Magazine: Kondemned / Scotland
Article: EmptyWords interview

Written by: Ewan Gurr
Published: September 2003 is dedicated to maintaining the legacy and ongoing memory of Chuck Schuldiner musical contributions to his bands - Death and Control Denied. We caught up with one of the founding creators of the website, Kees Kluitman, to query him on the future role of EmptyWords and it's mission to continually promoting Chuck's music.

Ewan: First of all, tell us how came about and how its function has evolved since its initial creation and intent.
Kees: When we started to design the website in the winter of ’98-’99, a few things were clear-cut: the site actually had to add something to the internet (which Chuck despised), and the name was set: “EmptyWords”. We also wanted Chuck’s permission, since we wanted to report about hís life and career. Other keywords for us are integrity and quality, at least, that’s what we strive for. I hope we succeeded in making a site that more or less fits Chuck and his music. A year and a half after Chuck’s death EmptyWords hasn’t lost any of its attraction, and we are quite proud of that. Of course the hectic pace is gone and with time gone by the function of the site changed from a topical to a memorial site. Quite shortly after the first cautious publications, the news of Chuck’s illness came and all at once made everything very different. As far as it goes we were really thrown into the deep end. There was no time to think, we had to take over the helm right away, and became the center of information. That’s most likely why we grew so quickly in such a relatively short time.

E: What do you think it is about Death and the music that Chuck created that has given it the ability to stand the test of time and cause people to continue discovering Death even beyond Chuck’s death?
K: I think it’s because of the absolutely original sound of Chuck’s music and the completely involved sound that is the characteristic of Death. The masterful riffs, the genius solos, the philosophical lyrics, and melancholic melodies all combined with Death’s unique craftsmanship in one musical roller-coaster averse to any commercial trend. Everything is right, even the band’s name. Music of pure beauty that stirs up the deeper layers of the human psyche is something only the great composers are given, and therefore not liable to time. Maybe all this can’t be explained. Like with many artists it’s a matter of experience. I’m convinced that the future Death-fan will be grabbed as much by it as we were back then.

E:What, personally speaking, do you find to be your most fond memories of Chuck and what aspects of his music do you think will be the most tragic loss to the Metal scene?
K: Believe it or not, but we never drank a beer with Chuck, really. Don’t ask me why, it just never happened and till this very day we regret it very much. A meeting was planned when Chuck was better and able to come to the Netherlands to visit his new label… and us… sadly things went very differently. Chuck once said: “Everything happens for a reason”, and that’s what we hold on to. Chuck appreciated the site very much, and let us know through a very personal email. Can you believe it: Chuck and using the internet… anyway, we cherish that letter. I have a nice anecdote: Chuck’s mom once read an interview with us in Terrorizer in which was said that EmptyWords wasn’t the official Death site… then she looked at us over her glasses and said: “Oh, yes you are, and Chuck always assumed you were”. See, to us that was Chuck. In contrast with what a lot of people would expect from him, he just wasn’t difficult about that sort of thing at all. Amazing, isn’t it?! He just assumed after he gave his permission for EmptyWords that we were official from then on, and just returned to playing music again, incredible! Ask Shannon (Hamm – Guitarist on Death’s final album “The Sound Of Perseverance”/EG), he can tell you all about being the unofficial official guitar player for Death. I don’t feel that certain aspects of his music are a loss, but Chuck himself is the biggest loss for the metal scene. A Dutch journalist once said: “Chuck Schuldiner is Death and Death is Chuck Schuldiner”, and that’s exactly how we feel.

E: What are your favourite albums that Chuck performed on and which members throughout the Death history do you believe Chuck gelled and worked with the best?
K: It may sound cliché, but I think every album of Chuck has its enchantment, which counts for the musicians he worked with throughout the years as well. From “Scream Bloody Gore”, in all its moving simplicity with its beautiful tunes up until the phenomenal “Symbolic” and “The Sound of Perseverance”. To me personally “Human” is a hit, recorded at the height of the death metal. Simply goose bumps. Also “The Fragile Art of Existence” has its own charm, although sometimes it seems as if Control Denied is cursed: first shopping “The Fragile Art of Existence”, then Chuck’s illness, and now the second Control Denied album getting off the ground very problematically. I’m curious when Chuck’s last work will see the light of day. For that matter Richard (Christy – Drummer on “The Sound Of Perseverance”/EG) has already, very early in the game, recorded his drum parts. Chuck told us that he was absolutely thrilled about the job Richard did, who in the meantime became a very special friend to him and sat beside his sickbed for a long time. There’s a nice story of their first encounter in the mall, reading music magazines together. Gene had something special with Chuck as well, maybe Chuck had something going for drummers, who knows. In any case Chuck’s mom certainly does, she loves the drums in Death. Jane once said: “I’ll mostly miss those metal guys hanging around the garage and the house, all of them”, and during a ride through the country on a sunny afternoon somewhere in January in Florida with Chuck coming out of the speakers she said: “I would be the happiest, happiest person in the world when he just was here, more than happy…”

E: What can we expect in the future from EmptyWords and with what methods do you think your tribute to Chuck will continue and evolve?
K: The same as the fans now expect from EmptyWords: the site as an ongoing source of information about everything related to Chuck, Death and Control Denied. Actually in essence, Chuck’s death doesn’t change that. Look, the information will be thinned out in time, but we’d like to maintain what we build with hard work over the past years. There are still some articles we have to publish, so be prepared, and we know fans all around the world will keep sending us articles that we still haven’t got. And don’t forget that there’s still a final album of Chuck’s waiting for its destination. It would be fantastic to be able to report about that, it would give EmptyWords a huge boost. But at the same time we have to realise that this will definitely be the last material that will ever be released by Chuck, and that EmptyWords slowly will change into a true retrospective site. Yvonne, me, Matt and Luca and all those who contributed to the site throughout the years will have to get used to that, we just have to be realistic about it.

E: We, at the Kondemned Webzine, would like to close by saying a huge "Hail" to all those who have invested their time and efforts into is not only a fantastic epitaph to Chuck and one which he is absolutely worthy of, it is a dream resource for Death / Control Denied / Chuck Schuldiner supporters and enthusiasts. We thank you and praise you for your great work in promoting both the memory and music of Chuck Schuldiner - you have our everlasting support and long may it continue!


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EmptyWords-Published on Oktober 12 2003