Interview with Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel
Morbid Angel has been a band that has constantly delivered "the goods" when it comes to this style of extreme music. Uniquely crafting and playing one of a kind songs/guitar solos by every guitarists involved, great vocalists (past and present), one of the best drummers in the genre, in short this band has always been a power house super group and a force to be reckoned with in the death metal scene, influencing many, many bands over the years. Having 9 releases (and surely another on the way), once again one is able to listen and see the progression Trey and company have achieved over the course of their 20 year plus career.
Although I could easily speak my peace about this band with a full historical article that could have taken pages to write about Morbid Angel, and could have reviewed every release with depth, I have decided to cop-out and say this. If you have never heard this band before and you claim to listen to death metal (or metal in general), then you havenít been in the scene for very long now, have you? Just listen for your self, but do your self a favor and start with the first letter in the alphabet; A-ltars of Madness, from there you can decide what to do. - Mike - 2006
Interview conducted 12-8-2001 and live photos © by Mike Coles 8-17-1993 and 12-8-2001
The Outcast: So how long have you guys been on tour for this tour right now? Is this the first US tour right now and are you guys going to tour Europe with this line up, or have you guys even done Europe yet?
Trey: Yeah, we did Europe already with this line-up (Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Zyklon) and this tour started Nov 20th.
The Outcast: Can you tell me anything about the Soilent Green guys?
Trey: Yeah, some of them got a bit injured, but huh, theyíre okay. It was icy roads in the mountains and somehow their vehicle overturned.
The Outcast: How did this tour package get arranged?
Trey: Me and the rest of the guys have always talked to our manager about doing a tour with Deicide and it finally came together, so....
The Outcast: Are you guys headlining all of the shows?
Trey: Yeah, weíre playing last every night.
The Outcast: Some of the questions Iím going to ask now are reoccurring questions that I have been asking a lot of the bands I have interviewed. The first one Iím going to ask you is do you think or feel that metal music in general Satanic or the devils music. Some of the bands are saying yes while others have a difference of opinion, what is your opinion?
Trey: Metal in general, general being satanic? Well, what is satanic?
The Outcast: Well, yeah, I guess thatís true too. You know there are a lot of Christian bands that preach God and Christianity and some people in certain bands think that is a contradiction because of what metal is supposed to stand for supposedly; sex, drugs, Satan, etc.
Trey: Well, the way I look at all that is um, there is no inherent meaning to anything, so we as thinkers all create our meanings for stuff. We either create them from our own ideas or we borrow them from others, whatever. Itís all based on interpretation and our reference points. I really donít look at stuff like that, so.....
The Outcast: It is something that doesnít really matter?
Trey: Not in that way. I just look at it as Morbid Angel plays this kind of music thatís extreme and I guess it goes into that category of death metal. It seems more like what we play than any of the other genres, labels, or whatever you would call music.
The Outcast: Do you think Christian metal is hypocritical?
Trey: I donít think about it like that. The thing is, I donít "think like this" so um, you have to change your whole thinking to change your reality because your reality is a product of your thoughts and the frame work of your thinking. The brain is like a computer and it starts as being empty and itís filled with all these things that we experience and thatís the frame work in which we build our reality, because reality is not so static. Oneís reality is a product of their consistent thoughts and their reference points. If you study the Cabala (Cabala - 1. an occult philosophy of certain Jewish rabbis, esp. in the Middle Ages, based on a mystical interpretation of the Scriptures 2. any esoteric or secret doctrine; occultism. Variant(s): also kab∑ba∑la or ka∑ba∑la or ca∑ba∑la or cab∑ba∑la or kab∑ba∑lah) youíll see the interplay of being stimulated by your environment and then asking the questions "what does this mean, what do I do" and then coming to your internal reference point. There are two different internal reference points; the spiritual intuition from the higher self which is basically when you tap into the infinite intelligence in all things. The only thing that is real is energy fields and information and thatís it. Physics or whatever when they break matter apart, itís not little particles of things and there is no inches between me and this sofa and this guitar and you. Thereís really nothing that separates us, weíre all on the same wave-length of energy waves and information. When you come from your higher-self, your reference point is that youíre subjectively connected with everything, so you know everything, you just know it. You might not have a word for it, but you just know it, the knowing is there. But if you come from your object referral reference point, the ego, well the ego is basically thinking objectively which means itís separating itself from stuff in an illusionary form because you can never really separate your self except from the ego. The ego can produce the illusion of that. That type of person, that kind of identity, everything it does is based on fear. With every new situation it is being lifted and flattened. Itís going up and down; defining it self by how it reflects off other things, so itís powerless. When you come from spirit and you find the silent spaces between the thoughts, which is where this real stuff exists, then you just feel nothing but power because you can see that nothing will ever change, that itís all infinite and that you are one with everything and that nothing can hurt you or that you canít hurt anything else, itís just a continuum, a flow, if that makes any sense. Like I said the reference points for that would be Depauch Chopa (Spelling? It rhymed with that, so hopefully the readers can figure it out!! Sorry Trey!! - Mike - 2006) and I would say the Cabala but thatís a little deeper study, but Depauch Chopa pretty much sums it all up. Itís based on Indian metaphysical studies, quantum physics, he was a doctor, and he was a scientist, he was from India but he went through the path of science and stuff first and then later went into studying his culture and the spiritual side to his culture.
The Outcast: Sounds pretty interesting and something we could probably discuss for hours, but we canít. In your opinion, what is evil?
Trey: What does evil mean to you?
The Outcast: True evil to me would be for example someone taking anotherís life.
Trey: So you are saying evil being negative? (Well, I guess if one is evil inside, in heart, then evil wouldnít be a "negative" thing? - Mike 2006) In asking me what is evil and how I define the word? Um..... (Long pause), I really donít think about it. I kind of moved away from using that term. I use evil as like "cool." Something being favorable, but it is slang. I donít really think of........ But Iíll also use evil as negative, like something, like some person, like some "thing" being evil. I would say that it is the same as saying it is negative, or not desirable, but like I said we just put our own meanings to stuff, so I just use it as a word; however. Like "bad", it could mean "itís not so good" or it could mean itís great, you know what I mean? But evil as far as negative, negative is of course just stuff that is disempowering. If I was really trying to clarify about a point that I didnít like, then I would probably use the word "negative" or disempowering or something like that as because so many people have different interpretations associated with that.
(At this point someone got on the bus and handed Trey a magazine Morbid Angel was featured in.)
The Outcast: Do you collect magazines Morbid Angel are featured in?
Trey: Yeah, sure, I like to keep that kind of stuff. Itís fun.
The Outcast: Yes, it is, yes it is. Going back to evil, what do you think about 9/11 and the terrorists, do you have an opinion on that?
Trey: Sure, it was really negative. That particular event, if you isolate it and separate it from anything else, just that day, it was a catastrophe. It was a disgusting and criminal kind of thing.
The Outcast: Do you think "we" have the right to go and bomb them back?
Trey: Well see, then youíre going to have to interpret the whole thing and I donít really know the whole story. I know that they have the same beliefs against "us", and have had for a long time, as "we" have now against them, and as "weíve" had for a while. You really have to..... You have to live peoples lives to really understand where they are coming from, but I think what they did was definitely not within the letís say the "rules of warfare." (In battle there is no law!! - Mike - 2006) If you can say that there are supposedly guidelines to engage war, it was more just, you know, like a drive by shooting kind of a stuff thing like that. Thatís just more criminal than anything else, so sure I think people that are plotting to do things like that against America, as far as just too attack civilians and terrorize people, certainly we should defend ourselves from it and try to figure out some way to stop it from happening and I guess there are different types of ways. I would prefer to figure out a way to where we could change their beliefs or we could change the way they associate things to our country to cause them to hate us so much. I prefer something like that but obviously if they are just, I mean you canít talk sense to a moron, so if they are just morons, which I donít know if they are morons, but we can just safely look at it that way and say; "Theyíre just a whole bunch of morons, a bunch of animals, letís just exterminate them." So there it is, but definitely I think that what they did, how they went about it, that was definitely just some stupid criminal crap.
The Outcast: A lot of the tours that have European bands have been canceling a lot here lately because they wonít allow them into this country. Did you guys have any kind of trouble while on tour flying across and what not?
Trey: Weíve been flying since then (9/11).
The Outcast: Oh really, so you guys werenít in Europe when it happened?
Trey: We went to Europe a long time ago, well, not too long ago. It was like last Dec., so.....
The Outcast: Hmmmm, okay. Youíre walking down the street and a Christian walks up to you and hands you a flyer that reads; "Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart?" and begins to talk to you about his beliefs. Do you A) calmly tell him sorry but you have different beliefs and begin to talk about each others beliefs over a nice hot cup of coco. B) Walk away and say nothing. C) Tell him to fuck off and die.
Trey: I usually just ignore stuff like that.
The Outcast: Do or have a lot of people approached you due to having a metal shirt on and began preaching at you.
Trey: Iím not really out on the street in those environments that much. I kind of lead my own kind of life and the kind of world that I create doesnít really include such things that much for such events to happen. But if someone did hand me something I would probably just ignore it. Because that is what I do, I ignore stuff that seems, um.... I delete, know what I mean, because, um, in life we are deleting things anyways. We only pay attention to things that are based on what we believe in and what are values are. I donít find any threat from Christians and I accept people to have completely different ideas and Iíll also be right at the same time. So since my beliefs are more like, um, I create my self as well as my world and what I am is the silent witness that witnesses my manifestation and the unfolding of that from the manifest to the manifest and itís based on what I believe as to what I see, then um, those things really, you know I donít feel that I have to defend my self, you know to where I would feel threatened to where I would have to feel all "growled" up about it, itís just, its pretty much like um, some clicking going on, like a bird chirping. It doesnít really do anything.
The Outcast: What do you hope to find after you die?
Trey: What I hope to find? Well, youíd have to study the Kabbalah to get an idea where I come from with my beliefs. The only thing that dies is your ego. And all this stuff is an illusion anyway. I donít really believe in death.
The Outcast: Were you ever "forced" to attend church when you were younger?
Trey: Yeah, when I was a kid, sure.
The Outcast: What denomination?
The Outcast: When did you start "thinking for your self" or accepted your beliefs? When you were 18, moved out of the house?
Trey: It started way before that. Maybe when I was 10, somewhere around there, it was pretty early.
The Outcast: What did your parents think?
Trey: Well, my mom was always open minded, and as I got older and I got older she became even more open minded and the pressures from say my family, say outside of my mom, her mom, uncles, or whatever like that. Their authority or influence kind of just lessened, so um, people accepted it. My mom didnít really enforce it (going to church) and she pretty much realized that there was more to life than going to this church and accepting what they wanted us to believe.
The Outcast: Are they cool with your accomplishments with Morbid Angel?
Trey: Sure, my mom is, definitely my dad, yeah, very much.
The Outcast: Itís cool when parents can support their kids like that.
Trey: Yeah, they know Iím just not out there telling people to do negative things, but actually trying to help them find their own liberation and break free from the chains of enslavement through other concepts and stuff.
The Outcast: What do you think about extreme kids who take the lyrics to any satanic band or evil band and start believing in what their favorite band is preaching? Do you ever feel like you could be responsible for influencing people or someone in a "negative" way due to Morbid Angles lyrics or anything?
Trey: Iím usually pretty careful as to what I say and I always give reference points and I never say like, um, something, like um, I never ask people to believe in me, personally. I just say that I like to play music and I am an instrument of spirit and I allow this energy to flow through me and thatís what I want and want to do. My message is to help others find their own truths within themselves. If anything Iím just sharing concepts and things like that that I have learned and then of course I give the references as to where Iíve learned these things from. My message is always for creating and for building as opposed to destroying. The only time to destroy is to destroy the chains that would shackle somebody to limitations of societyís beliefs and things like that. So that we can try also to stimulate people to break out of the idea that they need to align their beliefs with the majority of people. The belief; "How can everyone be wrong?", you have to throw that out the door. I also try to influence, in some ways, people to read brilliant writers such as Depauch Choper because Depauch Choper I think is a very brilliant teacher today, heís alive today, and he has a lot of material out and what he teaches I believe is the organizing principals of the universe and what I think is the real stuff. And it is pretty shocking to a person who has no clue about it who is kind of a part of...... Like in the movie the Matrix or something like that. I do believe that that movie is based on a lot of real stuff, but itís not that weíre enslaved by some alien thing (Some would argue!! - Mike - 2006) or anything like that, weíre just enslaved by concepts and we need to realize that what we really are is this creative spark and that weíre all one in this field of pure potentiality, and that we are god, but itís not our ego, our ego is not god. Itís our higher self. The higher self is like the great ocean and we can never be separated from the great ocean even if we are put into this shell, our cup, our vessel, our ego, our body. Weíre still the water, but if we identify ourselves as the cup, then weíre limited to time and space, we have um, how can I say it, we try to contain infinite, or infinity into some little short term life span. The energy is always there itís just that if we donít realize it then itís some stranger. Thereís a difference of identifying yourself as your ideas or the one that can think ideas, the energy that can think.
The Outcast: Saying all that, if you could describe your life or your philosophies in just one word what word would you use?
Trey: I donít know about just one word right off the top of my head.
The Outcast: Okay, that is kind of limiting. How do you want to die?
Trey: I donít think about stuff like that.
The Outcast: (Sarcastically speaking) youíre ruining my questions!! Just kidding. If you could change one thing in history, would you and what would it be?
Trey: Probably not. I think everything had its purpose. We could have our idea of what we want to manifest. We can have our dreams or desire, but if it doesnít happen at this moment then it just isnít a part of the real big plan. Itís not what your real self wants and needs, itís just what your ego wants and needs but the ego is not in control, so we should have desires, we have desires and we have the ability to manifest our desires, but as far as when it happens sometimes it just doesnít happen exactly how we want; on our schedule. Weíre not supposed to be putting our main power or hopes in whatever exact plans, but rather focus putting your enjoyment in the process, not the destination, the process of our life.
The Outcast: Going onto different subjects, what is your favorite Morbid Angel song, or do you even have one?
Trey: I donít really have just a favorite.
The Outcast: They are all your "kids"?
Trey: Sure, but I guess I do like some better than others but I guess it really depends on what kind of mood I am in, because it (the music) covers a lot of ground I think.
The Outcast: Youíve probably been asked this like a million times and Iím not sure if it has ever been answered or that if you have answered it, you have; "A-lters of....." - "B-lessed are...." - "C-ovenant" - "D-omination" - E, F, G, H etc. Is there something behind that or what?
Trey: Sure, itís just um, a little fun thing thatís there. To me itís also not loosing site of when I was a fan of music before I played guitar and how I was interested in the little special things that I thought bands did with their symbolism. So itís just something, with the first two records, we didnít really plan it with the first record but I think that the second record I think it just kind of fell into place but after that we started to realize that this was pretty interesting and this is "fun" and weíre certainly going to continue it like that and it seems like just some little extra thing but if you want a technical explanation, itís like the Alpha/Omega.
The Outcast: Well thatís cool, fun is cool. I always wondered about that and Chris wouldnít answer that question for me when I interviewed him. I noticed he is not singing any more for you guys, who has replaced him?
Trey: Jared from Hate Eternal.
The Outcast: Thatís cool.
Trey: Heís doing a great job to.
The Outcast: Do you have any closing words?
Trey: Well, after this tour weíre going to be focusing on a new CD and Iím planning on having Phil A. (Pantera) to do the producing. He actually lives about 15 min. away from his house.
The Outcast: Oh yeah, how did that tour go?
Trey: It was awesome. It was really cool. It was cool hanging out with Phil and the rest of the guys and really saw that Phil and I have a lot in common and developed a really cool friendship. I mean before this tour I knew about Pantera and I knew he liked death metal and knew that he liked Morbid Angel but I didnít really know anything more about it than that, but when I got to hang out with him I just really got to see what he was about and heís a really unique and very powerful individual and I think that some people who have magazines or whatever can be...... that donít understand him...... he has a really big heart and really cares about integrity, about music, and heís really totally against corporate bands and that whole selling out playing for the fuck kind of a thing. Heís a really big fan of death and black metal. Heís a really fun guy.