Richard Christy is best known for his role on The Howard Stern Show, including a knack for hilarious prank phone calls and bizarre (and often, well, quite disgusting) bits. But Richard is also an incredibly talented heavy metal drummer (as heard on the new recording by his band, Charred Walls of the Damned, titled Creatures Watching Over the Dead), as well as a composer of Halloween-style music—all of which he recently discussed with Pulse.
For people who know you primarily from the Stern show, please give a bit of background about your musical career.
I’ve been a drummer since 1984 when I was 10 years old. I heard Alex Van Halen’s drumming on “Hot For Teacher,” and I was hooked. I started playing in bands in the late 80’s and in 1997 I joined my favorite band, Death, who I had been a huge fan of since high school. I played on the Death album The Sound of Perseverance and toured the world with the band in 1998. It was a dream come true. I joined another of my favorite bands in 2000, Iced Earth and played on the albums Horror Show, Tribute to the Gods and The Glorious Burden. I did several tours with Iced Earth, and we even did a tour in Europe, where we played for three hours with no opening act. It was a workout! In 2009, I formed my current band, Charred Walls of the Damned, with my friends and former band members Tim “Ripper” Owens on vocals, Steve DiGiorgio on bass and Jason Suecof on guitars.
Which leads us to the latest album by Charred Walls of the Damned, Creatures Watching Over the Dead.
It’s an album that is five years in the making. Our second album came out in 2011 [Cold Winds on Timeless Days] and I really took a lot of time to write way more songs than I would need for this album. For our first two albums, I just wrote the exact amount of songs we needed. For this album, I wanted to take my time and I ended up writing 24 songs, then Jason—who helped with the songwriting in the pre-production stage—listened to all of the songs and picked the nine that he thought would make a great album. I would play all of the instruments on the demo versions of the songs, then Jason—who’s also our producer and engineer at his studios Audiohammer Studios in Florida—and I would get together during pre-production and streamline the songs, maybe change some of the tempos, and tighten them up so they were more compact, catchier and just all around better.
Besides playing heavy metal music, you also compose spooky instrumental Halloween-esque songs.
Yes, I’m huge Halloweenie. I’m actually in all of my glory right now, since it’s September and only 50 something days until Halloween! In 2012, I was asked to write music for an event that I was already a huge fan of, The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Westchester, New York. It’s a walk through 7,000 carved, lit Jack O’Lanterns for Halloween fans. I had been attending the event for many years and when I was asked to create original music for it, I jumped at the chance. It’s so fun to write music for the event because I’ll sit down at my keyboards in early July, light a pumpkin candle, crack open a pumpkin beer and just have fun and write scary sounding, John Carpenter-style synthesizer and piano music. I’ve been a massive fan of John Carpenter’s music since a kid and I still love synth music and soundtracks, like the Stranger Things soundtrack, which I cannot stop listening to, so getting to write music for The Blaze is always a blast!
How difficult was it to adjust from living in Kansas City to New York?
I actually grew up in Southeast Kansas—in a town of about 40 people—called Redfield, then moved to a farm nearby at age nine, so it’s quite an adjustment. I remember turning right on a red light with my U-Haul truck as soon as I arrived in NYC, and I got yelled at—so I learned very quickly that you can’t take a right on red in NYC like you can in Kansas. I love living in New York City. I’ve been here 12 years now, and haven’t had to own a car for 12 years—I’m a big fan of mass transit. I feel like I’ve adjusted very well because now I walk much faster than I used to.