GENE HOGLAN Remembers CHUCK SCHULDINER: 'He Was Not A Big Fan Of People Or The Music Industry, But He Liked His Friends'

February 20, 2023

As part of Jonathan Montenegro's "My 3 Questions To" series, veteran drummer Gene Hoglan (TESTAMENT, DARK ANGEL, DETHKLOK, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD) discussed his time in the pioneering metal band DEATH, with whom he played from 1993 to 1995. Speaking about DEATH's mastermind Chuck Schuldiner, Gene said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Chuck was, at heart, a very… He was a very peaceful person. He loved animals. He loved gardening. [He was] not a big fan of people or the music industry, but he liked his friends; he liked his animals. That was Chuck. As well as being one of the godfathers of death metal. He was a great chef as well. There you go. He was a great cook. Boy, he cooked us up a bunch of amazing stuff when we spent those few years together. So that was pretty cool. His legacy will always live on.

"Myself and [fellow former DEATH members] Bobby Koelble and Steve DiGiorgio, we have [the tribute band] DEATH TO ALL going, and we start a DEATH TO ALL run starting next week here in the States. So, there you go there. And it's always a super blast to play Chuck's material and make it sound cool."

Hoglan previously reflected on his time with DEATH in a 2019 interview with Andrew McKaysmith of the "Scars And Guitars" podcast. At the time, the drummer said: "Chuck was very open-minded, and he was into having his musicians that were playing with him just reach out for the best stuff that they had. Every time I'd come up with some crazy beat, he'd be like, ' I'm good. I can play my riffs over your beats, so if that's the one you want, go with it. Go sick; go nuts. I'm good over here, so you keep doing your thing.' In that regard, Chuck was always a real pleasure to work with in that way. You had no handcuffing whatsoever — and it was pretty apparent [that] nobody handcuffed me on the drums. I played everything on 'Symbolic'. There definitely is some overplaying, [but] he never said, 'Hey, don't play that,' or, 'That's not working.' The only time I remember anything like that happening was two different times. One was in the 'Individual Thought Patterns' sessions, and that's where [producer] Scott Burns, while I was tracking 'Jealousy', I remember Scott saying, 'Hey, man. I'm not feeling that beat. Maybe can you simplify it?' I was like, 'Yeah, no problem.' Then on 'Symbolic', [producer] Jim Morris had pretty much said the same thing — like, 'I'm not sure about that one.' What was funny was, on the beat that Jim Morris said 'That's not happening,' it was a beat I robbed from Sean Reinert. It was something off of 'Human'... as for Chuck, he was always real gracious, like, 'Yeah, man. Do your thing. It's going to be great.

"Chuck was a pretty complex guy," Hoglan continued. "Some days, certain things would affect him that might not affect you or I... Chuck did not have a lot of trust for the music industry. I understand that — I get that, totally... He was generally real cool to work with, and we had a good time up until he had to make the moves that he had to make in order to keep himself sane. When he had to put DEATH aside after the 'Symbolic' album, he broke DEATH up, and he had to move forward. The best way for Chuck to move forward was the statement that was CONTROL DENIED."

Hoglan also discussed how 1995's "Symbolic" was initially received. "The hardcore death metal fan, the attitude was very pervasive throughout the scene — 'What the fuck happened to DEATH?' Chuck did not care, and I appreciate that absolutely," Hoglan said. "That's the way I am. I play music for me. If you guys enjoy it, that's a bonus, but it's not going to make me stop playing music if nobody cares and I'm the only one who does. I'm still going to play music, and that's kind of the way Chuck was. He was a very brave person. He could have just gone the safe route and put out another 'Scream Bloody Gore' or 'Leprosy'. He had to go with how he was feeling. Any true musician can appreciate that, absolutely."

Hoglan joined DEATH in 1993. He replaced Sean Reinert, who — along with guitarist Paul Masvidal — quit the band to focus on CYNIC. He appears on the group's albums "Individual Thought Patterns" and "Symbolic".

The current lineup of DEATH TO ALL includes Hoglan, DiGiorgio on bass and Koelble on guitar. Max Phelps (CYNIC),who has been touring with DEATH TO ALL, is once again handling the vocal and second-guitar duties.

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.

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