Interview with Christus Christus
Interview by Everett C. Marm
Christus Christus is a band that deserve your attention, truly original in every way, shape, and form, they are a band that is all too uncommon in today?s world of bland musical formulas and stylized genres. If you had to describe their musick, you?d be hard-pressed to find a short and succinct description that would be accurate. Sure, they?re a band with many influences, from prog-rock to gothic-rock to theatrical to electronic, but they manage to transcend all these styles and genres, creating a form of musick that is as unique as the personalities in the band.
DR: Why did you choose music as your forum?
TROY: I felt music was the purist form of communication I had available. It's more honest than conversation; in conversation people have a tendency to either guard themselves or exaggerate...
SCOT: Of all the artforms, music is the most truly magical. The very process is the creation or change of soundwaves which are converted into electrical signals and then converted BACK in the listener's livingroom, car, or whatever. You are literally CHANGING THE REALITY AROUND THEM. You are not just putting up some two-dimensional representation for them to glance at in passing, but instead you are moving the three dimensional air and space around them, their actual REALITY, to fit your designs.
DR: Why the decision to speak through characters with pseudonyms and costumes?
SCOT: It has always been easier to tell the truth with a lie! It all comes down to fiction...I've found much more honest and accurate portrayals of humanity and the human endeavor on a personal level from writers of fiction. You are often willing to say more, and certainly people are infinitely more willing to listen if they think what is being said is not being aimed directly at them, and coming directly from you. It's a bit like going to a psychiatrist and saying: "I have a friend who..." I do not speak on a personal level about a lot of the things I write about to those close to me, never mind people I hardly, if at all, know. By speaking through fictional characters, I'm able to do that. More importantly, a lot of the things I write about can make some people uncomfortable; they react negatively. This way, it's depersonalized, they can put it aside and then, just maybe, realize at some point that I might have touched on something that rings true for them, without feeling the finger was pointing directly at them.
TROY: In addition, for me, the characters provide extra focus. If I'm to look at myself in my entirety when I'm trying to write something, it can be overwhelming or a bit confusing, because not only is there a lot to deal with, but a lot of it counter-acts each other. Whereas, if I put some focus on it by breaking down my personality into certain segments, AKA Chance Reaction or Pox Incurable, it allows me to zero in on those particular aspects of what's going on in my life. It gives me that much needed focal point, it acts as a sort of signpost to parts of my personality that might seem too fragmented to grasp.
SCOT: Also, everyone in this band is influenced by David Bowie and old Genesis to varying degrees. I LOVED that stuff. I loved the characters, and we all still enjoy watching that old Top Of The Pops footage. We react to it, it stirs something in us that a band in T-shirts and tennis shoes never will touch.
DR: What do you guys get out of the creative process?
SCOT: First of all, one thing we've discussed with each other a lot, and we've debated whether it should be discussed in public or not, and one of the things that is not being represented honestly in music is, well, this is a bit difficult for me...Troy and I both have suffered from distinct mental instabilities. We've both been incarcerated in mental institutions. I personally spent probably more of my teenage years in mental-health facilities than in High-School. We both have had very sort-of disturbed mental outlooks. This is more embarrassing for me, I think, than it is for Troy...I am a diagnosed schizophrenic, sometimes in the past, my disease reached points where I did not see the reality around me, and in my case being on stage allows me to get some of that out, and not only need I not feel embarrassed, but the audience thinks it's all part of the show! It's very therapeutic for me, it allows me to release some of that pressure...
TROY: My story is slightly different. As a youth, I was fed all kinds of food for my imagination, from films to books to religions, and then not given much, if any, guidance as to how to process it all. Add to that the fact that I had parents who would do anything to deny the fact that there might be anything "abnormal" about their child, when there were clearly things that needed to be attended to...I saw things that weren't there as a kid, I heard things that terrified me, that were not physically there at all...
SCOT: I can vouch for that! I've seen his collection of "Shrinky Dinks." He created the world's scariest collection of these things as a kid! Death's Heads and all kinds of spooky imagery...
TROY: I made those in the first grade! Any parent should probably have been concerned! Nevertheless, if I found any understanding at all, it was from the musicians and records I was discovering. I wasn't exactly popular as a kid, so I had a lot of time and my money wasn't getting spent on dates or social activities, it was getting spent on records. I had a lot of time to develop a strong love for that field, and there were bands like Killing Joke and the Virgin Prunes and and Chrome who told me things that no-one else was telling me, albeit from afar and on vinyl. Those records told me that I wasn't the only one going through these things and that ultimately it was something that I could survive. I didn't necessarily see the part about survival at the time, but I did get it eventually.
SCOT: These kinds of records allowed us the luxury of feeling as if we were not utterly alone, they gave us something to identify with. This is something we want desperately to do with our own music. I don't know how "cool" that is in this "Gothic-Industrial" climate of today, which seems to thrive on alienation and isolation, wearing it like a badge. Also, there seems to be less honest and original music being produced in the underground today, though there are some...The Legendary Pink Dots have never let me down, and they are, fortunately, creative enough to carry the artistic load of dozens of bands, but they are one of the very few...
TROY: Maybe it's time for a call to arms! We challenge people to prove us wrong, to make brave and honest music that can stir the soul as well as the body.
SCOT: We challenge everyone reading this to pick up anything you have lying about which can produce a sound, and without regard to your record collection or your wardrobe or to your vanity, make a NEW sound. Make an honest sound. We are begging you, make us FEEL...
Bedtime Stories for Forgotten Gods
review by Ellis Darwin Windlestraw
If you've had a chance to check out this band's demos on MP3.com, you might have some idea of what to expect from this strange little release. Right from the start, you know you're in for something a bit different; the packaging is quite elaborate. The CD comes in a large, hand printed folder, with the liner notes printed on an insert stuck inside.This particular package is apparently limited to a thousand copies, and all of the art is drawn by the frontman, S. Murray Solida (AKA Stained Glass Wendel). As for the music, the whole thing kicks off with a strange electronic landscape called "Orange Door", over which is narrated a pleading, disturbed tale in the first person by a mental patient. Is the voice that of a woman, a man? Hard to tell, though methinks there is some elaborate studio trickery at work! From this introduction, it's straight into a roaring, four-to-the-floor barrage called "We Can Build You", a good old fashioned Gothic rocker, carried by a well-crafted and relentless fuzzed-out bass guitar riff courtesy of the curiously named Frater Locust. Is there a Play Dead fan in this band? This is by far the loudest song on the disc, though the intensity rarely lets up throughout. It's all very dark, there are hints of psychedelia here and there, and imaginative electronics play a prominent role. There are a few moments of almost-but-not-quite-pop songs, such as "Another Girl, Another Machine", a song you could dance to, if it weren't for an ear-shredding electronic bridge. If you have a chance, check out the MP3 version, though, as the album version is, I think, made a little inferior by the inclusion of a drummer, a decision which seems to water down the mixture a bit (I have it on good authority that the drummer was a one-off for this record). There is a nice little number called "...Said The Ticktockman" based on the famous short story by speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison. This is a sort of quiet piece, somewhat recalling the older solo stuff by Edward Ka-Spel. Come to that, if you like the Legendary Pink Dots, you'll probably find something to like here, as well. My personal favorite on the disc is the epic-length "The Prayer Machine", which starts off nicely enough, with a sing-song intro that tells of a host of characters who find themselves resorting to the convention of prayer as a form of escape. >From there, the track shifts mood and meter incessantly, until it winds up in a strange sort of musique concrete over a bizarre 7/8 rhythm. It would almost sound like prog-rock if it weren't for the spooky Virgin Prunes-like vocals and ambient noises that weave their way in and out. Some mention should be made of the guitar work on this disc; Performed by Pox Incurable, it is very far removed from the standard goth or industrial fare. No crunchy power chords here. Instead we are treated to a swirling, psychedelic performance, somewhat like the style of maybe Colin Newman, with more than a hint of Syd Barrett or Daevid Allen of Gong. It always seems to be exactly the element required to lift a good song into something special. Good work. All in all, this is a disc you will be able to listen to repeatedly, and discover new things each time, and of how many other records could you make such a claim? Not many, in today's scene, I'll warrant.
Purchase the disc direct from the band for a paltry ten bucks (includes shipping) or by writing to:
Ol' Scratch Records
PO BOX 2209
Scottsdale AZ, 85252