Morbid Angel is one of the most well known Death Metal bands in the world, with a long and storied history. Founded in 1983, they are considered to be one of the most influential and emulated bands in the genre with their first four albums considered classics. They were at the forefront of the development of the Death Metal sound from its Thrash roots. Over 30 years later the band are still very popular, producing new music and touring internationally. However this story has not been without its strife. Internal strife has led to several line-up changes over the years with bassist and vocalist Steve Tucker back for his third stint with the band. This reunion led to the release of their latest album, ‘Kingdoms Disdained,’ being released late last year. The band are currently engaged in a successful international tour in support of the well-received album. In support of ‘Kingdoms Disdained,’ Tucker sat down for an interview with us to discuss the past, present and future of Morbid Angel.
Tucker’s return to the band has been the talk of fans and critics since the band announced it. Tucker had left the band twice before amongst rumours of discord. This discord appears to be a thing of the past and the new album has been heralded as a return to form. The current line-up appears to be working well for the band creatively. So what exactly led to Tucker’s return to Morbid Angel? “What really led to me to come back to the band more than anything is, at this point, it is part of my history and I am part of the band’s history. Trey (Azagthoth) called me up and asked me if I wanted to make more songs. I left the band (previously) because the timing was not good to be in the band, and when he called me the timing was perfect for me to come back to the band. It was really about making music man, I always loved the music that Trey and I made and really when you break it down to the bottom that was what was important to me.”
So in the end it was the music that led to this reunion. But what about the creative process that leads to the final product? Any creative process can have a multitude of influences, ranging from the abstract the mundane. But what inspires Morbid Angel and their unique brand of Death Metal? In particular, what influences led to the music and themes encapsulated in ‘Kingdoms Disdained?’ “Making the albums is always a timely thing. A stamp of a certain amount of time you know? It just so happens in this album, for me personally, some of the things in this album that were sparking my creativity was really the unrest in the world. The election was going on in the United States which was a big deal. The rest of the world seemed to have an opinion on it constantly. It was a lot of hatred going around. I think that really inspired a lot of the topics on the album.”
These highly charged events did help to create a sound and feel to the music that was unique and timely. The recent American election was a hot subject in the international news circuit, with the resultant political landscape still a daily news item. The band’s fans would also have been subjected to the media coverage of these events. Perhaps the topical subjects within the album have helped fans connect with the music? “Well I think the audience is going through the same exact things were going through while we are making the album. (They live in the) world that I live in so obviously they are dealing with the same exact subjects and maybe they are dealing with that subject in Europe or South America or in Australia or something. But they are still dealing with the same situation seeing the same insane media and things like that. So I think that makes it probably very easy to relate to the topics on this album.“
As previously mentioned, the album has been lauded as a return to form and has received positive reviews. The current tour has been extremely successful and shows no signs of slowing down. But the shadow of previous tensions still looms. Is the tension that has led to the line-up changes, and Tucker leaving before, truly in the past? Extensive touring can lead to further tensions, with members spending a lot of time together on the road living in each other’s pockets. How is the current tour going and are the members of Morbid Angel still getting along? “Morbid Angel is a band that’s always been crazy, there’s always been a lot of craziness around the band. It just is. I don’t know why that is. When you are in a band it is like being in three simultaneous relationships. You know, we have to be on the same page. If people have problems at home or in other parts of their life, it affects the band. There are always a lot of crazy things, especially for a band like us that does as much work as we do. Some bands they do an album and a tour then three year later do it again. That’s not how Morbid works. We used to tour and play music all the time as well as creating music so that causes issues. But right now it seems to be going great.”
Despite the upheaval over the years, Morbid Angel have certainly created a legacy, going from a new band starting out to international fame. They have influenced many bands that have also gone on to become household names. Tucker joined the band when they had already achieved success. Does Tucker ever feel pressure to live up to this legacy? “I think I am somewhat a part of the Morbid Angel legacy at this time. Eight years in the band earlier and now I have come back. For me, I put so much pressure on myself to try and achieve things. I don’t think there is any outside pressure. It really is just about what we want to do and what we want to create. To be honest Morbid has stuck to being Morbid Angel. It doesn’t follow trends. For a long time Morbid Angel were the trend! Now of course there are much younger bands now and trends change. And Morbid Angel may change, (but we are) the band that I think we were always meant to be.” This certainly sounds positive for those who may have been concerned about the future of the band. Which begs the question: what does the future hold for Morbid Angel? Should we expect another album in the future? “I think there is everything to come. I think we are just now starting to tour this album, the album came out three months ago. We had some setbacks starting the tour cycle for ’Kingdoms Disdained.’ We’ll do extensive touring for it, and then I’m sure there will be a small break or something, then make a new album and do the same thing again. No one’s even considering stopping at this point, no one’s even considering it.”
This is excellent news for their legions of fans. But of course we must ask what the Australian contingent wish to know! Are there plans for an Australian tour? Is this a possibility? “I think it’s a possibility. I think, with what my understanding is, there is a large Metal scene in Australia. And for us to come to Australia, it’s a pretty big ticket. It’s a pretty big price to come over there, as far as flying everyone over there. I think in other areas, in that part of the world, there seems to be a market for this music. I am positive that we will tour this time.” Clearly the band wish to tour here! Should the call be put out to promoters to get in touch? “I think that would help, I think that would help!” he laughs.
The future looks bright for Morbid Angel, who show no signs of stopping. But what about for Tucker himself? What does the future hold for the frontman now that he has returned to the band? What are his plans going forward creatively? “For me? I’m really happy right now. I’m really happy with Morbid Angel and really happy with what we are doing. I don’t want to make any changes right now. I don’t have any desire to make any changes moving forward. The one thing that I want to do is make music with as many people as I possibly can. I mean at some point we all die. And when I die I want to know I had as much enjoyment doing what I love, as much as I could. The thing in my life that has always been amazing is music. So I would like to be a part of creating music with a many different people as I possibly can.”
GET YOUR HANDS ON MORBID ANGEL’S ‘KINGDOMS DISDAINED’ HERE!