Jesus Wept is a fantastic death metal band and here is an interview I did with Chris the singer.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Detroit, but moved around the metropolitan area a lot as a kid. Growing up, most of my time was spent in Waterford and Walled Lake - each are about 30 minutes outside the city.
What sort of kid were you growing up?
I was an only child and kept to myself for the most part. It wasn’t until junior high that I started to branch out socially. We were pretty typical suburban miscreants - skateboarding, chasing girls, some criminal mischief.
What sort of kid were you during your high school years?
The sort of kid who never dressed for gym.
What led you to discover music early on, not necessarily metal music if that’s the case?
My parents were both avid consumers and fans of music, so I was exposed to it at a young age. A lot of 70s and 80s rock, especially Van Halen. There were also some older kids in my neighborhood who kind of took me under their wing and introduced me to a lot of punk bands that were popular at the time, like Pennywise and the whole Fat Wreck Chords catalog. That was the stuff I gravitated towards most, at least at first.
Did you get to see many punk rock shows back in the day? Did where you live have a good music scene?
Not really, I was too young. I went to Warped Tour in 2002 and a couple bigger pavilion shows, but that was it.
The music scene where I grew up was decent for a few years. The high school I went to hosted a Battle of the Bands and at one point; they had to start turning kids away because so many of them were forming bands. There wasn’t a lot to do during the weekend, so it wasn’t uncommon for an all-local show to draw a 300+ crowd.
At what point did you discover the underground metal scene?
I knew it existed, but never explored it much until sixth or seventh grade when Robby (guitar) and I met and became friends. He was the one who introduced me to bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, Mayhem, etc.
Did you take to this stuff right away or did it take a few listens to get into?
Some definitely faster than others. Venom and Celtic Frost were reminiscent of things I already liked, like Slayer, so it was an easier transition. Cannibal Corpse was probably the first ‘extreme’ band I heard and initially I was like, “What the fuck, people listen to this?” Despite not taking to the music right away, I was still fascinated by the imagery and lyrical content. They became a favorite as I developed a greater taste for death metal, but it took me revisiting it a few times.
At what point did you decide or want to be a singer in a band? Do you ever have any desire to take up an instrument?
I play guitar and have played guitar in the most of the bands I’ve been in. I started singing for Jesus Wept because we had a very specific idea of what we wanted in a vocalist, but couldn’t find anyone who fit the mold, so I stepped in and did them myself. I would’ve done both, but I’m terrible at singing and playing at the same time.
In saying that, who are some of your favorite guitar players and singers?
Syd Barrett, Trey Azagthoth, Ihsahn, Andy LaRocque, Ronni Le Tekrø, Harry Cody, Jake E. Lee, Marty Friedman, Bill Steer, Rob Marcello, Vito Bratta, and Joey Santiago.
As far as singers go, Joe Lynn Turner, Göran Edman, Tony Harnell, Jeff Walker, Tim Skold, Ozzy, Lemmy, Miki Berenyi, Rob Dickinson, and Rob Tyner.
Tell me a bit about the other bands you were in and if any are still active and then we will move along.
My previous band has been defunct for a few years. It was quite different stylistically, and while I’m proud of what the band accomplished, the focus is on Jesus Wept at this juncture.
Tell me how the band came together and how early was it decided you would just sing?
Robby and I came up with the idea for Jesus Wept in 2013 and had most of the material on the original EP demoed by 2014, but sat on it for a few years while we tried to form a consistent lineup. By the time we were prepared to enter the studio in 2017, we still hadn’t found a vocalist, so one day I was like, “Why don’t I just sing?” and Robby thought it was a good idea.
How did you come up with the name and were any other names thrown around?
It was inspired by Frank Cotton’s line in Hellraiser, as well as the Suffocation song. It had a ring to it and seemed to fit the vibe, so we kept it. I think we tossed around a few other ideas, but none of them were seriously considered. I can’t even remember what they were now.
In 2017 you went into the studio as a band for the 1st time and released a 5 song EP, including a Smashing Pumpkins cover. Why a cover of that band?
No real explanation. Robby really enjoys that song and during the early formation of the band, it seemed to fit with some of the stuff we were doing. We omitted it because it no longer seemed to make sense in the context of the other material, but it felt ballsy at the time. We were originally planning on covering a Zeke song, but decided to do Disarm at the last second because only some of the lyrics were published and I couldn’t figure the rest of it out by ear.
How was the overall response to the EP? What are your thoughts on the release these days and is it still for sale?
The reception has been great so far. We were sitting on those songs for some time and it felt good to finally put them out. CDs are still available via Redefining Darkness and cassettes will be available through Life After Death on October 15th.
In 2019 you released a single. Tell me about that.
Comfortably Dumb was originally released as a promotional single for a split 7” that never came to fruition. It seemed to reflect the direction we were headed in as a band, so we felt it was appropriate to lead with it.
When do you think you reached the Jesus Wept sound?
I think our sound is still evolving. We just want to write memorable songs. (great attitude. more bands should follow his lead-cf)
When did you start to put together for your current release?
About a year and a half ago, but things didn’t really start coming together until this past March, right before the COVID shutdown.
How did you end up working with Redefining Darkness Records and how has been working with them so far?
Thomas (the owner) runs another label called Seeing Red. They put out a split 7” by an older band a few of us were in, so we were loosely acquainted and I had him added on Facebook. We messaged him asking if he’d be interested in putting out Redux and he said yes. Thomas is a stellar human being and has been a pleasure to work with.
That’s great to hear. Now why the Wasp "Fuck Like A Beast" cover and where was it recorded at?
We’re big WASP fans and their music inspires the sound and attitude of Jesus Wept considerably. It was recorded during the Comfortably Dumb sessions with Andy Nelson.
I love your version by the way. So how was it going in the studio? How does a song come together?
Thank you, I’m glad you dug it. It was fun. Andy’s a friend of ours, so it was a good time catching up and hanging out while we made the record. The songs were recorded between two separate sessions, so there were noticeable differences in production. When we were planning the release of Redux, we decided to remix and remaster the first EP so it would match the sound of the Comfortably Dumb material. We ended up re-recording all of the guitars ourselves and sent them to Andy to do a second mix.
When it comes to songwriting, we’ll usually demo songs at my house and take them to practice where we’ll flesh them out a bit more. Cody (drums) will do his thing and add his own flavor, then we might rework a part or two.
How did you come up with your name and logo? Do you know there are there other bands would same name?
The logo was drawn by Raoul Mazzero, aka View From the Coffin. It was definitely Carcass inspired. I wanted something bold and sharp looking and he totally nailed what I envisioned.
We’re aware that there are some other bands with the same name, but we don’t care. We’re the real Jesus Wept.
Do you hope to be able to play live sometime next year?
We hope to as soon as we can safely do so. Right now, we’re focused on taking advantage of the down time we have to work on new material and prepare for future releases.
That was next question. Plans for 2021 and beyond?
We have two new songs and are planning to enter the studio in the near future, but haven’t decided if they’ll be part of a split or what. Once that’s finished, we’ll probably start working on a proper full length.
Horns up for doing this chat. Any last words to wrap this up?
Anytime, thanks for reaching out. Check out Apartheid Redux and keep an eye out for new stuff in 2021. Cheers.
Interview by Chris Forbes