The pain of a genius
by Patricia Renda
A few months ago, we received a
memo from Nuclear Blast saying that, for everybodyís amazement, Chuck
Schuldiner, the leader of the worldís most important death metal band,
was about to begin a series of treatments against a brain tumor,
discovered right after the end of the recordings of Control Deniedís CD
- his other band apart from Death. During August, after wishing his
best and his full recover, we were lucky to be one of the twenty magazines
around the world to receive the Control Denied CD, entitled ďThe
Fragile Art of ExistenceĒ, enclosed with a proposal to interview
Chuck himself. We surely couldnít let this opportunity to talk to him
slip through our fingers. After all, we wanted to know how things are and
wish him the best of luck personally. Hereís what happened during this
How are things?
Everythingís all right now, considering what Iíve been going
through. Iíve had 6 weeks of treatment with radiotherapy in New York and
now Iím going back to Florida, where Iím staying for a month or so,
which is great. The doctors are satisfied up to now, Iím putting some
weight on and I should go through another check up to see if the radiation
is working and how. Iím in good spirits, Iím feeling fine and just
waiting for the future, looking forward to the CDís release.
Itís good to hear that because everybody here is worried about
Me too (laughs). All the support Iím getting from fans and mags have
been great. Itís been really amazing and it helps me a lot, Ďcause
this is definitely hard to go through.
Everybody here was shocked when we received the news through the
Record memo. We always tend to think that this kind of thing never happens
to us or to the people we love. How did you feel at first and how are you
Youíre right, we never think these things can happen. I was shocked
because I found this out really close to my birthday, and it sucks. Itís
terrible, I thought I had hurt a muscle in my neck, not a brain tumor. I
could never have imagined that. I went to several doctors and when I
finally knew the truth, it was like a nightmare. But thatís something we
have to deal with immediately, go ahead, try not to be depressed, know
that we have a full life ahead and itís very important. You start
staring at your life in a complete different way, you have to concentrate
on yourself and not depend only on the doctors to see any improvement. I
try not to think too much about it, Ďcause, as I said, I have to wait
and see the results of the radiotherapy. The doctors have been very
positive and it comforts me. All I can do is rest, do what I have to do
and wait for the future. We have this CD coming, Iíve already started to
write new songs for the next album, you know, Iím doing my best to lead
a normal life. Itís hard, but itís something I just have to do.
Has your way of facing the world and life changed somehow?
You bet. We put a different perspective on things, we start seeing things
from a different point of view. Many times we just live our lives, let it
go through us very quickly and when for some reason, such a thing happens
and throws it all away, things get different. People get closer, in a
strange way, and we end up seeing other peopleís sides. Many people came
to talk to me, some of them I hadnít spoken for years, friends I thought
I had lost sight of, people I donít even know wrote me giving support.
These things have been really amazing, some of the letters that arrived
really touched me. If thereís anything good in this whole situation is
this approach, people getting closer, making me think better, enjoy life
better. As I said, we are so used to life that, somehow, we just sit and
wait things to happen. We just live our lives, we donít enjoy it. When
something like that happens, you start thinking about everything: the
things you say, your future...
Howís the Record Company coping with it?
Since the day we signed the contract Nuclear Blast has been fantastic,
really unbelievable. They have given me a lot of support, they have been
very understanding, in short, they are all I could expect from a record
company. I thought this way before and now even more, because of all these
things that are happening to me. I called them, said I couldnít
guarantee a tour right now and they understood perfectly.
ďI donít like to make predictable
Meanwhile, whatís happening with the bands?
Control Denied is the main thing on my career now. Death is a separate
thing, itís on hold for some time. Control Denied Ďs CD is coming in
the end of September and Iím very proud of it. We all are, including the
company. The CD will be released and weíll start giving interviews. We
canít go on tour right now and the band knows that. Like I said, if we
donít go on tour for this CD I hope to do one for the two CDs, as Iím
writing songs for the next.
So youíve already started writing! But are these songs for Control
Denied or Death?
Iíve already listened to itís album. Iíd like to know the
differences between the songs and lyrics of this album and the Death
Musically speaking, the main difference were the vocals, as the song
itself is an extension of what I was doing with Death. The guitars, drum
and bass are very similar to Death, but the vocals are very different.
Actually, these vocals are all I ever wanted to do in Death but couldnít.
Iíve had this dream of recording like that for years, and it seems like
a dream come true. Tim is an amazing singer and this is the main
difference. I think people will be surprised at the violence and strength
of the album. Many people are expecting something like Iron Maiden, but,
despite being one of my favorite bands, I didnít want to make an iron
Maiden-like album. I wanted to make an unpredictable album, just like I
did in Death, I guess. I donít like to make predictable albums.
ďIron Maiden is one of my favorite bandsĒ
Weíve heard that Nevermoreís lead singer, Warrel Dane, would sing
in this album. What happened?
In 1996, I met Warrel and we talked about working together, but when we
started he was very busy with Nevermore and I wanted to make Control
Denied a full-time band. I thought this would be very difficult to happen
while Warrel was dedicated full-time to his band. I didnít want Control
Denied to be only a project, I wanted it to be a band, so I ended up
choosing Tim as the lead singer. Then Steve came, and I had already worked
with him some time ago, and that made Control a real thing. Having Tim as
an official member of the band made things easier, it put us closer, and
we didnít have to have a singer from another part of the US, who would
come once in a while. It would be hard for Warrel to do all these things
at the same time, and in the way we wanted.
The title of this album, ďThe Fragile Art of ExistenceĒ,
was chosen for a long time?
Yes. It was chosen before I knew I was sick. In fact, Iíve had it in
mind since 1995, which is really weird, kind of treacherous, because now
it seems very real.
You said you want to go on tour for this album but, if itís not
possible, youíll go on tour for the 2 albums...
Right. Thereís the right moment to go on tour and if it becomes too late
for ďThe Fragile...Ē Iíll have had enough material for
the next CD, go on studio, record it and tour for the 2 albums. All these
things that are happening really suck, but people will be able to have the
CD and listen to it, and as soon as possible weíll record another album
and we could go on tour for the 2 albums, what actually would be great.
Youíre considered the father of death metal. Do you consider
yourself so important to death metal as Mustaine and Hetfield are for the
I donít think I should take the credits for this death metal stuff. Iím
just a guy from a band, and I think Death is a metal band. If you consider
the name and the singing style, yeah, we are into it. Itís very good to
receive the laurels of it, no matter what they are about, but all I hope
is to have done something good for metal. Iím a heavy metal fan and if I
could do something to help, as a fan, that would be good. I hope that
these new things cause great impact and go further, especially here in
America. We really need some help around here! I hope this CD helps metal
in America, because itís huge in Europe and we are doing badly here, I
mean, the metal scene. Weíve done a great tour with HammerFall and we
shocked people. It was a real metal tour, no bullshit, no fake metal or
hip hop/metal. It was just two real metal bands and it was really good, so
I think thereís still hope.
Do you have any message for the Brazilian fans?
I just wanted to thank everybody for the support Iím getting due to my
sickness and for my music. I hope everybody likes the new album, coming in
How can people get in touch with you?
They can write letters or send e-mails to Nuclear Blast, and theyíll
hand it to me.
Well, we from wish you the best, that everything works out fine for
you and we hope that you can come to Brazil next year for a tour!
Thank you very much, and Iíd love to play in Brazil.
©1999 Metal Rules!!