I’d already loved Christian Mistress' first LP; “Agony And Opium”, out on 20-Buck Spin last year. With "Possession" however, their second coming, the band has taken things to a whole new level. Christian Mistress has signed a deal with Relapse Records, and “Possession” has got everything a great record needs: catchy songs, fantastic artwork and an singer that truly stands out. Christine Davies has an outstanding voice; full of Metal Power and filled with Blues Passion. More than enough for you hard&heavy rock maniacs to check out this very promising band.
Until then, enjoy the interview with the band’s n°1 asset: singer Christine Davis.
My first question is extremely simple: what or who is the “Christian Mistress”?
Well, Reuben (drummer) drooled this name onto the page he was drawing on. We hated the name at first but grew to like it for it is somewhat rude and has a good, memorable ring to it. No secret meaning really, we just like the connection to the Virgin Mary in a sacrilegious sort of way.
Can you tell me more about the band’s line-up? The band was formed a few years ago; you guys played in other bands before?
I met Ryan at a show I played with his previous band. We hit it off; he and his friends were all at the front of the stage headbanging with more fury than I had ever seen. One year later I moved to Olympia, WA from Portland. Ryan and Oscar had been playing together for a few years off and on and they asked me to join them. This was in 2007, I told them I thought their songs were killer but I wanted to wait until I knew who else would be in the band. Eventually, they got Reuben (drums) and Jonny (bass) who were friends of mine already because they dj'd at a club I was the bartender at. We already got along great and I loved their tastes in music and attitudes so I decided there was no way I could pass up trying to start a band with all these awesome people. Reuben is and has been my favorite drummer of all time and Jonny is such a great bass player and even-mannered person to be around at all times. I joined the four of them in 2008 and we have been going strong ever since.
Things seem to have gotten to a new level with that new CD. How did you guys land on Relapse Records?
We have been happy with Relapse, they are very easy to work with and good people. They listen to us, have time for us and gave us the budget we needed to record the record on 24 track analog as we wanted to. It seems like a great fit for us so far. We were happy with 20 Buck Spin but wanted a budget to work with for the recording so it would have been Relapse or another label so I can't say that it was necessarily a big step, just a natural progression. We never actually signed to 20 Buck Spin, they just happened to be friends of ours that offered to put out our first record. The response from metal heads worldwide was enough to make us realize that people were going to continue to listen to CM and we might as well look for ways to fund making our ideal record. The music industry is a strange beast and Christian Mistress was quickly swept up in its tide before we had a chance to see it coming. Signing to a label didn't change our process; Relapse gives us complete artistic freedom music-wise.
Did you feel any extra “pressure” now that you’re releasing a record on an important record label?
Not really, we had already written all the songs for the new record before we signed to Relapse.
How is Possession different from your previous material?
We are excited that it turned out with such a heavy, amazing sound. It is a bit different than our last LP, “Agony and Opium” so we are anticipating the response to the songs. Because we are so close to them, hear them, play them a million times - it is hard to hear the freshness that people hearing the songs for the first time can enjoy. Also, I am glad it is finally out because it has been a long time now that we have been playing some of those songs. We first expected this record Possession to come out in 2011 so we are thrilled that it is finally out and available for people to hear.
I feel that your major influences are the earliest metal bands, like in the beginning of the 80s, when the frontier between hard-rock and heavy metal was very thin…
I agree, more of the merging of hard rock, heavy metal and heavy punk rock - we absolutely love the early Scorpions records from the 70's.
I really loved the guitars, especially the very classic metal stuff… And also the fact that there is a fantastic melody on each one of the songs. Is it something you specifically focus on?
I think so, the songs have intent to sound good and this is what we think sounds good so that must be all there is to it.
Your voice is clearly the band’s biggest asset. You have that bluesy swing to your singing. That’s the 70’s influence I guess…
A lot of my favorite bands are from the 70's - Uriah Heep, Motorhead, Scorpions, Hawkwind, Blue Oyster Cult - it's true.
And how do you guys compose? Very complex process or just jamming’?
The songs come easily for us; we have a strong chemistry together as musicians. Oscar writes the main guitar riffs and then we jam them out at practices. I listen to the completed or near completed songs and then decide what the vibe is going to be for the vocal parts and lyrics that I write. This is the typical Christian Mistress writing process and if the songs on Possession are any different from earlier Christian Mistress songs, it is because we have evolved together as musicians into a more cohesive direction. The last song on the new album - All Abandon, was really the song that shaped the style of all of the songs on the record. So, there definitely was a plan stylistically for all of the songs on Possession to have a certain brooding, heavy yet raw and exuberant feel to them.
I Love the artwork as well, seems a little bit “mystical”. Does it mean anything specific?
The central element is my hand with the fate lines radiating lightning. The plants beneath them are the black flowers from the song 'Haunted Hunted' on Possession. And of course the original Christian Mistress symbol that was on Agony and Opium is making an appearance again in the background. We were honored to have Benjamin Vierling make this painting for us.
Are you guys touring already? Any chance to see you in France?
We will be in France in April 2012. The dates should be up on our website soon: christianmistress.com.
What’s Christian Mistress like on stage? In 3 or 4 words?
Take this riff to the grave.
What’s the coolest thing we can wish you for 2012? Like what are your craziest dreams for the band??
I want to tour Japan and play lots of crazy shows in France!
Any last word for your French fans?
We hope to see you in France this April and make sure to come say hello at the shows!
Thanks To Christine and to Frank for making this interview possible!