Yesterday we brought you the first part of our interview with Christian Mistress singer Christine Davis. It was a fun time, and it was a loose conversation that went all over the place. Today, we have the second helping, and this time Davis talks more in depth about some of the new songs on their sophomore album “Possession,” what inspires her to write, and what she does in her downtime away from the band. Thanks again to Christine for taking so much time and giving our readers an honest look into her life and what makes Christian Mistress tick.
Meat Mead Metal: Do you work?
Christine Davis: Do I work? I work seasonally. I work jobs over the summer as a biologist technician.
MMM: Did you go to school for that?
CD: I have a science degree, yeah.
MMM: Where did you go to school?
CD: In Olympia (Washington), at the Evergreen State College. Yeah, it’s great, and the seasonal work is ideal for being in a band. That way I can put a lot of time into the band when I’m not working out in the mountains, and my bandmates are able to give me the freedom to do that.
MMM: When you’re working in the mountains, what do you do?
CD: I work in the back country of a national park, so I’m hiking 25 miles to the job site and living out there for the summer. I work with plants as a biological technician, I live by the river, and I have no communication with the outside world other than the radio, the little two-way talking radio. It’s a pretty extreme lifestyle. My life is definitely based on extremes.
MMM: Did you kind of grow up a kid who was always into nature and took lots of walks in the woods, or did your interest come later?
CD: Not at all. I did grow up in a small town in Northern California, and there was a lot of farmland around there. But I didn’t really know anything about science or biology until I was out of high school and had gone to community college for a couple of years. I didn’t know that’s what I wanted to do until I went on a trip with friends into the wilderness, and that was my first experience being out in the middle of nowhere, and it just kind of struck me, “Oh, maybe I can spend a lot more time in a place like this.” I had to figure out how to make that happen, and doing science work is the way that I can do that.
MMM: So it sounds like if the band was on the road and broke down in the middle of nowhere, you’d be alright.
CD: Um, no, because then I’d be stuck with a broken-down van and a bunch of gear that needed to be protected and a bunch of bandmates that wouldn’t know what to do with themselves, so that wouldn’t be very good at all. (laughs)
MMM: OK, fine, I was trying to paint you as a hero. But never mind!
CD: (laughs) Yeah, I don’t like that because I’d be thinking, “Oh great, now I have to take care of everyone.” That’s terrible. (laughs) They probably would be like, “Christine, what do we do?” Yeah, but being out in the wilderness takes a lot of preparation. It’s a different beast than being out on the road because that takes a different kind of preparation.
MMM: You mentioned the video for “Pentagram and Crucifix” and how you’re excited about it. Have you done stuff like that before?
CD: No. I made short films before, kind of like weird, dream sequence art films, but just as a hobby. But I’d never really done other films before, so we got someone we know who is good at shooting films make it for us, and I directed. It happened to be during a few days when it was snowing really heavily here, so we got some really cool shots. It was really beautiful here.
MMM: Is there a storyline?
CD: There was, but a lot of the film we used got ruined, so it’s going to be something else now. We’re not quite sure. There’s still enough to use, but the story that was in the film is gone. But yeah, it’s been interesting. I’ve been thinking of differences between film and video, digital, because I don’t really know a whole lot about that world. I’m good at coming up with images and I have a really active imagination and can come up with what things should be and what things should look like. I just don’t know how to make that happen.
MMM: Back to the album, what do you draw upon lyrically?
CD: The first inspiration for what I write about comes from the guitars. I just listen to the riffs and the basic sketch of the song and think about what kind of mood it’s projecting. From there I attach whatever is going on with me mentally at the time. So it’s very much elements of the guitar players’ subconscious psyche and my conscious psyche.
MMM: So it’s more in the moment. You’re kind of writing based on a feeling from what you hear in the music.
CD: Exactly, and letting the song dictate what happens. My idea of what vocals are is they’re an instrument, and they should weave in and out of everything just like another instrument would. It’s what works for this band. I don’t want to be a screechy, high metal vocalist. It would just sound bad. In that way, the lyrics must stay very close to the vibe of the music. They’re very much a part of what’s going on. In my case, I write the vocals parts and the lyrics, and those are two different elements in my mind. So it’s like a right-brain and left-brain activity combining with something other people created. So there is a complexity to it, and it is very much thought out.
MMM: One of the songs that really interests me is “The Way Beyond.” One of my favorite lyricists ever is Ronnie James Dio. I know a lot of people think what he wrote was cheesy and everything, but I always thought he was awesome at conjuring an image and making me use my imagination. “The Way Beyond” reminds me of him.
CD: Well, it’s funny you say that because the other day, an interviewer told me he thought my lyrics were more of a Dio vibe than a Paul Di’Anno vibe. There’s more narrative and it’s more imagery-based. So “The Way Beyond.” As I told you, we did a pre-recording of the album, and I had totally different vocal parts and lyrics for that song. But when I went to the mountains to work, I rewrote all of that in the back country. So I hiked out of the mountains to record, and when I met everyone in the studio and showed up with the new lyrics and vocal parts that they had never heard, my bandmates were really excited about the new version I had created. Those are the only lyrics on the album that I wrote out in the mountains.
MMM: Yeah, and there are some lines in the song that sound like you’re directly calling out to nature.
CD: Yeah, I was trying to relay the feelings of being in a really remote place and taking me away from all the worries that I had in the culture that we live in. Being removed from that is a really amazing experience. But it’s also about how it takes a certain kind of person and realizing I’m that kind of person that would need to be removed from society for a while just to delve deep into my core and take the time to understand who I am as a person. I get really upset if I don’t have time for myself, and I’m not able to function if I can’t be alone for extended periods of time. I’m not an extremely social person.
MMM: Now what’s it like for you going on tour? You’re kind of thrust into a situation where you don’t have a ton of time to yourself or time to reflect in nature?
CD: I’ll usually just go on walks by myself. I’m fine with it, actually. It’s a cool thing. Touring is really fun, playing shows is really fun, and you use a different part of your persona. I think, “This is what I’m doing now, and I’m going to do it well.” I’m going to do my best to perform every night, and I’m going to hang out with my bandmates, who are my friends. I’m not in a band with people I hate, and I wouldn’t be. We enjoy hanging out together, and the longer you’re on tour, the easier it is to be in that persona. When you get back from tour, there’s an adjustment period.
MMM: Another song on the record I wanted to ask you about is “Haunted Hunted,” which is my favorite song on the record. That’s also one where the symmetry between the vocals and the guitar work is really evident. Talk about that one for a bit.
CD: All I can say about that song is it’s about someone who was in my life who isn’t anymore. That’s all I can say.
MMM: What do you hope to accomplish, and what do you hope the band accomplishes, with this record?
CD: I’m not sure. I hope we can tour Europe more than just the tour we have coming up in April. I think it would be great if we can go back later in the year and just tour Europe as much as possible. I’d love to tour the U.S. I’d love to see the songs on “Possession” be an addictive element in people’s lives. I’d love to see people get serious Christian Mistress cravings and come to our shows and freak out. I’d love that. When I see that happen, I get totally floored by that, because I get excited when I see people having the same emotions I feel in the music. It’s very exuberant and real. This is music that makes people feel alive, and we’re a band that isn’t afraid to balls-out feel alive.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.christianmistress.com/
To buy “Possession,” go here: http://www.relapse.com/search_result.php?search_by=all&q=christian+mistress&x=11&y=6
To buy both “Agony & Opium” and “Possession” LPs in a package deal, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=1100
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/