken the music?
Trendiness, lack of originality, lack of creativity, lack of talent, people being more concerned with what someone else is doing rather than concentrating and spending rigorous hours that it really takes to really do something yourself, people hanging onto something because it’s all a fashionable thing – all these things destroy it.
Are you in danger of weakening from the pressure of putting out quality material release after release?
No, no. I put more pressure on myself than anyone could put on me. I don’t get pressure from the outside. I get it from the inside. I pressure myself. That’s inherent to my nature, to strive to always be the best, and to stop at nothing.
As you can tell, most of my questions were really rumors that you had the opportunity to dispel.
Yeah, but, I mean, that’s what I’m saying. That kind of stuff happens. But it really doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that means anything at all is what is tangible, what you can hold in your hand, like a record that is just crushing, that people are just loving it everywhere and that is keeping this goddamn scene, if that’s what you want to call it.. the scene alive because other people are just walking away from it as fast as they can… all these bands that used to be death metal – they’re no longer death metal now. You know what I mean? We are death metal warriors and we always will be.
So I can quote you in the future if you will put out anything that is not death metal?
Well c’mon, man! I mean, we got two records on a major label! What’s not death metal about this band? That’s what we’re all about. If we were gonna do something, it would have already happened. But yes, you can quote me on that.