Christ Interview

Bob Wilson / Rebirth Fanzine  | 10.11.23       
"I don’t remember the first time I heard CHRIST but to me they were a mythical band I would see older guys at shows wearing the shirt of occasionally/see people post about how great they were and that you missed out if you weren’t there for them existing. T

They’re a truly unique band that seems like they were taken from a different planet altogether and placed in Philly in the mid 90s.
The following interview was done with Brandon Wallace, Nick Hans, Nick Fantazzi, and Aaron Edge

How did Christ come together/what if any were your influences going into starting the band?

Nick Fantazzi: I was going to see Samiam at the Troc and I stopped in the tattoo shop to say hi, Aaron worked there and asked me if i was doing any bands since i was no longer in Prema. I wasn't so he asked me if I wanted to join a metal band called Christ with him and 2 of the I Hate you guys. I said sure he then said our first practice is tomorrow at 9 in the morning..LOL.. and aaron came over my house after work that night at like 2 in the morning to go over some ideas. We went to practice and banged out a bunch of songs.. it just all kinda fell into place real easily.. we played a show with Prema + Ink And Dagger a few days after our first practice, then we played some fest with Turmoil and a bunch of others a few days after that.. we recorded the demo the following weekend and gave copies out at an H2O show. We gave our friends Brian and Carlos from Ocean City extra copies to give Chuck Miller. He called us the next morning drove to philly and that night we were on Temperance.. as far as influences we had no set ideas but speaking for myself at the time I was really into Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Sunny Day Real Estate,PJ Harvey,Texas Is The Reason, The Cure, The Smiths, Starkweather, Afghan Whigs, The God Machine, Deftones, Bad Brains, Ride, Djiamanda Galas, Laughing Hyenas, Cranes.. the list goes on and on but it was all over the place as was everyone in the band so that had a lot to do with our sound.
Nick Hans: I want to preface my answers to all of these questions with the warning that this was around 25 years ago so my memories are...fuzzy. Also we all see things from different points of view and remember things differently so this will be from my admittedly flawed remembrance of those times.I remember sitting on the little wall ledge outback of 314 (N 19th St) with Aaron in 1996(?). As usual, and is still the case he had a lot of projects going on but we were wanting to do something together. He mentioned he had someone to play guitar and that I should play bass and also sing. I had never played bass before in my life but I was young / dumb and down for musical adventure. I was in I HATE YOU. at the time and as the singer I didnʼt have much to do with the music (and the lyrics half the time) so I was very excited to work on something else. Something that felt more personal. I honestly donʼt remember talking about any musical influences. We were just influenced by each other. Somehow or another we booked a practice space near 69th St. in Upper Darby before we ever met as a group. I brought with me Brandon Wallace to play drums and Aaron brought Nick Fantazzi to play lead guitar. That was the first time I met “Big” Nick, I became little Nick or Hans. Aaron had some prewritten material that we started off with, each adding our own spin. We were all stubborn loud mouths which somehow worked really well and we became pals right away in my mind.
Brandon Wallace: Much like Nick, my memory is terrible. Please bare with me..From my recollection I was approached by Nick and Aaron at 314 during a His Hero is Gone show. Seems odd that that was the back drop for what transpired, but motivation can take many forms. I don’t remember a direction, initially, we just wanted to be loud. I always loved the name of the band, who had the idea to call it that and how do you feel about it now?
Aaron Edge: At that time, I was really opening my sonic influences to finally include rock bands… until then, only faster stuff was really connecting with me. Melodic post-punk rock bands like Texas Is the Reason and Elliot were moving me as well as dipping my toes into grunge. I always have a library of riffs at the ready, both Nicks and Brandon were sweet and supportive, willing to listen and help shape said material into full songs.
Fantazzi: It was already picked before I showed up.I love it. it was super powerful as was the music so it fit well. a bunch of krishna kids in a band called Christ...pretty sure Nick P had it in mind since he was a little kid
Hans: There are a lot of myths about the name. Some spread by our own members / label but the real story is this. That day at 314 when Aaron and I were talking about doing a project. I said I always wanted to start a band called CHRIST. I knew it would be polarizing and controversial and would immediately draw attention. So that was that. We were named before we even met as a group. Later, much later, we did have a plan that if we were even signed to a bigger label we would change our name... to Memorial Day.
Wallace: Nick P. had always talked about doing a band called Christ. He always said it would be similar to naming a band “Fuck” but you could put it on a shirt. Nick F. Always said that Motley Crue came up with the idea first, but I don’t think Nick P had ever gotten down with Motley Crue history, so his claim at originality is safe in my book.

Was there any pushback to playing the type of music you were playing at the time or was the scene welcoming?

Fantazzi: We were welcomed at every show we played with such a variety of bands and seemed to go over whether it was with Earth Crisis, Weston or Orange 9mm
Hans: Not that I recall. Honestly I feel like people were stoked right away. I remember older dudes that I respected that never really talked to me or took me seriously suddenly came around praising us after our first show. I thought we mustʼve hit a nerve / stumbled into something special. We recorded our demo and “signed” to Temperance before we ever played a show. So we already felt confident and were into the music and making music together. We werenʼt even sure weʼd play shows at all! We were just going to be a project. I do remember hearing a little bit of shit talking / skepticism from people when we were signed before ever playing a show. But that went away quickly after we started playing. The first show was back to our birthplace at 314. Aaron for some reason got insanely long braids glued to his head, and I built this weird lit up giant wooden cross for an art project that we dragged in for our set. Big Nick had lots of good equipment / amps so we sounded big and loud. We were very serious about our sound. Aaron and I were energetic and a little wild, always smashing into each other.
Wallace: That's always been the magic of Philadelphia. Prema could play a show with a dude sitting in a chair reading a book the whole set, and right after them Snail Tail could throw meat and fire crackers at everyone. Same bill, same reaction and no one thought it was strange. I’d like to think that we’ve always celebrated diversity better than most other scenes.
Edge: As I recall, we were always embraced. We had enough heavy riffs for the hardcore kids, arty vibes for the Iceburn fans, and just enough hooks for radio listeners. I do think—looking back—that we should have shortened some material in live settings. We may have been just a bit odd and long-winded for the crowds of that time. Or, had we added some horns or strings to the mix when on stage, our longer and experimental pieces could have kept more kids attentive.

Favorite song/specific lyric the band wrote?

Fantazzi: I think all the songs are really well written and structured, musically I'm really proud of all of them, it's pretty hard to pick a favorite. I don't pay much attention to lyrics in general so that's a question Joni Mitchell could answer better
Hans: I always loved the Page 15 ep. just two songs in a row. One extremely long, one extremely short. Together they are my favorites.
Wallace: The second song on the page 15 ep... can’t remember the name. My favorite song by far.. as far as lyrics go, I don’t know. The song about getting bullied always hit me differently. I remember coming home from school many times, trying not to cry and telling my mom to leave me alone, I’m fine. So yeah, I don’t think I ever really talked to Aaron about that, but there it is.
Edge: I feel that “Librarian” covers all of our genres and energy best. I’d love to rerecord that track now that we all have access to recording studios… some additional, added instruments with effects and harmonies would help that track’s climb as it builds. More color, more vibe.

Did you ever have a chance to tour or was it mostly local?

Edge: We did what we did, when we could and always on a shoestring budget. And, always with emotion and piss/vinegar that was never less than 100%. Had we stayed together, played in better tune, recorded in a nice studio with a larger budget/more time and with vocal lessons (I desperately needed them and still do), well… I do honestly believe we could have gone in the direction of bigger bands that got snatched up and pushed with label budget on college radio stations, etc. But, we were also very young, experimenting with longer tracks that might have needed more instruments/band members in order to hold attention spans as we created webs and riffs. We brought repetition, but without enough tone changes or effects to alter our sound as songs lengthened. This band helped wake me up to song structure as I grew, a very important time for me and my own experimentation. For this, I thank the band for its patience with me while I tripped and fell and did my best to fake through learning my craft.
Fantazzi: We did an east coat tour with Boy Sets Fire, The Enkindels and Autumn we wound up in Florida and played with Dragbody and Assuck. I think a few shows, on the way back it was random shows to get us home. We did some weekends as well
Hans: We did a small east coast tour once. I donʼt even remember how it came to be or who booked it. I just remember that we crammed way too many people in the van and went out. We ended up all the way down in Florida by Orlando at the furthest point. It was really fun and half assed. I remember kids in the middle of nowhere looking at our equipment with awe. Christian kids in the south were doubly confused.
Wallace: Oh lord. The Enkindles/boysetsfire/Autumn/christ “follow the leader” tour. There are people in all those bands that I still care about deeply, but let’s just say at some points I thought things were gonna go south in a bad way quickly. We made it to Florida. Mike McCann drove all night long, naked, listening to shout at the devil. Things happened and fun was had.. Jeremy Metz stole a light up baby Jesus and we used it as stage lighting for a while...

What was it like being in I hate You and Christ concurrently? One was an in your face abrasive straight edge band and the other was a post hardcore (for lack of a better description) band so did you feel like you were living two lives at the same time?

Hans: Brandon and I were definitely splitting time with I HATE YOU. And CHRIST. Being such different bands but both being in the hardcore world was interesting. We would get booked for much different shows. Now that I think about it, I can not recall if we ever played together. I kind of donʼt think so. To me it was just two different ways of expressing parts of us. I HATE YOU. Was fun, a joke, insane. Christ was more personal, like a meditation.
Wallace: For me, I was trying to play as much music as I could. I was still learning how to play. There were times during sound checks that Aaron (a far better drummer than myself) was literally teaching me how to play. It was so much fun. We were so busy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The main difference, I feel, was we were taking Christ very seriously. We’d practice 3-4 nights a week sometimes. I feel like I Hate You would practice whenever we had time. There were times that Nick and I would book 5 hours at the practice studio and do back to back practices. Again, the adventures of youth.

What was an average Christ set like, and did you want people to be moshing and diving, singing along or just paying attention to the band?

Fantazzi: It usually started with 5 minutes of feedback, then we would just play straight through page 15 into librarian so that was like 20+minutes, then we would play few others. We always burned incense and had flowers on our amps. people dug it, it was powerful, a lot of times people seemed mesmerized. i remember a basement show where a kid was crying singing along..being able to touch someone like that is just something else... powerful stuff..
Hans: I feel like people mostly just stood there watching us. Maybe a little bit of dancing or movement in the crowd. We were kind of a head scratching spectacle for some crowds. Many times we piled fresh flowers on our amps, lit incense. Had some long periods of feedback.. even before kicking into our 15+ minute first song. I donʼt think I had many expectations for the audience. As a fake bass player I just needed to put my heart into it and not fuck up.
Wallace: We just wanted people to pay attention. We were very loud. It forced me to play harder and louder. If we got a reaction, that was a bonus, but we were not to be denied. I remember we played a show with Damnation once and we played and were super loud and thought we had blown the doors off of everyone.. then they rolled in 4 full stacks and two ampeg 8x10’s into this little basement. We lost that night...
Edge: I remember kids staring at us. And, that was key. They weren’t sure what to think, but they were curious. Also, some of our quieter parts were so purposefully awkward in their introductions and placing… we caught a lot of the crowd off guard and in the best way. Kids up front who we made feel uncomfortable in our odd changes and hush might have stayed in their positions for fear of being judged, had they stepped away from the front when we got weird, what would others around them think had they not of dug our weirdness? Of note: we were a short-lived band, so kids never really got the chance to learn our songs, different parts, or even choruses. Would have been cool to have had folks sing along at some point, especially with my lyrics being so fucking personal. Strange to have them sing along to my phrases on suicidal paths, fear of love connections, breaking down of family bonds and fistfights when in elementary school.

I know you played the church with Handsome/Unsane/Orange 9 mm. Is that the show that sticks out to you the most or is there another one you think was better

Fantazzi: That show was really good, the church had real deal sound that night, working monitors and stuff. our records came out that day I remember selling tons of them, I also remember comparing cracked headstocks on our les pauls with Pete Mengede
Hans: That show definitely sticks out. We were very pumped for it especially as a band of guys very much influenced by the guys in those bands and their previous works. I think Unsane didnʼt show up so it was just three bands. I remember Tom Capone said something to me about my setup before we started and seemed intrigued to hear us. I was using an Orange graphic 80 guitar amp for my bass and it was so warm and dirty. In those days no one was using Orange amps as they werenʼt available as they are now. I think Tom complimented us very nicely after the set and we were pumped. When Handsome played I remember thinking wow they are trying to match our energy because they were way more active that when we have seen them in the past. (I was a fan!)
Wallace: That was the culmination of a lot of things. We played super tight and pulled off everything we wanted that night. I still watch the video from time to time and I’m super proud. We were hyped to put our show up against major label bands , and for my money, we showed up big. Handsome was phenomenal that evening, but not for a damn second did I think that we didn’t belong on that stage with them.

What kind of bands was Christ playing with, mixed bill hardcore shows or more Texas Is The Reason types of bands?

Fantazzi: We would play any show we were asked to play, so it was all over the place, we even played a bar with some local bar rock bands on a Saturday cause Ben who recorded our demo asked us to.
Hans: As far as I remember it was a complete grab bag but definitely leaned a bit more towards “post-hardcore” at times. One of the great things about the shows back then is every band could be a different style or genre. We got exposed to so many things, we were very lucky.
Wallace: We played everything we could play. We really wanted to improve and get better and tighter, which meant playing every show we were offered. THEN forcing the bands we played with to keep up.

What do you think it was about the band that made the people that loved it at the time still talk about it in the way they do now?

Fantazzi: It really was special, it was just a perfect combination of a lot of genres... if i wasn't in the band i would've absolutely loved it
Hans: I have never heard a single soul mention us since then so that is news to me. At the time we were kind of a “members of” band so I think that was part of the draw. It was always like “members of I HATE YOU., Prema, Anonymous, etc” So that got peopleʼs attention. And we tried to live up to it. We were very dramatic, full of energy, and really pretty sincere about wanting to do our best.
Edge: We were different, on ever front and from every angle. We mixed genres enough to scare some and invite others. A few years later, as I created the Seattle band Himsa, I carried over the same oddness and genre-bending. Sadly, it didn’t go over well, as we were such a mix bag that most were turned away. In the mid to late 90s, most people in the underground scene needed a band to be one vibe, classifiable, contained, describable. Exceptions were Iceburn, Into Another, Engine Kid, Fugazi, and the like. Christ brought very simple riffs, as pummeling waves, with melody. We also brought strange, off-path adventures. If we had more time, we would have learned how to explain ourselves better and with more intent. That said, we did what we knew how to—in those years—and with limited experience, tools, knowledge and time given. We were brutally honest, and that was important, despite (speaking for myself here) not keeping my singing in key/tune or having a well thought out and well crafted guitar tone with some nice effects to help guide listeners on the journey that we were the torch for.
Wallace: I get a few people now and then asking about it, but it seems that some people were into it and some people just missed the boat. We weren’t around long enough to really leave much of a mark. I just get hyped that there are a few people that have even heard about it.

What's a band from around the time you existed in the area that you think should have been bigger than they were?

Fantazzi: Starkweather....the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be... they are the Bret Hart of heavy music. they started all this and should be way more known than they are
Hans: I HATE YOU. :)
Wallace: All Else Failed should have been the biggest band....

Is there anything you wish the band had gotten to do that you never really got the opportunity to at the time?

Fantazzi: Record another record. we definitely had big plans musically had we gotten a chance to do another record with a solid budget
Hans: At some point in time there was talk that SOME records wanted to talk to us / sign us. I remember it sounded like an almost done deal but we weren’t dealing with them directly. We were supposed to go up and meet with Walter and/or Sammy and I just remember being told it fell through and we never heard anything about it again. I have no idea what the truth of that story is now. But it feels like our lives might have been a bit different if that did happen.
Wallace: I wish we had gotten to do an LP. I think it would have been a game changer. The songs we were writing at the end were so well written and interesting. Such a bummer to think about now.
Edge: More time… to learn, hone in on our craft, acquire a few guitar effects, vocal lessons (for me, as Hans had that on lockdown), patience, road miles, life experience, love.

Thanks for letting me punish you like Iʼve done about basically any band youʼve been in, anything else you wanna add about the almighty CHRIST?

Fantazzi: Thanks for still caring all these years later and helping keep us in the land of the remembered... also stay tuned there's a few thing in the works..i'll just leave this year to eliminate one guess #noreunion
Hans: Keep your eyes peeled
Wallace: Chant and be happy.
Edge: Thanx for believing in us Chuck. That was the greatest and most important gift we as young men needed then. We needed a soapbox, a sound system and an audience. We grew because of our short time spent together. And, in part, you are the reason that we five are still in contact. I get emotional as I type these words, my past bandmates and label owners over the years have helped shape me into the shipwreck that I am today. Jai.
Justin Moulder