CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED - Now This Is A Metal Supergroup!
January 26, 2010, 8 years ago
By Greg Pratt
When DEATH’s The Sound Of Perseverance dropped in 1998, it was noteworthy for several reasons. One of those reasons was the jaw-dropping drum work of one Richard Christy, an at-the-time unknown who laid down some serious drumming on the disc, full of inventive rolls and non-stop cymbal play. The album opens with a full nine seconds of just him playing drums—that’s how good he is. He went on to play with several other bands (CONTROL DENIED, ICED EARTH, DEMONS & WIZARDS, ACHERON!), but has been doing something entirely different the past half-decade, doing time as Howard Stern’s sidekick on The Howard Stern Show. But this funny-man is back behind the kit, and it’s good to hear him again.“It’s been a while,” says Christy. “It’s been five-and-a-half years. I continued to play the drums and also play guitar in that time. I didn’t do any recording or play on stage or anything, but kept my chops up and knew that one day I would definitely want to get back into it. Luckily, now I am.”
Christy’s new band is Charred Walls Of The Damned, whose self-titled album will be hitting shelves on February 2 through Metal Blade. The group boasts a rather impressive line-up, to say the least. Apart from Christy behind the kit (where he lays down a predictably insane performance on the energetic, brisk, damn refreshing disc), there’s Tim “Ripper” Owens (Iced Earth, JUDAS PRIEST, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) on vocals, Steve DiGiorgio (SADUS, DEATH, TESTAMENT) on bass and Jason Suecof (CAPHARNAUM, CROTCHDUSTER, producer-in-demand) on guitar (Suecof also produced the disc).
“A few years back, I was thinking the best thing to do would be start my own thing where I could call the shots and make my schedule and pick who I want to be in the band,” he continues. “I’d been playing guitar quite a bit more and getting a little bit better at that and more confident in my playing and my song-writing. After I got about five or six songs together, I thought, ‘You know what? I really want to go back in the studio and make an album.’ So that’s when I contacted the other guys in the band.”
Speaking of those other guys, as we said before, their collective resume is one impressive beast (and we didn’t even mention Sebastian Bach!). So let’s get a quick rundown of how each of these guys ended up playing with Charred Walls. First off, Jason:“I’ve been friends with Jason for over 10 years,” says Christy. “We’ve talked about putting a band for as long as we’ve known each other. We wrote a lot of music together back when I lived in Florida. I always knew someday Jason and I would do something together. When I thought about a guitar player and producer for the band he was the first person I thought of.”
Then Christy called up one of metal’s most recognizable bassists, Mr. DiGiorgio.“Steve is someone else I’ve definitely wanted to work with again, since we were both in Control Denied, and he was in Death, who I was also in. We’ve been friends for years. He’s such a great guy and so much fun to hang out with, so I called him up and he was really into it, also. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while, so it was a great opportunity to hang out and just catch up and have fun.”
Then there’s the man with the mic, a guy who spent time in a little band called Judas Priest...“I hadn’t seen Tim in a few years,” says Christy. “He came out to a comedy show I did about three years ago and we just had a blast hanging out and talking about good times we had on tour with Iced Earth. Tim’s a really good friend and he’s also pretty much my favourite singer. I’ve been a huge fan of Tim’s since he was in Judas Priest. To me, he just has the perfect metal voice. He’s melodic but he can also be brutal. It just sounds amazing. I love his voice, so I thought of him right away.”
He makes it sound easy, but we’re talking about metal royalty here, a line-up that surely is Christy’s dream band.“Exactly,” he says. “It pretty much is, yeah. I’m very happy and very lucky that everybody was able to work their schedules and do this. I couldn’t be happier.”
Christy worked around said schedule problems, not to mention geography issues, by writing the entire album himself, demoing it, then sharing it with the guys. Once they got together, the band helped tighten things up, especially Suecof and his producer’s ear.
As far as touring goes, those who dig the disc shouldn’t expect too much live action. Christy in particular can’t hit the road for a month at a time right now, and the other guys are all busy with other projects. But the band will play shows as schedules allow.“I’m on a pretty limited schedule as far as my day job goes,” says Christy. “Which I’m fine with, because I love my day job and would never want to put that in jeopardy. But I definitely want to work it to where we can do some shows while we’re in vacation at my day job. We have two weeks in July where we could go out and do a mini-tour, we can do some festivals, we can do some stuff on the weekends. We have a week here and there that we can do. It’s not going to be a thing where we can go out for a long amount of time, but it will be a very special thing when we do play live.”
And it sounds like all this time away from the stage will make it even more special for Christy. After all these years without it, he misses playing live metal.“Definitely,” he says. “I miss it very much. I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for almost five years now, and that’s almost the same feeling, you get that rush of being up in front of a crowd… Luckily, I’ve been able to do that but I really want to get up on stage again and play drums live; that’s a feeling that you can’t even describe how good it is. I really do miss it. I still play drums almost every day rehearsing by myself, but there’s no feeling like being up there in front of a crowd of screaming metalheads banging their heads and pumping their fists and singing the lyrics for every song. That’s just such an awesome feeling.”