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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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.