Christian Death's Valor Kand and Maitri

​After more than three decades of spreading darkness, American goth rock pioneers Christian Death continue to thrill audiences with their doom-n-gloom sound and celebration of basically all things decadent. They may not be a household name but the band enjoys a cult following worldwide. A 16-year-old Rozz Williams, who grew up in Pomona, formed the group amidst the notorious LA hardcore punk scene in 1979. Christian Death's 1982 debut album, Only Theatre of Pain, showcased a darker expression of punk rock angst, with themes of melancholy and morbidity, and early versions of the band featured the famed guitar player Rikk Agnew, of OC's own Adolescents. Many today claim Christian Death, which performs Thursday at Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana, invented both goth and death rock.

Williams quit the band (for the second time) in the mid 1980s, leaving guitarist Valor Kand, who first appeared on 1984's Catastrophe Ballet, as the main songwriter/vocalist/violinist/guitarist. The new Valor-led version of Christian Death would eventually include a revolving lineup of more than 30 musicians. During the 1990s, there was even a second band by the name of Christian Death, fronted by Williams. After many more records and tours, things turned tragic. After dealing with manic depression and drug addiction, Williams committed suicide in 1998. No suicide note was found. 

Kand moved forward with the band has maintained their reputation as being one of the most controversial, misunderstood and provocative acts to ever command a stage. He's joined in Christian Death by one-name-only bassist/vocalist Maitri and drummer Nate Hassan. OCW recently spoke to Kand and Maitri about life in one of the most controversial bands on the planet. 

OC Weekly (Alex Distefano)In 1988, when you released the album Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ you got attacked by the religious groups and even got bomb threats at your shows and people burned your records. Has any of this happened since? Do you think that the right wing/religious conservatives are different in America rather than Europe?

Kand: Well, we haven't had any bomb threats like we got in Germany, which was actually a rare occasion for us. America definitely has a higher percentage of zealots but Germany is also a very Christian conservative country, as well. 

Maitri: Yeah, we did have a lot of protesters standing outside of the shows we played, especially in Germany, which still happened out on the last tour we were on.

Throughout your career, where are some of your favorite countries/cities to play and in what parts of the world have you not toured yet, but would like to?

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Maitri: In August we are going to Australia and New Zealand, and we've actually never toured there so I'm looking forward to that very much. I'm a Dutch girl so I love Europe a lot; Italy, Holland and Spain are always fun.

Kand: We've never played China or Japan; we would like to tour Asia if possible. South America is always great too, we just toured over there last October.

Before Christian Death, you [Kand] were originally in the LA death rock band Pompeii 99. How did that band relate to Christian Death?

Kand: It was basically part of what people would call the underground LA 'death rock' scene; we're talking about a handful of bands that would later be amalgamated into the greater 'Goth' scene. It had more of a punk rock vibe more than anything specific. For us it was a darker way of expressing that punk attitude. All of the bands were doing shows together. Perry Farrell was in that scene, as were guys from Guns N' Roses and other LA bands. But for Pompeii 99 and even Christian Death, we were just the darker side of that scene. The first time I saw Christian Death live with Rozz Williams singing was when we did a show together with Pompeii 99 in Long Beach at the Longshoreman's Hall. We had 45 Grave, Pompeii 99, Christian Death and Perry Farrell's old band Psi Com.

What inspired your latest record, [2007's] American Inquisition?

Kand: It was really inspired by the state of our country and all the fear after the tragedy of September 11. I saw what I considered to be fraudulent imagery of what was really happening in the world. Living under a climate of fear and lies is what had an impact on what we were trying to do with the music. But at the same time even though we were talking about abysmal concepts and lyrics for the music we wanted to stay positive, because the music is like the roller coaster that you're on, it's bringing the listener there to help absorb and deal with what is going on. 

Are you concerned with the global political climate, the economic meltdown and, what some see as the emergence of a one-world government?

Kand: Absolutely. Everyday we find out more information to verify the validity of it all, maybe not 100 percent of it is true, but in my mind, logic seems to dictate the more we look at the news and connect the tapestry of society we live in it becomes more evident.

Maitri: I notice people around me are waking up and want to learn more and know about what is really going on, instead of being sheep, and I like that very much.


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