Monday, May 4

Interview with Matt S. of Morbius - Virginia, USA - August, 06, era vulgaris

I saw you guys play many years ago at some dive in DC called the Velvet Lounge. It was a tiny upstairs room with a small crowd, but I was highly impressed. Being a drummer myself I tend to pay a lot of attention to the drummer, but the whole band was well-rehearsed and, in particular, Jason Weir had quite a stage-presence.
I know you guys have done many more shows than just that one, but it seems to me that Morbius has been prone to long periods of inactivity, or least disappearing from the "radar." Is this just due to the members leading busy lives, or is there trouble getting gigs around NoVA?

Yeah, the Velvet Lounge is definitely a dump – hence the crack dealers hanging around the front door. The problem is, or was, is that it’s either play the smaller DC clubs, or play at Jaxx (a bigger dump) – which is the main venue for metal in the Metro DC area. The main reason for our inactivity is that we kept working solely on the music, and zero on promotion. That’s key for a band’s success – I’ve seen bands that played horrible, boring music, and their members didn’t really know their instruments too well, but the promoted the shit out of their releases, and gained a lot of recognition for that reason alone. We could theoretically play gigs here, but the desire is gone – really, we’re pouring our attention into an upcoming tour of Europe in the winter of 2007. Another reason for inactivity is that we’re involved with other projects, so MORBIUS kind of got put on the backburner.

I very well may be wrong, but somehow I got the idea that Jason Weir is no longer a member of Morbius. Is this true?

It is true – he hasn’t played a note with the band since 2002. Jason is a strange character, and we never really heard the reason why he left, but I’m glad he left when he did – his desire to play was gone, so instead of being fake about it, he stopped playing. Some guys are too scared of confrontation to quit, but at least he was honest with us and himself, an action that saved us a bunch of time.

I have always thought Alienchrist kicked ass; I admittedly haven't heard the rest of your material,
until Sojourns Through the Septiac. There is a very cohesive nature to your style, so I'm assuming you guys take practice very seriously. A friend of mine back in VA sent it to me, telling me he thought that Alienchrist was nonetheless better, but I can't help but be more impressed by SttS. Alienchrist still kicks ass, though. Do you see the loss of V. Bee Somphone as the loss of a dimension of Morbius' style, or has it led the remaining three of you to be tighter and more focused? (Wow, this is a lame question! I only asked it because I wrote the whole thing about the two albums then realized that I hadn't asked any sort of a question, only sung your praises--I had to think of one fast.)

First of all – thanks for the good words about Alienchrist. All of us were rather disappointed in the mix – it lacks the low end / doomy sound we were looking for, but nonetheless, we still like the material. I think Bee leaving did affect the sound – we were more focused on high intensity and speed, he brought a lot of melodic, slower riffs to the sound. Overall, to us, “Sojourns…” is the most complete album we ever produced. We also cut down on the bonghits during the recording session, so that may explain why the music is tighter!

Have you guys been fairly aggressive about finding labels? I feel that Morbius ought to be more recognized than they seem to be. Again, I am geographically isolated at the moment, and don't really know what I'm talking about, but I have never heard of Cyber Music, Non Compos Mentis or Storms of Steel before.

No, we were extremely dismissive of finding a label to put out “Sojourns…” after it was recorded. By that time, things were kind of fraying with Jason, so our main focus was getting the material recorded, and then worry about a label later. Cyber Music folded in the late nineties; Storms of Steel (Italy) and Non Compos Mentis are very much “True Underground” labels. Those guys have been around forever, and only work with bands they believe in. In other words, it wasn’t about making money off the release, it was about making good music available for others to hear. We deeply appreciate their involvement as it seemed that “Sojourns…” was NEVER going to get released. I met Nicola from Storms of Steel in Italy while touring with GRAND BELIAL’S KEY; I played him the CD, he liked it, and agreed to put it out for us. He got Non Compos Mentis involved to help with the production costs and distribution, and it worked out great.

What do you think of the new Celtic Frost album, Monotheist? I was surprised, and think it is a triumph. The Emperor's Return, indeed!

Never heard it man – I’m still listening to the first album!

According to the biography on your website, the three of you visited Egypt. Now, I have an American friend who once lived, briefly however, in Egypt; when I asked him how it was, thinking of the wonders of the ancient world, he replied that it, Cairo that is, was a shithole crawling with the type of people who would steal the bits of food from between your teeth, if given the chance. I have heard that the only actual Egyptians that still live there live in the rural outskirts, where they continue age-old agricultural traditions. Also, to my limited knowledge, the Coptic Church is one of the few, if not the only, institutions that use the Hieratic script. What I am driving at is this: has the Arabic culture utterly assimilated any traces of Ancient Egyptian civilization? Other than the obvious tourist-attractions, that is...Or is this just an asinine question?

It’s a very insightful question actually. Without a doubt, the arabs still have massive respect for ancient Egyptian culture, except (of course) when Saladin first came to the Nile Valley – that is the only major example of Islam attempting to dismantle their heritage, but even then, they were just seating themselves as the reigning power. The thing is, ancient Egypt and its monuments represent almost 90% of Egypt’s GDP (gross domestic product), so their economy is STILL tied to the ancient past. If you’re a white guy tourist, you don’t go beyond the major cities because you’ll end up beheaded, in a pile of camel dung, so we didn’t have many opportunities to wander off. I loved Cairo – the people were cool, the city is beautiful, and the weather was amazing. Fuck – who wouldn’t want to look out their hotel window and see the Great Pyramid towering over you?

The concepts that you deal with in the lyrics of Morbius, the underlying essence, are occult and
mysterious. What do you have to say about modern-day Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, Ordo Templi Orientis and other such obscure organizations?

Well, the Christian influences of those organizations (never heard of Orientis) kinds of turns me off, but I find them interesting. One prime theme that I find with those organizations is the revolting concept of working towards a global culture. The most fascinating aspect of those groups is their connection to the Knights Templar, and the Ark of the Covenant. Either way though, the insipid Christian ‘spin’ they have is a huge turn off.

Are the works of Edward Alexander Crowley a source of inspiration to you? And how about Robert Anton Wilson, the humorous yet serious "gonzo ontologist"?

Neither of those people really do much inspiring for me. The main influences for metaphysics (for me) are people like Jane Roberts (author – Seth Speaks), John Anthony West, and Stephen Hawking,

Do you believe that powerful psychoactive/hallucinogenic compounds such as lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin and mescaline are useful in a quest for enlightenment in this world?

YES! But they can also become dangerous if you use them too much. At first, LSD was about laughing all night, then it was about insightful discussions on the nature of reality, then it turned into bad trip after bad trip. Here’s what I recommend: if you are going to do it, do it infrequently, at a place that has everything you need (so you don’t have to face the public) until you come down. Either that, or go to a Pink Floyd or RUSH concert, and try not to explode from the sheer joy of drugs + amazing music. Hallucinogens help push the doors of perception open, and lead your consciousness into new areas of thought, but they will not make an idiot into a philosopher.

I am a drummer, and you are a drummer. So I must ask what any drummer would ask of any other drummer: who are your favorite drummers? I'll mention three: Sir Proscriptor McGovern of the Glenorchy District; Billy Cobham and Neil Peart.

WOW – Proscriptor – that dude is an old / good friend of mine. I actually sent him a copy of the first book I wrote, back in 1997. He’s definitely good! I agree with Neil Peart – he’s a god. Here’s a quick list of my top five, in no particular order:

1. Neil Peart

2. Dave Lombardo

3. Doc (VADER)

4. Mikkey Dee (KING DIAMOND)

5. Pete Sandoval (TERRORIZOR)

Do you recall a short-lived band called Psycophancy? Bill H. played guitar/bass and did vocals, while Tim M. played drums. Some black dude named Rod W. played guitar or bass, 'though I can't recall which. They had one show and one unsuccessful demo CD.
As a follow-up to this, do you remember a project called Dwarf Grinder? Myself and Bill H. started this project, based on prank phone calls, ridicule of rap, and good old grinding riffs--that sort of thing. A certain Tom P. also participated on our third demo by lending his low growls and high screams.

Yep – definitely remember Psycophancy – I still have the disc; I talk to Sam and Markus from time to time. Markus might be doing guitar for the upcoming MORBIUS tour in Europe – still working out the details though. I remember the NAME Dwarf Grinder, but I never heard you guys play (I don’t think). Hook me up with a tape!

How do you like working with Mike Bossier of Oblivion Studios? We, with our Dwarf Grinder "project" recorded all of our crap with him. I remember that he was always accomodating and even came up with ideas whenever we would run into a wall, so to speak. Of course, this was small-scale stuff, and completely for our own amusement, and probably less interesting than Morbius' experience there.

Let me say this – Mike Bossier is the most gifted musician I have ever met, so it’s good that he is running his own studio, and I agree – he’s extremely helpful on the creative side if you want him to be. I think if Mike got Pro Tools software and more automation in there he would land a shit load of more business. Mike is the kind of guy that will take every project equally serious, so we probably had almost identical experiences in there. One thing that’s funny about Mike is that he’ll blink more when he’s getting stressed, so I knew when to take a break! That guy can rip on guitar – like David Gilmour on speed. His band OBLIVION is one of my foundation influences – those guys blew me away.

I have been away from NoVA for a few years now, but I recall that the metal scene, thanks in big part to Jaxx, was always there, but never really took off. It seemed like a coma-patient drifting in and out of consciousness, to me. Would you describe that scene as quite dead at the present, or not? I hear conflicting reports.

The Jaxx scene is still going strong, which is sad because the good clubs (where you could smoke weed, or drink at age 14) are all gone as a result of it. To answer the question, the scene is very strong at Jaxx – they just had Celtic Frost, Vader, Destruction, and are having Venom (yes, Venom) play there in a few weeks. The point is – the scene was more “real” to me when we set up our own shows, and didn’t sell fucking tickets… Tickets??? That’s something you make high school bands sell, not people that have put albums out. The best days were the mid-nineties, when there was a show every weekend at a different club, and no overseeing asshole was there ordering you around. Bands booked the shows, set the schedule, and enforced the rules – you can’t get any better than that.

Several years back, April 30th of 2002 or 2003, the band Sigh played at the Spotlight in VA. I had the immensely good luck to be back in the area visiting for my birthday, which was that very day, when they played. They only had 3 or 4 US appearances, which was what I found so serendipitous (I have been trying to use that word for ever!) about my witnessing it. Did you happen to catch this? Deceased was there, who had Mirai of Sigh do the vocals on their cover of Black Metal. Yasuyuki of Abigail/Barbatos was their bass player for these shows, who I had the fortune to meet, along with the members of Sigh. This has nothing to do with Morbius, but I believe this was the greatest show of my lifetime, so I ask.

Well, I’m pissed I didn’t hear about it! I like Sigh a lot, Abigail too – I wish I had known about it, because I would have been there!

You mentioned that you play drums for GBK now. What became of the bearlike old Dad-looking guy that played drums before? I thought his style was interesting--sort of out-of-control, as if his body was drumming ahead of what his mind sought to do. I know that GBK recently did a show in NoVA, which I could not attend due to being literally halfway around the world. Did you perform drums for this show?

Yes, GBK played at the aforementioned Jaxx, the only place left to play in the DC area, and of course the set up was a disaster. I had some 15 year old cock-suck telling me what to do, ordering me to do this and that, so I told him to fuck off, or he’d get punched. Needless to say he went away, and then got on the case of everyone else. GOD that place sucks… Anyway, Cazz (the guy you reference – old drummer for GBK) actually didn’t want to tour Europe, so the GBK guys asked me if I wanted to stand in for drums. Of course I said “fuck yeah!” and we had a great time. After the tour, Cazz was kind of focused more on CRUCIFIER, his other band, so I had the opportunity to stay on with them and record an album “Kosherat” for Drakkar Productions (France). Cazz always had a unique way of playing – his blast beat, for example, is weird, but catchy. It’s like for every 3 hits on the ride, he would hit the snare, not the typical one-for-one, back and forth, snare to ride. Playing drums for GBK is always interesting – you never know what kind of people you’ll run into.

GBK is known for its anti-Semitic themes, and general racist attitude; is this part of what attracted you to join, or was it the undeniably mighty music that they have created? Or some of each? Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other?

That’s kind of complicated – the main reason I started playing drums was opportunity – the opportunity to tour, the opportunity to record an album that would have a ton of promotion behind it, and an opportunity to play black metal, something I’ve never done. Really, if you read the lyrics, they are similar to how “satanic” bands challenge the Christian belief system, but in this case it’s the heritage of Judea. First, I could care less about what people categorize the band as; my personal beliefs differ from a typical racist paradigm, so that theme was not something I even considered. I cared about making good music, and those guys are very, very good friends of mine, so I thought it could work well. One thing about the band I find funny is that people think we walk around in jack boots, seig-heiling, and spouting propaganda. The reality is, we’re good, hard working people that play hateful music. Not just hateful of jews, or some other group, hateful of EVERYONE.

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