mainly paying attention to new products and developements the
last few months, we want to call upon some interesting musicians
to speak the coming issues. During the recent Death-tour an exellent
candidate was presented in the person of Chuck Schuldiner. Chucks
gruntvocals will be a matter of taste forever but nobody can deny
the musical products of the 31 year old american guitarist to
be very recognizable and very progressive. Short before the gig
in Leeuwarden (Netherlands/YK) there was an opportunity to talk
with the Death frontman.
seems to be flattered by the extra attention for his guitar-play.
In guitarmagazines he mainly got a chance in the more general
articles about the death-metal genre. Schuldiner is regularly
presented as the guy who invented the music style (of death metal)
and the deathgrunt, but they mostly neglect his abilities as a
guitarist. Is this the fate of a vocalist/guitarist? Chuck certainly
doesn't parade with his talents but considers himself more a guitarplayer
than a vocalist.
"I enjoy singing and writing lyrics but I actually
started singing against my free will. In the beginning our drummer
sang, because he got much too tired I was promoted to singer.
In the meantime it's 14 years later and I'm still screaming my
head off every day. When I started I only wanted to play guitar.
It's always a bless to get some recognition in any way. I found
out that the attention guitarmagazines give to the individual
musicians are mainly being dictated by the big recordcompanies
and comercial interests.It sometimes is very scaring to see which
bands get their attention. Regular there are musicians on the
cover with nothing special to offer. Guitarists that never have
played a decent solo but by chance are in a popular band. Can
anyone explain to me why Courtney Love is on the cover of Guitar
World? How can such a person, being able to play only 3 chords,
be of any inspiration to readers of such a magazine? As a guitarist
you can learn nothing of this. Well allright, I'm used to it in
the meantime, the music business gets away with everything. The
only way to survive is do your best."
Can you tell which guitars and amplifiers you use? Do
you have deals with certain manufacturers.
"At the moment I only have an endorsement with B.C.Rich.
On this tour I have my most important black B.C.Rich Stealth with
me along with a green "custom" Stealth, which I recently got from
them. They are beautiful and good guitars. I used to play on a
Mockingbird for some time. However it wasn't build by B.C.Rich
himself but by someone in Florida. As
for amplifiers..... Since Individual Thought Patterns I've only
been using Marshall Valvestates. The Valvestate to my opinion
is the best amplifier for metal and hardrock. It has a good bite,
sounds delicious heavy but stays very clear at the same time.
To me that's very important. I love when you can still hear the
plectrum touching the strings. I dislike too much overdrive and
also don't like distortion pedals. On the first 2 Death albums
I was using a distortion pedal from Boss, but now, using a Valvestate,
I don't need it anymore. You can plug in your guitar directly
in the Valvestate and still have a great sound. When we're in
the studio it takes no more than about 20 minutes to get a good
Do you use other
effects? In almost every Death song the characteristic double
notes return. Sounds that since the well known intro of "Zombie
Ritual" have become your trademark. Do you use a pitchshifter
or harmonizer for it?
"We don't use
harmonizers in the studio. We play the double sounding parts seperately.
I'm a huge fan of harmonic solos. Live Shannon and I double a
lot. I hardly use effects, just some chorus and reverb on some
solos, further I love the "in your face" sound very much."
No effect-rack with
the size of a fridge?
"No, I'm sorry.
We are a very dull band for that matter. My personal opinion:
when you need a whole rack to get a good guitar sound there's
something terribly wrong with your amplifier. Those effect processors
are really a waste of money when you just start to play the guitar.
You'll be far better off buying a good amplifier."
Your stage act rather
differs from the average metal band. Most musicians rant an rave
on stage but you guys hardly move. A lot of people, for that reason,
thought the Dynamo gig (festival in the Netherlands/YK) was quite
dull. Was it the first show with the new line-up?
"Actually it was
the third, but I know what you mean. Festivals are a good opportunity
to present your music to a big audience, at the same time they
are bad for the band, because a lot of people think you play bad
and have an awful sound. You're pissed off but nobody knows how
bad the conditions sometimes are for the bands. And I don't like
playing during day-time, it's very uninspiring, there's no vibe
and you can use no lightshow. You are an easy catch for malovent
journalists on such occasions. But that's no reason to let go
the chance of playing on Dynamo! Concerning
the head-banging...... that's an intentional choice. It's not
difficult at all to go on stage do some head-banging and rattle
the guitar a bit. Those bands all look alike and often sound the
same. I like to look my audience in the eyes. I take my fans seriously
and like to be taken serious by them. I don't judge collegues
playing headbanging all the time, I just have a different approach.
The band Death is not about four heads of hair, but about four
totally different human beings being aware of the fact hundreds
of people are watching them. Besides, we have our hands full with
the music. How would it be when the members of Rush were running
around on stage headbanging while playing their fucking tight
riffs, it would make no sense, would it? We play very intense
music and are doing our very best. I'm sure of it our audience
is aware of that."
Do you practice a
"Before a gig
I usually warm up with some scales and chords. At home I only
practice when working on new material. I'm certainly not practising
scales all day. I don't believe in it because it will only make
you sound more mechanic. For me only the result counts. I mainly
practice while writing and rehearsing with the band."
Writing good songs
therefore is more important than being nimble-fingered?
are not aware of the fact the accompany of a solo is as important
as the solo itself. The riffs underneath a solo are to my opinion
as important as the chorus. When the accompanying party suddenly
changes during a solo, a solo will sound al lot more dramatic.
It's a kind of "victory"-feeling. Iron Maiden used to be very
good at it, they also had a very good rythm guitar underneath
the solo. I still can enjoy that very much."
Death is tuned in
D for years now, Did you ever tried other, maybe lower tunings?
"No. D tuning
is perfect for us. You gain some low without loosing control.
By tuning lower you start to sound like the rest. I also refuse
bying a 7-string guitar, it's a trend, nobody is being creative
with the extra string, they only use it for an extra low tuning."
The Death compositions
often contain intricate fusion pieces, which seem to be inspired
by long forgotten technical metal bands like Watchtower. Why did
they never make it and do you get away with such complex music?
"Maybe we had
some more luck. Deaths music is an addition sum of my influences.
Death sounds melodic for example because I used to listen to Iron
Maiden and Mercyful Fate. Besides that I used the heavyness and
plectrum techniques of Metallica and Slayer. And ofcourse I was
enjoying Watchtower a lot back then. Actually I like to listen
to any band that doesn't play by the rules. That was one of the
reasons why I became a heavy-metal lover as a kid, there were
no rules involved."
Are you aware of
the fact your music is a symbol for a certain time in music-history?
When I hear a Death song I immidiately think of the golden death-metal
days in the early 90ties.
"That's one of the
most beautiful aspects of music. Hearing a certain song you can
immidiately bring your thoughts back to a certain period in your
live. I'm a big music lover so I know the feeling. My parents
still play Elvis and The Everly Brothers, for the fact it remembers
them of a very happy time. When I can make this happen to some
people I consider it as a big compliment."