Richard Christy Talks About His New Band Charred Walls Of The Damned
Band Photo: Charred Walls Of The Damned (?)
Although he's probably most well known for his prank calling antics on the Howard Stern show, Richard Christy has also taken on drumming duties for a number of prominent metal bands. Acts as diverse as Acheron, Iced Earth, and Death have all included Richard's drumming prowess. Charred Walls of the Damned is his new pet project, which also includes such metal titans as Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals, Steve Digiorgio on bass, and Jason Suecof handling the guitar. The band's debut full-length album will be released on February 2nd, 2010 via Metal Blade Records, and samples from the release can be heard at the Charred Walls of the Damned MySpace page. Richard recently spoke with me about the story behind the band's name and how the group came together, as well as several non-music topics such as his thoughts on the upcoming "Nightmare on Elm Street" remake.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about why you originally wanted to form Charred Walls of the Damned and how did all the members come together for the project?
Richard: I’ve been out of the music scene for a little while now. I joined the Howard Stern show in 2004 and I’ve been itching to get back into the metal scene. Every time I go to a show and see my friends play I get a little bit jealous and I want to be up there on stage too. I’ve been writing riffs forever, since back in the ‘90s I’ve been playing guitar. I’ve always had these ideas for songs and I finally had enough songs about a year ago that I needed to put a band together. It was really also inspired by the Howard Stern show. He has his own channel called Howard TV and he did a drumming special that covered a lot of the bands I’d played in like Death and Iced Earth. He talked about my drumming career and I wrote an original instrumental song for the special. I played the guitar and bass and also drums, but it got a really great response. They started playing it on Liquid Metal, the heavy metal channel on satellite radio. I started thinking maybe I needed to take all these other songs I’ve written and do something with them if people like this one song that much.
I’ve been talking to Jason Suecof for years about putting a band together. I’ve known Jason since I lived in Florida in 1999. I even helped him build his studio. We started jamming together about ten years ago. We’ve always talked about doing something together but have never had the time. When I had written enough songs for an album I called Jason. I knew I wanted to record at his studio and I’ve recorded there before. He’s done a lot of albums now like All That Remains, DevilDriver, and the Black Dahlia Murder. All these albums that come out of his studio sound amazing so he was the first person I contacted about doing a band. When I thought of a singer and a bass player the first people that came to mind were Tim (“Ripper” Owens) and Steve (Digiorgio). They are really fun guys to hang out with and work with. I knew once we all got in the studio together we’d make some killer metal and have a blast. It was real easy going, no pressure, and our schedules happened to work out. I’m very thankful that I got to put this band together for an album because its other guys I’m a huge fan of.
xFiruath: Is there a story behind the band name?
Richard: There definitely is and it’s a pretty funny story. My job on the Howard Stern show is pretty much to have fun. A lot of what I do is making prank calls with Sal Governale. We were prank calling this Christian radio station a lot, just messing around with them and being goofy and vulgar. They got really sick of it after a few days and this radio host came on one day and started saying how me and Sal were going to hell for prank calling them. He said if we didn’t change our ways we would be scratching our nails on the charred walls of the damned in hell. Sal and I heard that and thought that would be an awesome band name. At the time I had about 200 different band names in consideration and nothing really stuck in my mind. Just about every cool word and band name has been taken by now. When I heard it I thought it’s not only a cool band name but also a funny story, so I googled the name to make sure nobody else had it.
xFiruath: You’ve worked with quite a few different bands over the years. Are you still involved with any other projects or is it just Charred Walls of the Damned right now?
Richard: Pretty much just Charred Walls of the Damned right now. I’ve been talking with this band Caninus, who play a lot of music on the Howard Stern show. It’s death metal with a dog singing. It’s either a pit bull or a Rottweiler, it’s really funny stuff. They approached me about playing drums on their album. Eventually when I get the time I’ll probably do that too. Other than that it’s just Charred Walls of the Damned. I spend a lot of my free time writing riffs. I’ve already got four songs written for the next album and a bunch of lyrics. I’m really inspired by the response I’ve gotten so far.
xFiruath: You’ve been involved with bands as diverse as Death and Iced Earth, which have very different sounds. Where does Charred Walls of the Damned fall on that spectrum, and how would you describe its sound?
Richard: I’ve seen a lot of cool comparisons on iTunes from reviews of the single “Ghost Town.” Some people have said it’s like Disincarnate crossed with Iron Maiden. Some people said it’s like Rainbow mixed with death metal. That’s cool because it’s all stuff I love. When I was writing these songs I never thought about what the sound would be, I just wanted to write riffs that were catchy and heavy. When it all came together I would say it’s a mix of every band that myself, Tim, Steve, and Jason have been in. I’d like to say it’s something that isn’t easy to characterize. There’s blast beats like death metal, but there’s also melodic singing. There’s super heavy riffs and catchy riffs. I just wanted to write songs that stick in people’s heads while still being heavy. Some of the great bands like Cannibal Corpse, Dismember, and Malevolent Creation, they still have great songs that are catchy. A band can be super heavy and still have songs stick your head that you’ll be singing the next day.
xFiruath: What are the lyrics about on the album?
Richard: A lot of it is personal things like one song is about my fear of flying called “Fear in the Sky.” I’m terrified of flying and I describe that in the lyrics. I would even say that some of the lyrics are pretty positive. Some of it’s about dedication and my love for music and how music has gotten me through tough times. Another song is about my love for drumming and how I started drumming when I was ten years old. There’s a lot that people can relate to. Hopefully when people hear it they will get inspired.
xFiruath: Does the band have any touring plans?
Richard: I’m here at the Metal Blade offices now and hopefully that’s something we’ll talk about, possibly setting up some festival shows. We’re all very busy. That’s one thing I wanted to do when I put this band together was make sure all the other guys are as busy as I am so we aren’t waiting on each other to get on the road. With my day job I’m pretty limited for a touring schedule. I can’t go out for a month at a time, but we can go when I’m on a week long break from the show and we can do some festivals on the weekends. We’re planning on doing shows but it will be a special thing. We won’t be able to play every town but we’ll do a few select shows and make it something special.
xFiruath: I was looking through your website and I noticed you said that you liked when Freddy Krueger was scary and not funny, which I completely agree with. I was wondering how do you feel about the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street remake?
Richard: I’m really excited about it actually. I know Brad Fuller, the producer of the new Nightmare on Elm Street. He’s a really cool guy and I’m really excited about it. I saw the trailer and it looks like they are treating it very seriously. Jackie Earle Haley, who is playing Freddy, I think is a perfect choice. He’s such a creepy looking guy normally that he’s going to be perfect for the role. I think the look of Freddy is scary. They went for a different look but it’s terrifying to me. I even liked his voice in the trailer. It’s different enough from the original I think it will stand on its own. Remakes are hit or miss. My friend James Gunn wrote the Dawn of the Dead remake and I thought that was an awesome remake. Then again there were certain remakes that never needed to happen like that Psycho remake. The original Nightmare on Elm Street I saw in 1985 on VHS tape at a buddy’s house. I was 11 years old and it scared the hell out of me. The scenes where his arms stretch out is still one of the scariest scenes ever. That’s one of my all time favorite movies. I’m also excited for the new wolf man movie with Benicio Del Toro.
xFiruath: What music do you listen to in your spare time?
Richard: Well I’m a huge Amon Amarth fan. That’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be on Metal Blade. I’ve been a fan of a lot of their bands since I was a kid. Slayer and Lizzy Borden were on Metal Blade then. Amon Amarth and the new Cannibal Corpse is killer. There’s a band called Volbeat that’s out now I love. I just saw them open up for Metallica and they were awesome. I’m a huge Coheed and Cambria fan. A lot of what I listen to is stuff I loved when I was kid in the ‘80s like Wrathchild America. Old death metal like Dismember and Malevolent Creation, old Morbid Angel. I pretty much run the gauntlet. I grew up in Kansas so once in awhile I’ll listen to country to get back to my roots. It’s almost Christmas so I’ll play some Christmas music like “No Presents For Christmas” by King Diamond.
xFiruath: So is there anything else about the new album you’d like to discuss?
Richard: The album comes out February 2nd, 2010. If you go on Metal Blade’s website in mid to late January they will be selling pre-ordered copies that are autographed by the whole band. I think there’s only 500 or 1000 of them. The band is all across the country so we had to send these CD booklets to New York and then I sent them to Tim in Ohio and he sent them to Jason in Florida. Jason sent them to Steve in San Francisco, then he had to send them back to Metal Blade, so it’s going to be a rare and one of a kind item.
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