Gothic Text files Christian Death - A History According to Valor

Christian Death - A History According to Valor

by Roger Charles Fracer (fracer@rpi.edu)

In 1981 after contemplating history, anthropology, sociology, and in particular religion, theology, occultism, and so-called superstitions, psychology, parapsychology, astronomy, physics including quantum physics, astrophysical phenomenon including claims of extra-terrestrial experience, naturalism including geology, botany, biology, chemistry and meteorology, in fact the microcosm or chaos of nature and the universe or be it the pluriverse, Valor determined that the best way to explore his curiosities and convictions was through the universal medium and his first love, music.

It was in Los Angeles that he first advertised for people to be part of what he termed "Pompeii 1999" later abbreviated to "Pompeii 99". "Pompeii" refers to the catastrophe which befell the Roman elite living there when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The event was allegedly an act of god or fate as punishment for their sins. "1999" refers to a prophesy made by Nostradamus that a similarly yet far more severe fate shall befall all humanity in that year.

Numerous people were interviewed and auditioned for "Pompeii 99" with much disappointment. As the probability of finding people with the intellect to comprehend and accept Valor's concepts as well as demonstrate any musical talent was very unlikely. He opted for musical talent and at least an oblique sympathy for his concepts as a consolation. The initial results of the search brought about the formation of the first line-up, the precursor of the nucleus of the latter day Christian Death being: Valor lead vocals and guitar, Gitane Demone backing vocals, David Glass drums, and several others.

Nostradamus Records was also founded in Los Angeles in 1981 by Valor, David Glass, Marc Doten (or Cram Netod) and Polly Klemmer. The first release "NOS-001" was the LP entitled "Look at Yourself" by Pompeii 99 and was distributed by Greenworld, the forerunner to Enigma Records.

Pompeii 99 quickly received notoriety on various radio stations and in the press resulting in many live shows in Los Angeles. Late in that same year a band influenced by Black Sabbath and the current New Wave trend whose name derived from a combination on a word play on Christian Dior in an attempt to upset and offend, originally called The Upsetters, then later to be known as Christian Death also released a song called "Dogs" on a compilation LP called "Hell comes to your house" which included bands with varying degrees of pseudodemonic overtones and undertones, including Christian Death. Sorry folks! but this was nothing more than a charade. Even the author of the words of the Christian Death of that time is mortified at his own words. The words, the name of the band, in imagery, such as dead cat corpses, was nothing more than shock value sensationalism which did nothing more than get a few gigs at the time. 1982 was just around the corner and the then Christian Death released the LP "Only Theatre of Pain" on Frontier Records. Meanwhile Pompeii 99 continued to gain popularity, perform and released an EP/Picture Disc entitled "Ignorance is the control" which was a statement about the cold selfish ignorance that all societies are controlled by. A concert was being arranged at the Hollywood Palladium with Public Image and Pompeii 99, a third band was needed to complete the bill. By this time Valor had heard about a band called Christian Death a couple times. For him the name Christian Death inspired strong image akin to his own concepts. He contacted the Christian Death bass player of the time who was also in charge of business about the Palladium and other gigs.

However, due to lack of organization Christian death never did any of the gigs proposed. Eventually Valor spoke with Rozz Williams lead vocalist/ lyricist of the time and invited Rozz to a Pompeii 99 record release party where they met and discussed musical preferences, poetry, and art. Still not having heard CHRISTIAN DEATH, Valor became more interested in the band after this meeting, and he eventually organized Pompeii 99 and Christian Death to perform together. Valor found Christian Death to be a disappointment as a band but found merit in Rozz as a performer on numerous shows. By the end of 1982 Pompeii 99 was being prepared for a European your. While Christian Death (phase 1) had split up around this time due to internal fueding.

By mid 1983 Pompeii 99 were still in Los Angeles due to financial set backs regarding touring. Valor and David Glass discussed how it would be more cost effective to tour with two bands or better still one band with two identities. Valor and David recalled how Pompeii 99 and Christian Death were at least good variety together, why not take them both to Europe? By this time Rozz had been sitting around at his mother's house in Pamona, California for six months with nothing happening. Valor proposed to Rozz the Pompeii 99/Christian Death merger, one band two names and Rozz accepted this. In this merger Rozz was also to perform in the Pompeii 99 shows and understood that Christian Death was secondary. The Pompeii 99/Christian Death line-up was now Valor vocals and guitar, Rozz vocals, Gitane Demone backing vocals and keyboards, David Glass drums, and various bass players. Several people were negotiating shows for this line up, one such person was Yann Farcy whom has been contacted by Frontier Records who were trying to sell him the French license for the first Christian Death LP. He thought it would be good business to release this record only if a band called Christian Death were to come to France to help promote its release. He found out about the Pompeii 99/Christian Death line-up and made them many promises: airfare to Europe, gigs, spending money, recording studio time in England, etc.

Money was supposedly sent. It never came. Flights and gigs were booked. Valor decided to take his entire savings and fly the band to Europe in time for the first show in Paris. There were not enough gigs to live on and soon after the band was penniless and desperate. By now Yann Farcy was making excuses for not reimbursing the airfare saying "I sent the money to you in Los Angeles but you left before it got there, etc etc." "I just paid for studio time in England there is no money left at the moment" (hah ha suckers) He said "do you want to go to England (actually Wales) to record a new LP at this studio with accommodations, three meals a day catered, state of the art etc etc etc." At the time the band was barely eating one meal a day and with the thrill of recording a new LP the answer was "yes".

However Yann Farcy insisted that the band use only the name Christian Death for he knew this was better for his business as he had already bought the license for "Only Theatre of Pain". It was more practical advertising two LPs simultaneously with one name and one cost. Most of the band objected being stuck with the name Christian Death especially Rozz. "Too many bad memories for me" he said "I'd rather Pompeii 99 or "Darkus Korada" which he preferred (which was seriously considered). Valor, however, recalled how his initial impression of the name Christian Death fit perfectly with his concepts and pointed out that as it is with organized religion in general, Christianity (as distinct from Christ himself) can be seen to be the prime example of social corruption. As for Death was the ultimate enigma and could therefore possibly hold the key to every or at least many a mystery. Eventually everyone agreed contractually on the condition that everyone was jointly and severally Christian Death and that anyone who left the unit would forfeit rights to the name. Rozz however also insisted on the condition that he sang only lead vocals now (since he did not play an instrument) and that he write the lyrics (since he wrote no music as such). Valor agrees as it was the only alternative to the predicament and many disagreements. The die was cast. Born again Christian Death went to Rockfield Studios in Wales to record "Catastrophe Ballet" an LP of music and concepts originally meant for the next Pompeii 99 record.

When "Catastrophe Ballet" was finished there was still no money. For two months the band endured hard times with only the occasional poorly paying show, there was an average of $5 US Dollars a day each to live on as well as any food they could beg from those people with whom they managed to get places to sleep throughout England and France. This was all too much hardship for Rozz, who pleaded with his mother to pay his airfare from France back to California. She agreed and he left the rest of the band stranded in Europe without the person who had just sung lead vocals on the latest LP. The stranded considered doing shows without him, but decided it unethical.

Several months later Valor, David, and Gitane managed to raise the money to return to Los Angeles. Back in Los Angeles an LP was proposed, to be released by Nostradamus Records and by Yann Farcy's label "Invitation Au Suicide" in France, provided Yann sent money and it arrived. Some of it did, the LP "Ashes" was recorded. A tour of the US and Europe was booked. One week prior to departure Rozz split the band this time it seemed for good. "I want nothing to do with Christian Death." The band outlined the ethics of right and wrong and determined that continuing without him this time was fair. The band was now back to the original Pompeii 99 line-up of Valor lead vocals and guitar, Gitane Demone on backing vocals, David Glass drums, except for a new bass player and an extra guitarist.

This was the turning point, it was June 1985. Valor decided to bring the music and lyrics back to the realism of Pompeii 99 rather than the surrealism he and Rozz had collaborated on in the previous two LPs. Even with Valor's coaching Rozz found it difficult to express realism. Valor was hungry for this and it came with the cold hard reality of "Atrocities" an interpretation of the atrocities of World War Two, this record points out that life is not just a surreal fantasy, but that it is also painful. However, prior to this a poorly finances EP was rushed together during difficult times in Italy, it was called "The Wind Kissed Pictures" and was at best a transitional entity.

The next LP "The Scriptures" endeavors to bring the listener to the awareness of how society throughout the ages has used religion as a weapon for greedy power mongers, as it still does this day. And we are its prey, we are the victims of the church of no return. Society will continue to use this weapon until at least July 1999 and probably will thereafter.

By the time of The Scriptures the foundation of Christian Death had become more stable. Finances and communications had improved, there was by this time an organized network of people and facilities. Valor was becoming increasingly aware of the level of sympathy, dedication and devotion of the people in contact with his ideas. This was the time to launch the antithesis to society which he had been formulating since the beginning of Pompeii 99, hence the Christian Death Society.

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