Webzine: About Heavy Metal / USA
Article: Interview Richard Christy

Written by: Chad Bowar
Published: October 2006



To the legions of Howard Stern fans he's the guy who makes hilarious prank phone calls and is willing to do anything for the show (including a live on air waxing of his private parts). To metal fans, Richard Christy is a well known drummer who was in the legendary group Death and also Iced Earth and many other bands. Even though the Stern show occupies most of his time these days, Christy still finds time to write and play heavy metal. We spoke about his current projects, his days in Death and Iced Earth, his love of Stryper and other metal topics.

Chad Bowar: It's been about two years since you've been with the Stern show full time. How much do you miss being a full time musician?

Richard Christy: I miss it a lot. I love touring. Luckily I have my dream job to keep me busy. I work about 14 hours a day now and totally love it. I do like traveling the country. I miss that a little bit. I miss getting up in front of crowds. I still go to shows all the time. Once in a while I get to sit in with bands. I sat in with Shadows Fall and a few other bands. That brings the feeling back, too.

Do you still keep in touch with your friends from the world of metal?

Yes. I still see tons of friends that I made through the metal scene and tons of industry people that I've known for years because I see them at metal shows here in New York. I still talk to all my old bandmates and friends that I've known from the metal scene for the past 14 years. I still stay in touch with the metal world and I'm still writing music and playing drums every day, so I'm still staying in touch with the metal scene.

Back in the day you were with a band in Kansas called Burning Inside. You decided to move to Florida. How come you picked Orlando instead of someplace like New York or Los Angeles?

At the time in 1996 when we moved the Florida scene was still pretty hot for death metal. A lot of bands that we really looked up to lived there, and our guitar player Michael Estes had an apartment in Orlando so it worked out really well. Steve Childers (Burning Inside's guitarist) and I stayed with him for about a month until we got on our feet and found jobs. It helped a lot that Michael had an apartment there and knew a lot of people in the scene there. He knew it was a really good scene at the time and it seemed like a good step. For me I knew that Chuck Schuldiner from Death lived in Orlando and I was a huge Death fan. It was exciting just thinking about the prospect of meeting Chuck and living in the same town where one of my favorite bands was from.

How did you end up meeting Chuck and becoming a member of Death?

Steve Childers from Burning Inside and I were walking through a B. Dalton bookstore in the Altamonte Mall in Orlando one day and we saw Chuck reading a recording magazine. We freaked out and did a double take. We stopped and talked to Chuck. He was so cool and so nice. We told him we had a band called Burning Inside and talked to him for a long time. I would see Chuck at shows every now and again and at parties. When I found out that Chuck needed a drummer, I found out through my friends in the band Wicked Ways who were good friends with Chuck. They recommended that Chuck give me an audition, so I called him and auditioned a few days later. It went really well.

When you were working with Chuck in Death and Control Denied, what was the status of your other band Burning Inside?

I stayed really busy during that whole time. I would practice four or five days a week with Death and about three or four nights a week with Burning Inside. I would arrange it where I had two different drum kits, one at Death's rehearsal studio and one at Burning Inside's rehearsal studios. I would practice with Death during the day and Burning Inside at night. It really got my chops up as far as drumming goes. I would practice not only a couple hours by myself, but also two or three hours with each band. It was really a busy time. I always kept Burning Inside going throughout the whole time. One thing I loved about Burning Inside and why I wanted to keep it going was that I was able to write music in that band. I wrote a lot of guitar riffs and lyrics for that band, which I wasn't able to do as much of in some of the other bands I played in.

After Chuck passed away you became a member of Iced Earth, right?

Actually, it was during the time that I was also in Control Denied and Death that I became a member of Iced Earth. That was through the producer Jim Morris. He worked with Death and Iced Earth. It was also through a friend of mine Andrew Sample from Century Media Records. They both suggested me to Jon from Iced Earth, who called me. I made sure that the schedules would work out between my two main bands at the time, Control Denied and Iced Earth. I decided to go for it. I auditioned and it went great.

You also did some tour fill ins for a couple different bands during that time frame, right?

That was in the year 2000. It was a busy year. I was in Control Denied at the time. I joined Iced Earth and Demons and Wizards that year and went on tour with Incantation. John McEntee from Incantation called me in April of 2000 and it happened to work out that I would be able to tour with them for a month and a half. A few days after I got home I flew to Europe with Demons and Wizards. That was a lot of fun. It was a big contrast. The Incantation tour was in a van playing small clubs to around 300 to 500 people a night. Then we went to Europe on a big tour bus with Demons and Wizards playing festivals that were about 10,000 to 20,000 people each weekend.

I actually had a lot of fun on both tours. The Incantation tour was a blast because I've been friends with all those guys since the mid '90s when I lived in Missouri. We had a lot of freedom. When you tour in a van you're able to do a lot more then when you're in a bus. If you have a day off and want to go camping or see some sights you're free to do that. With a bus you have to park somewhere. Those guys are big horror movie fans, so I went on the internet and mapped out a whole horror movie tour that went along with our tour. In each city we'd do to we'd go to different sites from different horror movies, like the mall from Dawn Of The Dead when we were in Pittsburgh. We went to the lighthouse from John Carpenter's The Fog when we were in San Francisco and went to all the shooting locations from the original Halloween when we were in Pasadena. The coolest thing of all was the bar and abandoned house where they filmed John Carpenter's Vampires. It was out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. We had about three days off in Albuquerque so we'd go out to the desert and drink at this bar where they filmed Vampires. It was really cool.

The temptations of the road can be pretty overwhelming. Were you able to enjoy yourself without burning out?

I would have to save it for days when we had a day off the next day. That was the only time I drank more than usual. I'd usually have a couple of beers after a show, but nothing crazy because in all the bands I played in it was physically exhausting to play a show. I didn't want to be sick or tired for the next show because of partying. When we had a day off the next day I'd tie one on drinking. I've had a few instances where I threw up on our guitar tech's feet in Europe and threw up in the Incantation van. I had some pretty wild times, but kept to days when we had the next day off so I could nurse my hangover for a day.

There are so many different genres of metal, and you've played in bands of several different genres. Do you have a favorite genre of metal?

I'm into every type of metal as long as it's melodic. I'm really into metal that has melody and as long as you can remember a riff or a lyric five minutes after you hear a song then that's a good song. As long as it's memorable I don't really care what type of metal it is. Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel and Dismember are super heavy bands, but they also have really melodic and catchy songs. That's one thing I loved about Death and why they were my favorite band. They were super heavy but at the same time really melodic and had really great leads and catchy riffs and catchy vocal lines. As long as a metal song has that I like it, no matter what genre it is.

You've taken some ribbing on the Howard Stern show for being a big fan of Stryper.

I'm not a religious person, and I was never into their music because of the lyrics or what they stood for. I don't care what somebody's religious preferences are. I just thought their music was so catchy. I remember hearing "Calling On You" from To Hell With The Devil. I heard it when I was 12 years old and couldn't get it out of my head for two months. They have some really heavy riffs and well written songs. For a long time I was a little bit ashamed to say that I was a fan. But as I get older I don't really care. Everybody has their different kinds of music that they're into, and I'm proud to admit I'm a big fan of Stryper.

Who were some drummers you looked up to when you started in metal, and who are some current drummers that you admire?

Alex Van Halen would be the first guy, because when I heard "Hot For Teacher" that's when I wanted to play drums. I remember trying to play that intro on cow feed buckets at my parents' farm in Kansas. He kick started it. Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot was another. Just that simple drum beat from "Cum On Feel The Noize." I remember I was so excited because it was so easy and I knew how to play it. That's what got me into drums. When I heard Dave Lombardo from Slayer I was just blown away by the double bass. When I heard Reign In Blood I was totally blown away. Dave Lombardo and Pete Sandoval are the first two really extreme drummers that blew me away with their speed. That's when I wanted to start building up my speed and play double bass.

As far as technicality Mikkey Dee from King Diamond has great drum fills. Right around the same time Riot released an album called Thundersteel and Bobby Jarzombek played drums on that. It has some of the most wicked drumming I've ever heard. I heard that when I was a freshman in high school. That was a huge influence on me. Bobby's brother Ron played in a band called Watchtower, and his drumming on that album still blows me away. It's the most technical drumming I think I've ever heard. In the '90s when I heard Sean Reinert play on Death's Human and Gene Hoglan play on Individual Thought Patterns those are two drummers who also had a huge influence on me. Alex Marquez from Malevolent Creation is another influence. The album Retribution has some of the most brutal death metal drumming. Pete Sandoval was the first drummer I ever heard play a blast beat, and I was totally blown away by that when I heard it in high school.

Nowadays some of my favorite drummers are Derek Roddy from Hate Eternal. He's an amazing drummer, insane to watch live because he's inhuman. The same with George Kollias who's in Nile now. I met him when Death played in Greece and he was a really young guy. I remember him telling me about his band, and now he's joined Nile. It's so cool to see that he's doing so well and is well respected. He's maybe the fastest drummer I've seen in my life. He's a really great technical drummer, too. Jason Bittner from Shadows Fall is an amazing drummer. Chris Adler from Lamb Of God is one of my favorite drummers and they are one my favorite newer bands. Chris is an awesome drummer and a super nice guy. There are so many great drummers now and so many great bands. It's really a cool time for metal.

Any possibility of you hosting a metal show on Sirius?

There was a Saturday where I picked a bunch of songs I loved and they gave me a shoutout on the show. We'll probably do more of that. As far as going on the air there, hopefully some time in the future. I'm just been really tied up on the Stern show. I'm working from about 4am to 6pm and it's just been crazy. Eventually I hope something will happen. Hard Attack is an awesome station. For a metal fan it's the perfect station.

You're also working on some new stuff with producer Jason Suecof (Trivium).

We've been writing stuff together as far back as 2001. When I lived in Florida I lived with him for a few months. He's an amazing guitar player and songwriter and a great engineer. We've written about 7 or 8 songs together. We've been talking about it and each of us are writing a lot of music. We have a lot of material between the two of us and I'd love go in and record something with him, maybe late this year or early next year.

What type of metal are the songs you've written together?

I would compare them to King's X and maybe Galactic Cowboys. It's a little bit technical but really melodic and catchy. They have long guitar solos. I wouldn't call it power metal, but I'd call it melodic metal. We're both into so many types of music that I wouldn't know how to classify it. Sometimes it's super heavy, sometimes there are acoustic parts, but the vocals are really melodic with huge choruses and tons of harmony.


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Edited for Empty©Words 03-10-07