Children Of Perdition

Children Of Perdition - Episode I

Dealing with the Devil
A conversation with David Sinclair-Smith
By Anonymous

INTRO: When I met the founder of death metal band Children of Perdition, David Sinclair-Smith, his presentation was contradictory to the cliché heavy metal rock star. Instead of a longhaired, scruffy man in a t-shirt and jeans, he was well groomed, wearing a three-piece suit and was surprisingly articulate and polite. A Luciferian gentleman. We sat at a Sydney café in the CBD as tourists walked by taking photos in front of the talking dog statue that guards the southern entrance to the Queen Victoria Building. David is on a lunch-break, hence the business suit. I ask what he works in and he tells me after a short pause: “Finance.” I make a remark about “money” and the “root of all evil.” He simply smiles back at me noting that his time is short. So we begin . . .

Question [Q]: I’ve listened to your album, and while death metal is not my usual taste in music, I found the songs catchy and memorable. Was that intentional?

David Sinclair-Smith [DSS]: Most of these songs sat with me for near ten years while I was trying to get members together to form Children of Perdition, so they had time to evolve. However, I simply wanted to play music that I would like to hear. I grew up listening to KISS as a child, and in my teens I was a huge Iron Maiden fan, so melody and memorable songs were important to me.

Q: Speaking of band members, you recorded the debut album by yourself in your home studio. Why was that?

DSS: Quite simply, I couldn’t wait to find band members who were dedicated to learning the songs and playing them how I envisioned them. So I did all the parts as best I could and in the end had over thirty songs to select from for the album. I needed to get these songs out as a cathartic release. I thought if Quorthon did it with the Bathory album Hammerheart, why can’t I? It’s raw and not a great production, but it gets the job done. It conveys the basic component of the songs so I can perform these live to an audience, who hopefully have a copy of the album and like the songs.

Q: The lyrics are quite occult orientated. What are your personal beliefs and do they affect your song writing?

DSS: I am a Satanist. And proud to be one. Now, let me be clear on what that means. It is not Satan worship. Satanism is a religion of rational epicurean self-interest that emulates the symbolic mythological character of Satan. Satanists do not believe in an actual entity called Satan, but we do believe in the power that certain characters in mythology have on our emotions and psychology, and for Satanists, that personage is Satan. The religion of Satanism is a modern and very Western philosophy created by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966. Before this date, the term “satanism” was just thrown around and placed upon any idea that did not conform to Judeo-Christian ideology. When Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966 and published the Satanic Bible in 1969, he was the first person in history to officially use the term Satanism and give it a codified philosophy. So yes, Satanism definitely influences my song writing.

Q: You have other members in the band to perform the material live now. Are they Satanists? And if not, what are their views on your affiliation with Satanism?

DSS: Well, they are not Christian or Muslim, that’s for certain! My religion is that, mine. I do not force it on anyone. The people who join Children of Perdition are aware of the lyrics and the symbology used. I simply ask that they respect that, but they don’t have to have my outlook on life too much. Obviously I don’t ask that they be Satanists, however I do request that they can get along with me, which requires good humour, a just heart, integrity and an atheistic or agnostic leaning.

Q: Other heavy metal bands sing about Satanism already. Didn’t you feel it a bit cliché?

DSS: What most heavy metal bands sing about are actually attempts to offend or blaspheme Christians. They sing about “killing Christ” or some other empty threat to a non-existent deity that they don’t even believe in. Fantasy is fine, and expressing one’s aggression towards the symbol of a belief system you find offensive can be liberating. But it’s such a repetitive theme in heavy metal that it’s become a joke and no one takes them seriously. I feel that society has become more atheistic since the 1980s, and most of the generations born after this period do not believe there is a god. So by screaming blasphemies to a Christ or a god figure in lyrics in order to offend someone and create controversy, well, this will not work today. My lyrics are pro-Satanism, the religion, the philosophy. I don’t need to sing about killing nuns, Christ, or any other deity, as the philosophy of Satanism stands quite strongly alone. Satanism does not need a Christ or a God as an enemy to be of value. The character of Satan symbolises liberty from tyranny in any form, and the celebration of enlightenment through knowledge to become as gods, not be enslaved by gods. If any of my lyrics mention a spiritual deity, the context will be of my views and action towards the idea of submitting to an apparent “god” as abhorrent. My lyrics won’t sing about killing a god like in some fantasy role-playing game or novel, as I don’t believe there is a god to kill. Satan is a symbol that emotionally moves me as an iconoclastic and passion-driven character of inspiration. The attitude of Satan feels far more tangible to me than any father figure god out in space. These feelings are where my approach to singing about Satan differs from other metal bands.

Q: Why heavy metal? Or death metal? Why this music style?

DSS: Emotional Crystallisation Inertia; that is, certain events in time have stuck with me, and are now part of me. I was born in the 70s and two things were prominent in society at the time: Star Wars and KISS. Star Wars got me into the mythological story narrative and the idea of a hidden Force that can be tapped into in accordance with one’s will. Star Wars inspired me to explore the more esoteric fields of martial arts so I could become a real-life Jedi or Sith. That led to my eventual travels to Japan to train with a Grandmaster of a 700 year old Ninja school. The influence of Star Wars also got me interested in the occult, and eventually Satanism. KISS, was the defining moment when it came to aesthetics and sound of a band. Gene Simmons was the ultimate icon next to Darth Vader when I was a child. So that culminated in my eventual taste for the heavier sound and look in music. Heavy metal, especially bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Venom, had energy and a sound that was full of memorable riffs and melody, while not losing any aggression. It moved me on an emotional level that cannot be articulated. To me, heavy metal just works on so many levels on my subconscious that I can’t reason why I love it and can’t tolerate other music genres. That being said, I was a Star Wars fan, so John Williams’ scores definitely added to my love for dramatic music, and this also led to my fondness for classical works especially in movie soundtracks. It’s the narrative that both classical and heavy metal share that drives me towards those genres. I also grew up with an interest in special effects and make-up thanks to Star Wars, so that evolved into an appreciation of horror movies that were full of fantastical creatures. I began to imitate demonic voices and howling beasts like those in certain movies. It was fun to be able to experiment with my voice and see what I could create. As my heavy metal tastes evolved into heavier sounds such as thrash metal, a new genre called death metal rose. And this style of metal, with almost cinematic compositions and the use of demonic growls for vocals, made me very excited.

Q: Is classical music influential on your song writing?

DSS: Absolutely. Carl Orff or Vivaldi, although they are from different sub-genres, their melodies and sweeping sounds convey such passion and beauty. The colour of the tones they create definitely inspire my guitar riffs. Not just the bombastic and percussive compositions, but also the subtle movements of the Baroque.

Q: What is your usual song writing process?

DSS: Most songs, believe it or not, come ready-made in my sleep. I literally wake up in the middle of the night with the entire structure, riffs and melodies playing in my mind. I quickly jump out of bed, grab the guitar, pen and paper and work out the notes of the songs while the song is fresh. Then I wake in the morning and revise what I wrote down. I usually only make slight changes. Other times, I will be in the shower with music in the background and I will hear a different riff or beat to a riff and I’ll quickly jump out of the shower and switch off the music so it doesn’t corrupt the song I imagined, and write this down. I live alone, so jumping out of the shower and grabbing my guitar didn’t matter! Some songs are blatant homages to my favourite bands. I love certain band’s music and riffs, but I don’t want to play covers, so I write in their style. The song “Nativity In Black” is an obvious hats-off to Black Sabbath. And “Evil Deified” is Reign in Blood era Slayer.

Q: What do you think about music sharing?

DSS: Tape-trading was big when I got into metal, however, I always bought the albums of bands, as I felt that they worked hard to get that album out so we could enjoy it, so why not pay them for it? I feel that illegal downloading is a negative impact on music, as producing an album is expensive as you not only have to take time off work to record, but rent a recording studio and someone to engineer and mix. Even home studios cost money and time. Then you have to pay to have these promoted if you want to have more than family and friends listen to it. Basically, I see it this way: if I created something and it was going to be taken away from my control and handed out free by someone who did not provide any assistance or contribution to that creation’s origination, I would want ask that person to provide something tangible to me in exchange for my time, effort and expenses.

Q: Any advice for new musicians or bands?

DSS: Don’t give up your day-job hoping for a fantasy world of fame and fortune. All art should come from the heart and should be fun and enjoyable. Once you become dependant on it for income or hope to make an income from it from the outset, it is no longer art, but a commodity. That’s when you are in it to make a quick buck and start to compromise in order to be a commercial success. Be careful about signing to record labels as they can get you into debt fast. Remember, all promotional videos, recording time and tours that are provided by a record company will want that money back. This is where you start to sell-out in order to make a product that is popular, instead of art that makes you happy. Remember, that you also don’t want to suffer loss of income from pursuing your artistic goals, either. So, ask for tangible reward in exchange for your art, but do so with a level head and a balanced perspective. Remember you don’t want to not have fun with your art, so don’t get into debt for the sake of creativity, either. You should be rewarded for your talents.

Q: Any great achievements that you’re proud of, so far?

DSS: The idea of Children of Perdition has been around since early 2000. I’m just glad to finally have something tangible happening with the songs. So I am glad that COP is out in the world so people I don’t know can experience, either for good or bad, my music.

Q: Any regrets?

DSS: At this pint in time I have two. I was in LA in December 2014, and I was going to go to the Rainbow Bar and Grill with one goal: Meet Lemmy from Motörhead. I didn’t go. Then in 2015, Lemmy died. The same goes for not meeting Anton LaVey personally. However, I was representing the Church of Satan in Australian media while he was alive, and I received letters from then High Priestess, Blanche Barton, that Anton LaVey was proud of the work I was doing. So that is a satisfying feeling knowing that someone I admired actually reciprocated some portion of admiration towards me. To end on a positive note, in December 2015, I personally met Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore and High Priestess Peggy Nadramia in Florida during the “Devil’s Reign” art exhibition. Peter and Peggy were such lovely and sincere individuals, that I felt welcome and an immediate connection to them and the other Church of Satan members I encountered.

POST INTERVIEW: After writing this article, I still feel that I need more time with David to understand him. Something tells me that what he presented is what he wanted me to see, and I was only scratching at the shadow of his true core. It’s now a matter of better the Devil I know, however there is still a large portion of this Devil I don’t know. But, that’s the Devil, right?