MORBID ANGEL interviews are always interesting, but this here is even more. First of all it was once again contributed by SADISTIC INTENT’s six-stringer Rick Cortez (thanx tons man!!!), and then there’s the fact that it’s neither with mainman Trey nor with guitarist Erik Rutan or “new” vocalist / bassist Steve Tucker (who took care of most of the press lately), but with one of the best fuckin’ drummers in the world of extreme music: Mr. Pete Sandoval! As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t read too many chats with him, which might turn this into something really special. So, hopefully you’ll appreciate and enjoy it.
At what age did you start playing drums and what bands inspired you to be such a speed demon?
“I started playing drums when I was about eighteen or nineteen. My influences were pretty much 80’s Metal in general you know, but my motivation to play speed was the Speed, Thrash Metal of the early 80’s. Early SLAYER, POSSESSED, DARK ANGEL, SODOM, DESTRUCTION, KREATOR, even early METALLICA, you know, the beginning of the Thrash Death / Black Metal era. Dave Lombardo (original SLAYER drummer) was my number one influence to continue what I do now.”
Before you joined MORBID ANGEL, you lived in Los Angeles and drummed for TERRORIZER. Any memories of shows you did back then? Are you still in contact with your ex-band mates from TERRORIZER?
“I got a few memories but we didn’t really do much real shows. We played some backyard shows which were not the greatest but we enjoyed it. I remember doing shows with DARKNESS (L.A.) which I’ve heard is back. I remember doing shows with SADISTIC INTENT which is still around. I’m glad the band is still here because not many bands especially from Los Angeles have kept themselves together doing what they were doing back when TERRORIZER was still around. SADISTIC INTENT is still doing it, still into it, even owns a record shop where we done an in-store appearance and that’s great! There’s other bands that we done shows with like NECROPHAGIA (L.A.) but I can’t remember everybody. I also played for another band called SEIZURE and even did a demo tape and a couple of shows with those guys. I wasn’t much of a social person back then so I just mainly drummed for TERRORIZER and recorded some demos. I remember my band members Jesse Pintado and Oscar Garcia. The only one I see or hear from once in a while is Jesse Pintado. But of course he lives in England with NAPALM DEATH. I don’t really know what happened to the rest, it’s like they disappeared. Oscar got married and he just stopped his involvement with the underground. That’s about it, there’s not much else to tell about the history of TERRORIZER.”
How did you get in contact with MORBID ANGEL and ultimately join the band?
“Jesse Pintado was actually in contact with MORBID ANGEL and they used to tape trade each others bands. MORBID ANGEL really liked my drumming on the TERRORIZER demo’s so when they heard the band was going to break up they contacted me through Jesse. I didn’t even really know who MORBID ANGEL was back then. They offered me a place to live and a record deal with tour plans and everything so I gave it a shot.”
In TERRORIZER I remember you used a single bass drum, in MORBID ANGEL you immediately used double bass. Was it a challenge for you to adjust? Where was your first show with MORBID ANGEL?
“Yeah it was really a challenge because before I joined MORBID ANGEL I didn’t know how to play double bass. So when I joined the band on the 4th of July1988 I just found out that I really had to do some extra, extra work in order to learn some of the songs they already had written. The first album had a lot of double bass so it was a big challenge. It was just one of those challenges that you have to fight until you surpass the situation. I had like two months to learn songs with double bass like ‘Blasphemy Of The Holy Ghost’, ‘Chapel Of Ghouls’, ‘Maze Of Torment’. It was such a big thing for me and I gave up several times. I felt like I couldn’t do it and I quit but the guys had faith in me and motivated me. So it pretty much took a lot of fuckin’ work but I did it and that’s the bottom line. I believe the first show was in Orlando, Florida. I think the first song was ‘Lord Of All Fevers And Plague’ but in the middle of the song I stopped because it was the first show and I got so nervous that I forgot everything. We started all over again and everything went okay after that.”
When “Altars Of Madness” was released, I remember you guys had some paranoid Christians protesting in the state of Texas. Did these type of protests happen anywhere else and did they ever cancel any shows?
“Yeah there was a couple other places which I don’t recall but it wasn’t to the point where they stopped the shows.”
I notice on the cage of your drum set you have an inverted cross. With that in mind, do you believe you have to be a negative person because that’s what the bibles interpretation of Satanism is, or is it more of a sign of freedom from the word of god?
“For me it’s a sign of freedom and form of expression of being myself without having to follow the Holy rules or laws. As long as you don’t break the rules of common sense you know, that’s pretty much what it means being yourself and believing in what you do. The cross was part of the full cage I used to have, I don’t have it anymore. It just wasn’t part of the cage, it was a part of the meaning of MORBID ANGEL. From the beginning up till right now is “do what though wilt shall be the whole of the law”. I believe as long as I don’t cause harm to anybody my projection is a positive thing. You see, positive produces positive, if you’re around negativity there will be negative production. The energy that we produce as a band together and our beliefs are high on our own selves. We love what we’re doing cause it has a lot of feeling and we don’t have limitations. I no longer have the cross on my drum set because I don’t have the same set-up or a place to put it. However, our logo has the blasphogram which contains the inverted cross. It represents my own beliefs and is a sign of freedom. You don’t want to listen to no preacher tell you if you don’t submit this and that is going to happen to you.”
Any particular MORBID ANGEL songs you especially like to play live? Any particular reason?
“I like to play ‘Bil Ur-Sag’ from “Formulas…”, it’s a great song, it’s heavy, fast, it has a lot of double bass and that’s a great song to play live. I also enjoy playing ‘Pain Divine’ from “Covenant” which I believe we’ll be playing on our upcoming tour. I enjoy playing ‘Rapture’, I always have. I love ‘Dawn Of The Angry’, that’s another song. ‘Blood On My Hands’, ‘World Of Shit’, ‘Prayer Of Hatred’ are all great songs to play live as well. We still play ‘Chapel Of Ghouls’ no matter what, so those are some of the songs I enjoy playing live.”
You’ve been on tours throughout the world, any countries or cities that stand out in your mind? How does Los Angeles rank as far as the United States goes?
“I would say Los Angeles ranks in the top ten. But Europe definitely stands out more than the United States as far as the scene goes. The attendance, the way the fans react or get involved in a show with the band. The States are different you know, of course L.A. is a great scene for us. Unfortunately there’s not many big enough places to play a lot of times, know what I mean. Especially when you got a good tour with some good bands and you end up playing “The Whiskey” which gets packed but it’s hard for all the people to see you. But if I mention San Francisco, shit, we play a place that easily fits like 1,500 and it’s packed! So in that sense I would say the scene of San Francisco is much better than Los Angeles. Texas also has a fuckin’ great crowd! Especially when we play in cities close to the border, the Mexican fans come to the shows and these guys are really crazy Metalheads! Besides that, there’s many other places I can mention the scene. New York is big, Philadelphia is big, huge, we’re talking like 1,000 to 1,500 people. New York is the same way. Florida is also pretty good. Fortunately, for us the United States has been exceptional. It’s probably due to the fact that we have been doing this for over a decade already. We have six studio albums and I believe our music is good. Every album has its good elements and every album speaks for MORBID ANGEL, what we’re all about and gladly things have been good for us.”
After recording a few records and several tours, MORBID ANGEL got the opportunity to hit the road with BLACK SABBATH! How did the BLACK SABBATH fans in general react to MORBID ANGEL?
“Me personally, I wasn’t very ready for the tour and I didn’t do such a great tour. I had some pretty shitty ass shows especially the one in L.A. which was an important show that I messed up. It was the worst show of the whole tour. But there was some pretty good shows and stuff. About the BLACK SABBATH fans, I don’t know, to tell you the truth, because I wasn’t really paying attention to that many fans. There was always MORBID ANGEL fans in the front but those sitting in the back, you could tell they were BLACK SABBATH fans just relaxing waiting for the rest of the bands. They didn’t reject our music so what I got from them was that they were not bothered by our set but they would just sit there and it didn’t affect them that much. Believe me, every album every tour serves as an experience for you to learn. Sometimes it will take you one album, one tour and you will know “Wow, I know what I got to do better, what I need to work on.” And sometimes you can do four records and do a bunch of tours and then find out where, oh man, I was doing that wrong. That’s pretty much what I’ve been finding out on my own. In the past I used to party when I was tour. I used to drink after shows just about every night because there was always beer there. Especially in Europe, you can’t reject European beer. Even on the SABBATH tour you know, we were the first band every night and after that it was like going to a concert. So I used to get totally drunk every night. I wanted to see BLACK SABBATH with a buzz you know what I mean, fucked up! Shit, so I wasn’t really helping my band I was just pretty much, I thought I was having fun. Even though knowing I wasn’t going into some of the songs the way I had to. I was having problems and I was still like not thinking about it. It took me until the “Domination” record where I realized I gotta take this more seriously than I had. Which means that I have to take it like an athlete would take a sport. And that means I can’t drink when I’m drumming, when I’m on tour or when I’m getting ready to do a record. Alcohol is a slow down thing and I’m talking about speed (drumming). So after “Domination” our shows became more powerful because I don’t really drink like I used to in the past. I believe the older you get the wiser you got to become. You got to realize what are you doing wrong and what has to be changed. That’s the bottom line.”
Speaking of that BLACK SABBATH tour, you actually had the “Altars Of Madness” line-up. What ever happened to Richard Brunelle? By the way, any particular reason for the departure of David Vincent?
“Well, as everybody knows David Vincent moved on his own you know. He’s playing with his wife’s band THE GENITORTURES and that’s what makes him happy. So hey, who wants to dispute that, right. To each his own. As far as Richard Brunelle, he still plays guitar and he’s got a band called SWOLLEN down here (Tampa, Florida). They’ve done some local gigs and they have a couple CD’s. They’re pretty good man, they’re kind of like a Thrash band. It’s Richard man, he’s kind of got his same solo’s on the songs. You know, it’s just not Death Metal know what I mean. But that’s what he’s doing. The MORBID ANGEL line-up has never been as powerful and strong as it is now so there’s no regrets. There’s no second thoughts about the changes that have occurred. I think they have happened for the best benefit of the band.”
Your thoughts about Steve Tucker?
“Steve Tucker has done such a great job. Especially stepping in and doing what Trey told him on the first album. Trey had all the songs written for him already so he had to do it the way Trey wanted to do it. He did a great job on “Formulas…” and he even did a better job overall on “Gateways To Annihilation”.”
Is Erik Rutan still going to join MORBID ANGEL on tour or is HATE ETERNAL his only band now?
“Erik Rutan is of course a great part of the band and has been for many years doing a lot of the tours with us. In fact in the new album he wrote a song so yeah he’s going to tour with us. He’s still got his HATE ETERNAL project and ALAS his other project. Music is so broad and you can do a lot of things with music you know what I mean. That’s what he’s doing, he’s playing with MORBID ANGEL and on the side he’s keeping busy doing his HATE ETERNAL and ALAS.”
How would you compare “Gateways To Annihilation” to your last one, “Formulas Fatal To The Flesh”?
“First of all this one has a better production. We had a better engineer, Jim Morris, he got involved so much more than Tom did in the past. I think this album is, I’m not gonna tell you it’s better, it’s different. I believe the guitars are thicker. Also, the low end sound of the songs on this record is much heavier. I believe so because of the fact that most of the songs are seven string guitar songs which makes them sound heavier. Another thing that makes this album different is the contribution in the song writing. So there was a lot more input from everybody in this new album. This album is a total fuckin’ winner. You better buy it or else die! Ha! Ha!”
At one point I heard you were gonna do a side project. Is that going to happen and if it does, what do you have in mind concerning the music?
“I have no idea, actually I’ve been playing piano. It’s kind of like learning to read a new language. Time will decide when, if anything, as far as a drumming project. If I do something it will be a grinding style like TERRORIZER type of thing.”
Any chance of doing a project with Jesse Pintado?
“I don’t know man, it’s like we’re in two different worlds. I don’t think we’ll do a project. The last time I seen him was over a year ago at the Wacken Festival in Germany. His LOCK UP band played there. My only aspiration and motivation at the moment as far as my side project is piano and classical music. There’s a lot of classical pieces and it takes a long time to learn works of music like that.”
Out of all bands, is it true that KORN has recorded a MORBID ANGEL song? If so, which song and are you surprised that a non-Metal mainstream act is covering one of your bands songs?
“I’m not surprised at all, I don’t know KORN so I don’t know who they are. I just heard that they recorded our song ‘God Of Emptiness’. They haven’t released it but what I heard from our management is that there was a possibility. If they do it the legal way why not? If they do, they are a mainstream band and there will be new MORBID ANGEL fans taking Death Metal to a larger audience.”
A few years ago I read a MORBID ANGEL interview with David Vincent in which he said he was working with an organization for the legalization of Marijuana. Do you support the legalization of Marijuana?
“Of course I do! Of course I do, but I don’t want to encourage any young kids to use. They’re usually not ready to handle those decisions. Going back to the question, I do support the legalization of Marijuana, but is it going to happen has been the question for many years. There is some kind of legalization going on but it has to be by prescription, doctors prescribe Marijuana for patients in some States, California is one of those States. I don’t know whether David Vincent was a part of an organization, if anything, he got into the GENITORTURES organization.”
You grew up with the original Death / Black Metal hordes, I know you were into SLAYER, DESTRUCTION, BATHORY, POSSESSED, you know, the beginning of the Death / Black Metal movement which is also known as Thrash! Over the years Death / Black Metal drifted apart, do you feel the spirit of that era making a return uniting the scene like it once was?
“It is uniting, the fact is there is more Death and Black Metal bands playing together. Look at the festivals we have done and are doing in Europe. We toured with Black Metal bands like EMPEROR, IMMORTAL and other bands like IMPALED NAZARENE as well as others, I don’t recall all their names at the moment. On that tour with the Black Metal bands, at first it seemed like they were on their own because of all the gossip that they’ve heard. But we got to know each other and we got along. All of us are there because we’re into our music and prove it on stage. I hope it comes more together in the States because in Europe I believe Death / Black Metal is becoming one force again. The thing is, there is not that many Death Metal bands who are filling the gap besides the usual touring ones. In Europe Black Metal is much bigger but in the States they don’t have as large of an audience. In some States or cities they will, but not like over there. You have more of that original underground feeling you used to get from bands like SLAYER or POSSESSED with bullet belts, spikes, leather, you know what I mean. Some bands still do it in the States but there’s not many fans supporting the scene that way. Over there you see people with that old Death / Black Metal look in the crowd! That’s the way it is over there, hopefully it will continue to come together.”
Thank you for answering the interview Pete, any final comments you would like to add?
“Thank you for the interview and I want to tell everybody to check out “Gateways To Annihilation” because we’re coming back on tour and you better be familiar with the new songs! And to all the underground bands, especially you man, SADISTIC INTENT my old time friends from L.A., you know, just keep it up man and good luck with your new recording, hopefully those problems with the studio get resolved and the album comes out soon! And I hope there will be more open doors for the underground in the near future. With MORBID ANGEL touring with PANTERA I think we will get more people into Death Metal so that should help the scene to grow. Who knows, maybe MTV will open their eyes and might put a show like Headbangers Ball and start playing extreme Metal on TV as opposed to the fuckin’ bullshit! What is that?! It’s disgusting! Play some real extreme music for people like us! Don’t you agree?! (Yes! Ed) Fuck all that shit! Hey man, there’s the material world which needs the spirit of music which will take you to places where you’ve never been before. The material world will just bring you back to dust. All right man, that’s it.”
Pics taken from the off. MORBID ANGEL homepage