Legendary goth-rockers Sisters of Mercy return to Australia this October for the first time in over seven years to headline their own national tour. Kicking off in Perth at the Astor Theatre this Friday, October 25, the Sisters juggernaut will be showcasing a mix of classics from the groups’ acclaimed discography such as Lucretia My Reflection, Temple Of Love and This Corrosion. To find out more about the current tour and what to expect from the upcoming Australian leg, MICHAEL HOLLICK caught up with lead guitarist Ben Christo.
Hi Ben. I believe you’re currently in Germany on the European leg of the band’s tour, is that right?
Yes, we played Cologne last night and then onto Luxembourg – not tonight, but the night after.
What was the crowd’s response in Cologne?
It was great. We actually have had a few issues in Cologne before; we had to cancel twice in a row for various reasons so we were really keen to do a great show for them and it worked out really well, great audience, sold out and a really positive response, people coming up afterwards and saying it was the best show they had seen of the band and how happy they were. That’s a really nice feeling because one of the reasons (we) do this is because music has changed our lives and made us happy. So if we can do that for other people, then job done.
You said you were a fan of the band, and obviously now you’re in the band. What has that experience been like for you?
It’s pretty surreal. When I joined the band (in 2006), our first shows were in America and a lot of things seemed so different, from the way I had listened to their records to the way I had perceived the band, it kind of felt like I wasn’t in the band.
Were you expecting the band to be something different than what it was?
I guess the way I could explain it is; in my head, at that point, it was all pretty much long black hair, leather jackets and quite dark songs. By the time I joined, however, it was much more bleach-blonde hair and fluorescent shirts. The songs had been chopped and changed a bit too, some were massively sped up, which I think was a lot to do with Andrew (Eldritch, frontman)’s direction for the band. He’s quite reactive, and at that stage (2006), he was distancing the band from the 80s-goth thing so that it didn’t become stale, like a nostalgia act. Looking back at it now, 13 years on, I guess it was a bit confused.
Would you say that the band has returned to a more traditional sound now?
It’s been 13 years since (joining the band), so myself, and especially the previous lead guitarist, Chris Catalyst, we do a lot of work to try and modify things in a way to make it more faithful to the original songs but still retaining a modern edge. (In the current set) When You Don’t See Me is a good example of that.
What is like playing songs that you grew up listening to?
At the beginning, it was quite to surreal to think that this is that song, and this is the lead singer. But even now there are certain songs in the set that will always resonate with me. You know how a certain song or album will remind you of where you were when you first listened to it, there’s a very strong connection there.
There’s one particular song in the set, Something Fast from Vision Thing, and for whatever reason every time when we play it, I am vividly transported back to being 13 years old, on the bus on the way to school, in the rain, listening to it. Always. So I do think about, what if I could talk to me on that bus and say “look, I know you’re pissed that you have to go and do double mathematics, but one day you’re going to play in this band. And the next gig is going to be in Las Vegas!”