Trey Azagthoth is an interesting musician. In some ways, it seems he puts
far more thought into his craft than the average guitarist. In reality,
there is less thought involved than feeling. Morbid Angel's latest album
exemplifies this. 'Gateways To Annihilation' is an album built on the idea
of feeling over thought and silence over sound. Strange concepts for heavy
metal, to be sure. As Morbid Angel's main songwriter and guitar guru, Trey'
s influence is essential to the sound of death metal's most accomplished
band. In this Metal Update interview, we gained some perspective on Trey's
unique outlook on life and how it relates to Morbid Angel's music.
Metal Update: Before we get into 'Gateways To Annihilation', I have a bunch of stuff
I want to talk to you about that's not related to the album.
Trey Azagthoth: Is it about how I'm such an incredible dreamer?
MU: Yeah. That's part of it.
TA: OK. (laughing)
MU: Heavy metal has a longstanding history of breaking down boundaries. Is
this why you got into metal?
TA: I got into it to express feelings and in this expressing of feelings, I
guess it broke down some boundaries and definitely rivaled many opinions.
That wasn't the main reason why I did it. I did it because I have this
energy that had to come out.
MU: You are a fan of Tony Robbins. Can you share a little about what he is
doing and how it relates to you?
TA: Even before I played guitar, I was always into spiritual things. Even
before I knew anything about it, I was just into daydreaming and things like
that. I kind of spent a lot of time by myself creating my own world and my
way of thinking - witchcraft and magic and meditation and things like that.
Tony Robbins to me - what he teaches is a really great way to present the
fundamentals of magic without all the hocus pocus. He talks about the power
of belief and the power of values. He kind of lets you look at your mind as
a big computer. That's a pretty good way of looking at it. It doesn't have
to be looked at like that, but it's a decent reference point. Your computer
is only as good as its files and its programs. You can have the greatest
hardware, but if you have crappy software or corrupt files then you are not
going to get it to reach its potential. So bad beliefs are like crappy
programs or corrupt files. That's a really good analogy. Tony Robbins is
about getting all the things in your mind so that they are complimenting
MU: What are some of his main themes that hit home with you?
TA: Being unstoppable. I think that's really what it's all about. Being
unstoppable - not being stopped by other people's ideas and by your own
ideas. Being able to focus yourself and concentrate your efforts. Being
able to program yourself to be able to reach your potential. Tony Robbins,
to me, is like a medicine or something for you to read to help you
understand how these things work. It's the idea of initiating your life as
opposed to living in a state of reaction. Personal power is about the
ability to initiate your life and not to be moving from reactions to outside
influences and stimulations.
MU: It has something to do with breaking down the barriers that society
imposes on people.
TA: Sure, that's the first step, you know - to get back to that innocent
state where you don't have the programs at all. You know, when we're a baby,
we don't have beliefs about anything. We just look at things completely
clear. Then we get trained as to how things are supposed to be represented,
and then we fall into habits and then we become kind of programmed in one
way or another. A lot of it is stuff that happens to us because we are too
young to know any different. We get molded. I think that a lot of the stuff
with Tony Robbins - and not just Tony Robbins - is to realize these things
and to realize the importance of someone's programming inside their mind.
Their values and beliefs and associations and how all that stuff has an
impact on your life. How to evaluate that and get it to where it's
supporting your efforts towards what you want to do. To be initiating your
own life rather than being in reaction all the time.
MU: Do you think you have reprogrammed yourself?
TA: Through Tony Robbins? Tony Robbins has helped me in a lot of ways, but a
lot of the things he talks about are things I kind of believe anyway. It
was just reconfirming things - to hear someone like him (being so
successful) saying stuff that I kind of felt a long time ago. I've been
through a life where I didn't really seem to fit into the normal flow of
things. As people developed, I kind of developed differently and I found
myself wanting to spend more time by myself rather than spend time with
other people and playing that game. I've definitely, throughout my whole
life, had people say, "things are supposed to be like this" and "this is
supposed to mean that." Talking about what's cool or what's the right way
to do things. So, I always felt that I could decide for myself what's right
and wrong. To hear Tony Robbins say stuff that comes to the same thing was
incredible. I am like a heretic. In the past, the heretics were the ones
that had a different opinion about things. If it was contrary to the
church, they would be considered a heretic or a threat. Tony Robbins, and
other things I read, kind of shows me what is the fear that people would
have of a heretic. . . what was this thing that they were trying to maintain
that they wouldn't want this heretic to be speaking of. . . what's all that
mean right down to. . . When I was younger I was accepting of language,
numbers and signs and all that kind of stuff. I would just think, yeah I
guess that's the way it is, but that stuff is just man-made and it's not any
more right than anything else. It's just that someone came up with a
language and people accepted it because, I guess, they respected this person
's opinion. The language could have been anything. It's not like the truth
of the universe or anything. No god made it.
MU: The truth is what you create.
TA: Yeah. Another person that's also brilliant is Deepak Chopra and one of
his sayings is "the meaning that you give the event is the event" and "the
only difference between joy and suffering is interpretation." When I really
soaked that up, that really opened a lot of doors for me. Deepak Chopra is
more about the spirit and the different levels of existence. Tony Robbins
touches on that a little bit, but he's more engineered for western thinking.
Some people think the mind is everything and they forget about how the mind
is so limited.
MU: How does the spirit relate to the mind?
TA: The mind is trapped in the realm of time and space. It ages, it's
mortal, it's dated and it has boundaries.
The spirit is beyond all that. The mind is like a cup and the spirit is the
water from the ocean that fills the cup. When someone identifies themselves
and says what they are is the cup, the ego, then that can be destroyed. But
the water can also be separated by time and space - like the cup is a mile
away from the source, the water. When you find yourself being the water,
then you are never separated.
MU: How do you take the mind and lead it to the water?
TA: Well, basically, it's about meditation. It's about the idea of finding
those silent spaces between man's thoughts. In our thoughts there is a bunch
of turbulence, a bunch of judging and it works in a certain way. To me,
there's no inherent meaning to anything that's any more true or false than
anything else. Meaning, itself, is only inside the mind. Outside the mind,
there is no meaning. Without the thinker, there is no meaning. All the
labels that we put on things - when that thinker goes away, those labels go
MU: Is the self the highest power?
TA: There's different levels of existence. We are existing in these
different levels at the same time - simultaneously. There is a higher self
that is not so separated, so individual. It is just the whole of all
different things - the energy that produces all things. That's the higher
self. It's like the great ocean. The higher self becomes separated from
that as it goes into the ego. As it goes into the ego, you take a cup of the
water which is like the energy from the ocean now becoming separated into
this container. So, when you identify yourself, you can either look at
yourself as being the ideas, your ways of thinking, your behavior and all
that kind of stuff, or you can think of yourself as the one who creates all
that kind of stuff. What I say is that the higher self, the true self, is
the water not the cup. The cup is just temporary. If you find yourself in
the water then you are never separated. It doesn't matter if you are a mile
away from the source or floating in the source, you're still the water.
MU: Is the water related to the spirit?
TA: Yes. That's what I would call the spirit.
MU: How does the spirit relate to religion?
TA: I guess religion is all about trying to find out where we came from,
what is this higher spirit and give it some terminology.
MU: How about Satanism?
TA: Satanism is really not something that I study that much or use as a
reference point. There are all these interpretations. If you judge it by the
Satanic Bible, a lot of it is about being the opposite of the spirit. Trying
to base things on the ego and saying the ego is god. That your self is your
ego and that the ego is something that can be taken advantage of and can
lose. That you must defend it. Also that you are defined by the way you
bounce off of other things - how you reflect off of other situations. That's
how you find what you are. But the spirit is always perfect. It is always
adequate and exact. It is everything it needs to be already and the only
time you think that you're not is because you are building barriers in the
ego. In other words, some of the basic laws in the Satanic Bible are
definitely based on the idea that something can be taken away from you. It's
up to you to take it back. It wants to reverse the idea of - if someone
punches you in the face - turn the other cheek. That's all based on ego. For
someone to be like, "Oh my god, they got this one over on me, now I must
punch them back." That's because their whole existence is so vulnerable to
attack. See, like in the song "Nothing Is Not" - how can you defeat that
which finds nourishment in your attack. It's like the idea of being
something that no attack can touch, that no change can be made, that nothing
can be taken away. You cannot become less or more. It just always is. You
just are. There's no can or want. There's no levels or standards. All that's
in the ego. See, to me, what's real is when you get those spaces between
your thoughts when you are not thinking about anything. There's a profound
power there and it goes way beyond the analytical mind. It's actually blank.
Nothing. It's just nothing. The mind would say, "That's worthless. I can't
measure it. I can't eat it. I can't cook with it. I can't buy or pay my
bills with it. It's worthless." But it is not worthless because it is like
recharging your batteries, kind of. The thing is, our conversation is into
such big things that it's kind of hard for me to tell you what I think in a
very accurate, in depth way really quick. There's so much to it. We could
talk for weeks and still not cover everything.
MU: So, let's reel it in.
TA: At the end of the day, it doesn't matter about anything that you did if
you don't feel good about it. Really, the only thing important is feeling
good, because at the end of the day that is the value. It's a feeling not a
thing. When your whole self worth is determined by how other people view
you, that is the idea of totally living in the ego. But when you are spirit,
that stuff doesn't mean anything. You are not attached to other people's
opinions about you. It doesn't make you change how you feel, because one
person says one thing and you're up and another person says another thing
and then you're down. You're not living in reaction. There's a knowing
without knowing - without thinking about it. It doesn't need to make sense.
It's just there. That's what you get from the meditation. It goes beyond
words. It's just a feeling, because really all of it's about a feeling
anyway. At the end of the day it's a feeling that matters more than the
physical accumulation of things.
MU: How does one go about learning about meditation?
TA: Read a book.
MU: What author do you recommend?
TA: Deepak Chopra. But to give you a basic idea of what it's about: It's a
posture. It's a breathing. It's a thing about - not as much about trying to
turn the mind off, but when the mind is wanting to judge instead of thinking
that the mind is attached to you, you are watching it like a movie. In other
words, you separate yourself from your ego and you look down at yourself as
you're watching the movie. It doesn't effect your life. It doesn't mean
anything. It doesn't have any effect. You are totally unattached. Like
sitting in a boat and just watching it go. You're watching the stuff on the
sides, to the left and to the right, just go by and it doesn't mean
anything. It's like watching an event and saying this helps me, you know,
this helps make things work for me. Judgments are not what is most
important. If you can step out of that - it's part of the game. It's like
getting into sports or something like that. You know, winning the game is
really important, but if you don't win are you supposed to go jump out a
window? Are you worthless now because you didn't win that game? It's like
being able to separate it from what's really important. It's like saying,
"I'm worth something because I won the game, but since I lost, I suck and I'
m worthless." That's someone who is letting the rules and the standards
dictate to them their worth. It's like looking at it like, "Yeah, I want to
win the game, but I love playing. Win or lose, I love playing."
MU: There is a way to relate to life like you might relate to a football
TA: I think so. A lot of it, I think, in meditation, is to somehow find
that place where you're higher than all the babbling in the mind - you're
thinking about the past, the future, what this means, what kind of house you
have compared to your friends or where you want to be and measurements,
definitions and all that kind of stuff - when you move away and look at that
as just a picture show. But Tony Robbins is saying, "Yeah, look at it like
that, but now when you are going to play the game, lets go and play it
great." Not forget that it's just a game - he says that the people that win
lose more than anybody else because they don't worry about the failures.
That's also part of detachment or representing things to yourself. That's
another thing - representing things to yourself which goes back to the thing
where nothing has any inherent meaning. There is no "right" way to
represent things to yourself that should be the only way. That's something
about the Christians where they would draw the line. They'd say, "If you
are on this side of the line you're OK, but if you're on this side you're
wrong." They'd try to pass that off for everybody. And they're not the
only ones, but it's a good example and I think everyone can relate to it.
MU: How do you think these ideas relate to heavy metal?
TA: I don't know. I don't think I look at it like that. I just happen to
love playing guitar. I love music. It's a great way to express energy that
I have. In addition to that, I've always been interested in the occult and
spirit and things like that. It mixes together very well. I guess the band
could sing about whatever, but I've just always been interested in it
because I'm one of those people that definitely is a freak, a heretic, one
of those people that doesn't fit in. Everybody knows their lines, but I don
't. I just think differently. If I would have been out in that environment
with other people saying that they didn't believe it was going to be good or
I wasn't good - if I was around all that negativity maybe I would have
strayed away or eventually got influenced somehow. Without even knowing
what I was doing, I spent more time by myself developing my style. That was
kind of cool. I was kind of rebelling, I guess, and developing my own style
of playing. People would say, "Your way of playing is out of key" or "it
doesn't make any sense." Even with the first album, I had some critic
saying, "You guys are too late with the satanic lyrics." That showed me how
they were looking at it, but I was beyond trends. I was just going to do
whatever whenever I wanted.
MU: You are known to really express yourself through your guitar.
TA: Yeah, with all my leads on this album, none of them were planned. It
was all just me winging it. I wanted to come from intuition and not from a
bunch of theory and technique. Obviously, I've learned theory or technique,
so I had some order to my playing. But I just heard the music go by and I
just started playing. It's kind of like the feeling of playing with your
eyes closed. Playing with the inner psyche, as opposed to trying to
engineer and calculate.
MU: Would you identify yourself as a guitarist?
TA: Sure. That's one of the main things I do, definitely. I love the
music I play. I love whatever I've created and whatever impact that's had
on the musical field. Sure, I like the idea of smoking some killer solos
and thinking, "Man, that fucking solo is so fast and unlike anyone else can
play." Not that it is better or worse - just unlike - it's different. I
like being different. That's something that's really cool. What I try to
do with my music is capture stuff that's from another world - where I'm
really from - and bring that into this world. I was influenced by Eddie Van
Halen, but I can't play like Eddie Van Halen. Even if I wanted to, I couldn
't play his licks like him. I certainly think like, "What would Eddie Van
Halen do if he was playing this lead?" and try to bring some of that out.
Or a mix of an Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix approach. In my own
creative imagination pretend that he is playing through me. Other times I
just want to play whatever. Sometimes I like to think of some weird style -
like drunken kung fu style - and think of what a drunken guitar style would
be. What's a drunken scale? Me and Mike Davis used to joke about drunken
scales and what that would be like. I think of guitar runs and I think of a
hot rod doing a whole shot burnout and what that would be like - leaving the
little bits of rubber on the pavement, it's sittin' there just burning, and
finally it lunges forward - trying to get that feeling into a lick.
MU: Does your music speak?
TA: It doesn't have any one pattern, I don't think. It's all over the
place. Some music, I think of building a dungeon for Dungeons & Dragons. I
think of a song and I think of each rhythm being a different room or a
different encounter and that's a song. I did all sorts of creative stuff
because that's just the kind of guy I am. I am very creative and
imaginative. That's just what I like to do. I look at things really weird.
MU: How does that relate to the words that are eventually put to the song?
When Steve Tucker writes the lyrics, for example, do they relate directly to
the thoughts that are in your head when you write the music?
TA: Well. No. The leads being like a whole shot with the muscle car or
the dungeon from Dungeons & Dragons - the words have nothing to do with
that. . . on that level. But if you back up several layers higher and you
look at it from another perspective, it's all one. It's all
self-expression. The details don't matter. It all comes from this place of
energy inside and letting it come out. It changes with each person's mind
that would look at it. The way life is.
MU: Is there any theme on 'Gateways To Annihilation'?
TA: Sure. An example of this theme is, like, someone like the Christians
of the past - who felt their beliefs were so true that everyone must abide
by them because it makes so much sense to them that that's the way it's
gotta be for everybody - and that person coming to terms with finding out
that it ain't that way. So that their whole structure - the mental belief
structure - when it's all based on something that they find out was not so
right - it crumbles and their stomach falls out. You really believed that
something was a certain way and all of a sudden you find out that it wasn't
quite that way. That's stunning. Someone's whole world caves in on itself
in a symbolic way. In other words, everyone's always faced some time in
their life where something hit 'em. Some news that was stunning and they
went blank. The ground underneath them fell in. It's something about
belief. Deepak Chopra says very much about - I mean, not even him, but
science - do we really think everything we're seeing is the truth? There's
more empty space in all things than any solid particles. There was a belief
back in. . . I don't even know all the terminology because I am not a
science student. But, like, the difference between Newton's Law and Quantum
Physics - the idea of things being separate parts. They thought there were
all these parts that make up the whole, but now that they can look into
things deeper they find out that the makeup of stuff is just waves or
energy. It breaks beyond every little part that they thought was a part and
that was where it stopped. That thing breaks into other things and it gets
to where there's not even any particles anymore. There's more nothingness
than something. There's more space than substance. So with that all
business and medicine and everybody's way of thinking shifted. It was a
paradigm shift. That's why there's now this other type of healing -
holistic healing which is witchcraft. It is, basically, the witchcraft that
people would burn witches at the stake for way back when and now it's
accepted. Have you heard anything about holistic healing?
MU: I have, but I don't know much about it.
TA: Well, it's the idea of chokras or energy levels. This is something
that cannot be touched. It's not physical. It not based on fact. . . I
guess, through Quantum Physics, through calculations, they think, "Yeah, OK
that kind of does make sense." Even though maybe they can't look at it with
a microscope - can't really see the soul - you can see stuff that you can
think is the soul. They're starting to really believe that, "Yeah, there
really is a soul. Yeah, there really is a lot more to stuff than just the
physical stuff." They're starting to actually believe that.
MU: When you take your beliefs and ideas and put them out there for public
consumption, do you do that just for yourself, or do you have an interest in
sharing the information?
TA: Well, I've always had an interest in sharing stuff when I learn stuff.
I'm not trying to preach, and I'm not trying to say that I have all the
answers or that people have to accept what I have to say. That's why I
always try to give reference points. I say the Kabbalah, and I study Deepak
Chopra, and I say these different things - Tony Robbins - and if anyone is
interested in any of this stuff, besides just trying to go by what I say, to
go and check it out for themselves.
MU: Are you trying to teach or enlighten people?
TA: I'm just trying to share stuff, I guess.
MU: Is that something that's exciting about putting out an album and going
out on tour to perform?
TA: Yeah, but the whole thing is, too, that for me, the music doesn't even
need any of that. You can take the music - with this album I am really more
focused on the feeling and the energy beyond the music. This album is more
about the silent spaces between the thoughts. There's not a lot of focus on
trying to tell people what things mean. It's more like, take this and get
your own meaning. Put it up against your own reference point, your own
experiences. Like, when you listen to the record, just listen to it and don
't think about what anything means. Just see how it feels.
MU: You could sit and play guitar all day long. What's exciting about
recording an album and putting it out there for everyone to hear?
TA: I don't know. I think back to when, before I learned to play guitar, I
was just a listener and how I enjoyed the feeling of music. The feeling of
Eddie Van Halen. The feeling of Pink Floyd. The feeling of any of this
kind of stuff. What I would get when I listened to it. How I'd be moved
by it. I didn't know music, so I didn't know what these scales meant. It's
just all about the feeling. It was just vibrations and notes and sounds and
flow. To me, that's really the most important thing about the band - and
music. Not the image and not the meaning.
MU: There is some interest in sharing that.
TA: Oh, yeah, absolutely. The interest of showing this feeling - there it
is on the record.
MU: You share it on disc and then you go out on tour and you perform it.
TA: Yeah, because I think that's the best way to enjoy music - to close
your eyes and shut off the mind and stop thinking about how the pitches are
and what key or how fast something is or whatever. Just let the mind kind
of go. Step outside of it. Flow with the music and see how it flows
through the self. What it does for you, how it moves you. Trying to get
more of a pure experience besides having a bunch of filters that it has to
MU: Do you relate to this as solely as an artist, or are you a business
TA: I just think of it as an artist. If I was a business person. . . You
mean as far as trying to make a lot of money with it? I think I'd be
playing a little bit different kind of music.
MU: It must be a good feeling to know that people are into it so that you
can continue to play the stuff you want to play. You've made a living out
of something that you love.
TA: Yeah. I definitely feel very fortunate about that. I think a lot of
that, too, goes into what kind of energy it is. I don't think that people
just like Morbid Angel because of this idea of, you know, all the philosophy
or the evil or the fury or whatever. I think it's that they hear the music
and it's just, "Wow! This stuff is cool, different. I can't hear that kind
of stuff by listening to this other band." It's Morbid Angel. They also
see how we've stuck to our guns and keep doing it. I think a lot of it is
just a special approach to songwriting and performance. I think there's
something that makes us stand out a little bit in a different way. The
energy - I think people pick up on the energy. The purpose - because it is
a spiritual thing. It is coming more from nothingness, than, like,
fabricated in the mind and constructed like that - engineered a specific way
to fit into something. I think it's got more depth to it than that. I
think people tap into that. At the end of the day, it's a feeling. It's
all about feeling. Everything that results is a feeling. Anything you're
doing is to achieve a feeling. That's something Tony Robbins said that's so
brilliant. That's something that really gets to where the bottom line is
about life - that everything we do is to move toward a favorable feeling and
move away from a disfavorable feeling. Move towards pleasure and move away
from pain. A good example is someone who is into physical pain and they get
pleasure out of it. The end is still to move towards pleasure.
MU: Does it make you feel good to play to a room of 5000 people as opposed
to a room of 10? Do you derive pleasure from expanding your fanbase?
TA: I think it's great to have more people like it than less, but when I
play I really don't pay attention to how many people are out there as much
as I'm in my own zone. I kind of transcend. . . When I play, I play from
a meditative state. I am not a performer that is out there performing for
people in the same way. I'm just there doing my thing in all directions.
It goes further than the sound can reach.
MU: Well, what's more pleasurable about playing for a room full of people
than just playing by yourself? Or is it?
TA: Well there's energy. You can feed off of other people. There's just
an energy that happens. I definitely find pleasure in playing guitar, there'
s no doubt about that, and these songs are ferocious. They have a lot of
power. In the past, I've said a lot of things about how I think that our
music is so exceptionally powerful on big scale levels. There's people that
think I sound arrogant, but I think that our songs are fucking over the top.
I don't think they play games. I think they come out and they seriously
show people what extreme music is about.
MU: The tour with Pantera has been rescheduled.
TA: Now it's going to be a little longer. I was kind of concerned if we'd
still be considered part of the bill, but we found out that we are still on
it. I'm definitely looking forward to that. I think that's going to be
totally incredible; even if we only play for a half an hour. It's a great
opportunity, and it's going to be a lot of fun.
MU: There's going to be a lot of energy in those rooms.
TA: Yeah, I think so.
MU: What's different about 'Gateways To Annihilation' than previous Morbid
TA: These songs are more based on groove, a real heavy groove as opposed to
just lightning speeds. And most of the songs are played on seven-string
guitar, so they're downtuned. The thing is with music, fast songs can do
certain things and slow songs can do certain things. If you got so much
stuff going at the same time and real fast and complicated it kind of turns
into a rumble. But if you slow it down, it gives things a little bit of
breathing room. You can make it out a little better. So, there's a lot of
technical types of polyrhythms with some of the guitar parts where the drums
at a speed that's not so super, super fast all the time. It is able to
breathe. We've definitely played lots of technical stuff where everything's
going real busy, and then it's super-fast and it blows by. You never really
know what's going on until you watch it, and then you see what actually
happened. But on this, some of it you can hear the interplay of polyrhythms
and stuff like that.
MU: Was that a decision that you made, or did it just come out that way?
TA: Well, we always like to make a contrast from one album to the next.
MU: Nobody can accuse Morbid Angel of putting out the same album over and
TA: Formulas mostly was fast - blitzkrieg - and had a more raw sound. This
album is more drawn out, and actually I think shows a little of the
influence of Pink Floyd - or the Gathering, they're my favorite band right
now. My favorite album is 'How To Measure A Planet'. I like the first
disc. I think that's brilliant - an absolutely brilliant piece. But I also
like 'Nighttime Birds' and I like the newest one as well. I think the
Gathering is one of the most brilliant bands today and America needs to
realize that and give credit. They really should be something here 'cuz
they've got a lot going on. They've done - like what you said about Morbid
Angel. Their albums don't sound the same. There's a big change in the
production and vibe of 'Nighttime Birds' going into 'How To Measure A Planet
', and then into 'if_then_else'. So, they are not thinking, like, "this
album did really well, so let's do Part Two." We've never done that.
'Altars Of Madness' was a great success, and Blessed is nothing like 'Altars
Of Madness'. We certainly didn't take the safe road and do 'Altars Of
Madness' Part Two. I think that's something that people like about our band
is that we're not worried about stuff like that. We just do what we want.
We're risk takers.
MU: There's a lot of feeling on 'Gateways To Annihilation'.
TA: Oh, yeah! I think there's a damn lot of feeling - and, I think, right
down to the guitar solos. Those guitar solos step out, and show something
MU: Were the solos done in one take?
TA: Some of them. I do my guitar solos at my house with my ADAT. A
one-take solo is the one on 'Secured Limitation'. From beginning to end -
one take. Even when you hear a change in sound, that's me changing my
program. There's one little extra sound that I don't know how the hell it
got in there at this transition. I think it was something in mastering.
But that's definitely one whole. . . It's just me not knowing what the hell
I was gonna do and just doing whatever.
MU: Do you have any favorite solos on the album?
TA: Yeah! I think that one definitely comes out, and that's got the
drunken style and you can hear the single coil pickup. I really like to get
some of that stuff going. I am into guitar. I am into loud, exploding,
feeling guitar that's just busting out. I always picture Eddie Van Halen
when I think of guitar. I think of Jimi Hendrix, too, of course, but Eddie
Van Halen was the flash, technical guitar player who was larger than life.
He came out and just changed everything. He blew people's minds with stuff
that had never been on record before. He just did it like a master. He was
a god. So, that to me is what guitar is supposed to be about. It's
supposed to jump out and do that. That's what I think of when I try to
play. I want my guitar solos to really speak. So, it's not about what
scale it is. It's just about - man - raging. It's a feeling. It just
comes out. I always think of stuff exploding - or melting. You know,
MU: Did you take a different approach toward your playing this time around?
TA: I don't know. Not really. A lot of it's because of a different guitar
tone that turned out from different tubes and amps. The way that I used
ambient mics. Then the drums - being acoustic toms - the sound of that.
The drummming on Gateways is all triggered stuff. So, all the sounds are
real nice little, tight, compact sounds. They're in and out, and they don't
leave a bunch of extra air laying around. The snare is really perky and
bup, bup, bup, bup, bup. It's not some big sound that covers up other
stuff. When the leads come in, they get a lot of space. But, no lead has
ever been as big as the lead in 'Nothing Is Not'. That lead was the
biggest. That's because I used this special micing technique called the
anti vacuum culture. It basically makes the guitar sound like you're
outside of a big coliseum in the parking lot listening someone play guitar
inside going through all this big PA's. It's all coming through the walls,
so all you hear is the body and the size, but not the presence. So, when
that lead comes in on 'Nothing Is Not' it almost suffocates everything
because it's got more body than presence. It's funny.
MU: It's unique stuff.
TA: Yeah, I think so. That's why in the very beginning - about the
incredible dreamer - 'cuz that's what I am. I like to use my imagination
and have fun with this. That's one of the reasons I love being in this
band. I am not just doing this stuff for myself and just listening to it on
my little homemade tape. It's actually in the store. People in all these
different cities and states and countries are hearing this and getting moved
in some way or another by it. Somehow there's some impact. It's created,
and there it is. If I hadn't done it, then it wouldn't be there. Somebody
else would do something maybe like it, but I did it and there it is. I try
to do special things. I've done a lot of creative types of things. Like
with my fan technique where I use an electric fan between the microphone and
the cabinet to make this weird sound that comes in on some of the tracks.
You can hear that in the last lead of 'At One With Nothing' and a few of the
other ones too. It goes beyond a guitar effect. It gets into actually
manipulating how the sound goes into the microphone. I started doing that
on Formulas, but I carried it into this album, too. That's definitely the
more acid approach. The more psychedelic, Pink Floyd - see, Pink Floyd
would do something like that. I really like to go beyond just looking at a
lead as a lead by looking at it as landscape - like a dungeon - like a
special little room with a trap. (laughing)
MU: Do you feel like you are constantly expanding in new directions, or
have you always been at the same level of creativity?
TA: If it wasn't continually growing and expanding, I'd quit. I can't do
things half-assed, not things that are important. I couldn't continue in
this band if someone said, "Well, do it just like this because that was a
sure success." If I didn't want to do it that way, I wouldn't. I get a
little selfishness, or something, but I do what I want, when I want. That's
the way it is. That's the way it should be for everybody. That's what Tony
Robbins says. He says, "I can do what I want, when I want, with whomever I
want, for as long as I want. . ." That was one of his definitions for
success. I like that idea. That's the way that our band is set up. Even
when we were on Giant Records, we still gave them what we wanted and they
put it out. So, that was a first.
MU: Where do you want Morbid Angel to go?
TA: I don't know. Wherever. Just keep going.
MU: It's experimental. There's no map.
TA: I don't think there's any map. It's just do what you feel. Let it
come out. Have fun with it. You know, this stuff with manipulating the
sound as it comes out of the cabinet adds more fun to it. I want to do some
fresh stuff to keep it fun and exciting. That's why I did it in the
beginning. It might be some riff that I come up with that I just think is
so cool - that's where I get my excitement from.
MU: And don't you want to be like a little kid and run out into the street
with your new toy and say, "Look what I got?"
TA: Definitely. (enthusiastically) I am a little kid. Definitely.
MU: So you come up with this new toy and you want to share that with
TA: Exactly. That's it! Trying to be the kid. In this world where kids
aren't cool and "you're too old for that." I didn't listen to any of that.
But it's definitely paradigm scrambling because it's something that makes
other people uneasy. They don't understand it. The normal way of thinking
is, "Oh, that's kid stuff, you shouldn't do that anymore." It's like,
"Welcome back to the real world." Well, I wrote it in the last album, I
create myself and my world.
MU: You still enjoy playing with your toys.
TA: Yeah, guitar and playing Quake III - I have a clan called the Sailor
Scouts. It's a fun clan. I go through phases. I like to ride my BMX bike
and do some silly things with that. Whatever. I definitely like to play
and have fun. I think that's great. It goes back to the belief thing. It'
s not normal. It's almost the kind of thing where people categorize me as
being a sick. . . "You're sick. When are you going to grow up? That's not
the way it's supposed to be." Who says!?! Who says it's not the way it's
supposed to be.
MU: When are you gonna grow up, Trey?
TA: (laughing) I don't know. . .
review of Morbid Angel 'Gateways to Annihilation'
Interview: Brant Wintersteen [email@example.com]
Photography: Cynthia Pelzner [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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