In these uncertain times, we are bestowed with the consistent pillars of 90’s Americana. A month ago, GWAR took stage armed with latest release The Blood of Gods to detail the deplorability of their own “intergalactic fuck-up,” also known as the human race. Shortly thereafter, Cannibal Corpse weighed in with Red Before Black to brain-drain the violence that society condemns while simultaneously perpetrating. Now, since all good things come in threes, December 1 will mark the ninth studio contribution of the visionary death metal act, Morbid Angel. On deck to be disseminated through Silver Lining Music and an impending tour, Kingdoms Disdained describes the disarray that occurs when ideologies and personal opinions alike repel with the entire strength of the earth’s magnetic field.
Pursuant to Morbid’s legacy, listeners find themselves taken under two wings – technical boundaries are bushed while thematic jurisdiction is heard in the court of lesser-discussed philosophies. To gain more insight into this paragon, as well as the war-torn territory over which it flies, the Graveyard was graced with the comforting voice of vocalist, bassist, and general nice guy, Steve Tucker
As he entertained his doggo in small town West Virginia, Steve advocated acceptance of our unique fingerprints while simultaneously finding common bonds in our basic human needs. Yet, he also offered fair warning that chaos prevails due to our innate wiring – the nature that holds as much potential to unleash misplaced aggression as it does to build bridges of empathy. Nevertheless, by carving out cathartic countercultures and by succumbing to the force field of our life passions, a vision of internal stillness can be sought.
Some of the thematic elements of the new album that I’ve been reading about are pretty sweet. It’s about capturing the chaos that evolves when individuals’ perspectives are mistaken as universal truths. People can’t see eye to eye because everyone’s caught up in their own bubbles that they refuse to merge.
How did you guys work to convey that theme musically on the album?
I mean usually we deliver more of the message through the lyrics. The music is one entity of it, and then once you add vocals to it, it becomes its own separate monster. Then things start to come together with the lyrics. We kind of go through a lot of examples of the chaos. The overall kind of vibe is that the problem here is that everybody thinks that they’re right in all of this.
People, no matter what they’re doing, whether it’s a quote-on-quote terrorist, or whether it’s just a kid skipping school, they’re always right in their heads. They’re always righteous and in the right and doing it for the right reasons. It goes that way through everything, like through politics – people with hidden agendas and things. They say what everyone wants to hear when really they’re just thinking about their own agendas. They seem to convince all the dummies so that they can get in and do what they want to do.
Do you have any proposed ways that we can bridge some of these gaps? Perhaps lessons that can be learned from working with different artists and overcoming discrepancies between different personalities.
I don’t think it’s a matter of an individual basis as much as it’s made out to be. People will take one person’s individual discretion and turn it into this humongous event. But, the thing about it is, most people all want the same thing. They do the job they have to do to get along in life and spend time with the people that they really want to spend time with. Maybe have a family or whatever. But most people don’t want conflict, man. Most people don’t even want to argue, but once these things are sort of out there, and once you bring in the media, they’ll really rub their thumb on the scab.
They keep scratching at the scab and pinpointing ‘this could possibly be racial,’ or this reason or that. Then most people really start questioning everything they believe. When you make a bold statement like ‘anyone who’s this way is a fascist,’ or whatever, you start to shake up people’s sort of belief systems and make them question themselves. Again, these people in their heads are trying to be righteous. They’re trying to do the right thing, but then all of the sudden it’s ‘yeah, just because you’re this way you’re in the wrong,’ and then it’s like, wow, how do I change that? Then it becomes pretty chaotic.
In terms of fixing it? I think turn off your televisions, man. If everybody stepped away from televisions and Facebook for a while—travel, things like that—they’d see that fundamentally we’re all trying to live the same things.
At the same time, there’s a problem of people not embracing difference. I don’t know what’s wrong with people from different places being different from each other. I think that’s what makes traveling and learning so cool – you go to a place where people are nothing like the way you were raised and you have an experience of a whole different way of life. Then they kind of level it out in a way that everyone is supposed to be the same. We all have different beliefs and ideas and opinions, and that should actually be embraced rather than something to be fought about. There’s nothing wrong with a little debate, but once a debate turns into a fight then just shut up and walk away.
Right — just accept the difference.
Right. We’re different and that’s why sometimes we can’t all get along. It has to do with everything about a person. It has to do with their parents, their religion, or lack of religion. It has to do with their education. It has to do with where they are in their financial standing in the system. All of those things make up who you are. Therefore, everyone is different, and I don’t know why it’s feared. People who are a little different are constantly feared amongst humans. I don’t understand it, but that’s what usually happens. It all comes down to fear. People fear change. People fear what they don’t know. They fear death. They fear heaven or they fear hell. It’s all ridiculous, man. Life is about experience; it shouldn’t be about fear.
For sure, and I think it’s interesting you brought up the role of the media as well. You think about how in the 90’s they were putting down Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, certain hip-hop groups and so on; they were trying to peg you as the biggest threat to society, but look at us now. The 90’s weren’t shit compared to the disarray that we’re in now.
That’s a fact. But at the same time, we’re also not too far from the chaos starting in the 1890’s to the 1900’s. So, I think this is just a human thing. You give us 100, 120 years, and we change the world, but at the same time, find a way to completely hate everything about each other. It’s really messed up. People – I don’t really understand their nature. Again, it comes down to fear.
If you meet someone who’s well-traveled, they’ll take the place you think is the scariest place on earth and tell you all of the beautiful things about it and how well people treated them while they were there. I’m not saying that every place in the world is a place that you should visit. There’s some places that are too messed up for you to get to go there. But the thing is, there’s a lot of world out there where once you get there, it doesn’t feel as far away as it seemed.
Like when you look at a map, Europe and the United States look so far apart, but you know what? We’re not cavemen. We don’t have to swim or take a fucking canoe. You get on a plane for five, six hours and you’re in Europe. It’s not a big deal to go there and see it and experience it. For a lot of people, it can be pretty life-changing. Europe and the United States are drastically different, and then if you make it to the far East, it’s completely different again. All of that difference is not something to clash about, but then again, I think it’s human nature to war. I think it’s human nature to reach that point of aggression, and I think that’s something that people forget.
The idea of violence seems so far-fetched in our society now, but man, it’s something that’s been taken out of society in the past 60, 70 years. Back then it was normal for people to beat their kids, to have fist-to-cuffs in the streets. Hell, if you were out West, you could have a shoot-out. It’s just that times have changed and people seem to think that we were never violent against each other before. Read a book. Everyone is so metaphorically and metaphysically distraught, dude. It just makes for people to do very, very extreme things.
Well, taking it back just a couple of decades, when I think about Morbid Angel, I, of course, think of the 90’s scene, and how the legacy lives on. You also continue to influence kids today while still producing new work, which I think is really rad. I’m only 23, so I was technically born in the 90’s, but I don’t really remember them. There’s this trend within people of my cohort where we like to call ourselves 90’s kids and carry on about the nostalgia, when it’s really not authentic at all. I was wondering if you had a true piece of 90’s nostalgia that really tugs at you, whether it be in music or something else in pop culture.
My favorite thing about the 90’s was that there was this constant supply of new music. There was constantly a new band. I had a buddy named Matt Walker, and every time he showed up to my house in his car had a new tape of a new band that I had to hear. Really, that was the 90’s for me. That’s the way it just was. It was this constant discovery of new, amazing stuff. Every piece of new music was just another way of delivering a new vision of evil. I really enjoyed that. The 80’s for me were a lot of thrash metal, and I love a lot of that, man, but honestly, once it hit around ’89-’90, it got serious for me. It became the real deal.
Going back to what we were talking about earlier, I think it’s super rad you brought up the global perspective as well. I live in New Orleans now, but I’m originally from Baltimore, so I’d go to Maryland Deathfest and so many kids would come up from fucking Mexico City to Baltimore just to hear the death bands, which is really amazing. Have you gotten to play many shows in Mexico? What are the crowds and the culture like?
Actually, I’ve never been, so I honestly don’t know. Every time I was supposed to go something’s happened. The plane broke down once – just a lot of unluckiness. So it’s never gotten to happen, but I’d look forward to getting to do it. But, we see a lot of those people in the border cities, like when we play in San Diego or El Paso or Corpus Christi. I like to call them ‘the satanic Hispanics,’ and really, that’s an honor they’ve earned with me. Those guys are legit, man. One hundred percent pure metal heads and loyal, brutal music fans.
I think a lot of it is that in a lot of those places, life’s hard. It’s not always the easiest thing in the world to just fucking have electricity. In Mexico, and South America as well, there’s a little bit of oppression there—gangs and things like that—so metal has become the biggest counterculture that probably exists there. There’s this massive group of people that have this common bond. It’s fantastic. Any shows I’ve done with them have been crazy shows. It’s a total fucking release for them and they enjoy every second while it’s happening. It’s awesome.
I guess when you think about it, too, much of the Spanish-speaking world is so overwhelmingly catholic, which is just another way to apply metal as an outlet for rebellion.
Oh, absolutely. Ultraconservative ideas and metal seem to go hand in hand. If you’re from somewhere that’s pretty damn religious, death metal and black metal specifically really tend to take hold. There’s just groups within those societies that just can’t relate to the people around them, everyone in their family and things like that. Metal is a quick escape, I think.
So you were in Morbid Angel for a while, and then left, but came back, then left, then came back. How did Morbid become this magnet in your life that keeps pulling you back in?
A lot of it was that when I did have to step aside, it never had anything to do with the music. It had nothing to do with the band or who I was playing with – it was just situations that I could not avoid and had to deal with. That was always the cause. Once time went by and the opportunity rose again and I didn’t have those things to worry about, I snatched up the opportunity to be able to write music again with Trey. For me, it’s phenomenal. I’ve been playing music since I was a kid and I’ve written a lot of songs myself, but the songs that Trey and I have written together are the songs that always end up being my favorite. So really, the chance to get to jam with Trey and be a part of Morbid Angel is something I’ve had nothing but respect for. It’s always been a piece of me since I’ve began doing it, so when Trey calls me up and says ‘hey, let’s write more songs,’ absolutely, let’s do it.
So what was the writing process like on Kingdoms? I know you talked about how the lyrics were their own entity, but what inspired the instrumentals?
I mean really, just watching the shit that was going on around us. All of this was coming together at the time of the elections when you couldn’t turn on the television without seeing people screaming in each other’s faces or busting windows or some kind of craziness. The vibe was there. It just bled in. Of course, I spread that topic into others things, like how the gods would look at it and so on, but those same elements definitely influenced what we were doing. All the craziness, all of the chaos; that definitely influenced every second of what we did.
There was a point where we’d get together at rehearsals and we would talk about the craziness that happened that day or what we saw on the news last night after we got back. It was sort of the topic everyday, like, ‘can you believe this shit?’ You couldn’t get away from it.
Right on. Well, as always, I leave you with an open mic.
Well, the album comes out December 1 and then we go out right after the new year and we’ll be playing a lot. I hope everyone likes the album, and see you on tour.
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Tune in next week to Thirsty Thursday for more from Jenna.