Considering his music stable includes Necrofier and Night Cobra, and he’s the mastermind behind Houston, Texas’s premier metal event, Hell’s Heroes, few hit harder and are as busy as Christian Larson. Always writing music and continuously carrying the torch for all things metal might seem burdensome for some, but not Larson, who was born to thrash, mosh, and hold his Devil’s horns high and proud. Indeed, Larson wears his love for heavy metal like a badge of honor, and he should, given all that he’s accomplished as a songwriter, guitarist, and organizer of hyper-giant festivals devoted to what he’s spent his life obsessing over.
He’s got more new music in the works with Necrofier and Night Cobra, but Larson’s primary focus is on Hell’s Heroes’ latest and greatest incarnation, which will explode upon the masses in March of 2024. And so, if you don’t have your tickets, go get ’em!
Busy as he prepares for 2024, Christian Larson beamed in with ClassicRockHistory.com for an across-the-board chat on everything that makes him unique.
Tell me about your latest music. How did things get started?
We started working on some of the songs in downtime after finishing the first record during COVID. We had a lot of time to play music there, and the songs kept coming, so I ran with it. You can’t control when the songs come, so I let it flow when they do. When we were out with Danzig, we started talking about recording, and Dobber mentioned that Joel would be interested in doing the next album, and then everything kinda fell into place.
Describe your songwriting process as it pertains to the guitar.
Usually, something just comes out. I know people say this, but it usually just comes to me, and I don’t know how. After the first riff, I usually continued to see where the song took me. Sometimes it happens immediately, and sometimes it may take a week or so.
How do you approach riffs? Is the process the same for solos?
Riffs usually come out of the void, and solos I work on them after a riff has already been written. I like to sit with the part and play around until I hit the sweet spot, and then the rest of the solos usually come together.
Do you consider yourself a lyrical player or more abstract/free form? Why do you feel that way?
I’m not actually sure what this means. I usually write music and lyrics that I feel reflect what I am feeling or an experience or topic I like to explore.
What tracks best demonstrate the guitarist you are today?
The whole record is a representation of it. I’m not sure if there’s one specific example of it. My writing and phrasing have really improved. Mostly, I feel I have really stepped it up on vocals. I feel good and confident. Breathing fire!!!
What guitars did you use on the latest record and why? How do you decide what to use and when?
We used my E-II Arrow and a Ltd eclipse for much of the album. They are our go-to guitars on stage, so naturally, they did a lot of playing on the album. Joel had a bunch of classic Gibson’s there, so we used a ’70s Les Paul on some of the rhythms for some extra thickness. The combo really got us exactly what we were looking for on the recording.
How about pedals and amps?
I’ve been in love with Marshall since I first started playing guitar. I love how they sound, how they look, etc. I currently switch between a JCM 900 MK III and a JCM 2000. The MK III is a sleeper many people don’t know about; it’s basically a hot-rodded Silver Jubilee. Grab one if you find it. We used a Silver Jubilee for the main tone and a few secret ones for the additional ones. The Jubilee is my favorite amp ever, and I’m so glad Joel picked one up before the record, and we got to use it.
Do you subscribe to the idea that you’re forever chasing sounds, or do you feel you’ve got things dialed in?
I’m always chasing sounds, but recently, the search has been on the burner since I am happy with my current rig. The combo with the JCM 2000 and a Mesa cab with vintage 30s is exactly what I love. The MK III sometimes sneaks back in, but I like the extra gain the 2000 has for us. Don’t get me wrong, I could feel different next week, but I feel good about my current tones, so I haven’t been on the hunt. However, Michael Klein is about to release a head, so all bets could be off.
Being from Texas, who are some of your favorite Texas guitar players, and why? How did they influence you?
Billy Gibsons, for sure. It doesn’t get more Texas than ZZ Top. Especially the older, dirtier stuff like Beer drinkers & hellraisers time. Love his style and the band since I was little. Dimebag Darrell had a big influence on me when I was a teenager. Now, I really love the Glamtera era of his guitar so much. There’s a reason the guy’s a legend. I was lucky enough to meet him when I was 16, and he was super nice and very cool!
This year’s lineup for Hell’s Heroes is stacked. You’ve got special sets from Queensryche, Candlemass, Rotting Christ, Doro, Tank, and Helstar. How did you get those bands on the bill?
This year, everything really came together nicely. I couldn’t have hoped for a better lineup. I always have ideas of what I wanna shoot for, but it doesn’t always happen the way I envisioned it. Scheduling, money, etc., etc., send me in different directions.
Also, sometimes, I chase a band for a long time before they end up playing. Sodom, I have been talking to for years and we finally made it happen! or something Like Solitude Aeternus I have been talking to John since the first year of HH and finally they are having a reunion!
Besides plenty of music, what else can festival goers expect at this year’s festival? Will there be any new features?
There are a few surprises up my sleeve, but basically just improvements on what we have already built. Crazier after-shows, more food, more vendors. It’s going to be the biggest one yet. Hope to see everyone in March!