"Oh, what a hard thing
you're asking me, an hour interview ain't enough to tell you the
whole Death story, however let's try to do it in the most possible
schematic way: it was 1983 when I formed Mantas. Then I was 16
and I was only a kid spellbound by the sound of bands such as
Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Exciter, Raven,
all those bands that, in short, marked the metal scene in the
80's. Little by little, with heavy metal in the ears, I started
to get actively closer to the music world. In the beginning with
my first band, Mantas, with which we recorded some demos and all
in all played for three years. In the meanwhile the band name
changed to Death, a name with which we reached the long sought-after
deal with Combat Records that allowed us to record the first album
'Scream Bloody Gore'. Although it was just the first LP, the work
left us totally satisfied because we were able to publish an album
that balanced lack of experience with instinct. The next album,
'Leprosy', was released in 1988, and was another step forward
compared to 'Scream Bloody Gore'. It was a more heavy metal oriented
piece of work and in some way more melodic compared with the debut,
this also because of our new producer, Dan Johnson, who already
cooperated with bands like Savatage and Crimson Glory. The success
of the new album allowed us to play in Europe too. When we guitarist
Riki Rozz was dismissed and with James Murphy entered the band.
With the new line-up we started to work on our third disk, 'Spiritual
Healing' which, released in 1990, showed a very good line-up,
with, besides me and James Murphy, Terry Butler on bass and Bill
Andrews behind the drums. The extremely clean production of that
album and some melodic tracks make it a record of which I'm really
proud of. Yet it created problems with early Death fans that found
it difficult to relate to those songs, although the original rage
The fourth effort, 'Human', was our most technical,
most experimental, most aggressive, in short the most complete
work, and I think it was also the most appreciated one by our
fans. 1993 marks the release of 'Individual Thought Patterns',
the album with a line-up that to say the least is phenomenal:
Gene Hoglan (from Dark Angel) on drums, Andy LaRocque, King Diamond
guitarist, and Steve DiGiorgio on bass guitar. What was released
is a great work, a special work, an album that meant the band's
growth, full of experiments, in short a really crazy album! Then
came 'Symbolic', with this album we changed to Roadrunner. This
record also offers the good things already seen from the previous
one, a remarkable melodic line, a certain progressive element,
a line that more and more evolved into classical metal. Unfortunately,
'Symbolic' was released in a period in which metal seemed dead,
at least in America, and although the supporting tour was simply
amazing, for me it was very hard to promote this disc in the States,
because labels seemed to block it out, they were incredibly sceptical
about heavy metal. Unfortunately for us, and our fans, obviously,
'cause it's really difficult to be a Death fan in a country like
America where there's the tendency to eliminate all that is metal
and 'Symbolic' was too "subversive" to be promoted.
After 'Symbolic' I took a little break to reflect., I began to
write new stuff for the next Death album, and in the same time
I started to search for a new record company. I chose Nuclear
Blast, the ideal label to release what I consider to be a fundamental
record for my career."
About , your career. Are there periods in your career which you
remember with pleasure?
"Definitely, in fourteen years there are many good moments
and remembering them all is really a hard thing. Possibly the
most beautiful and awesome moment in my career was during the
making of "Individual Thought Patterns", when I found
myself working with real fantastic musicians, some of them are
really myths to me. Besides there was a climate of friendship
inside the band, perhaps a climate that was never before in Death.
Steve and Gene were certainly good musicians and besides there
was Andy, perhaps my favorite guitar player. We were a real killer
band and together we spent really special moments."
And is there a period you wish
to cancel from your life?
"Here too there are a lot, but I don't want erase them,
I want to take them with me forever, because life is made of beautiful
and worse moments, and it's right to take them all with you, because
also the worst things in the end help you, help you to understand
life better and learn how to face it. I do believe in what I do,
I do love music and know exactly what I want to do, so I keep
on doing things my way, doing what I like, overcoming hard moments
and trying to always see the positive side of all situations,
I'll keep going."
Before the release of this album
by Nuclear Blast, you offered the demo to many labels always receiving
negative responses. How do you explain all the difficulties trying
to get 'The Sound Of Perseverance' released?
"Perhaps because I never spoken to the right people! I
really contacted a lot of labels, I sent my demo to many labels
and it often was sent back to me. So I decided to wait, and what
came out was a positive answer by Nuclear Blast. The label contacted
me, they said they were interested in my new work and we began
to call each other. We had several meetings during which I was
assured about the seriousness of the label's intentions to promote
the record. Only then I wanted to sign the deal, with what I think
is one of the best labels in the metal scene. This is extremely
important to me, because being backed up by a specialized label,
that exactly knows how to deal with artists, gives you faith."
So you're convinced you made the
"Yes. Definitely. I'm really happy about what was done.
Again, I believe Nuclear Blast nowadays is one of the best metal
labels. So for what I wanted to do there wasn't a label that,
in the end, could give me what Nuclear Blast gave me."
Let's analyze the new 'The Sound
"Well, this album is a bit more technical than the former
works, but I think you can find some classical elements of 'Individual
Thought Patterns'. It's an album on which melody and aggression
are fused. Of course, there are some extreme metal elements typical
of Death, yet there are some parts that are the living proof that
Death is a band with heavy metal roots but always want to show,
in the end, something new and fresh."
How about this album's production?
"Jim Morris took care of the production, he already took
care of 'Symbolic' so he already knew very well who he was dealing
with. What came out was a very good product. I think Jim Morris
is one of the best metal producers, an amazing person and a real
professional in the studio, in short the ideal person to cooperate
with us on our new album."
How do you explain the progressive development of your sound,
leaving the beginning death metal for a more and more classic-metal
"I can't explain it, I think it belongs to the natural
sound evolution of Death. When I start working on an album I always
want it to be the best it can get. When I start anything, for
that matter, I always want it to evolve in the best possible way.
I think this also happened when I started a musical career, from
the first album I always wanted to improve, always wanted to come
out with a better disc and I think that's what Death have been
doing up till now."
If you had to synthesize the essence
of the album with just one song, which song would you choose?
"Without a doubt 'Flesh And The Power It Holds', a great
song showing what the band is capable of at this moment."
About the lyrics, where did you
find the starting-points to write the new songs?
"When I started to compose, I was always seeing with an
eye of the beholder the reality around me and I always tried to
tell about it and report exactly what I was seeing. When you think
of the songs being like a big mouth that is able to talk to a
lot of people, telling the facts to anyone listening to my music.
I have to tell about reality as accurate as possible, so that
it's represented well to whoever is listening to it."
In the spring you took part in
Dynamo. What did that experience leave you?
"It was an awesome experience, an indescribable thing,
it inspires great enthusiasm. There were indescribable moments,
we didn't have much time to play but all worked very well, the
organization was faultless and the technicians simply fantastic.
And the audience welcomed us incredibly well, carried us away
during the whole gig giving us great power. It was wonderful,
wonderful playing, wonderful being there, yes, a special experience!"
But which situation do you prefer, the little places or the big
festivals like Dynamo?
"For both places the feeling is different. At big festivals
the crew is wonderful, you only have to plug and play without
worrying because you know it all will work well, yet at the same
time it's very different to play for thousand people or thirty
thousand. If you play in front of a big audience there'll always
people that don't love your music, and the communication will
be limited, while in little places those who come, come for you,
the feeling that's created is something unique, the communication
between the band and the audience is reciprocal."
I happened to read a statement
by Steve DiGiorgio supposing a Death 'Individual thought Patterns'
reunion. Do you think this will ever happen?
"A reunion? No, it will never happen! After that experience
each of us took a different musical career, each of us entered
a different band with which he has his own musical life now. So
I don't think we oughtta upset all these projects for a reunion
that, although ambitious, could hardly give the hoped results."
What are the reasons for all these
never-ending line-up changes? There's no doubt YOU are Death!
"Because it's typical of an artist (laughs)! Ozzy Osbourne
always changes musicians, so why can't I do the same? Joking aside,
there are a lot of reasons for this continuous line-up change.
There are people living in different parts of the globe, so working
with them continuously is impossible. Others have different ideas
about music than me, so if I wanna do something that I feel is
really mine I'm always forced to change partners, everytime seeking
those who interpret the music the same as I interpret it at that
What is your relationship with
those who play with you? Don't you seem a bit like a tyrant working
"No, I don't believe so. The present line-up works very
well together, all of them are real killer musicians and we have
the advantage of all living in Florida and this is the ideal situation
to create a certain feeling and make the relationship go beyond
the simple work partnership."
Long ago you said your dream was
to play in a classical heavy metal band with a singer like RJ
Dio on vocals. Is it still your dream?
"Yes, basically yes. I think singers like Dio, Halford
and Bruce Dickinson are the perfect prototype of a heavy metal
singer. Like I told you, I grew up with classical heavy metal,
so I'd like to play very much in such a band. But, as you can
understand and hear, vocal wise I'm light years away from Bruce
Dickinson, so I couldn't do the vocal parts in this project. However,
vocal matters aside, I think the current Death line-up is a classical
heavy metal band line-up, attitude wise and formation wise."
Everyone knows about your love
for Kiss (Chuck takes care of real Kiss rarities, like the famous
flipper and the table game, true '70s relics). What do you think
about their reunion?
"Oh, it's like a dream come true! It's a dream, a thing
I dreamed about for a very long time. I'm very excited about the
idea to see them together again just one more time. I can't wait
for their new album to come out, years have passed yet I think
it'll be something special once again."
Death have been pioneers of a certain
musical genre and a reference for many emerging bands. Now, looking
back, do you think there's been a band able to follow your example?
"I don't know, but sincerely if had to be a band convinced
to follow Death's foot steps, honestly I wish it was a classical
heavy metal band. After all bands such as Kiss or Ozzy Osbourne
contributed to my formation, and their music was pretty far from
ours. So I'd like it to be a band that's able to catch our heavy
spirit and make it their own, possibly taking suggestions to do
something really new and awesome."
What's your idea, being around
already fourteen years, about nowadays musical scene (change to
"about today's music scene")?
"I think in Europe it is not bad, surely better than in
the States. But in America we're overcoming the crisis that has
been lasting for three years. There are bands able to explode
and make heavy metal emerge again. You can't kill heavy metal,
in America it is going to come back, and we'll try to help it."
To wander off a bit
your cult bands you have cited Iron Maiden. What do you think
about their new album and above all their new singer?
"About the new Iron Maiden record and the new singer?
See, unfortunately I don't believe the new singer is worth Iron
Maiden, the new singer is fssssssss (doing the whistling of something
being deflated), absolutely not able to inflame the hearts of
those who, like me, love the true Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickinson
is one of the best singers of all time, a person with a unique
charisma, a true killer, difficult to replace. I understand the
situation Steve Harris was in during the change of singers, yet
sincerely I didn't dig his choice. However I think Blaze will
not last for long and Bruce will return to the fold, or at least
I hope so!"
Did you schedule a tour to promote 'The Sound Of Perseverance'?
"Yeah, we'll be touring in Europe in October and we'll
come to play in Italy too, I guess in Milan, then we'll return
to America for the American tour that will take place in the months
November and December. After the Christmas break we'll start again
in January for a tour that will go through Japan, Australia, South
America and then we'll be back home thinking of new songs."
For someone like you, who travelled
a lot, and dealt with different kinds of audience, what do you
think are the major differences between American and European
"They're very similar, metal fans are linked by one passion,
no distance can separate them. Music links all, it doesn't matter
what language you speak or where you are from. If you listen to
music you like, you'll find yourself linked to many other persons,
music bonds all. Maybe the organization between Europe and America,
yet basically the two types of audience are very similar."
"Thank you to all the fans for the support they gave us
ever since the start and I hope they'll continue to give us after
'The Sound Of Perseverance' release. I respect the fans very much,
because in some way I'm one of them, so I wish to ask them one
thing: do what I do, keep on supporting heavy metal, don't limit
yourselves to the trends, look back, 'cause good music and emotions