Band reveal...
Jason Gregory
10:37 17th March 2010

MGMT have revealed that “the Lord Jesus Christ” was the biggest influence on their new album.

The group, who release 'Congratulations' on April 13, have previously cited surfing and drugs as a source of musical inspiration

But in an interview on radio station XFM, MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden said Jesus was key to the sound of their forthcoming effort.

“It feels really good to wake up every morning and know that the Lord is my saviour,” he added.

MGMT are due to play a one-off gig at London's Heaven on Thursday (March 18).

For ticket information, check out Gigwise Gig Tickets.

Rock Stars Against Religion

  • In 1998, English rockers Cradle of Filth headed to Rome for a show and decided to have a day trip to the Vatican. Never ones to shy away from controversy, the band members were adorning 'I Love Satan' t-shirts at the time. Within moments they were surrounded by armed Italian police who were outraged. Singer Dani Filth produced his laminate stage pass to prove his identity but it rubbed salt into the wound as it depicted a bloodied female figure nailed to the cross. They were detained for an hour for questioning but were eventually set free to perform their gig.

  • English grindcore band Napalm Death addressed the negative side of religion with their 2006 concept album 'Smear Campaign'. Singer Mark 'Barney' Greenway justified the album by accusing religion of being the cause of all the woes in the world, telling The Herald Dispatch: "Going back thousands of years, religion has been a widely used means of controling the population. Our world is governed in the highest echelons by religion, and what I wanted to say was that it is causing all of this grief in the world... We should not look through an ethereal third party that is unsubstantiated. Why not trust ourselves?"

  • Gary Numan has criticised and displayed an antipathy towards religion on his albums 'Sacrifice', 'Exile', 'Pure' and 'Jagged'. Speaking about recording 1994's 'Sacrifice', he said: “The first song I wrote was about the dangers of blind faith. When I had looked at my own lack of faith, I had come up with the idea that God and the Devil might be the same thing.” He continued to Sonic Boom: “Personally I don't believe in God at all, but if I'm wrong and there is a God, what kind of god would it be who would give us the world we live in? It certainly cannot be a good deity. At best God would have to be cruel and selfish.”

  • When the promo video to Madonna's 'Like A Prayer' was released in 1989 it caused an immediate outrage. It depicts burning crosses, Madonna developing stigmata and most controversially the singer fornicating with a statue of Saint Martín de Porres come to life, who some people claim to be a black Jesus. The Vatican and other Christian groups slammed it, but this has only helped to raise the video's profile and entrench it in pop history.

  • In an Observer interview in 2006 Elton John called for religion to be “banned”. Together with knocking the church's treatment of homosexuality, he ranted: “From my point of view I would ban religion completely. Organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.” He also said that religious leaders aren't doing enough to stop war, adding: “The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion? Why aren't they having a conclave? Why aren't they coming together?” We can only assume he's wearing a crucifix in the above photo for decorative reasons!

  • Never one to shy away from controversy, Marilyn Manson's (Brian Warner) second album, 1996's 'Antichrist Superstar', got some religious types so worked up that marches were organised to protest against it. The concept album is full of anti-Christian content in tracks such as 'The Reflecting God' and hard-hitting lyrics; "When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you." Anti-religious throughout his career, Manson shocked further with 2000's 'Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death' which saw the rocker parody Jesus on the cross.

  • “Imagine there's no countries / It isn't hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too / Imagine all the people / Living life in peace.” Poignant lyrics from one of the world's most poignant songs, John Lennon's 'Imagine'. However the “no religion” line has come under criticism over the years from religious groups. Some cover versions of the track switch the lyrics to “And one religion too” in order to keep the god fearers happy, but disrespecting and undermining Lennon's original sentiment in the process.

  • Stalwarts of berating religion, in 2001 Slayer upped the ante with the release of the highly controversial 'God Hates Us All'. Eerily released on the same day as the September 11 atrocities, the title was in reference to God's perceived allowance of acts such as murder and terrorism while doing nothing to prevent them. As well as containing songs mocking religion, the cover depicted nails hammered into a bible (band linchpin Kerry King wanted the nails in the shape of a pentagram, but this was snubbed by the record label) and was swiftly banned by many stores. An alternative cover was duly issued.

  • Death metal band Deicide are strongly anti-Christian in their lyrics and themes. Frontman Glen Benton has even burned an inverted crucifix into his forehead and throughout the 1990's promised to commit suicide when he turned 33, the age Jesus is supposed to have died. Predictably, when he reached it in 2000 he didn't kill himself. Summing up their stance on religion, drummer Steve Asheim said: "The whole point of Satanic music is to blaspheme against the church. I don't believe in or worship a devil. Life is short enough without having to waste it doing this whole organised praying, hoping, wishing-type thing on some superior being".

  • Francis Rossi, the follicle-y challenged Status Quo guitarist and singer, launched a stinging attack on religion back in 2003. He blasted: "I don't believe in a God any more that beats everyone up, I don't believe in the devil, I don't believe the supreme being is all-seeing, all-loving. It's all shit."

  • One of their biggest hits, when XTC's 'Dear God' went on sale back in 1987 a number of stores refused to stock it fearing a religious backlash. Upbeat musically (until the final verse), lyrically it's direct and thought-provoking with each verse addressed to God and ending “Dear God, I Can't believe in you”.The driving ending sees singer Andy Partridge state: “I wont believe in heaven and hell. No saints, no sinners, No devil as well. No pearly gates, no thorny crown. You're always letting us humans down. The wars you bring, the babes you drown.” Of the bible, he sings: "Us crazy humans wrote it... I know it ain't true and so do you".

  • Black Sabbath legend Ronnie James Dio caused a scandal due to cover art of his debut album 'Holy Diver' in 1982 which depicted a priest being whipped by a gargantuan demon. Not one to bow to controversy, Dio responded to criticism by suggesting that appearances could be deceiving; saying it could be symbolic of a priest being corrupted by evil or it could simply be the devil torturing the unfortunate clergyman.

  • In 1991 Chris Cornell and his band Soundgarden released the track 'Jesus Christ Pose'. While not openly criticising religion itself, the song instead slams people who use religion either for personal gain or claim they are persecuted for their beliefs. The video upped the ante somewhat, including footage of burning crosses, a crucified skeleton and (most shockingly for the Christian right) a woman nailed to the cross.

  • Marduk singer Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson formed the band in order to create the “most blasphemous band in the world”. He isn't far off. The shocking 'Jesus Christ... Sodomized' says of the son of God: “Eat his body, drink his blood and be a slave under the yoke of god, Piss on Christ and kill the priest, follow nature - praise the beast.” Charming. Disturbingly Marduk's lyrics have also dealt with Nazism, although the band vehemently deny they adhere to the German party's principles. Perhaps their most disturbing artwork is the above demo 'Fuck Me Jesus'.

  • During Cradle of Filth's 1997 UK tour, the extreme metal band unveiled a highly controversial t-shirt on their merchandise stalls depicting a topless nun masturbating and the slogan 'JESUS IS A CUNT' on the back. Unsurprisingly the top has been banned in a number of countries, including New Zealand, while fans have faced fines and court action for wearing it in public. If there is such thing as hell, these boys are damned for eternity. No doubt somewhere they'd feel completely at home though!

  • Just like Deicide (singer Glen Benton's other band), death metal outfit Vital Remains' lyrics are almost entirely anti-Christian. The 2003 song 'Dechristianize' (a concept track about the dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution) savagely attacks religion: “I deny god and all religion... Turn up the whites of their eyes... Dechristianize... Dechristianize!” Just as hard hitting are the band's album covers, notably the shocking 'Icons Of Evil' from 2007 which sees a giant figure slam an axe into the body of Christ on the cross.

  • Following a Christian upbringing in Arkansas, the Gossip's Beth Ditto explains that her younger years were spent worrying about the consequences of being lesbian. She told the Sunday Times in 2007: "I loved the sound of women's voices, not those of guys. I would pray because I didn't want to go to hell." The singer proclaims that at the age of 19, atheism saved her from her god-fearing ways: "I realised that every 2,000 years, there's a religion that happens to rule, and Christianity is just today's religion."

  • Hailing from Sweden, brutal death metal band Aeon sum up the supposed spirit of Lucifer himself when they spout their lyrics. 'God Gives Head In Heaven', from their 2005 album 'Bleeding The False', sums their spirit up perfectly as it's packed with venomous lines like: "Forced to fuck your God, He wants it up his ass..." 'Biblewhore' is similarly shocking: “I laugh at you bible whores, Slave bastards you are, Living a lie under god (sounds like living the life on the cock), I laugh at your Jesus Christ, Open your eyes, He looks so pathetic weak nailed to his cross”

  • Despite their name, Bad Religion say they are not entirely antitheist. Instead they use religion as a metaphor of oppression. Greg Graffin from the band comments: “Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important... but faith in religious or political leaders or even people on stages, people who are popular in the public eye, you shouldn't have faith in those people.” Yet, the striking lyrics “A bounty of suffering, It seems we all endure, And what I’m frightened of, Is that they call it 'God’s love'” on the track 'God's Love', for example, seem to contradict these comments spectacularly.

  • Lifted from Pennywise's 2001 album 'Land of the Free', 'My God' is a three minute diatribe against the monotheistic God. Singer Jim Lindberg criticises the religious mindset blasting: “Your god is a mirage, a conspiracy, you pray for forgiveness cause your sinnin', Scared to death so your money you'll be givin'” Attacking organised religion directly, Lindberg continues: “Organized religion pulls the blinds then they pull the wool, they open up your head, they're fuckin' with your mind, now you can't see because you're blind.”

  • Secretive Finnish black metal outfit Thy Serpent released a hateful, scornful tirade against Christianity with their song 'Christcrusher' (lifted from the album of the same name) in 1998. Not just objectors to religion, it seems their loathing is much more deep rooted than that. They blast: "I can't follow Jesus Christ, The biggest liar of the light, I don't need your fucking bread, Share that with the sheeps... Thousands of heathens were murdered, By Christian hands, And what they have told us, Bastards of Un-divine God, Lies, Lies, Lies."

  • Artist Larry Carroll painted the artwork for Slayer's 2006 album. It depicted a bleeding, one-eyed esus Christ with his hands chopped off and situated in a macabre seascape of blood and decapitated heads. Kerry King from the band liked it so much that he bought the original painting for his personal collection. This wasn't a view shared by religious leaders though who branded it "sacrilegious", with one Mumbai Christian group even issuing a complaint to their local police commissioner. Defiantly, the later special edition of the record featured a bleeding stigmata hand.

  • Indirectly Sepultura's 1991 thrash metal classic 'Arise' alludes to religion; Face the enemy, Manic thoughts, Religious intervention, Problems remain”. Yet it was the accompanying video which caused the most outrage. Shot in the bleak Death Valley and featuring Christ-like characters nailed to the cross and wearing gas masks, it's a highly memorable promo. It was swiftly (and perhaps predictably) banned by MTV who were seemingly worried it would upset conservative Christians.

  • The brainchild of Glenn Danzig, his band of the same name, Danzig, fuse extreme heavy metal with dark lyrics which often slam religion. 1990's 'Snakes of Christ' is case in point, screaming: “Serpent Jesus, Snake of Christ, Nailed to a cross Of a holy design... Gonna build you A world of lies.” Despite being accused of being a Satanist, Danzig has always denied this. He claims he's spiritual but rejects all organised religions and while being fascinated in evil and Satan, he doesn't believe in him too.

  • In an interview with the Evening Standard in 1966, John Lennon remarked to journalist Maureen Cleeve: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I do not know what will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity... (The Beatles are) more popular than Jesus now." The comments went largely unnoticed until they were reprinted in US teen magazine Datebook. Cue a reaction of biblical proportions. Beatles records were burned in public, Bible Belt radio stations banned their records and gigs were cancelled. Lennon was eventually forced to issue an apology at a press conference.

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