The tour should
go really well. Can you give us any details of tour dates?
"Not at the moment because
they're still being arranged. It was to be in October, but now
I think it's likely to be put back to November/December so that
we can do the full US tour we've been promised."
What's the relationship like
with Combat over there?
"Fine, no complaints. We
get along very well. Although we got little for "Scream
Bloody Gore" we're very happy with their attitude towards
"Leprosy". Music For Nations, our European label are
also very good and everybody's really working hard for us. Spin
offs are that we've got several major endorsements from companies
like BC Rich and a place on the video "Ultimate Revenge
II" which should include RAVEN, FORBIDDEN and DARK ANGEL
The career of the band has been
up and severely down as well over the last five years -is that
"We hope so. We try to keep
on top of things a lot more nowadays. The writing takes time
because we're always striving for more, but we believe that
it's time for us now. "Leprosy" is suited to the time,
the songs are good enough, and the commitment is there, so we're
ready without a doubt. Look out for the tour!"
Back in the dark mists of history
leprosy was one of those diseases treated like a curse from God
himself. A disease of the flesh, evident to everyone, the disease
had no cure and the mental suffering was intense as the victim
had to put up with his body rotting while he still lived. No man
nor woman was immune and lepers often became outcasts. The outcome
of the disease was a slow death. Not a nice subject to write a
song about? Indeed, but then this is not an unusual subject for
four guys from Florida who openly admit to being a gore band and
who five years ago took that word as their monicker - DEATH. The
name has been around for what seems like an eternity, like its
namesake I suppose. The line up has changed a bit but the basic
style and subject matter is basically as it was when the band
first put pen to paper.
Anyway. let's leave all this
talk of death for a moment before the word becomes over used and
take a quick look back. In 1987 things finally began to happen
for one Chuck Schuldiner (guitarist/vocalist), who had tried to
guide a concept, but who had had more falls than the Grand National
Steeplechase. On the point of quitting when sole member Chris
Reifert (drums) refused to relocate to Florida from San Francisco,
Chuck met Rick Rozz (guitar), ex-member of DEATH, then in a band
balled MASSACRE. Borivoj Krgin has explained further developments
over the following few months back in issue 24 so let's move on,
but let's also congratulate the band because almost one year on
the band that Chuck plucked from MASSACRE is still together, is
still DEATH, has not compromised and has just released one of
the surprises of 1988, the excellent "Leprosy" album
on Under One Flag (on Combat Records in the US). Rick is undeniably
happy as his voice wings its way across the Atlantic.
"It's really nice feeling
as secure as we do now you know. The relationship within the
band is the best that has ever existed within DEATH. This will
be the final line-up for the band because we are all committed
to the band. I know that Chuck and I have had our differences
in the past, but we've now worked all that out. It was me who
took the initiative and me who approached Chuck. The past was
forgotten and it's as though we never split up -there's no hard
feelings. Terry Butler (bass) and Bill Andrews (drums) fitted
in very well too so we're very pleased."
The LP is a big step forward
for the band and it's the first for these guys as part of DEATH
-how does everyone feel about the record?
"Chuck and I are really
pleased. We've come on so much since I met up with Chuck again.
He was on the point of giving up, having been in and out of
bands and losing yet another chance with Chris. I talked him
round even though he tried to stop me, but now it's as though
that never happened. All the enthusiasm is back, he's his old
self again. Bill's fitted in really well and he's very comfortable
within the band, only Terry is still a little nervous, especially
in the studio. Terry is quite inexperienced really, he's been
playing for only a year or so, but he worked really hard to
overcome this and I think he's happy with the result. In the
studio our producer Dan Johnson helped a lot as well and Terry
You've had the style of DEATH
around you for something like five years now. Obviously DEATH
isn't just you and Chcuk, but just how far do you think the band's
style had developed as you release this LP, the band's second?
"A lot. This band has matured
beyond belief. Complex death metal can be done with class and
style and I think we're proving that without losing the vital
elements of the sound we love. Chuck and I wrote all the ideas
for "Leprosy" but even we noticed a big step forward
from the days of "Scream Bloody Gore". A big part
of the success is the complete line-up -Chuck was always worried
about losing members or finding new people, now he's free to
let all his ideas develop a lot more. I think the progression
in the band's style can be proven by how acceptable our music
is today. The album is already doing well here in the States,
selling out on the CD and cassettes initial print, so that definitely
says something doesn't it? I think this album has come out at
the right time, because the scene needs a band that has power
and speed together."
The album is still as intense
as "Scream Bloody Gore" ans still in a similar style,
but it appears more poslished and more professional as many have
already noted -is that due to the line-up dedication as well?
"In a way yes. Lots of work
went into the songs this time. We all knew that this couldn't
be a rushed project -it took a lot of commitment to improve
the tight sound, to work the songs out, but we're glad we took
that stand because the album was far better for it. I hope people
don't think that we compromised because we were simply after
a more professional release. The album was still very heavy,
but we worked very hard to bring a better representation of
our sound over to the fans We pleased ourselves. I hope we please
them as well."
It obviously represents the
band very well, begin recorded in April, but how can you see the
musical development progressing.
"Very well. The album represents
the bands style now extremely well, but we'll always be pushing
for more off-the-wall ideas as well as polishing up things here
and there withing our own defined style. DEATH has its own sound,
something we've retained for a long time and something we never
want to lose. We've got a few new songs written already and
they're definitely still us -it's our death metal style an no
You openly admit to being as
the press label goes "death metal"?
"Yes, certainly. That title
was made for us. We've nothing to hide and so long as everyone's
happy we're not likely to change."
The album has a striking cover,
pretty stark title and a few track titles of similar ilk -Choke
On It etc. Are you out to shock people or is it just how you see
"It's Chuck, he's always
been like that with his lyrics. We're not hoping to shock people
or encourage violence between people, we're just trying to show
real life as we see it. I mean, in my opinion real life is far
more violent and morbid than fiction, and that's what's so scary.
Chuck likes to pick up on stories and lend his view to their
interpretation. I read a story about people taking pictures
of their dead relatives at funerals for the photo album -that's
Do you have any examples on
"Yes, 'Choke On It' which
you mentioned, is written around the death of a load of immigrants
in a railway box car and the people that perpetrated that. Apparently
they were locked inside to avoid detection in temperatures of
over 120 degrees and all except one dies. He survived by scratching
a hole in the bottom of the carriage. That's scary."
Okay, before we sink into the
morbid world that are Chuck's lyrics too much, let's move away
from the LP for a second. The band is due to embark on its first
UK and European tour later this year. What does that mean to you?
"A lot. We can't wait to
get over. Chuck and I always dreamed about playing in Europe,
especially when the postbag came week after week. The fans over
there are very supportive of our music and it will be a great
privilege for us to meet people who have supported us so vehemently."
Ex-members of the band use the
cult following that the name DEATH seems to have in Europe for
their own ends (wouldn't you?) but what created that aura around
"That's a tough one. I mean
we're not complaining about it, but it just seems unusual to
us. We haven't got egos, but it's nice to create such a following
just through LP's and tapes. I think it's because we've never
forgotten our fans in order to make a living. That's bullshit,
no one should change to suit trends or a record company, you
have to please yourselves and the fans."
Do you think the tour may break
that aura of fascination or larger than life image?
"I hope not. Musicians up
on stage are often larger than life to the fans, especially
when they haven't seen them. I hope the tour doesn't disappoint
anyone though. We're just like the fans except that we're out
to please them with what we do. I'm sure that'll happen."