In the church of true doom, there is a stained glass window in honor of Iron Man. Born out of a scene comparable to none other in the United States, namely Maryland and greater metro D.C. area, Iron Man stand out among the truest of the traditional doomers. Led by guitarist and senior riffmaster Alfred Morris III — who after more lineup changes than any band should have to endure is now accompanied by vocalist Joe Donnelly, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Dex Dexter — the band this April released their first studio full-length in a decade, the appropriately titled (and recently reviewed) I Have Returned.
I Have Returned swims a magic ocean of classically melancholic doomisms, pushing a timeless sound into a receptive modern age and earning the respect of heads young and old. Released via Pittsburgh‘s Shadow Kingdom Records, the album issues 10 tracks (all available for sampling on the band’s MySpace page) of cult-worthy riffs and enough woe to last until 2019. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long for the next record.
After the jump, “Iron” Al Morris III graciously answers some questions about his band’s past, present and future, including the story of how they reformed in 2004 and what it was like being back in the studio to make I Have Returned. Enjoy.
Aside from the Submission EP, it’s been a decade since there was new studio material from Iron Man. Other than the lineup, how do you feel the band has changed and how has your attitude toward the music changed in that time? How do you keep your love for it fresh after so long?
Nothing has changed much. The riffs are written as normal. The band structures the song. The vocalist writes the lyrics. My attitude and love for the music is boosted by the many Iron Man fans!! They are and will be the fuel for the fire. That is why Iron Man is a never ending story!
What was it like for you making your return at Doom or be Doomed in 2007? With the new band behind you, did it feel like you were starting over or picking up where you left off?
It felt like we picked up where we left off. This group of guys is very professional, top notch musicians. It is fun to see the reaction of the fans every time we play! We delivered the power to the fans and will continue to do so!
When were songs on I Have Returned written? Was it over the course of the years since Generation Void or all at once more recently?
The songs were written around 2003. “Among The Filth and Slime” was written in 1979.
Has your writing process changed over time?
No, I still use the same process, although there is a full-length mirror in my house that I play in front of, and I seem to get even more ideas!! Sometimes I call Louis and leave the new riffs on his cell phone!
Where do riff ideas come from?
There is a cassette tape from 1985 that has a lot of riffs that I use in addition to the new ones.
How was it for you filling out the lineup, bringing in Joe for vocals, Louis and Dex for bass and drums? It seems like a never ending process. Do you consider Iron Man stable at this point?
It was a great feeling to have the band pumping again!! It was also a huge help from my manager to get Iron Man back on its feet again! Yes, this lineup is stable and writing new material constantly!!
How did it feel for you to be back in the studio recording I Have Returned?
It felt very good to be recording again!! I was glad that the fans were going to hear what had been cooking for a few years!!
How did working with Shadow Kingdom for the release come about?
Michael [Lindenauer], my manager, set up the deal with Shadow Kingdom. He had always been impressed with the way their CDs were laid out and packaged. Very professional!
Leaf Hound put out the two Hellhound records in 2007, but was Shadow Kingdom planning reissues as well? Do you know yet when they’ll be available?
I don’t know what happened to Leaf Hound. It seems like they disappeared, but the reissues should be completed by the year’s end. They also will come out in order. So between now and December, all three CDs will be available.
Iron Man has always been an underground band, and likewise you’ve become a cult figure in US doom. What do you think of what doom has become over the years? It seems like there are more branches to it now than ever.
That is the beauty of it! It is becoming the norm! Younger fans are spreading the word, college and internet radio are picking up on it. Soon, doom will be a movement just like punk and grunge.
Are there any bands from the earlier days of the Maryland scene you feel never got their due?
Actually, we all got to shine a little. Hellhound helped with that. Major labels know about doom, they just seem to be playing the wait and see game instead of getting into it!
Anyone you’ve shared the stage with recently you’d recommend?
I recommend all of the bands from Templars of Doom and Doom or be Doomed!!
How was Templars of Doom? That lineup looked killer, and it seems like more and more traditional doom fests are popping up. You’ll be doing Born too Late in August as well. How is it for Iron Man playing to a festival as opposed to a regular show?
Templars of Doom was incredible!! The band lineup was mind-blowing!! The festivals are cool because it is like a brotherhood. We all play our sets and hang out. Fans get to see us all play a great show together. All in all, a great adventure. Regular shows are fun because we get to travel to many areas that do not get a regular dose of doom like they should!!!
On the website it says you’re going back into studio in Sept. Is the new material already done?
We are finishing the new material at this time. More killer songs!!
Is there anything you’ll be looking to do different on the next album?
Not really. The songs are different enough, so it will be an exciting and fresh listen for the fans!!
Do you know yet where you’ll be recording?
Yes, we will be recording at Waterford Digital again.
Who are the all-time top five doom guitarists in your opinion?
That’s a tough question! We are all like a brotherhood, we all have certain styles that end up in the realm of doom!! My manager could probably give you a better answer than I could! His view would be from the outside looking in!
Myself and Iron Man would like to thank you for this chance to talk to the fans!! We will see everybody on the road this year!! Be well!
Tags: Iron Man, Maryland doom, Shadow Kingdom, True doom