Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse are two of the biggest names in death metal. For thirty-plus years, the two defined and refined the genre. Now, for the first time ever, these two titans join forces across the United States on the 2019 Decibel Magazine Tour. Even though openers Blood Incantation and Necrot don’t share the longevity of the aforementioned behemoths, the whole tour has an old school death metal feel.
Morbid Angel hit this tour as another leg promoting the Kingdoms Disdained album, released last year. That album marked the first record to feature Steve Tucker in nearly fifteen years. Tucker spoke with Heavy Music Headquarters about the coming tour as well as last year’s album.
Darren Cowan: Morbid Angel are set to embark upon the Decibel Magazine with Cannibal Corpse, arguably the two biggest bands in death metal. How do you feel about this tour?
Steve Tucker: I think it’s awesome. I’ve known the dudes since 1997. Those are two bands who have never toured the States together. I think you’re right. We are two of the biggest bands. I think Nile, as well. Later on, Immolation comes on the tour. I think Decibel wanted to make this tour because it would be bad ass. They wanted to put together something they wanted to see. That’s why I think they put the tour together.
Immolation are only on one week of the tour.
I wish they were on the whole thing. That would be fantastic, brilliant. Cannibal has to leave the tour after New York to join the Slayer tour, which is fucking huge! They leave and join the Slayer tour. We go back towards Florida and do a week of bad ass shows with Immolation. We end up in Tampa. We’re playing San Antonio, Atlanta, Philadelphia, I think somewhere in North Carolina [Raleigh], and the Tampa shows. Those are all the ones Immolation are playing. Those are going to be bad ass shows.
Blood Incantation and Necrot are two rising starts in the death metal world. How do you feel about their opening each gig?
I think it’s fucking awesome, man! A few years ago we had one of the better packages we’ve ever been on in the States, which was us, Suffocation, Withered and Revocation. I thought that was a great package. Well, I think that this Decibel package is even better (laughs), especially if you’re into death metal. I think if you are a fan of old school death metal, this is definitely something you want to see! Every band is true death metal.
Your second stint in the band came in 2015, four years after the release of Illud Divinum Insanus. Morbid Angel has always been a progressive-thinking band, willing to experiment, but on this album the experiment seemed to have failed. What was the mindset coming into Kingdoms Disdained? Do you feel like you had to do damage control?
My comment has always been and it holds true, chemistry of people, what’s going on at the time is what you got as a final result with that one. Honestly, Trey [Azagthoth] and I will produce death metal when we work together. The result for us will always be death metal. Maybe it will be more on the traditional death metal side. Morbid’s always experimenting. Trey’s always trying to do something he’s never done, write a riff like he’s never written a riff. It’s always about doing something new. That’s what being in a band is about. You want to be original. When you are an original band, you want to do something that has not been done. That’s always there. We didn’t go into the album saying, “You need to do this” or “you need to do that.” When Trey asked me to do an album, he knew the results would be a death metal album like Kingdoms Disdained.
Kingdoms Disdained has a lot of churning, mid-tempo romps, but hits you with speed when you’re not expecting it. The timing is insane. Where do you feel this record fits in your four-record discography? Do you see similarities to the other records?
I think it’s a progression of Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic with moments of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. I think it fits in perfectly. I’ve heard different versions; different mixes, different masters and I think it’s a mean album. I think it’s unrelenting. It’s pretty big. For me, it’s what I wanted out of it. It was a great situation doing the album with Erik [Rutan-Mana Recording Studios]. Everything around it is fucking great. I still love the album.
What was it like forming the rhythm section with Scotty Fuller (drums)? What’s it like playing with him?
We already had demos of songs when Scotty came in. Trey has always structured most of the songs in Morbid Angel. I’ll write sometimes. David wrote sometimes. Usually, Trey writes the structure, including the drum beats. When Scotty came in, he really had an idea of what Trey wanted to hear on his songs. There are parts I work with Scotty on. I might tell him, “I think there is a bomb blast here” or whatever. He did good. He’s a great drummer! Scotty is a fantastic drummer! His capabilities are incredible. He has really, really good feet and hands.
Dan Vadim Von came in as their second guitarist. What type of player is he?
Dan is solid. His rhythms are extremely tight. His solos are pretty damn solid. He’s solid. He’s exactly what you want as a second guitar player in Morbid Angel. Trey is pretty over the top, so you have to have another guy who is solid. The guy has to be rock solid. That’s what Dan is. It keeps things good and tight.
Lyrically, the album follows the whole flood idea of if humans can’t take care of the Earth; the Earth isn’t going to take care of them. You said you’re not a hippie, but there is an environmentalist message. Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?
Man, I don’t consider myself an environmentalist. I consider myself conscious. I consider myself realistic. I mean, anybody can realize that if you keep abusing the thing that feeds you, your life source; it will eventually no longer have the capability of being your life source. It’s going to suck your energy out of it. It’s a simple thing. To me, it’s weird because it becomes somehow wanting the planet to exist beyond me because it will go beyond me anyway. It will go beyond even humans. A flood is coming to wipe people away. It will all start over. I think it’s realistic. I think to not think taking care of our planet is a good idea is kind of ignorant.
You also mentioned in interviews the legalization of marijuana. Where do you see this going? Do you think the government will change the drug class soon, opening the way to federal legalization?
Yeah, you can step back and look at it from a distance, and see what it’s all really about. What it’s really about is people making money off of it. I think the cry for people to be allowed to do it because “Hey, we can make a shit-load of money” will be the reason it’s legalized. There are commercials and ads on television to buy stocks in marijuana, to do all of these things to get rich through marijuana. It’s that one of the most natural things in the world is illegal. We’re not kids. We are adults. We’re fucking adults! There has always been so much proof about what the plant does. It really shows the ignorance and thick-headedness of government as a whole. It’s ridiculous that a plant would become a political issue that money is the only thing to bring these people to realize it’s value.
Money shouldn’t be what value is all the time. That ties in with the other question. It’s all about control and money can, all of a sudden, change control. There is the opioid problem plaguing the whole country. That really shows you what people value. They sold this thing to help people; it’s to help people get addicted. People had pain relief long before Oxycodone or Oxycontin. They got along fine and everybody wasn’t strung-the-fuck out. It went from that to heroin. Come on, are you going to tell me those two aren’t connected? The pharmaceutical companies are feeding the government. It’s all them telling us adults what we can and can’t do.
I go places on tour where drugs are legal. You see where it actually takes it off the street. It almost makes it less desirable for some people. It’s not cliché. I think people get into drugs because they are doing something they’re not supposed to do. I think they got it all wrong calling marijuana a “gateway drug.” The fact is they made it a gateway drug by lying about it. They lied about it, saying “if you smoke this, you’re going to jump off a bridge or freak out. This makes people rape people.” When they said all of those lies and then when a thirteen-year-old kid smoked a joint with their friends for the first time, sat and laughed his ass off, he didn’t want to harm a fucking fly, he realized, “This is awesome!” Why am I not allowed to do this? I’m not worried about everything in my life for twenty minutes.” That’s when you realize the government is lying. Then they start to think, “Oh, well heroin must not be as bad as they claim.” In my opinion, that makes it a gateway drug.
(interview published February 11, 2019)