DATE OF INTERVIEW: 30th April 2019
I AM MORBID
METAL DISCOVERY: It was announced at the start of the month that Ira Black has left the band, and you’ve replaced him with Kelly McLaughlin from Pessimist. What led to Ira’s departure, and is Kelly now a permanent member?
DAVID: Well, I mean, what’s permanent? You know, I may die tomorrow and that’s permanently the end of the tour. So, Ira and I have been friends for many, many years. Good guitar player, good friend, but he basically got another opportunity that he felt was gonna be good for him. And great, we’re still friends; nobody got fired. And Kelly has also been a friend of mine for many, many years.
(David Vincent on his musical divergences into outlaw country and rockabilly)
"First and foremost, I’m a metal guy, and I always will be. That’s just who I am. But I do enjoy roots music."
David Vincent at Rebellion, Manchester, 30th April 2019
Photograph copyright © 2019 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Thanks to Tom Brumpton for arranging the interview
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Review + photos of Morbidfest @ Rebellion, Manchester, 30th April 2019:
MD: And he’s been a Morbid Angel fan over the years, so he’d already played some of the stuff?
DAVID: Yeah, yeah, he’s pretty familiar with it. Obviously, Timothy’s been playing with me for many, many years already. And Bill, another guy who I’ve been friends with… you know, you meet musicians along the way and you get on with them well and, it’s like, “Ah, great guitar player.”
MD: I noticed Kelly uses Jackson guitars, so has he got a Jackson Kelly in there?
DAVID: He does; he has two of them, in fact.
MD: That’s an endorsement deal right there, surely, seeing as his name is Kelly?!
DAVID: Well, perhaps. I don’t get too involved with telling people what to play, you know, if they’re comfortable with their instrument. As long as it’s not pink!
DAVID: That’d be a little dodgy!
MD: You were always pushing death metal boundaries with your music in Morbid Angel, along with other pioneering bands like Death, Atheist, Cynic, etc… but do you think that’s a bygone era now? Do you think boundaries have all been pushed as much as they can within the death scene? There’s some interesting stuff still out there but, you know, there will never be another Chuck Schuldiner.
DAVID: Well, here’s the thing - the only thing missing from new stuff is the personality. Because Chuck, I mean, you knew immediately that it was him. You know what I mean? And, now, there’s so many things, and there’s so much that is so very similar, including production. And, I don’t know, there are bands that I like because I hear music every day that I like, of many different genres. I wanna hear personality and I wanna hear passion. I wanna hear conviction and, if it speaks to me, then I’ll probably like it.
MD: You released your rather fantastic ‘Drinkin’ with the Devil’ country record a couple of years ago, so has it been a refreshing experience being able to show a more versatile side to your talents?
DAVID: You know, I just felt inspired. I’ve written so many songs and it’s just a question of getting around to it, but I’d like to do another record this year, in fact. Again, it’s a very personal thing. I only made vinyl and some videos… and I maybe play half a dozen shows a year with it; special events and special occasions. It’s something that I want to do, it’s not on the front-burner. It’s not forgotten, it’s just something every now and then. I’ll sit around my house and just pick up an acoustic guitar and, you know, sing about the day. The next verse will come, and then the next verse will come, and yeah.
MD: It always seems to me that the metal scene is very accepting of other genres of music, more so than other scenes embracing metal, so has feedback from the death metal hordes generally been positive?
DAVID: Well, it just depends on where you’re at. In Texas, where I live, most of the folks grew up listening to country and metal. There are some people who are purists and they only want a certain kind of thing, which is fine. It’s okay; I don’t expect everybody to follow me through all these nooks and crannies I go to. I’m doing it for me and, if people like it, that’s good, too. I mean, I like it, that’s what matters to me.
MD: Have you succeeded in attracting country purists, too, or is it mainly Morbid Angel fans?
DAVID: No, not really. It’s been more… well, some of it is the things I’ve chosen to play, which are more honky-tonk or country festivals or this kind of thing. I did play one thing the Halloween before last, and they were asking me, “Oh, we want you to do I Am Morbid.” I’m like, “No, that’s not gonna happen.” And they said, “How do you want to get involved?”; it’s like this Halloween thing where they have films and bands and other stuff. I said, “Well, I’ll do the country thing”, and they’re like, “Okay.” And I was the only one. There were a lot of metal people there and a lot of people drove… there was this one guy, I remember him telling me; he said, “You know, I came down to see this”… he’s telling me this after the show… “and I really expected it to be horrible”; “Why?”… and, “Because you don’t have a history in that kind of music.” I said, “Well, was it horrible?”, and he goes, “No, it was fucking great, I really liked it, I drove a long way to see this.” I mean, I don’t want to do something that’s terrible, obviously. It’s personal and it’s not gonna be for everybody. I mean, I don’t like the pop stuff; it’s a little more edgy.
MD: The thing that struck me most about it is that it’s got spirit. There’s a lot of emotion in there.
DAVID: So you’ve heard it?
MD: I have.
DAVID: So you’ve heard it?
MD: It’s great, yeah. I’m not a massive country fan; it’s not a genre of music I’ve ever had any great affinity with. But the stuff you’ve done… maybe I’m converted now!
DAVID: You know what it is, man? I mean, even many metal fans that I’ve met have said, “Eughhh, I don’t like country”. But, “Tell me you don’t like Johnny Cash”… “Oh, I like Johnny Cash.” And, “Tell me you don’t like Waylon Jennings”…”Oh, I like Waylon Jennings.” And, so, that’s where I’m coming from. I’m not coming from this tractor shit. I like old school… just down and dirty.
MD: The guys you play with, when you do these country shows, are they into your heavier stuff?
DAVID: I use different people for different things, but they’re not really metal people. One guy grew up… the drummer that I’m currently working with, his whole family played for the Opry. I mean, they were the Opry band for years… generations. His grandfather played steel guitar; his father played whatever; he played drums… you know, that’s what he does. But he likes metal on the side. Texas guy… typical. Same way with my bass player - he likes rockabilly and stuff, but metal and country. All these guys grew up with all this stuff because that’s how it works in Texas.
MD: Have you got any other musical surprises up your sleeve? Are we gonna hear any other genres of music you might branch out into?
DAVID: First and foremost, I’m a metal guy, and I always will be. That’s just who I am. But I do enjoy roots music. I enjoyed doing the Head Cat reunion thing. I’d never done it before; it was just something I was asked to do and I was like, “That sounds cool, alright, I’ll do that.” A little tribute to Lemmy, you know. So, yeah, if it strikes me in the right way and I wanna do it, I’ll do it. Who knows what the future brings. As long as it’s musical and it’s heartfelt, I’m all about it.
MD: Finally, then, have you discussed the possibility within the band of writing and recording new material with I Am Morbid? There’s some serious talent between the four of you, so it could result in something pretty special.
DAVID: We’ll see what happens. I’m gonna be quite busy with Vltimas for the foreseeable future.
MD: There’ll be some live shows?
DAVID: Yeah, as soon as this tour’s over, I go home for a couple of weeks and then I come back and that’s the first presentation of Vltimas.
MD: I’ve listened to some of the tracks - it’s pretty refreshing stuff. Familiar, too, but refreshing.
DAVID: It’s gotten a lot of really good press and the fan reactions have been great. A lot of musicians have reacted really well to it and that’s always cool because… old timers… lifers, as I put it; people who have been in it a long time.
MD: And you have one of the world’s finest drummers with Flo Mounier.
DAVID: He’s fantastic. I didn’t know him prior to starting the band.
MD: You’d never listened to Cryptopsy at all?
DAVID: Well, that’s not really my wheelhouse, some of that newer stuff. I mean, I’m familiar with it but that’s not what I gravitate towards. I’m more into classical stuff, but he pulled out all the stops. He’s able to do anything. But one thing that he doesn’t really do in Cryptopsy is the type of drums that he did in Vltimas, which is some big groove stuff. I mean, he’s a hell of a player, and this is an avenue where he can use some of those things that you probably wouldn’t ever hear on a Cryptopsy record.
MD: Definitely. And good luck with the album.
DAVID: Ah man, it’s doing well.
MD: Thanks so much for your time.
DAVID: Thanks man, cheers.
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