Christian Death - Biography
Christian Death is an influential goth-punk band from Los Angeles, California. Guitarist Valor Kand has continued to use Christian Death’s name since lead singer and founding member Rozz Williams quit the band in 1985. From 1988 until 1994, when Williams led his own Christian Death reunion, there were two bands simultaneously touring and recording as Christian Death. Only Kand’s Christian Death remains now, following Williams’s 1998 suicide.
Singer Rozz Williams, guitarist Jay, bassist James McGearty and drummer George Belanger formed Christian Death in Los Angeles in 1979. The band played the Southern California punk circuit and broke up briefly in 1981, reuniting later that year with Adolescents guitarist Rikk Agnew taking Jay’s place. (Jay subsequently drummed in Bad Religion, and has since published sports writing under his birth name, John Albert.) Christian Death made its first appearance on record on the SoCal punk compilation Hell Comes to Your House (1981 Bemisbrain), which included the band’s “Dogs.” The Williams/Agnew/McGearty/Belanger lineup recorded Christian Death’s best-loved album, the debut Only Theatre of Pain (1982 Frontier), but this classic lineup broke up before the end of 1982.
The following year, Williams formed a new lineup of Christian Death with the members of Pompeii 99—guitarist and vocalist Valor Kand, keyboardist and vocalist Gitane Demone, and drummer David Glass—in order to tour Europe and record for a French label. This lineup of Christian Death recorded the band’s second album, Catastrophe Ballet (1984 L’Invitation au Suicide). The French label also issued the 6-song Deathwish EP (1984 L’Invitation au Suicide), comprising the 1981 demos recorded by the Williams/Agnew/McGearty/Belanger lineup. Deathwish includes the version of “Dogs” from Hell Comes to Your House, and the EP’s contents are included as bonus tracks on the Only Theatre of Pain CD.
Williams quit Christian Death in 1985 after recording Ashes (1985 L’Invitation au Suicide), which featured the voice of Kand and Demone’s 5-year-old son, Sevan Kand. Against Williams’s wishes, the remaining members continued to record and perform as Christian Death with Valor Kand on lead vocals. The Italian EP The Wind Kissed Pictures (1985 Supporti Fonografici) was the first record by Kand’s Christian Death, followed by numerous releases on European labels, including the albums Atrocities (1986 Normal), The Scriptures (1987 Normal), and Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ (1988 Jungle). The cover of Sex and Drugs showed Jesus tying off his arm and shooting up; Trouser Press says that the album itself “could have been knocked off in an afternoon by just about anybody with hands.” Sex and Drugs was Gitane Demone’s last album with the band. Kand’s Christian Death next released a two-album set, All The Love All The Hate Parts One and Two (1989 Jungle).
Meanwhile, Williams restarted his confrontational noise/performance project Premature Ejaculation, which he and Ron Athey had begun during Christian Death’s 1981 hiatus. In 1987, he and Eva O. moved to San Francisco and were married. The following year, Williams asserted his right to Christian Death’s name, performing a series of reunion shows with Eva O., Rikk Agnew and a new rhythm section. Williams’s Christian Death performed through 1990. Williams, Eva O. and another new rhythm section re-recorded early songs for The Iron Mask (Cleopatra 1992); this Agnew-less Christian Death also recorded two new studio albums with numerous backing musicians, The Path of Sorrows (1993 Cleopatra) and The Rage of Angels (1994 Cleopatra). Iconologia (1993 Triple X) captured a one-off Williams/Agnew/Belanger 1993 reunion show in Los Angeles. Williams and Eva O. also played together in the band Shadow Project, and Williams and Demone collaborated on the album Dream Home Heartache (1995 Triple X, credited to Rozz Williams and Gitane Demone). On April 1, 1998, Williams’s roommate found his body in their West Hollywood apartment.
Valor Kand’s Christian Death has continued to perform and record. Jesus Points the Bone at You? (1992 Century Media) was a best-of compilation, including a 1991 recording that was new bassist and singer Maitri’s debut with the band. Kand and Maitri have continued to collaborate as Christian Death on the albums Sexy Death God (1994 Nostradamus), Pornographic Messiah (1998 Sad Eyes/Trinity), Born Again Anti Christian (2000 Candlelight) and American Inquisition (2007 Season of Mist).