Interview with Christian Mistress 2010
By Bradley Smith
Hells, how are you? Can you give me some background into the formation of the Christian Mistress? What cataclysmic events brought you guys together?
Christine: I met Ryan at a show our previous bands played together, I think the show was Ludicra, Buried Blood (my band) and The Horde (Ryan’s band) at the now defunct Manium in Olympia, WA. Not long after I moved to Olympia from Portland and I met all the members of Christian Mistress in separate scenarios as friends. Ryan and I became friends during a giant windstorm—it ruled. Oscar and Ryan had already started playing together in 2007 but it wasn’t until November of 2008 that we became a complete band.
Can you give me a little insight into Agony and Opium? What does it represent for you? How did its quick recording time shape the energy and feel of the album? Anything you’d do differently next time?
C: We wish we could of spent a little more time on it. We recorded it in a basement studio. It is an honest representation of us as musicians at that time. Our only philosophy as a band is to write the best music that we possibly can. Agony and Opium is short because the flow of the songs we had written for the release lent themselves to standing alone as six entities, each as sharp as the other, but with different purposes.
How is it that such a young band has developed such an authentic old sound? What music influenced your growth as a musician and songwriter?
Oscar: It's a long list for sure. The way I learned to play guitar has lot to do with it. I listened to rock/metal records and learned "riffs” . This remains in my playing style and is very dear to me. I'm also into music composition.
You are playing a concert on Halloween night. Do you expect to be able to break down the walls between the worlds of the living and the dead with your performance? What can we normally expect from Christian Mistress when you take the stage at one of your shows?
C: We just finished a North American tour, it seems as though we played our set faster and faster every night. Seeing as how the Halloween show was the last date of tour, it was possibly the fastest we played. I stopped using words to talk to the audience that night and just spoke in jibberish. I don’t know why, perhaps that is how I “broke down the worlds of the living and the dead”. At a live Christian Mistress show, we tend to play faster than our recordings—a lot faster. I sing a bit harsher live too.
How do you feel that being in Olympia has affected the personality of Christian Mistress? Do you feel you would be the same band if you had come from a larger city or a different part of the country?
C: It’s possible that Olympia has something to do with our sound but it is more likely that being from the Pacific Northwest has something to do with our sound. I am from Portland, Or and Reuben is from Seattle, WA—everyone else is from the Olympia area. After touring the US, I see huge differences in the Northwest than other parts of the country. We are lucky to work together well writing music and we don’t take that for granted.
How does it feel to be so young (as a band) and already being hailed by scene luminaries like Fenriz and Dennis Dread? What has this done for your popularity?
C: It feels normal in a world where nobody puts immense interest in anything—attention is fleeting, dependent on internet exposure etc.-- this kind of attention feels like the right kind to me! I have known Dennis for about 10 years and he has been a supporter of my music throughout our friendship. His artwork is phenomenal and that must garner some respect. Dennis and his lady Meado are our biggest supporter, they will drive great lengths to shitty towns to see us play. At this point, we wouldn’t be the band we are without Dennis, not scene cred-wise but because his friendship is invaluable and encouraging. I don’t know I could go on and on…he is so cool. As for Fenriz, we think it’s great that he likes Christian Mistress and his attention means something to people so it has probably helped our music get heard by more people.
With everybody name dropping Christian Mistress, I am gonna give you a chance to do some name dropping of your own. What are some of your favorite bands and what has been hitting your ears lately?
C: Lately I have been listening to Midnight, Bauhaus, Blue Oyster Cult, Uriah Heep, Laibach, Witchcraft—of course this is not representative of the whole band, but just my current favorites.
Christian Mistress is avoiding having a myspace page and obtaining fans through some of the typical technological avenues that everyone uses these days. Why is that? How does that play into the philosophy of the band?
C: There is no band philosophy regarding this, we just prefer not to do that dance. We have never needed a myspace page and it really frees up time and mental space for us to not have to participate in those social networking venues.
Lyrically, what sort of imagery and emotions does Christian Mistress want to convey? What sort of themes motivate Christian Mistress and how does The Theatre and It’s Double come into play with the title, Agony and Opium?
C: The Theater and It’s Double has nothing to do with Christian Mistress--not that we would mind if it did because it is all about the reintroduction of the sacred into modern life. However, I did use a description Artaud used to describe a painting where the “waters flowed the color of agony and opium”. He also uses the description of the color of agony and opium to describe the way plague victims looked as their bodies decayed. It took some convincing to get the rest of Christian Mistress interested in this title but I am glad that its true meaning has come to light again and again. It is not as desperately dramatic as it initially sounds and isn’t that how life is?
And since we are on the topic of that collection of French Poetry/Essays, that seems like a pretty unfamiliar book to be reading? How did you come across it and what literature do you like to read? Any particular favorite books or authors?
C: I had been reading the Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire and wanted to read more in that vein. I came across The Theater and its Double while researching French writers. I read fiction and autobiographies and books about plant chemistry. My favorite author is Haruki Murakami. Right now I am reading Role Models by John Waters and it is excellent.
Besides the tour what other upcoming plans do you have for Christian Mistress? Any new recordings coming our way?
C: We are writing for our second LP and are planning on going into the studio with the new songs in February 2011.
Also, our 2009 demo will be re-released in a small run of 10”s at some point next year so we are looking forward to those songs being available again, even though we play them much differently now.
Thanks for the interview.