Hellspawn Reborn
CoC interviews Pete Sandoval of Morbid Angel
by: Paul Schwarz
Does Morbid Angel really need an introduction? Well, I suppose there might be some new extreme music fans out there or just people who've been dead for the last 9 years who don't know who they are. Morbid Angel are, in my humble opinion, one of the finest and most consistent death metal bands ever. From the originality and brutality of their (official) _Altars of Madness_ debut through classics like _Blessed Are the Sick_ and _Covenant_ and now with the much praised _Formulas Fatal to the Flesh_, Morbid Angel have always been one step ahead of the competition and are never afraid to add something new and different into their melting pot of musical creativity. _Formulas Fatal to the Flesh_ is set to be released onto an expecting, but still only mortal, world, and Morbid Angel are ready to claim their throne once again. With Morbid Angel keeping a low profile throughout 1997 and new vocalist/bassist Steve Tucker having to fill the size 12 boots David Vincent left behind, is the new Morbid Angel better than ever and ready to crush the mediocre, or just a shadow of its former glory? I talked to legendary human drum machine Pete 'Commando' Sandoval (also a part of the grindcore legend that was Terrorizer) about the new album and other matters both Morbid and otherwise to give those of you in doubt a helping hand. (And if you read Adam's short interview (issue #27) with Trey and, after this, are still not satisfied, pick up a copy of _FFttF_: I have a feeling you won't be disappointed.)

CoC: Morbid Angel have always led and not followed in the death metal scene: does _FFttF_ continue in this tradition?

Pete Sandoval: Yeah, I believe so, I believe our new album delivers all those points in those areas and a lot more. This new album is, I think, one of the strongest ones we've ever done -- I think it is going to do really well. It's got a lot of good things.

CoC: About the production: Trey's been saying that it's more live and less processed than _Domination_ was; do you think that applies [overall] and how do you think that applies to the way the drums came out on _FFttF_?

PS: I believe the production on this new album is really good, I mean you know there's always the thing when you do something, you do a record, you wish you could have done something better. There's always this kind of thing that happens. I think for the overall thing this album has so much; there are so many things going on in these songs, I think the production is good enough for the songs because all the speed, all the chaos going on it's like so hard to produce something to bring it as close to perfect as you can, but I think the drums, they came out as good as they would have come, I think the drums were good enough. Like I said, there are things I could have done better but that's how we learn from one album to another: we take it step by step.

CoC: What about the solo drum track which you wrote for the new album? How did that come out?

PS: The solo drums? My tribal drum piece? It came out all right, but I didn't have enough time to work on it in the studio because it was one of the last things I was doing. It was going to be a little bit longer, but unfortunately it didn't end up that way. But I think it is good enough for its purpose, because the purpose of it was to show the world what I can do, what is in me; it is the Latin part of me, in my blood, my Spanish blood and that is my representation right there of what I am, like a tribal dance ritual, so I am very happy with that one even though it wasn't as long as I expected it to [be], but there are other times to overdo it again and add some more things, which I wanted to in the beginning; I was going to add some voices as well, but I think it was good the way it came out because it was just different, so unique: it's just drums, just drums.

CoC: Considering this is the first thing that you've been credited for on a Morbid Angel album, because usually Trey gets credited for the music, do you think in the future you will play more of a part in writing the music or do you think Trey will continue to write nearly all of it?

PS: You mean the main music, the death metal, the hard music, the music in general? Well Trey's been the one from the very beginning, the first one, the one who started it all. So I have no idea, we worked together on this new album, we started from the very bottom me and him, just playing riffs and riffs and coming up with songs with rhythms and putting them together and just working and recording them day and day. I think as a team right now it has worked pretty good, because Trey is a very smart person, he's very intelligent and he is a very intelligent writer: he writes such incredible music, but yes, I think this will allow me to do more and want to do more in the future and help out as far as the songs [go], it is an open way for me, and I believe so, I would love to, and I will try to put more of my part onto the songs for the future. Of course, this gives me a motivation to want to do more than what I have done in the past, so like you said, it is just the beginning, it is the first record where I am credited for these couple of things and there's always a beginning, a new beginning; so I assume, yeah. I will work harder for the future, for the next record and see what I can come up with for the music in general.

CoC: How do you feel about going on the road again and playing the new songs live?

PS: I feel very excited, I can't wait man, because live is the way to prove the songs; you write an album, and you have a new record but you have to go and prove that you can do these songs live. That alone is such a great excitement, and also the excitement of being around the crowd who loves you, that cheers you up, and who wanna hear you live; all that energy kind of gets in you and [then] there's more energy and more excitement. So I can't wait for this tour to start and go play these songs because they are going to be really good live, they're gonna sound very powerful, it's a point we're gonna prove, and I do want to prove myself, live. Yeah, we're getting ready man.

CoC: Trey has talked quite a bit already about the ideas expressed in the lyrics of the album, about the Living Continuum and the Ancient Ones: do you share those beliefs?

PS: Yeah, I share those beliefs with him, I share those beliefs with Morbid Angel 'cause Morbid Angel is a team, it is a unit. I am with him in all that because if one of us is not on the same track the whole unit would not be as powerful. Yes, I am with Trey, with the Living Continuum and the Ancient Ones: they have to do with the energy and the power of this band and it's definitely in the beliefs.

CoC: And Steve fits into that well?

PS: Of course, of course. He has to sing all these songs. Yeah, definitely, I believe so, he is very serious about it as well. I think it is a very interesting philosophy, it is very genuine and original and also very powerful in itself. If you believe that and if you believe that we are the instruments of the Ancient Ones, it's like an energy, it's like a good thing that you feel inside when you write these songs and in the words, the meaning, the messages of these songs it is much more positive and is much more powerful than ever. That alone gives you more energy, more power, you get more motivated to do these things with more conviction. It is a very positive idea; as long as it is very positive, in the winning positive, it's good. Why not, why not be part of something that is positive, that is going to give us success, that will give us new ideas in the future, that is going to keep us going, getting ahead with our lives?

CoC: You said that the belief gives you some sort of energy. Along with that, what sort of music inspired you to play originally and what music still inspires you to carry on?

PS: What sort of music?

CoC: Yeah, you talked about your Spanish heritage for example.

PS: I listen to all kinds of music man, I listen to a lot of classical music, a lot of jazz, I listen to some Spanish music of course, I listen to some alternative techno music. Whatever is inspiring and whatever is original, there are a lot of things out there which are original and as long as it's original and it's got something good in there [I listen to it]. I don't just like one kind of music. I am into different types of music; whatever sounds good to me I like and whatever has a good meaning of course. I just listen to different kinds of things. Also experiences in life influence you and get you in the mood of writing. So all these things influence me in my life, in our lives.

CoC: Why do you think Morbid Angel have lasted throughout the rise and fall of death metal? A lot of bands who were around in the early _Altars of Madness_ days have either changed or split up, but you're still here; what do you think is the reason for this?

PS: The specific reason is that we have never given up, we have kept on writing songs and material that is different [on each album]. We have just continued writing songs which are very powerful, I believe and our belief just keeps us going, and our hard work, because a lot of bands just give up when things are not happening for them, and they probably stop working as hard as they should. With Morbid Angel, especially with Trey and with us too, [it is] that we keep on working hard every day writing songs and believing that one day we were gonna record those songs and it was gonna be a good album, but we had to work hard every day man, just working on songs, just changing them every day, just changing bars and it is definitely that belief in working hard, not ever giving up and trying to write something that is not as common, something that is original and that's the thing that sets bands apart from others: their originality. A lot of bands, they write one album, they a write a second album, third album and it's kinda the same, it's kinda the same thing; not much change. Every album we have tried to make something new, something different, or add new things to it -- like on the new record, we've added two pieces, Trey added two pieces of instrumental keyboard [for avid Morbid Angel fans like myself wishing to remind Pete of "Doomsday Celebration" on _Blessed Are the Sick_, I think that the interludes on the new album have a different feel, it is not just that they are played on keyboards that makes them original --PS] and that gives the album more characteristics, more things for the listener to explore. All of these things have to do with that [the hard work] and also a belief in yourself, that's a major thing -- you've gotta believe that you can do it -- and that is our belief, the belief that we already have fixed in our heads before anything is written down. We can do it, because, like Trey says, "everyone has the potential to be a winner" and I think it is just a matter of wanting it and working hard for it and that's what it is man, it [success] shows up for those who work hard: those are the ones that get the prize, man, the medallion. We're gonna keep going and hopefully Steve is gonna stick with us and be part of our team and try to make it as powerful as possible, 'cause it's gonna be his first tour and we'll see what happens, but we are excited about it. Those are good things: the emotions, feelings, excitement, wanting to do things, and wanting to change things, wanting to make things of greatness, that's the big thing.

CoC: You've decided to stay with Earache as your record company; were you ever thinking of changing record company?

PS: We were just trying to find the best contract, the best deal. That's the best thing, there wasn't a specific company we wanted to go to. We just tried to find whoever would give us the right deal, the fairest deal for us, and that happened to be Earache. Earache gave us the best deal overall, and that's who we stayed with. So I am happy that we stayed with Earache and I hope that they do a good job for us.

CoC: Are you taking Richard Brunelle out on tour with you?

PS: We are taking him out [with us], yes. We are currently practicing with him every day.

CoC: How has that been?

PS: He's been doing great. We believe he is coming on the tour with us so that's very positive right there, if he comes out with us he'll do a good job of it, so I think he'll be on the tour.

CoC: Which bands will you be taking out with you?

PS: I believe for this European tour that the band Vader is gonna open for us.

CoC: Really!

PS: And one band from Earache, Entwined or something. They're gonna open up and Vader. That's the last thing I heard, for this European tour that we're gonna do. I hope that it is a great tour.

CoC: Do you think there will ever be a Terrorizer reunion?

PS: Terrorizer reunion? I have no idea man, because Jesse is doing his own thing, he is in Napalm even though I spoke to him a few times a couple a months ago. He still, you know, has this thing in his mind that he would like to do another shot, and I wouldn't mind to do another shot to it, but the thing is it's like Oscar Garcia, the singer, he's married, and he's changed quite a bit so he's not into the whole thing as much as he was. You never know, you know what I mean, Jesse, as far as he is concerned, he's got some songs written down, he's putting them on tape, he's gonna send me a tape of the songs, and I'm gonna check it out and we'll see what happens. You never know man, surprises happen, you never know. That would be a good thing, it would be fun to do.

CoC: Black metal is now very popular; do you have an opinion on black metal?

PS: Well, the thing is that black metal down here in the states is not as popular, I don't hear much of it, I heard it is mostly in Europe where black metal is big or hyped or whatever. All I see is a magazine here or there and when I check a magazine I see a lot of black metal bands and all of these bands have this makeup and these evil looks and stuff, I just don't bother with it, it doesn't affect my life at all at the moment; I play death metal, I play what I play. There are a few bands out there, a few black metal bands, who are pretty good and they have got a good thing going and it is just a matter of these bands getting over here and doing a tour or something because I have never see them coming over here, probably it is hard for them because they don't have a manager or the backup they deserve. It is much bigger in Europe, that's why I don't have much to say about black metal, but I don't have much idea about whether black metal is rising or going down, what do you think?

CoC: I heard recently that it is starting to get into the States because Cradle of Filth, the most popular band from the UK, they just recently did their first tour of the US; Absu from Texas, they're becoming more popular, and Usurper from Chicago as well [to name but a few --PS], so I think it might start to get big in the States.

PS: That's good.

CoC: What also might happen, which might not change anything [for black metal], it looks like death metal might come back again and be more popular.

PS: Death metal, yeah, that would be a great thing.

CoC: Vader and some other newer bands have become quite respected playing death metal and then there is the new Morbid Angel album coming out, and Cryptopsy are doing a new album. So we'll see how it goes.

PS: Yeah, we'll see what happens man.

CoC: Do you have any last words for the readers of CoC?

PS: Yeah, I just hope that they pick our _FFttF_ record and that they like it, and that they get the message and enjoy it a lot, and I hope it is powerful enough for their ears, and I hope to see them soon on the road. Where is this magazine from?

CoC: Originates in Canada but it's on the Internet, so you get it anywhere in the world free, in Europe, the States, Japan: it's your fans everywhere.

PS: I hope to see everyone soon on the road, and beware because this is going to be a very powerful tour. We are going to come and prove, ourselves, that we are the kings of death metal and we are going to be very strong and very powerful live and very fast as well, because we never lost that, that aspect. Peace.

(article submitted 10/3/1998)

10/25/2000 A McKay Morbid Angel: Ageless Angel of Annihilation
11/17/1997 A Wasylyk Morbid Angel: A Morbid Update
6/9/1996 A Gaudrault Morbid Angel: Eyes to Read, Ears to Listen
6/26/2011 A El Naby 2 Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus
3/23/2004 J Smit 9 Morbid Angel - Heretic
2/5/1997 A Wasylyk 10 Morbid Angel - Formulas Fatal To The Flesh
3/3/2005 T DePalma Morbid Angel Dread Resolve
4/19/2004 J Smit Morbid Angel / Akercocke A Ghouls Night Out
1/10/2001 D Rocher Morbid Angel / Enslaved / The Crown / Dying Fetus / Behemoth / Hypnos Belated Tales of the Unexpected
3/5/2000 M Noll Morbid Angel / Gorgoroth / God Dethroned / Amon Amarth / Krisiun / Occult Formulas Fatal to Gorgoroth
9/1/1998 A Wasylyk Blood of Christ / Morbid Angel A Meeting of Deities
6/7/1998 P Azevedo Morbid Angel / Vader / Entwined Morbid Mayhem
4/18/1996 N Bassett Morbid Angel / At the Gates / Dissection / Sadistic Intent Morbid Angel / At the Gates / Dissection / Sadistic Intent
8/12/1995 A Gaudrault Morbid Angel / Grip Inc. Morbid Angel's Mayhem Unleashed!
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