Rozz Williams is a lot more than the death rock deity he has become among angst-ridden teenagers. Rozz Williams is a musician to be taken seriously.
Williams is probably most famous for the creation of Christian Death, a band that blossomed from the ashes of the L.A. punk underground and became the definition of Gothic rock, a genre of rock music that revels in the dark and mysterious aspects of life.
Williams created songs of angst, pain and suffering on the three original Christian death albums, Only Theatre of Pain, Catastrophe Ballet and Ashes that gained him his title as the king of Gothic music in the early '80s.
These three albums not only earned Williams a reputation as a talented lyricist and musician, but a large international following as well. While Rozz is appreciative that so many people enjoy his music, he is a bit uncomfortable with the fact that some actually worship him.
"I try to tell people who revere me that if I'm a god, they're a god as well," he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles last week. "I want people to understand their own souls and realize that they can do whatever they put their minds to."
In 1985 he started feeling restricted by the band Christian Death, and began experimenting with industrial music by creating what he refers to as "sound and noise structures." He has had ongoing success with this form of music.
What takes up most of his time, however, is his latest band Shadow Project which he formed in 1987 with Eva O., formerly of the band Superheroines. Rozz says that at the beginning of his involvement with Shadow Project there was a slightly negative feeling from the audience. Instead of paying attention to the new music, Williams says the audience was crying out for older songs which he wasn't performing any more.
"There was a really rough period where I just stopped caring," he said. "I wasn't interested because the audience wasn't, and they weren't interested because I wasn't."
Now Williams is finding a much more positive response to Shadow Project. He said it is a good feeling to hear the audience requesting songs from Shadow Project albums instead of from old Christian Death albums.
With Shadow Project gaining popularity, Williams is non-committal about the future of Christian Death, but does leave hope for further releases.
"I've been doing it for so many years now that if something I'm doing fits under the name Christian Death, then I'm going to release it as Christian Death."
This is evidenced by the new release The Path of Sorrows. While the personnel on this CD is basically the same as that of the latest Shadow Project CD, the sound is Christian Death at its best.
While many musicians tend to find a niche and stick that particular style, Rozz strives to break musical ground and create new, unique sounds.
Rozz Williams in concert Sunday at the Ritz Theatre in Ybor City performing with Shadow Project. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door.
The Essential Rozz Williams
Only Theatre of Pain/ Christian Death. Rozz's first and most popular album. This ground-breaking disc contains, among others, the classics Burnt Offerings and Spiritual Cramp.
Catastrophe Ballet/ Christian Death. From beginning to end this CD creates a poetic tapestry that will leave a permanent mark on listeners. The beauty of the songs on Catastrophe Ballet, especially Evening Falls, Awake at the Wall and Electra Descending, is unsurpassed in the Gothic rock genre.
Ashes/ Christian Death. The seven song follow-up to Catastrophe Ballet contains the ethereal When I was Bed.
Every King a Bastard Son/ Rozz Williams. This collection of spoken word pieces is alternatingly demonic, melancholic and tragic. The Evil Ones is of special note on this eight track CD.
Dreams for the Dying/ Shadow Project. This is a truly unique blend of death rock, punk and metal. Rozz has, with compatriot Eva O, managed to combine these dissimilar subcultures well and has, in the process, created some truly excellent songs. Thy Kingdom Come and Lord of the Flies are just two of the songs worth listening to.