Royal Thunder’s Mlny Parsonz Opens Up About Being in a Cult
Did anyone else catch HBO’s Going Clear on Sunday night? The two hour documentary about Scientology, its founders and current top brass was incredibly eye-opening, and it was positively riveting. I’d previously dismissed Scientology as some whacko pseudo-religion that utilized high-profile celebrities to milk tons of money out of vulnerable patrons in a pyramid scheme-like setup — which is true — but I had no idea about the behind-the-scenes machinations, psychological and physical abuse that took place amongst Scientology’s upper rungs. Total insanity. Highly, highly recommend you watch Going Clear on your roommate’s mom’s borrowed HBO GO subscription if you get the chance.
Watching Going Clear reminded me of our recent MetalSucks Podcast interview with Mlny Parsonz, in which the Royal Thunder frontwoman reveals that she and guitarist Josh Weaver used to be in a cult. I’m pretty sure the cult in question isn’t Scientology, but it seems prescient anyway: cults/religions are really fucking scary things, aren’t they?
Mlny offers of the experience:
My mom’s from Spain, and she was very, very strict Roman Catholic. My dad lived in Spain, married my mom and they moved to New Jersey. My dad continued to take us to church. He asked my mom to leave the Catholic church, and they went to the Baptist church. My family and household were never religious — we were only religious at church because it was a show. I grew up like that.
Needless to say, I was like “This is fucking stupid, I hate this so much, so I’m gonna find something else.” So I found satanism and witchcraft. I wasn’t all that serious about it because I was just a a kid. Then eventually I met Josh in the late ’90s; he was part of a cult, although he didn’t know it was a cult at the time. The original bass player and drummer of Royal Thunder back when it was an instrumental band, and I wasn’t even a part of the band yet, they were all in that cult for a long time.
I’m never gonna say the name of [the cult] because I don’t wanna paint that picture or demonize anyone. They’re doing what they’re doing, that’s fine, whatever… I’m not here to tarnish anyone’s name. But it was very charismatic, and they drew in a lot of artists and musicians to make their church very hip. I ended up quitting drugs and viewed it as my way to clean up my life, so in my early 20s I started going to this church and got locked into it.
The last thing that happened to me was I was at a three-day women’s conference and was taken into these back rooms. I was brainwashed into going into this elevator in my mind and coming out on however many floors of how old I was — I was 25 or 26. They were like, “Go through every year of your life, come out of this elevator and go on floor 1, 2, 3, 4… it went on for hours because I had to give them all the visions I had for each floor. It was the most fucked up shit ever, I was losing my mind. And they did this to me for three days.
Eventually I woke up and I was like, “Something’s not right here.” There was a bunch of other shit. “Black Water Vision” is about that, and “Floor” on this new album is about that church. I woke up one day and I was like, “I’m never fucking going back.” I went to the pastor and I’m like, “I’m gonna take some time off,” thinking in my mind months, thinking in my mind, “Run for your fucking life.” And this pastor was like “OK, you can have next Sunday off,” and I’m like, “Ummm, I’m gonna need like a couple of Sundays,” and he’s like, “OK, take this Sunday off, but don’t take more than two.” I was like “Alright.” I had to go to his house to a meeting, with Josh, and sit down with this guy. Afterwards we got in the car and I’m like, “I’m not fucking going back.” And Josh is like, “But we have to!” and I’m like, “No, I’m not going back, he thinks I’m going back in two Sundays, I’m not fucking going back.” That’s what CVI was all about. It was about breaking away from all of that and erasing all the indoctrination and pushing it out of our minds and out of our souls and opening ourselves up and going, “Who the fuck are we?” because we just forgot. We were in a fog, Josh longer than I, but almost a decade for me. I was like, “Who the fuck am I?” CVI was a journey about that.
Listen to the entire podcast episode from which the above quote is taken below.
Royal Thunder’s new album Crooked Doors is posted for streaming in full at NPR right now — including the aforementioned, cult-inspired track “Floor” — and comes out next Tuesday, April 7th, via Relapse Records. Pre-order it here.