It's great to be talking
to you after all that you've been through. For the benefit of those that
don't know, what exactly happened?
"Basically, in May, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. About a month-and-a-half
ago, I completed a six-week radiation program in New York City. I just
went back up there about two weeks ago for another follow-up--Just to
check up. They wanted to do another MR, and stuff like that. Then, in
December, I'll go back up again and see my doctors and they'll take more
x-rays. Right now it's just a big waiting game. The whole radiation thing
takes months to work--You think you'd go in and get it done and that's
it, but it takes months to work, after the fact. So it's a matter of waiting
and not really knowing exactly what is going on. They are pleased so far
with what they have seen. They are definitely very upbeat. I feel lucky.
I've got a great support system from my friends and family and people
around the world. It has been incredible. It really has."
So it will still take a
while longer to see if it's been removed completely?
"Exactly, which really sucks.
The whole waiting thing...That's the toughest part, I think, really. They're
very upbeat, though. I'm seeing the best doctors that are in the United
States, period. I'm also seeing an herbalist up there that's really high-tech.
So I'm getting the best of both worlds, so to speak. Until then, all I
can do is hang out in Florida and I'm working on music for the next record,
actually, since I have down time. I'm doing everything as normal as possible--Barbecuing,
hanging out with friends, writing music and feeding my cats and dogs,
that's really all I can do."
Has it really affected
your day-to-day life?
"Yeah, kind of. What it's doing
is...At first I thought I had a pinched nerve. First my neck was hurting.
I saw a chiropractor and that didn't work, then I saw a massage therapist.
That worked for a couple of days and I felt a little looser, a little
better. Then I saw and acupuncturist. I saw her about five times and it
just wasn't helping. At that point, my arm and my left had started feeling
weak, and she's the one that said, "Look, this should have worked
by now, you should get an MRI done." That's when they told me, "You've
got a brain tumor and it is brushing up against your nerves in your neck."
So, Ironically, I did have a pinched nerve. So, right now, I've got swelling
going on and it is pinching my nerves, which is kind of messing with my
arm and leg a little bit. So it does affect my daily activities, yeah.
But, I trust myself, and I'm playing guitar and doing stuff normally.
I'm doing yard work. I'm doing everything I would want to , as much as
I can. It's wild to walk around thinking the radiation is still working
on you, but that is what it does. Pretty heavy..."
There is still pain?
"A little discomfort. Not really
pain. Just discomfort, really. You can't sit around and say, "Wow!.
Fuck everything." I want to continue doing what I normally do everyday,
as much as I can. I live in a house, I have yard work to do. I have time
on my hands, I'm writing material and just living life as normal as possible."
Given that they expect
a full recovery, will the pain go away?
"Well, yeah. The awkwardness--as
I like to say--will go away. Right now, the reason I'm experiencing that
is from the swelling. The radiation caused the swelling, and the tumor
itself has been causing swelling--That's what caused me to think I had
a pinched nerve. They said this type of tumor--I'd probably been walking
around with for years--takes a while for it to finally get to the stage
where it grooves with something in there and then you know it is there.
Then you're like, "Oh, shit. What is going on?" That is when
people realize they have it. It has probably been there for years, which
is pretty wild--Especially when I think about myself screaming all that
time onstage and adding pressure. You kind of think to yourself, "Wow,
shit, I definitely wasn't helping it."
Did your performing hurt
"I don't think so. If anything,
I started worrying that screaming like that for so many years is not a
real good thing to be doing to your brain, period! But the vocal style
of Death is very over-the-top. For the hour-and-a-half, two hours on stage
ever night, I've never thought of it as a very healthy vocal style. It's
one I'd never recommend to people. Who knows? And stress can be a major
factor in different cancers and stuff. You start reading about all this
stuff and you realize, that it can be brought on by a lot of different
You've said before that
you don't like death metal vocals, but has this experience changed you
at all as an artist?
"Definitely, but I was also
set in my ways to get Control Denied underway as soon as Death was done
touring. I've just wanted desperately to get away from the vocal style
of Death, and the name of the band, and move forward for so many years
now. If anything, I still feel equally as compelled and very comfortable
in my decision making as far as doing the Control Denied and making it
a very full-time thing."
Is Death done at this point?
"It's on hold indefinitely.
I don't want to do two bands at one time. Whatever I'm into, I concentrate
1000% on. I've seen people try to juggle two bands at one time, and I
don't think it's very sincere. You're obviously not going to be able to
tour for awhile, right? Well, if
it happens, it's going to happen after the fact and I don't know if it'll
be too late for this record. If it is, at the rate of my writing, we should
be ready to actually record a new record. So I'm hoping--let's say we
don't tour for this record--that we can go and do another record, put
that out, and tour for both records and make up for it. It's going to
be a wait-and-see process."
How far have you come in
writing the next record? Are you ready to jump right back into the studio?
"I would love to. I love recording.
I love pushing myself. I like pressure, and working under pressure. There
will be a lot of pressure to follow up this record. I think this record
it going to shock people. It's going to take people by surprise...I think
another record that will top this record will be a big thing to accomplish
and something I really want to see happen. And naturally, I want to tour.
But, like I said, if we have to, we'll tour for another new record and
this record, which wouldn't suck--Having two records under our belts and
being able to play a lot of material."
Did you find the approach
to writing for Control Denied different from that of writing for Death?
"Not really. The thing that
I was really getting out of it, was knowing that once the guitar stuff
and music in general was completed, I wasn't going to have to scream over
it and kind of--in a way--ruin it. With Death, I always felt like a lot
of people like the music, but they didn't like the vocals, which I could
totally relate to. I was the first to say, "Yeah, I know what you
mean," to those people. So in the big picture, when it came time
to write for this record, I just knew that it was going to be great to
finally hear proper vocals, someone who could really sing. And knowing
that the band name was going to be different, I knew that I could get
away with it. Really, the music is very similar, minus the vocals. That
was the delicate beauty of the whole process--I was taking what I'd been
doing, but I'm moving it forward and I'm doing it the right way. By changing
the name of the band and bringing in a new singer, but maintaining the
attitude that I think people are going to expect from me after so many
years. One thing it's hard to change is the way you write--If someone
said I had to sit down and write a commercial rock song, I guess I could
do it, but it would be very difficult to simplify myself that way. When
it came to writing, I just wrote how I would normally write, I wouldn't
want to throw away what I've spent 14 years building up."
So Control Denied is really
a culmination of everything that you've been doing with Death? You needed
the Death to get to Control Denied?
"That's what I think. It is
definitely a direct link. Kind of like a Siamese twin--They're attached,
but one's definitely got its own personality from the other."
How do you expect Death
fans to react to this?
"I think most Death fans are
very open-minded, because Death is so melodic and so progressive and over-the-top
in different ways. Like last year, touring, I saw every kind of metal
T-shirt in the crowd you could think of--from Metallica to Slayer to Pantera
to Iron Maiden to King Diamond. I feel very blessed, in a way, that as
a band we have such a wide spectrum of listeners. Even though Death is
a very extreme band, like I said, it is very melodic. So I think the fans
are going to definitely enjoy this record. So far, people have been like,
"Wow, the music is very Death-ish, but the vocals take it to that
next level." And that is exactly what I wanted to hear from people."
I liked Death, but the
vocals got too grating for me.
"Me too, seriously. Yeah, it
takes away. I've always thought the vocals were the missing link with
Death, especially the past two or three albums. But I didn't want to screw
up. There are a lot of people that like that style and I wanted to stay
true to what Death was, and what it meant to people. But it was very frustrating
because I feel that same way you're talking about. It is very frustrating
to be the one singing it and feeling that way, but I still gave it everything
I had because people recognize when you are faking it."
Do you think anyone will
feel betrayed by you saying that the vocals were not something you always
"I have been pretty open about
that for a while. Naturally, there are going to be people like, "Oh,
screw that guy. He wimped out." Whatever. I'm 32-years-old now, and
I've been doing it for God knows how many years..over a decade, 14-years,
whatever. It is time to move forward. You have got to evolve. It is like
having a restaurant with the same menu forever--You have got to add stuff
to it. You have got to add variety. You can't force the same thing down
people's throats for years and years and years. For me, it is just a matter
of evolving, doing it the right way. I didn't put out a Death record with
this stuff on it. I made the right choice and changed the name of the
band. I tried to do everything the right way. I found a great singer who
is not only melodic, but who could scream his head off. So it is not like
people are going to hear some candy-coated singer. This guy screams his
ass off and I'm proud of him. He did a great job. I couldn't have found
How did you find him?
"I found him actually, back
in 1996 when I started getting this material together for Control Denied.
His guitar player in his band at the time, Psycho Scream, had sent a demo
tape. The guitarist said, "If you are looking for a guitar player
and singer, me and my singer would be interested in trying out for Control
Denied." Well, I had already found Shannon--my guitar player now--and
told him that I'd like to see if we could hook up with Tim. He came down
and auditioned, we did a demo tape, and it was perfect. I knew he was
the guy. I was looking for someone who could be melodic, but it was very
important to find someone who could be very raw. It is hard to find that
Other than that, the lineup
is virtually Death, right?
"Virtually, yeah. In fact, I
got my old bass player back, Steve DiGiorgio, who played with us on two
previous Death albums. He is one of the best bass players in the world.
I have known him since I was 18. It is a great honor for me to have him
part of this again. Then there is Shannon on guitar and Richard Christy
on drums. It's got a very familiar vibe. That is another reason why I
wanted to keep things intact--I wanted people to know they would hear
something familiar and be able to expect a high standard. Because people
do, there is a very high standard to maintain and I'm very aware of that."
Has the past year led you
to view your life and career differently?
"Yeah, I look at a lot of things
differently. I have been wrapped up in the music for so long, it kind
of makes you think...In life, we tend to get caught up in whatever we
are into and we forget to look around ourselves at the things that are
really important, like normal, everyday things. I have been very close
to my family. I have always been a family-oriented person. I have always
enjoyed lots of normal things, like cooking and my animals--my cats and
dogs--and hanging out with my friends, but it makes you really re-analyze
all of that and take another look at it and go, "Oh wow...those are
the most important things in life." Music, naturally, is important
as well, but it does make you re-analyze things and re-evaluate. It scares
a lot of reality into you. It makes you realize you have lost touch with
a lot of people along the way. Ironically, I have talked to a lot of people
that I haven't talked to in a long time. A lot of people have come out
of the woodwork to show their support and friends that I have just lost
touch with. It makes you think, "Why the hell have I lost touch?"
Why do we all go down separate paths and get sidetracked by what we do
in life? Whether it is music, or whether you work on a magazine, it is
easy to get consumed by things. It really is, and when you go through
something traumatic like this, it throws you up against the wall and makes
So it almost re-focuses
your vision and the way you look at life?
"Yeah, it really does. And like
I have said, I've always appreciated my family and stuff like that. But
it definitely makes you look at it another way. Another deeper way. Definitely...when
I was going through the treatments in New York, it had been awhile since
I played my guitar because I, naturally, didn't bring it with me. I came
home and felt very compelled to write--In a different way, not in the
normal way I feel compelled to write--I needed to write. I think it is
because I knew it would be like a therapy for me. So I came home and I
wrote a song in one day--I just sat down and wrote music and wrote lyrics.
Music definitely will be different for me now--Everything will be, actually,
in a good way. We take things for granted as human nature. We tend to
take everything for granted, really. But, we have got to take a step back
and, unfortunately, sometimes it takes you being forced to take that step
back--like in my case. Music will always be different now--in a good way.
The normal things in life, that is what you start really focusing on."
It is a shame it takes
something like this to realize that, but it is good that something positive
can come from it...is there anything else you would like to add?
"Just that I appreciate everybody's
support out there. Everyone that has written in--it means a lot to me.
I hope people enjoy the record."