Interview: Dave Gryder, formerly of Heaven's Force
This week, I had the privilege of interviewing Dave Gryder, formerly of Heaven's Force, the band thought to be the first Christian Thrash Metal band. Though, Dave doesn't believe this to be the case, it very well may be.
TBD: Who am I speaking to? (For the readers)
HF: My name is Dave Gryder and I was a member of Heaven's Force.
TBD: Could you give a quick background on Heaven's Force?
HF: At the time, I was in a band with Kelly Berger called Mystress. After Mystress broke up, we decided to start a new band but we needed a guitarist. Kelly recommended Chris Ritchey, with whom he had attended High School.
TBD: You guys had the Aggressive Angel demo and the self titled demo. Did you guys have any other demos or recorded songs? If so do you plan on releasing them ever?
HF: There's a track from the Aggressive Angel Demo, that I decided not to release. It's a song called "Don't Tell Me" (That You're Leaving) that Chris wrote and sang. It is more of an AOR rock tune and in my opinion, doesn't accurately represent Heaven's Force musically.
TBD: The band started in 1983, thought to be the first Christian Thrash Metal band, but quickly faded. What happened there and what year did you guys break up in?
HF: As is a common occurrence in bands, we wanted to go in different directions musically. I wanted us to be more of a speed/thrash metal band and Chris and Kelly were content with our current power metal style.
TBD: I know you were in the band Rotting Corpse but I don't recall hearing about Kelly doing anything musically. What did you guys do after splitting up?
HF: Yes, I joined Rotting Corpse (in '85) but I don't know what or if Chris or Kelly did musically.
TBD: Do you still stay in contact with Kelly? After what happened to Chris Richie I would figure you guys would stay in contact.
HF: No, I haven't had any recent communication with him.
TBD: You guys were the pioneers of the Christian Thrash Metal genre, directly or indirectly, influencing bands like Deliverance, Tourniquet, Living Sacrifice, Vengeance Rising, and Believer. How does that feel?
HF: To be honest, I don't know if we were the first. I mean, very few people even knew we existed until the CD was released. There very well could be other bands of the genre before us, that have yet to be discovered.
TBD: You released the demos as one in 2009 under the title Aggressive Angel after Chris' death (RIP 2008) but I heard you had no photos of the band. Is that true?
HF: Actually, it wasn't me. The CD was released by a label called "Open Grave Records", but it is true that I have no memorabilia. I was asked by the label for pics but I never had any. I told them that Chris might have some but for obvious reasons, they didn't pursue it.
TBD: Where can the Compilation (that's what everyone called it) be found?
HF: I'm not really sure but you could try Discogs, Amazon or eBay.
TBD: So the most interesting thing for me is that you were the drummer and vocalist. I, myself am a drummer and I was wondering what gear you used.
HF: Ludwig drums, Remo roto toms (6", 8" 10") and Paiste cymbals.
TBD: Are there any Christian metal/hardcore bands in your area?
HF: Not to my knowledge.
TBD: What artists/bands have you been listing to lately?
HF: I listen to a lot of different bands. '70's hard rock, prog, fusion, thrash and death metal. If it's good, that's all that matters, regardless of the genre.
That was Dave Gryder formerly of Heaven's Force! Go listen to these guys! Check them out! And go check out the other early Christian Thrash bands, as mentioned above, as well as Living Sacrifice and Sacrament.
The Bearded Dragon