Magazine: Metal Forces / UK
Article: Attitude Adjustment

Written by: Borivoj Krgin
Published: # 52 July 1990



As was announced a couple of issues back, Florida's DEATH have gone through their share of problems in recent months, first with the departure of guitarist James Murphy (who has since joined OBITUARY), and then with the cancellation of their European tour instead of letting all the rumors tell the story. METAL FORCES recently contacted the two parties at the centre of the story (seperately of course), guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner and former axeman James Murphy, for the following exlusive interviews.

Chuck, what happened to make you go separate ways with James?

"Well, it's something I defenitely don't wanna dwell on, but it's just... James was a great guitar player, naturally, you know, you can hear that on the record, but there's a lot more than being a great guitarist when it comes to being in a band. And there were certain problems that we had that we kept trying to correct, and we asked nicely for them to change. It just had to do with certain attitude problems that arose. And it was just obvious that we weren't getting our message across. You can't come into an established band and try to get away with causing unnecessary bullshit... you know, it's a brutal business, and me, Bill (Andrews, drums) and Terry (Butler, bass) are not going to tolerate problems. We were more than patient, but you can't keep giving people chances if things just end up getting worse."

Were there any specific incidents?

"Well, there were several," answers Chuck. "But it's really meaningless to go into them. Let's just put it this way, we gave James a lot of chances, and you can't keep giving someone chances, this is a fucking brutal business and you just can't let people hold you down in any way. We're an established band -it would be different if the four of us just got together, you know, but it's our band, and whoever comes into it is gonna have to deal with simple requests."

So, during the recording of "Spiritual Healing", then after, when you were rehearsing for the tour, none of this came up at that time?

"Of course there were problems," says Chuck. "Even in the early stages of "Spiritual..", and we just kept asking politely for him not to do them, and I don't feel like going into specifics, but there were many episodes where things just weren't going right, and certain attitude problems were arising."

And then once you hit the road...?

"Well, after we hit the road, the tension really started," reveals the guitarist. "I can't , and neither can Bill and Terry, work under stressedout situations that don't need to be there. It's simple to be in a band, you just need to play, have a great time and enjoy what you're doing. There's no reason to go around copping attitudes with people. That's just not our style. We cop attitudes with people who deserve to be brutalized, not with people who just are being normal, every-day human beings. It's not a case of me having attitude problems, it's just a case of me, Bill and Terry not being happy with the way things are. Like I said, James was a great guitar player, but there's more to being in a band than just being a great guitarist."

With this being your second line-up change in a little less than a year, a lot of people might get the impression that you're just gonna continue going through band members without ever finding anybody that you feel 100% happy with?

"Well, if people are gonna continue fucking up, we'll be more than happy to continue going through them," admits the DEATH mainman. "You know what I'm saying?! We're just gonna keep searching for that right person, and until then, all I can say is, 'next in line!."

Although both parties implied that the other person involved in the dispute was to be blamed for the dissolvement of the relationshiip, James' response to Chuck's remarks was remarkably calm and relaxed, obviously triggered by his desire to remain on positive terms with the DEATH bunch.

James: "Well, what I have to say about that without really wanting to make enemies with Chuck, 'cause I don't, is that people reading what Chuck has to say should realize that there's two sides to every story -there's Chuck's side and then there's my side. People always tend to feel that they're the ones that are always correct, and I understand that. If I had any attitude problems, they were, in my opinion, equally matched by their attitude problems, or should I say, it was a two-sided thing, not as one-sided as they'd like people to believe. They definitely fired me, I'll admit that, and at the particular moment that they fired me, I didn't particularly want to be fired, because I didn't really understand what was going on, but I did realize that I was unhappy even before we started not getting along on the road, even before they started telling me I had attitude problems. I was unhappy just because of the way they expected me to be. Chuck expects the members of his band to conform to their ways, you know, he said that. They wanted everything. They said to me they want perfection, they want 100% perfection, and you can't have it."

Do you think that perfection in Chuck's eyes might just be going along with his ways?

"Oh, yeah," agrees Murphy. "But it is his band and he is in control of that band and it's their right to expect me to go along with everything they say, but it isn't their right to expect me to hate everyone they hate, and to not speak to people that they don't like that I've met before. Basically, what Chuck's saying about me being rude to people outside the business, outside of business relationships, or outside of the band, to me, to use one of Chuck's favorite phrases, to me that's a joke, because I think that everyone who met me on the road, who met all of us as a band -I know there were many, many people who were left with a much more favourable impression of me than Chuck, and I've been receiving phone calls and mail to that effect. People saying to me things like, 'you were really cool, and the other guys, they blew me off', I definitely was not rude to people outside the business, and the only people that I was rude to were the people that I was expected to be rude to, because they (DEATH) wanted me to, and half the time, I wouldn't even do that, which I think was a problem, probably, in their eyes, towards me. I didn't dislike everyone that they wanted me to dislike -I just didn't. The bottom line is, I just didn't behave the way they wanted me to behave, and I just hope that the people out there -the public and the death metal fans, the DEATH fans, people that I've met on the road, people that I will meet on the road -will judge me based on their experience with me rather than what Chuck or anyone else has to say about me. Chuck and the rest of DEATH are probably about the only people that you'll meet that'll really have negative things to say about me, like that. Because I get along with everybody, I have a great deal of friends that I met as a member of DEATH, out on the road. I'm still in correspondence with people... you know, there's people that were given a cold shoulder by Chuck and the rest of the band, but that I've befriended."

What were your impressions about the attitudes within the band towards their fans? Would you say that they have a negative attitude towards the people that buy their records and pay to see them live?

"I wouldn't say that it's necessarily directed at their fans," says James. "I think that they get so frustrated and upset over business matters that they take it out on other people -they took it out on me, and they take it out on the fans by playing a shorter set or whatever. But I wouldn't say that they hate their fans."

Since James' departure from the band at the end of April, DEATH has done a couple of midwest US shows as a three-piece, and have employed fellow Floridian and CYNIC guitarist Paul Masvidal to sit in for three Florida shows at the tail-end of the tour. The plan, from there on, was to have Paul do the European tour with the group, after which DEATH would embark on an extensive search for a proper replacement for James. As everybody knows, however, the European tour never happened, and DEATH have been sitting in their Tampa/Orlando homes virtually inactive for much of the subsequent period. I asked Chuck to give me his reasons for the tour not taking place.

"Basically, we wanted to ensure that all the right conditions that we needed in order to do a proper tour were in place before we went over, but we just couldn't get our label in Europe, Music For Nations, to agree to the terms. We asked to get a separate bus for ourselves, which is not too much to ask for, and we wanted to have a certain amount of income on a weekly basis so that we would survive on the road without going broke of starving. Unfortunately, the label didn't want to agree to this, so we felt that it was best to cancel the whole thing rather than do a half-assed tour and feel like shit the whole time. Since then, we have been asked to reschedule all the dates, but it's been so long that we haven't practiced now that we'd rather wait until we find a new guitarist before we commit ourselves to anything."

What is the reason that Paul Masvidal is not joining the band on a permanent basis since you seem to like his playing so much?

"Well, he's got his thing with CYNIC which he's totally into, and I can respect that," says Chuck. "I wouldn't mind having Paul in the band, but he really doesn't want to give up something (CYNIC) that he's worked so hard for, and I can understand that."

Are there any other guitarists that you are interested in right now?

"We've gotten a lot of tapes just through the word of mouth," explains Chuck sounding extremely cautious about the subject. "And there's definitely a couple of people there that sound quite interesting. We're going to be auditioning some people soon, but we will not make any decisions until we know for sure that we'll be able to get on with the person on a personal level, because that's just as important -if not more so- than the playing ability."

So, the DEATH situation, as ever, is far from clear. There is talk that Chuck and the boys will get over for some European shows in October/November with German thrashers KREATOR, but this has still to be confirmed. In the meantime keep reading MF for the latest DEATH news.


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EmptyWords-Published on April 14 2002