Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

09/14/2016

Q/A: with drummer and Sirius XM radio personality Richard Christy

By RUBEN MOSQUEDA // Christy caught up with Oregon Music News while on break from his day gig on [Sirius’] The Howard Stern Show to talk about the new Charred Walls of the Damned album, pumpkin beer, his love of Coheed and Cambria and Stryper.

Richard Christy is known for his work as drummer in the bands; Iced Earth, Death, Control Denied, Leash Law and his own band Charred Walls of the Damned which features guitarist/producer Jason Suecof, vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens [Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Dio Disciples] and bassist Steve DiGorgio [Testament, Control Denied, Iced Earth, Death]. Charred Walls of the Damned are set to released their 3rd effort titled ‘Creatures Watching Over the Dead’ [due September 23rd on Metal Blade Records]. Charred Walls of the Damned have previously issued ‘Charred Walls of the Damned’ [2010] and ‘Cold Winds On Timeless Days’ [2011] respectively. Christy caught up with Oregon Music News while on break from his day gig on [Sirius’] The Howard Stern Show to talk about the new album, pumpkin beer, his love of Coheed and Cambria and Stryper.

There was a gap between ‘Creatures Watching Over the Dead’ and ‘Cold Winds On Timeless Days.’ Was it scheduling that contributed to that?

Well, the debut and the follow up record came out so quickly that some people didn’t even know we had released the second record! [laughs] Honestly, that was one of the factors but I really wanted to spend more time working on the songs. I wanted to take the time writing songs and really refining them and making the best that they could be.

I’ve heard bands say something like “Oh, we wrote 75 songs for the record and we picked the best twelve.” I don’t know if band really do that but I’ve heard that a lot. So was said “Well, let me try to write 75 songs!” [laughs] I didn’t reach that goal but I wrote a lot of songs. I wrote twenty some songs. I had a lot of fun doing that but it took me like 2-3 years. I wanted to have more than enough songs for a record so that Jason [Suecof] and I could go through them and pick the best ones for the album. I’m very pleased with the nine that made the record.

You remain the primary songwriter for Charred Walls of the Damned, correct?

Yeah, I begin with a guitar riff. I have been playing guitar since about 1992, I’ve far from a ‘shredder’ but I play well enough to get a song put together. I love writing on guitar. I can play rhythm guitar pretty well but can’t solo. There are some occasions where I write on keyboard; the song “My Eyes” on the new album was written on keyboard. It was based around a keyboard riff which you can hear on the intro.

I play all of the instruments on the demos and I also sing basic melodies or vocal ideas on the demos.  I have to point out that I’m really horrible at that! [laughs] Tim [‘Ripper’ Owens] has mentioned that we should release these demos but I’m a little embarrassed by my vocals to tell you the truth.  Once I have the demos ready I get them to Jason Suecof [who produces the albums] and we go into pre-production. The guys in the band are such amazing musicians that we let them cut loose on the songs and we encourage them to put their own stamp on the songs.

There are some songs that didn’t make the record. Jason and I really liked them but we didn’t have time work on them [some more] or record them because our time was limited in the studio. We selected the best nine that would make the album. There’s enough songs that were left that I think would work great for the next record. I don’t imagine it’s going to be five years for the next record because we have some songs available.

You promoted the previous records with live appearances; I suspect that you’ll be doing some live appearances to promote ‘Creatures Watching Over the Dead?’

Yeah, definitely. I imagine at this point in time doing some festival dates are probably what will work best for us. Like you said for the last album we were able to do stuff like ‘The Orion Festival’ [Metallica’s festival] in Atlantic City [New Jersey] which was awesome. We did a two week tour of select dates in America and Canada. I’d love to do some festivals in the United States and do some overseas. We’ve yet to make us European debut so that would be exciting.

Richard, would you ever consider scoring a film? Would it have to be something in the ‘horror’ genre?

No, it wouldn’t have to be a horror film and I would definitely love to do it. I’ve actually scored ‘The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze’ in New York for the last four years. It’s a yearly event that goes through mid-September and goes throughout October. It’s in Westchester County in New York; you walk through 7,000 lit carved jack o’lanterns there’s different scenes and I’ve written music for each scene. They’ve had me back for the past four years and it’s a blast. I get to have Halloween in July. I grab my pumpkin candle and I grab a pumpkin beer and I begin to write music for the event. I’m a huge John Carpenter fan so doing being of a part of something like that is really a treat.

You mentioned pumpkin beer and you’re a beer aficionado. Since it’s in season at the moment is there a particular pumpkin beer that you’d recommend to readers?

There’s actually a ‘Charred Walls of the Damned’ beer that made by Burnt Hickory Brewery based out of Kennesaw, Georgia that’s really good. It’s a smoked barley wine that’s right around thirteen percent---it’s a sipper. You can’t ‘chug’ a beer that strong. Keep an eye for that because it’s not everywhere at the moment. It’s definitely a ‘heavy metal’ beer! [laughs]

As far as pumpkin beer? I’d say that's my favorite is Southern Tier ‘Pumpking,’ that's my go to I just love that beer. It’s like pumpkin pie in glass! [laughs] It’s got all these spices, it’s got a little bit of cinnamon, a little nutmeg---it’s simply delicious! [laughs]

I discovered you while you were still a member of Iced Earth. Two of my all-time favorite Iced Earth records are; ‘Horror Show’ and ‘The Glorious Burden’ which you perform on. Gives us a little something on the recording of each of those records.

Yeah, I remember when [guitarist] Jon Schaffer told me that the next album was going to be based on all the classic horror movie monsters I was jumping up and down with joy. That was a fun record to play on the song “Wolf” has some of the fastest double bass that I’ve ever played. That was a hard song to nail down, I remember putting on ankle weights to warm up.

I remember that we did a tour for that album in Europe and we didn’t have an opening act. We played for about three hours and if I recall correctly we opened that set with “Wolf.” It was always a treat for us to record at Morrisound [recording studio] which is such a legendary place for metal.

Recording ‘The Glorious Burden’ was a wonderful experience for me. Recording “The Gettysburg Trilogy” was really special for me having grown up playing in my high school marching band. I loved playing the snare drum and I got a chance to play a lot of ‘marching style’ drums on “The Trilogy&rdquo.; We had Mark Prator and a few other drummers come into the studio and we had our own little drumline going. It was scary playing it [“The Gettysburg Trilogy”] live because I had to play to a click track on that [live]. I have to say that playing that live made me a better drummer because I had to play along with that click track; if I was off the whole things would be off. It was a little scary but man it sounded awesome live.

I know you’re a huge fan of the following bands; Coheed and Cambria, Stryper and Metallica. Could you share your favorite record and what it is that you like about each band?

Oh well, with Coheed and Cambria I would have to say ‘In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth’ is my favorite record. I like them because they have a lot of melody and they’ll have a heavy song, then a poppy song or an acoustic song. I think Claudio [Sanchez] is so talented as a songwriter; the band as a whole are amazing musicians. Everyone of their albums are incredible.

I’d say for Stryper I’d have to go with ‘To Hell with the Devil.’ When I first heard that record I was really blown away by the drum sound, the guitar playing, the vocals, the songwriting---everything! I’m not a religious guy and it never bothered me that they’re a Christian band. I love that record. I listen to it almost everyday.

I’d have to got with ‘Garage Days The $5.98’ E.P. from Metallica. When I bought that I was already familiar with their records; ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ ‘Ride the Lightning,’ and ‘Master of Puppets’ but when I heard the drum sound on that E.P. it blew me away. That was such a fun recording that it took me to the next level as a Metallica fan.

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