Mike Browning is like…a GOD amongst men in death metal. Having played in some the greatest bands in the genre, we talk about the old and new days of Nocturnus AD and the next album!
TMF: Please introduce yourself and the band:
NAD: I am Mike Browning and have played in Morbid Angel, Nocturnus, Incubus, Acheron and After Death and I am the vocalist and drummer. Demian Heftel and Belial Koblak are our guitar players, Daniel Tucker is our bass player and Nocturnal is our keyboard player.
TMF: How did Nocturnus form?
NAD: Nocturnus AD formed from all the After Death members playing the Nocturnus songs at our live shows. We had so many requests to reform Nocturnus that we went ahead and made 2 separate bands with the same members and announced the new name Nocturnus AD in October of 2013.
TMF: How did the members meet?
NAD: We were all in After Death together, so basically we just changed the tuning from D to EFlat, which is what tuning The Key and Thresholds are in, compared to the way we played them in After Death in D tuning which was a bit heavier sounding. I have been playing in After Death with Demian since 2006 and Nocturnal and Belial since 2008 and Daniel joined in 2012.
TMF: How did you get into playing death metal?
NAD: It was just a progression from the hard rock and metal in the early 80’s to the heavier stuff like Slayer and Mercyful Fate. I have played in bands since the early 80’s and as time went on what I wanted to play just got heavier and heavier.
TMF: How did the name come to be?
NAD: I came up with the first Nocturnus name, it actually was an idea I got from Slayer’s At Dawn They Sleep when they say nocturnal specters hiding from the light. I wanted to call the band Nocturnal Specters, but it was too close to Slayer’s lyrics, so I found the Latin version of Nocturnal was Nocturnus and I liked the sound of it and decided to use that as the name.
TMF: How come the name has changed to be Nocturnus AD?
NAD: Because Luis Panzer stole and trademarked my Nocturnus name that I came up with in 1992, when I had created the name in 1987, so I am not able to use Nocturnus by itself. So I added the AD to it and now there is no more legal problems!
TMF: How did the album “The Key” become what we know as a technical death metal masterpiece?
NAD: It was the use of keyboards and very technical rhythms at a time when neither of those things were very prominent in the death metal genre I think.
TMF: What made the band decide to write technical death metal?
NAD: Some of the older material was not really that technical, but when we added Mike Davis in the band in 1988 he brought in a new style of riffs that were based on scales more than rhythms, he was taking a lot of lessons back then and turning what he was learning into actual rhythms for the songs.
TMF: Which album and song is your personal favorite?
NAD: Of the Nocturnus stuff? It would have to be The Key and Destroying The Manger!
TMF: What made you guys decide to incorporate keyboards, synths and sound effects?
NAD: It was my idea to have someone write some keyboard intros for a demo we were about to do and a couple of the guys knew a keyboard player, so they asked him to write some intros for us and when he brought his keyboard to our warehouse to show us the intros he had wrote, we let him play one and we went right into the song to see how it worked and as we were playing the song he started trying to play parts in the song as well and it sounded really cool, so we worked out a few songs and it gave the songs a whole new sound, so we decided to make him an actual band member and add keys to all the songs.
TMF: What is it about sci-fi that fascinates the band?
NAD: I think just the ability to be able to write about lots of different interesting subjects and it gave the keyboards an outlet as well to use sci-fi type sounds and sound effects with the music to give it an actual atmosphere.
TMF: How do you feel about today’s metal scene?
NAD: Well it’s certainly not like the old times but the musicianship has become incredible as far as the playing, but in most of the music today there is absolutely no feeling behind it, just a bunch of mathematical playing.
TMF: Do you believe metal has become too mainstream?
NAD: Some of it definitely has, especially all the NuMetal and Screamo bands, it’s just not for me, but they draw huge crowds and have overshadowed so many of the really good old bands unfortunately.
TMF: How would you compare death metal from when you guys started and “Death Metal” today?
NAD: Pretty much like I already mentioned, the playing is amazing, but there is no soul behind most of it, just a bunch of complicated rhythms and fast drums with lyrics that all sound the same.
TMF: What inspires your music both lyrically and musically?
NAD: All kinds of things really, I read a lot of occult books and sci-fi and horror too, so that is part of it and a lot of things come to me when I wake up from dreams as well.
TMF: What bands would you like to tour with someday?
NAD: That’s hard to say because we really don’t sound like anyone else, but I might think maybe Behemoth or King Diamond would be awesome!
TMF: So what can we expect from the new album?
NAD: It will be a continuation of The Key story with about 4 of the songs and then some other subjects as well that were hit on in the first album The Key and musically we are planning on keeping it in the same vein as well, we play The Key just like the album, so that will help when it comes to writing new stuff.
TMF: What is the inspiration behind the new release?
NAD: Here is the thing, Nocturnus was my band in 1987 when I started it and I really wanted to continue with the whole story on The Key with our second album, but everybody in the band basically wanted to go more sci-fi than evil and the label wanted me not to sing and play drums because they said we needed a frontman because the band didn’t move around much on stage. So we got a singer and changed the whole direction lyrically and did Thresholds, and I never got to continue with The Key story, so now with this band I am gonna do what I had originally wanted to do if I had kept singing and writing the lyrics for the band.
TMF: Will fans of “The Key” rejoice with the new full length?
NAD: Well, doing something that would be better than that would be next to impossible just because of the timing of The Key made it what it was and has become, so keeping that in mind I just want to recapture the same feeling that the album had, songs like Lake of Fire and Standing In Blood are not that technical, they are simpler but still work with the whole album. I want to make a full length that with 4 songs continues the story of The Key and then some evil songs like Lake of Fire or Standing In Blood and maybe even a song that is a progression of Neolithic in history, I have lots of ideas, now comes the part where you put the pieces together!
TMF: Any last words for the fans?
NAD: I just want to say THANKS for the interview and keeping the scene going with what you do and Thanks to everyone out there who has supported all the bands that I have been in and continue to be in and there is a lot happening so keep checking our website and Facebook pages!
Official Website: http://www.afterdeath666.com