Spark: Chuck, first my best
compliments to you. "Symbolic" is the most advanced
Death album in all respects, and that's not only my personal opinion.
As far as I know it should have been released after the EP with
some covers of your favourite bands like Kiss, Angel Witch, Iron
Chuck: First of all, thanks for the honour. I'm glad of course
that "Symbolic" meets so much acceptance so far. But
that one with the EP is really news for me (laugh). I haven´t
heard about it so far. Where did you hear that?
Spark: Well, about half year
ago this news was printed in some magazines.
Chuck: Really? Well, to tell the truth I haven´t thought
about that, although I would be a liar of course if I said that
I would not be interested in it. It would be fun surely.
Spark: One cover you did in
the last few years at least. It was "God Of Thunder"
from Kiss, which was released on the Roadrunner compilation "At
Death´s Door II". This compilation is maybe unknown
for most fans. Do you think that this cool and ultra-heavy cover
will appear, say on the first Death single?
Chuck: I don´t know if we´ll release some singles,
"God Of Thunder" appeared on Japanese version
of Human. Sure, I´m very satisfied with our version but
I don´t think that Roadrunner has any interest in releasing
that song again in some form.
Spark: Speaking of the record
company, you abandoned your old American company Relativity and
now Death are globally signed with Roadrunner. For example Corrosion
of Conformity had the contract for the States with the same company
as you had and at the end they converted straight to its distributor,
the major company Columbia/Sony. Wasn't this change also possible
Chuck: It may have been possible, but I guess this step would
be very hazardous. Lot of majors companies can't work with really
heavy bands, they don't know how to sell them and this kind of
cooperation could bring bad results for us. Roadrunner at present
is the biggest independent company (or maybe the smallest major
company, author) in the world and they have experience with our
music. Such a company is more agreeable for me, to tell the truth.
Spark: European branches of
Roadrunner have got a good reputation, but how is it with the
Roadrunner activities in U.S?
Chuck: Well, I'm satisfied. Relativity had never done so many
of the things for us that Roadrunner does. I just spent a week
in a hotel in New York and done about 70 interviews. I think that
Roadrunner is very professionally organized even in the States.
They do a lot for their bands. It's visible also in what's happening
in their office, where I was recently.
Spark: On the last European
tour for the support of "Individual Thought Patterns"
we saw probably the best line-up ever. Besides you, Gene Hoglan
at drums, Steve DiGiorgio on bass and Craig Locicero from Forbidden
on guitar. What a pity that this line-up couldn't record the album
Chuck: You´re right, but the new line-up is also prodigious.
Craig is of course an outstanding guitarist, on the European tour
we had perfect relations and a lot of fun, but his band, Forbidden,
you know, they needed him again. My new guitarist Bobby is also
cool. I don´t wanna say that one is better than the other.
They both are relatively similar in their guitar style, they're
big traditionalists and they perfectly fit into my concept. The
same with my new bassist Kelly. With both of them there is no
threat of other activities, besides Death they have no duties.
They both are from local bands which played progressive hard music.
So, for Death the best conditions
Looking for new band mates
Gene and I were not interested in the biggest or greatest names.
We were looking for somebody who would mean motivation for us
and who would get along with us well. We needn't go far away because
Bobby as well as Kelly are from Orlando and its surroundings,
and that's very close to us. That´s a big advantage because
we can rehearse more often. That wasn't true with any line-up
in the past and it is very good feeling.
Spark: While in the sound of
"Individual" the bass played a big role, on "Symbolic"
the guitars are dominating. Is it for that reason that Steve DiGiorgio
doesn´t play in Death anymore?
Chuck: Not at all, Kelly is also as capable as Steve
main reason for the domination of the guitars is our new producer
Jim Morris. He defintely "opened" our sound, it all
sounds very fresh now. The guitars on "Individual" sound
a litle bit with muddy, maybe this was the reason why the bass
played so important a role in the whole sound. On "Symbolic"
the guitars are more in you face, straighter, sharper. They are
higher and thus they are cutting more. On this theme we were talking
with Jim before the beginning of the studio works, we told him
how we would like to sound and he understood it in all ways. The
same was true with the sound of the drums. On any Death album
they didn't sound so good, so bright. I think it is connected
with Jim's experience. Jim has worked many times with bands playing
completely different styles of music like pop, rock, blues, commercial
hard rock or melodic metal. These experiences helped us and thus
"Symbolic" very much.
Spark: And what happened with
dream team Death - Scott Burns? Does it belong to the past?
Chuck: Scott was producing other bands at the time of the "Symbolic"
production. He didn't have time for us. I was thinking about the
cooperation with Jim for some time and while it was now possible
I took the chance. We were so glad that Jim surely would be producing
our next album!
Spark: Back to Craig. When I
was talking to him on the last European Forbidden tour, he said
that almost every new song by his band, which is made by him or
the other guitarist Tim, is created under the influence of "light"
drugs. What about you?
Chuck: Definitely I have nothing against the smoking of light
drugs before creating songs. I think that using light drugs during
composition can lead you to a different mood, it would help you
to understand things much better. It definitely belongs to it,
the connection of drugs and music, that´s the heritage of
the many rock 'n' roll generations before us (laugh).
Spark: And what about the taking
the drugs before the gigs?
Chuck: Well, that´s
something else. It depends on the situation, sometimes it's pleasant,
but gigs require absolute concentration and that's why I usually
try to keep sober.
Spark: One of your ex-guitarists,
James Murphy, joined Testament a few months ago. Could you imagine
that you would accept an offer from some "bigger and more
famous" band and leave Death?
Chuck: I would never leave this band! If the work with Death allows
me, I would be ready to go into a project or some band on the
side. Certainly I would accept an offer, say, Ronnie James Dio,
to play the guitar on his next solo album, actually I firmly hope
that I will make something similar in the future. I would like
to work with some classical vocalist, it would be enjoyable for
but Death is my biggest priority, it's one of the most
important things in my whole life. I couldn't just leave it!
Spark: Changes in line-up are
a part of Death as much as the releasing of six superb albums.
But at least at the drum post there haven't been any changes in
a few years. It seems to me that you finally find in Gene Hoglan,
someone who fits you on all hands, let's say a kindred soul
Chuck: Gene is good fellow and playing with him in the same band
is just wonderful. We have got many things common. We both come
from bands with similar musical style, and Gene was one my most
favourite drummers while playing in Dark Angel, I love older albums
by that band, really. I'm glad that Gene is with me and that on
"Symbolic" he got so much freedom for his instrument,
which he deserved a long time ago.
Spark: Certain musicians need
for getting the best results a firm surrounding, like non changing
line ups. You may not belong to that group of people
Chuck: Before Gene had come to my band I had a certain idea of
Death's music. The idea I watched through all the troubles and
through all the line up changes. Now I have got in him a man on
my side who shares my ideas about music and I must say that now
I work much better than before. Drums are a very important instrument
in our music and I think that the good relations with Gene both
musically and personally make "Symbolic" such an outstanding
Spark: Actual, relatively small
successes of bands like Obituary show that pure death metal genre
is not so popular as it was two or three years ago. It's probably
because most bands have stagnated or have started playing something
which is not connected with death metal at all, but with Death
there is no danger of stagnation, using acoustic guitars, synthesizers,
more melodic riffs, solos and new vocal techniques, are the clearest
attributes of the natural evolution. How far is it possible to
go in death metal, where could the music of Death develop?
Chuck: Firstly I would remark that compared to the song "Cosmic
Sea" from the "Human" album there haven't been
used any synthesizers on "Symbolic", only in the beginning
of "Empty Words" can be heard such an extreme guitar
effect. While recording the album I said to Jim that people would
think that it is synthesizer and I was right! (laugh) But I think
from the look of evolution we're not at the end of progress yet,
if not sooner so on "Symbolic" at least our roots have
appeared, roots which lie in the music of the 70´s and the
80´s , in the classic rock and metal bands which we were
speaking of the cover EP, and also melody which have always been
somewhere deep in us. "Symbolic" is the result of the
natural evolution, the evolution in which we never betrayed our
Spark: While speaking about
the word evolution, I would like to hear from you, comments on
all Death albums.
Chuck: Definitely I'm satisfied with all our albums even at each
of them there could be something to change or to do better. Each
album was very important in its way, it displayed what was happening
in my music and life at that time. When I´m listening to
our very primitive debut "Scream Bloody Gore", I must
say it was an album which didn´t pretend anything and it
was the base for what Death is today. I myself must smile to what
we were worried about back then, how we expressed ourselves, how
we were thinking, what was important for us and how much the standards
have changed through the years. "Leprosy" was definitely
a step forward. It was more technical and it was already clear
where we would be directed at in the future. "Spiritual Healing"
was very progressive mainly on the production side, besides it
was our first regular cooperation with Scott Burns. "Human"
is a more aggressive and progressive album than all before, and
moreover very dark. Also "Individual Thought Patterns"
was the album going a step forward. I say that it couldn´t
be worse if a band released two consecutive albums which are almost
identical. I don't want people to say that I deceived them. I
don't like this character at my fave bands too. (laugh). I have
never wanted to repeat what people could already have heard from
us. And I don't think you have to fear for that on "Symbolic".
Spark: Especially on "Human"
and "Individual Thought Patterns" your lyrics were concerning
the music business or your relationships with your ex-members.
On "Symbolic" this tendency has stopped, it seems to
me that at present you are concerned about different things. For
example at the lyrics of "Crystal Mountain" I first
thought that it had been inspired by fantasy literature even in
the meantime I know that the truth is slightly different
Chuck: (laugh) Yeah sure, the title "Crystal Mountain"
sounds like fantasy in a way, but in fact it deals about the troubles
we had with our former neighbours in Florida. They were, let's
say religious fanatics, bigots, they lived on their, in a certain
meaning, "Crystal Mountain", in their "crystal
perfect world" and they were against everything and everybody.
Everything around them they disapproved and criticized. It was
quite ironic that their family was the first of everybody to go
to the church each Sunday
Religion certainly isn't a bad
thing, but if it serves to make somebody feel better while hurting
others and then go to church to beseech God for forgiveness on
I guess it doesn't work very well (laugh).
"Crystal Mountain" was definitely a good title, but
it's not connected with fantasy in any way. It's a story which
is connected with my own person. But there are more lyrics that
are important personally for me on new album. "1000 Eyes"
is about growing of criminality. That's a worldwide problem but
here in U.S. it is probably the worst. Recently I saw a documentary
on TV, where it was said that in a few years there would be in
each street, each house, each flat, each bathroom, just everywhere,
cameras which would be controlling everything and be serving as
an eye of the law. And if we do not do anything about it, it will
really come to pass that this, "thousands eyes" will
be hunting us! Here in Florida it is so far with the criminality
that you cannot go by your car because you have to fear somebody
killing you to steal the car
This is the newest "fashion"
here! It's a really insane vision: somebody killing you for your
car! The lyrics of the title track "Symbolic" are retrospective,
it is today's look on my life up to now. It's about how an innocent
child watches the world, how it is watched by an adult man, how
I have been changing my opinions, how I started playing my music,
how this music has been evolving etc. The word Symbolic seemed
to me strong enough to title the whole album. All the lyrics on
"Symbolic" are about reality and I must say that maybe
for that reason they aren't so angry, so evil, like on the last
two albums. On these I was trying to shake off the aggravation
and mixed emotions, now I have focused on lucid slogans.
Spark: Have the lyrics changed
also because your life have changed for the better?
Chuck: Everything in my life is now better organized, I know who
I can rely on and who not to. Especially at the beginning of the
90´ it wasn't so and I must say that I myself, and my band
have gone through situations which I would never like to relive
again. But even in the hardest times there always appeared the
light on the horizon, for instance even a letter from a fan who
wrote me, that he doesn't care what's written or said about me,
that he simply likes my music and wants me to continue. That helped
both me and the band.
Spark: In the past even in the
hardest times and situations you were able to manage the best
results. Are your albums testimonies for that people who were
slandering you, who were often liars?
Chuck: Each member of Death who left the band or had to leave
did so for certain reasons. If people must justify their leaving
or kick-off by lying and they have nothing better to do, that's
just their business! I don't rant in vain, I continue in my own
work trying to manage my success
Spark: That Death is one the
most important things in your life seems more than just a phrase
if you give so much energy and time into something: is the band
an existence base for you? In other words: does Death sustain
Chuck: During last year the situation has gotten stabilized, so
the band allows me to survive! For the last eleven, twelve years
this was the first year I didn't need to worry. Though I did:
I'm far, far, far away from saying that my work sustains me easily.
But at present I don't need to think about how to pay the rent
next month and this is really worth it. After such a long time
it's a very good feeling.
Spark: Back to your activities
outside Death. Last year you participated with some riffs and
solos in the project "Jesus Kiling Machine" by Voodoocult?
How do you see this cooperation now?
Chuck: I got into Voodoocult through guitarist and producer Waldemar
Sorychta who I have known for a very long time, yet from his former
band Despair. He made a call one day and asked me if I had any
interest in cooperating with Dave Lombardo and German vocalist
Phillip Boa. I was game immediately of course, so Waldemar with
Phillipe got over to me in Florida to Morrisound, they played
me several songs and I, very spontaneously, recorded some guitar
parts into them. Definitely it was very pleasant change. And as
I said: beside Death I may do something like that. But it can't
restrict me in my own work.
Spark: Well, and if you are
not working with Death, how do you relax? What do you do in your
Chuck: Just normal things: I like playing with my pets. I've got
cats and dogs, I like walking out on the beach, fishing, meeting
with my friends, we throw parties where we make hamburgers and
drink beers, going to movies, watching videos
Spark: Many fans will may be
disappointed now: some people certainly expect that "Evil"
Chuck spends his spare time in a slightly different way
Chuck: (laugh) I hope I have not disappointed anybody now. We
are all normal, happy guys who like animals and nature. That's
the most important thing in this hectic business: to stay normal!
It's important to not let yourself go dotty and to lead normal
Spark: What would you say about
that one Norwegian label that decided to release demos of famous
death metal bands. They started with Morbid Angel, now it's your
Chuck: Well, certainly they won't do it, that's for sure. If yes,
it will be big trouble for them, moreover it would be illegal.
For me it´s enough that there exist bootleg CDs with our
two demos and one Live CD