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: 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.
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.
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: 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.