The Band: Morbid Saint
The Man: Jay Visser (guitar)
Interview by Vpower
Morbid Saint is known in the Thrash Metal world for being the band that released “Spectrum Of Death”, a milestone in Thrash Metal and very loved by true fans. They also reached fame supporting Schuldiner’s Death in many gigs in their glorious days. Fortunately they are still alive and delivering ripping, raw and underworld Thrash Metal, as the one you will find in “Destruction System”.
Hello Jay, it’s a pleasure to talk to one of the greatest bands in the Thrash scene, ever, and with you as a founding member. First of all, before talking of your new album, let’s make a little of history. The band broke up in 1994 and returned in 2010, what were you doing all those years and what made you take the decission to resurrect Morbid Saint
After Morbid Saint dismembered in 1994, we pretty much went our separate ways, some of us established careers, some enjoyed life, and some had families. Life intervened.
Morbid Saint was, and still is, a cult band, in the 80s you were a reference in Thrash Metal and even I would say a prog band in the sense that you were melting different sounds or influences, as Death Metal, for instance
We really didn’t categorize the music we were writing and where it fit in with what styles like so many bands do today, we just were just writing music that was fun for us to play, and listen to.
You always had a especial relationship with Schuldiner’s Death, didn’t you? Even Eric Greif, Death’s manager, was the producer on Spectrum of Death…
Yes it is true that we were friends with Chuck and did several shows with Death, but that was a result of us working with Eric Greif before he was Death’s manager. We met Eric through a mutual friend, and began working with Eric’s business Edge Entertainment out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is how Eric was able to produce Spectrum of Death, and also aid in getting us on some of the bigger shows, including the Milwaukee Metalfest III, and the Ultimate 2 tour with Death and Dark Angel.
How is it possible that after editing an eternal jewell as Spectrum of Death the band split up?
The scene was changing, Grunge and alternative music was new and flooding the music scene, it was a hard time for a lot of the heavier bands. Plus, we were growing up, and life happened.
With the perspective of time, do you regret the decission to break up the band in 1994? What would be nowadays of Morbid Saint if you had never break up, in your opinion?
Yes, I personally regret the dismemberment in 1994. I look back and see that we could have done more to sustain Morbid Saint, but it had run it’s course, it was a time when we were all mutually ready for something else in our lives. It is hard to say what we would be today, many of us were listening to different styles of music at that time, so our influences were changing, I’m sure if we had continued the result would be something very different than Spectrum of Death, but then again you never know…
Let’s travel to the present, a brilliant one, as in 2015 you have just released your second album, Destruction System. First, if I’m not wrong, the current line-up is the same that recorded Spectrum of death, isn’t it? Was it difficult to get all the guys involved again?
Destruction System was recorded in 1992, and with the exception of Gary Beimel on bass, it was the same line up as Spectrum of Death. Destruction System was never finished, what is out now is an unmixed, unmastered copy that was just a quick mix for us to listen to until we returned to finish it… We never returned to the studio.. The current line up only contains Pat Lind and myself from the members who recorded Spectrum of Death. We resurrected Morbid Saint in 2010 due to overwhelming demand from fans worldwide who wanted to see Morbid Saint live, but not all of the original members we available, or interested to regroup.
If I have to summarize the awesome album that Destruction System is I would say that it sounds as corrosive as Spectrum of Death, a great heir to that legacy
I think Destruction System is an adequate follow up to Spectrum of Death. We tried to keep it aggressive and heavy, but I think we progressed as musicians and were able to write the songs in a little different manner than when we were writing songs for Spectrum of Death.
Although I like all the songs, my favorite in the album is Disciples of Discipline, I think if it was included in the original Spectrum of Death nobody would feel the difference. What is your favorite?
Alot of the songs on Destruction System were written trying to incorporate slower heavier parts that had a bit more groove and feel to them instead of always playing everything just all out fast. I always liked playing Halls of Terror, because it had some very different parts than what we typically played. But yes, I like Disciples as well, there is a part in that song that when you listen to it you don’t hear it but, the guitars are playing in a 3/3 time and the drums are playing in 4/4 time, which when at the time that we wrote it, we didn’t understand mixed measure timing, but many years later a friend pointed it out and when I realized what we did, I thought it was kind of cool.
It’s very cool, indeed. As I said, Destruction System has all the taste of the old times. So, a question arises, the songs in the album are totally new or you have rescued some material from a dark and forgotten box in a wardrobe…?
In 2010 we released a disc set entitled Thrashaholic, which includes Spectrum of Death, Destruction System, a live DVD recorded from a show in 1990, and newly recorded old songs that were not included on either release. All songs on Thrashaholic were written before we disbanded in 1994.
Have you been working on a new album?
We have been writing all new songs for a new release, hopefully to be recorded and released sometime in 2016.
Great news! Morbid Saint has always delivered a primitive, aggressive, occult and dark Thrash, the Bay Area sound was not your type I guess…
The music we wrote is a result of the influences we were listening to at the time, which did include the Bay area bands. We just wrote what we thought was cool and fun to play, we never thought about if it sounded like this band or that band. When we were doing the whole Morbid Saint thing in the 1980’s, we never imagined that it would have become what it is today, we often get asked what we were thinking when we wrote those songs, honestly, we were probably more concerned who was going to buy us beer, because we were all under age and could not purchase it for ourselves, and where we were going to go to drink it..
Hahaha as you said before, life all the way... I think you have influenced many bands, and that is amazing by itself with only one album, until now. But what bands influenced you back in the 80s?
We listened to pretty much everything, I’m sure I’m going to miss a few but, We really liked Slayer, old Metallica, Kreator, Death, Death Angel, Dark Angel, Testament, Exodus, Whiplash, Bloodfeast, Sepultura, Pantera, Nuclear Assualt, and also other bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rush, Black Sabbath, etc.
What was the best moment in Morbid Saint’s march on Earth?
Getting to do this interview!!
Hahaha, awesome! I will save this for my grandsons.... There are songs that are true anthems in the Thrash history. I would say Assassin is one of them. Who was the genius behind it? Do you expect this song or another to join the Walk of Fame any moment? I have read that Snoopy has entered lately, why not Morbid Saint…?
Assassin was actually part of a 14 minute anthem we wrote, that was eventually chopped up to make several other songs, including Assassin. All the music was written by Jim Fergades, Lee Reynolds, and myself, we always collaborated with each other.
Well, I suppose you have thought about it already, but it would be great to have the 14 minute whole song as a bonus in your upcoming album, a great gift for the fans... After releasing two demolishing albums, is there anything yet undone that especially motivates you?
The opportunity to continue to play these songs, write and record new songs, and being fortunate enough to get to play live shows all around the world is extremely motivating.
Do you have any touring plans for the near future? Anything in Europe?
Right now we are concentrating on writing new music for an upcoming release. We would love to have an opportunity to return to Europe, We had an incredible time there, and met so many new friends and incredible people. Hopefully we can return soon..
Hopefully we will see it. Thank you very much, it was fantastic to talk to a sacred band as yours
Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. It truly is an honor to be able to do this after being away for so long, hopefully we can thank everyone for their continued support with a new release that compares to Spectrum of Death and Destruction System..