By Theron Moore
One of the bands I really got into back in the late 80’s / early 90’s was Milwaukee’s Morta Skuld. I saw them covered in another zine and decided to check them out myself. They were and still are an amazing band. For me personally, they epitomized what death metal was all about.
So I got hold of one of two demos they had available – “Prolong the Agony.” “Gory Departure” was the other one. And it didn’t disappoint. It lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Dave Gregor and Morta Skuld have always been, in my opinion, one of the most unsung, underrated bands in the death metal genre. They’re as heavy now as they were back in the day.
Church of the Necronomicon (COTN): Please introduce yourself. What instrument do you play in Morta Skuld?
Dave Gregor: I’m Dave Gregor Guitarist/ vocalist.
COTN: Do you think Milwaukee ever had an opportunity between ’91 and 2000 to become the next nationally recognized metal scene?
Dave Gregor: I do and think it got to a certain point and then the music shifted as it normally does. And with the Metal fest it put Milwaukee on the map.
COTN: Had Morta Skuld enjoyed national success do you think it would’ve drawn attention to Milwaukee and turned that into the next hot metal scene perhaps? If not how close was Milwaukee to enjoying that kind of national success? I mean Metalfest was a huge magnet to the city. Do you think it had a huge influence on the metal scene in Milwaukee?
Dave Gregor: I think not touring hurt us and the fact that we played the metal fest almost every year helped us to stay viable in the death metal scene. And with metal fest being here it made Milwaukee a hot spot for many years. And I do think it had big influence on the scene for sure.
COTN: I’ve been a fan of you guys going all the back to your “Prolong the Agony” demo. Why didn’t it happen for you on a national level, on an MTV type scale?
Dave Gregor: The type of music we play wasn’t played on MTV back in the day and we never did any videos to be played anyway. Our main label was Peaceville which we put out 3 albums on then moved to Pavement music. Right now we are working with local label Dread Records.
COTN: Tell me about Jack Koshick and Morta Skuld. I would imagine he is / was an amazing mentor / friend. How has he helped you guys and how significant / important has Jack been in the Milwaukee metal scene in your opinion?
Dave Gregor: Jack was awesome and took care of us very well. He got us a lot of shows at the Rave with the best death metal bands at that time. He wasn’t a mentor but more a manager, and he in my opinion put the fest on the map as well as the town. So he was big part of the scene and where it was going.
COTN: What drove the Milwaukee metal scene to develop as strong and influential as it did in the late 80’s, early 90’s? Do you think the alt / punk scene helped or influence it?
Dave Gregor: I just think all of us who were into the music scene wanted to do something cool and new and at that time death metal was new. There were a lot of classic demos released in the scene in 1990 and that I think that paved the way for each band to feed off one another’s music and energy.
COTN: Looking back on the Milwaukee metal scene of the 80’s and 90’s, was it as strong and dynamic as you remember it or if not, how do you remember it and how do you it see now?
Dave Gregor: It was much better back then and more fruitful, but then again I was much younger and my view on things have changed a lot since then. But I remember a lot of shows and just tons of kids coming out and music being so much more a way of life then I do now. Now it’s “Can I afford to pay the rent or car payment?” versus “let’s get drunk and write a demo.”
COTN: What’s the scene like today compared to back then? Better, worse…
Dave Gregor: It’s not what it once was but then again a lot of us are older and have kids and families so in that aspect things are much different. But I feel it was much more dynamic and organic back then as opposed to today. I do feel the bands are really trying to make the scene bigger and a lot of bands supporting one another.
COTN: Tell me about Morta Skuld in the 90’s. I remember you making a few records and then…it kind of stopped.
Dave Gregor: Well we were on fire and wrote four albums in eight years so things were great until we found out one of the band guys didn’t want to tour. That hurt us and we didn’t realize it until the band was almost done. We passed up a lot of good opportunities.
COTN: When did you know it was time to end Morta Skuld? What were the events leading up to the band’s demise? You formed another band after MS, right?
Dave Gregor: We went on tour and our first gig was supporting Slayer at the Eagles ballroom. Then as we got closer to our second gig our drummer had some issues and then it was known he wasn’t into touring and we had to cancel everything and come home to no label no manager and no band. Sucked as we would be on the road today if things would have been different.
COTN: And what convinced you to reunite and give the band a second shot? What’s the status of the band now?
Dave Gregor: Our old manager wanted to have the first two demos on CD and we went into studio and remastered it and then Eric Grief got us a deal with Relapse and that sparked us to get the band back together and perform. We are active and currently writing a new album with the new line up.
COTN: When you’re not playing in Morta Skuld what day jobs do you guys hold down?
Dave Gregor: Nothing exciting just average jobs, factory warehouse etc.
COTN: What label are you on today, what records do you have out and are you considering touring?
Dave Gregor: We are on Dread Records and released an EP last year. We would love to tour but it is hard with no support and we all know to tour you need money. We are doing out of state gigs this year to expand our fan base and hopefully tour next year. Thank you for this interview and your support and thank you to all the fans that allow us to do this and bring the music to the ears of people whom want to hear it. Cheers!