Interview with vocalist and drummer Mike Browning
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 7, 2015
As stated on the official Facebook page of Nocturnus AD, Mike Browning formed the band in 2013 not as a "reunion" of Nocturnus to pick up where The Key album left off. This band utilizes the same members as After Death but the music will be much more technical and in the vein of The Key which was originally released by Nocturnus in 1990.
The Metal Crypt already interviewed Mike Browning (formerly of Morbid Angel, Incubus, Acheron and so on) back at the end of 2013 when Nocturnus AD was announced and we wanted to catch up with him again to ask how things have been going since then.
Luxi: So Mike, what's the latest news from Tampa, FL?
Mike: We just got finished playing in Miami with Solstice and now we are starting back to work on new material. We have the music for one new song finished and 2 more started, so we have finally gotten into writing mode and we are putting together shows for 2015 as well.
Luxi: the last time you talked to The Metal Crypt about Nocturnus AD was almost exactly a year ago. What has happened in that year with the band? What are some of your best memories from 2014 with Nocturnus AD? Obviously playing at Nuclear War Now! Festival (vol. 4) in Berlin in November must be one of your coolest experiences with the band, right?
Mike: 2014 was a huge year for us! First, in January we played a show with Obituary here in Tampa and in May we did another here with Gigan. In May we played The Maryland Death Fest and in June we went to Europe and did a show in Belgium and two Festivals; Hellfest in France and Dokkem in the Netherlands. And yes, in November we did the Nuclear War Now Festival in Berlin. I would say doing those four festivals this year were all highlights! Hellfest was pretty incredible as was Maryland DeathFest and the Nuclear War Now Festival was really awesome because of the types of bands that play. It really is a killer underground type festival!
Luxi: After a year I assume your vision for what you want Nocturnus AD to be has crystallized even more clearly. What are some of your goals for Nocturnus AD and what are your plans for 2015?
Mike: Well we want to keep playing shows but mainly it's going to be about writing new songs. Iin 2014 we kind of came out and said, "here we are" and played for quite a few people and, for the first time, real festivals. Now we really need to get into writing some new songs that are a continuation of the songs that were on The Key. When we released The Key in 1991, it was my intention to keep the story that we started on that album going and of course that never happened and I think that was a big part of the failure of Nocturnus. If I had continued to sing and write most of the lyrics for the second album it would have been a lot different. There were no ties at all from the first to the second album and it was not a good idea to start a concept story on your first album and then abandon it completely on the second. Now I have the opportunity to do what I wanted to back in 1991 and continue with a few of the concepts that were on The Key with Nocturnus AD.
Luxi: How high have you set the bar regarding Nocturnus AD's new material? Do you want to be on the same level as the songs on Nocturnus' classic album The Key? What kind of challenges/pressures do you believe you are about to face when you try to write songs on par with Nocturnus' past?
Mike: I wanted to keep After Death music completely separate from Nocturnus AD music, so I am being very picky about the riffs we are keeping when we are writing songs for Nocturnus AD. The good thing is that if the new stuff we come up with isn't quite right for Nocturnus AD then we can probably still use it for After Death later on down the line. I know there will never be another The Key. That album had a long history of progression and it is something that will never be repeated. I am not trying to surpass what that was, I am just trying to continue with the original concept of the band I had back in the early 90's.
Luxi: What about your band mates in Nocturnus AD? Do you think they have been on the same page with you right from the beginning? How much have they contributed to the songwriting process?
Mike: Yes, I think everyone knew that I had a specific idea in mind when I first told them what I wanted to do by separating After Death and Nocturnus AD but using the same people for both bands. They are great musicians and we have been playing these old Nocturnus songs for a while, so we have that style down but it does have to be a different mindset between the two bands. We really have to try and consciously make an effort to make both bands sound different. I only do what I do, which is drums and vocals. The guitar parts are always written by the guitar players, so pretty much everyone has and always has the ability to add as much or as little to the band as they want, but if I feel something doesn't work or fit, I will definitely say so. I prefer writing songs riff by riff with the guitar players and arranging it as we go rather than have someone come in with a whole song written and saying "here ya go, learn this and play it."
Luxi: What about pressures from the Nocturnus' fans who thought The Key was and is one of the best Death Metal albums ever made? Do you think of the fans' views/opinions or are you simply concentrating on doing your best with this new material, believing that it will satisfy even the die-hard Nocturnus fans?
Mike: These days you can never satisfy everyone and I know when we do put something new out that the comparisons will start, but that was 25 years ago and with totally different people, so it will never be what it was. The cool thing though is that I think we have been able to not just play those old songs correctly, but to capture that same feeling that the band had back then as well. I would say that the vast majority of people that have seen us will say that it sounds exactly like it did and that we have that old school energy and feeling when we play this stuff, so I am hoping to capture as much of that as I can when we do the new songs.
Luxi: Will there any changes in regards to the lyrical ideas for the new album or will you stick to this sci-fi/horror theme that was so successful on The Key?
Mike: I will definitely be sticking with this style lyrically. That was the plan that never happened 25 years ago and it is quite amazing that all these years later I am going to be able to actually see some of those old ideas come to fruition! Better late than never!
Luxi: When was the last time you listened to The Key and what kind of feelings did it stir?
Mike: I still listen to it quite often. We only get to rehearse once a week so I listen to it at least once a week to keep it fresh in my mind. I am getting old you know! (*laugh*)
Luxi: Are you amazed by the stir Nocturnus AD has caused in the Metal community thus far? You cannot run away from your past...
Mike: Yes it seems like the timing was just right when I first announced the new band in October of 2013. I wasn't expecting it because we have been playing Nocturnus songs with After Death since the beginning and we even toured as Nocturnus in 2008 but for some reason this whole new Nocturnus AD thing just really took off with the whole Metal community's support and it has been amazing.
Luxi: When do you believe it will be realistic for Nocturnus AD to enter the studio and record the band's first album? Are you planning to record some promotional demos for labels to test the waters?
Mike: I can't really put a date on something like that because so many things keep coming up for us but we have started writing and there are several record companies that want to hear some new material. They have even said that it doesn't have to be a full studio recording; they just want to hear what we are doing. Once we get about 4-5 songs completed we will record them ourselves and release a few songs to the labels.
Luxi: Are you thinking of Jim Morris and Morrisound Studios for the album? Have you talked with Jim about this possibility?
Mike: That would still be my top choice for a studio. I actually went to Morrisound about a year ago to pick up an old DAT tape they found and Jim was there and I mentioned it to him and he was interested. We will have to see if we can find a label that will give us that kind of a budget for just recording.
Luxi: Is Dan Seagrave the only man to create cover artwork for a Nocturnus AD's album?
Mike: There are several really awesome artists out there but again, just like Morrisound, it would be awesome to have Seagrave do the cover! There is another artist I know that has a similar style and he does amazing artwork that would definitely work as well so it really depends on the budget we end up having. Either way, the cover will be similar to and a continuation of The Key's cover concept.
Luxi: What about After Death? Now that your main focus is on Nocturnus AD have you put After Death on hold for the time being?
Mike: Yes it was the best thing to do for now but we completed a full cover of Venom's "At War with Satan", the extended 21 1/2 minute version, that will be on a Venom tribute vinyl on Iron Pegasus Records scheduled for 2015 and we have about four new songs already written for After Death so sooner or later we will be doing more with it again.
Luxi: Nuclear War Now! Productions was supposed to put out Nocturnus' legendary Science of Horror demo on vinyl. Why has the release of it been delayed? Does the label have a problem with the pressing plant or something?
Mike: No it is really only because of the artwork. NWN is using Zbigniew Bielak for the artwork and he has been pretty busy with some really big bands, a calendar and some big art shows. He is not only doing the cover but he is doing separate artwork for each song, which is a huge project for him to squeeze in with everything else he has going on already. It has been delayed, but there will be two smaller versions in the meantime; one that came out only at the NWN Fest which was only 100 white picture discs with the original logo and another in March of just 250 for when we play in San Francisco on Friday the 13th of March 2015. I am thinking it might be ready by May.
Luxi: The cover art for this release looks really stunning. How did you end up working with Zbigniew M. Bielak and is he someone you may well work with in the future?
Mike: It's quite amazing but Zbigniew is a huge Nocturnus fan and when NWN had me contact him to talk about the artwork we became friends and talk quite a bit now about all kinds of things. He is not only a killer artist but a great person as well, so there is always a possibility of us working together on a few things!
Luxi: Back to the band's current incarnation. Old fans of Nocturnus have surely been following what Nocturnus AD has been up to since you started the band using the "AD" moniker. Have you noticed much interest among the younger generation of metalheads?
Mike: It is pretty cool when younger kids come up and say they have just heard Nocturnus or have seen us live for the first time and they really liked it. We are an old school band even though we are a new entity and whether it's an old fan or a new one I think they all feel that old school energy that we put out. You just don't see that much anymore, especially with a lot of old bands reuniting. It's like they are really bored up there and you can tell they are reuniting just for the money. I could have done that too and made a lot of money if we had put the old Nocturnus line up back together but I would rather play on stage for no money with people I like than be making money playing on stage with people I hate!
Luxi: Playing gigs is a great way to increase your fan base so undoubtedly Nocturnus AD has plans 2015 to do some well-selected shows. Is there something more concrete that you can reveal about upcoming Nocturnus AD shows?
Mike: Yes, it is starting to shape up. We have a show in San Francisco in March and the Destroying Texas Fest in June in Houston and are working on Chicago in October and maybe Peru in September. We are working on plans for Europe as well, so hopefully I will be able to announce a few European shows soon.
Luxi: Are you happy how things have been going for Nocturnus AD thus far? You have been lucky enough to do some shows and have gotten a lot of attention.
Mike: Yes it has passed my expectations and I hope it will continue to be that way. All I can do is to be myself and do what I do and let the path unfold in front of me!
Luxi: Is there anything else that you'd like to reveal about Nocturnus AD's plans for the future?
Mike: There is nothing that I am really hiding from anyone because things have been progressing at a good pace for us, so everything is pretty much known as to our plans. I will say that I really would like to see us have a full-length recording ready to be recorded by the end of the year, if I was to have a really realistic goal.
Luxi: Thank you once again Mike for talking to The Metal Crypt and letting people know about the future plans of Nocturnus AD. Any last words of wisdom to share with your fans and the readers of The Metal Crypt?
Mike: First, I always have to thank you Luxi for not just being a fan of the music but a friend that I have always talked to since the old days. You are one of the people that has kept an interest in whatever it is I have been doing for all these years. Thanks for the awesome support you have always had there for me and to everyone else, I am not done yet!!! Don't for get to keep checking everything out either through our website or Facebook! www.afterdeath666.com and on Facebook - Nocturnus AD, After Death and Mike Browning.
|Other information about Nocturnus AD on this site|
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Mike Browning on December 7, 2013 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Mike Browning on August 21, 2016 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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