Interview with Luke
Renno, the singer and guitarist of the legendary christian death band
Crimson Thorn. Interview edit by Stefano Pentassuglia.
Hello Crimson Thorn! First of all, introduce the band to the
readers of WhiteMetal.it. When and how are you decided to play a
powerful mix of grindcore and death metal with christian lyrics?
We've had some lineup changes and the band consists of Luke Renno-lead
vocals and guitar, Miles sunde-guitar, Brett Wilson-bass, and Steve
Reishus-drums. Miles and I started back in 1992. We were both Christians
musicians and it's just
for us to praise God with our music. It would feel less powerful for us
to write lyrics about things that were less important to us.
When I saw your name, I thinked at the Christ’s crown of thorns… Why
have you chosen this image for your name? Do you want to express the
sense of suffering of the Christ’s sacrifice with you name (and so with
your violent music)?
We in the band have all accepted the blood of Jesus as the payment for
our sins. The main goal of the band is to praise Him and to tell others
about what he's done for us. So the name referring to the crown of
thorns is a representation of the price that he paid for all of us and
hopefully people will look more into it and find that it's about a real
relationship with God and not just a bunch of boring rituals that people
think will get them to Heaven if they just go through the motions
throughout their lives.
I know that your singer/guitarist Luke Renno (you..eheh) was already the
guitarist of Altruist,
extreme progressive metal band. At the same time, Collin Anderson (ex
keyboards) now is playing with Altruist… Why this "exchange" in
Altruist was started by Collin. At the time he was looking for band
members to record with and I volunteered to help him out with that. I
recorded two songs with him called Tyranny and Cruel humanity. Those
songs are on the "a canvas of dreams" ep. You can hear one of them on
his myspace page at
www.myspace.com/altruistprog. Collin wrote the songs and played
keyboards on them. I played guitar, bass, vocals, and drums and did the
recording. So after that, he got a band together and they changed
musical direction somewhat. The songs I recorded are black metal. During
that time Collin also played keyboards with Crimson Thorn for a short
time on a few songs and then he went to school on the other side of the
country. So I was never officially in Altruist, I just helped him out
with a couple songs and he was never officialy in Crimson Thorn, he just
jammed with us for a while.
You are american, from Minnesota… How is the Christian
scene from your parts? I think that you give an important contribution
to the scene.
The metal scene is not very big here, but it's growing. Back when we
used to play in the early 90's it was pretty big, but then alternative
music hit America and the metal scene was pretty much dead except for
the die hard few. There were about ten years where a handfull of people
showing up at metal shows was pretty good. But now metal is making a
comeback in America and there are a lot of teens who are into it, so
things are growing.
You have published 3 very good albums like "Unearthed", "Dissection" and
"Purification", a wonderful mix of grindcore and death metal. Can you
tell me the bands that inspire you?
Personally, bands like Barren Cross, Stryper, Bride, Saint and
Whitecross are the ones that really got me into music in the first place
as a young teen. Then I heard The Lead, Vengeance, Believer, Sacrament,
The Crucified and I definitely knew I was supposed to go in that
direction. When Kevin joined the band on drums he was a new Christian
and had been playing in a death metal band and he brought influences
like Napalm Death, Suffocation, and Carcass and we just kept going
heavier and faster.
Can you tell us something about your next album? We are waiting for it…
We are the strongest musically that we've ever been right now, so expect
more from the drums and guitars. Before Miles was the only one doing
solos, but now I've gone from bass to guitar, so my
will be added as well. Also, Kevin was an excellent drummer, but Steve
us to move into new areas. So it will be heavy and fast, but also much
more fast intense melody. We are planning to record soon. Two of us are
in school, so it's hard for all of us to get together all the time and
that makes things go slowly. But we're going to take our time and make
sure we do everything right.
How can you reconcile violence of death metal with christian lyrics? Do
you try to express your faith, in this way? Is there a concept behind
the realization of your albums?
For me death metal is not about violence at all. It's about intensity. I
lift weights every day during the week. I get a big adrenaline rush when
I'm in the gym and for me it's the same feeling when I play death metal.
When I'm in the gym, my blood is pumping, my adrenaline is flowing, I'm
using every bit of strength I have, but there is no anger or violence in
it. When I play death metal, I'm using my ability to the fullest and
it's the same feeling. Also, it's about passion. I'm very passionate
about my relationship with Jesus. Some people may want to worship Him
quietly and relaxed, but the power of God is so wonderful and powerful,
I just want to worship Him with everything I've got. I want to shout for
joy and I do. I play these songs in worship to Him. That's why if I ever
for Jesus and just wrote about different things, the passion would be
gone and I'd be bored with the music. A lot of people say Christian
lyrics and death metal cannot mix, but to me it's the opposite. Some of
the bands out there are so incredibly talented. I hear new death metal
songs and the drums are the most technical brilliant drumming I've every
heard and the music is just a masterpiece played at such a high skill
level, and for me to hear the music it's like "this song must be about
something incredible!" Then I read the lyrics and it's about zombies
eating people or bashing someone's head in and to me those lyrics do not
match the music at all. They seem silly to me to be along with a musical
masterpiece. I think to know the Power of God and to have a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ, you would understand this, but if you
think of the "religious" version of Christianity where it's just a bunch
of stuffy rules and regulations and you can never have fun and you have
to just act better than everyone all the time, that does not fit this
style at all. If you read the bible, God does not like this version of
being "religious". The only people that Jesus pointed the finger at in
the bible were the self righteous "religious" people who pointed their
fingers at everyone else. And non Christians think that that's what
Christianity is, and if they think that I can see why they would think
that Christianity and death metal do not mix because that false version
A personal question. Do you know Napalm Death and Nasum (unfortunately
their leader Mieszko is dead in the Tsunami tragedy)? I like very much
these two bands (for music and for lyrics), also because their lyrics
are politics, so they don’t use the usual lyrics
gore… You are a very original grind band too, because you use grind to
speak about christianity! Death metal and grind (and so metal in general)
is for you a true way of life?
I haven't heard Nasum, but I've always liked Napalm Death. Even if I
don't agree with all of their political views, I still respect that
they're speaking their minds and trying to make their music have an
actual meaning rather than just thinking it's funny to shock people by
writing foul, depraved lyrics. I haven't read all of their lyrics, but
the ones I've read look like they're trying to make a point and would
like to see things improve rather than just insulting people and making
Had you played only at christian metal festival or also in some festival
purely "metal"? Will you ever come to play live here in Italy?
We've played a lot of secular shows. We've played with Malevolent
Creation and Grave. We used to play at metal massacres way back in the
early 90's. We'd love to come to Italy. If any promoter ever wants to
bring us over, we'd definitely like to.
A lot of bands now (like those under the label FearDark, for example
Slechtvalk, Kekal, Sympathy…) prefer to replace the
"secular", because they believe to have more occasions as a "secular
band" to make known their music also for a non-christian metal public.
What do you think about this choose? Are you proud to definite yourself
a "christian band"?
I guess I don't have much of an opinion of it. I don't like to get real
technical with labels. maybe we'd have more exposure if we didn't let
people know we're are Christians, but I'll never be ashamed of that. But
every band is some kind of band. Like Napalm Death. They're a political
band. But people just call them a Death Metal band. When someone asks
them what kind of music they play, they don't say Political Death Metal.
It's just death metal. We're a Death Metal band too. We happen to be
Christian. So the style of music is not Christian Death Metal. It's
Death Metal. I'm proud to be a Christian, but to use it in the
description of the style of music has always seemed to not fit to me
just because no one else puts whatever the content of their lyrics are
before their music style. Some people actually act like you're trying to
fool them if you don't say "Christian" before the music style, but none
of the other bands they listen to do either.
Ok, thanks a lot for the interview!! Would you like to say some last
words for the italian reader of WhiteMetal.it?
God bless, and we have our websites are
www.myspace.com/officialcrimsonthorn The myspace site has some songs
for free download. God bless!