AN INTERVIEW WITH MORBID ANGEL
At the beginning of April 1999, Morbid Angel headlined various "No Mercy Festival" tour gigs throughout Europe, supported by, among others, Emperor, The Crown, Impaled Nazarene and Limbonic Art. A fine opportunity to try and interview Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel. At our arrival the band were out, but after some time they did appear. We were taken into the backstage catacombs of the 013 venue of Tilburg - one hell of a well designed venue, opened not too long before - and put in a room with Trey, a tray of raw vegetables and a few beers. Trey wore a baseball cap with his hair tied back, quite different from the way he appears on stage. We took out the questions and, basically, barely stood a chance to get a word in edgewise from beginning to end :-)
The in-depth look at the philosophy behind Morbid Angel follows...
About your lyrics, are they original Sumerian, like from clay tablets or anything?
Trey: They're original.
So what about words like Chthulhu? I think that's something Lovecraft made up by himself...
Trey: Right, but I changed the spelling. I put in an extra 'h'. It's just like the difference between 'tree' and 'me'. Change a couple of letters around and it's fine. The thing is, we always spoke about Chthulhu in the beginning by different spellings and the sound of this particular title stayed with me. I didn't really want to write it off and change it completely. But every chance I get, I explain clearly that my lyrics have nothing to do with H.P. Lovecraft. The only thing that would bring us together would be the Necronomicon. Because I studied the Necronomicon before I branched off into other Sumerian type of things and other books on magic and the occult. The Necronomicon to me is reversed. The Elder Gods are actually the disease and the Ancient Ones are the only thing that's real. It's not that they're benevolent, it has to do with useful, useless, something that stands on its own, something that needs to be defended. To me the Elder Gods are of the Ego. Some people think the Ego is all there is. I don't mean arrogance, I mean the consciousness of the mind. They think that that's what they are, but that's not what they are. What people really are is Spirit. Which is beyond time and space, it's weightless, it has no attachments, it's nothing more than a pure potential to create all things. The Spirit's at the top. You can study the Caballa, you can study Chakras, you can study Buddhism and Hinduism and all these other religions. They're all saying the same thing. That unmanifest pure potential state is pure Spirit and that's where everything is one. Everything is a great ocean and there's no difference between one piece of the ocean and another. In quantum physics everything's the same in a quantum level, in the most fundamental level. There's no particles, everything here's just an illusion, because there's more space than there's solid stuff. That proves that all this stuff is not even real. All this stuff's a perception that's been conditioned by beliefs. Mankind is the one who calls things things, who labels things. The mind has caused the separation between the human being and what he really is. The individual human being is like this lower level. There is a separation between someone being alone and someone being one with everything. The thing that causes the separation is the mind. To me all the things the mind picks up in life, all the rules, judgements, definition, separation, measurements, it's all manmade, it's not real.
So what about an animal that judges the distance at which it has to start running from a predator...
Trey: It doesn't do that with the same consciousness that a man does. It's more a natural thing, more like an instinct.
But animals can be conditioned, like Pavlov's dogs...
Trey: Yeah, I guess so... OK so then they have some kind of consciousness. But I don't really pay attention to animals in that way. My studies are more about human beings and to me that human being is pure Spirit. He has the potential to become anything and everything, he has all the necessary needs. In Spirit everything is perfect. There's no lack, there's no separation, there's no disease. But the mind creates all this. The mind is limited to the realm of space.
So what you're saying is that never have to be ill for instance...
Trey: You never have to be ill. That's correct. If you're flowing properly with the chakras, then you never have to be ill. Because illness is something that happens in the Unmanifest and presents itself in the Manifest. Unmanifest is what we really are, but we result in the Manifest. And also the mind is something that looks at things and interprets things. There's a truth and a perception. Perception can be distorted. Read Deepak Chopra, if you wanna know more of this kind of idea. Anyway to me, the Elder Gods to me are just things to justify Man's own problems, so he doesn't feel so bad about his weaknesses. A lot come from the flesh, a lot come from the animal drives. Man can be the lowest form of life, is capable of it.
The word Ostx [in the FFttF album credits, the guitars were recorded in the temple of Ostx]... what does it mean?
Trey: It's just a special place. It's something that cannot be measured. It's something that people who are scientific would call hallucinogenic.
Do you have to take drugs to get there?
Trey: No, it's just a special place.
So the album is being re-released with a bonus CD, containing all the solos. Whose idea was that?
Trey: It was my idea. Because it's just fun. It's the kind of band we are. We're a very inventive band. And we're hoping that other people will catch on and be a little bit more imaginative with their stuff instead of just tiring out with the same stuff. Morbid Angel likes to offer fresh approaches. Fresh ways of staying the same, but being different, but not so different that you end up being a different band, you might as well have a different name. So "Love of Lava" is just the same as us trying the seven strings first in death metal.
OK, I'd like to talk to you a little about the song "The Invocation of the Continual One". It was on one of your demos and I found it on a bootleg from '86 as well. It was called "Morbid Angel" then. Somewhere in between it was called "The invocation of the Lord of Foulness". First of all, why did you change the name?
Trey: I just wanted to. Well, first of all, in life, if there's no change and growth there's death. Then it's just going to serve the purpose of giving something else life. I'm a very living person. I like to change, I'm vibrant, I like to do things. I'm active. To change a title... the title was good back then, but not today. As to the difference between "The Lord of Foulness" and "The Invocation of the Continual One"... Calling it "The Invocation of the Lord of Foulness" would be calling it what the enemy would call it. Calling it "The Invocation of the Continual One" is calling it what the friends would call it. Like Christians would say that a pagan way of life is evil, but pagans might say that their way of life is great and that the Christians are evil. But the Christians are against evil. So now you got a bunch of words going back and forth. So we're trying to cut through the words. I really tried to grow to the point that I wouldn't need to call it what the enemy would call it. The enemy is just the falsifiers, the enslavers of societies.
Would you say that it's a recent development in your way of thinking, that you are considering things from a more positive way?
Trey: I would say so. It might have happened earlier. But being in a band there's also... change scares fans. So to show a change which is really a growth, it has to presented in a way that people don't get confused or freak out and put some weird label on it. So to me the lyrics and direction of "Formulas..." is different and yet it is the same. In the beginning we were talking about things like "Crush the priest", and now the Christians don't do anything for me any more, they don't bother me. The use of these old words was to get motivated to loosen the chains of this limiting idea. To me, to change what's outside, you change what's inside. So then what's outside changes, but you don't actually have to destroy it, you don't have to actually physically change it. What do people want to attack anything for anyway? Because they feel a threat from it, a limitation. The real limitation is caused by the fact that the information coming from this source is causing a conflict in the heart. And when people are worried about it, it makes them rethink their own beliefs, it makes them question their own beliefs and then they start to feel worried. To me it's very powerful to accept all these Christians and all the whoevers and whatevers for what they are. And let them talk, it's just like someone talking about a different sports team.
So when exactly did this change come about, the killing Christians lyrics went all the way to "Covenant", for "Domination" you didn't write any lyrics...
Trey: Well, since "Covenant" I started to work on my shift. During the "Domination" album I already had the ideas. I always study about the occult, about the Spirit, about the truth, about the way things really are. For me the lyrics were very important. You have people that are slaves. For them to break free they have to get to the point where they'd rather die than be a slave anymore. They need to get motivated. To me, my band was motivating myself to break free from all the crap that I got from my family. Not that I hate my family, they just did what they thought was best, but they were limited in their vision. They couldn't open up and see that life is like a circle, a wheel. The truth is in the middle and you can get to it through so may points. Back then I thought it was the Christians, but it goes beyond the Christians. I don't mean all the Christians, I don't think all the Christians are bad. It's the authoritarian type of way. The few, the power people want to control wanna control all the other people and hurt them this way and hurt them that way.
Isn't that a natural consequence of having to prevent a society from turning into chaos?
Trey: It seems to me that the people that start off with really good ideas about how to run a society, they get infected by the seed of the tyrant, somehow. And they start to want to manipulate. It might start off with a really good system that's fair, but later they start to get greedy. The greed, the ill-natured intention gets inside these people.
You mean like communism... in principle everything belongs to everybody, but....
Trey: I don't know anything about communism.
Back to "The Invocation...", who was it that sang on the original version?
Trey: It was Mike Browning.
Did you change many of the lyrics?
Trey: Some of them. I wanted to make the song more about celebrating what's great, rather than poking at what's wrong. Mother Teresa said: Instead of being against what's evil, be for what's good. That's what I'm trying to shift the whole world into. Anybody that's interested in our band... I feel responsible for people taking the lyrics and maybe not understanding them or maybe thinking like "crush the priest", like, for the rest of my life. The whole thing is about coming clear. Becoming innocent once again to the point where all you have is true vision about things. You don't have any more beliefs that make you see things one way or another or make you see falsifications. There's so many things that are man-made and globally accepted that many people think that they are real, but they are not. To me nature doesn't have anything to do with something that's created in the mind. In other words, man with his mind making differences in the world is not natural. Some people think it is natural, because they think man is natural, but believe so. I believe that man spiritually is natural but mentally is not. I think that man will extinct himself, or change the world so much that he'll have to evolve or he'll be gone. I don't believe that any label is real, I don't believe there's any inherent meaning to anything.
But how can you distinguish between what is real and what is not?
Trey: The only thing real in my opinion, what I've been studying, is when you shut off the mind, when you're clear, when there's no thinking. Silent meditation or sound meditation. When you go out to nature and you listen to the birds and the water, the stream and you don't label it and you don't find any difference between your listening, you the listener, and the sound, it's one. Because when you close your eyes and you listen to my voice, can you really find a difference between my voice and you? Without words, I mean, isn't it just that there's just a sound and that's just all there is, it's a sound and you're one with the sound. But see, when you open your eyes and look, there's a distance and you're you and I'm me and I'm from America and you're here and I look like this and you look like that and I'm this age and you're that age. All these differences, but that's just an illusion.
Anyway, is there a meaning to the little bell at end of the song, since it was also used on "Blasphemy"?
Trey: Well, see, it's sound. Sound is spiritual, so it's kinda like it's a bell of calling. It's like to listen to a gong go "boing" and you meditate on that sound. It's resonating and resonating.
So do you use the bell sound for meditation?
Trey: I used it at some point.
But there was no particular reason to refer to "Blasphemy"?
Trey: You see that's the thing there, "reason". Urgh. You guys are, like, using your minds too much. So what about reason. I know you want a reason to write for the audience and all that, but I really get bored with all these questions about reason, because who cares about the reason? See, when you're looking for a meaning in something, you're missing the whole event. The meaning should not make the event any better or worse. You should not need to have a detail or need to have some association to it, in this type of stuff, in music. In life details are the difference between this and that and the other, I guess. That's all part of the game. To me, the whole purpose of Morbid Angel is to just absorb it and get your own meaning, 'cause your meaning will probably be better for you than mine. I can give you an opinion, but that's like telling you that this recipe for the cake tastes like this and here it is, read it, but you're not eating the cake and you don't know it. You don't know the cake until you eat it, you know what I mean. So the bell is just a spiritual thing, 'cause the whole album is very spiritual. It's got that kind of a direction. It's trying to help people to become clear. To show them what the problems are, or give them my opinion on what the problems are. I'm not trying to start a new religion or a church. I'm not telling people that my words are the only words, 'cause that's crap. It's only advice. Because everyone has to find it for himself. It's like the idea that you try to get to a certain place in town and you can be walking on your own, but then you might not find it. You can ask people, they can describe the place for you, but that description is not the place. You need to get to the place and be there, you need to know the place. I'm just giving some advice, like some directions, where to look. I always try to give books, a book list, so people can read the same books I read and get their own interpretation. 'Cause, you see, the bottom line is that spirit is all we are and that there's nothing objective about it and it's personal. Those are the bottom lines and I feel they are unwavering. I think you can edit it in your mind all that you want, but that's the bottom line. I think spirit is the living essence of all things and it is forever and it's invulnerable and it doesn't need to be defended and the Christians were very wrong because they misinterpreted the bible. There's a lot of things in the bible they took so fucked up. There's a book called 'A Course in Miracles', which is a book that some people put together in a weird state of mind, they got to this certain channelling thing. This book is saying everything I'm saying. It is talking about how nothing has any inherent meaning. There's a truth, but it's something you can't see with your eyes, you can't see with your mind. The mind needs to be off. The mind needs to be clear. That's interpretation. And then you go to, like, Buddhism and Yoga and Hinduism and things like that and then you talk about Chakras. They talk about the judgmental part of the mind, that's gonna say, this is good and that is bad, about the distance between here and there. There's no space between here and there in quantum physics. There's no edge, so there's no distance.
That's kind of hard to say. We're not dealing with a quantum phenomenon.
Trey: (Grabs the recording device) Well there's 99.9% space in this solid appearing thing. It doesn't feel like it, it doesn't look like it. The five senses, that's the way we interpret reality. But there's another sense. It's the heart, it's intuition. The intuition, when you use that, there's no mental shit going on. The mind is using the eyes, the ears and the touch and all that to interact with this world and then it gets interpreted. And when we're looking at something, we're looking at the past of it, because it doesn't mean a damn thing, it doesn't even have a solid form, until we give it a reference point. Does that make any sense? The mind makes things concrete. And I don't mean solid like "this is kinda squishy", "this is solid". I'm talking like something to be real, appear like to be right there in front of your face. Or it's unknown, it's a grey area. It's like this: It's like light, it doesn't destroy darkness, darkness just cannot exist when there's light. It's just gone, it's just is not there anymore, it doesn't attack it. It just happens and then the darkness is gone. In the ego there is one sense of reality, but that's a falsification, all of it. It's actually nothing more than a game in there. I think the goal in life is to become clear. Just to become clear and neutral, like you were just born again as a baby, who doesn't know anything. To return to that state and then from that place of stillness. There's nothing but stillness here, the mind is all active. The stillness is like what is. The stillness is the fundamental fabric that everything is in the waveform. Everything is a manifestation, when you break it down to what it is really, like when they split the atoms and all that, like what do they find? Was it a particle? No, it was waves. They found something that was sometimes like a particle and then it was like a wave. Quantum physics threw Newton's law out the door. Newton's law is that everything is a materialistic universe. Everything was particles, it's not so. To me waves are the fundamental building block of everything, that's what spirit is. That's the bloodline of spirit. Through intuition we become one with that which makes everything happen. That's like saying that the ocean is everything and cups of water are separate things, but you cannot change the likeness of the water, the water's the same. It's one in that way of looking at it, but yet there's a space, because it's in a different container. It's both water, nothing can change that. When you tap into that, all that life is, is a chance to have fun.
So are you at that point yet?
Trey: It's a process. If you want to know a destination, then the destination is the realisation that it's a process. I think it's a process. I think things in life are processes. I think in life it's not the place you wanna get to, it's the journey you have to enjoy. It's like Dupoc says, I wanna get here, but I don't care if I get here, because I'm gonna enjoy the steps. That way we are programming ourselves, because all we're doing is programming ourselves anyways. We're giving ourselves interpretational code. Whatever we believe, what we value, are perception filters.
I think you need it for everyday life, these filters...
Trey: Now it gets into the more subjective. Some of the things I was saying are more, like, inflexible. I think the fact that everything is more space than solid matter is inflexible and you can distort it all you want, but you're just deluded, you're not true. Now, how much of these beliefs and things do we need? That is flexible, because the goal in life is to find joy. Nothing else means anything, if you're not happy, you're not willing, you're not true. Now it's just like the circle again, people can from different directions and arrive at joy, peace and ease and stillness, calmness. You can be busy and still find time to meditate and be a part of nature and find joy and find peace. You can be very simple, like a Buddhist monk or something. Doesn't need a TV, doesn't need a car and he can be totally happy. You can be a person who wants the car and all that, but still in the way that you interpret and work with all these things, you're still happy because you know the car is just for the game, it's just a game. The game is joy. No matter what you do in the game, it doesn't change your self worth. See, because the self worth is that we are perfect. Just like in the bible there are a lot of incredible statements that are very real. Like everyone and everything is perfect in the eyes of God. A lot of people that teach the bible don't understand it, but the meaning of it is that God doesn't look in your ego. God doesn't look in your mind, he doesn't see that stuff. He sees through, like, Jesus Christ or whatever. Jesus Christ is the medium. God doesn't know when you're doing bad. He doesn't see that element, that's a different level of life. The ego is down here [moves hands to a low level] and then there's the abyss and then there's the trinity, what I call the trinity, the living continuum, the triumvirate, the three aspects to being a creator: The awareness of the potential, that's being clear. Being clear is that you find out that all these things you do in life, all these plans, all these goals, that alone is not gonna make you happy. If you need to actually make accomplishment to be more worthwhile than before, and you think that's really making you more worthwhile, it's not. It's just in the game, now you're ten besides a five. But see, God, the creator doesn't look at ten and five, because that's in the realm of time and space. The realm of time and space stops at the abyss. The realm of time and space is in the ego. Because time and space do not exist. And they do not exist in quantum mechanics. We can play along with the illusion, but it's best to realise this is not the truth. Else you get separated from the truth. The truth is that everything is already perfect as is. Only when we play the game of life, then we get into beliefs, we get into details. See, details have nothing to do with spirit. Spirit does not give a shit about something being a little bit more green. It doesn't see a difference, because there's really no difference in the realm of spirit. Another thing is that beliefs, we do need great beliefs - this is switching into the realm of activeness now. See, I was talking about the realm of stillness. That's like the thing about spirit and all this stuff that I'm talking about. Beliefs don't matter, none of that stuff matters. Scientific methods don't really fit it, even though they're starting to, but it's still bigger than scientific methods, because a scientific method is measurement and you cannot measure spirit, it's immeasurable. You cannot pronounce the name of God, you can try, you can look at the letters, but you can't say it, cause you know why? Because it cannot be limited to any one thing, it cannot be labelled. We can label and say that this is [points out veggies on a dish of raw stuff in the dressing room] a cucumber, tomato and broccoli. But that's just for us. The realm of the ego, that's where beliefs are very important, because beliefs are perception filters. Tony Robbins is my favourite teacher of this type of stuff. He's a really popular motivator. It doesn't matter if a belief is a hundred percent accurate, but it's most important that a belief be useful. Society and all that throws rules at us. I think when somebody reaches the clear state, they don't need rules anymore, because they only know good. When I say good, I don't mean Christian good, I mean, in other words, they only know harmony. Disharmony is what criminals do and war and greed. That's disharmony. That's people that are not in the clear.
How does the serving of the ancient ones come into this?
Trey: It's nothing more than titles. Just like Jesus Christ is a fucking title. It's all titles.
How do you question things, since you are not looking for a rational explanation?
Trey: What I''m trying to say is that there are two realms, the stillness and the actomness. In the stillness you don't want to question anything. You don't want the mind on at all. The mind needs to concentrate on breathing or it needs to be just, like, still. Now in the realm of actomness, that's when we're talking about the ego. That's what ego is. It's basically what this whole life is as far as you can hold it in your hands, the interacting with human beings and all that stuff. Deciding I like this food and not that food, this sport and not that sport. That's all part of the game. It should be nothing but a game, it should be fun to make your own definitions. Because when you have a definition for something, if you gotta have a definition it should be a useful one for you. But see, there's a lotta people that think that since all these people believe it to be this way, then they can't be all wrong. And then they follow, see, that's a bad habit, letting other people think for you. So to me it's like questioning everything, questioning what people say. Like a heretic, that's why I use the word heretic. Heretic is something that to the Christians is like "O my God that's so evil". They're totally mocking and living contrary to what we believe. To me, be a fucking heretic, but don't be a heretic because you want to cause pain to the Christians. Or to the enemy. Another thing about the lyrics: It's poetry. Poetry has gotta be exciting. So sometimes words, to call something the name of the enemy, what the enemy would call it. To look at it because it is bad to what you don't like and it destroys that and calling it what they would see it as... in poetry, sometimes that's useful. Lyrics are supposed to be flavourful, not supposed to be, like, cut and dry. Some of the stuff I've been talking about in this interview is I'm trying to very cut and dry stuff and I'm trying to use words that cannot be distorted. I'm trying to give a very simple thing about these ideas, because I don't want them to be misinterpreted. 'Cause it's very easy to misinterpret things. Poetry is easily misinterpreted. Poetry sometimes is whatever you want to give it, the meaning. I think that's the way life is. I think life is a blank and we give it a meaning. And we give it a meaning that helps us to find joy in it because I think the true purpose of life is to find joy as continuously as possible. Back tot he ancient ones... the ancient ones are just titles. Just titles that I gave. I don't care if people like them or not, because the titles are nothing without what they mean. The only need for language is to communicate with other people, ego to ego. You don't need it when you communicate through intuition. Intuition is beyond what you see in the movies, you know me radiating in my mind some statement and then all of a sudden it's in your head. Intuition is kinda, like, there's no words, it's just a feeling, feeling of joy, oneness, wholeness. When people say that they're alone or afraid or whatever. They're alone because they're separated, they're afraid because they don't understand. They don't feel connection, they're alone. Afraid because there's too much uncertainty and they need certainty. When you don't need certainty then you can't be afraid of the uncertainty. Some people like Deepak Chopra actually say that certainty is the prison, uncertainty is what's wonderful. Now, like western people, certainty means that I can pay my bills on time, that means that I know that my house is locked and no criminal can get in. Certainty is important too, I think they're both important, I think the thing is the balance of the both. 'Cause so much certainty is a boring life, and then there's no change. Too much uncertainty can easily create overwhelm. So it's like being comfortable in what the mind wants to say and opposites. But they're not opposites.
OK, on to some other subjects now. Will you be writing the lyrics to future albums?
Trey: I'll always be writing lyrics. Steve will also contribute We've been working together on some stuff. He's got, like, one song that he wrote lyrics to. We'll both be working together on a lot of the new material, cause that's what I'd like to do. I did "Formulas..." all myself, mainly because it was obvious at this point that David was not the founding father of the band. David was not the one that created the style, by any means. He wrote lyrics and he was a really cool front man, but he was not me. I'm the one that created the band. A lot of people were worried that Morbid Angel wasn't going to be as good since David left. I wanted Morbid Angel to be true by writing the album myself.
Did you get any comments from David on the album?
Trey: I haven't talked to him at all. I'm the kind of person that is only one with the people in his world. My world is not this world, my world is my chosen... like have you ever heard of selective amnesia, where you only remember certain things. Well, that's good way to look at how I am. I only pay attention to the things I like. The things that are part of what I'm doing. The whole world is filled with other things that I'm not even interested in, but I accept them for their space. David's not a part of my circle, we didn't have any common interest other than the band and he's not in the band anymore. And I don't like what he's doing. I'm not interested in the Genitorturers, I don't like anything about their music, their vibe. So, I don't have any reason to call him, but it doesn't mean that I don't like him. I still think he's a nice person. But I have nothing to say to him. But I have nothing against him, although I didn't like his lyrics for "Domination".
Have you rewritten the lyrics to "Dawn of the angry"?
Trey: Some of it has been rewritten. Just for the live shows.
Will there ever be a permament second guitar player?
Trey: In the future. Not Eric Rutan, he's got his own stuff he's working on. He just didn't really work out in the band. He's a really great guitar player, but I'm kinda selective with the people I actually want to have as members. But also he's got a lot of great stuff he's doing himself. He's got, like, two bands he's working on: Hate Eternal and Alas. But, me and him, personality-wise we're just a little different. For me for the band people need to be, like, really together on a lot of things. There's different kinds of people that make up the world. I go by feelings rather than the way it makes sense. He's a great guitar player, so it makes sense to keep him in the band but it didn't quite feel right. I think it's actually best this way, 'cause he's gonna have two more bands that he's giving to the scene. So with him not being in Morbid Angel, the scene gets two more bands.
Will you stay with Earache in the future?
Trey: I guess, we'll see how things go, we sign for one album only each time, so if they don't work really well for us, we won't be with them anymore. I don't have any attachment to these labels, because in my opinion they're just business. I talk mostly to the people of the Earache office in the States, but the main people I talk to aren't really working for Earache at all, but more, like, free agents. I don't like to get into business too much because I think it's mundane and too much analytical jargon. I wanna work with whatever label is gonna do most for us, because we always do most for whoever is working with us. Because we give them cutting edge music, our album sales are good. In my opinion Earache did really good with "Formulas".
At a certain point I heard the rumour that Richard Brunelle would be a member of the band again. Was there any truth in that?
Trey: I was trying him out on tour, but it didn't work out, unfortunately.
I also heard you were doing some side project besides Morbid Angel, together with Mike Davis...
Trey: Right, but I didn't really have time to do anything with that, so there's nothing going on there right now. I don't know about the future. I used to be very concerned about the future, but now I don't wanna say anything about the future, because it's kinda foolish. It's better to make it a surprise, like, if I made a recording of the album and gave it to everybody before it came out in the stores, then there's not gonna be much impact on the day it's officially released. Everyone already knows the songs. And also I could announce the title and then some fucking demo band will steal it.
Did you have anything to do with today's line up, since I heard in the past that you wanted to tour especially with Emperor...
Trey: Yeah, I wanted to do some stuff with black metal bands, 'cause I think there really shouldn't be a separation. What I do is, I talk to my manager and tell him what kind of bands I'd like to tour with and he works it out from there. We did tours with Vader, they're one of my favourite bands, and Nile, which is a newer band. They're coming over and they're outstanding. Live they're phenomenal. Back in the past we ended up doing tours with bands that I wasn't all that interested in. I don't really want to be like that anymore. The tour with Grip Inc. in the States was kinda dumb. They're nice guys and I guess a good band, but they don't fit into anything we're doing.
Did you talk to for instance the Emperor guys about philosophy or anything?
Trey: Not really. I don't know what will happen. If they have, like, very different views, I don't want to present an argument to them, because it's probably best to keep things like, you know, cool. In the past I felt it was great to have debates with people. I thought it was really great to sit there and tell people what I really thought, because I thought it was very important to let them know if I really liked what they were doing or if I didn't. It doesn't matter. Who fucking cares? Actually this idea of being cool, kinda fits in here a little bit. I used to be totally against the idea of cool. I used to think that cool was just a justification for people slacking off, not really meaning or standing for anything, but that was a misconception. Still I think some people like bands because they think they're cool and they don't even really know what music is, they don't feel music. Their association is: I'm listening to this band and that makes me cool, rather than they're actually absorbing the music and getting moved by it. To me, that's the only way to listen to music. Not to be thinking about it, not to be thinking, you know, what the band stands for or what kind of crowd you're gonna be a part of, or wearing the shirt so people think you're cool. It's all about: does the music move me or not and that's the way look at music. I've been very opinionated and critical in the past and all that but it really made things too harsh. It's not very important to be like that at all, I don't think. It's too harsh.
What can you tell me about 'Azagthoth'? What does it stand for and why do you use it instead of your real name?
Trey: It's just because of what it stands for for me. It's a perfect inflection of thought... it goes with the thought that one man's genius is the other man's chaos, or one man's insanity is another man's genius. It's about perception and interpretation... half full, half empty. What is it really, well I think it's subjective and not objective at all. So, in other words to me Azagthoth stands for the lord of chaos, the blind idiot god. But see, that's labelled from the idiots, the actual idiots. It's like saying the elder gods are the good guys and the ancient ones are the bad guys. Well see, the elder gods are the good guys for the people who want to praise their ego as being god. See, even in the bible it says: 'Man is not god'. Man is part of god, but man is not god. Because man has the mind and the ego. God doesn't have that. When I say 'god' my message has nothing to fucking do with Christianity. A lot of people think that the bible is trash, but to me the bible is brilliant. It's just that it has been reworded and screwed up in interpretation. What it's really talking about is some powerful stuff, just like many other books. I don't think of the bible as the book of all books and truth and all that. There's many great books. There's many wise thinkers and teachers and philosophers. The idea of burning the bible because it's just trash, because of the way it's been usedů I'm not so limited like that any more. That was in the past. But now I can accept Christianity to be the way they are and they don't rival my own ideas about how I think how things are. Because I've seen life is a circle and the centre is the truth and you can come in from all these different angles. So it's possible to have a different formula and arrive at the same answer. Like, two plus two is four, and one plus three is four.
So you're using the name 'Azagthoth' because it sums up what you are about?
Trey: It's just the idea that someone sees things this way and I see it the other way. It's like the idea that society wants to say that you're sick when you're not working within their conditioned parameters that they would like all the little consumers to be this way and that way, and form a nice tight society with all these rules. Like: "it's rude what you did, you're not supposed to burp at the table, you're not supposed to wear clothes like that". Those are, like, fucking stupid ass rules. Some people really think that that's truth. It's not the truth, it's man-made, it's not real. All rules are man-made, they don't really exist. They only exist in the mind and they exist when you believe in them. When you discontinue believing in them they have no power, they're illusions. They're chains but they're illusions. When seen to be nothing, like they really are... there's nothing to fear but fear itself. You can fear something, but once you realise, you know, you face it. It's like the idea that once you discontinue believing in something, it's gone. Rules are just there for society. But they don't have something to do with spirit. Spirit is all we are. That's what I believe. There's nothing else that's real, everything else is just illusion. Everything else is just interpretation.
The way you explain 'Azagthoth' now to us seems very much to incorporate your present view of things... Back when you chose the name, did you already have similar views?
Trey: Well, it's actually the same as the difference between "The Lord of Foulness" and "The Continual One". It's a name that was chosen to stand for what the title implies, it doesn't say the enlightened one in the book, the only book that I read it in, the Necronomicon. It doesn't say 'Azagthoth, the enlightened one'. The one who sees the truth. It says 'the blind idiot god of chaos'. It's a name that's associated with what the enemy, the others would say, rather than myself. Any individual has the right to fucking fill in the blanks any fucking way he sees fit, it's that damn simple. And then when you go down this path, you get what you get and you'd better like it or you'd better be responsible for it. The bottom line is, I can use that name or I can change it; I don't wanna change it. The reason for using it is because I want to. How about that for a reason. It's only because I try to make the point that all this questioning and stuff, all this meaning... I guess it kinda aggravates me, 'cause I'm really moving away from that. All that meaning and stuff. I know the interview is like... if I just say "yes" or "no", you don't have much of an interview. So you need something to write. To me, interviews are, like, very boring now, because all I'm telling you is my point of view and so what? I'm just like everybody else, I'm not better than anybody else. I'm just a person who has some beliefs and I made some sacrifices in my life, I play guitar, I meditate, I try to stay away from questioning and analytical logic. I try to give not too much energy to that, so I have more energy in the chakras that are connected to the spirit and that has nothing to do with all this meaning and all that. But I know it's entertainment, the interview. So I think a very entertaining answer to that is: "I just want to". But, see, when I just say that it, sounds like I'm some asshole, but that's not what I mean. It's like, there's no meaning, I don't have a meaning why, it just appealed to me. It's, like, I drink Coke because I like it, I don't like Pepsi, I don't drink Pepsi.
Finally for some questions about the early days of the band... Mike Browning and Sterling Von Scarborough, why did they leave?
Trey: Well, Mike Browning was just a really poor drummer and I didn't know it until we actually did a real tape, 'cause I didn't know any better, 'cause I was ignorant. In the recording of "Abominations of Desolation", the drumming was just so horrible, there was nothing salvageable about him. So I left him. Sterling... he was... I don't really know what the story is with that. They had him for a short time... it was after "Abominations of Desolation" was recorded. He was just a bass player and then it just dawned on me that things were going nowhere. I know what it was... It was because David Vincent, who was the label at the time that we did AoD, said "I have a bass player and a drummer for you," so there's no place for Sterling, so he couldn't come along. Mike had to go because his drumming was destroying the potential of the songs. He was not as good as Pete. It's about details. In spirit details mean shit. But in the game details are the difference between a fucking great sounding song and a shitty sounding song. Details in conviction, in standards, mean nothing in spirit, they don't even exist in there. But in the game, someone who fucking practices really hard and tells himself, you know, "I know where I'm at today, and I wanna get here and to get here I need to practice really hard. I don't need to sit around and drink beer or whatever." Those details make the difference between a great drummer and a whatever drummer. Someone who's lying to himself. Someone who abuses the knowledge that everything is perfect already as is. That's fits in the realm of spirit. That's the place to come from with the stillness.
Trey: But that doesn't really carry into trying to be a great musician, a great accomplishment. Because if you want to be into the game, then you are into the world of judgement. Judgement is what shows the difference between a good drummer and a bad drummer. In spirit they're the same. But somehow one is tapping his power better than the other or one's belief structure is more supporting a lot of work and the other is like a slack in belief structure, like "I don't need to practice, it's not that big of a deal." It brings me to the conclusion again that speaking about the stillness is really a difficult subject. Because most people probably don't think it means anything, because all they can think about is the difference between good and bad and this is this much better and this is a five and that's a ten. And if ten is high I want to be a ten and to think that ten and one are the same doesn't mean anything. It's a paradox, it's a fucking paradox. That's why I call it actomness and stillness. The living continuum is the balance of actomness and stillness. What happens if you don't have any stillness in life, then you get caught up in it. In other words, if I'm not a ten, I'm worthless and if you start to feel worthless today, you're not gonna have the power to grow. You're gonna be defeating yourself, so that's where the stillness comes in. It's a lighter approach to life, I guess. To think that if I don't become the best drummer in the world then whatever. I'm gonna try, I wanna be a good drummer. But if I'm not a ten but only an eight in this scale, then it doesn't mean I'm not great.
OK, so why did Richard Brunelle leave?
Trey: It was lack of skill, pretty much.
I got this bootleg, called "The Beginning". Have you heard of it?
Trey: I don't wanna comment about it. It's just some smartass that's trying to belittle the band, 'cause the band is the fucking top of the heap and everybody knows it and it's unstoppable and that's the way it is. And they want to make money. It's probably Mike Browning. Which makes me angry, it's just like digging up anyone's demo or when they first start to play guitar and saying, "here's Eddie Van Halen when he was a little kid, you know, first learning how to play guitar, when he was not as good as he's now." It's just crap.
Why did you decide to put out "Abominations" so late?
Trey: It was actually to cancel out bootlegging. 'Cause bootlegging is evil.
The album titles are all in the order of the alphabet. Is there a meaning to this?
Trey: I'll give you a meaning. It means the alpha omega. It started out as something happening with the first couple of albums. When we got to "Covenant" I realised it. The "Abominations" album doesn't count because it's unofficial.
I see. We have now reached the final section of the interview, where I'd like you to react to a couple of names. The first one is Aleister Crowley.
Trey: I really don't know much about him. He seemed, like, very ego-based with his magic.
Trey: Don't know very much about him either. He seemed, like, very angry. He was taking a side and he was saying "I want to call this the foulness besides something that's beautiful". That's what it seemed like to me. He was really wanting to be the opposite of something.
Trey: I know him somewhat. He's a very nice person, every time I talk to him, you know, we have a good conversation. That's about all that I really know about him.
That's it. Thanks a lot.
Trey: Great! Do a review about the show!
JvS & R
Written May 1999
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