Charred Walls Of The Damned's Richard Christy
By Jay Oakley
Creatures Watching Over The Dead, the new record, tell us about it.
I'm really proud of the new album. I think the production, the songwriting and the performances by Tim (Owens, vocals) and Jason (Suecof, guitar) and Steve (DiGiorgio, bass) are just incredible. A lot of people have said, the people that have heard it so far have said that they think it's really catchy and really to the point. The songs are a little shorter and we've got those big choruses, I'm a big fan of 80s metal, so we wanted it to be really heavy and really modern sounding but also pay tribute to the songwriting of the 80s where you have a big chorus so you can sing along to it. I hope we achieved that.
How did your relationship with Tim singing in the band come about? Does that go back to your time in Iced Earth or did you meet somewhere else?
Yeah, that goes back to Iced Earth. We met when Tim joined in 2004, maybe 2003 and we became really good friends. We had a lot of fun touring together and I've been a fan of Tim's singing since he sang with Judas Priest in the 90s. When he came out with Judas Priest everybody was just blown away because those are big shows to fill, to replace Rob Halford. He just kicked so much ass and I was such a huge fan of the albums that he sang on with Judas Priest (Jugulator and Demolition) and then when he joined Iced Earth I was super excited because I was a big fan, again, of his singing and we just became friends and stayed in touch. He's a really cool, down to earth, mid-west guy like I am and I was honored when he said he was willing to sing in our band.
He's a really cool guy and a lot of fun to be in the studio with and to tour with. That's a part of it for me too, at my age, it's mostly about just having fun because that's what music should be about and playing music with Tim and Steve and Jason is fun. There's no drama to it, it's just fun and that's a big part of it for me and I think it shows in the music that we're having fun and we're just making music together and we're just a bunch of metal heads, having a good time.
When it comes to the new album, your first two albums (Charred Walls Of The Damned and Cold Winds On Timeless Days) came out pretty quickly and in consecutive years. It's been a longer stretch for your third album. What caused the delay, if anything, or was it just timing?
It was, pretty much, just timing. After the second album came out on, only about a year and a half after the first one and I, honestly, don't know that a lot of fans even knew that we had a second album out. I think it might have come out even a little to soon just because people were, kind of, still listening to the first album. So, for this one I wanted to take a little bit more time, maybe make people miss us a little more and then come out and surprise them with a new album. But, also with our schedules, Tim tours a lot and Steve DiGiorgio tours a lot and Jason Suecof produces a ton of albums. In the last five years, just lining up their schedules and also, I wanted to take a lot more time writing for this album and I tried something I haven't done on the first two albums. The first two albums, I just wrote the exact amount of songs we needed for the albums. For this one, I wrote a ton of songs. I just spent three or four years writing about twenty-four songs so that we could just pick the best nine out of those and I wanted to see what that was like to have more then what we needed and take our favorite ones and it worked out really well. It was a lot of fun just taking that much time, without having the pressure to try to get an album done quickly and that's thanks to Brian Slagel and Metal Blade Records too for letting us take our time for this album.
Are there any plans at the moment to go out and do some touring on the new record?
Yeah, I really hope so. We're definitely willing too, we just have to line up our schedules and hopefully get a tour offer that works for us. Because of my job and the other guy's schedules we can't really go out for a two or three month long tour but we can maybe do a week or two here and there or maybe some festivals. I'm really hoping that we get offered some festivals that we can do, that would work best for us. We did the Orion Festival with Metallica after our second album came out and that was awesome and doing festivals exposes you to a lot of people that might not already know your music so I think that would help us a lot if we were able to do some festivals. We could even do some warmup shows around the festivals and things like that. So, if anyone out there has a festival and is interested in having us we're definitely up for it.
It's kind of a style of mine and I love to talk history. You were the drummer in Death for the last few years that they were around. I'd love for you to take a moment to talk about your relationship with Chuck (Schuldiner) and having him as a band mate leading up to his untimely passing.
When I moved to Florida in 1996, it was always, kind of, in the back of my mind that we're moving to Orlando and that's were Chuck Schuldiner lives and I've been a Death fan since I was in high school. My dream was always to one day meet Chuck and the craziest dream I ever had was to one day join the band Death but I never, ever thought that would happen. It was just a crazy dream that I had in the back of my head when we moved to Florida and the a couple weeks after we moved down there, myself and Steve Childers, who was my band mate in Burning Inside and, unfortunately, he passed away this past February, we were best friends for a really long time and he was a big Death fan too and we saw Chuck at a bookstore at the Altamonte Mall in Altamonte Springs, Florida and we walked by him and we were like, "Oh my gosh, that's Chuck! Should we stop and say something?" We were so nervous and we didn't know what to say because we were both freaking out and geeking out that Chuck from Death was right there in this bookstore that we had just walked into. Finally, we got up enough courage to go up to him and say hi to him and he was the nicest guy in the world. Chuck stood there for like forty-five minutes talking to me and Steve about Death and we kept asking him a bunch of questions and we were like freaking out, we were just being fanboys and Chuck was so nice and so down to earth and he was like, "I go to a lot of live shows around here in Orlando, I'll probably see you guys again." Right away, I called my parents and I was like, " Guess who I just met? I just met Chuck from Death!" and they knew how happy I was. I called all my friends from Missouri and they were like, "Wow! You moved to Florida and you get to meet all these big time metal people." and they were excited for me too.
Then, I started seeing Chuck around at different parties and shows and things and he's always super nice and always remembered who I was. Then, at one point in 1997, he was looking for a drummer and thanks to these two guys from the band Wicked Ways, Rick Renstrom and B.C. Richards, they were really good friends with Chuck and Chuck was a fan of their band because they were a killer power metal band from Orlando, they talked to Chuck and we set up an audition and I went in and since I had been practicing the Death albums since 1991 when the Human album came out, I was pretty prepared and my dream came true, Chuck asked me to join Death.
He was always a real, down to earth, humble, super nice guy and he loved his family and he loved metal fans and he was always a huge, first and foremost, fan of metal. It was cool, one time me and Chuck got to meet King Diamond in the year 2000. King Diamond was on tour and he came to Florida, Chuck and I were both freaking out because Chuck had never got to meet King Diamond and Chuck knew Andy LaRocque (King Diamond's guitarist) and Andy introduced us to the King backstage. I remember me and Chuck after the show we're like, " I can't believe we just got to meet King Diamond!" So, that was really cool getting to see Chuck as a metal fan, getting to meet one of his idols. I'm so thankful that I knew Chuck and I was Chuck's friend and that I got to make music with him. I'm so glad that people still love his music and still listen to it everyday.
I imagine that you did because being such close friends and being in a band together, did you know that he was sick?
He told me, yeah, when he was diagnosed (pontine glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer) he told me and I was just floored, I couldn't believe it. I was with him when he was going through all that and words can't even describe what it's like to see your best friend go through something like that. It's a sad thing to even think about and it's hard to believe it's going to be fifteen years.
Richard, I really appreciate you being so cool, open and getting to talk about the kind of person that Chuck was.
Oh, thanks for asking about Chuck, I really appreciate it. I'm always happy to share stories about Chuck and just celebrate his life. I'm still good friends with his family and I love that Relapse Records is still putting out his music and it's great that the fans are still celebrating Chuck's music and Chuck's life.
And, to pull things back full circle to the new Charred record, what would really make you stoked once the album is out?
I would just love for it to sell really well so we could keep doing more albums. I love hearing people, like you, say that they like the album and just hearing that feedback makes me so happy. It inspires me and I'm already writing songs for the next album because I'm so inspired by people saying how much they love this one. I just want people to bang their heads and enjoy listening to the new album.
Richard, thank you so much for letting me talk to you for a little while. I really appreciate it.
Oh, thank you. It was awesome to talk to you and thank you so much.