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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.