To regular listeners of SiriusXM’s Howard Stern Show, Richard Christy is known as a lovable redneck with a knack for making excellent crank calls and questionable personal hygiene. But to any true fan of metal, Richard was known well before that as an amazing drummer that’s played and toured with Iced Earth, Death and Control Denied, among others.
In 2004, Christy left the day to day metal life behind after winning a contest to replace former Stern cast member “Stuttering” John Melendez, but it was announced earlier this week that he’s been signed to Metal Blade Records for a solo album. Christy caught up with Metal Insider to talk about how the album came about, the band’s lineup, and the differences between being a metal drummer and contributing to one of the biggest radio shows ever.
How did your solo album come about? When is it going to come out?
It’s been quite a while since I’ve done anything musically although I still practice drums a lot and I’ve been playing guitar a ton in the last few years. Every time I go to a metal show or listen to a killer metal album I get itching to get back into the scene, so that’s pretty much how all of this started. I’m hoping to release the album in early November.
How did you hook up with Metal Blade?
I’ve known [Metal Blade president] Brian Slagel for a few years now. He’s a really cool guy and we have a lot of the same musical tastes, so I see him a lot at metal shows in New York. Last summer at Gigantour, I mentioned to him that I was working on a project and writing a lot of music. He said he really wanted to hear it so a few months back I sent him some of the demo songs that I had written and he really liked it. The rest is history!
With Death and Iced Earth, you’re known as a power metal/thrash drummer, but Coheed and Cambria is one of your favorite bands. What do you expect the album to sound like?
I’m into all kinds of different music, I can be listening to Amon Amarth, then put on a Wrathchild America album, then a Coheed and Cambria album, then a classic John Carpenter film score so I’m influenced by a lot of different types of music. Probably the best way to describe what the album I’m doing will sound like would be two words – heavy and melodic. I’m a huge fan of guitar harmonies so there will be a lot of that on the album and the drums will definitely be crazy. I’m so psyched to have Jason Suecof on guitar. He’s an amazing guitar player and also a killer song writer so I’ll get together with him in the studio at first and he’ll take my riffs and really spice them up, and add some blazing solos to all of the songs too. Steve Digiorgio is a genius when it comes to the bass and I can’t wait to hear what he does with the songs too, I’ve been a HUGE fan of Steve’s ever since Sadus and when I heard his playing on Death’s Individual Thought Patterns, I was just totally blown away! And of course Tim “Ripper” Owens is a monster of a singer, the guy sounded perfect every night when I toured with him in Iced Earth and I’m just totally psyched that he’s singing with this band! We’ve been working together on demo songs for the album and his voice just fits the music perfectly. The music will definitely speak for itself when people hear it.
You have a full time job and live in New York City. How much time do you actually get to rehearse and write?
It is definitely hard to try to fit everything in but I love to be busy. I usually rehearse drums in the late afternoon after work for about an hour and a half, then I play guitar in the evening for about an hour or so. On the weekends I try to fit a little more rehearsal time in. I wrote all the songs for the album in my apartment on my Mac computer with Pro Tools, a guitar POD and EZ Drummer drum loop software. It took about a year to get everything right and finish the album and now I’m psyched to hear it come together in the studio!
You went from having one of the most awesome jobs ever (professional drummer in established metal bands) to having an even better job working for Howard Stern. Do you have any regrets about leaving the full time drumming world behind?
It was such a hard decision to leave Iced Earth because I loved the band, I was a huge fan before I played with them, and I loved touring with them. The reason I left is because I kept telling myself that if I didn’t at least try out for the Howard Stern Show then I would regret it for the rest of my life. It was just something I felt I had to do and now I have the greatest job in the world. I get paid to have fun and work with the funniest people in the world. I wouldn’t change a thing. Plus I LOVE living in New York City. It is such an incredible place to live, plus I don’t own a car anymore which I love because I hate driving, it’s so stressful!
You travel quite a bit doing comedy shows. How does that compare to the touring days?
Doing comedy is a lot scarier than playing in a band because rather than being on stage with three or four other guys, you’re up there by yourself and if you screw up everybody definitely notices! I love touring and doing comedy shows around the country on the weekends but I really do miss the camaraderie that you get touring with a band and being on a tour bus and eating at Waffle House at 3 in the morning on a Tuesday, drunk off your ass, playing all of the silly Waffle House songs on the Jukebox! I’m definitely psyched to get back out on stage and pound on some drums!
Do you think any of the new connections you’ve made in radio will help you with the album?
Definitely working on the Stern Show is a huge help with getting the word out about stuff, and SiriusXM has some amazing music channels. Liquid Metal is an incredible channel and all of the people who work for the channel are true die hard metal heads. Last year Liquid Metal played an original instrumental song that I wrote for a Howard TV drumming special titled “Frost” which was really cool. I received a lot of great feedback on the song which also helped inspire me to pursue this project.
Is it going to be a serious record, or will you also throw in skits and phone calls and stuff?
It is definitely a serious metal record. I take heavy metal very seriously. I’ve been a fan of metal since I was around eight years old and I want to make a metal album for true metalheads, something that people will like no matter what type of heavy metal they’re into.
Have you talked to Howard about the album? Does he even know you’re doing it?
It’s been discussed a little bit on the Stern Show. I’ve talked with Fred Norris about the album. He’s a fellow musician and pretty much a genius when it comes to music so I really value his opinion. My buddy and coworker Sal Governale has also heard the album and really likes it.