The final track on Grayskul’s new album, Bloody Radio, “Heaven Is Still Coming” is perhaps the perfect apotheosis of the Seattle group’s dark craft. The lavish drama and horror-movie ambience of their music finds apt expression in a track that constructs a circuit from religion: “This is no motherfuckin’ church rap/ It’s the plainest and straightforward way for us to explain common sense,” they claim, conflating religion’s with-or-against posture with their beefs (“We know everyone who talked shit about us/ pissed us”).
Swelling strings and angelic choirs bump like original G-funk. Count Magnus (aka JFK) spits a wiry line, indicting writers and prophets and noting the inspiring power of a solid word craftsman. “Let this pen commence to paper, it’s the bloody culprit,” he spits. The track’s first half ends with a note of humility before Onry Ozzborn returns, arguing with an atheist, “If you’re right, back to dust/ If I’m right, then you’re fucked. It might sound like I’m being judgmental/ but I’m tired of hearing these people and their disrespectful ways of talking shit about what doesn’t exist.” Salient questions for a polarized culture.
INDEPENDENT: What was the song’s inspiration?
ONRY OZZBORN: A long-time ago, on one of my solo records [Alone], I did a song called “Heaven is Coming.” It had a bunch of voices that sounded like angels. I wrote that in 2001. So when I heard the beat for the Grayskul album, it just clicked in my head. I got the same feeling and vibe, so I revamped the chorus, and we did a Grayskul rendition of what I had done before.
During the second half of the song, there’s a sample, “Hold your tongue.” There’s that old saw that one of the things you don’t talk about in polite company is religion because it inspires such fervor. How much should we talk about it?
My thing is that you shouldn’t judge people, and that’s the worst way to come across. If you believe in God, or you’re an atheist, if you believe in a golden pig, it doesn’t matter. There’s a difference between telling somebody how you feel about certain things and trying to inspire them. I think it’s enough inspiration if you to just tell them what you feel about it … and they can compare their thoughts with your thoughts and it makes it better than, This is the way it is, blabblahblah, and if this isn’t what you think, this is what is going to happen to you.’
It’s hard to find that balance because sometimes emotion comes into it. That’s why even in that verse I correct myself a couple times because I know some of it was being angry. Then I’d say it a certain way, and then explain it to ’em: “That’s not what I mean. I’m not trying to judge you, but watch out for people around you.”
Is that how you came to your beliefs, by comparing ideas with others?
I was raised Catholic my whole life. I didn’t pay attention in church or anything. I was just raised that way. I was there, and I was Catholic. When I got older and I met some other people that were other religions or didn’t believe in God, I had my thing where I was like, “This is the way it is.” And he said, “If this is the way it is, how come this and this?” And he’d show me the contradictive ways of the Catholic religion that I couldn’t deny.
I knew he was right, but I wanted to fight it. I did for a while”Whatever, man.” But then when I thought about it, and talked to my parents. My parents were, “Yeah, we agree. We never thought about it that way.” But when you’re Spanish or Mexican where I come from in New Mexico, it’s almost like you are Catholic. You’re born and then you become Catholic. It’s almost like being a Broncos fan out there. You have to like the Denver Broncos and you have to be Catholic. That’s how that goes down. When you dig deep into it, people start to realize maybe that’s not right … I just wanted to put it out there that it’s okay to tell people how you feel but don’t tell them, “That’s how it is and that’s it!”
Grayskul plays Cat’s Cradle with the Everybody Loves a Clown Tour Sunday, Sept. 23 with Atmosphere, Mac Lethal and Luckiam of Living Legends. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $18 in advance and $20 day of show.