A film documenting the journey and influence of LA goth band Christian Death is to be released. Titled Spiritual Cramp, the documentary will tell the story of late frontman Rozz Williams and his life as a young artist coming of age during the California punk explosion of the late 70s.
Williams died in 1998 aged 34, but his work with Christian Death is still cited as many as a defining influence on the goth, deathrock and industrial scenes.
The film's producer, Danny Fuentes, spoke to Louder about why he felt compelled to commit the band's story to film: "To me, Christian Death and Rozz Williams were more than just a band – they were a force of nature. I discovered Christian Death's first album at the age of 13 and it stood out from anything I had ever heard. It was a mixture of beauty and pain, both aggressive and sensual. The lyrics were much more sophisticated and passionate than any band I had heard. I listened to that record 'til I memorised every single line and it became evident that these lyrics were deeply meaningful; this was more than a record, it was an purging of pain.
"Rozz Williams was in high school when he wrote these lyrics and it blows my mind that he was so capable of channelling his pain into his music and performance art the way he did. He was brave and self aware and made it a point to stand out. He wore women's clothing, not to be glamorous or beautiful, but to be seen as fearless.
"He was questioning everything and playing with gender roles and societal norms decades before there were phrases now common to us like gender fluidity. As a gay man, I feel like he sent a message for all those that don't fit in anywhere – the outsiders amongst the outsiders – that they were not alone.
"Like David Bowie, he allowed a new generation of disenchanted kids to see some hope in a brave gay man on stage not worry about the consequences of just being himself. Rozz Williams never got the commercial success or critical acclaim like others that find inspiration in him have. Perhaps he was too ahead of his time, but more than likely he was just too real.”
Watch the film's first trailer below.
Fuentes is currently crowdfunding resources for the film's completion over on PledgeMusic (opens in new tab). Items available through the funding drive include a Rozz Williams skate deck, Rozz Williams' most recent art books, a lyric zine featuring handwritten lyrics and more.