The latest album from the Ottawa punk-metal band, Crusades, is titled Perhaps You Deliver This Judgment with Greater Fear Than I Receive It. It is as awesome, if not even more so, than their debut album, The Sun is Down and the Night is Riding In. Perhaps You Deliver… is based upon the life of a sixteenth-century Italian heretic, Giordano Bruno. It’s a very unconventional idea, but it works and has made for a great album. With my interest piqued, I decided to email Dave Williams, one of the vocalists and guitarists (and a fellow Razorcake contributor), with some questions about the new album and he kindly responded.
How has the band changed since The Sun is Down…? How have those changes affected the lyrics and music with Perhaps You Deliver…?
I suppose the biggest change between the two records resulted from the combination of my being more comfortable bringing heavier and less straightforward material to the table, and Skottie (bassist/vocalist) and Jordan’s (drummer/vocalist) vastly expanded musical palette since the band’s inception. That’s not to suggest that their tastes were previously one-dimensional. They’d just never delved too deeply into the heavier side of punk/hardcore, and their ever-growing appreciation of such things allowed for a more welcome introduction of those influences into our songs. The dynamic shifts, rhythmic changes, and more complex instrumentation all stem from that. We really wanted to write more of a “grower” this time around, as opposed to twenty minutes of relatively straightforward melodic punk rock.
Where did the interest in exploring anti-religious messages in your lyrics come from? Was that a response to your upbringing? Is there a specific situation you can point to that turned you off to religion?
My extreme distaste for religious types, specifically Christians, is without a doubt a result of my upbringing in a Christian community. Catholic school, Sunday mass, christening, communion, confirmation, guilt, terror, shame; these were cornerstones of my youth. I spent a sizeable portion of my childhood paralyzed with fears of damnation, possession, and divine judgment. By my teen years I had shaken much of these cobwebs from my mind (finding punk rock certainly helped), but many of my peers who grew up in similar households—and in many cases, much more devout ones—never managed to break that grip. The Sun is Down… chronicles a few of the faith-rooted mental collapses and suicides of dear friends whose parents, friends, pastors, and teachers ensured that they’d never be free of the clutches of the Christian disease.
Where did you first come upon the life and writings of Giordano Bruno?
Bruno’s story actually came to me as a result of a lengthy obsession with Roman Polanski’s film The Ninth Gate (and Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s novel The Club Dumas). The film centers around a fictional book, Aristide Torchia’s De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis (The Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Shadows), based on the Delomelanicon, supposedly written by Satan himself. Torchia’s character, an Italian mystic and philosopher, is thought to have been based upon Giordano Bruno, and so began my search.
How do you see Bruno “as an archetype for the modern atheist, freethinker, artist, poet and lover”?
Bruno was an individual so unwavering in his quest for truth that he chose death over succumbing to the Roman inquisition. Charged with “holding beliefs contrary to those of the Catholic faith,” Bruno spent eight years in a lightless dungeon, his tongue bound and his jaw clamped shut with an iron gag, before being publicly burned to death, never once recanting his passion for science and his lack of “faith.” At the core of Bruno’s “criminal” tirades were his findings on the infinity of the cosmos. These early astronomical studies were groundbreaking, and coupled with Bruno’s astrological leanings, amounted to unforgivable heresy. Giordano Bruno was on the empirical front line in the science vs. religion debate, which obviously carries on to this day. He also happened to be an incredible poet whose love poems, in my opinion, are some of the most beautiful and underappreciated in the canon. His vivid, winding metaphors are unmatched.
What was it about him that compelled you to write Perhaps You Deliver…?
Initially, when writing for our second LP, I’d taken an entirely different approach. I was attempting to weave a piece of short fiction (that I’m still interested in using at some point) throughout the LP, but the result didn’t seem immediate or urgent enough. The fictional element made it hard to deliver the material with the amount of conviction I felt necessary. I needed something that we could all connect to, the way I did (and do) with the first LP’s stories of my friends’ wasted lives. Bruno’s life and death were fresh in my mind at the time, and certainly meshed with our chosen platform, so off I went. Each song title on Perhaps You Deliver… is a loose translation from one of Bruno’s own works, and recurring themes from Bruno’s writings—words providential to his eventual judgment (“The Shadow of Ideas,” for instance)—come up throughout the record, pertaining to different eras and instances in his life.
The lyrics on Perhaps You Deliver are really unique; not dumbed down or simplistic. What made you decide to write them in the style and manner that you did?
I suppose I’ve always fancied myself something of a “creative writer” and thought it fitting that, with the musical evolution on the new record, there was an opportunity to be a touch more lavish in my writing. I also wanted the spirit to parallel Bruno’s own creative style that he employed in his sonnets, which I actually borrow from throughout the record. And honestly, I’ve always preferred the somewhat abstract approach to topical writing, as opposed to an overt, cutthroat style—at least in terms of my own writing. Greg Bennick (Between Earth & Sky/Trial) and Brian D (Catharsis/Requiem/From The Depths) are perfect examples of lyricists who write poetically and cryptically on a range of incredibly serious and relevant topics. They also happen to lead incredibly inspiring lives full of passion and action and I recommend that anyone with a serious interest in CRVSADES check out their bands, writings, websites, and causes.
Were you concerned that the lyrics may not be accessible or able to be made catchy enough for some listeners?
A rather funny question based on CRVSADES’ collective writing process. I, personally, have a tendency to be somewhat verbose on occasion. Lyric-writing is one such occasion. I also write most of the music for the band and leave much of the vocal melody duties to Skottie. Thus, there is a lengthy period at the beginning of each CRVSADES project in which the rest of the band works on paring my nonsense down to singable lines and memorable choruses. And ideally the process works well enough to have throngs of sweaty degenerates shouting along at shows. As far as the topics and lyrics themselves go, I don’t intend to go over anyone’s head. We prefaced the release of the record with an explanation of the themes (tagged almost immediately with a “Pretentious!” label, haha) and are always happy to divulge the meanings of any of our songs. We’ve had many of these types of questions about the first record (particularly with regards to the song “Driven”) and have been quick to respond. I even recently made a Q&A section on our website…but no questions yet. Think of it as the HeartattaCk letters section, folks!