Charred Walls of the Damned’s Richard Christy Talks Randy Blythe, Howard Stern + More
Richard Christy has made a name for himself in two different worlds: the world of metal and the world of radio. To radio fans, Christy is known as the stuntman and prank phone caller of The Howard Stern Show. To metal fans, he's known for his time spent drumming with bands like Death and Iced Earth. Now, when Christy isn't performing hilarious stunts or making prank phone calls for Stern, he's leading the heavy metal charge with his latest band Charred Walls of the Damned.
A week after catching Charred Walls of the Damned's explosive set at Metallica's Orion Music + More festival, Loudwire caught up with Christy to talk about everything from being a metalhead growing up in Kansas to the current legal situation involving his good friend Randy Blythe.
It's been over a week now since Charred Walls of the Damned played the Orion fest in Atlantic City. How did it feel to be a part of that experience?
It was incredible. It still really hasn't sunk in that we got to play. Not only did we get to play, but Lars Ulrich [Metallica's drummer] introduced us. It was very surreal. I couldn't believe it was happening. It went by so fast, but I think we sounded really good. When you do a festival, you've got to jump right up there and get started because there are so many bands. We didn't do a soundcheck or anything, but I think we sounded awesome. I was really, really happy with our performance. There were a lot of fans there that had probably never heard us before. Hopefully we made some new ones.
I think without a question you made some new fans. I was lucky enough to be in the crowd for your set. You guys had a huge crowd.
Yeah, it was cool. A lot of people were moving in and out, stage to stage, checking everything out. I think Sepultura started when we were playing so I was a little bummed I didn't get to check them out. There were so many cool bands there, it was awesome that the crowd came to see us.
It was a solid performance. There's no doubt that many in the crowd were there to see you personally, but it also seemed like everyone really enjoyed lead singer Tim "Ripper" Owens' performance. How did you and Tim get hooked up in the first place to form Charred Walls of the Damned?
Tim joined Iced Earth when I was playing drums. We toured together and recorded the album 'The Glorious Burden' together. Even after I left Iced Earth, we remained friends. When he left Iced Earth, we remained friends. When I was putting Charred Walls of the Damned together, he was definitely my first choice for a singer. I immediately thought of Tim. He's an amazing singer, but also a super, super nice guy and really easy to get along with. We just have fun when we hang out, and that's really important to me.
You decided to leave Iced Earth to pursue your current gig with Howard Stern, right?
Yeah, I did. Iced Earth had some tour plans and things going on that would've conflicted with me trying out for 'The Howard Stern Show.' I had to make a decision: Do I continue with Iced Earth or do I try out for the Stern job? At the time, it was just an audition for the job. I didn't even think I would win. It was a tough decision because I love Iced Earth; I was a big fan of the band before I joined. It came down to the fact that if I didn't try out for the job, I would've always wondered what could have happened. It would have always been in the back of my mind. I decided to audition and take the chance.
Do you ever wonder what could have happened if you stayed with Iced Earth instead?
I do, but you know, I'm really happy where my life is at. I think I made the right decision. I loved playing with Iced Earth, but now I have my dream job with Howard. I make a living by making prank calls with my good buddy Sal [Governale] and can't think of a better job than that. I love living in New York City, too. I met my wife here. I'm so thankful for everything that has happened ever since I got the job with Howard. I'm really, really happy with my decision.
How do you balance your job with Stern while working on Charred Walls of the Damned?
I have to plan all of our shows and recordings around the radio show's vacation time. Unfortunately, we don't get to play live too often because I have to do it around my vacation schedule. Tim is also really busy with the projects he's got going on. Steve DiGiorgio [bassist] is really busy as well. He actually couldn't do the Orion fest with us because he was on the Death To All tour. Jason Suecof [guitarist] is a super, super busy producer as well as our guitarist so his schedule is really packed. We all understand that we're busy and we can't go on the road for months at a time. But when we do get together to play live, it's a really special occasion. Orion just worked out that Tim was available and I was as well. I think that's why people got a kick out of seeing us because we don't get to play that often. I even had to go to work the next day and I was hurting!
Your latest record, 'Cold Winds on Timeless Days,' has been out since October on Metal Blade Records. How is everything going with the album?
It's going great. The reviews have been really awesome. The response has been great. The fans seem to really love it. I'm happier with my drum sound, you know? For the second album, I really wanted to make sure I got a live, natural feel to the drums. A lot of people have said the sound overall on the album sounds live and natural, like we're just jamming in the studio. That's what I wanted. I love it. We also got to do a video for 'Zerospan' and it was the same team that did the 'Ghost Town' video for us. It was a lot of fun to do the 'Zerospan' video because I'm a big horror fan and it was like creating a five minute horror movie.
Let me just echo the reviews you mentioned. I love the new record. You guys sound great.
Thanks, man. That means a lot.
Things seem to be going well for Charred Walls of the Damned. Overall, how do you feel about the world of metal? Do you think it's healthy?
Absolutely. I went to see Iron Maiden last night [July 3] in Newark, N.J. and it was packed. Thousands and thousands of people were singing to every song. I saw Black Witchery this past Friday night in Brooklyn and it was packed. I actually played the Death To All show at Irving Plaza in New York this past Thursday [June 28] and that was sold-out. People flew in from all over the world to see that show. It seems like metal is bigger than ever. I think it's a really, really good time for metal.
When you grew up in Kansas, did you ever receive pushback from anyone for being a metal head?
I was pretty lucky. I had a lot of friends that I went to school with who loved metal. Actually, it was my neighbor who got me into metal. In the 80s, metal was pretty mainstream. A lot of people were into Motley Crue and Poison. If you were into Slayer or Morbid Angel, some people kind of frowned upon that. But that's what I loved about it! I loved when people frowned upon the music I was into. It was different, but yet I had a lot of friends I grew up with who were into it, too. When I was 14, we'd listen to Manowar and Metallica. Metal is a bonding thing. When you find other people who are into metal, you immediately become friends with them. The majority of all my best friends are metal heads and we got connected because of heavy metal.
Before I let you go, what do you think of the Randy Blythe and Lamb of God situation in the Czech Republic?
You know, it's such a bummer to hear about that. Randy is such an amazing guy. All of those guys are really good friends of mine. I actually toured with them in 2004. Right when I got the job with Howard, we had a week off from the radio show and I went to see them at Ozzfest and they asked me if I wanted to travel with them. I went on tour with them and hung out. I was kind of their assistant drum tech for that week. I even jammed on the song '11th Hour' with them during a soundcheck in Canada. It was so much fun. They're just great guys, really down-to-earth. I feel so bad for the whole band and for Randy. I hope it gets cleared up really soon. You know, it's going to make bands not want to play the Czech Republic anymore. Plus, when people get on stage, you have to be careful now. You never know what they're going to do, you have to think about their motives. It's scary these days because of the Dimebag [Darrell] incident. It's an unfortunate thing. I really hope Randy gets to come back to his family soon and everything gets cleared up.
Watch Charred Walls of the Damned's video for 'Zerospan'