Sick Drummer Magazine's Noel Smart interviewed Richard Christy at the end of January, and asked him all about Death. This interview was to be in the March issue, but we decided to post it here for everyone to read. You can learn more about and keep up with Richard on his own website: http://www.richardchristy.com/
SDM: How long did it take to put together the “Death-Sound of perseverance” Deluxe Re-issue?
Richard: The Re-issues have been in the works for about a year and a half now I think. Pretty much all of the work has been done by Eric Greif who is Death’s former manager, and Chuck’s family, and Relapse Records.
SDM: How long did it take to put together the “Control Denied- The Fragile Art of Existence” Deluxe Re-issue?
Richard: I think about the same as the other reissues, about a year and a half I think. I wrote the liner notes for this reissue which was an honor to do because some of my best memories as a musician are of recording this album.
SDM: Out of the Death and Control Denied Re-issue Deluxe’s, which was the hardest one to put together?
Richard: Well honestly it was all put together by Eric Greif, Chuck’s family, and Relapse so I didn’t really put any of it together but I know there is a lot of bonus material on both reissues which Chuck’s family found in Chuck’s archives and it’s great that they were able to find all of the bonus material for the reissues.
SDM: Do both Deluxe-Re-issues have blessing from Chuck Schuldiner’s Mom and Sister?
Richard: Yes definitely, they are working very closely with Relapse Records and Eric Greif to make sure the reissues are done right.
SDM: How did you get access to all the demo versions of these songs? Who owns all the license copyrights for all the material that has been released?
Richard: Chuck’s family have all of Chuck’s demo tapes and material and they provided it to Relapse Records and they own the rights to it as far as I know.
SDM: Is it true that former Control Denied drummer Chris Williams (R.I.P) plays on the 1996 demo tracks that are on the deluxe issue of Control Denied “The Fragile Art of Existence”? How close were you to Chris Williams?
Richard: Yes that is true. I wasn’t real close with Chris, but I did meet him a few different times and he was a super nice guy and the stuff he played on the Control Denied demos was amazing. Unfortunately I never had the chance to watch him play live but I know he was an amazing talent and played some really creative and powerful drum parts on the Control Denied demos.
SDM: Are you happy with the finished product of both Deluxe Editions?
Richard: Yes absolutely. I think Relapse did an amazing job and I love the updated artwork from Travis Smith on the Sound of Perseverance reissue.
SDM: How are you taking the news of Shannon Hamm’s current health situation?
Richard: I was very worried and concerned when I first heard that Shannon was ill, but luckily he’s doing much better now. I talked to him the other day and he seems to be doing great.
SDM: Have you met and visited him or were you talking to him on the phone? How’s he doing as far as his health is concerned?
Richard: Yes I still keep in touch with Shannon pretty often, he’s a great guy and we’ve had some amazing times together and I’m happy that his health is doing much better now.
SDM: Have you heard about the Montreal “Symbolic” Death tribute band? Did you see their live Dvd of the Chuck Schuldiner Tribute concert, with all the ex-Death members present and some non-members: like Nick Barker and Jonathan Lee?
Richard: Yes I’ve heard of them and I was very bummed out that I couldn’t make it to the tribute concert that they did because it was on a Wednesday night and I couldn’t travel to Montreal because of work. Nick Barker and Jonathan Lee are close friends of mine and they’re both incredible drummers. I haven’t seen the DVD but I would love to!
SDM: What did you think of the performances of Nick Barker and Jonathan Lee?
Richard: Unfortunately I haven’t seen the DVD, but I’m sure they did amazing, as they are both awesome drummers.
SDM: Back when you were with Death, what were some of the hardest Death songs you had to play? The Hoglan material, Reinert material, Andrews material or Reifert?
Richard: Definitely the Hoglan and Reinert material was the hardest. Probably the hardest songs were Symbolic, which has the crazy double ride cymbal part and super fast double bass, and Together As One, which has one of the craziest odd time patterns in the middle section of the song.
SDM: What’s it like to hear the entire old demo’s from both the deluxe versions?
Richard: It brings back a lot of great memories. We had a lot of fun writing those songs and we rehearsed every day and worked really hard on those albums and it’s great to hear the demos and hear how it all came together.
SDM: Will Burning Inside ever happen again or is that band completely over with?
Richard: Unfortunately, I think Burning Inside is finished. We all live in different parts of the United States and the music is so hard to play that if we’re not rehearsing 5 days a week, I don’t think there’s any way to continue the band. I’m really proud of the music we made though. We worked really hard in that band and technically it’s some of the hardest music I’ve ever played, and I’m really proud of the albums we released.
SDM: How come there is no demo version of Death’s Judas priest cover “Painkiller”?
Richard: If I remember right, I think we only decided to do that song when we were in the studio at Morrisound. I think it was a last minute decision to play that song on the album and Chuck decided while we were at Morrisound that he wanted to do that song on the album.
SDM: How difficult was it to nail down the very last part of Painkiller, originally written by Scott Travis? Are you a Scott Travis fan?
Richard: Yes I’m a HUGE Scott Travis fan, I saw Judas Priest on the Painkiller tour in 1991 and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It was pretty difficult to nail Scott’s parts. Painkiller is an amazing drumming song and I wanted to make sure that I did Scott’s parts justice, so we worked really hard on that song in the studio to make sure it sounded great.
SDM: What non-metal drummers were you listening too at the time of the demo versions of each deluxe album?
Richard: I’m a big fan of Terry Bozzio, so I was listening to his stuff a lot. I also love a lot of jazz drummers and was listening to a lot of guys like Dave Weckl and Dennis Chambers at the time. The snare drum I used on the Perseverance album was a Dave Weckl model Yamaha snare drum that I bought at one of his drum clinics.
SDM: Is there anything on the both deluxe albums that you think should not be there, as far as you’re drumming is concerned? Any mistakes or mess ups? How accurate were these demo’s when recorded? Were they suppose to be the actual songs or just rough demo tracks as you hear?
Richard: I’m happy with everything on the albums. I actually don’t mind when mistakes are left on albums because it shows that someone is human. Too many albums these days have drums that sound too perfect like drum machines and I miss the days of drummers like John Bonham when you can hear the bass drum pedal squeaking in the background, like on the Zeppelin song “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. If you listen to my drumming on the Death and Control Denied album you can hear sticks hitting the rims and things like that which I love. The demos were supposed to be the actual songs from what I remember.
SDM: How long did it take Chuck to write the songs for “The Sound of Perseverance” and Control Denied “The Fragile Art of Existence”? What were the jams like back in those days for those two albums? What were all the deluxe recordings recorded on?
Richard: From what I remember, the Sound of Perseverance was written in about a year or less, we rehearsed the album for about 9 months so we were super tight when we recorded the album. The Fragile Art album was rehearsed for about three months before we recorded it, but I also took off work from my electrician job for about a month so we could rehearse all day, so we were very prepared for that album too. I’m pretty sure both albums were recorded on two inch tape reels at Morrisound, which I love because nobody records like that anymore and I really miss the warm sound of recording drums onto 2 inch tape like the old days.
SDM: What was the drum configuration for both sessions with Death and Control Denied?
Richard: I was using a 9 piece Pearl Custom Z drumkit which was Canadian Birds Eye Maple shells. 10”,12”,13”,14” rack toms, a 16” floor tom and (2) 22” kick drums. The Snare Drum was a Yamaha Dave Weckl Maple Snare Drum. For the 2nd Control Denied album “When Man and Machine Collide” I added another smaller 8” tom and also two Roland drum pads which I wanted to use because I was listening to Watchtower’s Control and Resistance album a lot at the time, and I was very influenced by their drummer and I loved the sound of his electronic drum pads on that album.
SDM: Have you been approached by any of the ex-members of Control Denied or Death to do any new projects or bands?
Richard: Well, Steve DiGiorgio plays bass is my band Charred Walls of the Damned. I’ve been a huge fan of Steve’s bass playing since I first heard the Human album and I’m so excited that he’s playing in my band. We had a lot of fun recording the Control Denied Fragile Art of Existence album and he’s an awesome guy.
SDM: How did you come up with the drum pattern for “Scavenger of Human Sorrow” off Death’s Sound of Perseverance”?
Richard: From what I remember, Chuck played me the opening riff for the song and just told me to go crazy and come up with a technical drum pattern to fit the riff. I can’t remember exactly how I came up with the drum pattern for that song, but usually I just listen to a riff and start playing along with it until I find something that fits musically with it. Chuck was very open about all of my drumming ideas and he loved when I would come up with crazy drum patterns that would fit his riffs. I remember when we were working on Spirit Crusher, we were laughing at how crazy the drumming stuff was in the drum and bass break on that song, it was always fun writing music with Chuck and we had a lot of laughs writing and rehearsing together.
SDM: When you were recording Death’s “Sound of Perseverance” what were you listening to at the time for influence? Also, when you were recording the Control Denied album, what were you listening to for influence on your drum parts?
Richard: When I recorded those albums I was listening to the band Watchtower a lot, the album “Control and Resistance” is a huge influence on my drumming. I was also listening a lot to the band Rage, mostly the albums “Perfect Man” and “Reflections of a Shadow”. I love the drumming on those albums too. Also the album “Retribution” by Malevolent Creation is a huge influence on my drumming, Alex Marquez rules! Chuck and I both listened to tons of King Diamond too and Mikkey Dee is a huge influence on my drumming.
SDM: What is the song titled “Tune of Evil” off the Control Denied deluxe Edition?
Richard: I actually don’t think I ever heard that song before it was on the deluxe Edition, I think it was just a fun song that Chuck was having fun with while we were rehearsing for the Control Denied album. Chuck had a great sense of humor and we would play a lot of funny songs when we were rehearsing and I think that song was something he probably came up with when he was working on guitar parts for the Control Denied demos.
SDM: Were you playing along with a click track on both recordings?
Richard: No, we didn’t use a click track. The music on those albums was so technical that I have no idea what time signature we’re playing on a lot of the songs haha!
SDM: What sort of mic(s) did you use on the cymbals for both recordings? Did you use triggers at all?
Richard: No I’ve never used triggers on my drums, I like a natural sound for the drums. I’m not sure what mics were used but I think they were Shure 57’s.
SDM: On Death’s “Voice of The Soul”, did you have any drums written for that song or was that just meant to be an instrumental, like it is on the actual CD?
Richard: That was always meant to be an instrumental song with no drums.
SDM: Did you play along to any bass on any of the Control Denied 1999 demo material in order to get it down in the studio?
Richard: Yes we always rehearsed together as a band to make sure all of the parts were very tight. Getting the bass and drums tight together was very important to us.
SDM: Tell us about the recording of the new “Charred Walls of the Damned” which you just recorded twelve tracks for? Were did you record and was there anything special about the studio?
Richard: I’m SOOOO excited about this album. I recorded 12 tracks in two days at The Hit Factory Criteria studio in Miami, Florida between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The drum room was massive, like the size of a gymnasium, and the drums sound Incredible on this album. I’m so happy with the drum sound because it is a very natural and big sound. It’s a very legendary studio, that has seen bands like: Black Sabbath, The Eagles, Michael Jackson and many others. I was so excited to record there and I love Miami too! It was 80 degrees in Miami while it was a snowing Blizzard in New York City where I live, so it was very inspiring to fly to Miami during the winter to record the second Charred Walls of the Damned album! We’re recording the guitar parts right now and we’re hoping to release the album in early summer of this year.