Interview: Chuck Schuldiner, Death

Post Mortem

Chuck Schuldiner, vocalist and guitarist of DEATH, is anxious to clear his name. Armed with a new DEATH LP, called Human, and full of concern over the adverse press he has received this year. Chuck wants to set the record straight.

In his laid-back and heavy Florida accent the first thing Chuck made clear is that DEATH may be a Death Metal band, but Satanism and the Devil are definitely out.

"There is a really bad concept of Death Metal these days. People relate, unfortunately, Death Metal to Satan. Heavy Metal has always had its problems in this, but with Death Metal there are so many bands out there who are putting a very negative outlook on the music and on life in general. They definitely don't know what the hell they are talking about, and this comes from hearing true Satanists speaking. Whether or not they are joking, it still hurts the music business and people out there are taking these bands seriously. They are saying some pretty scary stuff and in my opinion immature stuff. There is enough to sing about in life without resorting to this really negative outlook."

This seems like a funny sort of attitude to be coming from the man behind a band called DEATH with LPs to his credit like Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy. Chuck however defends his views.

"DEATH is just a name. On the first LP Gore it was all tongue in cheek with no Satanic overtones. A lot of the songs were inspired by movies. I have definitely grown a person, and my music and outlook on life have grown along with it."

He seems honest in his words. Why is it then he has had such a slagging from various members of the Death Metal community? Chuck tries to get to the root of the slander.

"I was lied about. The people in Europe were lied to. The new LP Human is trying to get the message across – I am a person. The humorous thing is that 98% of the people saying things about me I don’t even know. I enjoy dogs. I enjoy love. I enjoy little cats. I respect friendship. I can get hurt. I am not a macho tough guy portraying an image. DEATH is a band I express myself through, but when I walk off the stage I'm Chuck."

When asked if he has bad feelings toward the people who were intent on dragging him down, Chuck is full of passion.

"There are some extremely strong feelings I have towards some ex-members of old line-ups. My name was dragged through shit, but now I am back with a vengeance. I am a mellow guy. I don't like someone starting shit and I don't like troublemakers. I want to work with professional and cool people. The musicianship on this new LP could never have been played by ex-members. It is a slap in the face to them to prove I can do it."

The new LP Human is a departure for Chuck. He is currently 'borrowing' Paul Masvidal on guitar and Sean Reinhart on drums from Florida band CYNIC, and has found a new bassist in Skott Carino. The LP explores new ground, and reflects on how Chuck perceives he has been treated.

"The songs are about issues and obstacles. Reality is so much more effective and it can be taken seriously. It is something every single person on this earth has to deal with. It is an LP with no limits. No one should put limits on life – don't pay attention to what people say. Do what you believe in. I think this LP has poured out of me. It is very personal, and represents revenge about the fact so many people are going against me in life. I'm still up against a lot of obstacles. I'm just determined to work at it. This is the best DEATH LP without a doubt. People went as far as saying I was gonna play Glam Rock. I'm sorry but I don't enjoy wearing lipstick and I am more than happy to prove people wrong."

Human was produced by Scott Burns, whom Chuck is full of praise for.

"I feel lucky to say we were the first band with Scott Burns' name on our LP."

Human even stretches the boundaries of Death Metal to include an instrumental song with keyboards, a song that Chuck is very proud of.

"I wanted something to break up the LP. It had so many drastic mood swings. We used keyboards, we went off on effects, and it was great. We took full advantage of our potential."

After enduring a slagging at the hands of former colleagues and others interested in kicking him when he was down, Chuck says he is back stronger, wiser, and more creative than ever.

"DEATH as a band will keep growing, but remain sincere and true to our original sound. People unfortunately think that if you progress as a musician you are wimpy. I don't get that. It is a narrow-minded concept. I'm sorry if I disappoint some people – go listen to the old stuff. This is gonna be a big LP for DEATH. I hope it will be a big LP for Thrash and Metal in general. This is going to be such a positive record. Positive Death Metal!"

Marion Garden
Riff Raff
March 1992
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