Thursday, 29 March 2012


Mike Browning is one of the pioneers of the Death Metal scene, having been in bands such as Morbid Angel, Acheron, Incubus, Nocturnus and now his latest venture After Death. I managed to catch up with him to speak about the past, present and future and here is the result...

Hi Mike, how are you and what have you been up to lately?

I am doing pretty good, things have really started picking up for us lately, so I have been staying busy trying to even keep up with it all. Our Split CD has just been released last week and we are waiting for our copies to get here as we haven't seen them in person yet, just the pics of the CD's and layouts and the packaging is awesome. It's also a limited edition release of only 500 so it won't last long. We have also been playing a lot locally, it's only March and we have done three shows already this year, hopefully we can do something in another country too this year. And I have a ton of side projects going on as well.

How are things going with After Death? You recently released a split with Unaussprechlichen Kulten, how did this come about?

The band, besides doing shows, is working on a few new songs right now. We have three finished and a few others in the works, so I have a lot of lyrics to write!
As far as the split, it was Proselytism Records that contacted us and the label owner sent me some samples of his releases and they do these special Giant Digi-pacs with mini posters and awesome packaging, so I thought that this would be something cool and limited for people to buy, you can download the music for free, but packaging like this makes the difference for people who will really want a real copy and collect stuff. So we said sure we could do a split or something and he mentioned UK doing the split with us because they were also a Lovecraft Occult type of band and as it all started coming together all these coincidences started popping up everywhere! Not only were the bands similar in lyrical content, but even the titles we similar to ours being 'Dwellers of The Deep' and theirs being called 'Madness From The Sea'. Then we made plans to play in Chile where the label is from and we did all 3 shows with UK and were able to get a great picture with everyone from both bands in the same picture, which made it into the packaging too. It's gonna be something really cool for 2012!

 Do you have fond memories of the early days with Morbid Angel and Nocturnus?

Yes of course, being around for as long as I have I have done and seen a lot, so of course there are a lot of memories. I was lucky enough to be a part of helping start the reputation that Florida has for Death Metal and to this day still continuing that. I think the best memories about all of this is how people really felt about the music itself back then as compared to now where it seems everyone just wants to be in a band and compete with everyone else, it's just not the same anymore, but at least I have the memories of the fact that it was like that at one time.

You have been in the Death Metal scene for a long time now. How do you feel it's progressed over the last 27 odd years or so? Did you ever think that the small scene from Tampa would spread into this worldwide movement?

And it feels like a long time, although I can still remember almost all of the things that have happened to me since the beginning in music, just like it was yesterday. I have seen a lot of things change over the years and mostly for the worse unfortunately. The musicianship of the kids these days is unbelievable, but there is something missing that is just not there anymore in the music and that is why I still feel the need to be making music to show people that is just not all about being technical and fast, I like that a lot too don't get me wrong, but that old feeling that was in the music just doesn't seem to be very prevalent anymore.
I think when we were all here in the Tampa area, we were all just doing our own thing and there was so much room for ideas at that time that everyone had a different sounding band and everyone supported each other, but as the crowds grew, so did the competition and it took away from the originality, because if someone is trying to be more technical or faster or more brutal than the other bands they are listening to then that means they will have to copy that thing and improve on it, which means they are just copying something and not creating it.

Of the bands you have played in over the years, what has been the defining moment for you so far and why?

Well probably of course just all the crazy stuff we did in Morbid Angel, at that time we were a real occult band and what we did was for real, it was never about money or how big we could become, it was about creating something that would bring forth the forces that we were working with at the time. It all starts at the beginning with that and just sort of played itself out to where I am today. It's funny but back in 1987 and 1988 when I was writing all those Nocturnus lyrics I never thought it would become almost prophetic in that I was talking a lot about After Death in my lyrics, it's all over 'The Key's lyrics, especially like in 'B.C. /A.D' and 'Visions From Beyond The Grave' and I had no idea at the time that I would end up almost singing about my own future in my songs!

 In 1990 you released 'The Key' with Nocturnus. For many this was the start of a new fresh face of Death Metal. I remember being a kid of 12 years old, first hearing it was something special. What was it that inspired you to use keyboards and the sci-fi theme?

For me since I grew up in the 1970's I was always hearing bands with keyboards, from Led Zeppelin's Kashmir song to Rush and Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Deep Purple and I always liked the extra sound keyboards gave a band, no matter what type of music it was the keyboards always gave it that atmosphere of you being more involved in the song and I wanted my music to have that too. The sci-fi theme was actually more of Mike Davis' idea than mine, but also being a fan of sci-fi and horror I was totally open to adding those elements into the mix.

 Who are the bands that you're listening to most these days?

I still find myself listening to the old stuff like Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Angelwitch and even a lot older stuff from the 70's. I really like to find old bootlegs of bands playing live that would play the same songs differently every night in front of stadiums of people and do like 15-20 minute versions of 4 minute radio songs, for a band to be able to do that live night after night, to me that is really awesome. Just lately though I have been listening to that new Blotted Science CD if you mean something brand new!

I understand you are a collector of weapons? Is this something you have always been interested in?

I collect a lot of things, as far as weapons though I only have a couple of guns, it's mostly swords, spears and axes and stuff like that that I have a large collection of. There have been some real cool weapons made in the early days, so pretty much I have always been interested in them.

What UK bands are do you admire and why?

That list would go back to the first days of course with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Angelwitch because to me they started it all with that NWOBHM stuff. And still today you have bands like Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and others like them that are still doing it and still coming out with some great stuff after all this time.

Are you guys writing new material, and what can we expect from this new material?

Yes as I had mentioned earlier, we have probably close to half of a new albums worth of material we are working on already.

Most of your lyrics have always been fairly occult-based. Is the occult something that has always interested you or is this subject just something that you feel fits your music well?

It's pretty well known that I have been into the occult stuff for even longer than I have been playing in bands, so for me I think it was more that I use the music for my occult work than that it fits with the music, the music is more of an avenue for expressing my occult work.

 What UK bands are you into?

One band in particular besides from all the ones I had already mentioned that is from the UK was called Biomechanical, they put out an album a few years back called Cannibalised that just blew me away and I heard they were working on a new one a couple of years ago but still haven't seen anything new come out by them since, too bad to because that was a very promising and original band I thought.

How did you come up with your band names, Nocturnus and After Death? Would I be right in saying that After Death was loosely taken from the Nocturnus song BC/AD?

I came up with the Nocturnus name from Slayer's 'Hell Awaits' album where he says Nocturnal specters hiding from the light, that line was so cool that I started looking into the word Nocturnal and saw that the original Latin word for it was Nocturnus and that just had a certain ring to it almost like the word Atlantis and it gave me the vision of this black island of evil rising from the sea, so I wrote a song about it and used it for the band name too.
Back in 1999 I wanted to put the original Nocturnus together again to show people where the band actually came from in 1987, so with Gino Marino, Richard Bateman and myself, who were three of the four original Nocturnus members, we started jamming again and were just going to call it Nocturnus. I then got a cease and desist letter from a lawyer through Lou Panzer and Sean McNenney that I could not use the name Nocturnus because they owned it and were also back together playing again and were using the name that they stole from me in the first place, so in spite I was going to call the band Nocturnus AD and got another letter saying I couldn't use the "Nocturnus" word at all in my new bands name, so I dropped the Nocturnus and just called it After Death and that's how it came to be.

Would you ever consider doing Nocturnus again or is that laid to rest for good?

I was actually offered a couple times about how much money could be made and how the people wanted it and would pay to see it, but I am not in this for the money and to help others that stabbed me in the back get rich on my expenses, so with me the real Nocturnus began and so shall it end!!!

 What can we expect from you next with After Death?

At this point some new songs, hopefully some small tours around the world and of course a label that could really get behind us and give us that push, and management that could really take us to the next level in being a band. We take things day by day and just work from there nowadays.

Any last words?

As always I just want to say THANKS for all the support from people like you and everyone who supports what I have done over the years and yes there are some big surprises coming up real soon that will be unfolding this year in 2012, just wait and see!!!

Thanks Mike for such an in depth interview. Don't forget to check out Mike's current band After Death at their official website, on Myspace  and on Facebook.

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