In June 2015, after a period of just over ten years you parted ways with Trey Azagthoth and Morbid Angel for the second time in your career. Since then you have been involved in different bands and projects like I AM MORBID, THE HEADCAT and the Outlaw country project and you seem to be enjoying yourselves with these projects. How is life after Morbid Angel these days?
Well at least it is much less dramatic. I mean without being negative that was very challenging towards the end. I am relieved of that at this point.
After taking some time off from the music scene you soon returned with a new look wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots playing Outlaw Country music and it was not quite what the metal scene expected.
Well, I have other sides to me that I decided I was not going to leave just dying on the vine anymore, so I decided that one of these changes was going to be that I was going to explore whatever the hell I was going to explore at that time. So that was one of the things that I wanted to do for a while, I just added it to the repertoire.
Luckily for the fans of your older work, around the same time you also started I AM MORBID, together with former Morbid Angel drummer Tim Yueng, guitarist Bill Hudson (Circle II Circle, Trans-siberian-Orchesta) and guitarist Ira Black (Metal Church, Lizzy Borden, Vicious Rumors) to perform classic Morbid Angel songs from the first four Morbid Angel albums that you wrote. I must say I was kind of relieved to see that you are still into extreme metal!
Listen I am a metal guy, I could not kill that if I wanted to. I just wanted to add a few extra things to life.
With I AM MORBID you have been playing shows all over the world in the past two years, so there must be a demand for it. How did you experience these shows?
Like you said, there is a demand for it. Obviously our setlist with that band is part of my history, I love all of it and it is great to go out and perform music, because this is what I do, you know. I write songs, I perform songs, that is my life. Things beyond that may be distractions, my life is music. I enjoy making music, I enjoy writing music, I enjoy collaborating and I enjoy making music by myself. Just anything that is music, I love it.
The main reason we are having this interview is of course the promotion of the upcoming debut album Something Wicked Marches In from VLTIMAS, your new band with Rune Blashemer Eriksen and Flo Mounier. I have been listening to the promo over the last few days and I find it an incredibly strong album. Do you think the three of you have created something really special here, something that could become potentially really big??
Well, what do you think?
Well, I think it definitely could!
Yeah, I can agree on that with you and I think it is special. It is a very good sum of the three components. My partners have amazing skill sets and amazing creativity. They are seasoned veterans at this point and it was easy to make a good fit.
Rune Blasphemer Eriksen and Flo Mounier have been working together over the years with a band called Nader Sadek and recorded the album In The Flesh in 2011 with one of the other singers of Morbid Angel, Steve Tucker. How come this time around they asked you to join them for VLTIMAS?
I have no idea about their previous stuff. I did not know Flo Mounier prior to meeting him at the airport. He is a very well accomplished drummer. But I have been friends with Rune for many years and we started discussing some of these things about two years ago and it worked so we decided to make it official. We had an email one night, a very casual conversation. He said we should work on something someday, that is how he put it. And I said, ok, how about today? I guess he was impressed with that answer, so he sent me a few ideas of his. I listened to it and it was great, so I said, yeah, I am in! Actually very simple.
The three of you all come from different countries and a different background. All of you have earned your credits in the scene in the past 30 years. How easy was it to work with each other and were you all on the same wavelength?
I would say yes in general. It takes a minute for everybody to learn the way each other thinks and the things someone would like of not like, as with any human being. But it became pretty obvious to me on day number two that this was going to be really special.
A lot of extreme music is very dark and atmospheric these days, and instead of concentrating on aggressive riffs and blastbeats only, a lot of extreme bands put a lot of emotion and atmosphere in their music these days. With VLTIMAS you guys do just that, combining mid-paced dark and ominous riffs with aggressive parts to create the perfect dynamics. When the three of you met up in Texas, did you already know in what direction the music would go?
Yeah, some of it was worked out in the room but we had a general sense that we wanted it to be broad, but it also needed to have the appropriate signatures of each of us and I think we accomplished that very nicely. It is a compilation of all out personalities.
One can clearly hear where most of the riffs are coming from since they have distinct Blasphemer sound, but apparently the three of you all came together in Texas to work on the songs during the Noiz Faktory Sessions. Can you tell us something about the rest of the writing process?
I have been a fan of Rune his guitar playing for a long time. We already had a mutual respect of what our capabilities were. So we actually sat down and said, let us do this. We started off by not knowing what the level of comfortability was with everybody, so I found us a studio that is very close to me here. We chose here, because it was kind of easy for everybody to come here and stay with me and then we began working. We had two sessions at The Noiz Faktory in Georgetown, Texas and then we had two sessions at my home. That is where we got a lot of work done. So it took us four sessions in total.
Four sessions only, to create these nine monstrous tracks? Wow, how do you do that?
You know what it really is, it is discipline and the fact that we are not beginners. We all bring a certain level of history and experience to this band the we rely on each other. Because everyone is an expert in their field.
Something Wicked Marches In was recorded in England with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano, who also did excellent work for Paradise Lost and Solstafir recently and now also for VLTIMAS. What made you guys decide to go to England and specifically to Arellano to record your album?
Well, at this point, personally speaking, I recorded all over the world, so it does not necessarily matter to me where it is recorded. Because I am going to do whatever I have to do, whether I am in my bathroom or whether I am in the most expensive studio in the world. Rune had worked on a few things with Gomez. Rune was really keen on working with him. He had a really strong opinion about it, which is fine with me. When we got there and the workflow progressed it became obvious that that was a very good choice. I like Gomez his style. In a strange way he is kind of old school, because everything is very analog. There is not a lot of computer tricks, everything was recorded very natural. No guitars re-amped, no chopping the drums and sampling and replacing everything, like a lot of the more modern stuff is, we did not do any of that. He is really good and he is a hell of a guy too, we get along well.
How did you guys come up with the bandname VLTIMAS? What does it stand for?
Actually that was my idea. It is not really a word, but it encompasses the flavor of where we are all at. It is a gathering of ultimates, if you wish.
I noticed you used two latin songtitles (Praevalidus and Diabolus Est Sanguis), just like the last Morbid Angel album Illud Divinum Insanus had Omni Potens and Profundis-Mea Culpa. What do you find so intriguing about Latin songtitles?
I enjoy taking liberties with language. I make up words. There is not necessarily a reason to it other than that it is an ancient and for all intents and purposes a dead language. But it is not dead, in contrary. I like to tip my hat to the grandeur of old, to a degree.
How important are the lyrics for you, do they send out a message? What are they about?
The lyrics are very important to me because I am bearing my soul. Everything is pure emotion and it always has been. I am speaking in a lyrical way, it is my commentary on life. I do not spell out songs, but I certainly encourage people to read and learn an awful lot about me when they do.
The second single you released just recently was a lyric video for the song Total Destroy! From my understandings it is about humanity destroying the world and nature trying restore the balance, is that correct?
That is very close, it is the misanthropy part of it that works. People are concerned that we are destroying the planet. The planet has the ability to destroy us. There will be a day of reckoning coming and I welcome it. This song is about that welcoming. Earth will do it whether we like it or not. Not everything is up to us. We fancy ourselves as humans that we are above everything, but we are really not. I mean viruses and disease are way above us. We do not want to admit it, but that is the truth.
The cover artwork for the album looks really wicked and is a very detailed and impressive piece of art, which will undoubtedly look really great on a vinyl album cover. Was this artwork specifically designed for the album?
It was created by renowned Polish artist Zbigniew M. Bielak (Ghost, Paradise Lost). We gave him some ideas, but the main thing is that we sent him the songs and the lyrics and we wanted his interpretation as an artist, what did he get from that and this is what he came up with. It is always better that way I think. It took him a long time, he spent months and months on it. I cannot wait to see it that big. I do not want to see it on a computer screen, I want to see it on a poster that is five meters square.
It is great to see that VLTIMAS is not only a studio project, but you are taking the band on stage as well. I see you have shows lined up for Wacken Open Air, Hellfest and Tons of Rock. Are you excited to present this material live? And will there be a proper tour for the album?
People have said to me oh another project. I guess anything that you work on is a project, but this is not a project band, this is a real band that will be taking a lot of priority. It is our plan to do a proper tour. We have been writing songs. We are virtually ready to go in and record the next record already. I mean, we are not doing that, but we could. We could go in and start working on another record tomorrow. We have a lot of music and we have a lot of art that we want to share and I would love to tour as much as possible, but it has to make sense. It is a good start to do some festivals and look for the types of tour that will allow us to express ourselves the way we want to.
Do you think VLTIMAS could become more successful than Morbid Angel, Cryptopsy or Aura Noir at the moment? And would it be possible for VLTIMAS to become your main band for the years to come??
I think it could. It is all about doing it and making it happen. That is exactly our intent. To do it and make it happen.
All three of you have other successful bands as well, and Cryptopsy is probably the one of them touring the most. How will that work out, should VLTIMAS really lift off after the release in March?
Well, does Flo need to let Cryptopsy go? Does anybody need to let anything go? I do not think so. But we will see when the time comes. I know that Flo is 100 percent committed to this, as am I, as is Rune. I am seeing four, five, six albums, no problem, unless I get hit by a car tomorrow.
VLTIMAS is a perfect blend of apocalyptic death metal mixed with modern black metal and it is good to see that you are still very much into extreme metal. What music do you listen to nowadays? Which releases have made an impact on you lately?
Recent stuff? You know, I mean things come down the pipe, people share various different things with me. Much of it I am not super impressed with, unfortunately. I always like it when somebody plays something for me that I really like. Unfortunately that is few and far between. So I always for whatever reason go back to some of the old stuff that still moves me in the same wat that it did when I first heard it as a kid. So in terms of new stuff, I really do not know. I like making music, I do not like anything as much as what I do myself, let us put it that way.
Something Wicked Marches In will be released at the end of March, so that is another two and a half months to go. What can we expect from VLTIMAS after the album is released?
As you mentioned earlier we have some festivals coming up and we are looking forward to continuing VLTIMAS. We want to play, we want to share the music with people. So we are actively looking at different opportunities right now. But there is no experience like a live experience, which is a different experience than listening to the record. I, for one, am very impatient. I wish the record were coming out tomorrow and I wish that I was getting on a plane tomorrow to go to the first festival, but that is not the case, so I have to be patient. Really, the record is done, let us hurry up. But you cannot hurry these things, there scheduling etc. When it comes, it is gonna come and it is gonna come very hard!
Ok, that sums it up, thank you for this interview David, it was a pleasure talking to you.
Thank you too, and thank you for the support. I always enjoy talking to people who are interested in music you know. So far the response to just a couple of singles we have released has been really good. We will see where we will go from here. Everything has been so positive, which I am not used to that. Usually that must not be the case, It has been very positive, overwhelmingly positive, so I guess that is a good sign.