It’s a Cruel World After All: The Cruel World Fest is finally happening this weekend – two days of goth, dark punk and new wave music, two years after it was originally scheduled. Obviously, the pandemic played hell with many tours and concerts, and this one was no different. Finally, we can look forward to seeing Bauhaus, Echo & the Bunnymen, Blondie, Devo, the Damned, the Psychedelic Furs, Public Image Ltd., and many more. Nothing is perfect – Morrissey is performing, too.
Also on the bill is Christian Death, the gothic punk band that formed in SoCal in 1979. The lineup might have drastically shifted in the years since, but the band is still adored in these parts. We chatted with frontman Valor Kand and bassist/vocalist Maitri two years ago, immediately prior to the original festival date. We had to hold onto it, and then check with Kand that it’s all still relevant and correct (which he did), and we can finally run with it. Maitri described Cruel World as a “dream bill.”
“We’ve never played with Bauhaus, although we were in the studio in Rockfield, which, unfortunately, it looks like the movie about that is not going to happen either because of SXSW being canceled,” said Kand. “The last time we were in that studio, the guys from Love & Rockets, which was pretty much Daniel Ash at that time, were there. That was the last time I spoke with him. That’ll be an interesting conversation. There’s a few people on the bill I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen and spoke with Morrissey a few times. But Devo, I never saw live. Public Image. One of the first times we did a Goldenvoice show, we opened up for Public Image.”
The band has a new album, Evil Becomes Rule, out this year so we can expect to hear songs from that at Cruel World.
“The name of the album is Evil Becomes Rule, so in other words before you know it’s coming, you become it,” said Kand. “I think what we’re referring to is the dire straits of certain situations in the future like what we’re experiencing right now. This has been on the cards for a lot of people, especially in the medical world. It wasn’t a question of if, but when. This is obviously a natural thing, but these kinds of things can be manipulated by people with that intent.”
“And evil is right next door,” Maitri added.
The band’s previous album was The Root of All Evil, so typically, they’ve taken those themes and run with them.
“There are so many topics that encompass all that, that we couldn’t even fit it in, into the one album,” said Kand. “We had songs that were left over and we were going to do a part two, and this is it.”
Two years ago, we were still suffering through the Trump administration and the pandemic had just gotten going.
“I think we’ve been ahead of the curve and a lot of the things we’ve been saying that were overlooked years ago,” said Kand. “We’re not being remembered for the warning signs that we posted years ago. Not that it bothers me, but it’s curious how these things come about.”
The band members might not spend as much time in L.A. as they used to, dividing their time around the country. But they still enjoy coming home.
“It’s always good to come back to California just because of family, if nothing else,” Kand says. “But yeah, playing in Los Angeles is always special to us.”
It has been 37 years since the Valor Kand era of Christian Death began, yet old fans still question its validity, and pine for the Rikk Agnew and Rozz Williams (RIP) era. Kand thinks that’s “unfortunate.”
“There’s Pink Floyd and all these bands that have one or two members left,” he says. “As time goes on, I can sympathize with people. The problem as I see it is that people don’t like change. Once they’ve experienced something, even if it’s a carrot cake, it always has to be that particular carrot cake. Bands like AC/DC can satisfy people like that because every song and every album was almost exactly the same. But unfortunately for us, none of the songs we’re done are remotely the same. Every song is different to every other song on the album, let alone every album being different to the one before. That’s because we get bored, and we have so much to express. We want to do so many different things, and we want to put as much out as we possibly can that expresses the concept of a particular song, or the emotion in the lyrics.”
We’ll get to hear all of those glorious differences at Cruel World.
“We’re still actually in the middle of trying to put the set together,” said Maitri. “So we’re still debating that. But it will involve new songs – some stuff that we’re happy to play because we haven’t played them yet, from the new album. We have to keep ourselves entertained as well.”
And after that? There’s plenty planned as the band continues to move forward.
“We were booked last October to play with Bauhaus,”Kand said. “We were going to be a direct support, and it was going to be a much smaller thing, and then Peter Murphy had his heart attack. Nobody was going to announce it until Goldenvoice did. Then the news came in that Peter wasn’t going to be able to do it. We were then asked if we’d be down for rescheduling it that next April or May 2021. Now, finally in May 2022 it is finally going to happen.”
“It was strange to be in a standstill like that, not knowing what’s going to happen,” added Maitri. “But we want to keep touring. We had other shows booked around this big event. So we actually had no clue what was gonna happen.”
Thankfully, we’re returning to normality and the band will release the new album on May 6. Because we need Christian Death, no matter what form it takes.
It’s a Cruel World After All: Christian Death performs at Cruel World Fest on Saturday, May 14, and Sunday, May 15. Go to cruelworldfest.com.
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