Magazine: Metal Shock / Italy
Article: You can't bring me down

Written by: Francesca Fabi
Translated by: Vincenzo Chioccarelli
Published: August 1993


Chuck 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."

Does 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 up?
"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 that?
"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 Thought Patterns'?
"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!"


to talks

Translated by VC//MM for EmptyWords-Published on June 8 2003