Danzig shows dark side, theme of self-determination

May 21, 1993|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

"You sound too old to be somebody who goes to all these rock concerts," began the voice mail message. "My son is the lead guitarist for Danzig. They have an engagement at Hammerjacks on Sunday the 23rd, and I was wondering if you would be interested "He'll do pretty much what I ask him to do."

"Oh, she said that, did she?" laughs John Christ, the guitarist in question. "I'll have to speak to her about that."

Even so, Christ -- he declines to give his real name, preferring to maintain his family's privacy -- is hardly surprised to find that Mom has been phoning the media on his behalf. "She's done that a few times," he says, over the phone from a tour stop in Kalamazoo, Mich. "She's one of my biggest fans, along with the rest of my family. And it's great to have the support from the family.

"Even when you know they don't like the music, they still come out to see you play. It's really nice."

It is -- so nice, in fact, that you may be wondering how a good boy like John Christ wound up in a bad-ass band like Danzig. After all, he doesn't seem like the kind of guy you'd expect to be playing songs like "I Am Demon," "Devil's Plaything" or "How the Gods Kill."

"I was going to school at Towson State," he says. "I was a junior, a jazz composition major, and happened to be on Christmas break when a friend of mine said that his boss' kid was in a band and they were auditioning guitar players. I had a policy of never turning down any decent auditions, so I decided to go for it.

"I had no idea what it was about or anything, but there was something I liked about the music. They called me back, and the second time they gave me the job.

"It was the night before school was supposed to start again, so I had to call my mom at 2 o'clock in the morning and tell her to drop me out of school. So there's a little tension there. They were excited, but a little worried at the same time."

Since then, things have worked out pretty well for Christ. Danzig has so far released three albums -- an EP titled "Thrall -- Demonsweatlive" is due out next week -- and is steadily building an audience. And despite the group's carefully cultivated dark image, Christ says his bandmates are fairly normal.

"The whole band is, basically," he says. "And the type of music we're doing is real down-to-earth." As for the band's message, Christ says it less to do with darkness than with self-determination.

"Be who you want to be and don't worry about anybody else," is the way he sums it up. "Don't let anybody tell you what to do, how to act, how to think and how to behave. That's pretty much something we emote to the kids, because we want them to see that you've got to be yourself in this world. You've got to go for what you believe and go for what you really want to do."

And apparently, that's a message that really resonates with Danzig's audience. "These kids are diehard, loyal fans," he says. "They come out to all the shows and buy all the records and call our hot line and write to the fan club. These people are the most loyal fans I've ever seen in my life, even more loyal than I was to my idols when I was growing up."

Danzig

When: Sunday, doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: Hammerjacks, 1101 S. Howard St.

Tickets: $15.50

Call: (410) 659-7625 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets

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