Magazine: Short Wave Warfare / USA
Article: Death Becomes Him

Written by: Dave Adelson
Published: 1998



I had the chance to talk with an underground legend, Chuck Schuldiner of Death, while he was doing press for the latest opus, The Sound of Perseverance. I found Chuck to be very friendly and easy to talk to. He was totally into talking about metal, and was just very down to earth. There are definitely no ego's involved with Chuck Schuldiner. A very classy guy from one of the best bands in death metal's history. Read on to find out what's up with Death.


So how many interviews have you had to do so far?
I started about 10 a.m., so about four so far.

Today's the first day?
Ah no actually yesterday I did press from 10 till like 5 and last week I was in Germany doing press for a few days. It's been like press-mania, it's cool though.

Do you enjoy that stuff?
I like doing interviews in person more than on the phone. It's alot more personal and casual.

Yeah, but you get more done this way.
Yeah, and that way they don't have to fly me everywhere. Yeah, it's cool.

So are you excited about the release of The Sound of Perseverance?
Yeah, I'm very psyched, I wish it was out already. It's coming out September 15 in America and in like 3 days in Europe.

Do you get nervous before the release of an album?
Just anticipation, you know, I want people to hear it already. We've lived with it for a while, we've had it recorded since the end of May. So you know it's about time. We need to get out there and play. We're psyched to tour America, I'm looking forward to that.

Are you confident in the material on the new album?
Very, totally. More than ever, definitely.

How does the new album compare to past albums, it's gonna be hard to top Symbolic and Individual Thought Patterns?
Yeah, do you have the new one?

No, I haven't got it yet, Maria said she ran out of promos, so I haven't heard it yet.
That fuckin sucks! It's got the attitude of Individual Thought Patterns as far as that really crazy stuff going on, but it's also got that balance between riffing and attitude that Symbolic had as well, so it's kinda like a real good combination of those two, keeping things moving forward though at the same time. There's some new stuff going on this record as well. Different guitar stuff, different harmonies that I never really experimented with. It's a very guitar oriented album, yet at the same time it's a very drum and bass guitar oriented album.

Is there more of a power metal influence?
It's exactly what we've been doing as far as embracing the melody, absolutely. Every record has gotten more melodic and that's where my roots are, so people are definitely going to continue hearing that.

Who are the new band members?
Everyone is from Florida, this is actually an entirely Florida based lineup which is great, it's like the first one in many years. Everyone is from local bands that have been around in Florida as well as my guitar player Shannon, he used to live in Texas. He was out there in a lot of metal bands as well. Richard, my drummer, used to live in Kansas and he moved down here about three years ago I think. The main thing is that everyone is from the old school of metal, which is where my complete approach is from and my attitude musically. So it was very important for me to find people who really embraced that old school attitude.

And you're happy with the way they are working out?
Oh yeah. These guys crush man. That's one thing where everyone has been shocked when they hear the record. They're like where the fuck did these guys come from. They are just top notch. Especially in the drum department. Everyone was like who the hell are you gonna get this time? And I just got one of the best drummers out there. He's really killer.

Why those guys as opposed to like Digorgio and Hoglan or Larocque?
Everyone is busy you know, everyone is doing other stuff. Steve is doing Sadus; he's like in three different bands. Either I could've made phone calls, you know I had people's numbers, I coulda called and made connections outside of Florida. But I didn't want to even attempt it; to do the outside thing anymore. I wanted to get people here. There's alot of talented people in the world. For the time, I had some of the greatest times playing with Gene and Steve, and that whole thing was fucking awesome. But it was time to move forward and find people that I didn't have to fly in from the other side of the United States or another country.

So you chose Morrisound studios.
Yeah with Jim Morris who also did Symbolic.

And how did that experience go?
Killer. I never want to leave that place when I'm in there. I dread tearing down my gear and leaving basically. Seriously it's that great a feeling. I love recording. Nothing else exists in the world when I'm in there recording. It's like an escape. And Jim Morris is like the greatest guy to work with in the fuckin world. He's so professional and such a great person. Not a day goes by without a great time occurring. He's just a crackpot you know he's a really funny guy. He's just great, I have the utmost major respect for that guy.

Your'e on Nuclear Blast now. How does that seem to be working out?
Killer. Awesome man. This is actually a label that is run by people who listen to metal. They're not like a bunch of corporate people running around in suits and ties making wrong decisions. Nuclear Blast is actually making all the right decisions, I think.

So what happened to Roadrunner Records?
The contract was done.

You didn't consider resigning with them?
Not in a billion years.

That bad huh?
Yeah you know. They think metal is Korn. That is their idea of metal, that is why Symbolic got shit on. Fuck that, you know. I know what metal is and I'm not gonna be part of any sort of corporate America's idea of what metal is.

Yeah, they just sent me an advance of the new Sepultura. I'm kinda sad to see where they have gone honestly.
What does it sound like? Is it just like Roots or whatever?

It's a little bit like that. I think Max was the main contributor to the band and because he is gone now, it's just very basic. Roots was going in that direction already, but now it's even more basic. I think the copy I got was unmastered, but I'm not sure. And the new vocalist, he's all right, but he's basically a hardcore vocalist.
Really. Yeah, they need to embrace their, no pun intended "roots", and that's metal you know. Cause Andreas is a killer guitar player you know. I just don't get it. I just think that they should really embrace your heritage, and that's metal.

He's really not getting a chance to display his skills.
He's a killer metal player. I've never gotten that whole thing. I really would like to see bands like that get back on track and put out what they were about, and that's metal. For me, I've just never had the urge to go that opposite direction, and be non-melodic. I love melodic music, melody is crucial for me.

I think I can speak for alot of people when I say were glad you didn't go that way.
Yeah really. I can just see people saying, "Yeah the new Death album sounds like Korn!" Fuck all that shit.

Even the new Slayer album is kinda going in that direction.
Yeah I heard one song and I was like WHAT? My mouth just dropped, I was like Oh My God.

I guess with them, it was like they were gonna get criticized if they did change or if they didn't.
Well in my opinion they should just progress. That's what it's about, that's the route I've always wanted to go.

That's the way you've been going, and I think you've earned alot of respect for that.
It's a nice thing to stay true to what you believe in. But at the same time not repeating yourself, or going backwards, or staying in the same spot. For some reason a lot of people think that to progress you have to go backward or change the way you sound. I've never understood that, I just don't get it. But whatever, that's just me you know, everyone's different, everyone has their own opinions.

Do you think the new album is gonna help metal become more popular or set any new standards?
I would hope so. In America absolutely. It's nothing but metal you know. You're not gonna hear one trendy downtuned riff on this record. Everyone is going out and buying seven string guitars and going for that downtuned chugga chugga yo-yo motherfucker hop up and down crap. You're not gonna hear that on this album, you're gonna hear pure metal.

Thank fucking God.
Yeah, I'm pretty proud of it too man.

Do you think the metal scene now is stronger than it was say five years ago? And if so does that hold true for America as well as Europe?
America has sunk to some really bad levels. The thing is, America is so trendy, whatever's trendy everyone thinks thats the direction they have to go in or they'll get left behind. But when they try to go that direction and catch up to what is trendy, the trend is already fizzing out. A trend is temporary and don't get all these bigger bands not realizing that a trend is for the time being and nothing more than that. I don't want to be a part of anything that is temporary, that is why I have lasted for 14 fucking years. If I had fucked up and tried to be a part of any current trend, man, I'd have fucking burned my guitar. Honestly, I would never subject my guitar to that or the people who have supported us for so long. I just got back from doing press in Europe and in Europe the metal scene it is more massive than ever. Just metal in general is massive there.

I heard the new Iced Earth album opened at like #19 on the German pop charts.
Yeah, everything is just going great over there. It's time for America to wake up. It's time for that alarm clock to go off and >>

everyone to go, "Oh shit what's been going on here? What have we been subjected to by corporate America?" Fuck corporate America you know. I'm a fan; it has nothing to do with me being in a band. It's time for the real music to come back. I'm sick of having to rely on import albums to satisfy my need to hear something new. It's very frustrating. But it's about to come back in America because there are alot of people like myself and yourself that are sick of it. It's totally time for the tradition to come back into music. Two riff bands can only last for so long. It's time to play other frets on the guitar and other drums on the drum set. I'm just sick of the simplicity that has dominated the scene in America.

I think there is alot of division in the metal scene simply due to the fact that newer fans think that normal vocals are pussy and older fans think that newer bands are just grunting like apes!
That's completely what I've been talking about for two weeks with all the press. There's too much division. It's incredible man, I really started feeling my age. I'm only 31, but I start really feeling my age when I look at the attitude of what's going on these days. There's so much, "Well were this metal and were that metal, fuck your'e kind of metal, that's wimpy if you dont like our kind of metal." Metal is metal. Metal has different attitudes naturally, some more aggressive, some more melodic. When I grew up in the early 80's, buying albums by Iron Maiden or Queensryche, but also Slayer and Metallica and all that stuff from the early 80's. Show No Mercy, Kill 'Em All, Number of the Beast.

It's all great shit.
It's all fucking killer man. It's where all my inspiration comes from. Not one specific album, not one specific band or style, just all the styles man. The whole melodic thing, the intensity of Kill 'Em All. When that album came out man, that was IT. That and Show No Mercy at the same time, it just couldn't get any faster at that point. No one could have ever imagined that it would. That's what was so inspiring. But at the same time some of the greatest melodic music ever came out. Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden, shortly after that Peace of Mind, just milestones. Incredible stuff.

Have you heard much black metal? Like Emperor.
I've heard enough of what I need to hear basically. Everyone looks and sounds the same it that genre. In five or ten years people might argue with that, but you know what, I've heard it done in 1983. If I want to hear black metal I'll put Black Metal by Venom on, or if I want to hear intense metal I'll put Seven Churches on by Possessed, or Haunting the Chapel by Slayer. I want to hear the originators, I don't want to hear imitators. There is too much of that imitating going on out there and that's where that whole division thing clicks in after that fact. There's alot of imitators. Everyone is talking shit about each other and everyone is calling themselves the originators. It's like wait a second, let me get my records out here. 1983, oh 1984, hmmm! All you have to do is look back to see where it came from. It's ridiculous.

What are your upcoming tour plans?
For America we will start the tour on November 12th, with Hammerfall.

No way. You're bringing Hammerfall out! That's gonna kill!
It's gonna crush, it's gonna totally crush. I'm looking forward to it. A lot of people have waited for a real metal tour to be out there. We're very psyched about it, we're starting the tour in Europe starting in September and through October, and then in November we'll start touring America. We'll take a break at Christmas and then in January play Japan and Australia.

So a better part of your next year is booked up.
Yeah it's pretty booked up for the next few months and then after that we're gonna work on the Control Denied album and get that out.

So your excited about all this naturally.
I'm thrilled about it. I've got a lot of stuff to get out. The new Death album, and then the other album which is an extension of what Death is doing musically, except vocally it is Control Denied. It's also got that next element which Death isn't a part of and that is the melodic powerful vocals, which is the main stuff I love to hear. Musically as a guitarist for Death I feel very content, but I also know that this music needs to be taken to another level and that is in the form of Control Denied. People can expect not some Iron Maiden rip off band, or something. People are like, "Oh I heard you are doing a power metal album," and it's like no, were doing what this music is about you know, it's metal. It's gonna be extreme in every sense musician wise and instrument wise as far as the execution of the music, but vocally it's gonna be very powerful, melodic vocals.

Are you gonna pull those vocals?
We'll I did some, cause we did Painkiller on the new record. I busted out the traditional style which I love doing, it's much more enjoyable for me.

It's pretty hard to pull off Rob Halford vocals.
It's killer man. I enjoyed it and it's alot easier for me to do that then it is to pull off the Death material. The vocals for Death are so fucking demanding. After a show I am fucking exhausted man. It's very excruciating, not painful, but just demanding. To do melodic vocals, for one thing, it's demanding in another way, but you can do so much more with it. It's like anything, if you play one riff over and over you're not gonna create a lot of different vibes. Death is intense vocal wise, it's intense and it's intense and it's intense. With the melodic vocals you can create so many different elements that compliment the music. That's why I had fun with Painkiller. We all had fun because for one thing, great song.

I think that is the perfect Priest song for Death to do, because there aren't to many people, musically that could pull that song off.
That's why I wanted to do it. If we're gonna do any song, I knew it would eventually be Painkiller, because of exactly what you just said, it's something we could relate to. It's something literally no one has done, except one other band, which I didn't even know they did it. A band called Angra out of Brazil. They are a really killer band. But that's it, no one else has really done it, and we had fun with it. I don't think you should do cover songs if you're gonna do it exactly the same, but we basically stayed very true to the music, except I put some harmonies on some of the rhythms. Alot of my leads, in fact nearly all of them, were not what they did. I just had fun and took advantage of the great rhythms that they came up with. Did some extra vocal stuff, some extra screams, and some crazy stuff going on.

Did you see the new Priest when they came around?
No, they never played Florida unfortunately.

That's too bad, they're actually really good.
Yeah, I heard it was kick ass live.

The new vocalist can really hit all the notes. So who will release the Control Denied album?
I'm looking at Nuclear Blast right now.

How did you like playing at Metalfest this year?
Crushing. The show was great. It's one of the most unorganized events out there. It was chaos, I'm not gonna beat around the bush about that. But the show went great, the crowd was phenomenal. It was so killer to stand there and see 3,000 people or whatever it was.

Yeah, I was right there, it was great.
Yeah, they were there for metal. It was like proof that metal is still alive in America. People are still there you know, they've hung in there.

We're you happy with the sound?
We'll for the first three songs, I could tell the sound was weird. Our soundman was down with Cannibal Corpse and their bus broke down, so our soundman never showed up. We got lucky and got this guy through a friend of ours at the label to run sound for us and he did a really good job, but it's so chaotic we didn't have time for a soundcheck, so it took about three songs and then after that I felt like it started sounding alot better. Basically he saved our lives.

Do you party alot when your on tour or are those days behind you now?
No, after the show, absolutely! We enjoy partaking in the party mode. We are responsible about it though, no one has any weird drug habits or anything. But we still like to have fun.

Unfortunately for myself, I have to work a real job and shit, and I labeled that experience after one of your songs, which I call the Zombie Ritual, so I was wondering if that song had anything to do with that?
HAHA. No, not really, but I guess it could be placed to that.

Yeah I just look around at everybody sometimes and I'm just like, shit I don't want to do this for very long you know. It's cool that you don't have to deal with that.
Yeah, thank God you know. I survive, sometimes barely, but I'm lucky enough to somehow keep everything rolling forward.

Is there any chance of a Death live album?
If anything there, it'll be a video. I'd like to do one like Death live in Japan. Just have a killer video, cause then people can have a live album in a way. Alot of people have their T.V.'s hooked up to their stereos now, so they could crank it and hear it, but also see it. See the actual performances going on.

Where is Death going after this album? More albums?
More albums definitely, but Control Denied is absolutely priority #1 after this album. I've got to get that out because the potential of that band is immense. So I need to get that going and I'm not gonna work two bands at one time.

Who are the musicians that will play in Control Denied?
The same lineup as Death except our singer who isn't in Death, Tim Aymar. Richard my drummer, Shannon on guitar, Scott on bass. Shannon and Scott also started out in Control Denied. I decided to put the new Death record out first. I just asked them if they wanted to join me and they were like, "Hell Yeah," and everything just worked out great.

Is the material written for Control Denied?
It's all written and just waiting to go.

That's about all I got for you today man.
Cool, well get that record and crank it up to 11!


to talks

EmptyWords-Published on May 13 2004