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.
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 !<<
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
>>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
>>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
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.<<
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
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