Death Rattle

Sounds, 2 June 1984

Assigment, as the master of horror, MR James wrote is "Penetrans Ad Interiora Mortis". Penetrate To The Insides Of Death. Well Christian Death anyway.

The interview takes place in a curry house in the increasingly sordid Kings Cross. Not very Gothic, i hear you say ? All the more suitable then, since Christian Death, contrary, perhaps, to popular belief, don't really have anything to do with the horribly po-faced Gothic movement, even if their name seems... well, a little melodramatic.

Having recently played their first show in England, with a new addition to the group in a shape of a six day old boy, followed by a long European and English set of dates, Christian Death are tired (understandably) and keen on making the point that they have zilch to do with any of the band that are supposedly brothers under the pale, pale skin.

"The whole group started off about five years ago, with Roz" explains Valor, "David and I had been together for various projects for a while, and we got together with Roz. The band has been playing in America for about four years..." That's enough of that; from group's antics to the antics of the religious variety of the Klu Klux Klutzhead types: do you have a lot of problems with your name? "There was a point in time when there were a lot of record burnings from religious groupings; people do seem to get appalled by it. The worst time is when you're coming through customs, and they ask you what the name of your band is ..."

So whose idea was the name?
"Roz's." I turn to Roz: "I can't explain it; it's my own idea, and I don't really like giving a description of it." "It means different things to all of us," adds Valor, "everyone has to find their own meaning to it."
There's one question that it is imperative to ask American bands who play in the G of B. Why, I'm not sure, but it's traditional! "How do you find English audiences?" I would be lying if I said they gasped at the originality of the request, but they answer all the same. "All the people that we've spoken to, like Sex Gang Children and Specimen say that british audiences, especially at the Batcave, weren't very good, and you didn't get encores. But we were amazed that we got the response that we did, and an encore, event we didn't get the chance to do it... (a barbed reference to the two other bands playing on the night. A Certain General and Band of Ousiders).

The subject winds to the future... The imminent future. "The new LP is called Catstrophe Ballet, and is all very new and very good material," says David, "It should be out this month on the french Invitation Au Suicide records; then we'll be doing a proper tour."

A sidetrack; I discuss Los Angeles famous son, Charles Miles Manson, of Helter Skelter fame. "There's a band called Manson Youth in LA," Valor observes drily, "I haven't heard them, but the name fascinates me ! They're very much into having a resurgence of the family thing." And they really into it, or just playing around with horror show imagery ? I wonder.
"Cause if they're not serious, and they get visited by some of Charlie's old flames... "They're in a lot of trouble" Valor finishes off !

Still: an impressive way to end a career. Valor points out that any band or song with the phrase "Malcom X" on it would never get air play in the US. One man's meat... Valor still feels that there is more freedom of expression in Britain (and long may it stay that way). "Most bands in other countries are copying each other, but British bands are freer."
A natural reaction: as a paternalistic and reactionary government clamps down, people will become more desperate to brandish their rights.

"I'm proud to be in this band, " points out Valor, "because it's one of the few bands from America that are doing anything that isn't influenced by current trends. Christian Death have been using this imagery long before Sex Gang or Specimen." That's an important point: a lot of people are bound to label Christian Death as part of the Gothic neo-post-post-punk band wagon...

"They use that term very loosely," says David. "I was talking to the guitar player of Sex Gang in Los Angeles," says Valor, "and he said he was very much influenced by the guitar on our first LP, Theatre Of Pain, they were telling me that a lot of the new bands, like Death Cult too, were veryinfluenced by bands like Christian Death and The Cramps, as they had bought their records when they were still quite rare over here. Roz was being tied to crosses a long time ago ... but we don't do that anymore!

"We were labelled Gothic in the American press years ago; and we don't have anything to do with it. It's the most common misconception about us. We've seen all of this Death-rock stuff in LA : they sprang up after Christian Death." The problems of 'rock 'n' roll.' A lot of groups say that they're here to destroy rock'n' roll, and then go on their major tour, and play indecently tedious and conventional rock'n'roll music. Are Christian Death the death of things as they are? Can you work against it?
"We're not interested in working against it. We don't even think about trying to be different; we just do what we want," says Valor. For a band that have been invested with so much false imagery, Christian Death are remarkably free of the hackneyed phrases and predictable cliches that you might expect if you believe what some people write about them. Christian Death: they just do what they wanna do. All aboard for Funtime...

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