Church of Misery Pre-Tour Interview

interview - 09.03.2010 11:01

Church of Misery, a metal band that dedicates their songs to serial killers, is looking forward to touring Europe.

In our pre-tour interview, Church of Misery's guitarist Tom Satan answered questions about the band's distinctive choices for themes, popularity in Japan and - naturally - about the upcoming March-April European tour.

How did you invent the band's serial killer theme? Does this theme bring you constant inspiration or does keeping it up also have its own challenges?

Tom Satan: Basically, when Tatsu started the band, he felt that the serial killer theme fit the music perfectly. The topic and the tunes have a similar vibe. It can be a real inspiration because once you start looking at quotes from killers, lyrics start to come out naturally. It was starting to look like it could be potentially problematic when we were running out of samples for the songs, but then Tatsu stumbled upon a treasure-trove of samples, and we're set for a few more albums now.

A question about songwriting: since you're dedicating tracks to serial killers, how deeply do you dig into the background of each of the criminal's stories, or do you just use the general atmosphere of the case? How do your songs get started?

Tom Satan: We read quite a lot into each killer. I mean, Tatsu's just into it, so he knows a lot anyway. The songs always start with a couple of riffs that go well together. The riff is the beginning and the end, really! Tatsu sits at home playing around on this weird little pink, elephant-shaped travel guitar, and he comes up with these rockin' songs. The serial killer gets chosen later, and the lyrics are last.

Metal is popular in Europe, but how is it in Japan? What kind of a reception does your music get in your home country?

Tom Satan: Metal in general is really big here. Anything with anthemic twin lead guitars is huge. There aren't a huge number of local bands who really make much of an impact overseas, though. We get a good audience here, but it's not necessarily a doom audience. We play with a lot of different bands from thrash to hard core, and dirty rock 'n' roll. It makes for energetic shows.

Negishi returned to Church of Misery after a rather long break. It seems he really enjoyed himself on the last tour, where he filled in for Hideki, who had just left the band.

Tom Satan: Yeah, I'm really glad Negishi's back in the band for good. He was amazing on that tour, and I was praying he'd rejoin full time. What took so long was that Tatsu and Junji had some issues with him about quitting before, and Negishi had a few issues with stuff like singing in English, but he had a big talk with the other two guys, and they worked everything out. It's a great line-up with him on vocals. He's one of the most full-on performers I've ever seen. This tour's gonna be amazing.

Your music style is often compared to Black Sabbath. What do you think of this comparison? Do you have other bands who have influenced you?

Tom Satan: Well, it's totally on purpose, so people can compare us to Sabbath all they like. Black Sabbath is everything to us. They're the air we breathe. That doesn't mean that they're the only thing we're influenced by, though. We're all influenced by 70's hard rock, and metal and hardcore. Tatsu really loves Novembre from Sweden, and kraut rock. Actually, he says Novembre is as important to him as Sabbath. Negishi loves Japanese hardcore. Junji loves blues stuff. I love traditional doom and metal in general. There's a lot of listening going on, that's for sure. We all listen to huge range of stuff, actually.

Your latest album, Houses of the Unholy, was delayed as you ended up recording it again. What actually happened?

Tom Satan: The first time round, we recorded it at the studio in Den Haag owned by Guy from Orange Sunshine. We'd heard some great-sounding records from there. Y'know, really genuinely dirty late 60's/early 70's sounding. Well, without going into heaps of details, the album came out sounding terrible, so we had to do it again. We didn't get the engineer we were supposed to have, the tape kept fucking up, and the bass was out of tune for the entire recording because the intonation on Tatsu's bass was totally out, but he didn't notice. That's what happens when you drop musical instruments down the stairs, folks. Anyway, we decided to do it with the engineer and studio who's done almost all of Church's recordings. It all went smoothly, and the album sounds rockin'.

Musically you're rather versatile, as your heavy sounding songs have been praised to be also groovy and fittingly rock spirited. But in your opinion, which ones of your songs work especially well on stage? Do you have a favorite song to play live?

Tom Satan: Yeah, what you say is true. We're as much a rock band as a doom band. There's a lot of Stooges, MC5, etc. in what we do. Playing gigs is what we love most, and we pretty quickly work out which songs work best live. It's a very sweaty experience. For me, my favourites live are I, Motherfucker, Where Evil Dwells, Killfornia, Shotgun Boogie, Red Ripper Blues and Spahn Ranch.

You've toured Europe often, so you must have gotten used to the loud metal audience. What kind of feelings do you have about this upcoming tour? Do you have any special expectations for Finland and the shows in Finland?

Tom Satan: Actually, the audiences in Japan aren't as reserved as you might think. They might've been before, but now they rock like anywhere else, except that they're a bit quieter between songs. Yeah, we can't wait to get on tour. We live for playing gigs, so we're very excited. This will be our longest tour yet. For me personally, it's great to finally be able to play in Finland because the mighty Reverend Bizarre is one of my favourite bands of all time. In fact, I would say that they were the band of the 2000s. I love Minotauri too, so just to be playing where they're all from will be exciting. Finland has some die-hards, that's for sure.

Do you have any last comments you'd like to say to our readers?

Tom Satan: We can't wait to see you all. We are a 110% every night band, so get ready to dance. Hehe! Let there be doom!

JaME would like to thank both the band and Esa of Blow Up That Gramophone for making the interview possible.
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