Magazine: Metal Forces / UK
Article: Beware Unclean

Written by: Mike Exley
Published: # 32 October 1988


Mike Exley talks to Rick Rozz as Death make a push for eternal life.

The tour should go really well. Can you give us any details of tour dates?

"Not at the moment because they're still being arranged. It was to be in October, but now I think it's likely to be put back to November/December so that we can do the full US tour we've been promised."

What's the relationship like with Combat over there?

"Fine, no complaints. We get along very well. Although we got little for "Scream Bloody Gore" we're very happy with their attitude towards "Leprosy". Music For Nations, our European label are also very good and everybody's really working hard for us. Spin offs are that we've got several major endorsements from companies like BC Rich and a place on the video "Ultimate Revenge II" which should include RAVEN, FORBIDDEN and DARK ANGEL as well.

The career of the band has been up and severely down as well over the last five years -is that over now?

"We hope so. We try to keep on top of things a lot more nowadays. The writing takes time because we're always striving for more, but we believe that it's time for us now. "Leprosy" is suited to the time, the songs are good enough, and the commitment is there, so we're ready without a doubt. Look out for the tour!"

Back in the dark mists of history leprosy was one of those diseases treated like a curse from God himself. A disease of the flesh, evident to everyone, the disease had no cure and the mental suffering was intense as the victim had to put up with his body rotting while he still lived. No man nor woman was immune and lepers often became outcasts. The outcome of the disease was a slow death. Not a nice subject to write a song about? Indeed, but then this is not an unusual subject for four guys from Florida who openly admit to being a gore band and who five years ago took that word as their monicker - DEATH. The name has been around for what seems like an eternity, like its namesake I suppose. The line up has changed a bit but the basic style and subject matter is basically as it was when the band first put pen to paper.

Anyway. let's leave all this talk of death for a moment before the word becomes over used and take a quick look back. In 1987 things finally began to happen for one Chuck Schuldiner (guitarist/vocalist), who had tried to guide a concept, but who had had more falls than the Grand National Steeplechase. On the point of quitting when sole member Chris Reifert (drums) refused to relocate to Florida from San Francisco, Chuck met Rick Rozz (guitar), ex-member of DEATH, then in a band balled MASSACRE. Borivoj Krgin has explained further developments over the following few months back in issue 24 so let's move on, but let's also congratulate the band because almost one year on the band that Chuck plucked from MASSACRE is still together, is still DEATH, has not compromised and has just released one of the surprises of 1988, the excellent "Leprosy" album on Under One Flag (on Combat Records in the US). Rick is undeniably happy as his voice wings its way across the Atlantic.

"It's really nice feeling as secure as we do now you know. The relationship within the band is the best that has ever existed within DEATH. This will be the final line-up for the band because we are all committed to the band. I know that Chuck and I have had our differences in the past, but we've now worked all that out. It was me who took the initiative and me who approached Chuck. The past was forgotten and it's as though we never split up -there's no hard feelings. Terry Butler (bass) and Bill Andrews (drums) fitted in very well too so we're very pleased."

The LP is a big step forward for the band and it's the first for these guys as part of DEATH -how does everyone feel about the record?

"Chuck and I are really pleased. We've come on so much since I met up with Chuck again. He was on the point of giving up, having been in and out of bands and losing yet another chance with Chris. I talked him round even though he tried to stop me, but now it's as though that never happened. All the enthusiasm is back, he's his old self again. Bill's fitted in really well and he's very comfortable within the band, only Terry is still a little nervous, especially in the studio. Terry is quite inexperienced really, he's been playing for only a year or so, but he worked really hard to overcome this and I think he's happy with the result. In the studio our producer Dan Johnson helped a lot as well and Terry definitely benefitted."

You've had the style of DEATH around you for something like five years now. Obviously DEATH isn't just you and Chcuk, but just how far do you think the band's style had developed as you release this LP, the band's second?

"A lot. This band has matured beyond belief. Complex death metal can be done with class and style and I think we're proving that without losing the vital elements of the sound we love. Chuck and I wrote all the ideas for "Leprosy" but even we noticed a big step forward from the days of "Scream Bloody Gore". A big part of the success is the complete line-up -Chuck was always worried about losing members or finding new people, now he's free to let all his ideas develop a lot more. I think the progression in the band's style can be proven by how acceptable our music is today. The album is already doing well here in the States, selling out on the CD and cassettes initial print, so that definitely says something doesn't it? I think this album has come out at the right time, because the scene needs a band that has power and speed together."

The album is still as intense as "Scream Bloody Gore" ans still in a similar style, but it appears more poslished and more professional as many have already noted -is that due to the line-up dedication as well?

"In a way yes. Lots of work went into the songs this time. We all knew that this couldn't be a rushed project -it took a lot of commitment to improve the tight sound, to work the songs out, but we're glad we took that stand because the album was far better for it. I hope people don't think that we compromised because we were simply after a more professional release. The album was still very heavy, but we worked very hard to bring a better representation of our sound over to the fans We pleased ourselves. I hope we please them as well."

It obviously represents the band very well, begin recorded in April, but how can you see the musical development progressing.

"Very well. The album represents the bands style now extremely well, but we'll always be pushing for more off-the-wall ideas as well as polishing up things here and there withing our own defined style. DEATH has its own sound, something we've retained for a long time and something we never want to lose. We've got a few new songs written already and they're definitely still us -it's our death metal style an no one elses."

You openly admit to being as the press label goes "death metal"?

"Yes, certainly. That title was made for us. We've nothing to hide and so long as everyone's happy we're not likely to change."

The album has a striking cover, pretty stark title and a few track titles of similar ilk -Choke On It etc. Are you out to shock people or is it just how you see these things?

"It's Chuck, he's always been like that with his lyrics. We're not hoping to shock people or encourage violence between people, we're just trying to show real life as we see it. I mean, in my opinion real life is far more violent and morbid than fiction, and that's what's so scary. Chuck likes to pick up on stories and lend his view to their interpretation. I read a story about people taking pictures of their dead relatives at funerals for the photo album -that's morbid-."

Do you have any examples on the album?

"Yes, 'Choke On It' which you mentioned, is written around the death of a load of immigrants in a railway box car and the people that perpetrated that. Apparently they were locked inside to avoid detection in temperatures of over 120 degrees and all except one dies. He survived by scratching a hole in the bottom of the carriage. That's scary."

Okay, before we sink into the morbid world that are Chuck's lyrics too much, let's move away from the LP for a second. The band is due to embark on its first UK and European tour later this year. What does that mean to you?

"A lot. We can't wait to get over. Chuck and I always dreamed about playing in Europe, especially when the postbag came week after week. The fans over there are very supportive of our music and it will be a great privilege for us to meet people who have supported us so vehemently."

Ex-members of the band use the cult following that the name DEATH seems to have in Europe for their own ends (wouldn't you?) but what created that aura around the name?

"That's a tough one. I mean we're not complaining about it, but it just seems unusual to us. We haven't got egos, but it's nice to create such a following just through LP's and tapes. I think it's because we've never forgotten our fans in order to make a living. That's bullshit, no one should change to suit trends or a record company, you have to please yourselves and the fans."

Do you think the tour may break that aura of fascination or larger than life image?

"I hope not. Musicians up on stage are often larger than life to the fans, especially when they haven't seen them. I hope the tour doesn't disappoint anyone though. We're just like the fans except that we're out to please them with what we do. I'm sure that'll happen."


to talks

EmptyWords-Published on April 14 2002