This is an interview with the lead singer of a band called Cobalt. Black metal by genre, but awesome to listen to regardless.
Phillip McSorley is a bad ass. He is the lead singer of Cobalt, an awesome band. He is also a soldier in the US Army. As far as the band goes, some call Cobalt black metal or war metal. I hate those monikers, those labels. Listen to Cobalt and decide for yourself. And keep listening to it, because each time you discover more layers in it. I have this thing that I do where I may like a band but if the lead singer is soft, I no longer listen to them. So I googled everything that I could about Cobalt and about McSorely and his band mate Eric Wunder. I was impressed by their attitudes towards life and their music. Uncompromising and true to themselves every step of the way. McSorley, in particular, spoke to me in his interviews. He has the right attitude, in my opinion, towards life. He is a “doer”, not one who sits idly by while others pull the load.
Once I decided that they fit the bill both musically and philosophically, I became a huge fan. .I travelled to New York City to see Man’s Gin, Wunder’s other band, and got in touch with Mcsorely through email. He was serving his second tour in Iraq at the time.
Steel- Can you tell me your rank in the Army? I don’t want to screw this one up. Also, while you were in Iraq, what were some of the duties that you had to perform?
McSorley-Hey James, first thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. I also respect your work very much. I am a Staff Sergeant, which is an E6, in the Army. My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) is 19D Cavalry Scout. It’s combat arms reconnaissance. We do mounted (meaning Humvee or Bradley Fighting Vehicle) and dismounted (walking) operations. The big picture in a nation vs nation conflict, i.e. Soviet doctrine, is that we would move ahead of the main body and locate obstacles, pockets of resistance, enemy composition and other determining factors so that the commander could make a decision on how to employ the main effort as they followed on. We use indirect fires (artillery and mortars as well as combat air support) to attack the enemy in this role. As far as day to day operations in a conflict like Iraq, we performed standard COIN (counter insurgency) operations. That means we kicked in doors, patrolled hostile areas, cleared areas and routes of IEDs, and in general kicked the shit out of the enemy. In Iraq our traditional role of reconnaissance became a force to directly attack the enemy network. As a Staff Sergeant I was in charge of a section, which is half of a platoon. Approximately 15-20 men and 4 vehicles capable of doing missions with myself as the senior in charge of on the ground operations, in accordance with the commanders wishes. In 2 deployments to Baghdad, totaling 2 years, I never lost a Soldier.
Steel-I am of course, a huge fan of Cobalt. But what sets you apart in my mind is that you walk the walk. After I first listened to Cobalt, I looked up some interviews with you. There was a particular one where you mentioned that you wrote an album called War Metal but you felt as though you weren’t really living it . So you went and sold all of your shit and joined the Army. Can you expound on that time in your life? What was your mind set at the time?
McSorley-At the time I felt like I was living a cowards life and it was unnatural to me. That is not to say by any means that those who are not a part of the military are cowards. What I mean is that I was working in a factory, working 72 hour weeks. I would come to work and be told that the company was laying people off, that they weren’t certain of the future, that we had to work as hard as possible or we could lose everything. I was walking around with an invisible gun against my head where I could lose my livelihood at any given moment. A small man with a weak spine would give us our periodic doom and gloom sermon about the company, while it was his mismanagement and not my ethic that was losing the war. So I felt like a coward. I quit my job and sold everything I owned or gave it all to friends and decided to join the Army, to seek the battle. I wanted to exist in full clarity close to danger as opposed to existing in a hazy weakness. I have been following my own path of obstinate resistance for many years, and I am truly my own man. Cowards and wimps that may attack my choice of lifestyle based on politics don’t understand that politics are a breeze blowing over the land. Here one day, gone the next. What will never change is that I was a fearless lion and I followed my own WILL into battle.
Steel-What do you see as the natural state of man?
McSorley-Man must hunt the buffalo and feed the tribe. A man should honor his family and himself with his actions and his convictions. Man must not allow the enemies poison of fear to pollute his mind, whether the enemy is a combatant or a government clerk or his boss. Nietzsche said it best when he said “Hungered, violent, solitary, godless; That is how the lion-will wants to be.” I have no time, respect, or consideration for those who gladly forsake their own dignity in pursuit of immediate satisfaction.
Steel-In your opinion, just where are we headed in our society? From reading your interviews, I get the feeling that you think that everyone should get out there, to see what life is all about. to not just watch it on TV or talk about it.
McSorley-There are too many people in the world. I see humanity for what it is, we are not a species that is predestined for greatness as religious fools would have you believe. We are absolutely dancing on thin ice with a head full of nonsense, and more ignoramus’s join the orgy every second. The will of humanity can and should be occasionally cruel in pursuit of a rational purity that can’t be satisfied with immediate access to useless information (useless in the hands of a lower person). Reason and wisdom will not necessarily thrive, and is not thriving, despite the continuous reassurance from christian theologians who claim a plan for everything is in place. Only the iron will of better men and women will bring a change to this poisoned people, but I am afraid it is far too late. Already you can’t see the stars because a fast food sign blocks your view. As for those who understand, wake up. Become the bridge to the overman.
Steel-Is it tough to be around “citizens” after being in a war zone?
McSorley-It is, but I have always judged those around me by a fierce moral code. Either you are deserving of friendship or I don’t feel anything for you. I see many fat slobs, ignorant consumers, petty plastic people, religious fools, politicians, middle-aged crisis losers, urban low lives, thieves and whores. I hear them talk in circles like parrots in a pet store, I watch them scurry around like ants in a kicked pile desperately seeking to BUY SOMETHING that will temporarily fill the hole in their souls. These people lack an identity and a code. It doesn’t matter how loud the thunder gets, until the lightning licks them they won’t open their eyes.
Steel-I know that you are a big reader of Nietzsche. What is appealing about his philosophy to you?
McSorley-Its hard to answer this question. If you understand or feel the way I do about much of anything you will find yourself in Nietzsche. He teaches that man must be a law breaker. You must have one virtue over many virtues and that you must write it in your heart and keep it holy. This is my truth, to me alone this is my will. If you can name a few simple tenants of your own WILL and SELF, write them down and keep them as your own law. The state brings you stolen ‘laws’ from dead liars of the desert. Your WILL brings you fire to light your own blaze of truth. Throw out the rules and reestablish the LAW.
Steel-Can you explain the quote, “Everything else is just Pepsiland”? That’s the quote in my office that fires me up.
McSorley-This world is a gas station, a vending machine. Everything is immediate and near and not good enough for them. When man has lost everything his appreciation for the smallest things is his defining characteristic. No one truly knows the joy of being warm and dry inside a building during a rainstorm unless they have slept in the rain. No one knows how beautiful life is unless they have seen it squandered and lost. These people are entitled children, larvae of a generation even worse than this one. I offer you light and pride, will you take it?
Steel-Whats next for you? Is a new Cobalt album in the works?
McSorley-I will soon leave for Drill Sergeant School, which is my next duty for the military. I will serve 2-3 years as a Drill Sergeant teaching young men to become lions in combat and I hope to instill all with pride in self and their fellow warriors. I have 2 daughters and a lovely wife that I will spend time with as a proud component of something higher than myself. As for Cobalt we have plans to complete our next full length album, ‘Slow Forever’, later this year. I anticipate the heaviest and most sound philosophical album yet for us.
Steel-Phillip, I wanted to keep this short and sweet, to not take too much of your time. I just want to thank you for the interview.
McSorley-And you are my brother James and I value your friendship. Best of luck to you.