September 30, 2013 Interview – David Vincent of Morbid Angel
Heavy Metal was created in the early 1980s, and with that, many sub-genres were also introduced. Built from the structures of thrash and early black metal, death metal was born in the mid-1980’s. Band’s like Slayer, Kreator, and Venom were key influences in paving the road for death metal. Emerging at the dawn of the death metal scene in the USA were bands like Possessed, Death, Obituary, and Cannibal Corpse. From Tampa, Florida, Morbid Angel emerged from the scene with a unique style, thus earning them much respect within the genre From the release of their debut album Altars of Madness (1989), to one of the most commercially successful death metal albums of all time Covenant (1993), Morbid Angel proved to be a force which could not be contained. Now, nearly 3 decades on the scene the band helped to form, Morbid Angel is still rocking harder than the younger generation. Recently, we sat down with lead vocalist/bassist David Vincent for an intimate conversation about the history of Morbid Angel, their defiance to confirm to one style, and achieving their diabolical artist visions.
Crypticrock.com – Morbid Angel has been an important part of the metal scene for nearly 3 decades now. You have been a center piece of that for nearly 19 years of that time. When you left the band in 1996 to work with your wife in Genitorturers did you think you’d find yourself back in Morbid Angel almost a decade later?
David Vincent – You know, that was not where my mind set was. I did not think about it. I just had some other things I needed to work on at the time. It was nothing against Morbid Angel just more personal things.
Crypticrock.com – When you returned to Morbid Angel it wasn’t until nearly 7 years later that you released Illud Divinum Insanus (2011), which was in fact your first studio album back with the band since Domination in 1995. What was it like doing a Morbid Angel record again and what caused the long lapse in time?
David Vincent – It was really interesting. The band went through a lot of changes during that time, obviously with Pete’s departure. When we really started working together again it was on the end of the cycle of the band’s previous record. When we actually went out and did some touring it kind of became this thing that everybody wanted the band. We really toured like crazy for several years. I think at that point everybody really wanted a break. It did take a while to do a record. Again with Pete departing, a number of changes, a lot of business crap involved. Thankfully we have a manager to deal with these things, because it’s nothing that any of us are really into, we are into making music and performing. When we got at that point that all those ducks were in a row we went in and did something that in some cases was kind of unexpected, and in other cases a lot of stuff there from our roots and a lot of tentacles going in a myriad of different directions.
Crypticrock.com – Illud Divinum Insanus (2011) is a solid and different record but received many mixed reviews due to its experimental nature. Sometimes people just want to hear the same thing over and over again and don’t take kindly to change sadly. How do you feel about the mixed response by the fans to the record nearly 2 years later?
David Vincent – Well it definitely tells me a lot about where some listeners are in terms of what people expect. It’s kind of different, from the get go we never really cared much about what other people were doing. We didn’t look to the outside to determine what our course was going to be, it was very introverted. It was a lot of rehearsing, hanging out, and doing what we do. In the absence of that I think as there became a lot more bands and many years down the road I think people start to pair what they think something might ought to be versus maybe what it was. It’s really interesting, I remember really clearly after we released Altars of Madness (1989) when we released Blessed Are The Sick (1991), that record sounds quite a bit different than Altars Of Madness (1989), a lot of people thought “you know I don’t know about this”. Sometimes it takes people a while because we are not a band that has record after record that sounds the same, we never have been. There is definitely a whole post of choices out for bands that there is the new something or other record and you can imagine exactly what it’s going to sound like and more often than not you’re right. We just haven’t ever been that sort of band that does that. Nor have we been a band that tries to deliberately sound a certain way, that it will somehow take a poll and see what the expectations are and go from there. That’s just not the kind of band we are.
Crypticrock.com – Right you have to stay true to your artistic vision and the rest will fall into place. In November you are hitting the road in celebration of the Covenant (1993) record playing it in its entirety. The record is one of the best selling death metal albums of all time. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since its release. Looking back on that how exciting is it for you to go out there and celebrate the record and what do you think the key to success for Covenant was?
David Vincent – You know I’ve asked that question a lot. It starts that we’re a really good band. It’s a very strong record and it was timely. That was the first one we did with Warner Bros so we had the power of a big machine behind that. It allowed us to make a couple of really good videos which at the time MTV had this thing called Headbanger’s Ball, we got a lot of play on that. We did a lot of touring and it did very well for us. We had a really good team that really helped push it probably further than anyone thought that something of that nature could be. It’s really cool and I am thankful for it. One of the fun things is that sort of as you go and put together a live show there are certain tracks that you play and you always want to include this and the other thing. There are songs on that record that were never performed live, so this will be the first time, they were like studio tracks. That is going to be kind of interesting to us, so yea I am really looking forward to it.
Crypticrock.com – It should be a great tour and it’s a great record to celebrate. As stated earlier Morbid Angel has been an important part of the metal scene for many years. Most importantly you were a pioneer in the death metal scene here in the USA and really changed death metal in general. All these years later how do you feel about the state of death metal music in 2013?
David Vincent – Well there certainly are a lot more bands. Some of it I like, some of it I don’t like, no different from anything else. I think that the bands that do it well enjoy success and the bands that don’t do it well, don’t do well. That’s no different for this time of music than it would be for pop or country or anything else. I find it difficult to speak for a genre because it’s so sort of compartmentalized. When we were doing it there were a lot of bands from Florida when we were putting out our first record. Death, Atheist and some of the other “pioneers” from this area. Everybody sounded really different, the styles were different, everybody had a unique approach. I think these days I hear a lot more amalgamation of sounds that maybe it doesn’t feel as unique to me because there are so many bands and everyone’s influenced by this and that and the other thing. When there was say 4 or 5 larger bands and everything else sort of didn’t exist, then you could really note the differences between say Death and Morbid Angel. Both of us are death metal bands, both of us progressed quite a bit from our first records through the catalogue, but in different ways. That is the kind of stuff that interests me. Things that sound the same to me don’t really challenge me as a listener are the things I probably tend not to be as interested in listening to.
Crypticrock.com – I totally agree with you. A lot of the newer stuff does tend to sound the same. What are some of your musical influences?
David Vincent – I can go back to my roots in the things that when I was being influenced by music, what influenced me. I don’t know if I am so influenced by music anymore. I kind of look within rather than look around me to see what I might be doing. It’s the old stuff, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, and lots of classical.
Crypticrock.com – I understand you will be making your acting debut in the film “The Vanessa Del Rio Film Project”. What sparked your interest in getting involved in this project and what else do you have coming up on the horizon?
David Vincent – I enjoy all different kinds of expression, as long as it’s something I can get behind. This particular film project, it’s a great story. It’s almost an Americana thing. It’s more of a biography of Vanessa’s life. It’s during this time of the Time Square mob scene market controlled adult entertainment industry. There were a lot of actresses that went through that were a victim of this thing or the other, Vanessa never was, she loved what she did. Her story is a lot different than other people’s story at that time. She made a lot of movies and she enjoyed being the object of desire that she was, she relished in it. The story is a really interesting one, it’s something that I am friends with the director, it’s something we discussed, and it’s something that I want to get involved in. The story itself is really interesting one, and it’s not a porn. It has nothing to do with that other than the principle character indeed made her mark as an adult film star.
Crypticrock.com – It sounds very interesting. I read that Michael Rooker said “It’s like Taxi Driver meets Boogie Nights”.
David Vincent – Yea it will be more subtle than that. The story is sort of a fantastical story of someone’s life who was really on the cutting edge of a lot of things, but because of her ethnicity and what not, has not received the notoriety. She had a lot of notoriety in the private collections of her followers, but not so much in the mainstream as much as say a Linda Lovelace or some of the other actresses of the day. That to me makes it even more interesting to me.
Crypticrock.com – It sounds interesting. It’s obvious you do have an interest in films. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
David Vincent – I’m a weird guy when it comes to films. Some things that have moved me over the years generally are not the things that come out in a happy ending or like the teeny bopper Sleepaway Camp (1983) and Friday The 13th kind of stuff, that’s not my cup of tea. I like stuff that’s disturbing, I turn toward sort of B movies, stuff that is extreme but necessarily extreme. I like a lot of Lucio Fulci stuff and Dario Argento’s stuff. There is a particular Spanish director that I like named Jess Franco. He’s done a lot of exploitation type of stuff along with stuff that has horror in it. I like him quite a bit. Generally speaking I have a pretty large collection of stuff that I’ve gathered over the years and I would find probably more films by that director than many others. People sometimes look at something and say “oh that’s kind of weird” , but sometimes the weird things make me ask questions and I like it just because it’s odd. That’s the long answer to a short question.
Crypticrock.com – Dario Argento is excellent, he is one of my personal favorites. A lot of the European directors have something about their style of directing and the content that is different than an American horror film.
David Vincent – Honestly a lot of American stuff, if it feels too American to me which is no comment on my patriotism, sometimes it’s too immediate and too mathematically equated. It has more of a commercial feel to it, a more of a lets be all inclusive and let’s put characters in that may not need to be there but people feel the need to do so in the hopes to have their audience be larger. I don’t consider such things, if I have an idea I run with the idea. I personally don’t try and consider some of these things and maybe I’d be a lot more successful if I were. I like what I like and don’t make apologies for it.
Crypticrock.com – That is a good outlook and success is based upon what you want to do and basically what comes from it from your vision, that’s success. It seems like yourself and Morbid Angel have done that.
David Vincent – Yea a lot of times it is. Every now and then sometimes you do things that you don’t feel. I find the right reasons to do things, let’s put it that way, through art and entertainment of any modicum.
Be sure to check out Morbid Angel celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Covenant album on the following tour dates:
11/7 Atlanta, Georgia at The Masquerade
11/8 Charlotte, North Carolina at Tremont Music Hall
11/9 Baltimore, Maryland at Baltimore Soundstage
11/10 Cambridge, Massachusetts at Middle East Nightclub
11/12 New York, New York at Irving Plaza
11/13 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Theatre of the Living Arts
11/16 Cleveland, Ohio at Peabody’s Downunder
11/17 Chicago, Illinois at House Of Blues
11/18 Minneapolis, Minnesota at Mill City Nights
11/19 Sauget, Illinois at Pops
11/20 Lawrence, Kansas at Granada
11/22 Denver, Colorado at Bluebird Theater
11/25 Seattle, Washington at Studio Seven
11/26 Portland, Oregon at Hawthorne Theater
11/27 San Francisco, California at Slim’s
11/29 Los Angeles, California at Henry Fonda Theatre
11/30 Phoenix, Arizona at Joe’s Grotto
12/1 Albuquerque, New Mexico at Sunshine Theater
12/2 El Paso, Texas at Tricky Falls
12/3 Austin, Texas at Red 7
12/4 Houston, Texas at Warehouse Live
12/6 Orlando, Florida at Beacham Theater
12/7 Fort Lauderdale, Florida at Culture Room