Earlier this year, former Morbid Angel vocalist/bassist David Vincent joined renowned guitar legend Danny B. Harvey on stage in Texas to debut some of his new country material, but that was only the beginning. David performed a full set of original songs a few weeks ago, and as you’ll read in my interview with the legend, he has a lot planned for this new venture!
Metal Mark: David, thanks for taking out the time today to speak with me about this exciting new path of your musical journey. The obvious question from everyone would have to be, when and how did this “country” project come together?
David Vincent: Just like most musicians, I listen to and am inspired by all types of music. When I moved to Texas I found myself immersed in this scene, kept an open mind to it all, and found new inspiration by some of the artists around here. I began writing songs man, as simple as that. I know it’s not what many people would expect from my career in metal, but it’s still me, ya know. I’m still as open as I’ve ever been, and I’m still as passionate with this material as I was with anything else I’ve ever done before.
MM: I know you grew up in North Carolina, and being from the South I know how big the “country” scene is. How early was it when you first started listening to this style of music, or was it more when you moved to Texas?
DV: Well for me, I don’t think about genres when it comes to music. One likes what one likes. There’s a lot of music I don’t like, but there’s always been different styles of music that have inspired me. Growing up in North Carolina, yes I was aware of the “country” scene, or whatever you want to call it, but there were only a few musicians that I really grasped on to. Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard were two that I obviously loved, but a lot of the stuff I didn’t really like until I moved. I’ve always been a big fan of bluegrass, and that love has only grown with the move here. That’s one style that I’ve always been a huge fan of though. I never had the chance to incorporate those instruments in my previous work, for obvious reasons, so this just seems like the next natural step for me. There’s a lot of great talent here, and I’ve managed to work with some of the best, so it’s going really well right now.
MM: Speaking of the artists you’ve worked with, we’ve all seen the video of you on stage with the legendary Danny B. Harvey. How did that relationship come about?
DV: I met Danny a few years ago at South by Southwest. I mentioned to him that I had some new material that I had been working on, and was wanting him to hear it, and he gladly listened to it all. He’s more of a rockabilly guy, but he knows the guitar better than most people, so we got together and it was fun man. He can learn a song fast as hell, sometimes even right there on stage, so it was impressive and fun to watch him do that.
MM: Just from watching the videos, you can tell that you two have good chemistry together, which is crucial in this scene.
DV: Yea, we have a blast man. We both drink tequila, so that’s always a good way to become friends, and we have similar tastes in a lot of things. He’s not really a metal guy, but he gets a kick out of playing with me, knowing about my career in music up until now. Again, it’s just fun.
MM: As you know, I grew up in Georgia, so I was surrounded by a lot of similar artists playing what I call “real” country, and even though there are obvious differences, there are a lot of similarities between the two scenes. There’s not much radio play, if any, the musicians are talented as hell, and the genuine sound for instance.
DV: There are a lot of parallels that you can draw between these two scenes. I’m sure you know, being from Georgia, the underground roots scene is probably just as big as the underground metal scene, if not bigger. The musicians in both genres are extremely talented, and as you said, it’s real. The fan bases love it just as much, and the mentality is to write the best songs possible. Obviously the two genres never really collide, but I agree with you, there are definite similarities between the two. I still love metal, I still play metal, but this is just where I am right now. It’s music man. Good music is good music to the listener no matter what it is. If you keep an open mind and enjoy yourself, that’s what it’s about.
As for my stuff, we may have a few songs that a radio station may pick up, but who knows. I’m not censoring myself. I never have, and I never will. It’s very honest stuff, and most of the stories are true. That’s the stuff I gravitate to, so that’s the stuff I’m going to write. I have so many stories from my lifetime that I probably have enough material for a hundred songs honestly. It’s wide open at this point. Honestly, this is just living. I’ve had a interesting life, to say the least, and people will hear that in these songs.
MM: So this is not just a live show, there will be a record in the future?
DV: Definitely. We are definitely going to record this material. I feel it needs to be heard. It’s my take on things, and it’s different than what you’ll hear from most of the other acts in this genre. Hank III is a guy that kind of has the sound and stories that I have, plus he has that metal side as well. He has that attitude that I feel is needed, and I’m ready to bring my attitude and sound to the genre now.
MM: From the clips I’ve seen, you definitely have the same intensity and attitude on stage as a front man. How much different is it for you performing this stuff live than death metal?
DV: Well, it’s still loud. There’s less leather and blast beats though (laughs). It is different when, instead of seeing a mosh pit, you see a two step going on ya know. I have to get used to seeing a guy and girl dancing together, instead of two guys bashing into each other in a pit, too (laughs). It’s a bit strange, but it’s music. The fans care about music, whether they are dancing together or going nuts in a pit.
MM: Did you have any metal fans at these shows?
DV: Yea, there were some in the crowd for sure. I think they were kind of taken back by it all at first, but once they opened their minds and listened, you could see that they started to enjoy it. I think that’s the same for most music that people aren’t aware of. If it’s good music, it’ll hit ya once you let it, ya know. I’m not trying to steer anyone away from metal or anything like that, I just like performing music that means something to me. I’ve been a part of metal for 30 years. I’m made of metal. This is just another part of me that no one has heard, but it’s the other inspirations finally coming out.
MM: Speaking of those inspirations, you covered Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard at your recent shows. Can we expect more covers in the future?
DV: Any of the covers that I do, I make them mine. I’m not trying to be a jukebox. If there’s a song I can relate to, I’ll put my own spin on it when I play it. There are guys out there playing this music that have similar stories to me, maybe not so much with the metal background, but those are the guys I relate to and want to perform ya know. I have no love for this “trailer park pop” that they call Country on the radio. It’s not genuine. Most of these guys didn’t write their songs, use fake accents, I mean you name it, it’s been done. For a fan of the real stuff, you can hear it. You hear how fake it is. So when I hear an underground artist, or whoever, sing a song I know came from the heart and is real, that’s what I like. That’s what I’m doing, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.
MM: Very cool. I hear that you’re playing with Robert Earl Keene on July 4th, which is huge, but what else do you have coming up?
DV: I’m doing little one off, special event type of stuff right now, but the most important thing right now is writing and finishing this record. I want people to have a chance to really hear it, and really understand what I’m creating with this material. There’s a lot of people who see this “metal” guy trying this new thing and may not give it a shot, but the ones I’ve shared it with have been really impressed. A lot asked why I didn’t do this sooner, and it’s simple; people find their way to things when they find their way to things. It doesn’t mean that I’ll never play metal again, by any means, but this is where my heart is at right now, so I want to put out the best material I can, and have fun with it. We have a lot of cool stuff coming up that may surprise some people, but it’s all about writing the best songs, and having fun. That’s where I’m at right now, and I’m pretty damn happy.