~Chuck Schuldiner doesn't get out of tune because of his brain tumor~




Magazine: Rock Hard / Germany
Article: Das Leben ist ein Kampf!

Written by: Boris Kaiser
Published: December 1999


It was a shock for the Metal scene, when word got around a few months ago that Chuck Schuldiner, Mastermind of Death and Control Denied, is suffering from a brain tumor. It even makes a masterpiece such as the Control Denied debut album "The Fragile Art Of Existence", a matter of secundary importance.

It is astonishing that after the album release, Chuck, despite of his condition, would not be deprived of the opportunity to explain. A decision one has to take one's hat off to. Even if at the moment the chances for Chuck's recovery seem rather good, it is obvious during the interview with the exeptional guitarist, something is not right. He is talking laboriously, yet Chuck is as friendly as ever. It is not easy to find an appropiate start when you know the music at the moment is of minor importance. Chuck is also aware of it and makes it easy on me, by starting, after talking a little about God, the world, and Control Denied, about his illness himself.

>>The days are very long at the moment. There are good and bad times. I've had six weeks of radiation for which I have been in New York with a real good doctor. The treatment was very intensive because the doctors concentrated on the tumor immediately. Recently, I went for a check up to determine the current situation. It seems as if the tumor has been destroyed. The doctors are very satisfied at the moment. Of course, considering the circumstances, I am also. But the whole thing is a very slow process. What else is there to do than to wait and see what will happen? It really sucks. Ironically, my current condition is fitting to the album title of Control Denied. Many think I named the album this because of my illness. But actually this title already existed for three years. Now it is fitting, perhaps maybe even too good. At the moment I am at home writing material for the next album. I try to keep thinking positive. I do my job and the support of my fans is helping me do it. The support truly is amazing. I want to thank them all for it !<<

The most important thing in such a situation must be patience.

>>Yes, I know, "patience" is a good word, but I often have to force myself to it.<<

What was it like when you found out about your tumor, how does one cope with something like that?

>>It was like a dream. At first, I just had a pain in my neck and I never thought of having something really bad. I had massages and acupuncture which did not help. One day it became clear I had a brain tumor. At first it was really heavy news and a great shock. My family and all that are close to me, stood by me whenever they could, which gave me a lot of courage.<<

Did the music help you overcome the shock?

>>Yes, of course. As I have said, I already started writing again, it's a great therapy. I love music in all its shapes. When you compose you can escape into another world and forget about it all for some time. You're not even realizing when you sit and play for several hours. It certainly also is a kind of flight, but I think that's exactly the reason why people listen to music, wonderful isn't it?<<

Those who had to go through similar ordeals know how true these words are. With "The Fragile Art Of Existence", Schuldiner succeeded to record another album gripping while heard in passing, or loudly on headphones as well.

>>Most people are surprised that Control Denied is a continuation of Death. Yet the only big difference are the vocals. It's important for me though that the fans know that Control is just an extension of Death and not something completely different.<<

Correct. The mentioned vocals are from Tim Aymar, a frontman whom attracted positive attention already on two demo tapes of the U.S. hope "Psycho Scream". Psycho Scream is the current band of the, not unknown in the underground, guitar player Jim Dofka. Who, some years ago, striked with the solo album DOFKA, released on the French label Black Dragon.

>>I started writing material for "The Fragile Art Of Existence" right after the "Symbolic" tour. (Tells the slowly thawing Chuck.) At that time, I got a demo through the mail of Psycho Scream. Jim Dofka asked if I needed a guitarist or a singer, because Tim, as well as him, were very interested in working with me. Shannon Hamm, my sidekick with Death, was at that time already involved in Control Denied as well. That's why I told Jim I only wanted Tim. Tim came to Florida and we hit off right away. Although he sings very raw, he always stays melodic. Aymar is fortunate to sound very characteristic, which was very important to me. After all, you can find clones on almost every street corner.<<

Many writers and fans also, find it hard to place the Control Denied material. At the moment the term "Power Metal"degenerated pretty much, so this description won't quite fit. At least not when bands like, for example, Hammerfall are in that same catagory.....

>>I never intended to record a sheer power metal album. The curiosity in the beginning stage was pretty big and it's natural that rumors arised. There were even people thinking I would submit to a trend. That was certainly never my intention. That would have been the easy way, which is not in conformity with my music. Most of the recent releases are totally predictable. The nineties just haven't been a good decade for Metal.<<

Wasn't it hard to decide which riffs you could use for Control Denied? Would you say that the writing process was a different one?

>>No, actually not. I wrote the songs exactly the same way I always do-- with the difference that I didn't have to worry about whether my vocals would fit. Which gave me, melodically speaking, more independence. I have been pretty frustrated for years now, that my vocals are so limited, and I was fully aware about that constantly. With Tim, thank God, this problem has been solved. The reason for that matter is also why Death became more melodic the past years. I always had great hooks in my head, but I never was able to translate them into vocals, that's why I always tried to translate them for the guitar.<<

A great buzz word. Your guitarplaying differs a lot compared to most other guitarists. You probably could play a country or hip-hop track on your guitar and it would still be clear right away that Chuck Schuldiner is the musician. How do you explain this?

>>I never shut myself off from other influences. There are many guitar players I admire and from whom I have learned a lot. There are a lot of musicians that are rather relying on theory, but I am not the kind that reads music. Many times I am not even aware of which notes, chords or whatever I play. That's probably the reason why I never took over specific things from others. Instead I listended to the Metallica-, Slayer-, Maiden-, Mercyful Fate-, Anvil and Raven discs I had. Without these inspirations I would not play the way I do today.<<

Besides you experimented a lot with new ideas on the Control Denied album. For example, the killer song "When the link becomes missing", contains an exellent acoustic break, which in this form was not to be expected of you.

>>I love working with acoustic guitars, it takes a song to another level, especially when the break is in the right place. On the next album we will expand on this. I already have some ideas about this. Unfortunately, we never have worked with acoustic guitars on stage, but I hope to be able to fulfill this wish with Control Denied real soon. I am very open minded about experimenting.<<

Evidence for this statement is the, again cliché free, album title. Which also, without the grimm suggestion to your current condition, works perfectly.

>>Actually, "The Fragile Art Of Existence", should have been the title for the last Death album. It sounds very powerful and describes life very well, because it is a battle and it is an Art to survive, to overcome negative experiences and to realize your own dream. Life for every human being is a challenge, because it is not easy for anybody in this world.<<


to talks

Translated by YK/CM for EmptyWords-Published on November 28 1999