Ex-DEATH Guitarist JAMES MURPHY On Last Month's CHUCK SCHULDINER Tribute Concerts: 'I Didn't Play Very Well'
January 9, 2022
On December 11-12, 2021, former DEATH members played two shows commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passing of the band's mastermind Chuck Schuldiner at Brass Mug in Tampa, Florida. James Murphy (guitar) and Terry Butler (bass) performed DEATH's classic third album, "Spiritual Healing" (1990),in its entirety under the LIVING MONSTROSITY banner, while Steve DiGiorgio (bass),Bobby Koelble (guitar) and Kelly Conlon (bass) joined forces as SYMBOLIC to play songs from "Human" (1991),"Individual Thought Patterns" (1993),"Symbolic" (1995) and "The Sound Of Perseverance" (1998).
In a new interview with Heavy Culture, Murphy stated about playing the two concerts: "On the nights, I didn't feel all that incredibly good. I actually felt a little bit better the first night than I did the second. I was suffering a little bit dehydration and a little bit lack of preparation. [Laughs] Honestly, I don't think that I performed very well at all, but I think people were happy just to see me on stage.
"I had 16 years of rust to clean off — the gears were caked with rust," he explained. "I had not played live in front of people since, I think, 2005 at the 'Roadrunner United' [Roadrunner Records] 25th-aniversary concert in New York City. That's well documented — it's on DVD and also just on the Internet. So, if anyone watches that, well, that's the last time before these shows that I played live at all. So it was fun but I didn't play very well. Also, I was a bit dehydrated, which, on the second night, caused me to get really shaky on stage and a little bit… It doesn't feel good. But I think people enjoyed it — despite all my awful mistakes that I made.
"I apologized to the other guys [in LIVING MONSTROSITY] afterward, but they were the same — they were just, like, 'Oh, man. Don't worry about it. People were just happy to see you play live,'" Murphy added. "It seems like that's true because that's largely what people say. But I think people are very generous and forgiving of my mistakes and my clams [missed notes] considering how long it's been since I played live."
LIVING MONSTROSITY lineup:
* James Murphy (DEATH; guitars on "Spiritual Healing") * Terry Butler (DEATH; bass on "Spiritual Healing") * Gus Rios (GRUESOME; drums) * Matt Harvey (GRUESOME, EXHUMED; guitar, vocals)
* Steve DiGiorgio (DEATH; bass on "Human", "Individual Thought Patterns"; CONTROL DENIED - bass on "The Fragile Art Of Existence") * Bobby Koelble (DEATH; guitars on "Symbolic") * Kelly Conlon (DEATH; bass on "Symbolic") * Dirk Verbeuren (MEGADETH, SOILWORK - drums) * Max Phelps (EXIST; guitars and vocals) * Leo Lozano (SYMBOLIC; guitars and vocals)
Originally released in 1990, "Spiritual Healing" marked a new turn in the DEATH discography, one which ushered in cleaner production, a new level of boundary pushing musicianship and songwriting skills that were previously unimaginable from a metal band. "Spiritual Healing" sets the standard for riffs, insane time changes and, of course, Schuldiner's masterful guitar solos. Reissued in 2012 as a double CD housed in super deluxe packaging featuring brand new liner notes from Murphy and Butler, Chuck's sister Beth Schuldiner and VOLBEAT frontman Michael Poulsen, Disc 1 featured a completely new remaster of the original album and Disc 2 contained 16 previously unreleased rehearsal, outtakes and studio instrumentals.
In addition to the two-disc edition, a limited-edition (2000 machine-numbered copies) triple-CD digipak was made available exclusively from Relapse.com. The third CD featured a never-before-released live set recorded in 1990 featuring the "Spiritual Healing" DEATH lineup. An iTunes deluxe edition was also released containing five additional previously unreleased pre-"Human" rehearsal tracks not available on either of the CD versions.
Schuldiner died on December 13, 2001 after a battle with pontine glioma, a rare type of brain tumor.
In recent years, DEATH's storied catalog has undergone a meticulous reissue campaign via Relapse Records.
Relapse released the first-ever fully authorized DEATH tab book, featuring 21 classic songs tabbed out for guitar from the band's entire discography. The book, which includes traditional notation as well as tablature, also comes with a digital download of all tracks.