Chuck Schuldiner Project

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interview with Peter Tomis of Bloodmoon on Chuck Schuldiner

So recently I had the the chance to call up my friend Peter Tomis of the sick black metal band Bloodmoon to find out what he thought about Chuck Schuldiner. Here is a transcription of the interview. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Be sure to check out Bloodmoon on Facebook!

Can you talk a little bit about your experience with Chucks' music?
My personal experience, when I was about a freshman in high school which was when I started branching out and seeking the heavier music other than Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Metallica. Obviously one of the first bands on a lot of people journey to that is Death, because Death was doing almost the same thing but they had way better guitar tone and way better songs. I started off on Sound of Perseverance. I had listened to a lot of death metal but nothing really quite struck me. There were no players in death metal who were like Tony Iommi or Jimi Hendrix to the point that they embodied there music and they had a vision and they weren't going to stop at anything to realize it. So Chuck was the first death metal guitarist/vocalist that I really identified with because I always thought death metal could be so much more. Its funny but the person who technically invented death metal and that was his vision (to embody his music and have a unique sound) and it ended up being a cookie cutter kind of thing. Anyone that has listened to Death and has any inkling for anything heavy is blown away the first time. From playing guitar, all the music that I knew I could already play. That was the first album that was like “Oh my god, How do you play this and sing at the same time?” It really pushed me and actually Death led me to dropping out of high school. I started ditching class around sophomore year thinking “I don't care about what I'm learning at school, I'd rather have my mom drop me off at school in the morning then I'll ditch and walk back home so I can learn Sound of Perseverance in its entirety” I just went from there. I learned all the songs on Sound of Perseverance, both guitar parts, the bass parts, I can play some of the drum parts now but that was a more recent development. It really was my first time immersing myself. I really wanted to play it. That was pretty much my introduction to them, being in awe of the Sound of Perseverance album and using it as a stepping stone to drive me forward in my music and to find an obsession within it that I just channel and learn from. I like learning scales and stuff like that but even with the scale we know its all about how you play it and that's what Chuck had. Its like Hunter Thompson used to do, he would type out the books of his favorite authors so that he could better understand where they were coming from to see it through their eyes as they were writing. Chuck was the first guitarist I really wanted to do that with and immerse myself within his world by learning his riffs and everything he definitely had a great impact and kept his integrity for his whole career and if anything bad ever happened or not according to plan he was always very apologetic and very straightforward about everything. Chuck rules! (Laughs)

How do you think Chuck evolved in his lyric writing over the course of his career?

From what I've seen in the albums and everything, Scream Bloody Gore was awesome in that it tried to do the whole horror thing with the death metal. Zombie Ritual has some of my favorite lyrics of all time “Drink from the goblet/the goblet of gore/taste the zombies drug/you'll be screaming for more” He had such a way with words even if it was in such a macabre style and filled with horror it still showed he had a way with words and it made it so much more interesting and painted a picture with words. Looking at it as a 'goblet of gore' and then equivocating that to a 'zombies drug' that's the coolest thing ever! He wanted to take it more to a personal level and he definitely did. I don't know if their was a message he was trying to send a nessage but he definitely had deep feelings and views on a lot of things. Spiritual Healing was where he definitely started putting that in. Forgive me for my ignorance, I don't have the complete chronology memorized but as he drove forward with the albums towards the later 80s and early 90s it started going more into what he saw within the world. You can either sit there and complain and pout about all the problems in the world that you see and all the bad stuff you've experienced and you can let it hold you down. But what I think Chuck did was use that as a catalyst to do what he needed to do and be that example with his music and with the later albums. I love all Death lyrics but especially those on the later albums. Like on “The Philosopher” where he says “The philosopher, you know so much about nothing at all” it's true! No matter what you hypothesize about if you try to apply it everywhere it doesn't work. What do you really know, why are you trying to indoctrinate everyone? Or “You tell me how I'm supposed to be you question your own sexuality” he saw the other side on everything. For every personality within the world that had a negative impact he saw the reflection from the other side and where it was coming for and put that information out there within the song. Especially on songs like Secret Face. I imagine it was all very personal as well but it's very applicable to a lot of different aspects of our lives. I think that's why he was so great lyrically because he was conveying his personal problems but they could be applied to everyone and you can learn from it to. There's not that many bands that you can say that about. It's great that over time even the horror stuff drove it into something that is changing lives constantly.

The power that he had is significant.
How do you think his guitar playing over the course of his career?

Early on so with Scream Bloody Gore there was just that beginning lead and it didn't go far beyond that. Yet even if it was just a simple lead he it was often with a scale that was not often utilized within metal. It was kind of an eastern or Indian sounding scale, with an almost chromatic jazz shape on it then he goes straight into the heavy stuff. He defined the guitar tone on that. His tone was as much a part of his playing as the playing himself. I don't think that their was anything about his guitar tone that wasn't necessary. It was necessary for his style of playing. It wasn't like he had a huge mid boosted guitar sound because that was the sound he wanted but because it was the sound he needed. The thing for the earlier albums he would do one part with leads and then he would go in and do rhythm for a while and then he'd do another part that was lead driven. Somewhere around the middle he started gluing it together and doing the rhythms and the leads at the same time which was monumental for the metal world because so many bands were just doing basic rhythm, chords on the left side leads on the right side whereas how he was arranging the rhythms were leads too. To the point that even if he and the other guitar player were going to hit the same note they were going to be an octave apart. It was just this really cool to see how he wrote for two guitars. It was eventually bringing that all in and came together perfectly. There's not a metal band today that Chucks footprint isn't in. All metalcore it's all just making a method out of Chucks style. At the end of it especially with Sound of Perseverance that was immaculate. The way everything worked together and the content of every song was perfect and you could tell that his whole life was amounting to that album. Its very weird to think that he almost knew that that was his last mark on society so that really pushed him. Not to say you can't write a really great album without dying from cancer. But definitely he did what he was supposed to do at the very end and thats something that you don't hear in other albums. Its really hard to reach that state without that adversity, that living doom over your head. You can write heavy music and lyrics but a great musician that has that deadline on their life they are always going to do something like that. Its almost like Reincarnations album after the singers daughter died. That's a great Reincarnation album. Having that last push and knowing it was the last Death album and knowing that he had to amount everything that Death ever was and could be into that album and I think that was the defining point for Sound of Perseverance that made it it the staple it is in every metal collection.

So I recently got the chance to call up my friend Peter Tomis of Bloodmoon to see what he said about the great Chuck Schuldiner. What follows is a transcription of the interview. Be sure to check Bloodmoon out on Facebook!

How do you think Chucks growling style evolved over the course of his career?

I think he had a thing where he had a voice for different albums. Every album had a slightly different voice. On the first album he was doing more of the screams, lower and guttural I wouldn't even call them growls technically. It was just like harsh raspy yelling. Its funny because just like his guitar it evolved. Like on Individual Thought Patterns he was still doing that same style as on Scream Bloody Gore with those harsh yells but with some more variation. I love that old style that Chuck style. Every single style that he ever utilized had a place. To be a vocalist whose voice transforms over time with a slightly different vocal style for each album while still retaining the interest of your fans. That's because it was all about the song, it was all about complimenting the music. I don't know his exact writing process but I can't imagine he wrote the lyrics before the song. His vocal style was very tied in with the riffs and little pocket rhythms within the song. It made it so much more! It's easier to sing within those spots while you're playing guitar. But when you find the perfect spots like he did, to compliment his songs thats where any vocal style is giong to work as long as you know your voice within that range. With every vocal style Chuck did he knew his voice really well. Then what he did with Death Live in LA to go back and do a show where he played a spanning work of his material and he's still pulling off the old vocals exactly as he was fifteen years before. That's awesome for me. It pretty much just slowly went from low mids to high mids and then into treble until Sound of Perseverance where he was almost wholly treble and his voice was just... no one can do it. No one will ever replicate it. Me and a friend from high school said it's cool when a band can do a Death cover. If a band can get a good sound on it. Yet I never want to hear it because the vocals will never be there. You can have all of the same musicians minus Chuck and do it, even if you have someone that had it down perfectly, what a lot of people don't get is that its not the sound! It's hard because the market is so saturated but a lot of people view it just as 'who cares about the man behind the vocals, I can pull of this vocal style.' It's the sum of all the parts that made Chuck who he was. It was the genuine person, his whole mind tied in with his vocal style, the raw emotion all the lyrics were so powerful he had to have a powerful vocal delivery and he consistently did that album to album. He provided a pallet of vocal forms. He covered every style of metal vocals in his own way. You could imagine any metal recording with Chucks take on the vocal and it would work and you can't really say that for many other metal vocalists. He was something else to say the least.

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