Richard Christy Discusses New Charred Walls Of The Damned Album, Prank Calls, And Horror Flicks
Band Photo: Charred Walls Of The Damned (?)
Drum god, horror aficionado, and prank caller extraordinaire Richard Christy is back with a sophomore effort from his Charred Walls of the Damned supergroup with Steve DiGiorgio, Tim "Ripper" Owens, and Jason Suecof.
With the new album "Cold Winds on Timeless Days" (reviewed here) out now, I spoke with Richard about the release from beginning to end: writing, recording, and the band's upcoming plans to tour in support of the new songs.
In addition to delving into the sound and lyrics of the album, Christy also discussed the Christian radio station that gave the band its name, his distaste for the remake of "The Fog," and his love of The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror episodes.
xFiruath: When did you originally start writing the material for the new album?
Richard: I started writing the music for the new album as soon as we were mixing the first album. I was really inspired by how well the first album came together and I wanted to get back in and do it again as soon as possible. Everything flowed and as the first album came out I was still writing music for the second album and I was inspired by the good reviews we got and the whole reaction to the album. It made me happy and kind of lent itself to a very creative time for me and everything came together real well, and that’s why the second album came out so quickly after the first.
xFiruath: With the writing going on during the recording of the first album, would you say "Cold Winds on Timeless Days” is a continuation of the same sound, or are there major differences between them?
Richard: It’s still our sound, it’s similar. I think by now we’ve kind of established our own style that’s maybe a mix of death metal style music with power metal type singing and really melodic choruses and things like that. But at the same time I learned a lot from the first album about how to write music and how to write songs the way that Jason as the produce likes to hear them. I think it’s definitely improved from the first album. The demo recordings for the first album, the actual final album is actually quite different from what I had written in the demo version, and that’s because Jason really helped me to learn how to cut the fat from songs and extend parts that were really good. He helped me streamline the songs, so for the second album the demo recordings are very similar to the final album. There are things on the second album where we added in a few keyboard parts, where there were no keyboards on the first album. It’s nothing too major, just some textures we added and things like that. The second album definitely still has our sound, but it’s very much evolved.
xFiruath: Did you record at the same place this time around?
Richard: It was pretty similar to the first album, although the drums for the second album were recorded at the Hit Factory, it’s a studio in Miami where Black Sabbath and the Eagles and a bunch of famous bands had recorded. Lil Wayne was recording there at the same time as us. The drums were recorded at a different studio because Jason Suecof was building his drum room, they have an amazing drum room at Audio Hammer studios. They were in the process of building that when I was ready to record so we did the drums in Miami. For the first album Jason Suecof produced and mixed the album, for the second one we had Mark Lewis mix, who also helped engineer the first one. We wanted a pair of fresh ears, because usually by the time he gets around to the mixing process, Jason has heard the songs so many times and been so involved with it, so we figured it was time for something different with fresh ears and not burden Jason too much. It worked out great, I think the drums sound great on the new album, they sound really natural. That was a big thing for the second album, I wanted to really use the natural tone from the room we recorded in, because it was like a massive gymnasium type room. The drums sounded monstrous.
xFiruath: In our last interview you had mentioned how the lyrics tended to be about personal things like your love of music and fear of flying. Is that something that continues on this album?
Richard: Yeah, definitely. The lyrics are very personal, let me think of something I could pinpoint. The song “Zerospan” is about how I myself, and a lot of people are guilty of this these days, is that I’ll find myself looking down at my cell phone and I’ll have been on it for most of the day. Sometimes I just like to put it away and enjoy life and get away from that online world. Those lyrics are about myself and noticing how you walk down the street or are in an elevator or something, and these days there’s not much interaction between people anymore. They’re just stuck to their computers or cell phones.
The song “On Unclean Ground” is just about one day when I was riding on the Long Island railroad here in New York. I looked out and saw these people living in the woods and it made me think “Who are those people and why do they live in the woods?” What are their feelings and what got them to that point? Is it a choice that they are living there? There are other songs on the second album that don’t really have a certain meaning. The lyrics for the song “Cold Winds,” they are very open to interpretation. When I was writing them I was pretty much writing the lyrics while I was listening along with the music and coming up with words for the music. I was writing down what popped into my head at the moment. There isn’t a real literal meaning there, and there are a few songs like that. It was fun to change that up a little bit and write lyrics in a different way.
xFiruath: Will Charred Walls of the Damned be hitting the road soon?
Richard: It looks like everybody is pretty booked up for the rest of this year, but we’re planning on next year hitting the road. Right now we’re in the planning stages for shows. I don’t have anything concrete I can announce yet, but hopefully we’ll have something concrete in the next month or so to share. We’re in talks with some festivals in America and in Europe and hopefully we’ll do some solid touring as well. Our tour last year went amazing, I was so psyched and I wish it could have gone longer.
xFiruath: Do you have any other projects besides Charred Walls right now?
Richard: That’s pretty much it. I still write, there are some friends of mine who do T.V. shows and I’ll write music for them, and I recorded some drum parts for the band Caninus. But definitely Charred Walls of the Damned is my main focus. I love writing music and having this as my main band to put all my effort into.
xFiruath: You mentioned in our last interview that the name of the band came from when you had prank called a Christian radio station and they told you if you didn’t stop you’d end up scratching on the charred walls of the damned in hell. Do they know about your band and have they said anything about it?
Richard: You know I’ve never asked and never followed up, because I don’t think they’d be too proud of that. We’re not a very Christian band so I don’t think they’d say “oh, that’s cool.” I think they’d be “Oh, you heathen, it figures you’d name your band after hell!” That could be funny though. A lot of times when we prank somebody we’ll leave them alone after we get a good prank call out of them, we don’t want to bother them anymore, so I figured I’d leave those people alone. They may find out eventually but I doubt that they know. I’ll have to give them a big thank you for cursing at us and telling us we’re going to hell, because it makes for a pretty good band name.
xFiruath: That could be a great tie-in, you should try to get them to talk about you on their program or even have them come out to a show.
Richard: Well I still have the clip where they say “Charred Walls of the Damned.” Eventually I think that would be a cool album intro to have them say that, but I’d have to get permission and I don’t know if that would be all that easy. Maybe someday we’ll get somebody with a cool voice, like a Vincent Price type to re-do their little talk. We’ll do like Manowar did when they got Orson Welles, although it would be pretty hard to get Orson Welles to do a voiceover at this point.
xFiruath: We had talked before about the remake of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie and I’m wondering if there are any horror flicks coming out you are really looking forward to or any you think shouldn’t have been done?
Richard: The first remake that comes to mind that should not have been done and was not good at all was “The Fog,” because I’m a massive fan of the original. When I saw the new one it was just not good. I don’t mind that they make a lot of remakes because it gets a new audience for these classic movies. A lot of times when they do a remake they’ll re-release a Blu-Ray of the original, which I like. I’m looking forward to seeing the “Fright Night” remake. I haven’t seen “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” yet, which I’m looking forward to. There’s a movie that just came out called “Stake Land,” which I’m a massive fan of. It’s an amazing vampire movie and my buddies did the special effects makeup for it. They actually just did the effects for our music video for “Zerospan,” which will come out in December or January. They also did a couple of Black Dahlia Murder videos.
I’m looking forward to “The Thing.” I hope they don’t do too much with computer effects. That was the charm of the John Carpenter version, that it was just these really incredible practical special effects, and I hope they did the same thing with the new one. I’m old school and I’m not a big computer effects fan. My wife took me to see one of the “Twilight” movies and when the werewolves came out I just started laughing, because they looked like they were right of a video game, there was nothing scary at all about them.
The new “Human Centipede” I’ll probably check out. There’s a lot of good stuff, and there’s even a couple of movies I’m in that are coming out soon. One called “Pennhurst,” which is directed by Michael Rooker, who played Henry in “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” There’s another movie called “Serial Buddies” that I’m in that’s like a serial killer buddy movie. The new season of “Walking Dead” I cannot freaking wait for, I have some friends who got to play zombies in that. I’m really pumped for that. At the end of this month is my favorite thing of the year, the new Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror. I worship those episodes.
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