By Andy Thunders
Chritus is somewhat of a legend. He’s a down to earth guy. Started out singing for Count Raven, and ended in doom legends Saint Vitus, and now has Lord Vicar, and the newly formed project Python. Humble, honest, and warm. Chritus sat down for a chat about his career thus far and future plans. Great singer, and a very nice bloke, too.
Thank you very much Chritus for the honour, how the fuck are ya?
– Hello and doing ok thanks.
When did you decide you wanted to be in a metal band?
Must have been in my mid or later teens. I was sitting in class in school humming
Saxon songs and a classmate overheard me and suggested I´d try out for a band some of his friends had. I did and that´s where it started I reckon.
Who are some of your influences?
Oh, a wide variety of them, I suppose. I grew up with my parents listening to the likes of
Nazareth, Status Quo, Elvis, Beatles, Demis Roussos, ELO and lots of 50´s rock. Later on, I
discovered Kate Bush who has had a tremendous impact on me. I don´t know how much it shows really, perhaps in some ways that I approach the harmonies. Also, I was always a big fan of Zeeb Parkes from Witchfinder General.
Tell me about forming Count Raven, how did that come about?
There was a local band called “Stormwarning” I saw and I was immediately blown away.
Heaviest band around, no doubt. Talked to them after the gig and we hit off very good instantly. Got to know Dan, the guitarist, and we started hanging out in general until I joined the band as he wanted to focus more on the guitar. We changed the name to Count Raven after a while, around when the album started taking form and kept “Storm Warning” as title and homage to earlier times. A good way to keep the connection. And quite fitting.
Was it hard to gain a following?
Not really, I think. Although there weren´t that many bands around in the genre at the time over here, not that I knew of anyway. There were MERCY and the likes. Candlemass came around a bit later but broke new grounds, so to speak. Then again there´s a slight difference in musical approach there, in my opinion.
The debut album Storm Warning is an absolute classic, can you tell us what it was like recording that?
A dream come true, you kidding me? Haha! “Look, mom! My voice on a piece of plastic!”. It was exciting, of course. We were very together there in the early days. A long ass time ago now, I have some good memories surrounding it but afraid I can´t pinpoint any specifics. I blame school, weed and community dentists.
Were you pleased with it and the reception?
Oh yes. At the time it was great! Had some really nice reviews, mostly in the underground scene of course, but that´s just even more genuine, you know? Had some good ones in major magazines as well, but UK Metal Hammer absolutely hated our guts, I remember. “Intro keeps going throughout the whole album” etc…haha! Dude, you sure you listened to the same album as me? How about some constructive criticism, if anything, if YOU are to be taken serious, you know how I mean? We all had a good laugh at that one. We didn´t care.
How many albums did you do with Count Raven?
From what came out, just the first one. I did record the vocals on the follow-up, “Destruction of the Void”, but left soon after finishing the sessions. By then it had been a long time coming. In retrospect it was a good thing as I sucked on that one anyhow. We had started to drift apart, more or less, me and Dan. Differences beyond talks and discussion took its toll, kinda. So, he naturally redid the vocals before release. I don´t blame him one bit. Most of my vocal harmonies and melodies were kept though. Reckon there was not enough time to start from scratch.
I find some slight comfort in that – that they were worth keeping at least.
In 1992, you joined Saint Vitus for the C.O.D. album, how did this come about?
At the time I had originally planned to join PENANCE (ex-DREAM DEATH) whom I had correspondence with. I saw the news in some Zine that Wino had left and immediately got in touch with Messiah Marcolin as the label at the time, Hellhound, asked me to. On a side note, me and him were the biggest ‘Vitus fans there were over here. But he had other plans, so I got the chance to go over there instead. Turned out to be a lifetime experience to say the least.
Were you pleased with the result?
In some ways yes, and some no. In my head it would be more like “The Walking Dead” type sounding stuff. Nothing wrong with what´s on there though, think it´s more how the sound came out, at least for me. Too “clean” in a sense to my liking, if you know how I mean. There was that, plus the fact I felt I was always more the fan than anything else, I suppose. I was young still and since being such a huge fan of their past catalogue I think I had a hard time to find my own place in there, you know? I had it all served on a plate though. But guess I´m my own worst enemy of sorts. I´m fully aware that album kinda divided Saint Vitus fans into two camps but it
evidently managed to turn many new people onto them as well, which is cool.
What was it like on tour with Vitus during that Era?
I loved it. Loved to sing the stuff from their earlier albums. Think I did a good job coming out sounding like a fairly decent mix between both Scott and Wino live. I was always more comfortable with singing their older stuff, again, being the fan. First song I ever did with them at rehearsal was “Prayer for the (M)asses”. We did two tours when I was with them. In the US with INTERNAL VOID, and in Europe with Cathedral mainly. Good times.
You left Vitus after that one record, were you in any bands during this time?
Kicked out. Turns out Scott was coming back for the “Die Healing” album they recorded later. I was devastated and thought it was all over for me with music. However, I´m happy to say I managed to prove myself wrong there, as me and Freddie Eugene (ex-UNLEASHED) followed up on the old idea of forming a band, which resulted in TERRA FIRMA and the two albums we made. That time was even more special to me. I was at my peak in creative terms and wrote some really good stuff with that band. Around 2004 we broke up and I became a single parent around the same time, leaving me out of the scene and loop for a couple of years. Not to say they weren´t happy times but in a different light. Happy and turbulent, if you will.
How did Lord Vicar come about?
Kimi was looking for people to start a new band after REVEREND BIZARRE. He had seen me play with TERRA FIRMA in Finland at some point and was already aware of the Count Raven/’Vitus history needless to say. He got in touch and came to my home for a visit while on one of his work missions. He travels a lot. Anyway, we hit off really good from minute one and I loved what he had plans of doing musically. Utterly floored and right up my alley.
Can you tell me about writing and recording the EP, The Demon Of Freedom, and the debut album Fear No Pain?
Not the writing really. It was and always will be Kimi´s baby mostly. He writes most, if not all of, the lyrics, and he´s a brilliant writer as well as a song writing genius on top of that. I don´t mind. Seeing as the band is made up from people from different countries I guess it´s better in a sense when it comes to carving out the final result when we do meet for sessions.The EP came out fairly straight away after the band was taking form. I did the vocals at Eugene´s apt in Stockholm. (TERRA FIRMA guitarist, once more). It wasn´t meant to come out distorted as it did and I´d love to make a re-recording of “The Demon…”.Great track, I think. “Fear No Pain” was recorded in Finland and was a blast. I was really sick during recording though, but cure
came in the form of 60% Straw Rum. You can tell as the vocals differ slightly in most songs. But end result is still cool, I think. I´m proud of it and it has many good songs on it.
Tell me about Signs Of Osiris and how it was recording the album? Were you happy with the results?
That time around we, all members, lived in the studio quarters throughout the whole recording. Same studio as we recorded the debut.I loved it. It brought a genuine here-and-now feeling into it. Plus, the fact there was a bakery about 200 meters away so fresh bread and pastries for the morning coffee every day! Yay! Very convenient. Think we created some genuine magic on that one and I do like to give it a listen again now and then, even though I tend to skip some songs myself. Basically, cause I can´t stand my own voice at times, but that´s likely more of a personal issue. Same as during the ‘Vitus period.
Were you involved with any other projects at the time?
Yes indeed. Me and a friend, guitarist Niklas Jones, formed a band called GOATESS here in Stockholm and we managed to record two albums I am extremely proud of. In some ways I was back on track like I used to be with TERRA FIRMA. I felt forced to leave some time back though,
again due to inner differences and whatnot. Sad thing as the music was very much me to begin with. Leaving was one of the hardest decisions I´ve ever had to consider. It was very near and dear and I´ll always treasure the good times though. There were plenty of those.
The Gates Of Flesh is another great record, are you guys working on a follow up?
Yeah, thanks. My favorite recording session with Lord Vicar to date. I love the atmosphere on that one. Very nice. Some years ago, I unfortunately fell down in a deep depression that I´m constantly fighting to this day, and that recording session was the best therapy so far by far. Thanks to Kimi, Gareth and the absolutely wonderful studio guy Joona Lukala. (Noise for Fiction studio in Turku, Finland). It was very intense and close working on that one, and from my point of view very dark at the same time for personal reasons. I´m very proud of it.
What do you love about music?
I love it for being my best friend on so many occasions. Be it when I happen to be involved myself or just enjoying it in general.
what inspires you to write songs like Born of a Jackal, or The Fear Of Being Crushed?
Again, Kimi wrote those so I can only imagine. Haha! He obviously must have made a deal at a crossroads somewhere.
What is the most outrageous thing you’ve ever experienced being the frontman of a metal band?
Ouch. Well…I passed out once on stage while “performing”. Circumstances being I had recently lost both my grandma and grandpa shortly after one another. I was in shreds and an emotional wreck. Combining that with the ease, not to say euphoria, of being surrounded by so many bands and people I love and bands I love, enormous heat and beer…well, guess things culminated in a breakdown of sorts. It happened and not something I´m proud of in the slightest. I just wanted to leave everything music behind me at that point. Sad thing.
What can we expect from Lord Vicar in the near future?
Another album coming out, by next year hopefully. It´s in the works, however it´s in quite an early stage. Think we are leaning towards members having more and more input from an earlier stage in the writing process nowadays. Gareth always came up with stuff since early days
though. We have an absolute jewel on bass, Rich, whom I admire in many ways. It´ll be interesting to see what he´ll be bringing to the table as well. Nothing wrong with Kimi´s writing on a whole, mind you. None of us feel that way, it´s just that it gets even more dynamic that way.
All in all, it´s a good thing for the soul of the band, I think. He´s great for me in any case. I´ve always had the freedom to change stuff around with melodies and words to fit me in my personal performance, you know? He has always been very thoughtful and caring to all of us, mind you. It´s just the kind of genuine personality he is.
You have a new side project called Python, that you just released a video for the track ‘Walking The Night’, and it’s absolutely fantastic. When did this come about?
Yes, and thank you. It developed pretty fast from getting an invitation to come jamming on a rehearsal late last year with one of my personal heroes, Björn (guitarist in OCEAN CHIEF, on drums this time though.) to become more of a band. I´m equally surprised as happy about it, to be honest. All guys involved are cool to hang out with, and I find it exciting and enjoyable musically as well. In some ways Python is a bit different than what I normally get involved in. But I welcome the “challenge” with open arms, and it´s a whole lot better than to just sit around the apartment waiting for the ceiling to come down on me. Something I´ve spent years of doing with nothing to show for it, you know. None more dark than black.
What more can we expect from Python in the near future?
We are currently rehearsing somewhat frequently, making songs for what will be an album later on hopefully. Had some label interest already, we are looking into. The guys in Python are very creative and it´s been very energic to this point. Very vibrant and alive. Good stuff.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Maybe a cryptic and subtle hint of another “project” I´m involved in, but can´t say much more about it at this stage really. It´s the way we have agreed on doing it. But I just can´t help myself now, can I? I can however promise you it will be something very very heavy and special. But – time will come to acknowledge when it comes, I reckon. There – a decent cliffhanger to round
things off! Haha!
Thank you for your time, interest and patience, Andy. A pleasure. Love and light to all.
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