I've noticed that a lot of bands seem to be relocating to the
"Sunshine State", like Cannibal Corpse and, recently,
What draw do you feel Florida has, outside of hurricane season,
<Laughs> Good question. I think, for one thing, I know personally,
survival-wise, it is very economical. You can get a house down
here for what people up North are paying for an efficiency apartment.
That, I think, is a really big part of it. Honestly, in Florida,
the only bands coming out of here now are Matchbox 20 and that
type of stuff. For metal, Florida has had a little boom in Tampa
for a while, with a lot of the bands getting picked up. Florida
has never really been a big place for a lot of the big bands to
come out of. [Death being the OBVIOUS exception! -- Aaron] Bigger
bands in Florida are like Tom Petty from Gainesville...
Buffett plays there quite a little bit!
Yeah! And Pat Travors! Florida is just a very weird place. I think,
more than anything, if I was going to move down here, it'd be,
for one thing, awesome beaches and the economical side of it.
As a musician, money does not come in all the time and it's hard.
This is the only way to be able to have a decent house and survive.
How is the scene there in Florida? I know that you mentioned a
few bands that couldn't even be construed as metal, but, other
than that, how is the scene for bands like Death?
We never play around here. It is pretty lame. Orlando and the
club scene is pretty pathetic. Basically, it has always been bad.
Ever since 1983, when I formed the band, it has always been bad.
It has always been behind the times. We have the House of Blues
now which has been doing, like, Megadeth gigs; the more mainstream
metal type of stuff, which is cool. It's funny, to tell you the
truth, I don't even look at [Florida] as a place for a scene.
I look at Florida as a place where I've lived most of my life
and there has been a little scene bubble up here and there, but
it dies back down real quick. It is an odd place for the music
scene, compared to places like New York that have such an established
When I was growing up there, I remember seeing bands like Nasty
Savage and Rich Elliott's Blackout performing at Masquerade and
J. J. Casino and Lounge. How do you think that kind of atmosphere
affected Death and its development?
Nasty Savage was a big inspiration to me in the beginning, because
they were a real band. I remember still being in high school and
I saw them play and I remember them being so professional, heavy,
and those are some -real- special times. I still look back on
those with a -lot- of cool memories. It was definitely a major
influence to see Nasty Savage. They had this killer demo out,
_The Way to Mayhem_ [I think I heard the name of this demo correctly...
-- Aaron]. I just remember looking up to them as being so professional
and inspirational, as well. I remember thinking that they were
going to be massive. I remember, honestly, telling my friend that
they are going to be as big as Priest, one day. I thought they
[At this point Mr. Schuldiner cleared
up for me a forlorn notion of mine that, once, at a club in Ybor
City, Florida, a buddy of mine and I thought we saw him take the
lead guitar duties for Obituary when Obituary opened for Morbid
Angel. I then asked him about the relationship between Morbid
Angel and Death. -- Aaron]
Is there any animosity between the bands?
Not that I know of. They have had some really odd statements about
our band. I don't know why.
Struck me as funny...
I have no idea. Real good question, actually.
Speaking of that, I have always viewed Death as a group that has
a real good positive vibe -- pointing out ills in society and
things that you could make right. "Overactive Imagination"
comes to mind here. Is this a conscious effort on the part of
It definitely is [about] things that trouble me. I'm a pretty
simple person. Basically, the way I live life is with good people
around me. I love animals. I love normal things. Love going to
the beach. Everything normal. It troubles me that there are so
many people out in the world that want to see people fall flat
on their face and not do well in life. It is weird to me because
I, personally, don't -ever- have the time to sit around and dwell
on other people's lives. It is amazing how many people out there
do nothing -but- that. [They] start rumors, say bad things about
people; I'm just not into this whole negative thing.
Along those lines, I wanted to ask you, in the liner notes of
_Human_, you stated that this album was more than an album to
you; it was revenge.
Exactly. A lot of people tried to ruin my career, ruin my name,
ruin my integrity. I'm just a musician. I'm here to make music.
I guess that troubles some people.
Gene Hoglan, in the liner notes on _Individual Thought Patterns_,
called you the best cook in death metal. What did he mean by that?
I enjoy cooking. Definitely. When Gene was down, whenever he would
come down to rehearse, we'd always barbecue and do some cooking.
I think I remember reading that he really benefited, weight-wise,
from your cooking...
I try to help. I thought it was really cool how he was trying
to keep that strong will-power to do good and loose weight. I
was just cooking a lot on the grill. Just a lot of light stuff.
I remember going to a "Death for Life" benefit for B.E.T.A.
and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A kind of record
release party for _Symbolic_.
Is there any unofficial release party scheduled for _The Sound
Not really, no. Probably just have a party at my house or something.
You know, just a few friends. Nothing major. I'd like to do some
benefits in the future for, like, the Humane Society. I love dogs
and cats. I think that they are basically a lot better than people,
I want to give a great deal of credit here to Nuclear Blast. They
really seem to have come behind Death 110%, giving you guys some
much deserved attention. I know Death had to have been pursued
by any number of labels, so why Nuclear Blast?
There were several labels that were interested [in Death], but
I've seen Nuclear Blast, for one thing, grow so rapidly over the
past couple of years, as a label, that it's insane. It is because
of good decisions that they have made by signing good bands. They
have a lot of good bands on their label right now. They are a
label that, unlike most other labels out there, stuck their necks
out and signed all this metal. It has paid off because now they
are -the- label! I saw that, believe me. As a fan, I recognize
that, and, as a musician in a band that is suffering from -lack-
of proper decision making from other labels; I saw them making
a lot of good decisions. We started talking to each other and
had several really good conversations about things. They know
where I was coming from and I talked in great length about where
the band has been, where it could go, and where it could have
gone with the proper support from [Death's previous] labels. Nuclear
Blast shared my viewpoints and we struck a deal. That was that.
It just made perfect sense. I feel it is the making of a really
When listening to _The Sound of Perseverance_, it sounds so multi-layered,
dramatically heavy, and complex. Even more so than _Individual
Thought Patterns_. How do you do it?
Funny you should mention _Individual Thought Patterns_. This record
kinda reminds me of the spirit of that, in a way, while I was
moving into a fresh territory, as well. It kinda has that attitude
of when I started writing for this record, I, for one thing, had
my home studio set up and was able to do a lot of recording and
experimenting with different leads, ideas, harmonies, playing
the two guitars off of one another, and have two different guitar
parts going on, as opposed to have them always doing the exact
same thing. This opens up the possibilities for so many more melodies.
It was a matter of just really experimenting with the material.
We re-did the whole record two times before we even entered the
studio with Jim Morris, so by the time we were at Morrisound,
it was the most prepared I have ever been in my life.
Yeah! It paid off. We went in wanting to keep this [album] fresh.
We know what we are doing, we know what we want do to. We worked
with Jim Morris on _Symbolic_, so I knew exactly what to expect,
which was nothing but good things. We recorded and mixed the album
in three weeks, which is kinda really unheard of in the industry.
It was cool. It felt great. I wanted to capture that "real
It definitely came across that way. When I listen to _The Sound
of Perseverance_, it kinda feels like a musical excursion, like
an adventure, clocking in at 56 minutes and change -- by far Death's
longest release. Was there sometime you were trying to communicate
with its length and get across to the listener?
I had a lot of stuff to get out musically! <Laughs> When
I started writing this material, the songs, in general, were a
lot longer. Like "Flesh and the Power it Holds", [which]
is over eight minutes long.
That song is brilliant!
That is my favorite song on the record, personally. You used that
word "adventure". I like to use that [word] for music.
I think that music -should- be an adventure. For me, these songs
turned in to these adventures more than any other record, I think.
It is a very natural thing for me; when I start writing, I write
and whatever comes out -- comes out. I think [_TSoP_] is a good
album to come out at this time. The state of metal now is so twisted
in America. People take the easy way out musically and everyone
is copying each other and I think this is a good album to kinda
throw in the middle of everyone and say, "Here, take this!"<Laughs>
Exactly. I think that Scott [Clendenin], Shannon [Hamm], and Richard
[Christy] had some enormous footsteps to follow in, because the
stream of talented musicians that has come through Death has been
cataclysmic. They all have really risen to the occasion. What
an excellent line-up you have now.
I feel very good about it. We all do. I have basically been performing
with Scott and Shannon for over two years now, so we've had a
really good relationship established, and Richard came in and
just sounded killer.
It just clicked.
I know that you personally tip your hat to Mercyful Fate, Venom,
Hellhammer, and the like...
I feel that the argument can be made, even by me, on occasion,
that Death is kinda the pioneer of the entire field. What kind
of obligation does that place on Death?
I don't know. Several people have mentioned that and, it might
sound weird, but I never really think about it like that. It is
kinda like, I just go my own way and do my own thing and hope
whatever comes out makes people happy. I feel, as a fan, not even
as a musician, but as a metal fan, that I -do- have a responsibility
to keep metal going and alive and do whatever I can do. That is
the fan side of me more than the musician. It is an intertwined
thing because I am -such- a fan still, and I think that people
might forget that. A lot of people in bands stop becoming fans.
You can tell, listening to certain records by the bigger bands,
that they have stopped being a fan of metal. They are no longer
intrigued by it or care especially; when you see bands like Metallica
saying that they are no longer a metal band and don't want to
be called a metal band, yet they got huge off of being metal.
I think that is very well put.
It is sad. It makes me sad, as a fan, to see bands turn people
onto great music then whatever... It is kinda like [Metallica]
are old; they are not that much older than me, really. I'm 31
and they have to be in their mid-thirties; upper-thirties, at
You mentioned that you were a fan and every time that I've seen
Death you have always been very supportive other groups. The band
that comes immediately to mind is Sadus.
You have often gone out of your way to support other acts that
have followed in your wake. I think that you deserve a tremendous
amount of credit for that.
It is like I've said before, I'm just trying to keep things going
and whatever I can do anytime, I will do it. I am lucky to have
some friends in some really cool bands like Sadus, who are such
great people and they are such a great band. I saw them at the
Milwaukee Metal Fest.
Thank you, by the way, for performing at that show, too.
I had a really great time. It was really hectic, though, man,
'cause those shows are not put on well. Getting on stage and the
equipment being total crap. Richard is one of the greatest drummers
in metal and he had a horrible drum set to play on. His snare
kept falling; he only had two toms and he usually plays five.
It was just a mess, but after the third song, everything just
clicked and the audience was so killer. It was very uplifting
to be a part of that show and look out there and see all these
people there for metal when supposedly metal is dead in America.
No way. Not after -that- show.
That show really sent some shockwaves through corporate America.
I thought Mercyful Fate was incredible and Sadus was awesome.
I was honored to sit there in front of Steve [DiGiorgio] and watch
him play. They were just really great.
I wanted to ask you about the vocal style on _The Sound of Perseverance_.
I've noticed in recent interviews that you said it was the most
limiting style to the genre that Death is in.
It is. That is why I had a lot of fun doing "Painkiller".
That was my chance to do something different that I enjoy doing.
[The vocal style] is basically why I have Control Denied ready
to go after the Death tours are done. Control Denied is the extension
I am excited about it!
I am, too. It has so much potential, because I have been very
blessed by people embracing the music of Death, and when they
hear Control Denied it will be exactly what they are embracing
Death for, only more. It is that next, fifth element, which is
the vocals, that are, honestly, holding this thing back inside
of me. I've grown so much, as the music has; I'm outgrowing it.
It is like a shoe that is getting really tight and you have to
switch to another pair and let things grow and breathe. The music
for Control Denied is all about that. It is about not giving in,
it is not about anything but what the name of the band says. I
don't like to be controlled or limited, and, with music, the worst
thing to do is stay in the same spot when you know there could
be more and better things.
I personally believe that your fans are growing with you.
I do, too. I think the greatest thing is that everyone is really
embracing the progress.
How do you feel about your upcoming tour with your label-mates
It is going to be great. I'm looking forward to it very much.
They are a killer metal band and I think America is going to enjoy
Back to the Milwaukee Metal Fest for a moment, I noticed that
Brian Griffin of Broken Hope was twisting the knobs on the soundboard
for Death's performance. Was that something that was planned?
Actually, our sound man didn't show up. The bus broke down. The
sound man for Cannibal Corpse is also our sound man, sometimes.
He was going to run our sound at that show, but the bus broke
down, so I was freakin' out. We had to go on in an hour and we
had no sound man; our guitar tech didn't show up, our drum tech
didn't show up. It was a nightmare. I mean, honestly, really,
it was one of the most nightmare-ish like shows leading up to
the performance that I have ever had.
How was the Dynamo Open Air Festival with Pantera?
Great! Really great response. 35000 people. Insane. Kinda like
a dream looking out and seeing all those people. Really cool,
man! Overwhelming in a really great way. The most organized concert
event that I have ever been a part of. It was so professionally
done and it was just killer. I thought it was a breakthrough for
us to be a part of something like that.
I noticed there is a lot of groups touring right now. Do you think
that will, in any way, discourage some bands from touring now
that a juggernaut like Death is going to be on the road?
Some people have mentioned that there are a lot of bands on tour
and they are kinda worried that people aren't going to have enough
money to come out to our show. Basically, I think that it is up
to the fans to balance their money wisely. <Laughs>
I've noticed in the music industry things seem to be extremely
hectic and chaotic. Death, however, never seemed to get swept
up into that. Did the name of the new record come from the struggle
a band like Death must endure to keep on keepin' on?
That is exactly where the whole name was spawned from. For this
record, I felt like it definitely is the most impressionable and
important record that this band has ever done. That is why the
title really had to say something and that it had to make people
realize that it -was- saying something.
Thank you, Mr. Schuldiner, for all of your time and for the very
impressive _The Sound of Perseverance_ release. Please, end the
interview anyway you would like.
God! I appreciate everyone's support and patience. REAL METAL