CHRIST ON PARADE
"I saw Christ on Parade in San Jose opening for Social Distortion, and it was one of the best live sets I've ever seen anywhere. There was this anxiety and tension that went through everybody in the crowd waiting for their first noise, and when it came the whole place blew out front to back. The original lineup had caustic personality that when it was going good, things were on the edge of oblivion. When the mixture was off, things got ugly; there was a chaotic energy that followed them everywhere. Christ on Parade were a product of a time when all was wrong with life, and the only thing worth doing was sacrificing your body for your mind in hopes of a moment of grace. Unfortunately grace came along too late to save the band, but the music stands alone."
~Scott Kelly (Neurosis)
Christ on Parade epitomized mid-'80s East Bay hardcore. With electrifying songs that embodied the scene's youthful energy, anger and spirit, the group always practiced what they preached. Formed in 1985 by ex-members of minor threats Teenage Warning and peace punks Treason, the quintet thundered against Reaganomics, totalitarianism and crooked landlords with their jagged, post-adolescent calls-to-arms. As punk luminaries like Black Flag fizzled out, hardcore-metal crossover groups like DRI ascended the ranks and all underground bands took on the government, Christ on Parade perfectly expressed their musical and social growing pains on their debut, Sounds of Nature, which originally came out on Pushead's label but the band is now re-releasing with bonus material on Neurot Recordings. The group featured vocalist Barrie Evans, guitarists Mike Scott and Noah Landis, bassist Malcolm Sherwood and drummer Todd Kramer. Some members lived in the East Bayís legendary New Method Warehouse, and they would play shows with the likes of the Subhumans, Agnostic Front, the Circle Jerks and Conflict.
Like those they shared stages with, Christ on Parade thrived on living by the skin of their teeth. The word anarchy still meant something to punks and spending so much time around the New Method Warehouse crowd, not to mention hanging around groups like sweaty hardcore warriors Crucifix and whatever British punks swung through at the time, rubbed off on the band. They were poor, hungry and desperate, and they siphoned all of their anxieties into their signature blend of crossover punk and metal. Moreover, the band was forced to create their own identity in the scene. Capturing their lifestyle and ethos, they created posters that read, "Those with no voice can only scream!" They made sure their voices were heard. With a name that would foreshadow the evangelical lunacy that would ensue in the next decade, Christ on Parade naturally attracted likeminded fans with their slam-dance stompers.
They had songs like "America the Myth," which questioned the United States' foreign policy at the time, and "Landlord Song," which they dedicated to the owner of the New Method Warehouse. Their debut album, Sounds of Nature, serves as a snapshot of a time when mothers with baby buggies would cross the street when they saw punks coming their way. With three of the members deep into skateboarding, the group saw their music included on a compilation cassette that Thrasher magazine issued. Punk was growing up, and that time was crucial to each of the members' later lives, when Noah would meet Scott Kelly, who had just started Neurosis and metal became more savvy to DIY culture.
Booking their own shows, they would take any great gig they could. If driving to Reno to open for Agnostic Front was offered, they'd jump. Driving south to San Jose to play with Social Distortion? No problem. It was their constant touring and refinement as a live band that helped land them the gig playing the first show at Berkeley's now internationally known 924 Gilman Street venue. At the time, Christ on Parade helped curb some of the anarchy in the punk scene by sitting in with other influential punk bands to define the rules for the venue. In that regard, they changed how people would appreciate punk for years to come. It's no surprise that members of Green Day and even High on Fire would later cite the group as an influence.
When they officially disbanded in 1989, they didn't realize the impact they would leave. Landis would later join Neurosis in the mid í90s and Evans would form psychobilly group the Hellbillys. While on tour with the Hellbillys, Evans found that half of the questions he got from fans were about Christ on Parade. Now, over two decades since they formed, theyíre reissuing their touchstone Sounds of Nature album on Neurot Recordings and have even planned some reunion shows. The disc also features two songs from Thrasher's now out-of-print Skate Rock Volume 3: Wild Riders of Boards cassette, the group's Isn't Life A Dream EP, and a previously unreleased cover of the Avengers' "The American in Me." At the time these recordings came out, the world had never seen anything like Christ on Parade, so as their impact still resonates today in other bands' music, it's time their catalog gets due credit as the world hasn't seen anything like the band since.