The man who has been behind the kit of such bands as Iced Earth, Death, Control Denied, and the mastermind behind Charred Walls Of The Damned, Richard Christy, recently took the time to partake in a phone interview for the site. He is currently busy promoting Charred Walls Of The Damned’s second full-length album, Cold Winds on Timeless Days.
Richard thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me!
No problem, thanks for the interview!
Speaking of the busy schedule, how do you make time for music, whether it’s writing, recording, or just messing around on the drums, while being in New York working on The Howard Stern Show?
Well I guess that I’m pretty good at time management. I try to make time for everything that I enjoy, but I have my day job as well. I get up really early, at 4:20 a.m. I do that all day (Stern show), and then I try to get in an hour of drumming practice. Then at night I’ll play guitar and write music. I think a lot of it comes from when I was an electrician and playing in bands like Death and Iced Earth, I had such a crazy schedule then as well. I got up at 6 a.m., worked till 3:30, practice drums from about 4-7, practice with the band until about 9:30, have a beer or two, go to sleep, and do the whole thing over again. Thank goodness for the I-Phone calendar. I live by that thing.
Like you mentioned, you have been in numerous other bands, such as Death and Iced Earth. How does it feel to call Charred Walls Of The Damned your own, being the founding member?
It feels awesome! It’s an honor, but also it’s a lot of pressure because, everything’s on me, I’m doing all the business and writing the majority of the music and lyrics, and doing all the interviews, so it is a lot of hard work, but I love it. It’s kinda like how you said, my baby, and it’s something I’ve wanted to have for a very long time, my own band. It’s very rewarding when people enjoy the music. To me, it’s an honor that there are people out there that care about the music I write.
Does it ever happen that there are guests of the Stern show who are fans of yours?
Occasionally it does and yeah it definitely is weird. There are a lot of metal heads out there that you wouldn’t normally think they’re metal heads, like Mike Piazza. He’s a huge Iced Earth fan. He was asking me about the double bass drumming on the song “The reckoning” (Don’t Tread On Me) off of The Glorious Burden. You just never know who you’ll run into that likes metal.
Who came up with the name for the band?
I love telling this story, about the name of the band, because it’s so weird and I think it’s got to be the first band name that came out of a prank call. One of the things that I do at the Howard Stern Show is prank calls with Sal Gavernale, and we were pranking this Christian radio station down in the southern part of the U. S. They didn’t realize at first that we were pranking them, because it is a Christian radio station that you can sell items. We were emailing them a bunch of stuff to read on the air like bukkake sauce or a fudge packing kit, things we knew were dirty and they didn’t. They read them all and the next day the got really mad. They started admonishing us, saying how if we didn’t stop prank calling and except Jesus, that we’ll go to hell and we’re going to be scratching our nails on the charred walls of the damned. At the time that they said that, I was frantically searching for a band name. Sal and I looked at each other when the guy on the radio said this and we just said, “that is an awesome band name.”
Well, needless to say, I was not expecting that to be your answer.
I was even looking at a frickin atlas for cool town names and every cool town name was taken. So thank goodness for uptight radio host.
Back to the seriousness of the band: How does the writing process go for a record with this band? How would it compare to other bands that you’ve been in?
With this band we all live in different parts of the country. I live in New York City, Tim lives in Ohio, Steve lives in San Francisco, and Jason lives in Florida. We kind of span the country. It’s not like we can get together and jam anytime we want. Also, those guys are in there own bands or have jobs. For us, what worked best is that I write all the music, I demo all of the songs. I write and record all of the instruments on the demos and I also even sing the lyrics that I write, just to get a blueprint of what the songs will sound like. About two months before we’re going to go into the studio, I’ll send all the guys the demos, so they can learn the parts and so they can put in their own ideas. Then when we get into the studio everything flows really well, those guys are totally professional, and the songs just improve so much once those guys give their input. Even though I write everything, I’m really open to everybody’s ideas.
The bands second album was released recently did it feel more collaborative the second time around?
Absolutely! The first one was too. In terms of writing the album nothing much changed from the first to the second. With the new album we had twelve songs, almost an hour long, so everyone definitely put in a lot of ideas, because of the amount of material. It differs from song to song. I’m pretty proud of this, for the song “Forever Marching on,” I wrote a guitar riff that Jason Suecof couldn’t figure out. I ended up telling him to write something that keeps a similar spirit to it. He wrote something even better, so it worked out great.
Is there a central focus for the lyrics you write?
It differs all the time. For me putting lyrics and vocals into the songs are the hardest parts. It’s hard to just sit down with a blank page and write something that means something to you or others, but also sounds cool and fits the flow of the music. It is really hard to do. For me, I’m always writing down lyric ideas. I just jot things down in my I-Phone and revisit it later. I tried something different when writing for this album. An example would be the song “Cold Winds,” I was just coming up with words that sounded cool that flowed. I just let the words flow to me and didn’t think about what they mean. So there are some songs that don’t have a specific meaning, very open for interpretation. There are other songs like “Avoid The Light,” which is about how I’m pretty much like a vampire, I can get sunburned in five minutes.
What bands have you been listening to recently?
The new Amon Amarth, Surtur Rising, The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual. I was just hanging out with the guys from Cannabis Corpse, I love their stuff and they are really cool guys. Especially now that it is getting around Halloween, I listen to King Diamond every day. I still buy a lot of new music, I really like the new Anthrax and Mastodon albums.
What was the name of the first band you were in and how has your earlier experiences shaped your playing today?
The very first band I was in was called Syzygy, out of Fort Scott, Kansas, and we played mostly cover songs. We’d go and play at these biker bars and it really gave me a taste of playing live. We played live at some of the roughest bars ever. We used to play at this place called The Silver Spur and on an average Friday/Saturday night there would be about two or three pool sticks broken over different peoples heads, in bar fights. I was around 14 or 15. I don’t think now days they would let someone that young into a bar like that, but they never asked how old I was. It was my first experience traveling and making money. It wasn’t much money, but for a kid in high school, it wasn’t that bad.
What is the touring looking like for the promotion of Cold Winds On Timeless Days?
Currently we’ve been doing a lot of signings. Right now we’re setting up some live shows with the band for next year. I’m really looking forward to getting out on the road and playing some shows with this band, especially now that we have two full albums out and we have a lot material to choose from.
Lastly, what is next for you? Is it more Charred Walls? Writing? Tour? Promoting?
For the next several months it will be a lot of promoting and playing some shows. We also filmed a video for the song “Zerospan” that we are working on, doing editing and post special effects for, right now. We plan on releasing that in January, which I am really excited about. I have been writing stuff; I’ve already started working on music for the third album. Also continuing to work at the Stern Show as well as some acting gigs and some voice over stuff. Just staying busy, but trying to slow down and enjoy the holidays, drinking a lot of pumpkin beer.
You sir, are living the dream. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me!
Pick up Charred Walls Of The Damned’s second album, Cold Winds on Timeless Days, out now.