Interview: Steve Tucker (MORBID ANGEL) on what to expect from Decibel Tour, state of death metal

As well as what he'd like from the next Morbid Angel record.

Photograph by Chris Casella

"I get to do a tour in a month with some of my very best friends on the planet and I don’t think you can really ask for more in life."


The above statement comes from a man that truly loves what he does. A man who's work has influenced many of today's metal bands and will continue to do so for years to come. That man is Steve Tucker, bassist and vocalist for the legendary MORBID ANGEL.


After decades of exceptional records and tours, MORBID ANGEL have cemented their legacy in death metal. There's no doubt about that. Steve's work on Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998), Gateways to Annihilation (2000), Heretic (2003) and the recent Kingdoms Disdained (2017) adds to the benchmark death metal repertoire of Florida's heavy icons. The band will take songs from those records, in addition to other classics, on the road as they join CANNIBAL CORPSE, BLOOD INCANTATION, and NECROT for the 2019 edition of the Decibel Magazine Tour.


We talk to Steve about what to expect from the band's participation in the upcoming Decibel Tour, what he'd like to see from their next record, the state of death metal in 2019, and more.

You have the Decibel Tour coming up and you’ll be sharing the stage with the death metal all star team that is Cannibal Corpse, Blood Incantation, and Necrot. How do you feel coming into the tour, which is fast approaching?


Man, I think it’s probably going to be one of the best tours to happen all year. This tour with Cannibal Corpse is 30 years in the making. It’s never happened before, so everybody’s really excited about it.


Absolutely. I think you and the rest of us across the country are pretty excited for it. A big question that many people are asking and would like answers to is, what tracks can fans expect you to rip through?


We’re going to be doing something from just about every album. Not sure we’re doing anything from Domination, but we’ll be doing a couple songs from every album. We have a pretty diverse set that’s going to cover everything. It’s going to cover 30 years worth of music.


That’s good to hear. Always good to hear the old school tracks while also delivering some of the new material.


Yeah, it’ll definitely be what the fans want. The problem with it is that we have so many classic songs that we can easily go up there and do a 2-hour set of songs just from the early 90’s. You know what I mean? It’s really just about picking a couple songs from each album that we really want to do and going ahead and doing those.


That’s awesome. You’ll be pleasing the fans that got into your music around the time of Altars of Madness and also the newer fan who Kingdoms Disdained was the entry point into Morbid’s discography. Any chance we get to hear ‘Opening of the Gates?’


(laughs) No, we’re not playing Opening of the Gates. I think the only thing we’re doing from Gateways to Annihilation is Ageless, Still I Am.


Got it, there’s a friend of ours who really wanted to hear it at the show, so I thought I’d ask.

Yeah, maybe at some point we’ll do it.


Awesome. So death metal just had one of the greatest years ever in 2018. Have you had a chance to listen to some of the bands that you’ll be touring with?


Oh yeah. I’m very familiar with everyone that’s going to be a part of this, including Immolation of course. Like I said man, this is pretty much one of the best tours of the year. This is one of the best packages across the entire world as well, I think.


Most definitely. With that said, where do you see death metal in 2019, given how long you’ve been in the genre and the lifespan you’ve had in heavy music?


It’s solid, respected, and legitimate. For years and years, I kept hearing over and over that death metal is dead, death metal is gone, it’s over, and it’s better days are gone. But you know, it’s not. You have bands that aren’t necessarily or even completely death metal, but are definitely influenced by it. For example, Cannibal Corpse is opening for Slayer doing arena tours. We opened for Pantera doing arena tours at one point. That’s just great. That’s next level stuff man. That’s the kind of stuff that puts you in front of a lot of people and gets you exposed to the people that have no idea that music like this even exists. It’s crazy.


I think now there’s a lot of different stuff going on. There’s a lot of different subgenres. I think there’s a subgenre for people doing records at home. You know what I mean? That’s a subgenre in death metal now, dudes sitting in front of their computer doing records at home. I think that’s a whole new thing happening. To be honest with you man, I think death metal now is well respected. It’s very solid. Death metal has definitely earned the respect of the world.


I’d agree. Like you mentioned with the subgenres, you have blackened death metal, technical death metal, progressive death metal, and just death metal with so many different musical elements. You have the one man band that does the guitars, drums, and vocals and just hires live musicians for the live show. You have it all now, and it’s pretty diverse and strong.


Definitely man. It’s funny because at one point 25 or 30 years ago, death metal was a subgenre of metal. So it’s cool to have these new subgenres come out of it. One great thing is that there’s no doubt that bands like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, and other old school bands have influenced so many fucking people. It’s unreal. It’s really made a great future for extreme metal.


Yes, and I think the torch is being passed on properly. By now, we’ve all seen that Kingdoms Disdained is widely accepted and adored for many reasons, one being its sheer aggressiveness and musicianship. Musically, where do you go from here? What would you like to see on the next one?


We’re not really even talking about the next one (laughs). I want to do something new on this next record. I want to tap into some new depths. That’s what Morbid always does. Morbid Angel always taps into some new, unheard sort of sounds. That’s what I want from the next album man. I want it to be death metal. I want it to sound like Morbid Angel should sound and I want it to have some experiments that are really fucking mind-boggling and acid.


Great, thanks for touching on that. A big focus of us here at Heaviest of Art is the appreciation of cover art. We love and try to highlight some of the best paintings and art fronting some of the best records. For Kingdoms Disdained, you used Ken Coleman, who did an immaculate job of capturing the evil Morbid Angel essence. How was it like working with him to put together the cover?


Ken is awesome man. I’ve known Ken for probably 4 or 5 years. Never mind, at this point it’s longer than that. I’ve known the guy for probably 6 years. I’m a big fan of everything he does. He’s a good artist. The thing about Ken that always interests me is that he mixes the artificial and the real. Sometimes, it’s a mechanical and a human element. Sometimes, it’s a natural and a very unnatural element and it’s just impressive to me man. The cover art the way it is is almost exactly what he sent to us as a proposal. We saw it and thought “oh my god, this is fucking brutal!” I’m a big fan of his and I’m a big fan of the cover art. I think that Ken is pretty amazing. He uses a very modern technique. It’s digital art. The way he goes about it and the elements that he uses to achieve the things that he does are very organic. Things are always made from something organic. It’s pretty brilliant. I look forward to seeing what that guy does for the next 50 years or so.


Absolutely. The work that artists are putting out now is phenomenal. For example, some of the records we saw last year had some fucking incredible covers. Like you mentioned, the cover for Kingdoms Disdained looks exactly like a photograph. It doesn’t even look like it was drawn on a computer, it just pops right at you. With technology advancing so much, it allows artists the ability to create great stuff for the incredible music that lies beneath it.


Yeah man, I think it’s pretty incredible. Some of the techniques that Ken uses for instance are incredible. Ken makes models, takes photos of them, and then superimposes other things in there. Like I said, it’s very organic the way he goes about setting something up in his mind. It’s pretty impressive to me. The entire working system is layered and incredible. From step one to the final result, it’s all pretty impressive.


I’m with you on that one. It was great to see him work on the record. Morbid Angel have had from Dan Seagrave to classic paintings fronting records. You guys have had a pretty solid run of cover art throughout the decades, so it was great seeing him contribute.


Absolutely man. I was very glad to have him. As I said, he’s one of my favorite artists. He was there, he was available, so let’s fucking do it.


You’ve toured across the world, you’ve shared bills with some of the greatest bands, released records left and right. What’s next for the band and what’s next for Steve Tucker?


Well right now, we’re still out and supporting Kingdoms Disdained. For the first year or so, we were only playing newer stuff and now we’re getting to the point where we’ve diversified the set. We’re now doing stuff from the entire history of Morbid Angel, so that’s cool. I haven’t played a lot of these songs in many years. For us, it’s just keep playing shows and keep doing what we do. We love what we do. It’s badass and it’s fun. I get to do a tour in a month with some of my very best friends on the planet and I don’t think you can really ask for more in life.


You get to play brutal music in front of crazy ass people across the country. What’s better than that?


Exactly dude, exactly.


Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to seeing you guys at the LA and Santa Ana stops, so hoping to meet you there.


That’s awesome man. I’ll probably be a bit high but it’s cool, don’t worry (laughs).


I think you and everyone else at the venue.


I think so too brother (laughs).

Death metal legends MORBID ANGEL will hit the road from February 17th through March 14th as part of the 2019 Decibel Magazine Tour. They join none other than CANNIBAL CORPSE, BLOOD INCANTATION, and NECROT for a death metal all star lineup.

MORBID ANGEL w/ Cannibal Corpse, Blood Incantation, Necrot: 2/17/2019 Alamo Music Hall – San Antonio, TX 2/19/2019 Club Xs – Tucson, AZ 2/20/2019 The Observatory – San Diego, CA 2/21/2019 The Fonda Theater – Los Angeles, CA 2/22/2019 The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA 2/23/2019 The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA 2/25/2019 Roseland Ballroom – Portland, OR 2/26/2019 Showbox Market – Seattle, WA 3/01/2019 The Oriental Theater – Denver, CO 3/02/2019 The Truman – Kansas City, MO 3/03/2019 Skyway Theater – Minneapolis, MN 3/04/2019 The Concord – Chicago, IL 3/06/2018 Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY 3/07/2019 Playstation Theater – New York, NY


If you haven't picked up Kingdoms Disdained for whatever reason, you can pick up your copy of this quality MORBID ANGEL composition here.

Cover art by Ken Coleman

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