Interview & photo: Ivana Sataić
Christian Death have been called the number one Goth band in the world or even the god fathers of Goth. The funny thing is that the band have never considered themselves Goth, they regard themselves as explorers of unexplored soundscapes and emotions and since their beginning until today they are the most recognizable for their, to some people, conroversial songs about being open-minded and showing respect to natural human intstincts against any kind of rules. About all this subjects, only a minutes after their show in Zagreb on 15th May 2008 we had an honor to talk with Valor, central personality of the band.
VENIA: I’d like to start with some things people are talk about from different points of view for years by now so I think it would be interesting to see it also from your point of view. If we talk about Christian Deaths beginning, on the one side there was a Gothic scene here in Europe, and on the other Deathrock scene in the USA.
VALOR: People think that but no. Because when we were started there wasn’t such a thing as a Gothic rock on the other side of Atlantic. We were doing something totally new.
VENIA: That is exactly what I wanted to hear from your. Because what people usually think is that thing about Gothic movement here and Deathrock movement on the other side of the Atlantic and that’s not always correct.
VALOR: No, there was no such a thing. In fact, with Gothic, it wasn’t invented until. the end of the 80′s. It was invented by the English press so.
VENIA: Yes, connected with a Batcave club in London.
VALOR: Yeah, but it was also a way after the Batcave club, long after the Batcave.
VENIA: Everybody here usually call your music style as Gothic. Although we can’t miss Gothic influence in your music, is a Gothic term clear to describe your music or you’d prefer to use some other term to describe it better?
VALOR: It’s a limitation. It’s extreme limitation. I think we deserve the association of the influence of what Gothic is, however, many bands who are Gothic have attention to limit themselves to fashion, to sound and stick into one tiny little hole. But Christian Death has always been an expansion of ideas. Just like the Bauhaus, but I’m talking about Bauhaus of 1920′s, not the band. Influence comes from the art of 1920′s, the school of Bauhaus. So, the art of Bauhaus, the art of creating innovation is expense. is totally expansion. And so to limit the band or the style of Christian Death or Gothic music into one little pitchy hole is injustice. It’s injustice to art, to people and to activity. As times go on you just can’t say we are limited, you can’t say everything is age, you can’t say everything what I do and is 12 years old is my influence, you know. We are influenced by many, many different things. Art is a very expensive thing so we do what is unlimited, that’s very important thing to say. Whatever, it’s 80′s, 90′s or 2000′s, it’s good to expense and you see, Avril Lavigne or Madonna, they are gonna stay on the same place, we wanna stay nowhere. We wanna expand and we want to be able to explore. We want to be artists of the next generation, of the last generation. In this generation and the generation after, and generation after, and after.
VENIA: Your new album “American Inquisition”, in many opinions, shows the band heading back to their roots, both musically and thematically.
VALOR: No, not at all. It’s not return to roots, its return to simplification. Our roots were very simple. I have to admit that I was influenced by many, many different things but when all this things happened in America the best way to me to explain the politics is simplicity. So because we’ve been simple people think we’ve been going back to the roots. It’s not that. Because if I tell you the up is down, then the up is down. It’s just simple, it’s not trying to be 80′s or 90′s, it’s been honest, it’s about honesty and..
VENIA: State of mind..
VALOR: Exactly, state of mind.
VENIA: In a way, “American Inquisition” can be described as a politically active album. Making social and political change in USA today is nearly chimera, unless if you have some influence in media, music or any other kind of art. Recently President Bush was in Croatia, now you are here again and people make some lines. Many American bands today to a kind of political albums, like also London After Midnight, do you think you music is able to reach the masses and make a difference?
VALOR: Well you know I don’t know anything about London After Midnight but I have to tell you I think that Bush is coming to Croatia is very hypocrite. Everything about his politics is propaganda. Whatever is it America, England or Croatia or India or anywhere, its propaganda. It’s try to sell business, it’s try to sell the business of his friends. The vice president of America, his name is Dick Cheney, he used to be owner of the company that is re-building Iraq. You know, they are making millions and millions dollars and this Cheney is just pretend to have nothing to do with that. So it’s corruption, it’s a political scandal, it’s evil, it’s evil, it’s evil. And I just think if we can educate people to be aware of corruption. and honestly it’s easy in Croatia, it’s easy in Europe but it’s very hard to us in America. Because in America people are a victim of the television and newspapers. In Croatia, you don’t live in America so you can see the news from perspective of criticism. In America I have to deal with 250 million people who are blackmailed by propaganda and they scare me. They are very, very scary. I can be honest more in Croatia or London even then I can in America. Because American people are so blind with ignorance and too blind with propaganda and when I wanna say what I wanna say about the reality of the world they would attack me, which is what happened in Leipzig few days ago.
VENIA: On Wave Gotik Treffen?
VALOR: Oh yes. It wasn’t about politics; it was about other people trying to capitalize what I’ve been doing since I joined Christian Death. And this people are just evil and corrupted.
VENIA: Some people probably don’t know you sampled some of Alex Jones’s documentaries on “XIII”, which ends the album. Can you tell our readers something about the clips you used and why do you considered them as suitable for “American Inquisition”?
VALOR: Alex Jones is a very bizarre person because he lives in a same state as George Bush, in Texas. He’s very political and when I first heard of him I thought: oh my God, this guy is very extreme. But after six months of listening to his stuff and thinking I thought this guy got a lot of courage to live in Texas, to live in America and stand up to do what he does. So I have to honor the courage of somebody who is risking, in my opinion, his life. Because, you know, maybe he is not trying to be voted for a president or a senator, because if he was they would kill him. That’s happened to Kennedy. Because this guy is not trying to be a president he’s not gonna die. So when I used his samples I honestly thought that CSI would come to knock on my door.
VENIA: Beside of political side of the album, what inspire your songs, your own life and experiences or someone else lives and experiences? Here are many different influences, like for example, drugs.
VALOR: It’s an experience of my experience. And I’m totally into history. I study history going back 5000 years. I try to understand about humanity. And I think people are using drugs for thousands of years. People have been using alcohol, people has been using of this things for thousand of years, it’s a necessary thing. You can do exercises, you can go and run to get out your frustrations, it’s a natural instinct to be relieved of your frustrations. When it comes to drugs I think society, in particular America and England, its escape. You know, it’s excuse that the money is a problem or politics are problem, they are blaming on the drugs. But you know people have been doing it for thousands of years. And I think people are victims of themselves. Some people who’re using drugs can’t control themselves. For example, in Sweden alcohol is very restricted so lots of people are alcoholics, in Italy alcohol is easy and so many people aren’t alcoholics. But in America they restricted alcohol and I think when you say someone he cannot do it makes him to do it more. We say no to drugs and people thinks it means yes to drugs. If you say you can’t go and have fun people say fuck you I’m gonna have fun. Drugs are something people need to do. I think thousands of years when people were going to wars they did opium, they did heroin because their hands had been cut off and they needed to do this. The same is with alcohol. And of course they’ve been doing it for pleasure; they’ve been doing it for fun. But the problem is people don’t know to stop when it is enough. I do. I know where the limit is. If you don’t know, you’ll become a drug addict, you’d become a piece of shit on the street and you can’t do anything with yourself. It’s all about the control. It’s all about the control of your body and control of your mind. If you can control yourself then you’re physically and mentally a human being and you won’t become a failure in your life.
VENIA: How do you feel to play in Croatia and Europe again?
VALOR: I had fun. I really like Europe because Europeans are very much open-minded then Americans. America is very dark, you know, the propaganda, the television, the university, schools. What people think in America. Americans are very naive. Have you seen the movie Hostel?
VALOR: That is perfectly typical way of thinking. So..
VENIA: In the end, is there something you’d like to add? Is there some message you’d like to send to your fans?
VALOR: Have open minds. And. it’s not about CSI, it’s not about Doomsday, it’s not about Christian, Muslim or Jew, it’s about..