Schuldiner is the leader of Death. He is famous in the whole world
for his impossible temperament that led him to change his line-up
several times! But is it just his fault? After we interviewed
him, we think no!
No one would have bet a penny on it:
it was 1983 and there was a band who just brought out a demo, the first,
unhinged tape called 'Death By Metal'. That band was called Mantas and
was led by a certain Chuck Schuldiner, purulent voice and corrosive
guitar. After a while the group turned its name into the simpler Death
but its influence should have been enormous on thousands of bands, in
a field born of notes of Mantas: the death metal. That raw and primitive
work, heard today, shows itself still fertile of starting-points that
however already gave a meaning to current extreme metal. In short Death
were the sonic extreme of a musical world that was going beyond, a chaotic
sound universe formed by brutal atmospheres, jointed with melody and
technique. And yet Death story is so tormented! Albums have always been
well received, but an unbelievable row of obstacles and hitches, beyond
a never-ending coming and going of musicians around Chuck, has disturbed
the band's way. This continuous crisis situation seems to be due also
to leader Schuldiner's impossible temperament. Is it true?
"Playing in a band is not easy
and people must know this. There are many snakes around
says Chuck, for many an awkward character, possibly because of his
marked personality. In the meantime the band's fifth work is released:
'Individual Thought Patterns'. This time the line-up seems stabler than
usual with Steve DiGiorgio on bass (however decided to remain in Sadus),
the skin torturer Gene Hoglan, joining after Dark Angel's death, and
to complete the line up, Andy LaRocque from King Diamond on guitar!
Well Chuck, what could you tell me about this new record?
"It's the evolution of my band; though keeping the typical elements
of Death, it offers new starting-points, transmits a feeling and this
for me is essential. You gotta be able to do an evolution with no boundaries.
In a nutshell, it's a killer-album!"
But what are the typical elements of
Death to which you were referring?
"The tendency to use heavy atmospheres without forgetting the
melody and the capability to evolve as musicians, also because it's
absurd to think to remain always equal to yourself. I don't care about
critics against me, I just want to constantly improve in what I've been
doing, it's a challenge not to become trendy, especially now that everything
is trendy, including within a genre like death metal that, yes, it's
become popular but capitalizes and burns it all. You have to think your
own way, otherwise you don't survive."
it hide a common concept in your albums?
"Yes it does, there's a deep concept, a subject that concerns
me very much and concerns the whole music business and the situations
happening around a band. I'm referring to those envious people that
smile in front of you, yet behind your back would like to see you dead.
'Jealousy', a song from 'Individual
', just tells about this: there's
always somebody wanting to ruin you. I want the fans know this reality
too, about what's going on behind the scenes. and if my music can be
used to denounce it, well I use it! Everyone's free to do and to think
what he wants to."
Where there certain things which built
up your rage?
"I was very unlucky, being constantly exposed to the bad behavior
of critics and some very fucked people in the business.
Constantly looking over your shoulder is a disgusting and sad
sensation to feel, like also always worrying about who brings you troubles
and who's losing faith and who you thought to be a real friend, and
then realizing he betrayed you. I'd like that everybody followed his
own way without obstructing others, without envy or ill-feeling but
unfortunately reality is different."
You have often been 'painted' as a despot
"It's unbelievable! It makes me go crazy knowing there are people
that run me down without even knowing me and without knowing how certain
things happend! We can easily refer to some ex-members of my band that
still keep on talking bad about me, but who don't have the courage to
say it to my face! Their
only weapon is to fill the world with lies!"
Have you ever thought to give it all
"No, on the contrary I always thought 'Chuck, it ain't worth
it to get upset!'. I don't do this job for money, yet for I can't do
without playing, I love music too much, why should I throw it away?
For a bunch of poor, envious people? Three times they thought Death
was done for, but they never brought me down and never will! I'll keep
on playing until there's somebody appreciating my music on Earth!"
You said: "Satan is not the reality.
Life is real and that's what I talk about". Do you still think
"Yes, definitely! I like to talk about reality, sometimes life
is worse than many nightmares. I take lyrics very seriously, because,
in some way, they are a part of me. I hope to communicate to listeners
some things they didn't know about me, feelings, hard moments I went
through. I love writing music, if possible at night, I sit down and
pour myself out. Death is my band, I just told Gene, Steve and Andy
to play their own way, without imposing anything."
What does it take to be a good death
metal band today?
"Surely you don't have to limit yourself to the equation 'play
fast, be brutal and evil and gain a deal'. Now among labels there's
the rush for death metal bands without even giving them the time to
ripen. I was lucky to have had the time to do four demos before getting
a deal and I got the time to grow before my music was spread around
the world. It'd be necessary to have an open mind in death too: we play
metal, that's all!"
Be sincere: what do you expect from 'Individual
"I would be a liar if I didn't say I hope everything will be
fine. I wish that the album could transmit something to the listeners,
that people understand we sincerely did our best. Besides I'd like to
break the barriers, reach kids who listen to other genres and above
all not to disappoint who has always supported me."
Last question: who really is Chuck Schuldiner?
"He is a very sensitive, sincere, very down-to-earth and not
self-centered person. And you don't know how sad it is to hear the opposite,
because I don't think I deserve it. My family and my friends really
know the way I am and this is what matters. I'm sorry for who'd like
me to be dead and buried, because I'll be around for a long time!"