What can you say? What can you
POSSIBLY say about such a great band like Death, who has written
history in death metal? Whatever you say, it will be just a bunch
of poor words. After I grabbed "The Sound Of Perseverance"
from the other editors' hungry hands (who are still cursing me
for that), trying to review it, I was informed that we would have
a chance to talk only for 30 poor minutes on the phone, with the
architect of death metal, Chuck Schuldiner. Panic followed and
everyone wanted to make questions. Finaly, Melissa, Manos and
I, wrote about 35 questions... But how many questions can someone
ask in only 30 mintes? Well, we broke every world record and asked
about 30 of them! But let's see what Chuck, the "Spirit Healer"
himself answered to these questions...
Let's start with your new album,
"The Sound Of Perseverance". There are many differences
in comparison with your previous albums and, the most noticeable,
I would say, are the vocals. Did you change them on purpose or,
are we maybe witnessing the natural change of your vocal abilities
with the flight of time?
Basically, very natural, my vocals seem to change from each record
not necessarily even on purpose but that's just the way I get.
My throat is changing and evolving. You know, Symbolic, when that
album came out they were a little bit different and I think at
first, people tend to notice that. Especially at first. And after
a while I think people got used to that and on this album people,
they think, they're like, "you know I see no vocal change"
but, I think after a while you get used to it and it becomes normal,
but, basically, it's very natural, you know, not really on purpose.
Another noticeable difference
is in the guitar riffs, which have some progressive elements.
Is it maybe an experimentation?
Ah, basically it's an extension of where Individual Thought Patterns
was. Yeah, that album is a very progressive album as well, where
I was using a lot of different harmonies and stuff. And I think
this one has that progressive vibe, that Individual Thought Patterns
had, especially if you compare Individual Thought Patterns to
Symbolic, uh, Symbolic was definitely a little tamer as far as
not as progressive, but I think The Sound of Perseverance has
like that combination of Individual Thought Patterns, and Symbolic
contents, those two elements...you know, from each album.
Would you tell us a few words
about the lyrical concept of your new album, since the promo does
not include any lyrics?
Yeah, unfortunately the lyrics aren't in the promos, but, uh,
basically, over all, the lyrics on the record reflect reality,
you know, life very similiar to Symbolic, lyrically, and Individual
Thought Patterns, you know, reality, good, bad, challenging, to
be strong and to overcome obstacles, like that. That's basically
what the cover is and that amounts as to people climbing up, reaching
for better things in life, and going for your dream. I'm a dreamer.
You know, for me, music is a dream, and keep reaching for bigger
things. That's what my goal is.
As it was expected, like with
EVERY Death album, the lineup is different, again! Why doesn't
it ever remain the same? Are you maybe doing this just to make
every album different in it's technique from the other ones?
No, no... not at all. Well, basically, there's a three-year break
for Death. I can't keep the same line-up when I'm doing something
different and there's three years. People can't wait for me, you
know. I wouldn't expect them to. So, I mean, people need to look
at the logical reasons why this isn't the same line-up as Symbolic.
Gene Hoglan is in three different bands, you know, working with
different people. Everyone from that line up is doing something
else. I don't know what other people are doing. There's always
reasons. Just like Ozzy Osbourne has his reasons, whatever they
are, or DIO or Richie Blackmore, you know, certain people in the
music industry, they have line-up changes. I'm one of several.
Unfortunately, I think people really focus on me and my changes,
more than other musicians out there that also share different
line-ups. But, in a way, things happen for a reason, and I have
found the new line-up. I'm very, very, very happy with the new
line-up as well as everyone in the band feels very excited about
what's going on. I've been performing with these guys for over
two years now, so, this is a band that has actually been together
for quite some time. I think that people have realized that they
think I'm just like "put it together real quick", but,
these are people that I've hung out with, that I'm friends with,
that I have a very great relationship with.
If I'm not wrong, they are the
members that played with you in Control Denied, right?
Exactly. So it's really, you know, being together has really paid
off. That's why, I wanted them to be part of Death as well, because
their talent and being with these guys and being able to, you
know, all of us feel comfortable, and as far as working together,
as in the new record, it's a very tight album.
And, the new drummer, Richard
Christy, he was in Control Denied too, wasn't he?
No. Actually, he wasn't, but he will be. Definitely, I wouldn't
wanna definitely even attempt to replace Richard. He's incredible.
I believe that he's as good
as Gene Hoglan. Do you believe so too?
They're both incredible. I got real lucky and found someone who's
not only a great drummer, also Richard's also an extremely great
person and that's very important as well. For me, it's very exciting
to have, like I said, this whole entire line-up is just... I think
that the talent that everyone has in this band has shocked people,
because they didn't know what to expect, because basically, they
thought, you know, "Oh, who's playing on this record, we
never heard of these guys, how could they be up there...",
but they are up there, you know, absolutely like you said, Richard
is very much up there with the greatest, I believe.
||In "The Sound
Of Perseverance" you show your respect for Judas Priest by
playing a cover of "Painkiller". It is an original idea
for Death to play a cover, since it's your first one! Whose idea
was it? Was it yours, or was it maybe Nuclear Blast who gave you
Actually it was mine. They had no idea we recorded that. Actually,
I kept the cover very secret, because we kind of did it for fun,
- you know- just to do it. I like Painkiller a lot, the album, I
think Painkiller was an album that's one of the greatest albums
of 1990's and I thought the song was very similar to our attitude,
you know, progressive, melodic - really heavy. That's basically
how I feel Death is. What Death is a part of musically - so I fell
like its a very compatible song that we could have fun with . Like
I said, we did it basically for fun. To do it without really thinking
we were gonna release it. I kind of thought, well, we'll record
it and if it turns out good, maybe we'll actually release it in
Japan only, because in Japan, they like to have an extra track.
So when we were done, it turned out really great, we're pretty happy
with how it turned out. The label heard it, which like I said, they
were unaware of at the time that we did it, and when we played it
for them, they really, really like it a lot, and said: "Hey
we've got to put this on that record".
So, I was like "if people
like it, then we'll put it on there", because I didn't know,
really, we're happy with it, but I wasn't sure how other people
were gonna react, and I think it freaked a lot of people out,
also me singing, doing a different vocal style from what people
are used to, but, ironically, that's my favourite type of vocal
style, you know, on "Painiller." It was cool. And so
far everyone really enjoyed it. That made us happy.
And what about Control Denied?
Will you continue with them or did you abandon them?
Yeah, absolutely. That album is written, its fully ready to go.
It hasn't been recorded yet, but basically that album, uh, musically
people can expect it to be very along the lines of like the new
Death album. You know, musically, vocally, there will be more
the Painkiller, not me singing, but that's a good example of the
style, very heavy, intense, melodic, those are the vocals that
will be part of Control Denied. I have a singer in America that
is going to be singing on Control Denied and Control Denied is
very much a band. It's not going to be like a level solo project,
it's going to be very equally as important, even more so, than
what Death has done, because it will have the ability to go further
in what I feel needs to be done musically and that kind of can't
be done with DEATH. The vocal style will take it further a lot.
Don't misunderstand what I will
say, but, I always was saying with my friends that, to compose
such music as yours, someone must be either a genius, or a psycho!
Do you think that you are one of these two?
Oh, Well, I'd rather take the first one, but I don't think it
takes a genius to, the thing what it takes is a person that believes
in what they're doing, you know, it doesn't take a genius or someone
that's disturbed. For me, you've got to believe in what you do,
whatever it is in life. For me, I believe in doing what we do,
and not paying attention to the trends, you know, what's going
on around this band, I don't care about. My main thing is to stay
true to what we're doing and to put a lot of emotion into this
music, and I think that's a combination of being sincere and keeping
things real, you know, I think thats a real important part of
this music. Definitely.
You will play live in our country,
September 26th! How do you feel about playing in Greece, for first
We're thrilled, we are so excited. The whole band is. We've never
played there, we've heard such great things about the fans of
Greece, so, we're ready. We're very much looking forward to it.
So, you believe that we are
a very alive audience, don't you?
I believe it, and I can't wait to come out there and play. It's
going to be very exciting.
So it's all set for the 26th
of September, right?
How does the idea of making
a live video sound to you? Is there any possibility for that?
Actually I started talking about it yesterday with someone. We'd
definitely would like to make a live video, rather than make up
a one song video for the record. I rather do a live video for
a whole show that people could take home and have forever, cause
a lot of people may not get a chance to see the band, so, I think
a live show would be a good way for people to see a different
set of songs at home. Yeah, we definitely are gonna hopefully
plan on one for this record.
Can we also expect maybe some
video clips of the new album?
Well, that's what we were talking about at first, it doesn't make
sense to spend so much money on one video that might be shown
once or twice, on like three o'clock in the morning or something,
because videos, heavy metal videos don't have a big support from
TV stations, so, I think I'd rather spend the money to record
an entire concert and have that, so that people can take that
home and enjoy it even more. So, thats probably what we're going
to end up doing, instead of doing one video.
You seem like you want to change
everything! Even the band's logo changed, a bit! Are you maybe
trying to show the musical progress or maturity of the band?
Yeah, it's just a matter of just not wanting to be part of something
that I... I started this whole band when I was sixteen years old,
so, you'll gonna eventually progress, somewhere down the line.
I'm 31 years old now, so, the music is growing rapidly from each
record to each record now, and as well as I am, so, definitely,
I want to kind of make sure things keep moving forward. That's
part of the growing process.
Talking about the logo, in Spiritual
Healing's logo, the letter "T" is an inverted cross
on fire, but no more! Did this have any meaning? The inverted
cross on fire?
No. Just really a logo. I'm not religious at all. I don't have
any problems with religion, but at same time I'm not religious.
That logo was created when we're all 16 years old, in 1983. So,
after all, I realized I've got to change this because this is
ridiculous, to even have it being something, representing a religion
thing when I'm not religious, but at the same time, like I said,
I have nothing against people having their right to believe things,
I think people do have a right.
Why did you change so suddenly
from Roadrunner to Nuclear Blast?
The contract was over, and I would never have wanted to go back
to them. They had no idea how to handle a metal band at that point
and basically Symbolic suffered from that. That album should have
been a lot bigger, I thought. So, it was a time to move forward,
and Nuclear Blast is in a position right now to where that they
are getting to be a very big label with a lot of power to promote
and the knowledge, not just the power, but the knowledge to promote.
So that's one thing that I was very excited about, seeing this
record promoted and moving things forward to a more positive direction.
shows a mountain, which looks like death itself and, people are
climbing on it to reach it's top...
Could that be a CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN
WHERE EVIL TAKES IT'S FORM, or, could it have a deeper meaning?
This is kinda of a positive mountain. It may look a little scary,
but it's just representing the quest, its more of a quest, I'll
say, climbing up, reaching for something, maybe falling down a
few times, but getting back up, like on this album cover, some
people are at the bottom, some in the middle, some towards the
top. So, therefore, it's kinda like a, the steps we all take in
life, especially if you have a dream, you want to go for something.
For me, my dream is music. People try to ruin that by talking
bad about me and whatever, you know, whatever obstacle people
put in my way, I will keep going, I will keep reaching for it,
so, definitely the title and the cover are very important. They're
kinda my outlook on life, on what I'm doing.
Do you believe that "T.S.O.P."
is your best album til now, and why?
I think it's one of my favorites, absolutely. I think it has some
of the best performances, its got some really, really different
stuff on it, a lot of twist and turns. Like you said, trying to
get back to that progressive Individual Thought Patterns vibe,
that feeling that kind of moving around a lot. There's some guitar
stuff, I feel very happy about on this record that I haven't done
on any other albums, like instrumental, which has additional guitar,
which is really cool, a lot of fun to do. I think just this album
has a lot of different things going on... I think so far it really
surprised a lot of people, especially compared to Symbolic, I
think they didn't expect an album as musical or more musical than
Back in the old time, you cooperated
with NAPHOBIA, Nik Chevalier's band, by participating with a solo
in a song of them, "As Ancients Evolve", from "Of
Hell" album. What do you think of Nik and his band?
I'm not real familiar with them, to tell you the truth. I did
that as a favour to a friend. He was playing bass for the band.
So basically, I did it as a favour.
They also recorded the album's
last song in your own studio, right?
Well, kind of. Gene Hoglan kinda helped out with that, did the
drum track programming for it, so, I was just kinda like helping,
like I said, the bass player of that band was a friend of mine.
So, it was kind of an inside help.
Could you define the main similarities
and differences between "Symbolic" and "T.S.O.P."
and Compare "T.S.O.P." to Death's earlier LPs?
Compared to sound, well basically, as far as production, Jim Moriss
did the new record, as well as Symbolic, so, the production feels
really strong and, musically, its naturally similar in a lot of
ways. Symbolic was a very melodic album, this one is melodic as
well. But I think, its hopefully a good mixture that people are
Do you believe that Death's
absence from the metal scene offered you a chance to study the
new tensions and add new elements to Death's music? If so, what
are these elements?
Well, I think just having more time to work on this album helped
us immensely. We had more time to work with the material. We basically
made two demo tapes of the whole album before we recorded the
record, so we had a lot of chances to record and make different
changes by the time we got to record it with Jim Morris. And Morris
certainly had everything really prepared. This is definitely the
best prepared I've ever been. So I think being prepared was a
big part of it.
Can you compare your present
way of thinking and acting, as well as Death's existence, to the
ones back in the "Scream Bloody Gore" era?
Well, I'm fourteen years older. So, definitely, a lot different.
You think a lot differently from when you're 16 to 31. We were
16 year old kids, you know, that's young. And I've learned a lot
along the way and hopefully I've learned a lot of good things
and been through a lot of bullshit, but at the same time, I feel
good about what's happened musically, and for me, music is the
main reason why I'm here. I'm here to play music and hopefully
people will enjoy it. Thats all that really matters to me and
so, I think, definitely there's been a lot of growing as a person
and musically, which go hand-in-hand together.
Which one of Death's albums
do you consider to be the most influential for the death metal
I don't know. I could never even say. I couldn't comment on that.
Honestly, I'm really not sure.
Ok...How would you characterize
Death's sound nowadays? Do you believe that the term "death
metal" still applies to the band?
I don't like categories like that personally. When I started the
band, I started it wanting to start a heavy metal band, that's
what I thought I was playing, because that's basically what I
was playing. Somewhere down that line, it got put into a category
and that label kind of stuck. But I was such a fan of different
metal bands back in the early 80's when I was first playing guitar.
And all of that inspired me in different ways, as a fan. Iron
Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Raven... Just,
I mean, so many different bands, showed for me that then, Metal
was Metal. You're just in it for metal, and somewhere along the
line, throughout the years, categories kind of got in the way
of people being united. I think its kind of separated a lot of
people from keeping it unified. I think categories are a little
bit limiting, you know, so, I think that is a metal band and hopefully
can appeal to a large audiences if they're open-minded. You know,
that's an important thing, remaining open-minded.
You have been accused in the
past for being very opinionated, almost a dictator. Do you consider
Death to be a band or your project?
Does the word 'band' sound that evil? I hate not sounding like
a band, there's a band you know...
Of course, I'm opinionated, everyone
is. You're opinionated, you have a magazine, you'll review a record,
that's an opinion. Everyone has the right to be opinionated. Just
because I'm in a band, definitely, I still have the right to have
opinions. People really have a really weird out-look on people
in bands, because if I said I don't like a band than I'm a jerk.
So it's really weird, because I'm a fan and I've been a fan for
fourteen years of my life now as heavy metal music fifteen. So,
for me having an opinion, I have every right to have one, just
like anyone reading this interview has a right to not like that,
or like another band or like us. Opinions are a given right. I've
been misunderstood, because I'm in a band and a lot of people
really honestly look at people in bands as being something different,
but I'm a fan before anything. Before I'm in the band, I was a
fan and I'm still a fan. So, therefore, when voicing my opinion
if as a fan and not as, like, "Chuck, this guy that is in
a band." And if people think I'm a dictator, then, you know
what, I have a vision and naturally since I'm a main song writer,
there's a certain way I see things and think that they should
sound a certain way. Just like Richie Blackmore has a certain
way he wants to hear things out, or Eddie Van Halen, or other
people that are main song writers. There's nothing wrong with
it. Unfortunately, people really spend a little too much time
wondering if I'm a nice guy or some dictator. I considered myself
being an extremely nice person, a caring person, who wants nothing
but good things for people around me, and you know, that's how
I live life - and unfortunately, people misunderstand certain
comments or opinions, or the way the band is perceived as one
person, but, how can you put on a new record or any record Symbolic
or whatever it is and think that it is made by one person, but
there's talent coming from everyone that you can't help but notice,
if someone doesn't notice the drum work on this album or Symbolic,
then I don't know what people are thinking cause that's the drummer.
That's not me playing drums, the other lead work on the record
or the bass work. I do write songs, but the thing is, its team
work. Its people working together. And I think people need to
really listen to the music. And I think they will really see it
and hear it. At least I do, that's what I get from it.
When Death toured Europe with
Kreator in 1992 (I got interrupted here, the rest of the "unspoken"
question follows...), you left Death in the middle of the tour.
This was an additional motive for your behaviour to be characterized
as selfish. Could you explain the reasons why?
That's old news! I don't really care to talk about that, I don't
know why you would want to talk about it. Honestly, I have no
comment on that. Its old. I'm not offending you, but thats really
so old, I don't see any reason to tell anyone, or talk about it.
Ok... Can you characterize today's
death metal scene? What is your opinion about NWOSDM?
Well, I mean, I don't keep up on a specific type of music, you
know, like I said before. Metal in general is getting really big,
which makes me happy as a fan. I think it's great for metal to
be getting popular in America now. I think it's a very good time
for metal, but I think at the same time, the categories need to
be broken down and people need to just appreciate metal for metal
and not for a category. I like all types of metal, real heavy,
real melodic, it can all be enjoyable.
Do you consider Death's lyrics
to be as important as the music is?
I think so. For me, just because they're about reality in real
life, for me the lyrics are as real, as important as the music.
Both definitely are connected, as being important. Definitely.
How did the fans react to Death's
It's been really killer. People have been very, very warm, welcoming
back this music and I'm very grateful to have really great people
who have been there supporting the music and its been really great
feeling for the whole band as well. Its very exciting.
What are your recollections
from your participation in Dynamo?
Oh, It's incredible. We had a great time. I saw a lot of people
I haven't seen in a long time for a few years, the show is great,
the people, the audience was, jut really great, really incredible...
I would love to do it again.
What you think is your own contribution
Well, I don't know what my contribution is to it. I mean, that's
up to other people to decide. I hope my contribution is keeping
the spirit of metal alive, you know, not worrying about trends,
or being a part of a trend, cause, I think trends tend to hurt
metal, real metal, and for me, especially in America. I am the
victim of the power of trends. I don't want to be a part of a
trend, that's not what I'm about... I've never been a part of
that as a fan or as a guy that plays guitar. I want to keep moving
forward and just keep things real. That's basically my responsibility.
Could you maybe tell me if you
have heard any Greek bands? If so, which ones?
I haven't heard many. I would like to though. When we're in Greece,
I plan on definitely looking to get some metal from Greece and
looking forward to it. Definitely.
Have you maybe heard Rotting
No, I haven't. I don't think I've heard any.
Can you maybe express your opinion
about some bands? ........ Like, Obituary?
They're a good band, They've been around for a long time, and
they stuck to what they believed in, which I think is a very good
thing, you know, absolutely.
Another good band. They've done what they believed in. Not following
the trends, which is very important.
Same thing. They're another good band, and they're doing their
thing, and they're very heavy, and they've remained heavy, and
they're not backing-out, which is I think important.
Uh, I haven't heard much of them. Honestly, I listen to more melodic
stuff, I don't listen to a lot of intense, current death metal
(this said deaf mellow, haha -matt) or whatever, it's just too
much out there to try to keep up with. I've heard a little bit
of them, they sound pretty good from what've heard. Definitely.
Gotta go in a minute, they're telling
me, like, I'm way behind schedule here.
Ok! Can you close this interview
with a message to your greek fans?
Oh, that we've heard many great things and, you know about the
metal fans of Greece, we're looking forward to coming there, and
putting on a really having a great time with the metal people
of Greece, and we appreciate the support.
Then, see you in Athens!
Definitely! Thanx a lot!