I’m never quite sure how I discovered Religious to Damn. Before the days of the internet I wouldn’t have known anything about them – gigging around the New York area while I sit here in England. But I am active on a few musical forums, and must have picked up a recommendation to look them up. From small moments of serendipitous chance new interests can grow.
So all this was about two years ago.. Their only internet presence seemed to be a myspace page with a couple of videos on and that was about it. I played All Falls Down a few times and fell in love
Religious to Damn are fronted by Zohra Atash, and Afghan American. The style is hard to define, it has been described as sophisticated gypsy-rock, whatever that might be, there are many hints of Zohra’s eastern background, and lots of mist and tinkly percussion. I have often compared them to Kate Bush or to Bat For Lashes, though there are differences, at least both Natasha and Zohra play a dizzy range of instruments, both be seen strumming the autoharp, RTD are more guitar driven than Bat For Lashes although they do share elements of fascinating percussion in the background.
Sometime in the middle of 2009 there were comments on myspace that they were recording their first album. For no obvious reason I sent out a tweet to the world to say how much I was looking forward to it, and Zohra must have picked up on that tweet somehow and sent me back a response.
Well, that was the first (and only) time I’d received a personal tweet from a band I listened to, so that really clinched the deal, I have been their number one British fan ever since.
So Zohra tweeted that the album would be ready for the winter – as things turn out the winter was passed and gone before the album (Glass Prayer) finally emerged, initially on i-tunes, then on vinyl and eventually a CD. Although, sadly, it doesn’t include All Falls Down, Glass Prayer has accompanied me where ever I have been in the last year. Tracks such as To Love The Machine, Black Sand and Sunset appear on almost all my playlists
There are many times, watching the videos, that you realise that Zohra’s music would work much better in a live setting than as a recording. So all we need now is a British tour, but the sad thing is I’m sure that is unlikely to happen. The internet brings us closer to bands that we would otherwise never heard of, but it doesn’t solve the economic realities of touring.