Charred Walls of the Damned will be releasing their killer new studio record, Creatures Watching Over the Dead, on September 23rd via Metal Blade Records. Richard Christy, Jason Suecof, Steve DiGiorgio and Tim “Ripper” Owens have once again come together to create a no nonsense metal record, and as you’ll read in our chat, they couldn’t be more happy with what they accomplished. Enjoy my exclusive interview with the one and only Richard Christy below, and be sure to pre-order your copy of Creatures Watching Over the Dead today!
Mark- Richard, how the hell are you? Always great to talk to ya!
Richard Christy- Hey Mark, it’s been a while. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me today. Are you still working at good ol’ Duff’s in Brooklyn?
Mark- Every weekend!
Richard- I haven’t been out there since my birthday man. I recently got really into running, and I’ve realized that leaving Duff’s at three in the morning isn’t the best set up for that. (laughs) I got to get back there soon, especially since this new record is coming out. We have to celebrate it.
Mark- I’m definitely down. You’re always welcome!
Richard- Hell yes. We have to make that happen soon.
Mark-Speaking of that new record, it’s Charred Walls of the Damned’s first release in almost five years. With all of the preparation and time behind the new material, this must be the greatest album of all time?
Richard- Ha! I don’t know about all time, but it could easily be our best record as a band. I think it was good that we took the amount of time we did on this new stuff. The first two records were only a year apart, and while I liked how they came out, I really wanted to take my time with the new music. I really wanted to write more songs than we needed, and see how that goes. A lot of bands go into the studio with over twenty songs, and only pick the best nine or ten, ya know, and we’ve never done that. With this record, I wrote over twenty songs, and once I was happy with them, I sent them to Jason Suecof, and we picked out the best nine songs together. It was hard at times, but I think we picked the right ones.
Mark- I would agree. I’ve always enjoyed your albums, but this one is definitely more of a straight forward, no nonsense metal record. Was that the idea going into writing the music, or did it just happen that way?
Richard- I think it just happened that way. A lot of that has to do with the pre-production I did with Jason, because he’s really great at taking what I write, and making it much better (laughs). He’s really good at trimming the fat, and finding the best parts that fit together. We’ve worked together since 1999, so we know our styles well.
Plus, the shorter songs are reminiscent of what I’ve been listening to a lot lately. I’m a big 80’s metal fan, and a lot of that stuff is under four minutes long. It’s right to the point and catchy, which is what I really enjoy. I’m not against the long, epic songs, but I don’t think I have the patience to write a record like Rush (laughs). With this record, we wanted it short, fast, and heavy, and I think we did a damn good job of it.
Mark- I would definitely agree. Being that this band is your baby, do you give Jason Suecof total freedom when it comes to the production aspect?
Richard- Totally. We’ve worked together for so long that we can basically read each other’s minds by now. That’s probably scarier for him than me, but it works in the musical aspect (laughs). If there is something I want to keep in, he keeps it in, but I trust him so much that his opinion means everything, so I listen to whatever he has to say. He’s worked on some of the best records of the past decade, so the dude knows what he is doing, and it’s just fun to see how his minds work. The whole process is fun, which is what this band is really about. Four friends playing the music they love. We are not swimming in gold coins from album sales ya know, this is just what we enjoy. If you’re not playing music that you love, what the hell are you doing?
Mark- That’s a great point, and I think that “fun” element really shines on this album. It’s a very positive record as well, especially from the lyrical aspect, which is something you’ve always done.
Richard- Yea it’s something I feel really strongly about. The first record’s lyrics were super positive, and this one is positive and fun in other ways as well. For example, the song ‘Lies’ is about how heavy metal saved me from going crazy and ever trying acid (laughs). A lot of my friends, at that time, they started trying acid and quit listening to heavy metal. They became huge Grateful Dead fans man. Nothing against the Grateful Dead, it’s just not my thing. So I stayed away from acid because I wanted to keep listening to heavy metal (laughs). I’m sure my parents are happy to hear that, because I would have been a mess on acid. I can’t even imagine myself on that stuff, but that’s the type of positive aspects I like to write about. Positive things that have happened in my life, and finding heavy metal was one of them.
Mark- Somehow I don’t think those friends are the only Grateful Dead fans that have ever tried acid.
Richard- No, definitely not (laughs). Again, nothing against the band, but it was just never my thing. Music is subjective, and people can listen to whatever they want. I get a lot of shit because I’m a huge Stryper fan. I don’t care. I love it. I’m not hurting anyone when I’m listening to it, so it’s all good. It just scared me when my friends stopped liking metal, and became obsessed with the Grateful Dead. I chose to stick with heavy metal, and I think I made the right choice.
Mark- I would say so. The new songs are a huge example of your love for heavy metal. So far you’ve shared ‘The Soulless’ and ‘My Eyes’ singles, and the response has been great. Was there any reasoning behind choosing those songs?
Richard- I leave those decisions up to Brian Slagel at Metal Blade. The guy discovered some of the biggest metal bands ever, so I think his opinion is pretty valid. Obviously we wanted a hard hitter first, so ‘The Soulless’ was a great choice, and I really love the ‘My Eyes‘ track. There is a lot of cool drumming on that track, so making the drum play through clip made a lot of sense. I even put in a tribute to Robert Sweet of Stryper in that song if you didn’t know. There’s a roll going into the first chorus, which is pretty much the same roll he did on the ‘Free’ single back in the day, so that was fun for me.
Mark- You had to sneak some Stryper into it didn’t you?
Richard- Totally man. I’m not ashamed of the yellow and black attack!
Mark- That’s amazing! You always do a good job on putting in your drum influences in your style, but keeping it your own as well.
Richard- Thanks Mark, that means a lot. I try to at least (laughs). One of the best things I’ve ever did as a kid was join the marching band, and that style is still present in my playing. I have a very “marching” style in a lot of my work, because I still study it. I still enjoy mastering stick control and rudimental drumming ya know. I like to incorporate that with the metal drummers that I grew up listening to or who I still listen to today. Some of my biggest influences include Pete Sandoval of Morbid Angel, Mikkey Dee of King Diamond, Shannon Larkin of Wrathchild America, and obviously Sean Reinert and Gene Hoglan with Death. So yea, I like to mix it up, but with this band, I try not to go too crazy. I’m writing the music as well, so I want that part to shine too, but I do throw in some cool drumming parts here and there, just to keep it fun. Once this band is not fun, I’m done. Fun is the key, and I’m having a blast.
Mark- Well as you mentioned before, I do work at Duff’s in Brooklyn, and so I had to ask Jimmy about some of the “fun” stories you’ve experience at the bar.
Richard- Oh here we go. Ending it with a bang are you? What’d he bring up?
Mark- There was mention of a “shitty” ride to the bar, an all night Immortal binger during a snowstorm, and a memorable hearse ride in Times Square.
Richard- Oh those are all classic stories. You know what. I’ll go into detail about all of them. Why not?
First, the “shitty” ride (laughs). I was living on the upper West Side at the time, and I was leaving my house to go to the bar. I was obviously not sober by this point, but I was blasting metal in my headphones, and got onto the train. I should have realized this at first glance, but like I said, I was not sober. There was an empty car on the train, which there never is, and so I sat right down like it was no big deal. Next thing I realized is that there was shit all over my pants. So when people tell you never to go on an empty train, you now know why. It was everywhere. At this point, it would have been too much of a hassle though, in my mind, to go home and change my pants, so I just went to the bar anyway. I don’t think anyone talked to me when I got there, but I enjoyed my beers, and burned my pants when I got home (laughs).
The Immortal night was great. I’m pretty sure we had been drinking since five or six in the afternoon, and then it started to snow pretty heavily. Of course I’m like “Let’s put on Immortal and be metal,” and so we did. After, I don’t know, twelve hours of drinking, we tried to go outside and were snowed in. I’m not really sure how I got home that night, but I slept until I had to work on Monday (laughs).
As for the last story, the hearse ride was classic. I believe it was in 2004 when I was playing in Iced Earth, and Children Of Bodom was opening up for us at BB Kings in the city. We had a late bus call, so we decided to go to the bar and have a few drinks after the gig. As you know, a few drinks at that bar is pretty much impossible. Next thing I know is that it’s three or four in the morning, and we were all about to miss our bus to the next city. So Jimmy puts us all in his hearse, and hauls ass down 42nd Street to get us there. We didn’t know this until it was too late, but a movie was being filmed at the same time. So this massive hearse pulls up, and ten drunk metal heads got out (laughs). I believe they were actually shooting a scene when we pulled up, and man, their faces were priceless. We totally ruined their shot, but with the crew we had, I don’t think they were going to complain too much. We were a mess that night, but yea, that was a ride I’ll never forget.
Mark- Amazing! I’m sure there are definitely more stories, but we’ll save that for when you come to the bar soon.
Richard- Definitely man. I love Jimmy Duff so much man, and that is the best bar on the planet. If anyone reading this interview has never been to that place, plan a trip right now. The atmosphere is great, the bartenders rule, and it has the best jukebox on the planet. You won’t be disappointed. You may be hurting the next day, but definitely not disappointed.
Mark- I couldn’t agree more. Richard, thanks again for taking out the time today, and I’ll leave you with the last words for this interview.
Richard- Thank you for taking out the time to talk to me Mark. It was good to hear from you, and we’ll definitely catch up in person soon. As for everyone else, I hope you enjoy the new record. Creatures Watching Over the Dead is out on September 23rd via Metal Blade Records, and if you love music you can head bang to, this is the album for you. Thanks for all the support!