This month the new album
"symbolic" will be released. An album on which this developement
perceives. Death pairs off the old death metal with technical
thrash and heavy metal. Chuck Schuldiner and drummer Gene Hoglan
are in the meantime optimum played in with each other and it's
this duo that made "Symbolic"a staggering CD. Virtuosity and aggression
are balanced perfectly. When I got to talk to Chuck on the phone
he is elated about the result also. As a right-minded American
musician he presents himself as a walking and most of all talking
promotion machine, who doesn't get tired talking about the high
level of the CD ("it's a killer album") and how much he's looking
forward to the upcoming tour ("can't wait to play this stuff on
stage"). A torrent of words on which it's tough to row up against.
But again, "Symbolic"is in one word fantastic, so his wholehearted
enthusiasm is forgiven!
really unbelievable, how glad we are with this new album! Chuck
breaks out immediately after our welcome. "Roadrunner,
the band, the producer, we consider ourselves fortunate!"
struck me the most with this CD is that the music can be played
on every moment of the day in contrast to the most death metal
albums. You kinda have to be in a certain mood for them.
exactly what we had in mind when making the album. I think we
accomplished that by bringing enough variety on the album. Every
song is on its own, with its own sound, sphere and quality. Most
albums being released in this genre are one big attack on your
ears for almost one hour."
I assume you are searching
for a broader audience?
"Let me put
it this way: when writing new material it's not something that
we have in mind all the time. That's just not the way it works,
It's more the cunning construction and a better balance with which
we wanted to make this album more accessible. Again the buzz word
Is this all
a matter of commerce or is there more to it? Getting older, maybe
a bit wiser or something like that........
When I gain another year I hold up a mirror to myself critically
asking what I have accomplished and what is still missing."
Did this got
you another attitude towards music?
"Yes, I dare
to open up for more influences. Five or ten years ago I wasn't
ready to do that, wouldn't give it one single thought. It's a
matter of growing up. Another matter on "Symbolic" was Jim Morris,
our new producer, he had the capability, as the first, to fathom
the music of Death completely and because of that he could register
it perfectly. Thanks to Jim the band came to full blossom.
To which level
do you want to take the band? What is your ultimate goal?
"I would like
my fans to see Death as a band on which they can count on. I want
to be a constant factor within the heavy metal. Above all a band
who helps develope the genre. There's still brewing a lot inside
of me! I can't wait to suit the action to the word. I want to
keep gripping the audience but also keep stimulating them by developing
myself. Stagnation eventually stands for an unrelenting death!
For every band! As strange as it may sound, I've been busy for
12 years now and never felt this eager."
this eagerness have something to do with the new label (Roadrunner/YK)
lot! We were on Relativity in the States. They made good money
out of us, but never took care of us or our albums. Nice for them
to walk into the business this way, but in the end fatal for the
band. Our previous album, Individual Thought Patterns, in a commercial
way went west on behalf of them. As the first contours of "Symbolic"
loomed up, I knew this was gonna be a special album. The thought
alone this album would disapear through a side door also was terrible.
Roadrunner was our label in Europe and they put a lot of energy
in us. After a lot of legal struggles ~Relativity wouldn't let
of their dairy cow that easy~ we were lodged at Roadrunner worldwide.
Believe it or not but not a day passes without me thinking about
it. My life looks a hell of a lot better now. We are with a label
that's thinking with us, believes in us and has a sincere interest
in our music."
you think starting musicians have a way too romantic picture of
the music business?
know for sure they have (laughing), I used to be a starting musician,
everybody that knows where I come from knows that I've learned
a lot! As a kid I looked up to bands like Kiss. They motivated
me to become a musician. It was a dream which I lived very long.
I still was on this cloud signing a contract as an eighteen year
old. Shortly after I experienced how pink clouds can turn into
nightmares. This business is very cruel. There are a lot of people
who are not at all interested in your creativity. They merely
think in terms of money, THEIR money of course! Whether they ever
think of you always remains a big question. I found out the hard
way and it was very painful. Concerning the press I have gone
through a similar process. I never ever did any of them any harm,
still it was, during a certain period, popular in those rings
to cut me down. It often made me very sad."
did you keep your head above the water?
pulling myself up on the support of the fans. They always stood
by me unconditionally. I regularly got letters saying:"Chuck
whatever they write about you, we keep believing in you, it's
the music that counts." That was the drift of most fan mail. It
got me through some depressing times. I persevered and may now
reap the fruits of! A new deal, a new album and a tour I eagerly
look forward to. Going through bad times makes you value new developements
all the more."
you watch other bands with what they're doing?
a certain extent. This has to do with both my time as well as
my interests. I love to play old, classic metal albums. Bands
like Iron Maiden or Kiss still enthrall me. More recent music
that moves me is from bands like Mercyful Fate, Slayer and Dream
Theater. I listen and enjoy it, but that's all there's to it.
I am trying to prevent them from influencing my music, my play,
my sound. I still am inspired by my own ideas which prevent us
from being trendy. I don't want to be "cool" in a way trendsetters
interprate this word."
together with some others, were at the base of death metal. Looking
at it now, what's your conclusion?
genre is in a transitional period. A natural selection takes place.
The moderate bands ~most of them are~ bleed to death, being pushed
in the margin and loosing their deals. Only original bands will
survive. Bands that possess the power and the creativity. Of course
I hope Death will be one of them. It's important to keep developing
without pawning your heart to a new trend. What I do comes straight
from the heart. I believe that's the only way that will create
a long career. I don't consider Death as a death metal band anymore,
I have the imagination that we are somewhat above trends and genres
and are making music on our own conditions. We surely are not
making any compromises."
has some new members on "Symbolic", listening to the promo drummer
Gene Hoglan is still in the band, you only need to hear a few
seconds to recognize him.
know exactly what you mean. Indeed, next to me Gene is the only
one left from the ITP line up. His part within Death only got
bigger. What I appreciate so much in him is he doesn't give a
damn about trends in the drum scene, he doesn't only hit a rhythm,
he expresses himself also. A quality only very few drummers ever
us to your new members.
new guitarist is Bobby Koelble and our new bass player is Kelly
Conlon. They are out of the area and have a skill and mentality
which you need within Death. It's a hard existence! I think they
have what is needed to survive."
is a permanent line up?
we get along great and I really would like the four of us sticking
know your former guitarist Andy LaRocque has returned to King
Diamond. What was the reason bass player Steve DiGiorgio left?
Is he back to his old band Sadus?
indeed is back to King Diamond, I am glad for him and I will certainly
follow his steps in future."
like his spirit on "Symbolic" is still around, some of the solo's
could have been played by him.
possible, it was a great honor to play with him, he's one of my
favorite guitarists. That cooperation may have left some traces
behind in my way of playing. Concerning Steve......I don't know
what his plans are, he left without a clear reason. I don't think
he's in Sadus anymore, I got the impression he is a "family man"
and who am I to deny him this right."
the coming year looking for Death?
the end of this month (March) Symbolic will be released. I am
very curious of the fans reactions, for whom you make the CD in
the first place. Because of the legal struggles, we had to wait
this long to release another album! Unbearably at times. Now at
last it will be released! Starting on April 13th we will be playing
about 10 "Full Of Hate" festivals in Europe (among others together
with Gorefest/RH). Then we will return to the States to tour.
Later this year Japan and a second European tour are on the schedule.
I suppose, by the end of 1995 we can start thinking about the
next album. As things look now we don't have to be bored!!!