This past year has
been full of many changes for Death.
Beginning with the departure of their bassist, Steve DiGiorgio,
who had a child in April, the band was faced with the decision
to begin looking for someone who could replace him.
At the same time,
Sony/Relativity Records (DEATH's previous record label for five
albums) decided to negotiate Death's remaining contract with Roadrunner
Records. Negotiations were long and tedious, leaving a scheduling
problem with Andy LaRocque. Death's previous guitarist, who had
prior obligations at the time to record with Kind Diamond. So,
now Death was also faced with not only finding a new bassist,
but a new guitarist as well.
were being made for the new album, another big change faced them
ahead. Their producer of four albums, Scott Burns would not be
able to be a part of the new project. Instead, Chuck Schuldiner
would co-produce with Jim Morris, master producer and owner of
Morrisound Recording Studios. The project was simply entitled
Still, a large and
heavy task faced the band. A new bassist and a new guitarist needed
to be found - and soon. With all the many obstacles that faced
the band in the past, this would not get them down. Everything
always worked out. Fate was on their side and they just had to
let things happen.
The recording date
was fast approaching when Chuck became compelled to get a hold
of a guitarist he knew from his high school days, and who he had
ironically been thinking about getting for their previous release,
"Individual Thought Patterns", but could not locate
him. But this time Chuck did. Thanks to John and Brian of Pain
Principle, they hooked Chuck up with guitar shredder, Bobby Koelble,
who once played for the well known local band, Azreal. Bobby more
than proved his tight chops and creative flair. And the decision
was made. Bobby was in.
Next mission - a new
bassist. They can be hard to find, especially for a band with
the musical capabilities as Death. They needed someone with just
the right technical approach and musical mayhem. But John and
Brian couldn't hook Death up again, or could they? Chuck gave
'em one more call. And the "metal connection" proved
itself once again. John and Brian had someone in mind. Someone
who carried essentials of a driven individual. He was bassist,
Kelly Conlon. There was no doubt, he was the man for the job.
Everything was now
in place. A producer had been chosen, the line up was in place
and a recording project on their new label, Roadrunner Records,
was dead ahead. There was no time to loose, it was time to crush.
The obstacles that faced them
before became doors of opportunity.Late August finally brought
the new Death together to record Symbolic , their most
"action-packed" project to date. There is no denying
the remarkable musical composition and production on this one.
Each member shines on Symbolic which is sure to push
the barriers of metal to the limits!
Long grueling hours
were spent in Morrisound recording Symbolic, but when all was
said and done, Death took some time to answer questions about
their new project. No other interview has been done with the new
band members... but you get it here... this exclusive interview
right from the Metal Crusade!
So Gene, how was
it working with Jim Morris this time around?
Gene: Jim is a
very good producer. That's always nice to have. Obviously, he
gets good tones. He is a laid back, erudite person, and he knows
how to handle me in the studio, which is hard to do. I'm not the
biggest studio fan, so I feel constantly on edge in there. Jim's
air takes a lot of that edge away. I've only worked with one other
producer who had that effect on me.
And what about
you guys? How was it to work with Chuck and Jim? (to Kelly and
Bobby: It was
killer. Two laid back guys. I felt right at home instantly.
Kelly: Excellent! Both Chuck and Jim were really patient
and most of all it wasn't stressful! I had a killer time.
Chuck, how was
it working with Bobby and Kelly?
Chuck: It's been
absolutely awesome! Bobby and Kelly totally raged in the studio
and we just got a real good vibe as soon as we rehearsed with
them. They're really down to earth, and kooky, too. I'm looking
forward to touring with them. They are both excellent musicians
and I think people are really going to dig them.
What was the most
challenging part of putting together Symbolic?
off Relativity and getting on Roadrunner Records.
What was challenging
for you, Gene?
Gene: Trying to
get all the double bass in the pocket. The whole record is challenging.
Every song has it's own groove. I have a tendency to push the
beat and over play, and upon listening to it now, I can see a
few instances where I did just that, but I like have imperfect
albums drumming-wise. It gives me something to strive for eternally.
So, what do you
think is your most accomplished drum work on Symbolic?
Gene: Every song
had something different, I believe.
For sheer shock value,
the title track is pretty out there... hauling doubles and my
hands are everywhere. "Empty Words" is a pretty wild
drum song. "Without Judgement" has a couple of pretty
nifty hand parts.I use two rides all over the place, and I don't
think that has been done to this extent before. I guess, on Symbolic
, my hands are jazz, but my feet are metal.
And what about
your lead work with Bobby, what is your favorite back to back
lead with him?
Quest, without doubt. The leads both just totally flow - as metal
How about you,
Bobby, what is your most accomplished lead on the album?
Bobby: They all
suck (ha, ha). I guess I'm happiest with my lead on "Zero
Kelly: Damn, I
think the most challenging was the whole album. Basically, because
Chuck called me up and said "You got it if you want it"
and whithin a week and a half I was in the studio full force!
So, you must have
been very anxious, huh?
Kelly: Yes, definately,
who wouldn't be? Death has been a band that I listened to and
enjoyed for a while now. It's like, you have to love what you're
doing. Death was a band I really liked and then I got the chance
and took full advantage of it! I love Death and now I'm
the bass player!
Bobby, what did
you think when Chuck called you out of the blue?
Bobby: I was totally
into it. At first I thought, "How the hell did he find me?"
Then I found out it was a mutual friend we have at a local music
store. He hooked us up.
And what was the
most challenging part for you on Symbolic?
up with something I liked well enough to commit to tape. While
I was rehearsing, I kept hearing something different every time.
It was hard to say, "Okay...this."
What did you all
use, as far as equipment, in the studio?
Chuck: I started
with my B.C. Rich Stealth and finished the album with my B.C.
Rich Ignitor, a new guitar they just came out with, Marshall Valve
State amplifier and Marshall cabinets, GHS Strings.
Gene: Pearl Master's Custom kit, Zildjian Cymbals, the
Propeller and a 1953 M-14 Cannon Shell that Evil Steve's Dad brought
back from 'Nam.
Bobby: My Washburn Magma guitar, a 50 watt Marshall JCM
800 head, and Ibanez distortion box, Dean Markley strings and
a Mr. Coffee coffee pot.
Kelly: I used a Mesa Boogie 400+ Stereo head which was
god. An Ampeg 8-10's cabinet, my Krammer Forum II bass loaded
with active EMG pick-ups. BBE Sonic Maximizer compression, EQ.
And of course DR handmade strings.