We’re fans of Atlanta-area quartet Royal Thunder, and one of the biggest draws of the band is vocalist Mlny Parsonz. Her throaty and sultru vocals are stupendous, like a combination of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, and she carries herself as somewhere between a hippie and a witch. In an interview on MetalSucks’ podcast, she speaks about her past, not only someone that flirted with satanism and witchcraft, but as a person that was in a cult for nearly a decade. It’s a little shocking to hear, actually, especially since her ex-boyfriend and current guitarist of the band Josh Weaver was in the unnamed cult as well. Here’s what she said on the podcast, with transcription courtesy of Metal Sucks:
My mom’s from Spain, and she was very, very strict Roman Catholic. My dad lived in Spain, married my mom and they moved to New Jersey. My dad continued to take us to church. He asked my mom to leave the Catholic church, and they went to the Baptist church. My family and household were never religious — we were only religious at church because it was a show. I grew up like that.
Needless to say, I was like “This is fucking stupid, I hate this so much, so I’m gonna find something else.” So I found satanism and witchcraft. I wasn’t all that serious about it because I was just a a kid. Then eventually I met Josh in the late ’90s; he was part of a cult, although he didn’t know it was a cult at the time. The original bass player and drummer of Royal Thunder back when it was an instrumental band, and I wasn’t even a part of the band yet, they were all in that cult for a long time.
I’m never gonna say the name of [the cult] because I don’t wanna paint that picture or demonize anyone. They’re doing what they’re doing, that’s fine, whatever… I’m not here to tarnish anyone’s name. But it was very charismatic, and they drew in a lot of artists and musicians to make their church very hip. I ended up quitting drugs and viewed it as my way to clean up my life, so in my early 20s I started going to this church and got locked into it.
The last thing that happened to me was I was at a three-day women’s conference and was taken into these back rooms. I was brainwashed into going into this elevator in my mind and coming out on however many floors of how old I was — I was 25 or 26. They were like, “Go through every year of your life, come out of this elevator and go on floor 1, 2, 3, 4… it went on for hours because I had to give them all the visions I had for each floor. It was the most fucked up shit ever, I was losing my mind. And they did this to me for three days.
Eventually I woke up and I was like, “Something’s not right here.” There was a bunch of other shit. “Black Water Vision” is about that, and “Floor” on this new album is about that church. I woke up one day and I was like, “I’m never fucking going back.” I went to the pastor and I’m like, “I’m gonna take some time off,” thinking in my mind months, thinking in my mind, “Run for your fucking life.” And this pastor was like “OK, you can have next Sunday off,” and I’m like, “Ummm, I’m gonna need like a couple of Sundays,” and he’s like, “OK, take this Sunday off, but don’t take more than two.” I was like “Alright.” I had to go to his house to a meeting, with Josh, and sit down with this guy. Afterwards we got in the car and I’m like, “I’m not fucking going back.” And Josh is like, “But we have to!” and I’m like, “No, I’m not going back, he thinks I’m going back in two Sundays, I’m not fucking going back.” That’s what CVI was all about. It was about breaking away from all of that and erasing all the indoctrination and pushing it out of our minds and out of our souls and opening ourselves up and going, “Who the fuck are we?” because we just forgot. We were in a fog, Josh longer than I, but almost a decade for me. I was like, “Who the fuck am I?” CVI was a journey about that.
That’s bonkers. When listening to the band’s album, Crooked Doors, which is streaming now on NPR, knowing this will give some context to the songs on the album. We know we’ll be re-listening knowing what we know now.
Crooked Doors will be released on Relapse on April 7. It can be preordered here .