» Blog Archive Important Questions w/ Gus Rios of GRUESOME! -

Gus RiosKnow who was a bad motherfucker? Chuck Schuldiner! And who was Chuck Schuldiner? The founding member, guitarist, and vocalist for the seminal “death” metal band, DEATH, who pioneered the style in the dense, humid Florida metal scene. And since his untimely passing due to cancerous formations, the genre has never been quite the same. UNTIL NOW. With their debut album, Savage Land, released earlier this year, GRUESOME (an amalgamation of Exhumed, Possessed, Malevolent Creation, and Derketa members who plowed a row of devastation on the Death To All tribute tours) picks up this heavy crown and was kind enough to allow Gus Rios (Gruesome drummer, ex Malevolent Creation) to answer some no doubt dumb questions!

Metal Machine: When was the moment, while doing DTA touring, that you decided to just go ahead and make the band a real thing?
Gus Rios: I had the idea of doing a Leprosy era DTA with Terry Butler and Rick Rozz during the 2013 tour. When Exhumed played a couple of dates on that run, Matt apparently really dug the way I played “Baptized in Blood” and we kind of bonded over our mutual love of old school death metal and in particular the early Death albums. Knowing that he had done the vocals and guitar on the first DTA tour I asked if he would be into doing the Leprosy version I was thinking about. He was immediately super into the idea, so when it eventually didn’t work out we were both left with the hunger for playing that style of death metal again. Matt goes “dude, we should just write our own “Death” songs!”, which of course sounded like a KILLER idea to me! It wasn’t until almost a year later when I quit my main band that contacted Matt again and asked if he was still into doing some “Death” songs that things started happening for real. He sent me his first demo idea and it was pretty damn good, but I received the second one and that’s when I started thinking that this may actually turn into something pretty cool. Once we finished a 5 song demo and put out a couple of songs the response was very positive and Relapse Records offered us a deal. I think that’s when we all kind of thought that this might actually be a real thing!

MM: Many bands would have been a direct link to Death, but you have your own take on what they started. Was that from the start or did you have the conversation with everyone involved on what they wanted it to sound like?
GR: Matt and I were pretty damn specific on what our goal was… to try to COMPLETELY recreate our favorite era of Death. Leprosy to this day is my favorite not only Death album, but death metal release of all time! A lot of this was just us wanting to hear more songs that gave us that same feeling we had back in 88-89. Matt was really able to write riffs and songs that had a legit Death vibe to them, closer than I’ve ever heard. So my job was to provide period correct drumming and album production, while Dan had to write solos that emulated both Chuck and James Murphy. Each of us had a different task, but all equally important to the final cause. I felt that if ANY piece of this puzzle was off it would have failed! I used real acoustic drums, real Marshall guitar amps, no cutting and pasting vocals, no heavy computer editing, etc. My studio motto was “if it didn’t happen in 88, it’s NOT happening now!”. There was quite a lot of quality control on this album, and that’s also because we are VERY aware of whom we are celebrating and paying homage to.

MM: Chuck Schuldiner famously didn’t use a whole lot of gear, usually a single pedal and all amp/guitar for his Sound. Same approach or do you add a bit more flavor with some extra touches?
GR: Pretty much the same approach actually. I didn’t personally know Chuck, but being from Florida and being part of the death metal scene here forever, a lot of people I know did and were able to give me some deeper insight into his sound. We didn’t use his exact model of Marshall, but it was indeed a Marshall amp with only a boost pedal and noise suppressor pedal in front of it. Again, our goal was to emulate and recreate that sound as close as possible and a huge piece of the puzzle was definitely the guitar tone!

MM: What was your approach to the writing of the lyrics?
GR: Matt wrote all of the lyrics, but I think he just got into his 14yr old horror movie nerd mind frame. We actually had a conversation about what was to be the lyrical content of the band, and Matt was adamant about NOT having any of that more mature and thought provoking subject matter that Chuck had progressed to. The lyrics absolutely HAD to match the music, right down to the song titles, in order to fall in line with the vibe we were looking for. Matt wrote some straight horror movie stuff like “Demonized” being about the “Exorcist” and “Trapped in Hell” about the “Hellraiser” flicks, while songs like “Savage Land” and “Gangrene” are what he calls “death by misadventure” lyrics.

MM: Favorite songs or parts of the album?
GR: In the song “Hideous” right after the solo section, Matt lets out an eerily close Chuck scream that always just makes me smile…it’s like hearing something that you aren’t supposed to! The song “Savage Land” is still probably my favorite song…it has a lot of really cool elements all in one track.

MM: The depictions on the cover of the album come to life, how do you deal with them?
GR: If they were being aggressive towards me, um it’s 2015…I’d just shoot them! If they were being cool and offering me a snack…when in Rome!!!

MM: Plans on Gruesome being a long running project?
GR: We signed a multi album deal with Relapse and are already working on the next album…so yes! It’s too much fun to quit anytime soon!

MM: Favorite Death song that you haven’t played, but want to, or have played and want to do again? Or album?
GR: Leprosy in it’s entirety! We’re going to be doing one or two Death covers at the upcoming shows, but you’ll have to either be there or watch it on Youtube!! Thanks for the interview and support! HAIL CHUCK!

Gruesome album

Want to hear what the hell we are discussing? Need a reason to see the chiropractor? Never listened to anything after Control Denied? Well you Troglodyte, point your browser here, and behold the thrashing death metal album of misadventure by misanthropes, Savage Land by Gruesome!

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