Considered one of the dominant bands of death metal, Morbid Angel has been releasing weird, twisted, and sick masterpieces – one after another – for four decades. Now they are ready to terrorize cities across America, devastating rock clubs on the United States Tour of Terror 2023. As Morbid Angel celebrates 40 years of death metal, they are bringing along their friends Revocation, Crypta, Vitriol, and Skeletal Remains.
Morbid Angel has had a significant role in shaping the sound of extreme heavy metal with their ferocious and brutally fast guitar playing, and dark, violent lyrical content seriated with snarling vocal attacks that sound like someone is actually being murdered. Famous for wielding astonishing control over the rapid double kicks, the band’s precision on drums is so tight, you might think they are using a drum machine.
Despite their incredibly busy rehearsing schedule, vocalist and bassist Steve Tucker was kind enough to chat with us about the upcoming tour.
Chris: You must be pretty stoked about your 40th anniversary tour?
Steve: Hell yeah we are! We haven’t toured since the COVID thing happened and we’re ready to get back out and start playing live again.
Chris: Do you have some cool new swag for the fans?
Steve: We’ve got some new merch that we’ve brought out, and I think some old tour stuff as well from past albums and things like that. Some, I guess, favorites, if you will.
Chris: Have you been driving your dogs crazy with rehearsals?
Steve: (laughing) I’ve got an eight-month-old pup now. Every time I started singing, the poor little guy acts like murder is happening. (laughs again) So, yeah, I did have to work around that a little bit and have his mom take him outside, things like that for a while.
Chris: How one does prepare for a tour like this?
Steve: I think the main thing is staying healthy and staying in decent shape. I take daily vitamins, which is a pretty standard thing for me. When you’re going from city to city, you’ve got to kind of watch out, and just don’t take unnecessary risks.
Chris: With 40 years of material, is it hard to pick a setlist?
Steve: Trey and I usually talk about it for probably a month before we start preparing. We’ll talk about what songs we want to do, and honestly, at this point, what songs really feel good to play. There are so many songs on each album, so there’s a lot to choose from. Unfortunately, we’re never going to be able to play everybody’s favorite, but we’ve got a pretty diverse setlist, and we have a few alternative songs to mix it up depending on how we’re feeling.
Chris: Morbid Angel has toured with Revocation in the past. You guys must have a pretty good camaraderie to take them on tour with you again?
Steve: Yeah, the guys from Revocation are awesome musicians, an awesome band, and they’re just fucking awesome! Dave Davidson will come out, even when we’re not playing, just to hang out, and if we’re in the same city, he’ll come see us. At this point I would say it’d be safe to call us family.
Chris: That’s awesome! And what a great story to have; kids who grew up learning your riffs that are now friends and touring with you as adults. That has to feel amazing!
Steve: It does, and at the same time, I don’t ever hear those guys ripping us off in any way either. I can hear the influence and stuff, but Revocation is their own thing. You gotta pat these guys on the back for the work they’ve done. These guys have busted their ass for years now and they’re getting their own success.
Chris: It almost makes the legacy of Morbid Angel come full circle.
Steve: It’s a double-edged sword when you’ve been around so long that people are like, “Hey, I heard you when I was 12.” In one way, that smacks you in the face; in another way, it’s a huge compliment and it lifts you up.
Chris: Are you excited to play with the other acts on this tour for the first time?
Steve: Yeah, this is a pretty stacked tour with a good lineup of bands and I hope it makes a lot of people happy. I like the Vitro and Skeletal Remains quite a bit myself and I think they’re both pretty cool. I haven’t met Crypto yet, but I have listened to them and I like their stuff. They’re 100 percent pro, I think they’ll probably kick a lot of ass, and I’m glad that they’re getting the chance to tour the States.
Chris: It’s got to be pretty rad that all the California dates have already sold out before you hit the road.
Steve: It’s great that some shows have already sold out! It shows that all this time, while we’ve been sitting, people have been waiting as well. I’m glad and I can’t wait. Being on the road and playing live is the one place in the world where I feel normal.
Chris: What is it like to have such a huge influence in the metal community, so much so that many other bands copy you?
Steve: To be copied is really kind of an honor. There are so many bands that might start off with a Morbid Angel or Megadeth riff, but then the good bands move into originality. We start by mimicking what we love, then you move into your own, and you find your own originality. It’s a real compliment.
Chris: I think a lot of metal heads are happy that Morbid Angel is still going strong after all years.
Steve: No one could have ever told me that this would be going on when I’m 50 years old and I would have believed them. I would have never believed a single person that told me that. That we would still be playing, that I would still be going out touring, playing death metal, and that death metal would actually be as strong as it ever was this many years later. It blows my mind. I’m glad to be a part of it honestly.
Chris: It almost feels like death metal has been having a resurgence since the pandemic.
Steve: Death metal and what’s going on in the world seems to be directly related. The more angst that people have, the more heavy music is made. When things get a little easy, music gets happy. A perfect example is the ‘80s. The popular music was happy ass and even what they called metal was dancy crap music. (big laughs from both of us)
Steve continues: Then you had the bands like Slayer and Metallica coming up, and they were the only ones that were really pointing out that, “Hey, things aren’t as wonderful as you may think they are.” Then came the ‘90s, the world starts going a little bit more dark, you sort of have the relapse from the ‘80s, and death metal just blew up. They say the pinnacle of death metal was ‘92 or ‘93. I actually disagree. I think that it was the pinnacle of people discovering the longevity of death metal. To me, that’s everything. That just makes it legitimate. If it wasn’t, it would have gone away.
Chris: Morbid has faced hardships in the past, but you guys never give up, and you come out on top with flying colors every time. If you could give one piece of advice to a band that is just getting started, what would you tell them?
Steve: That’s a great question. Perseverance, man. Perseverance is everything. There are so many people in our world today that have one little setback and it shuts them down. Real life is full of setbacks and when you’re in a band, expect it, expect to lose members, and expect for people to suddenly not like doing this anymore. It’s just going to happen, and you’re never going to be able to guess which guy it is. So perseverance is everything, and if you really want it bad enough, don’t stop. That’s the only way to succeed.
Chris: What’s next for Morbid Angel after the tour?
Steve: Actually, I don’t really know what we’re doing next after this tour. We haven’t really talked too much about it. Our main focus right now is getting the machine lubed back up and running again. I’d love to start writing some songs and do another record; hopefully soon. But first we’ve got to knock off the rust. We’ve been sitting still and it wasn’t very inspirational. Getting out playing live and seeing the fans will be the medicine and inspiration that we really need.
Chris: I can’t wait to see you live and to see the band find that inspiration. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us and is there anything you would like to say to the readers of OC Music News?
Steve: Thanks for all the love and supporting us all these years, and I can’t wait to see you guys at the shows!
Look for Morbid Angel’s United States of Terror Tour at a city near you (although the three CA dates are sold out!). Revocation, Crypta, and Skeletal Remains will handle the shows March 15th through April 4th, then Vitriol takes over for Skeletal Remains April 6th through the 22nd.