Interview: Anthony Mehlaff Talks The Church of Cancer Christ and ‘God is Violence’

Being in a DIY band and trying to keep the culture alive is hard enough, but when you’re also the leader of an emerging religious sect, that challenge is doubly tough.

To those not familiar, a passing glance at the Cancer Christ album cover for God is Violence, out now via Seeing Red Records, would call to mind the very typical metal imagery shtick of satanic symbolism and cheap (albeit deserved) shots at organized religion. But in addition to trying to shock, there’s a very powerful message behind Cancer Christ. Yes, they’re goofy and trying to get a rise. But weirdly, in this current hellscape, they might be one of the only churches out there that is actually peddling the good word.

“There was a call to arms, and there’s this real profound connection we have to this brutal motherfucker known as Jesus,” says project mastermind and frontman Anthony Mehlaff about their most recent album. “We were seeing the decline of the planet and where shit was going, and we decided to make songs to release those bad feelings so we didn’t participate in all the satanic activity that’s been going on since the pandemic.

“Everything lyrically comes from the idea that in the past few years, everybody’s kind of turned their attention away from having good relationships and having fun and showing love to people and have turned to this very satanic way of being, not spreading love and joy, and spreading hate,” he continues. “Everyone has become separated from everyone else, and really, we’re all connected, and we should all have a bunch of fun before it’s all over. That’s the idea behind God is Violence. The world is violent; everybody’s violent but we don’t have to be like that. We can all show some fucking love, get the anger out at shows, and try to enjoy life. Easier said than done, especially in the last three years. But it’s kind of what we believe in. Spread love.”

It’s not that Cancer Christ are trying to be fence sitters and say we should all get along. Oh no, with song titles like “God Hates Cops” and “Bring Back the Guillotine,” they are taking a firm leftist stance with their music, truly standing against the hate people have for those different than themselves. The album cover art is a tribute to their love for early metal records and the parental advisory label that often accompanied them.

“When we talked about the cover art, we said we wanted to do something people wouldn’t forget,” Mehlaff explains. “When I was growing up—I’m damn near 40—I would ditch school to go to the record store, and I’d look for whatever had the most brutal or sexual cover, whatever had the parental advisory sticker on it. You had to choose based on the cover, and I could only ever get one or two records, so I’d pick based on what had the most brutal cover art.”

And in this case, there’s also a little more to it than just shock for shock’s sake.

“The idea behind this album cover is that there is nothing more brutal than God’s love and God’s hate and what God has created, Mehlaff says. “This guy is brutal, and he’s upstairs with a big ‘ol remote looking at his Netflix and Hulu and HBO Max, and I don’t know if he’s enjoying the show, but he’s definitely binge watching. So the idea was, God needs to display his power to everybody, and what better way than showing you’re not afraid to destroy himself. So everybody’s like ‘Cool, Jesus is killing himself,’ but not really because the guy can’t fucking die. So you see him blowing his brains out, but what you don’t see is that he didn’t go anywhere. He will always be there. Also, we’d never seen an album cover with Jesus killing himself. All that kind of played out, satanic imagery, we’re not interested in.”

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, while Cancer Christ have now toured with GWAR and made it big, or as big as a metal band can, they never want to lose touch with their DIY roots.

“Cancer Christ wants to do big things with big bands, but when we played our first show, it was in the LA river in piss and shit water. So we never want to get away from doing DIY and extreme shows. The idea of Cancer Christ when we first started, and what we are trying to do now, is make a difference. We want to play abortion rallies. We’d love to play the Republican National Convention, maybe the Democratic National Convention. We’d love to play where anyone is spreading vitriol or hate.”

And lastly, if you’ve looking for a new religious bandwagon to jump on, they’ve got you covered there too.

“When you get baptized in the blood of Jesus at the Church of Cancer Christ, you’re fucking saved. You can continue to go on and be a garbage person. But we’re hoping through this process that you learned that love is the way, and you’ll change your ways, and that’s why we say if you’re baptized in any other church, you might as well have been baptized in shit because it’s pretty worthless.”

God is Violence is available from Seeing Red Records. Follow Cancer Christ on Instagram and TikTok for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Cam Ann Evans.

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