This interview was conducted by Nolan Shigley and Tricia Krull at Cornerstone 2000. Last year’s Cornerstone was the first time I had seen or heard of Judean Radiostatic. The electronic, almost goth, duo caught the attention of my ears with Melinda’s gorgeous vocals and the rhythmic pulses and eerie keys backing her up. They were much different from any of the other bands I had already witnessed that year.
I walked into the tent and saw Melinda’s long, braided white hair as she pranced around the stage throwing glitter that stuck to bodies in the 90 degree heat. I could see the sweat pouring from Carlos’ shaved head as he sang an industrial version of “Awesome God.” That may have done it for me. Cautious and hesitant to speak with them after the show, I approached them and quickly learned how sincere and heartfelt they truly were.
I don’t think there was a better group to sit in front of the Cornerstone lake and talk with than Carlos and Melinda. As the birds sang in the background, we sat and talked — jokingly and seriously at the same time. The pair impressed me with their sincerity in answering questions and the way they were able to shrug off the horrid problems of life and see them as merely challenges. The show they performed was far from chirping birds, but it was as wholehearted and genuine as the conversation Tricia and I had with them.
Nolan: First of all, you mentioned you actually have stage names. What are they?
Nolan: That’s pretty hot. So, about the album I’ve been anticipating. You were telling me you have run into numerous problems with that. What’s going on?
Carlos: Melinda? (Chuckles.)
Melinda: Well, I got laryngitis for about six weeks. Then the computer crashed and then after we got everything up and running again we tried to get one out real quick before Cornerstone and basically ran out of time and we couldn’t get a hold of the studio we were going through. They were having a baby. So, yeah, basically everything fell through and we’ll get one out as soon as we can. (Note: By the tone of her voice, you would never know anything was wrong.)
Nolan: So, they have your material now is basically what you’re saying.
Carlos: Actually we have already recorded the material in our studio at home and all we really need to do is just lay down Melinda’s vocal tracks and mix it down to two. It’s not going to take very long at all.
Nolan: Who are you planning on releasing it under?
Carlos: It’s going to be an independent. We haven’t really decided what we will call the label we are creating.
Melinda: Yeah, we figure God is our label so far. (Chuckles.)
Nolan: Well, if that’s gone rough, how was the recording process itself?
Carlos: The recording process is long, but we do it at home so we can do it whenever we really feel the urge to. This whole year it’s seemed I’ve been fairly unmotivated and I’m paying the price for that now, I guess.
Nolan: How’s Cornerstone going? You guys have been here every single day (unlike many bands). You guys obviously enjoy it. How long have you guys been coming?
Melinda: My first year here was ’94 and I’ve loved it ever since. I come every year I can. It’s kind of a home away from home (Note: My thoughts exactly). The people here just are wonderful and everyone has been so good to us.
Carlos: This is my third. My first year was ’98 with you (said to Melinda).
Nolan: Is this what kind of motivated you to get here and play then?
Carlos: Well, the first year I kind of joked around and said, “Watch, we’ll play here next year.” And sure enough it happened (said humbly). We got the New Band Showcase and it was kind of a miracle in itself considering we didn’t have many songs and I sent them in this very terribly mixed homebrew CD and they were like, “OK, you guys are playing.” And I was, “Huh?” (Both chuckle hard). “We’ve got to go write some stuff here.”
Nolan: What did you guys record on?
Carlos: I believe we recorded it on the 8-out. We’re running a 16 channel mixer into an eight channel adapt. That’s the primary workhorse. What’s some of the other equipment we use? Most of it is computer-based stuff for mixdowns.
Nolan: I noticed last year and this year between songs you’re messing with a laptop. What exactly are you setting up?
Carlos: Well, this year I was just making sure the tracks were set up. We had to omit a few tracks from the set, so I was just making sure it advanced correctly. And it skipped over the one little song we got rid of, but last year it was actually for the DAT tapes we were running.
Nolan: OK, so you’re into a lot of electronics, you’re in the Asylum quite a bit, what are you listening to now? You obviously have a lot of influences in your own music.
Melinda: Well, I like a lot of Squad Five-0 and their kind of style. Some punk rock, but just a little bit. Mostly X-Propagation, Global Wave System, Deitiphobia, and a lot of the other electronic bands. Some Jewish praise music. (Laughs) I can’t help it. I like it. It’s good and it’s upbeat. It’s uplifting, lyrically. Carlos?
Carlos: Oh man, I listen to just about everything, from big band jazz, which I simply adore. I love big band jazz.
Nolan: Did you go to the Jason and the G-Men show? Wait, was that during your show?
Carlos: Yeah, that was during our set. I missed that unfortunately. I’m bummed about that, but it happens. But I listen to tons of industrial, electronic stuff. I don’t really listen to goth per se. It’s not really my thing. Basically anything that’s good. I listen to old country, too, like Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr. It’s real diverse. (Laughs)
Nolan: I’d like to see you guys do a cover of Patsy.
Carlos: Yeah, that would be cool. (Laughs)
Nolan: If you guys can do “Our God Is An Awesome God”, I think you can handle a Patsy song. When did you guys get together and decided you wanted to pursue your musical career in a larger fashion?
Melinda: Well, I’ve always had a hard time finding the kind of music I like in industrial. It seems it’s rare to find. So, I’ve always wanted to start a Christian electronic, industrial band. When I met [Carlos], he’s always been very musically inclined, we met four years ago and started doing music together. He knew that Christian electronic, industrial was one of my dreams. So we just decided to make it happen.
Nolan: And obviously that type of music is not yet very big in the “Christian scene”, which makes what you’re doing even larger.
Carlos: Well, I’ve been doing secular industrial since ’89. I’ve just been doing industrial, period. I’ve moved on when I found God, or came back to Him I should say, I took a look at all the industrial that was out there and realized that everything was just very around the same vein. They just wanted to rip on anyone who had any faith and they wanted to walk the earth faithless, or whatever, and it was really bad. That’s why I wholeheartedly agreed to do the Christian industrial project.
Nolan: Speaking of that, you mentioned that much of the industrial music out there paints a grim picture, or contains a grim attitude. How are you guys being received? You’re out there singing “Our God Is An Awesome God”, but are people really buying into it? I guess I feel a lot of conservative Christians, unfortunately, may actually doubt your true intentions.
Melinda: Mostly, it depends on the audience. As far as the Christian audience, the lyrics are taken straight out of the Bible. They may have a question on the style of music, but we usually point them to the lyrics and show them that they are Biblical.
Carlos: Yeah, we’ve had to do that for Vision (a Christian festival in Denver). There was some doubt as to whether we should play Vision with some of the people that were involved with the crew. They were like, “Look at these guys. They’re freaky looking and blah blah blah.” Lynette Blue, who runs that deal was just like, “Here’s their lyrics. They’re straight from the Bible you can’t argue with that.” You know, it just all depends on the people. Some are very warm and some are very skeptical.
Tricia: Are you guys touring or playing shows around your area?
Melinda: We try to. We usually try to get into the festivals, because the promotion and everything is already done for us. It’s real hard when you’re a smaller band to set up your own tour. It depends on what the opportunities are, what’s available to us, but we’re up for playing anywhere.
Tricia: What are some of your goals for the future?
Melinda: Well, our CD (laughing). We’ll just start with the CD. I would like more stability in the band financially. I would like the band to support itself and get out of debt. The biggest goal we have is that we want to influence people to get closer to God and to the Bible and we want to get it out there. Because in Isaiah it says God’s word will not return void and that’s why I like to put the Bible in our lyrics because I know each person is getting something out of it. I might not have the words to witness to them, since I’m not an outgoing personality type, but I can reach them with the lyrics and I know the Bible will reach them. That’s what I want. I want people to feel something from the music.
Carlos: Mine is just plain and simple. I just want my music to reach as many people as possible. If I wanted to go into music to make money at it I would be learning to dance and be in a boy band.
Nolan: Which you would look very good at.
Carlos: I can just visualize myself wearing matching outfits with four other guys wearing that silvery, shimmery, hologram. Jiggling my booty to a beat (smiling). Yeah, if I really wanted money out of this I would be doing some pop stuff. I would be just a flash in the pan and make a lot of money and only go away. But I don’t want that. I want people to hear what we have to say. I want to introduce people to what I have experienced. I want to introduce people to that feeling that I got. The feeling that I have now of just being with God. It’s amazing. This has turn my life completely around. I want people to know that.
Nolan: Do you guys have any other projects going on right now?
Melinda: Yeah, we also have a secular project called 3.0. That is basically a local project. It was actually the one before Judean Radiostatic. It’s probably more for your harder crowds, the people that don’t want to be preached to. We try to be role models, an example, and show them that you can be Christian and still play secular shows and draw some people into the Christian scene.
Carlos: It’s the same message, it’s just not as blatant. A lot of people have problems, or issues with something that’s that blatantly Christian and it turns them off. But if it’s underlying and they actually learn the music and listen to it, they may come up and ask us what we mean by our lyrics. That’s when it becomes very effective.
Tricia: That’s very similar to the effect of the parables.
Melinda: Yeah, that’s pretty much what we had in mind.
Nolan: Anything else you would like to add before you take off?
Carlos: I just want people to know my background and past. I’m a recovering heroin addict and a bunch of other things. And just because you have fallen into some dismal life, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed or destined to stay in that dismal life forever. I’m proof to that and that’s basically what I want people to understand. There seems to be, especially in the goth and industrial community, there’s a lot of despair. They feel like they can’t do anything because they’re already in the scene, so they feel they can’t get out of it. If they’re in the scene, they feel they can’t be Christians because the two conflict. I just want them to know there are other ways out and they just need to open their minds and their hearts.
Melinda: I also wanted to say that basically none of this could have been done on our own without the hand of God. He has made all of this possible, Cornerstone, the band, the music. I have had to ask God to help with everything because I don’t have a lot of music experience. He just took care of the rest. He took care of us the whole way. He made everything possible and helped us get through the hard times.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.