Friday, 20 April 2012

INTERVIEW - Mike Browning

Mike Browning is the former drummer/vocalist for legendary death metal pioneers Morbid Angel and Nocturnus. He has also played for the bands Incubus and Acheron. His current band is called After Death.
In 2008 he released a solo album titled 'Mike Brownings Inner Workings - Trancemissions'. Mike was kind enough to answer a few questions for Chamber Of Ages about his past endeavours.

COA: How did you get into metal? Who were your influences?

MB: When I was a young kid about 14 there was a record store that opened by my house called "Asylum" and the guy there was always getting in cool Metal stuff from Europe, like Iron Maiden and Angelwitch, once I heard Angelwitch I was hooked! My Influences were mainly Black Sabbath, Slayer, Angelwitch, Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost and stuff like that.

COA: What made you decide to take up drumming?

MB: I took drums in school when I was in 7th grade (about 13) and continued to play in school almost until I graduated, but once I bought a drumset I was more interested inplaying in a band more than a school band, so I concentrated more on that! I really like to mess around with keyboards a lot, but I am not classically trained at all. I am more into making strange sounds with them and I use a Theremin too. But I never really was able to learn guitar, if I had more time though I would like to learn a bit of that too!

COA: Can you tell me about the formation of Morbid Angel in 1983?

I knew Trey from High School. But yeah, Trey and I were like the only two kids in that school that were into the occult and it just happened that he played guitar.

COA: What are your memories of early Morbid Angel rehearsals and gigs?

We played everywhere and anywhere! We would always try our houses first and we used to go to this park that had a small hill and a neat covered gazeebo that was pretty big and had electricity, so we would carry all our stuff up that hill and just start jamming until someone would finally complain and stop us. We even rented a generator and played on the beach a few times, that drew huge crowds and of course lots of parties! It was always a very magical event when we played, we always had incense and the proper things to set the mood before we played. I don't want to go into too much details but we did a lot of ritual type stuff before shows!

COA: What led you to leave Morbid Angel?

Trey got along too good with my girlfriend, I caught them together at Trey's moms house where he lived at the time and I beat his ass so bad that was the end of me being in Morbid Angel and jamming with Trey. The next day he came and got his equipment from the house that Richard Brunelle, Sterling von Scarborough and I lived in and that was the last time we ever played together.

COA: 1986's 'Abominations Of Desolation' was released later in 1991 by Earache Records. Were you contacted about the release, and did you receive any royalties for it?

MB: David sold the album to Earache just as it was recorded back in 1986. I didn't even know anything about it until after it was already out and in the stores, so I had no say in anything, they weren't even going to give me any royalties or any credit for it at all, David and Trey were going to make all of the money off of it, but they ended up paying me some little royalties but they never gave anything to Richard or Johnny at all even though they both played on it and no credit or information as to who even played on it was given either. even to this day on the official Morbid Angel website it says that Abominations was a demo, but it is clear to see it is a full length record and no Sterling did not play on it either! So even to this day Trey is not telling the real truth about Abominations and who played on it.

COA: You founded Nocturnus with guitarists Vincent Crowley, Gino Moreno and bassist Richard Bateman, how did you all get together?

Well I was in a band called Incubus with Gino, Bateman had just quit Agent Steel and Vince had just broke up his first band Entity! But I knew Bateman and Bateman knew Vince, so we all sort of just got together and started jamming.

COA: How long did recording sessions for 'The Key' take and how was it working with Tom Morris?

We did the album in about a week with a $10,000 budget, which isn't a lot for Morrissound! I really wanted to work with Scott Burns or Jim Morris, but Earache insisted that we use Tom because he did Morbid Angel. Actually, I think Jim would have been my pick, but Earache was spending the money so we had to use Tom.

COA: Kam Lee appeared as guest vocalist on the record, how did that come about?

It wasn't really planned, he just happened to drop by the studio because Digby Peasron was there and they were talking about signing Massacre, too and we just happened to be doing the back up vocals, so Kam just jumped in there and did it with no planning at all!!!

COA: How did you find performing Nocturnus material live, handling both drums and vocals?

Well it's not easy by any means, but I have gotten really used to it and now it is pretty natural for me to do both! But we toured Europe almost all of the US and Mexico and lots of people saw me do both with not too much of a problem!!!

COA: Dan Izzo joined the band as vocalist for the 'Thresholds' album. Was it a relief for you, because you could concentrate on drumming?

MB: Well it wasn't a relief at all I still wanted to sing, the problem was that the band had no stage presence and I was behind a really big drumset, so you could never see me singing, so Earache thought it would be a better idea to get an actual frontman and as you can see "The Key" sold over 70.000 units and Thresholds sold less than 30,000 so you do the math! Every night on tour people were asking me why I wasn't singing anymore!

COA: In your opinion, do you think Dan Izzo's voice fit the band?

MB: Well it was the best and closest thing we could find at the time!!! Lot's of people did try out but he was the first to come in and actually sing the songs right on time. I don't really like much off of "Thresholds" to tell you the truth.

COA: How much input did you have in the cover art for both records?

MB: We actually had a version of the cover done by a local artist first but it came out
too much like a comic book, so Dan Seagrave actually redid it and we really liked it a lot and kept it and also used him for the second one too, but "The Key" was one of his best covers in my opinion!!! The actual idea of the cover was mine though.

COA: Are you still in contact with any former Nocturnus members?

MB: Only Mike Davis and Chris Anderson and I am actually working on a side project with them now. I hate all the other members, because of them stealing the band name Nocturnus and ruining it!!

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