Tomas Stench, frontman and founder of Mexican-American black/death relic Morbosidad, reflects over almost three decades of uncompromising Morboso metal, and shares his thoughts about how to proceed from here.
The following is an excerpt from the full article, which is twice as long and published in Bardo Methodology #5. The same issue also includes conversations with BLASPHEMY, DAUTHA, CLANDESTINE BLAZE, ACRIMONIOUS, ROME, LYCHGATE, NUCLEAR WAR NOW!, CULT NEVER DIES, MYSTIFIER, W.A.I.L., WINTERFYLLETH, and PHURPA.
– Maintaining a stable line-up has been difficult ever since the very first day. I’ve tried my best to keep the band alive but most people don’t understand the struggle or how difficult it is to write and perform live rituals.
MORBOSIDAD have been around for a long time. My initial research told me they formed in 1993, a belief shared by the band’s founder, Tomas Stench, up until recently when he found an old ’zine from 1991 featuring a MORBOSIDAD interview. I must say, losing track of two full years is quite impressive. Then again, I recall reading an interview with Alice Cooper stating that he’s more or less forgotten the entire first half of the 80s.
– Exactly, that’s what I’ve been asking myself – what the hell happened? I guess my memory isn’t that great after all. I don’t know why but I always thought MORBOSIDAD was created in ’93; then I found this old interview in a Costa Rican ’zine from ’91. Oh well, what matters is that we’re still here and stronger than ever.
The first verifiable sign of MORBOSIDAD is their “Demo ’93”, followed the subsequent year by a second tape – “Santisima muerte”. Tomas is originally from Mexico but was living in California back then; I can’t help but wonder what he made of all the black metal related drama in Scandinavia during that time. I obviously have no idea what kind of neighbourhood he grew up in but I’d wager that burning the local church would most decidedly not have been a wise move.
– I grew up in a very bad area, I wouldn’t mind burning some church down along with the people in it, ha! Everything that happened over there took me by complete surprise. I said, ‘Damn, these guys take metal too seriously!’ and couldn’t believe how extreme black metal had gotten in those countries – so much intensity, I loved it. The only person from Scandinavia I remember being in touch with was Christofer from THERION, we corresponded for many years. I’ve still got the letters where he mentioned the BURZUM incident, when Varg sent his Swedish girlfriend to set Chris’ house on fire and shit like that. Most of my mail came from other places in the world, none from Norway; I wish I could’ve been in touch with some of the maniacs from there.
In 1995, MORBOSIDAD went into temporary hiatus after one of the members perished in an explosion.
– Yegros, my first drummer, died when our rehearsal room blew up. Crazy shit, it could’ve been me too; I was running late for practice and when I arrived the whole thing was on fire. Both Yegros and his brother were inside and next thing we know, paramedics are carrying out their bodies – ninety-nine percent carbonised. Sad day.
Buildings are generally not known to spontaneously self-combust so, I must ask, what caused the blast?
– A car gas tank was being removed to get some weed when it exploded. Obviously, they didn’t realise that having a heater right next to it wasn’t such a clever idea.
Not only that but a second drummer, Goat Destroyer, died in 2009. I’d potentially be somewhat concerned if I was Matt Mayhem, MORBOSIDAD’s current percussionist.
– Goat Destroyer was just in the wrong place at the wrong time – all I heard was that he got pushed from a third-floor storey building at some party in Mexico City. To this day I’m still not sure exactly what happened or how, I was in Canada when the news reached me. It sucks, he was such a great person and drummer.
One of the Goat Destroyer tributes to surface after the incident was a split EP between US black/death band MANTICORE and Australian death metal necromancers GRAVE UPHEAVAL. In a January 2018 conversation with the latter, we learned how some of its members had followed a four-date Mexican tour with MORBOSIDAD and the aforementioned MANTICORE. I can’t imagine Australian metalheads cavorting about in rural Mexico to have been an especially common occurrence.
– At first, when Bjorn told me him and Alex were coming, I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, that’s dedication.’ Those Australians did not care at all – they partied like no one else, drove around, and enjoyed Mexico. Great times.
I was told to inquire about an establishment by the name of Cabare-tito Neon.
– That show was crazy; the organiser was forced to switch venues last-minute and the new one happened to be a gay bar. Or, rather, the gay bar was downstairs and our set on the top floor, so go figure all the chaos and shit surrounding it. The promoter had nothing in order for the gig – no permits or anything, so the cops kept showing up every hour. We had to pull a canvas over the drumkit and tell them it was a party so they’d leave, then uncover the drums and keep playing. Really fuckin’ stupid, I must say. Later that night it looked like a warzone outside with all the cops.
Furthermore, I heard that when GRAVE UPHEAVAL played Oakland, Tomas’ home turf, a few years ago the members were under strict instruction to under no circumstances set foot outside the venue on their own. When they had to pick up some equipment from the van, Tomas insisted on coming along with them.
– That venue is in an area that’s well-known for being ghetto as fuck. I told them to not walk around at night by themselves, since they’re white and all. But that’s Oakland for you, this will never change. Glad we got to hang out together and drink some beers in any case.
Oakland metal gigs are said to have been pretty lively back in the 90s. I recall reading how certain notorious Californian street gangs initially formed after meeting at metal shows, a clientele I assume would’ve contributed to an exciting crowd dynamic.
– Oh yeah. Lots of fights, broken windows, stolen stereos – that was Oakland underground metal back in the day. The venue that held most shows, The Omni, was in the ghetto so you knew what to expect. The 90s in California were amazing though, I got to see so many good shows with great bands that kids nowadays will never imagine. Back in the day, The Omni was putting on monthly shows with obscure local acts like IMMORTAL FATE, GORY MELANOMA, PALE EXISTENCE, EXHUMED, and so on. I was actually one of the lucky people to catch VON live! Not just once but on several occasions. The first time, I was so impressed both with their image and music; simple but heavy as hell. Wearing no shirts, bodies covered in blood, and playing between two big inverted crucifixes. I remember some in the crowd weren’t really into them, people who were there for gore and death metal… then VON came on and all hell broke loose! That’s where we got the influence for MORBOSIDAD’s early shows from, with the two inverted crosses on stage.
In a December 2017 announcement it was stated that MORBOSIDAD was about to be put to rest after playing ‘as many shows as possible to finalise its existence’.
– Well, splitting up was our original plan but it’s undecided as of now – ha! The reason being that at every show we’ve played the past few months, people have approached me to ask why I’m ending MORBOSIDAD. They’re like, ‘We need Morboso metal for another twenty-five years!’ I wish it was that easy though.
Why the decision to disband in the first place?
– I think… or rather, I thought it was time; I’m dealing with some health issues and am getting really tired of all this. Besides, the so-called ‘scene’ keeps getting worse and worse every day. There are so many pretentious people and wannabes who make me sick, just too much bullshit around.
This was an excerpt from the full article, which is twice as long and published in Bardo Methodology #5. The same issue also includes conversations with BLASPHEMY, DAUTHA, CLANDESTINE BLAZE, ACRIMONIOUS, ROME, LYCHGATE, NUCLEAR WAR NOW!, CULT NEVER DIES, MYSTIFIER, W.A.I.L., WINTERFYLLETH, and PHURPA.