OF THE MASTER
December 13, 2001 - This date
will always be remembered by metal fans with suffering and longing.
The founder of Death lost his battle against cancer and nobody
could believe it. He was a hero for most headbangers, and heroes
don't die, right? Maybe this is not the truth. Chuck Schuldiner
is gone and more than a year after his death, we would find that
he was a hero not only to his fans, but also to his family. This
was the most difficult interview to do ever. I had the idea in
mid November and I decided to contact Chuck's mother, Mrs. Jane
Schuldiner. She answered quickly as she does with every journalist
and also with every fan that Chuck has in this world. We talked
for a long time. After sometime, even I started to have doubts
as to wheter or not this interview would be good for her (this
was so important) and for Chuck's fans. I thought about giving
up on the idea and she also thought the same. The end. No interview.
After almost a month, nearing the date of Chuck's death, Mrs.
Schuldiner sent me a message telling me that she was fine with
the interview. But the period of Chuck's death, and also Christmas
time weren't very good to Mrs. Schuldiner. So the interview was
ready in the first days of January. This was one of the longest
interviews and easily the most touching interview ever. Mrs. Schuldiner
opened wide her feelings, the history of her family, of her son.
The result of our conversations can give you an idea of how Chuck
was as a child, a son, a family member, etc. But it also shows
who was behind and supporting him all the time. I only hope that
this interview was as important to Mrs. Schuldiner as it'll be
to Chuck's fans.
-How is your life going and
how are you a year after Chuck's death?
-J: Life is a daily struggle
for me without him, Chuck is profoundly loved and missed in so
many ways. He was a very loving and caring son, brother and uncle,
spending much of his time doing things with us. We had dinner
together most days at his house, he loved to cook and barbque
and there were many movies, trips, etc. Our lives were filled
with Chuck and it is very empty now, for all of us.
-We all know something about
what happened. But tell us. How Chuck got when he received the
result of the exams telling that he was sick?
-J: When Chuck got the news of the tumor he was of course
upset, but he quickly got into the fighting mode that he stayed
in throughout his fight against that tumor.
-Do you remember any moment,
word or phrase from him to you or to others after the revelation
of the disease?
-J: When Chuck came into the door of my house and I had to
hear those words, I was so devastated. Chuck just put his arms
around me and we stood there hugging each other. After I calmed
down, his sister, Chuck and I began plans for getting the best
help possible. As always, we did it together, as a family.
-In that time, was music the
only thing that involved Chuck to keep going on and fighting?
Or did he search for religion or anything like that?
-J: What kept Chuck motivated in his fight was his love of
his family, his music and the fans, who responded with tons of
mail of encouragment. I can't stress enough the role they played
throughout the past three years. And still do.
-Do you remember
what was Chuck listening to at that time? Any album or artist
-J: I know Chuck listened to music frequently during that
time, but I do not know the names of the artists. He wore headphones
a lot. Chuck never listened to depressing songs, they were about
life, much as the songs he wrote. I do know he received inspiration
and gratification by the music he listened to, and as always,
CDs were always nearby.
-The first album
of Control Denied says already a lot in its title, "The
Fragile Art Of Existance". Even the lyrics of the songs
are very related with what Chuck would live in his next years.
It seems like a premonition sometimes. Do you have this same
-J: No, when that album was written it was well before the
time Chuck found out he was ill. It surely is amazing that it
did seem to be a premonition, and when someone said that to
Chuck , he said there was nothing to it, there was no premonition.
Chuck was a philosophical person, concerned about many things
he saw and experienced himself, and his lyrics reflected that.
Chuck was always in great health throughout his life until this
Control Denied, do the members still have the idea of completing
and releasing the second album, "When Man And Machine Collide"?
-J: Chuck had completed most of his part of the new Control
Denied album and his bandmates are going to make sure it is
completed. That was very much on Chuck's mind and we promised
him that we would make sure of it. That album is his last, and
it was very, very important to him.
-After Chuck's death and during
his treatment we had some really praiseworthy movements by artists,
including some unexpected ones like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kid
Rock, Korn, etc, besides other more metal names like PanterA,
Anthrax, Exodus, etc. Did you have any contact with those artists?
-J: Yes, I did have contact with them, letters and calls,
and they spoke of their sorrow for the tragic end of Chuck's fight
for life and their admiration for Chuck as a musician. Some of
them were in touch with Chuck when he was in recovery the first
time in 2001, giving their support, some very nice caring people.
In music there is a kinship, no matter what kind of music it is,
and when there is a problem or sickness, whatever, they close
ranks and support one another. I admire that because it is rare.
-Which were his closest friends
in his final days?
-J: The people closest to Chuck in his final days were Richard,
the drummer in his band, and David, his best friend from 5th grade.
Richard was always a good friend and he was there for Chuck throughout
his illness, bringing little meaningful presents and sensitivity.
He and Chuck always had the same sense of humor and he made Chuck
laugh, he lightened all our lives during that time. He has kept
in touch and is included in special occasions in our family and
is very dear to us.
-Before all this...
did you have any idea of how much of an icon Chuck was considered
to be and how much he was a representative of a style to the
-J: I did know Chuck was a force in his music, but not until
he became ill was I aware of how very large that force was,
and still is. From the beginning of Chuck's illness there were
so many emails, letters, and gifts of support from fans that
I had to have help answering them. And when they found out that
Chuck was being denied surgery because of lack of insurance,
they responded with a roar, sending financial support to help
him. They were instrumental in helping Chuck get the medical
help he needed. I will always feel close to them for that.
-Let's get back
a bit more. Tell us about Chuck's childhood.
-J: Chuck was a great child, loving and always so good natured
that everyone loved him back. I always had to caution him against
strangers as a child because he thought everyone was his friend.
Chuck played baseball and soccer in school, soccer was his favorite.
His grades were always good throughout school, and this may
surprise some people, but he always got excellent in conduct.
We always camped throughout the years when our children were
growing up and Chuck loved it, the woods, and fishing, hiking,
he loved it all. We moved to this neighborhood next to the forest
when Chuck was two years old and he and his friends spent many
hours building forts and treehouses when they were children.
Chuck always told me that he had the happiest of childhoods,
and he really did.
-When did he get involved with
metal? Before this, what did he listen to?
-J: Chuck got involved with music when he was 9 years old.
His brother, Frank, was killed in an accident. They were so close
and Chuck was devastated, so we bought him a guitar and took him
for lessons. He loved playing but got tired quickly of the lessons,
and continued playing on his own. He heard Kiss play and they
were his favorite band for years, having quite an influence on
him. Jimi Hendrix he thought was fantastic and he also liked The
Doors. When he was thirteen years old I took him to his first
-When he started to play guitar
and Mantas later turning into Death, what did you think? Did you
approve his decision?
-J: I suppose it was because Chuck was never a problem child
that I accepted his music and thought if he liked it, then it
was okay. Chuck always loved animals and cooking, he told me once
that if he had not been a musician he would have been either a
chef or a veterinarian. I always thought that the name of the
band derived from the death of his brother, and while the word
had such painful memories, I did not object.
-Did you like
his music? Since the beginning, did you listen to his records
and enjoy them?
-J: Chuck's music was very loud and it took me some time
before I really listened to it with a critical ear. I have always
loved the drums, and early on I loved the way Chuck could play
the guitar, always amazed at the progression of his talent as
he taught himself. Chuck could play a lot of instruments. He
was such an interesting person, and my garage was always full
of young, hungry musicians. Great young people.
-Was Chuck a
24hrs a day metal man? Which other styles he used to listen
-J: Metal was the music Chuck listened to mostly, though
he liked Jazz very much also. There is no music that I don't
like. I always have either the radio or television on turned
to the music stations. Chuck did not like country, thinking
it a sad music.
-Besides the 2nd Control Denied's
album, is there more unpublished material that probably will see
the light soon?
-J: I did find unpublished songs that Chuck had written and
lots of demos and there was music he had written for a friend
in another band, but when I asked his friend about it, he didn't
think he would go forward with their plans for it. I don't know
what plans we have for all of those.
-Which are the last words that
you remember Chuck saying to you or to another person?
-J: Chuck's family were around him at the last and many words
of love and comfort were spoken. It felt as though my heart and
soul were breaking, and I still feel that way.
-Mrs. Schuldiner, thanks so
much for the interview. We know how hard those times are and you
can count with us. This space is yours to leave a message to Chuck's
fans, friends... and whatever you want to do.
-J: I want to thank you, Thiago, for your patience. Some of
the answers were very difficult and it has taken me a long time.
My message to Chuck's fans and friends are very much what I wrote
in his memory December 13th of this year. Thank you all for your
continued support to me and Chuck's music, he would be so proud.