has been said about Chuck Schuldiner: that he is a lunatic, an irresponsible,
fanatic dictator. And naturally that he is a genius, and it couldn't
be otherwise, considering the artistic results reached by DEATH
in recent years. Each record always more beautiful than the one
before, indifferent to the trends, and to the fact that in the States
being a "headbanger" is a shame once again - like old
times! LUCA SIGNORELLI has known a lot of things
can finally be happy. At 17 he founded Death (it was 1984!), he
was "just" one of the many American heavy metal fans
who, following the success of Metallica, tried to do it with a
sound which wanted (and needed) to be the most extreme around.
'Scream Bloody Gore' made many shudder and left some disappointed
- band's sound (and above all the voice) was really paralysing.
Besides there was that name, 'Death', the most programmatic thing
created by the mind of Chuck (already then a musician with clear
ideas about his plans for world domination). Very soon Florida
- a sunny place until that time better known for alligators, Miami
Beach and Disney World - was filled with snotty long-haired kids
who played impossibly violent music, loaded with mom-and-moralist
terrorizing lyrics, all at the same recording studio - the legendary
Morrisound at Tampa Bay. American Death Metal was born.
"If you expect me to say I'm
nostalgic about those times, you're wrong" Whispers
Chuck from the other side of the telephone. I expected a cold
and atonal voice, like a pure genius of evil. Instead Chuck speaks
like a kid. "Hey, don't make me older than I am,
I'm just 31! However, like I told you, I'm not very nostalgic
about that era. Too much confusion, too much sudden success, it
was hard to manage, too many dangerous choices
But isn't that beautiful, to be young
"Carefree, I doubt that
to go on with a band like ours
has always been a big responsibility, and at those times, with
all the competition that was around, you felt always at the center
of the scene."
Did you care?
"I definitely think anybody would care! Above all in the
beginning, a lot of what we said was misunderstood - many times
we were regarded as Satanists, tomb desecrators, necrophiles
or the classic story about the suicide instigation
you're very young it can hurt you."
We'll come back to the past later, but
now there is a big present worth talking about. For many, 'The
Sound Of Perseverance' has been the revelation of the year, though
from a band with more than ten years behind them. In Italy - the
Metal Hammer poll and selling results prove it - Death has become
a legend one more time, all because of a record that (besides
showing the band's usual evolutionary burst) clearly belongs to
the Heavy Metal genre (and culture).
"Yes, without a doubt, definitely (note: Chuck repeats the
word "definitely" every two sentences!). This is a record
in which I stated that I am a headbanger. The music Death plays
is pure Heavy Metal. At the moment in the States it is very hard
to remain coherent with yourself playing this kind of music. Anyway,
there is still an audience ready to follow you, here too
How was 'The Sound Of Perseverance' born?
"Like many records it's the offspring on one hand of some
personal experiences of mine - not only positive - in the last
two years. And on the other hand it's the offspring of the partnership
with other musicians and of the work done in the studio. I think
result was beyond any of my expectations."
Hey, not ours - after all both 'Individual
Thought Patterns' and 'Symbolic' were not without quality
"Definitely, but I have to tell you 'The Sound Of Perseverance'
for me is really something particular, as if a creature maybe
more mine than other albums. I think there is a more personal
declaration of what I have in my mind in this period. I see it
as a very strong injection of melody, something I wanted to do
long since, but without having the right motivation - or excuse,
if you prefer!"
Am I wrong if I say 'A Moment Of Clarity'
is a track in which you probably wished to express this feeling
"No, you're not wrong. It's a track that talks about some
discoveries that everyone has sooner or later - I say; it includes
also relying with your past. In some moments, things appear in
front of you with absolute clarity, as if you saw them on a cinema
screen. They are moments that can change your life!"
And if I suggest another of my favorite
tracks, 'Story To Tell'?
"That one talks about an unhappy love story
theme if you want. I think when a person betrays you, betrays
your trust, draws down upon her a hatred which is impossible to
gain in different circumstances. They're situations that are very
difficult to describe in lyrics, and this is certainly a record
in which I let music "speak for itself." So 'A Story
To Tell' was born, because a story like that one I wished to describe
is really just a story to tell
it is like you would exorcize
what happened by telling it to someone else."
What impact did your experience with
control Denied (side band formed by Chuck few time ago) have in
preparing 'The Sound Of Perseverance'?
"I'm glad you ask me this question, because I consider the
two experiences separated yet deeply connected - in Death there
are two Control Denied's musicians, beyond me. In short after
'Symbolic' I had some doubt that there would another Death record
What do you mean?
"I mean that the burst that created 'Symbolic' and 'Individual
was, in some way, finished. Besides, there were all the label
troubles. I focused on Control Denied and then I found myself
with a lot of extra material, which seemed to move to a new direction.
In the meanwhile Nuclear Blast contacted me. At that point I told
myself - let's go, I have to do something new with Death once
again! So new record is, in some way, the addition and the overcoming
of the previous two ones
I'm sure it opens a new era in Death's
life. Beyond, with a Metal-oriented label: there are too many
labels around fucking with bands 'cause they don't believe in
music they do. The separation from our former label was traumatic,
because all of a sudden I realized they didn't care about what
we were doing
they were too busy to following trends."
Now we reach a topic that could be dangerous
- 'The Sound Of Perseverance' is an amazing album, and perhaps
you know it reached number two in our annual poll
groaned about the vocals - someone thinks you gotta get a real
you can tell your readers they're absolutely right!"
Hey, hey, wait a moment, are not you
that same Chuck Schuldiner who some years ago shredded the line-ups
mercilessly at the first sign of musical contrast? The little
Hitler (hey, it wasn't me who said it!) who thought he was always
right? What's happened?
hey, things didn't go that way! Listen, in my
life I often happened to argue with someone for several reasons.
Sometimes I was right, other times I was the first to acknowledge
to have told a lot of bullshit! It's easy to get heated when you're
dealing with something you love
and for me music has always
been the first thing, a reason to live. In short - it's true sometimes
I behave like a bastard, but there's always a reason. Most of
the people with which I was pissed off, gave me serious troubles,
or they tried to fuck with me
and a lot of them were never
heard from again, so they'd have problems from the beginning,
We were talking about vocals
while I was recording 'The Sound Of Perseverance'
I told myself: this stuff is so good that deserves a real singer!
I don't say I did a disgusting work with vocals, yet since next
record Death will have a GREAT singer
"You will be surprised
I promise fireworks!"
you argue with Gene Hoglan too? Many of us hoped he was in the
the matter is that Gene in the last
year was the busiest man in the world. It ain't easy to be one
of the best drummers around!"
And now let's come to 'Painkiller'
does it feel to do a cover song almost better than the original
"Almost EQUAL, you'd say
I don't want to be compared
to Rob Halford, also because he has always been my idol, the best
singer of all time. In short, I wished to do that cover a long
time, and 'The Sound Of Perseverance'-style allowed me to make
this dream come true..."
Is it another declaration of love towards
"Of course, very good! Judas Priest were the Metal band par
excellence, before anyone else played Metal. Covering one of their
songs is a way to say 'I'm a headbanger!' Don't let you be deceived!"
But why is stating this identity so important
"Because at the moment Metal is once again an underground
genre, at least here in States. See Nevermore, that are a fuckin'
great band, among my favorite ones in this moment. 'Dreaming Neon
Black' is a masterpiece, but here in America is not gaining the
reward it should be worth. A real unhappy situation! Naturally
there's Europe, but here things are this way
is moving, fortunately. Now everyone wants to look like Korn or
Marilyn Manson, that surely don't deal with Metal!"
You're were saying something's moving
"Definitely! Yes, bands like Hammerfall or Primal Fear, that
I love, are becoming more and more famous. Naturally, it's still
very underground, but it is growing
Listen, I always thought that what made
you and Gene (Hoglan) extraordinary together was the fact the
two of you seem at your ease only in extreme musical situations
"I guess what you said is true. Music saved my life a lot
of times, 'cause it was a way to vent pressures and frustrations
that otherwise would become too
What's the secret to turn this pressure
"I think the fundamental thing you need to know to live happy
is knowing and accepting your own limits. All the people I know
that went bad went so because they went over that boundary. It's
the biggest bullshit mistake you can make in your life!
Is it a confession? I mean, is 'The Sound
Of Perseverance' something therapeutic, like the achievement of
things working better
"Yeah, it's a very positive record, as much as it can be,
being a record of this ultra-hard music
What do you think about Europe?
"Great! You have the best music in the world!!!!"
Don't you think this burst towards classical
sounds made the scene sterile?
"I don't know what to tell you. It can be that for you who
live there you got this perception, but here things are different.
When we listen to bands like Blind Guardian or Hammerfall, if
you grew up with Judas Priest and early Maiden, you think things
are working well once again. Surely, they don't say anything new,
but are Metal. Of course I love also experimental groups, like
Fear factory, yet only if they keep a Metal mark, if they're not
ashamed of playing Metal. I think there's nothing more pathetic
and ridiculous than bands like Metallica, that now play other
stuff, and their record companies persist to label them as Metal
bands. At least they're honest to admit they DO NOT play Metal
Can we say 'The Sound Of Perseverance'
maybe is the beginning of a new spring for American Metal?
"I hope so! It would be the best! See you in Milan!"