Article: Steve DiGiorgio
Written by: Kerry Vick

for EmptyWords
Published: November 1999



What were the circumstances surrounding Scott's departure from the band and your joining?
"Basically Chuck just called me up one day and asked if I was interested in recording the bass for the new Control Denied record. I thought they were already done in the studio, he said they were kind of, but that he wanted me to come in and redo all the stuff that the bass player had attempted to do. Because I was excited to do this project, I pretty much let the questions end there about his situation with Scott. Although I heard a little about what happened from Chuck, Shannon, Richard and Jim I didn't let it bother me because me and Chuck go back many years. You see, even though I've appeared on three records with Chuck, I've been involved in different ways on six out of the eight records he's put out. So to get that familiar phone call from my friend 3000 miles away to come and jam again felt pretty good. He seems to bring out the best in me a lot, and I knew that there were big expectations surrounding this recording and was proud to be part of it."

You joined on pretty short notice, did you get much rehearsal time before entering the studio?
No, I wish I did, and I'm sure Jim wished I did too. But thank God for Jim Morris. I usually work intensively on what I'll put down on tape before I go in the studio, even if there's a lot of improvising I'll still have a good feeling about what the other instruments are doing. But this was really short notice, not that it's out of the ordinary with Chuck and me, but the reality of it all was that the whole production was waiting for me to get my shit together and finish it. So what had happened was that Chuck mailed me a tape of the rough mixes. I pounded that into my head for a couple of weeks. I didn't really try to figure out the riffs, but getting the overall vibe of the album was more important to me at the time as it was all brand new material. So when I got to Florida, me and Richard had a huge breakfast and I was off immediately to Shannon's to learn the riffs. But I only had a couple of days there and then it was right into the studio. Fortunately Jim is so tuned in and excited about this kind of stuff that the session went smoothly considering I was still getting used to Richard's unique mayhem like style. But I was under strict order by Chuck to not hold back any ideas, and Jim was there to fulfill that order by pushing me to make it as interesting as I could amidst all my unpreparation."

Did you follow the bass-lines that Scott had already done or did Chuck give you free reign?
For some reason Chuck's material always drags out some sick inner creature inside me that causes me to go off. He likes to hear it that way. He's got a good ear for it, and expects nothing less. So it's always a common understanding between us that we know we compliment what each other does musically. He described a few different things he wanted to hear, but left most of the bass ideas up to me. The only difference this time than from any other was that he just said watch out for the main vocal melodies and don't fuck with them, that being the new element we wanted to highlight this time. There were also a couple of key bass lines that already existed in a few of the songs that were created by Scott that I kept as part of the song. Not only did they fit the song and sound cool but it was cool to return the favor - because I was involved in the preproduction for the last Death album and some of the bass lines I recorded for the songs on the demos were played again by Scott on the album. It was really cool to hear that they were kept on there, it means a lot when someone cares about what I have to contribute to a song."

How long were you in the studio?
About three days for all of the recording, just me and Jim. But I think I squeezed a couple of weeks out of Jim in those three days. I stuck around for the remix for about a day and a half that weekend before my flight left for home. But in between the recording and the mix, me Richard and Shannon pounded beers on Cocoa Beach by day and threw away a lot of one dollar bills at the titty bars...errr, uhhh...gentlemen's clubs by night."

So you didn't actually get to work much with Shannon, Richard or Tim?
Just the two days at Shannon's place where I went through the songs and arrangements with him. But unfortunately I didn't get to jam with Richard this time. I had worked on those Death songs a little the year before, so I had microscopic history with him. Chuck wasn't present during my recording sessions this time as he was up in New York receiving treatment. So basically, I was the total last element. Tim, shit...I still haven't even met the guy."

For the people who haven't heard it yet, can you describe the album a little bit...does it compare to anything else out there or any Death albums?
Compared to Death? Well yeah, I mean on the surface it's the Death guys with a killer singer. What can I say? Especially coming from the creative side of it. But if you listen to it with an open mind you'll feel what Chuck is trying to convey. I hate to compare things anyway. I mean it is what it is. We knew the onslaught of comparisons would flood in once the change of routine was in motion. But it's ok. Because when the listening public gets the gist that Chuck was never tired of writing music in his style, but adversely just burnt on performing and listening to that vocal style, they'll see that it's just another chapter in a very creative musician's life. It's not a side project - but a vision long overdue to come to fruition. It's a pure metal album. It's raw. It has a lot of elements recognizable like traditional and classic metal influences. There is a lot of melody, but a lot of aggression as well. The songs are well listenable and catchy, but the complexity of everyone's unique styles blended together give a progressive feel. I guess the more I ramble, the more I become vague. So I guess the only other thing I can tell you is to listen to it and develop your own opinions. That's a big problem in this world, it's that everything must be compared, presumed and digested preopinionated. The questions that should be asked are not to compare, but if you like it. I mean isn't that what it all comes down to anyway, weather or not we like it. If we are entertained by something. If the level of enjoyment satisfies."

Do you have a favorite song off the album?
Not just one, no. The album as a whole metallic experience, yes. Each song has it's moments that can make each one a potential favorite. I like Breaking The Broken for some cool bass and drum moments. The Fragile Art Of Existence has some awesome vocal trips, but then so do all of the songs. And the guitar playing is exceptional without. I really couldn't pick one. I guess Breaking The Broken has the most abstract shit in it, killer vibe, cool bass lines, tweaked drums, shredding guitars, raging vocals and the lyrics are cool as hell. So I guess I pick that one for now."

I am sure you are itching for the album to finally hit the shelves, there have been a lot of delays, has it been frustrating?
Man, I've been waiting for this to come out a long time now. I am anxious to see what the world thinks of it. But I think the other guys have been waiting even longer, because just adding me in there threw off the release a couple of months anyway. But as far as I know, right now it's already been released in Europe and Australia. I guess the word has been going around that there were some problems with the printer for the booklet or something to that extent in the U.S. There have been a few unordinary circumstances surrounding this album being completed. Nevermind the years it took to get the timing right to make sure this was the appropriate year to finally record these songs...but the whole thing with me coming in last minute, to Chuck's very unfortunate health change, to the printing problems, to the release delays. Yes, it's been a little frustrating waiting for everyone to get a hold of something that has actually been done for some time now."

Will there be much publicity or press for the album, I haven't seen nearly as much as for the last Death album?
Well, yeah sure...why not? It's a new beginning of sorts. Death has made a firm impression on the metal world, and this should be no different. It's quality metal, and it's a strong statement from a strong individual. I have seen some press out already, I'm pretty sure it's all positive, but I hate to see so much focus on Chuck's present condition - and I'm sure he does too. I mean he felt at one point to send out his own press release to shed light on his situation so the rumors wouldn't fly out of control. But I think it should be left at that. The whole world it seems is pulling for him to recover, as are all of us more closely associated, but it's a very difficult time for him and his family and the attention should just be put where it is less intrusive. The press for Control Denied should be about the release of a fresh new offering, but I see the same subject getting worn out."

If the opportunity presents itself do you think you will tour or make another album with Control Denied?
That would be the best thing I can think of right now. It's a great lineup and some of the greatest music I've ever made. I would love to jam with those guys again...on the road or in the studio. I'm pretty sure there were never any plans to go out and support this album live right away. So even before we got the bad news about Chuck I think the plan was to follow this release up with a second one right away. We spoke about the new songs a little, but mainly the deal lately is just pulling for Chucks full recovery. I mean he has something much more important than anything to endure right now. We're all hopeful that we'll record another Control Denied album, shit...several more, and of course eventually get out there and perform all the stuff live. But we're not talking about that too much right now. Just keeping the hope alive and pulling for our friend who needs a lot of positive thoughts right about now."

Speaking of Chuck's health, when did you hear, and how did you take the news?
It was the most depressing day of the year. It was on his birthday actually. It was so sad, I mean he had something wrong with him for months and didn't know what it was and when we found out it was more unbelievable than expected. Sometimes something bothering you masked by not knowing what it is can be quite horrible. So I guess the only positive to come out of it was that there was finally closure on that day. An end to the uncertainty, but a new view on the situation and the future. On one hand we were relieved to know what it was that was wrong, but on the other it was devastating to learn of the horrific condition and steps to take to overcome it. Chuck had already called my house and talked to my wife when I had gotten home. She was in tears, and said only to call him...hearing his voice full of worry as he told me everything just tore me up. Something you would never think would happen to someone so healthy and full of energy, it was terrible. I carried a sense of gloom for a long time as I told the news to the rest of my friends and family here that Chuck has made friends with as well."

I know you have been in contact with Chuck, how is his condition? How are his spirits?
I talk to him every so often. I always try and get an update and see how he's feeling. But he's come so far in this that I try to talk about normal things. Try to give him that solid sense of reality to help him to not dwell on it. I mean, he's doing everything - and more that's necessary to get better, why pound it into the ground. That's something that could never leave your mind any minute during the day, so we mainly talk about normal stuff. But I will say that he is facing this like a warrior. His spirits are very strong, and he is completely positive throughout. It's amazing the determination he shows in his efforts. His physical condition might be under diress right now, but I don't think anything can shatter his mental fortitude."

What is going on with your other projects (Sadus, Dark Hall, Testament, Disincarnate)?
I've been working a lot mostly this year with Testament. We finished the album up in the spring. Toured all over the world - the US, Europe and Japan. That took up most of the summer. I've been jamming with the Sadus dudes a little lately - hoping to compose the next record. But you now how that goes...slow as usual. I've also hooked up with the Dark Hall dudes for some writing. I would like to get another batch of songs recorded before too much time goes by. We've had some ideas floating around for a year or two now and we're all getting restless watching so much time go by with minimal progression. As far as the Disincarnate, I guess that might finally come into being soon. I've heard some news involving a contract for the recording, so I would imagine in the next couple of months that will start. I've also been working with Ron Jarzombek of Watch Tower fame on his current project called Spastic Ink. It'll be the second cd from this project - and if you haven't heard the first're missing some pure insanity. So, needless to say, I try and keep myself busy. But I always make time for my friends."

Any last thing you want to say about Control Denied or metal in general?
I think I've said pretty much everything I can think of. Basically, it's worth a listen. Don't pay any attention to the comparisons, or any prehype concerning the "power metal" trip. It's just a killer metal record. I really don't think it's a side project, it sure doesn't sound like one to me. It sure doesn't look like one either. The cover art rules, as usual, done by Travis Smith. Everything is quality about this release. The art packaging, the production, the musicianship, the song writing. Those are my thoughts on it. I hope people just listen to it with an open mind. A lot of things take time to grow on you, so I say give it time. Don't lose faith."


to talks

EmptyWords-Published on March 9 2003