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July 2012 • Issue Number 157 $1.99 DIGITAL EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME




From the editors Doug Van Pelt & Charlie Steffens (interim editor)

REGULAR Letters Hard news Live report

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I AM BREAKING Somehow I blew it and tweaked myself over that line – that line of God first, family second, ministry/business/dream third. Subtly, to be sure, but enough to wound my family after 15+ years of that kind of behavior. So, pray for me. I want to be the man that God wants me to be and delegating more HM duties and taking on less (I was doing almost everything the last several years). If it’s God’s will (don’t read into that, but think biblically), then my return to control status will be healthier, stronger and rejuvinated. In the meantime, I won’t be too far away and you’ll likely see me active online (blog, twitter, facebook) and I plan on being at the last Cornerstone Festival. So now, let me introduce you to a man’s man, a surfer dude who is one of HM’s better freelance writers. He has (amazingly) stepped in to fulfill some of my larger HM duties, while we still spread the writing out amongst our awesome freelance writers. Take it away, Charlie...

I AM CHARLIE God moves in mysterious ways. I’m convinced of this, especially after this last year, where out of brokenness and despair I stepped up my prayer life and daily devotionals. It has made a staggering difference in the way I think and live. I’m thoroughly convinced there wouldn’t be a “here” if there hadn’t been a “there.” Pain is necessary before it becomes optional. A few years ago I submitted my first CD review to HM. At that time I would have never imagined myself sitting in this seat as interim editor. It has been an honor and a privilege getting to know Doug and to help steer the HM catamaran as we sail into its 28th year. Pray for us as we go into uncharted waters. Right now Doug has been on somewhat of a “sabbatical” while rehearsing with his band Lust Control (who will soon release their long overdue new album), and he’s also co-writing a book with one of my favorite rock stars, Michael Sweet. Can the brother get a break? Sabbatical? Huh? Please keep sharing the link to our free and packed 12/11 issue, because (the idea is) more people will come and start reading HM:

FEATURETTE Jump ship quick End of september Red lamb Page cxvi Divine air Michael paul scally The letter black American bible challenge

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FEATURE Ascend the hill Children 18:3 Kickstarter The rocket summer Thrice As i lay dying The devil wears prada Miss may i

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INTERMISSION Candi spitz Columns



Overcome Dead & Alive Launch Into the Deep Everything But You Murdered Love Countdown Falling Angels

Wonderful, beautiful voice. “The River” is special. A really good live show was captured. Heaviness. Really enjoying the relaxing, yet creative vibe. Reminds me a tad bit of Shiny Toy Guns. Intense. Wondering if “I Am” is going to be on final mix. An awesome melodic power metal album. Wow. Epic metal discovery from Chile. 12-year vets!

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REVIEW Music Lifestyle Indie pick

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06 L E T T ER S T O T H E ED I T O R ®

MICHAEL PAUL SCALLY ROCKS This is an awesome album! I have it in my car and listen to it over and over. Michael Paul Scally is so “right on track” with sound and lyrics. My favorite song is “Stars on Orion.” The guitar solo in that song is screamin’. –Helen Cook, via website



Justin Buzzard, Matt Francis, Chad Johnson


Allan Aguirre, Anthony Bryant, Matt Conner, Nick Cotrufo, Tim Hallila, Seth Hecox, Nick Litrenta, Jamie Lee Rake, Rob Shameless, David Stagg, Charlie Steffens,


Michael Todaro (TDWP) Steven M. T. Corey Erb, Valerie Maier, Carolyn Van Pelt

Ed – Cool. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the article we did on Michael’s music in this issue.


FARE THEE WELL, THRICE No one can paint the picture that Doug can when he reviews a show, and I have never wished I was at a show more than the Thrice farewell show he attended in Austin. I am looking forward to catching them in Detroit, but the experience described in this article will be seriously hard to match! Thanks for sharing. –Randall Evans, via website Ed – Aww, shucks! That’s a heck of a compliment, Randall! Thanks for the encouragement. I’m glad you liked the Thrice concert review at

I just got (Heaven’s Metal Fanzine) issue #90 and things don’t sound too good for the mag. I wish I was loaded with $$$, so I could help keep both mags going for years, but like you it’s just not there all the time. If HM and the fanzine ended I don’t know where I would find all my music. I live in a tiny town that doesn’t even have a Christian bookstore. Well, I’ll stop the poor-me saga. I was wondering if you could tell me my expire date, because I want to renew or find out if I should wait to see what’s going on. Again, Doug, thanks for all you do in the rock and metal ways of life. –Scott Latray, via email Ed – I think we will roll Heaven’s Metal Fanzine into the pages of HM Magazine. If we do this, it’ll probably start with the next (August) issue #158.



I hope I haven’t been one of those friends. The body of Christ is big enough to support all kinds of different expressions of art and those expressions speak to people in different ways, no matter what other Christians think. A great example of this is Riverbend Church here in Austin that has three completely different services with completely different worship formats. One man’s “cheesy” is another man’s “changed my life.” As in one man’s “too loud” or one man’s “too mainstream.” Christians will always be criticized by other Christians for doing things that don’t fit in the same box as their version of God. –Mike Kaply, via website Ed – Amen, brother Mike. I hope I haven’t been that friend to you, seeing how I don’t share your love for Steven Curtis Chapman’s music.

BEARCAT Thanks for posting the news on Bearcat. I fell in love with Bearcat at the Never Shout Never concert last night. I took pictures with them and got autographs. She’s beautifull and I am so glad I found them. –Mani, via website Ed – Her voice is pretty awesome, isn’t it? It’s rad to see the girl who To Write Love On Her Arms was started for get way beyond whatever she was dealing with then and moving on to such great art.

Got the book a week or so ago. Man, there’s some really great stuff in there. I remember a few of them from years ago, but some others (like the interviews with Gary Cherone) I had never read. It’s so great to read, especially hearing him talk about the “upcoming album,” which then was III Sides (and probably my favorite Extreme album) and how blunt it was going to be. Anyway, thanks for putting this book together! I’m really glad to have been a part of helping get it out there. –JJ Mahoney, via email Ed – Rock on! I am totally thrilled with how the book Rock Stars on God, Volume 2 came out. These are totally most of my favorite interviews from the pages of HM.

“What God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:6)

PO Box 4626 Lago Vista TX 78645





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Issue #157 Doug Van Pelt Charlie Steffens Doug Van Pelt, Frontgate Media Charlie Steffens

ANSWERS FACEBOOK TWITTER MYSPACE HM Magazine is dependently owned and operated (Psalm 62)


LET’S GET DIGITAL Glad to see HM going digital. It’s the way it should be, honestly. Gets it to people as soon as possible plus saves everyone money. :) –Ryan Williford I love your magazine a lot and had a subscription for a little while, all the way to the Netherlands, Europe, but since I don’t have a credit card anymore I couldn’t extend the subscription. The emails were just a bit too much, cause I can’t read all my enewsletters. Keep making this great magazine for all the Christian metal/rock lovers! –Sandra V, via email Ed – Thanks for the encouragement.

HM Magazine (ISSN 1066-6923) is no longer printed in the USA, however, you can get either/both color or b&w copies printed and quickly shipped to you from a cool and fast print-on-demand place ( Go there and search for “HM Magazine” and you’ll see all the available issues. All contents copyright © 2012. HM contents may not be reproduced in any manner, either whole or in part, without prior written permission.

HARDNEWS Quick & concise

News bullets It looks like Showbread is playing the 4&20 Blackbird Festival in Weed, CA. Could there be another band using that name? Or just an interesting festival appearance...?





For Today drummer, David Morrison, has announced that he will be stepping down as For Today’s drummer. He will be moving to South America in September to do missions work in Ecuador through Extreme Nazarene. The replacement drummer will be David Puckett, formerly of the band The Crimson Armada. “The band will not be missing any shows,” explains Morrison, “and have a replacement drummer that may end up being permanent. David Puckett will be the drummer for the band on Warped Tour and through the fall if all works out. Thank you guys for everything! This has been the best 7 plus years of my life! To God be the glory.” Mattie Montgomery adds: “David will always be a part of our family. While he will be missed greatly, we fully support him in where he is going next, and we’re excited about this next season for all of us.” For updates on Morrison’s service visit his or donate to his cause at

After a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $38K, they have emerged with a reinvented sound. The band is offering a free MP3 download of their first single from the album, “Fall, Goliath, Fall,” available on the band’s website for a limited time ( “For those who are acquainted with our previous work, the sound of this incarnation of P86 will be bit shocking, but in the best possible way,” describes Schwab. “We captured the spirit that attracted people to our band long ago, with a whole new approach to the sonics.” As the primary songwriter and co-producer, Schwab enlisted an allstar lineup to help him execute his vision on Wait for the Siren. Producer Steve Wilson (Juliana Theory, Jonezetta) took the helm of sonics of the album, while Andrew Welch (Disciple), Blake Martin (A Plea for Purging), Rocky Gray (Evanescence), Cody Driggers (The Wedding), Bruce Fitzhugh (Living Sacrifice) and Brian “Head” Welch (Korn, Love and Death) make guest appearances. [Photo: Michael Todaro]


In addition to touring a lot with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, As I Lay Dying have been holed up in the Blasting Room with renowned rock producer Bill Stevenson, who’s also the drummer for Descendents (and has played with Black Flag); and mixer Colin Richardson. The group – Nick Hipa (guitar), Tim Lambesis (vocals), Jordan Mancino (drums), Phil Sgrosso (guitar) and Josh Gilbert (bass) – are putting the finishing touches on their new album Awakened, due out September 25 on Metal Blade. Owl City‘s new full-length studio album will be called The Midsummer Station and is due out August 21st on Universal Republic. Owl City’s Adam Young took a bold step forward on the new album by choosing to work with co-writers and outside producers for the first time. For example, when it came to working on the first single released to Christian radio, “Shooting Star,” he enlisted his friend Matt Thiessen (Relient K), Stargate (Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa) and Robopop (Maroon 5), and on “Gold” – another focus track on the album – he enlisted the team of Josh Crosby, Nate Campany, and Emily Wright (Dr. Luke’s engineer). Your Memorial has posted one of those “lyric videos” for a new song called “Shipwreck” of their upcoming album, Redirect.

Heaven’s Metal Fanzine to merge with HM Mag

“At 2am on Labor Day weekend in 2004,” explains editor Doug Van Pelt, “I woke up in the middle of the night with an 11-point outline in my head about re-launching Heaven’s Metal as a black & white fanzine.” At that point it was a one-page feature in the middle of HM, focusing on old and new metal. 8 years later the 24-page fanzine carries on in print, but will now merge into the digital pages of HM Magazine, offering a specialized and focused look at all things metal and hard rock (both bands of old, like Guardian, Barren Cross; and new, like Drottnar, Holy Blood, Theocracy). The content of the Heaven’s Metal section will still be directed by a 12-man team that offers breadth of knowledge and love for metal. The good news for HM is it’ll add content worth reading and for Heaven’s Metal, the coverage will now be monthly instead of the lame attempt to be bi-monthly (but instead come out once every five months). “We’re looking at this to be a fresh, rejuvinating shot of energy into both publications,” concludes Van Pelt. “Besides, it’s our roots and our origins, man. It’ll be extreme. And metal deserves full-color treatment.”

The Chariot have released a behind the scenes clip of their time in the studio recording their upcoming record, One Wing, due out August 28th, via eOne Music / Good Fight Music. In a recent interview the band was asked what their mindset was when going into the studio on One Wing, and frontman Josh Scogin commented, “Let’s get weird.” The Chariot will be hitting the road this summer on the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour, alongside We Came As Romans, Oceano and Attack Attack! P.O.D. have posted a lyric video of the title track to Murdered Love.


Industry Profile: Stickers and More TOBY HANCOCK SHARES SOME OF HIS WISDOM FROM YEARS OF RUNNING A MERCH CO. BY DOUG VAN PELT What got you started with Indiana Forms & Labels? After several years as a full commissioned salesman, I was seeing major changes taking place in the printing industry, and unfortunately seeing business decisions being made around me that worked against the company and good business sense, I seized the opportunity in 1995 to start my own regional printing company. Along with the independence, it allowed me the opportunity to pursue my vision for a company and work team. Then later in 1997 we launched a second company The initial vision of this on-line company focus on Swag/Merch for the music industry but soon grew to include church youth groups, not-for-profit organizations, ministries, Churches and business’ nationwide. What do you like the most/least about your job? The opportunity to frequently travel nationwide visiting with youth leaders, administrators & directors exhibiting at Youth Leadership Confernces, Camp Conferences, Festivals and Expos. Least? The unfortunate task of firing someone. Energy drinks or coffee? Why? 5-hour energy shot on the road. It’s simple, fast and avoids frequent pottie breaks. However it’s fresh ground coffee in the office. Smells great, tastes wonderful and the restroom is right down the hall. Being a musician yourself, how do you think that has helped or flavored what you do with Stickers and More? I have a sincere appreciation for the road warriors and indie artists pursuing their passion on a very limited budget. As we’ve grown as a company, so has our buying power allowing us to offer small quantities of t-shirts, stickers, etc, to those groups on a limited budget. You’ve involved your family in your business over the years. How did you do that? Any pointers for others wanting to do something similar with their spouses/family? It’s a mixed blessing. It’s great to be around family, but the line can become blurred sometimes between employee and family member. Looking back, In some

ways I think I was harder on and expected more from my two kids growing up around the business than our other employees. Overly concerned about people thinking, “he or she’s the boss’ kid, etc.” I actually fired both my kids ... of course they will say they quit (LOL). Advise? Keep the lines drawn with family members. Outside of the threshold, they are family. However inside the threshold they are an employee subject to all policy and rules. Sometimes easier said than done. LOL. What sort of advice would you give band members? Great question. As a follower of Christ, I feel we are all called to be leaders – not followers – in every aspect of our lives. I get very excited when I see someone placed in the spotlight or a leadership position passionately pursuing excellence at what they are called to do. Not just excelling in their craft or profession, but pursuing that excellence behind the scenes in their day-to-day lives. Wouldn’t it be great if the world in general would see this and for this to be the norm as a Christian instead of the all-too-frequent comments about dead beat Christians? Those that sometimes turn a blind eye to questionable business practices and/or being someone whom is either slow or no-pays money they owe. I will save that for a later conversation. LOL. From your perspective, how does your faith influence your business? I haver never been a fan of the term “Christian Company.” There are businesses you trust and those you don’t. My faith holds me accountable in my day-to-day business practices with clients, vendors, peers and friends to keep integrity at the forefront of every decision – even if it costs you. It can be a challenge, but I personally feel it’s worth it in the long run. For more info:

Val Allen Wood from the Athens, GAbased melodic metal band Theocracy have uploaded a guitar instructional video for the track “Altar to the Unknown God” on YouTube. The track comes off the latest Theocracy album As The World Bleeds. Nokternal Hemizphear Records announces the signing of Finnish band Armath Sargon’s latest production Under the Moon and the Sun to be released late summer of 2012. “Toss aside any preconceived notions about extreme metal and the dogma of black metal origins. Under the Moon and the Sun is a fresh and uniquely new listening experience that cannot be rightfully compared to other artists of adjacent metal genres.” Cincinnati’s Pomegranates are excited to hit the road this summer to embark on a US tour in support of their new full-length studio album Heaven – out now on Modern Outsider. Weight & Glory is the follow-up fulllength album to Kevin Burgess’ (otherwise known as KB) 2011 mixedtape debut, titled Who is KB? Since its debut, the project has quickly become a fan favorite garnering over 30,000 downloads to date. Bellarive’s debut album, The Heartbeat (Sparrow Records). Produced by Bellarive and Joshua Silverberg (Luminate, Abandon) and mixed by Allen Salmon (Gungor, Building 429), The Heartbeat made an unprecendented debut at No. 1 on iTunes’ Christian & Gospel Album chart, holding the top spot for two days. Altars have released a video for the song “Lower” off their Conclusions album. Retroactive Records have released a couple of gems (all 4 volumes) from the Saviour Machine vaults – Rarities/ Revalations. Wolves at the Gate have posted a few songs from its upcoming full-length, Captors, which is due out July 3rd. The Music with a Mission Tour this fall will feature Family Force 5, Disciple, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Icon For Hire, Bread of Stone and Willet.


LIVE REPORT Facedown Fest April 6-7 REVIEW by CHARLIE STEFFENS PHOTOS by CHAD SENGSTOCK (Chino and Pomona, CA) Facedown Fest 2012 was two

nights of music from artists on the Strike First and Facedown record labels, with solid turnouts at both venues. Mini-testimonies and praises were given at the microphone from various members of the bands on both nights, reminding the crowd of what Jesus did for us and what He continues to do in the lives of those who follow Him.

Strike First Night The Stronghold 4/6/2012 Chino, CA The Good Friday night kickoff to The Fest went off at The Stronghold, a quaint little club nestled inside a most spacious Valley Christian Church in Chino. This was about the last place you’d expect to see get blown up by a mob of hardcore bands, yet the pits circled, nonetheless. The show went off with Altars, Ark of the Covenant, Nothing til Blood, We the Gathered, Letter to the Exiles, Leaders, Dynasty and quick two-to-three-song bonus sets from NIV, xLookingForwardx and Gideon. Each of the bands’ sets was explosive. Long Island’s own Letter to the Exiles were most impressive, while the most mind-blowing performance was Dynasty’s set, which included “Way of the Wolf” and a slamming cover of the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep till Brooklyn.” Evidently, stage diving is a conditioned response to Dynasty – church or no church.

Facedown Night The Glasshouse 4/7/2012 Pomona, CA The energy in The Glasshouse, Pomona’s fabled venue, was on high for Facedown Night. On the bill was The Burial, Hope for the Dying, Your Memorial, Hands, Onward to Olympas, My Epic, Gideon, xLooking Forwardx, In the Midst of Lions and War of Ages. The event opener was The Burial. These guys play like they’ve been at it their whole lives. Very metal, with extremely tight musicianship, this band set the bar for sound. Synth metallers Hope for the Dying covered Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” in a way only Hope for the Dying could. My Epic was almost otherworldly, adding a subdued,

proggy contrast to an evening geared mainly for headbanging. After My Epic was a fullthrottle heavy music show. Gideon opened a gash that the crowd won’t soon forget. Returning to Facedown Fest after a few years away was xLookingForwardx, who won the Pomona audience over as well. In the Midst of Lions had three missing members and still pulled it off nicely, borrowing Lazarus Rios of Leaders and Kramer Lowe of Onward to Olympas to fill in vocal duties. Headliner War of Ages opened with “Strength Within” and the floor went berserk. Vocalist Leroy Hamp exuberantly led the charge, while he and his bandmates performed a bludgeoning set, playing songs from their newly released Return to Life album.

Photos (clockwise from top): Altars, Letter to the Exiles, Leroy Hamp of War of Ages, In the Midst of Lions, ITMOL


xLooking Forwardx (Photo: Chad Sengstock | I Shot Photography)


Nothing Til Blood (Photo: Chad Sengstock)


The Burial (Photo: Chad Sengstock)

14 F E AT U R E T T E

Album: Where Thieves Cannot Tread Label: Thumper Punk/Punk Roxx Release Date: June 5, 2012 Members: Dave, guitar, J, drums; Jeff, guitar; Harry, vocals RIYL: NOFX, The Crucified

JUMP SHIP QUICK While technological advances will allow for the creation of music across vast differences, the members of Jump Ship Quick have not figured out how to tour together while living between Colorado and Canada. So, while fans of the old-school punk stylings will have to wait for any sort of tour dates, they can feast on the sounds of the band’s new album, Where Thieves Cannot Tread. “We joke that we’ll have a second album out before we ever play a show,” says J, the band’s drummer, with a laugh. “We’re already 11 songs into a second CD that we’re throwing around already. We would love to play shows. There’s no doubt about all of us wanting that, but logistically it seems very difficult for us at this point. While Jump Ship Quick is obviously limited in that way, there’s no doubting that their classic punk leanings will please fans of The Crucified or other similar acts. It helps to have Five Iron Frenzy’s Leanor Inez Ortega Till on board as producer and Masaki Liu (Five Iron Frenzy, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) mixing the album.


As a joint release from two smaller record labels, most of the work is on the members of Jump Ship Quick to spread the word themselves. While that’s right in line with the punk rock ethic they’re creating, it’s also the reality facing them on a daily basis. J says he’s constantly doing everything he can to get the word out in any way he can.

“One thing that’s helped is that I worked with a friend who is a writer and it’s the same deal,” J says. “He got picked up and published by a small printing deal, and I learned some of the DIY stuff from him – for shooting videos and all of that. Through working on his campaign, he was able to eventually get on the top 100 bestsellers on Amazon through word of mouth and constantly advertising and doing the little things. I’m trying to take that and incorporate that into what we’re doing. “I would say the hard part is that we’re a Christian punk rock band, so that makes our audience so much smaller,” he continues. “But I tell everybody I can possibly think of about it. I have a great group of friends. I’ve lived in five different states and I’ve traveled all over, so I know people all over the place.

I tend to really try to call upon those guys. They’re great people and they’ve always been very supportive. That obviously helps.” For now, J says the band continues to write more songs to stoke the creative fires while also churning out enough material for the band’s future. J says the goal is a second album in the summer of ’13 when perhaps their living situations will enable them to rethink touring options. For all of the trouble they go through to get the music out there, J says it’s worth it, since the entire band is a labor of love for all involved. “The biggest thing is that we really are trying to change lives and touch people,” he says. “That’s one of our goals. We’re older guys with jobs who work. This isn’t one of those deals for us where we’re trying to make money and live off of this. This is something we do out of love and passion and it’s a Godgiven outlet.”



Album: S/T Label: Ulterium Release Date: May 11, 2012 Members: Elin Redin, vocals; Erik Torddson, guitars; Johan Nöjd, bass; Johan Svensson, drums RIYL: Evanescence

END OF SEPTEMBER There’s no doubting the intensity of End of September’s new self-titled album, yet it’s also impossible to ignore the memorable nature of the tunes included. The Ulterium Records band calls it “melodic metal,” and their hope is to blend disparate elements well. While it’s hardly a new concept, it’s something the Scandinavian quartet pulls off quite well with their Stateside debut.

“I think there are a lot of us that crave heaviness in music, but also do enjoy a really good melody on top of that,” said vocalist Elin Redin. “I know I do. You could not really say it’s a new thing. The origins of metal have always been quite melodic, even though it has more recently become one of the thousands of sub-genres in metal.” The solid melodies are pulled off thanks to the strong vocal work of Redin, the new vocalist for End of September. Redin came on board last year and was quickly joined by bassist Johan Nöjd and drummer Johan Svensson in an all-new lineup surrounding lone original member Erik Torddson. “Considering the material already was made when we found each other, the


obvious things that drew us together are Erik’s sound and songwriting,” explains Redin. “His head for music is great on so many levels that I think none of us could turn down the opportunity to work with him. We are all very focused on working hard with our music, which is kind of crucial for getting anywhere, I suppose. But I guess it was a lot of gut feeling as well when we got the band together. It wouldn’t have worked at all if we didn’t really like hanging around, having fun.” Redin says the band is quite excited about making their debut for Ulterium, and the band’s smooth sound should help them make an in-roads not only in Europe, as a rebirthed band, but in the United States as well. Their debut video for “Isolated” gives fans a visual product to place alongside the single and should also help them make an impact.

“It’s almost surreal,” says Redin. “I have dreamt about making an album all my life, and now it’s finally out there. We’re all quite stunned by the amount of people around the world really enjoying our music. We weren’t really prepared for

that, but we’re very excited, of course, and a little nervous.” As End of September is finally released and available to the public, Redin says the band is focused on taking their melodic metal to the masses – anywhere they can. “We have a few gigs for the summer, in Sweden and Finland,” she says, referring to the band’s first gigs away from home. “The plan is to hit a lot more stages during fall, most likely not only in Sweden. I’m afraid I can’t give you any more details on the touring right now. Besides that, our heads have already started getting into a second album.” As for potential impact in the United States, Redin is particularly excited, though she realizes that there’s a lot of work to make that happen. If anything, she’s ready for the opportunity. “The hopes are definitely up!” says Redin. “We’ve seen a few really good reviews from the US. So we’re ready to invade, if you let us.”

16 F E AT U R E T T E

Album: S/T Label: Red Lamb Release Date: February 3, 2012 Members: Don Chaffin, lead vocals; Dan Spitz, guitars/bass/vocals; Patrick Johansson, drums RIYL: Anthrax, Megadeth

RED LAMB Red Lamb is guitarist Dan Spitz’s first band outside Anthrax (unless you count his time in Overkill and Thrasher before 1983). After Anthrax’s wildly celebrated Among the Living reunion from 2005-2007 Spitz took his second long break from the band playing guitar professionally. His first departure from the band was in 1995, when he decided to pursue a career in watch repair and design, thus founding SpitzWatch. With the prompting of friend Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Spitz came out of early retirement and the two began to collaborate, sharing riffs and lyrics. Red Lamb was born. “I was in Switzerland getting a little bit of the itch again,” Spitz confesses . “Mustaine would call me just to say hello or he’d yell at me. ‘Spitz. You’re done. That’s it. There’s only me, you and Kirk (Hammett), and James (Hetfield), Scott (Ian) and the guys from Slayer. You’re the only guy that’s not here creating riffs. Get out of Switzerland and stop messing around with crazy watches!’ So when we did get the call to get do the Anthrax reunion it was a very, very good time.” “There’s a message in every song on the Red Lamb CD,” Spitz says. “I think it’s the first time two guys from the Big Four have ever done anything together, meaning Dave and I. My plan


is to do everything the way I did in the beginning of the Anthrax days. It’s all about the live show.” In addition to making heavy music for the fans, Red Lamb is committed to bringing awareness to Autism around the globe, an unprecedented move from a metal band. Spitz and his wife Candi are parents of identical twin boys, Brendan and Jaden, who were diagnosed with Autism at 18 months. “My wife Candi is also a very big advocate for Autism Speaks,” Spitz says, “and donates all her time and effort to help others. I know music helps me and I know it helps people who listen to my music and my past creations. I hope that Red Lamb does the same across the board. We really wanted do something special for the human race. They’re building another school at the end of my street for 700 Autistic kids. There wasn’t even a school when I grew up for Autistic kids.” “Puzzle Box” is but one of the explosive tracks on the Red Lamb CD, made into a jaw-dropping music video. “It’s not just a song,” Spitz insists. “As far as I’m concerned, we finally just time-stamped a brand new time in history for music. I always try to do things that come from everyday life. In the Autism community, there are people who have spoken out

in the film industry, there are people who have spoken out in sports and just about everywhere else, but nobody has really done anything in music to bring awareness to this epidemic. That’s what “Puzzle Box” is. Not only do you get lyrical content of me and Dave Mustaine really speaking the truth with what goes on in my house, but now you finally get a visual, like a reality show, for everyone to see. “There really is something here for the music industry that’s never been done before,” declares Spitz, about his altruistically charged endeavor. “It’s not a preaching party. This is not, ‘Hey I’m lookin’ to sell a product and a portion of the product is going to help these starving kids in Yugoslavia somewhere or something.’ This is just a reminder that Red Lamb is here to bring awareness that there really is something going on here, because it’s basically in every town and on every street now. As we all know, music is more powerful than any other medium to convey a message. I’m always trying to break down new barriers”

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Album: Re-Hymns Label: Independent Release Date: June 12, 2012 Members: Latifah Phillips, lead vocals/piano; Reid Phillips, guitar; Dann Stockton, drums RIYL: David Crowder Band, Leigh Nash, Over The Thine, Portishead, Beth Orton

PAGE CXVI Page CXVI would have signifiers enough to lure the most hardened of hipsters: a band name derived from a literary reference, a meaning behind the number of songs they put on any given release, a Colorado locale (if that’s hip), a low key media presence that makes any rare occasion they show up in front of a camera a kind of event and a logo that would surely spruce up any T-shirt or other piece of merch’ it’s on. But the name is a reference to a page of an edition of The Magician’s Nephew in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles where King Aslan speaks the world into being (it explains their leonine symbology, too). They put seven songs on all of their albums, because it’s the biblical number of perfection. The band’s reason for shying from the limelight probably has as much to do with keeping the focus on their music as any less-is-more publicity strategy. And lest any scenesters want the kind of experience with beauty and truth that comes with Page CXVI’s reinvigoration of classic hymns, s/he will likely be staying away from the band’s catalog like the group themselves steer clear of much picturetaking. But maybe they get enough of that from the attention paid to their other, first band, The Autumn Film?


Either way, Page CXVI’s already startling acoustic-electric takes on the public domain Christian musical heritage of centuries past takes another turn on Re-Hymns, another halfdozen-plus-one songs of doctrino-theological substance. Only this time, as any astute readers such as yourself may have already ascertained, they’re remixes of previous recordings. And who better to be occupying the chair behind the mixing board for these revisitations than Derek Webb, the former Caedmon’s Call’er whose solo career arc has owed as much to Kraftwerk as it has to Bob Dylan. And whose oft-controversial lyrical and philosophical tenor couldn’t be much more dichotomous – he’s one of “emergent church” guru’ Brian McLaren’s faves – from Page CXVI’s modus operandi. The combination works, though. If “remix” equates “dance music” for some, that’s not quite the case here. More like Webb’s own forays into electronics, the sonic textures of Re-Hymns serve to alternately juxtapose and buoy the sentiments of the songs without necessarily making one want to step into the nearest set of boogie shoes on hand. That said, Webb seems to have been listening to his share of Owl City and Foster

The People if either such act gives you the urge to cut a rug. Whether or not the Webb/Page CXVI collaboration makes you want to move, if Latifah Reid’s lead vocals don’t move you to some degree of epiphany, you might want to all the coroner for your own autopsy. Somewhere between Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and Over The Rhine gal Karin Bergquist, lies Reid’s mixture of mournfulness and serene wonder. Her rendition of “(I’ve Got The) Joy (Down In My Heart)” may be an epitome of sadness and exultation all in one and is alone worth the price of the EP. That she, her husband, and other bandmates can occasionally interpolate new texts and melodies into the oldies of their liking without seeming like ChrisTomlin’s similar, if sometimes awkward, approach speaks of their ingenuity. If Re-Hymns is your introduction to Page CXVI, you might want to save up for the four discs/downloads that precede it. It’s entirely possible you’ll want to hear the source material ... and everything else they’ve done.

18 F E AT U R E T T E

Album: The Justice Project Label: Ship Out Recordings Release Date: June 12, 2012 Members: David Smith, vocals/rhythm guitar; Ethan Patterson, drums; Tim Mohler, lead guitar; Gordie Barganier, bass RIYL: Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie, The Juliana Theory, Coldplay, Anberlin

DIVINE AIR Central Pennsylvania broke the mold when they produced Divine Air. The band is an indie rock/alternative group hailing from Lancaster, PA; a town well-known for its music culture and for producing metal bands like August Burns Red, Texas in July, This or The Apocalypse and Ace Augustine. The debut EP, The Justice Project, and was produced by Grant McFarland (Texas In July, August Burns Red, This Or the Apocalypse) and is available now on iTunes. Divine Air is the best band you have not heard of yet. This is a band that is determined to positively impact the lives of others. The band is fleshing that motivation out by donating a portion of each record sold to The Justice Project, a charity working to fight human trafficking. The band members are Christians, however they have set forth a goal to simply spread a positive message to anyone that’s willing to listen. Divine Air will reach you with their powerful guitar tones, honest message, upbeat sound of pop/rock/alternative, combined with mature songwriting usually only found in a seasoned band. For fans of Jimmy


Eat World, Mae, Kings of Leon, The Juliana Theory, Death Cab For Cutie, Coldplay and The Killers. Providing a breath of fresh air to an industry that has been in need of some inspiration; resonating a feeling of hope and the need to overcome adversity in a world of uncertainty. The message they try to provide is that everything will be all right, with song titles like “We Will Overcome.” They inspire hope and compassion with lyrics like “Oh tonight, everything is gonna be alright” and “We Fight ... for those who don’t know how to.” That they provide inspiration for people to make a difference in their own life and the lives of others is remarkable and showcases the power of a song. The lyrics convey a passion that could not be duplicated – a pure, real compassion for others that makes this band so unique and special. The band’s guitarist, Dave cites several artists that influenced their unique sound, including: Copeland, Anberlin, Radiohead, Lydia and Sense Field. When asked about the band’s plan for touring, he stated they have some

regional touring in the works, recently added to the Creation 2012 lineup (indie stage). Divine Air plans to tour nationally, but aren’t rushing anything. Not only providing an upbeat and distinct sound and a wide range of messages and emotions on the sixsong EP with upbeat energy, Divine Air also showcase a softer, honest sound on the track “We Will Overcome.” This band shows a sound that is new and different, but they also show compassion for others through their generosity: it’s a rare combination. David Smith (guitarist/songwriter) also cited the support from fans at shows they have been playing locally as one of the things that has helped the band reach new heights in releasing their first album and support of the record label (Ship Out Recordings). Reflecting as they combat the challenges and opportunity releasing an album provides, they find themselves working to play in front of people in new places and to spread the word that “Everything will be alright,” a message the world needs to hear.


Album: America Label: Salvation Rock Music Company Release Date: January, 2012 Members: Michael Paul Scally, vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, orchestral arrangements RIYL: Larry Norman

MICHAEL SCALLY Times were tough last year for Michael Paul Scally when he and his family lost their home, as so many Americans have with the challenging economy. Scally, a husband, father, musician, and member of Calvary Chapel Church in Costa Mesa, California, recalls his “bump in the road,” and how God met his family’s needs. “We couldn’t get anything,” Scally says reflectively, about the dismal period when the applications he would fill out for rentals would continually be refused. “We had a foreclosure on our credit. We didn’t know what we were going to do. We had a little bit of money but not much. We couldn’t even get an apartment. But I saw this house in Lake Forest. It’s a four-bedroom house and I’m thinking there’s no way we can afford that. We were getting turned down for two-bedroom apartments.” The landlady of this big house in Lake Forest approved Scally’s application. “Out of all these places, and we tallied it up, we looked at 38 apartments and very small houses. And this one, the only one that had four bedrooms, she took us. After we signed the lease I asked her, ‘What was it that made you take us? It clearly wasn’t our credit and income.’ She said, ‘I saw you on


Facebook and I just like your face.’ And I thought that’s the confirmation that the Lord really wants me to finish this album,” he says of the music that would soon become his America album. I almost scrapped the whole album but my wife said, “No. If you really feel like the Lord wants you to finish this album, you need to finish it. That’s the Lord, man. Praise God,” Scally says, teeming with gratitude.

Originally, Scally had thought about making America with some hired help, but decided to go it alone. “This album wasn’t done in Nashville. It was done in Hollywood. It’s the Lord behind this album and the story of the album. That’s really the intriguing element. What happened is I had talked to a bunch of musicians that I had known and they were all too busy, or they couldn’t do it, or they just weren’t interested. Of course I really didn’t have that much written at the time. I just started to get the writing together.” “Every song is talking about what’s going on in this country,” he says about his ten-song album. “Most of them have a relevant message, whether it’s directly about the Lord or where the world is headed.” The song/

YouTube video “America is in Trouble” illustrates the condition of the world with stark imagery. Scally is versed in voice, strings, keyboards, and percussion and cites Paul Simon as one of his major influences. “My first instrument was drums. I think I was 12 when my mom got me my first kit. I banged around on those, and I was teaching myself piano, and by 14 I had taught myself guitar. I didn’t know which instrument really to gravitate to, so I was in and out of bands playing different instruments. I’ve always loved the 70s sound. I love big harmonies. At the end of “Stars in Orion” you’ll hear a big three-piece harmony and at the end of “There’ll Be Times” a five-piece harmony closes that number out.” “Being a Christian doesn’t mean you get an easy ride. It’s quite the opposite. If you’re really on board with the Lord you’re going to face trials, you’re going to have challenges. And I think God’s shines a little brighter in your life when you don’t complain. But look, man. God’s been good to me,” Scally says, referring to one of the bedrooms he converted to a studio. “I got all my stuff and I’m just like a kid in a candy store. I’m quite happy still having this stuff.”


20 F E AT U R E T T E

Album: Hanging on by a Remix Label: Tooth & Nail Release Date: May 22, 2012 Members: Mark Anthony, guitar, vocals; Sarah Anthony, lead vocals; Matt Beal, bass; RIYL: Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet

THE LETTER BLACK Lead singer, Sarah Anthony and her band, The Letter Black, have gone more experimental than usual with Hanging on by a Remix, a compilation of previouslyreleased songs from the band that you can dance to. The tracklist includes a uniquely made cover of the Aerosmith smash hit, “Dream On.” Anthony explains why she and her band decided to put out an album of remixes at the same time they were in the studio working on music for their new album. “Well, we’ve been getting requests for new music for a little while now, and we’re working on it, but people want new stuff now. So we figured that we would just think outside the box of ways that we can get new music to people. We had a couple of songs that we did remixes for that were for fun and they turned out so awesome, I think, that we thought, ‘Hey why not remix a bunch of songs, some of the EP’s that we’ve had and just do a whole remix record?’ So we did that and I think it turned out really cool. It’s fun to see how one song can have different sounds. It’s a cool change.”


“I think the beginning of “My Disease” is one of my favorite parts,” Anthony says, when asked about her favorite remix on the album, “and it’s a prerequisite that, when you listen, you have to listen to it with the radio really, really loud. With “Hanging by a Thread” we decided to go (the) total opposite and lower the guitars and raised the actual acoustic guitars to make it have a different vibe. So that turned out really cool, too. It’s fun to see how one song can have different sounds. All the songs we did on the remix album are our own, except “Dream On.” I like it, because a lot of people have redone it and you see bands everywhere playing it live, but to redo it like that in a remix, we weren’t sure how that was going to turn out, but we like it.”

“It will be awesome,” Anthony says about the forthcoming, full-length album due out late fall. “I think it’s better than Hanging on by a Thread. That record, to me, was almost like an experimental album. We were kind of a new band. We weren’t one hundred percent solidified on which direction we wanted to go and what we wanted to sound like. This seems more mature. We know what we

want, we know what we want to say, we know what we want to sound like, so this is a much more pulled together and awesome record (laughs), if I do say so myself. Yeah, I think it’s much better than the last record. I know a lot of people enjoyed the last record, so we will see.” As husband and wife, guitarist Mark Anthony and Sarah Anthony really do hold to the adage that the family that plays together stays together. “We absolutely love it,” Anthony insists. “Part of what makes it okay is that what we do is fun. I mean, granted, it’s stressful. You’re dirty and you’re tired a lot, and there’s long hours and little money. It is what it is. But how many people can go on an adventure like this together? It’s fantastic. We, seriously, hardly ever argue. We might have an argument once a year. We’re just really, really good friends. We enjoy what we’re doing and it’s absolutely amazing to be able to do this together. There’s just something special about it. We just had a baby boy and he’s coming out on the road with us too.”

Photo: Reggie Edwards


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22 H M WA S T H ER E

The American Bible Challenge Dallas, TX – June 2, 2012 BY ALLAN AGUIRRE

The Bible is coming to a Television near you. The creators of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, GSN (Game Show Network), are currently casting contestants for The American Bible Challenge, a new game show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. Contestants compete for money benefiting their favorite charity. “Somebody brought us the idea, and we jumped on it,” said David Schiff, SVP of Programming for GSN. “We looked at the television landscape and faith-based programming isn’t addressed by the mainstream media”. GSN took a look at their network demographic, coupled with the huge void for faith-based programming and thought it was a huge opportunity. “We got really excited about that,” continued Mr. Schiff. The American Bible Challenge is a studio-based game show where contestants’ knowledge of the Bible will be challenged. Questions are designed to celebrate the Bible’s importance in contemporary life and culture. The show’s host, Jeff Foxworthy, can currently be seen on GSN’s Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? “(He’s) so fantastic”, said Mr. Schiff. “We shot a pilot with Jeff, and he so perfectly sets the tone for the show. He brings a certain ‘comfort level’ to the contestants.” Jeff is the largest-selling comedy recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy® Award nominee and bestselling author of more than 26 books. Widely known for his redneck jokes, his act goes well beyond that to explore the humor in everyday family interactions and human nature. And people love him. 1

“I thought it was a great idea. A great way to get the Word of God out and at the same time just have an opportunity to have a good time answering questions about what we’re all passionate about,” said contestant hopeful Mike1 from McKinney, TX. Joanna2, a 13-year-old home schooler from Garland, TX, who will be competing for charity for The Scottish Rite Hospital should she be selected said, “I’ve never heard of anything like this before. My mom heard of it on the radio, and she’s like, ‘Well, we’re going to go try it out and see how you do.’ I think it will be good for the kids and all.” Overall, all the contestants I spoke to were fairly confident in their knowledge of the Bible. “I’ve been raised in church all my life,” beamed Sean of Palmer, TX, “But I’m no expert.” The American Bible Challenge is being produced by RelativityREAL for GSN. Odyssey Networks, the country’s largest multi-faith coalition dedicated to producing and distributing media that creates understanding among people of different beliefs and perspectives will be Consulting Producers. I didn’t get to ask Jeff Foxworthy my favorite trivia question about unicorns, but my guess is, he already knows about that. The Bible is coming to a Television near you. Hopefully it’ll be for more then 15 minutes.



were a worship band from Florida. Next thing I knew, when Come & Live launched, they were one of the bands that wanted to give this revolutionary idea a try. Giving out your music for whatever the fans could afford at shows and pay what you want for downloads ... It was a different concept.


With one full-length studio record, along with an amazing hymns cover record under their belt, Ascend The Hill released their second studio record, Son,, this last spring. I had the chance O Ransomed Son to ask frontman Joel Davis some questions about the new record and life on the road.

Ascend The Hill is changing how a worship band should do things in a new age of time and space. This is the second record you have had funded by fans, friends, and family. Having one be successful, as well as many of your label mates being funded, Is it a stressful process, or was it easy knowing that the record before this one was funded, so this one should be too? It’s definitely still a stressful process. We were trying to raise a considerable amount more than we did for the hymns record, and while we were confident in what we know God called us to do Son, raising $25k in 30 days is with O Ransomed Son, no small thing. We’re still learning everyday that God is so faithful to provide for our every need. You guys talked in the Kickstarter video that this record was a full band collaboration. Was it easy or hard for you to have others bring something to the table seeing as how on the first record you had it all laid out, and the second one was a covers record? I don’t know that it was unusually hard to write a record together, but there’s nothing terribly



easy about being that open and honest with three other guys about what you wrestle with and what God has been doing in your heart ... and having them do the same. Honesty and transparency in worship are something that we cling to as a band, so starting the process right within the community of a band was challenging but very rewarding! I was definitely stoked to be able to sit down and write a record with my band mates from our heart, it’s not that it was ever intended to be any different, it’s just that Ascend The Hill happened so organically that we’re honestly still just figuring this whole “band” thing out. When we did our first tour we weren’t even a band. We were just going out to do some worship ministry for some conferences and events through relationships we had built with pastors over the years of me being a worship pastor myself. After two tours together, we went into the studio to record the self-titled record, and it was just, for the most part, a compilation of songs that God had given me for our local church at home in Tampa. It’s a much different and beautiful experience to collaborate with men who have such a huge heart for God in writing a worship album together. The dynamic allows for dimensions lyrically, musically and spiritually that I could never accomplish on my own. In Ascend The Hill’s case for O Ransomed Son, Son, in my opinion, it allows for a much better record. Being a founding band in the musicianary movement for the last three and a half years, what have you found that works or does not work for a band that lives that lifestyle? We’re honestly still trying to figure out how to be better stewards of the ministry God has entrusted to us. I don’t think that we’ve arrived, or that we’ve got all the kinks worked out, but we have learned a lot in the last few years. 



AS CHARLIE PEACOCK SANG, “TIME IS A GIFT OF LOVE AND GRACE,” BUT THE PERCUSSIVE TIMEKEEPER OF CHILDREN 18:3 , SETH HOSTETTER, REMINDS US THAT THE CLOCK IS TICKING. HE ALSO KNOWS DEEP DOWN IN HIS SOUL THAT GOD IS A REDEEMER, SO ALL IS NOT LOST – EVEN TIME THAT’S GOT AWAY. What’s On the Run got that your other releases don’t have? Seth Hostetter: It’s bigger, brighter, crisper and catchier. The whole time going into making this record, the three of us wanted to step it up as much as possible and do things differently, be more open minded and try new things. We tried not to shoot down anyone’s ideas until we had tried them and saw how everyone felt. Lee Marie and I also had a lot more input in the writing and structuring of these songs. David is, of course, the primary songwriter and lyricist and he did still do most of it with this record, but Lee and I definitely had more input than the last two and Lee wrote a lot more lyrics. It was also refreshing working with a different producer with a totally different style and way of doing things. And we mixed as we went, so we could really hear the songs come together throughout the process. That was great. What’s a theme or lyric that you felt like you had to write? SH: Honestly, we’ve never really been a band that has had a specific plan or direction lyrically for an entire record. But, yet, with On the Run, every time I personally listen to it, I get really encouraged. Although we never had an intention to theme our record, encouraging just might be the best way that I would describe the record’s lyrical content. My favorite track, “Moment to Moment,” talks about how every second of our lives matters and that we really, really need to take our lives seriously every second. We will have all of eternity to look back on how we lived on earth and what a terrible tragedy it would be to look back and be filled with regret. We, as individuals, should try to live our lives as best as possible with this in mind. How has your band survived in a poor economy and rising gas prices, etc? SH: Well, we have an advantage, because there’s only three of us and we are able to travel without a trailer, so that saves a ton on gas, but you gotta be smart too, and always be thinking ahead. We always make sure each trip or tour we do is gonna be worth it and makes sense for our band. You just gotta use your head in this market with the economy the way it is. I am also super paranoid about gas prices, and since I am the primary driver, I always watch for the cheapest gas and stop there. I figure, if I can save two to six bucks per tank, that’s coffee money in my pocket. So it pays to use your head. I also used to own my own business, so everything goes through my mind from a business standpoint. I’m always thinking ahead. How has the vision of your band changed? SH: Bottom line for us is that we just want to do the best we can with what we’ve got and push hard to do better. We always try to

put on the best show we can, even if there is hardly anybody at the show. It just goes back to doing your best, working hard and not complaining. We want to be faithful stewards with what we’ve been entrusted with. How important is the visual aspect of your art or presentation? SH: We try to make our shows as entertaining as possible – visually as well as the music – and have as much energy and excitement as possible. Why not? You only live once. We have fun doing what we do, so why not show it? What has grieved your heart of late? What do you think God wants to do about it? SH: I would say one thing that comes right to mind would be the onslaught of sexual perversion and the lax stance that Christians, in general, are taking. Not, by any means, do I mean to bash the church, but what is really needed is godly warriors to take a stand in prayer and repentance before the Lord, as that is really the only way change is possible for our future. Fortunately, it’s exciting to see young people all over really getting excited about God and choosing to align their lives in full pursuit of Him. We know the end from the beginning, but nevertheless, we, as Christians, are responsible for what happens on our watch. Let’s not waste our time. What has the Lord been telling y’all lately? What’s a big lesson He’s taught you lately? SH: Back to the answer about “Moment to Moment” (laughs). I think a big lesson for us, as of late, has been to simply be faithful, and do everything as unto the Lord, really, and to spend our time wisely and live with eternity in mind. How important is honing, practicing and developing your musical craft to you? Why? SH: When asked, I always tell up-and-coming bands to spend way more time practicing their instruments, their show and writing songs than promoting their band. Live in the woodshed. When we were starting out, a peer told us that if you really want to make it, you’re gonna have to spend four to five hours a day practicing. I did that for several years. Practice hard and let the music and performance speak for itself. In today’s over-saturated world of music, you’ve gotta be good to stand out. One thing that comes to my mind often, when I’m asked about single pedal speed or stick tricks on the drums is, “How many hours every day do you practice it?” While I don’t actually say that to kids, your dedication in rehearsal really does prove your desire and interest in the future of your band. All that being said, we’ve always been a band that has tried

CHILDREN 18:3 27

to rehearse a lot. The best, in any field, are the ones who do the basics best. What do you think the future holds for our scene? Our country? Our planet? SH: (laughs) Wow. Well, I personally think things are as easy now as they are ever gonna be, so we should be grateful. There is a lot going on behind the scenes in our country and across the globe. I think probably way more than even any of us realize. It’s easy to look at circumstances and get depressed about the future. But that’s why we can’t focus on the future or our circumstances ever, we must focus on the Lord and Him only. Anything else will not only end up in depression, but hopelessness. At the same time, however, we cannot brush off the things that are happening in our country and our world today and be indifferent. We are responsible for our watch. It really is important to keep our focus on Him. How do you respond to the allegation that the punk ethos (working class Brits rebelling against the government in the mid ‘70s) conflicts with the Christian faith and perhaps the evangelical church in America? SH: Well, I don’t think any of us really considers ourselves “punks” or truly “punk music,” but rather we’ve been put under that label because of our fast songs and image. We are by no means all about rebelling or anger towards the system. I don’t really know if that answers your question. I think rebelling in general is not wise at all, unless it means going against something that is anti-Bible. Anything else you’d like to talk about? SH: I would just like to stress one more time to anyone reading this, that your time really is important, and what you do really matters – thoughts, actions, attitudes – even if no one sees it. The Lord does and He really cares for real. And He really does accept you. It’s our tendency to disqualify ourselves for what we’ve done or haven’t done and it’s important to realize that God does not disqualify us. He accepts us if we give ourselves to Him – no matter what. It’s also encouraging to remember that to the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. So, we could have wasted one, ten or even 20 years, but, if we repent and get back on track, the Lord can do what we would think would take a thousand years and get us right back up to date. If there’s one thing that people walk away with from this record, or even our band, I hope it’s that. 


DO YOU HEAR THAT SOUND? IT’S THE STAMPEDE OF BANDS LEAVING THEIR LABELS TO GO INDEPENDENT. These days, it seems common when you hear of one long-time band or another venturing out on their own. They leave behind their previous label home and become independent, riding the high seas of label freedom. And it seems that the Christian music scene has its fair share of bands jumping ship after careers on Christian-oriented record labels. The question is, are they voluntarily disembarking, or are they being forced to walk the plank? Just why, exactly, are so many bands in the Christian scene doing the Kickstarter thing these days? There are quite a few factors in why so many bands are going independent with Kickstarter – and more specifically – why so many bands that were previously on Christian record labels are in this group. Surely one reason is the relative ease in which a band can go independent these days, thanks in large part to everdecreasing costs to record a quality album. Also contributing to the ease of going independent are diminishing costs in distribution (CD Baby will now get your album on iTunes for only $49 via Disc Makers). But a huge contributor to the ease of going independent is the advent of Kickstarter. By now, you’re all familiar with the process. It seems so common to hear about the Kickstarter campaign for some long-standing Christian band. You see their fans pledging tons of money to fund the next album and getting rewards in return. The concept is great: fans pay in advance to make an album possible and, in return, they get the album without the middle men of record labels and/or retail stores. But there are some risks associated with this move into independence. For instance, some fringe followers might get the perception that you were dropped from your previous label because you weren’t very successful. Or, that you may have overestimated your fan base and thus your Kickstarter campaign may not be entirely funded, leaving you out in the financial cold. Or you may not realize all the things a label did for you and you may not be able to publicize/promote/market yourself nearly as well, since you don’t have the connections to that aspect of the industry. In other words, going independent and relying on a Kickstarter campaign to fund your albums is like rolling the dice at a Las Vegas craps table. The benefits listed above are what initially made me think that many of the Christian bands are going independent merely out of freedom and availability. Take for instance, Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric. Brothers Jason Martin and Ronnie Martin, respectively, were two of the first artists on Tooth and Nail way back in 1993. Both put out album after album on T&N and I honestly thought they’d be on the label till they died. But now both can strike out on their own quite easily: both brothers record themselves, so there’s no large costs associated with producing an album for either of them. I also know that neither SF59 or JE sold many records. We’re talking a few thousand copies sold per title during their peak. I talked to Ronnie at Ichthus Music Festival one year and he said 10K sales of a record would be like going gold to him or his brother.


That was sad to hear, as I’ve loved both artists for over a decade and consider their releases to be some of the best Christian music ever put out. But it goes a long way in explaining how their parting possibly went down with T&N. I feel confident that both artists left T&N on good terms with their long-time label and that Brandon Ebel gave them his blessing. It just wasn’t financially feasible for the label to put forth the marketing funds and energy to push their albums when they knew the albums would sell so little. Both parties, I assume, realized each would be better off with a split. Now, this evidence helps us theorize why some of the lower-selling artists have left the T&N empire recently. But it doesn’t help at all in explaining why someone like Thousand Foot Krutch left. TFK was moving a ton of units and getting all sorts of airplay and licensing for their songs. I assume T&N didn’t kick TFK off the roster, which leaves me to speculate that the departure was initiated by TFK. So are we to expect that TFK has all the resources that T&N has in terms of marketing and publicity and distribution? I highly doubt it. I understand, as stated above, why lesser-selling bands would desire to go the Kickstarter route. But for bands still selling a decent amount of copies, the incentives seem less appetizing. In fact, when Becoming The Archetype’s first contract expired, I looked at the possibility of going independent and decided it was much better for us to stay on Solid State Records (a division of T&N). We’ve been on the label for nearly eight years and owe much of our success to Solid State, and more specifically Ryan Clark, believing in us and helping us reach our potential. I understand most of the decisions the label makes and I have no major complaints. That’s why we re-signed to SS last year. The TFK move, however, is more mystifying. And it gains even more mystery now that they had a strong debut week of over 23,000 copies sold of The End Is Where We Begin (which I actually wrote a review for in the April edition of HM Magazine). I’m sure that this wasn’t their highest debut week ever. I’m sure they’ve done way more sales in the past. But it’s no secret that there’s been a steady, sharp decline in record sales over the last few years. And in this day and age 23,000 units moved first week is considerable. Now, I don’t have the answers for this part of the question. If you were looking for definite answers to all the questions pertaining to the Kickstarter movement, I’m sorry, but they’re not here. This article is only focused on previously signed Christian bands and I tendered my best explanation for the lesser-selling artists. I feel confident in that explanation and I’d be surprised if there’s a ton more going on in those cases. But with the higher-selling artists, I’m as stumped as most people. I understand the first-guess reasoning most people will throw out there: labels are evil, bands are always getting screwed by labels, yada yada yada. But I pointed out that for lots of bands, being on a well-run label (like T&N) has more benefits than impediments. That should be obvious, since there are still way more successful bands re-signing to labels than there are successful bands going independent. So exactly why a successful band like TFK is on their own, I can’t quite put my finger on.


But regardless of the exact reason why TFK is independent now, there are lots of exciting developments to look out for. Kickstarter is changing how artists relate to their fans and how fans relate to their favorite artists. Kickstarter may not be a good enough reason for everyone to go independent, but it is certainly symbolic of the age we live in where the DIY business model is more feasible than ever. I think we’ll continue to see bands go independent and utilize either Kickstarter or something similar to raise funds for their next album. I think it’s exciting and I think people should use the opportunity to support their favorite bands. But, in all of this, remember that bands signed to labels still need your support, too (hint, hint). Any

band/artist that you like probably has way less money than you think. Keep supporting good music and good music will continue to be created, whether it’s released through a label or released independently, with a little help from its friends. 




AKING MUSIC IN HIS TEENS, WRITING, RECORDING AND PRODUCING N. NOW WITH MORE THAN A DECADE IN THE INDUSTRY, AVARY’S AS SEEN OVER A QUARTER MILLION ALBUMS SOLD AND HAS SHARED FROM THIRD EYE BLIND AND GOO GOO DOLLS TO PARAMORE AND ECTS. AFTER A SUCCESSFUL TWO-ALBUM STINT WITH MAJOR LABEL CHOSE TO RETURN TO HIS DIY ROOTS, RELEASING HIS FIFTH RECORD RDS ON HIS OWN NEWLY-FORMED IMPRINT, AVIATE RECORDS. AVARY K ABOUT THE CHOICE TO GO INDIE, HIS UNIQUE WORKING PROCESS, ENDENCIES. What excites you most about sharing this album with the world? This album has been such a journey. I actually finished it last summer, but it’s been a huge waiting process to finally get it released. I made the decision to walk away from my label, so from there it was, just figuring out how we wanted to go about releasing it. I ended up just starting my own label, Aviate Records, and so more than anything I’m just excited for it to finally be out there. You’ve always written, recorded and played every instrument yourself on every album. Has that always been a conscious decision or did it just turn out that way? It started out that way mostly out of necessity. I was really young and did everything myself, and then when I started doing shows and tours, I’d have friends offer to tour with me for different stretches, but they’d have to cycle in and out, and the one constant has always been me. It just became my way of working. I like being able to just lock myself in a room and get it done. Obviously to do so much of the work yourself, you must have developed a really strong self-editing process. Could you describe how you’re able to edit and refine your own ideas, and is there anyone you typically use to bounce ideas off of throughout the process? I definitely have people I respect that I can take songs or ideas to and get their opinion. It’s so tough, though. They’ll give me their thoughts and suggestions, but you never want to totally change what you’re doing or compromise your ideas. You really have to be careful and find that balance. I do a lot of painting and graphic design, and a big thing in visual art is, after you’ve been working on something for several hours, you just have to walk away for a while so you can see it with fresh eyes again. Does it work the same way with music, and how do you get that distance or objectivity from your work? I’m kind of a workaholic sometimes. I’m worried

that’s going to catch up with me at some point (laughs). I usually just want to go in there and get it all done, so that’s definitely something I have to work on. I try to remind myself to step back from things and take breaks when I need to. You experimented with some new instruments and sounds on this record, from mandolin and banjo to even trash cans and a typewriter. Where did those ideas come from? When I have ideas for songs in my head, I always tend to play them out in my mind, and I’ll start mouthing out the different melodies and sounds I’m hearing in my head. Sometimes I’ll say you know, that sounds kind of like a typewriter…so hey, why not? Let’s get a typewriter! With this album you transitioned from a fairly major label back to self-producing and releasing your own music. Talk about the process of making that switch, and how that has worked out so far. It’s definitely different. It’s nice to not have anyone looking over my shoulder, but actually, I pretty much got to do what I wanted musically while I was with Island. It was just frustrating when you feel like you know the perfect time to put out your record, but somebody at the label says you can’t because Justin Bieber has an album coming out that month, or something silly like that. There are a lot more decisions that fall on me now, but I have a good team of people around me, so it’s been good. On the same note, it seems like the music industry is changing to a point where being on a huge label is becoming less and less important and it’s easier than ever to release your own music. Is there anything that labels still offer that is helpful or unique, and in what ways would music labels have to adapt or change in order for you to give that a try again? I would definitely consider going back to a label at some point, maybe. It’s just that right now, I feel like this is the best thing for me. This whole thing is an experiment, so we’ll see how it goes. The

main frustration is finishing music and having it sit on a shelf because of someone else’s decisions. I’m excited to tear down that wall between my music and my fans. You obviously started out when the internet was just becoming an influence on music, and before social media really came about. How has that changed what you do, and what has your response been to it all? Is it more work, or does it makes things easier? It’s both. It can be a burden at times, if we’re being honest. It’s not in my blood to tell everyone what I’m doing or to talk about myself all the time. It’s tough sometimes to think of something funny to say, or an inspirational quote or whatever. But it’s also a great way to communicate with fans, and I enjoy that. It definitely makes me feel old too! Stuff like YouTube, MySpace and Twitter weren’t even around when I started making music, but this is the world we’re living in now, and you just have to adapt along with it. Back to the album, I wanted to talk about your song “Old Love.” In it, you talk about wanting to return to our grandparents’ values of lifelong commitment and love. It’s certainly a counter-culture idea right now. Do you think most people today still subconsciously want that kind of lifelong commitment? Are they maybe just looking for it in the wrong places, or do you think that commitment itself is no longer valued in our society? I think it’s in our blood to want that deep down. I believe we’re all wired to want it, but I think the world and our culture today have sort of re-wired us a little bit. Everything on the radio and television now is all about the short term and the quick fix. I just want to go against that, to live boldly and love in an epic way. As I always say, I don’t want to live my life like a pop song. 




My first experience of listening to Thrice I can recall quite vividly. I was riding in a car with a Canadian friend after a Becoming the Archetype show. We were staying with my friend and we were making that cool, late night drive to his house an hour away. We got to talking about powerful lyrics that really moved us and he asked, “Have you heard The Alchemy Index by Thrice?” I told him I’d never heard any Thrice songs as he looked at me with incredulity. So he explained the song and its lyrics, and then proceeded to play “Silver Wings” over his car speakers. Wow.

Kensrue has been pursuing artistic excellence for over a decade now, both as a songwriter and as a musician. It’s no secret that Dustin Kensrue has a unique and spectacular gift of songwriting. All Thrice fans revel in the strong symbolism of his lyrics. Most Christian fans see the allusions to C.S. Lewis’s thoughts in Kensrue’s lyrics. So instead of focusing on those well-known elements of Thrice’s music, let’s take the long view of Thrice’s career arc, shall we? Let’s look at a journey that yielded tons of great music that has become endeared to people from vastly different subgenres. Here’s a look at the musical arc of Dustin Kensrue, Teppei Teranishi (guitars), Eddie Breckenridge (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums).

That was special. Since that day, I’ve bought several Thrice albums, including all 4 Alchemy Index CDs, Vheissu and Major/Minor. I’ve listened to Beggars on Spotify and left their first 3 albums (Identity Crisis, The Illusion of Safety and The Artist in the Ambulance) in the more unfamiliar regions of my memory bank. I keep getting drawn back to certain songs of theirs because they’re simply superb. But now the band is on a farewell tour as they get ready to go on an indefinite hiatus. I touched base with Dustin Kensrue (vocalist) on the phone about his feelings regarding Thrice’s past and his own future now that he has accepted a position leading worship at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. “I’ve been feeling the pull toward leading worship for a little while now. It’s something I was not that into awhile ago, but the Holy Spirit really changed my mind on that front and gave me a vision for how worship music could be and what part I could play in that,” says Kensrue. He feels like Christians have become ensconced in their own bubble, calling the Christian music subgenre the Christian “ghetto.” He’d like to see more artistic excellence in worship and he’ll be pursuing that as a worship leader as well as while he continues to create solo albums.

Thrice began as a much heavier band in the late ‘90s in Southern California. Their first album, Identity Crisis, showcases a young band full of potential. The recording quality of Identity Crisis leaves much to be desired, but that was how things were back then for underground bands. What’s most startling is hearing how musically different that first album sounds. Dustin Kensrue told me that the band was into a lot of metal at that time and he was just 18 when they wrote and recorded that album. He laughed about his voice being so much higher back then and remembers those early songs fondly, despite the rougher recording and missteps the band took early on. Those missteps were corrected throughout the course of Thrice’s career, as the four members progressed in musical maturity. What’s kind of unbelievable is that Thrice has maintained all four of their original members throughout their entire career and are ending with the same lineup they began with in 1998. When you consider the kind of musical changes that the band went through between 2001 and 2005 (between Identity Crisis and Vheissu), it’s even more crazy that these four guys stuck together and worked seemingly in perfect stride with each other at each successive turn of their musical evolution. That commitment to sticking together bonded them into what Kensrue

considers a family. “We had some tension between us musically and that yielded some great musical moments. But personally, we stayed tight and I think we’ll stay close even after Thrice is over.” The first musical morph seems to be between The Illusion of Safety and The Artist In the Ambulance. The Illusion of Safety is more like Identity Crisis and doesn’t really speak to me personally, which seems to be a common feeling toward the album. It just doesn’t click with our ears. At the time, Dustin says he was really into AFI’s Black Sails and Save The Day’s Through Being Cool. But with The Artist In the Ambulance, you start to see what Dustin’s voice is capable of and what depths of songwriting can be plumbed by this quartet. By Vheissu, Thrice had settled into a familiar sound, blending heavy, edgy songwriting with some elements of indie rock. The drumming became more intricate. In Vheissu, you start to hear more unique guitar tone and the use of different instruments. Some people consider Vheissu to be their favorite Thrice album and if Thrice had stopped their musical evolution there, no one would’ve felt that they had made a wrong move. But Thrice didn’t choose that path. In 2007 and 2008, they dropped the bombshell that was The Alchemy Index. This release featured four vastly different-sounding discs with six songs on each disc. I can think of no other release by any band anywhere that even attempts to rival the extent to which Thrice conquers four different genres on this conceptual release. Each disc matches one of the four classical Greek elements with a different genre of music and explores the different characteristics of fire, water, air and earth. The pairing couldn’t be better suited, as the character of fire is fleshed out against a backdrop of seething, explosive heavy music. The aggression of the music perfectly matches the aggressive nature of fire. The second disc is water-themed and the music is digital. The contemplation brought on by the continual crashing of waves on the sea shore is reflected in



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the contemplative, complex digital universe of the music behind it. The third disc is themed around air and is set against a backdrop of familiar Thrice indie rock. Lots of reverb and delay on the guitars. The last disc explores earth and is paired with folk music. How genius! And tying all the discs together is the same melody sung over the last section of the last track on each disc. A work of unparalleled beauty. The band followed up The Alchemy Index with Beggars. Beggars is generally liked by Thrice’s fan base and has some moments that really shine, such as “In Exile,” which tends to make the listener wistful about reaching the final peace we are promised in Christ. This album saw a return to a similar sound that Vheissu had. There are interesting guitar tones from Teppei and overall solid songwriting throughout the album. Beggars continued the tradition of the band recording itself, which they started doing on The Alchemy Index.



March, April 2006 • Issue #118

$3.50 USA / 4.95 CDN

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Then the last musical evolution in Thrice happened. They released Major/Minor and promptly announced their impending indefinite hiatus. Major/Minor wasn’t like any of the previous 3 releases. The production was more straight-forward. The guitar tones were more dry and edgy. The album feels raw and heavy, which was quite the opposite of the elements that lots of people had come to love about Thrice.

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And now they’re gone. Just as they were really becoming the sort of band that every band dude listened to, they decided to step away from it all and leave a legacy of covering lots of ground in fantastic fashion. Dustin spoke of Thrice’s legacy as one of striving to maintain artistic purity and doing what the band thought was best musically. “We just stuck to our guns artistically,” he said, and I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Dustin Kensrue on C.S. Lewis books: “It’s hard to say which is my favorite C.S. Lewis book. I’d say there are certainly some under-rated books of his. Mainly the Space Trilogy (consisting of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength) and Till We Have Faces are under-rated and I would highly recommend those. I also was really influenced by some of his essays, such as “On Writing Children’s Stories,” which is something I think about regularly when writing songs. Lewis urged that Christians should have a love of creating and not force their beliefs into their art because the artist’s beliefs will come out naturally in good art. His works have meant a lot to me and I suggest reading his books to anyone.” 




January, February 2008 • Issue #129

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WITH ALL THE TIME THAT AS I LAY DYING HAVE BEEN SPENDING IN THE STUDIO WORKING ON THEIR NEXT ALBUM, GOING OUT ON THE HEAVIEST TOUR OF THE SUMMER SHOULD BE A WELCOME CHANGE FOR THE ROAD-TESTED BAND FROM SAN DIEGO. FOR THE FIFTH ANNUAL ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL, AILD WILL BE JOINING HEADLINING ACT SLIPKNOT, ALONG WITH SLAYER, MOTORHEAD, ANTHRAX, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, ASKING ALEXANDRIA AND WHITECHAPEL. Frontman Tim Lambesis checked in with HM to talk about the Mayhem Tour and the forthcoming AILD album that is set to drop on September 25. Produced by Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag), Awakened is the band’s sixth album and, according to Lambesis, is their best record yet. “Mayhem Fest is going to be a good opportunity for us to bridge the gap between some of the younger up-and-coming bands and obviously the veterans like Slayer,” says Lambesis. “Slipknot’s been around for a long time, too.” “I think the headliner, Slipknot, deserves that spot,” Lambesis affirms about the Iowans’ top billing for Mayhem. “They somehow have managed to be as heavy as they possibly could ever want to be, but still have a commercial appeal. I got it. The whole concept of them just being insanely heavy and just crazy – so many different guys all on stage at the same time. Gimmicky bands can give heavy music in general kind of a bad name, but then I realized that their gimmicks actually make sense in the live setting to create this feeling of chaos. I think Cory [Taylor] is a good vocalist, who can attempt melody without sounding wimpy. I think they’ve earned that spot. We’re honored to tour with them.” Like their Mayhem touring mates in The Devil Wears Prada, every member of As I Lay Dying is a Christian. While the other bands on the Mayhem Tour might not share that faith, the bottom line for every band is to go out and play a great set. “When we’re on tour, I accept the fact that a lot of singers, to get the crowd all pumped up, will say something controversial or something that will make that crowd feel like they have an outlet for their negative feelings. I don’t know how much it actually forms the beliefs of the people in the crowd.” Lambesis isn’t one for using the microphone for a preaching party. “From a philosophical standpoint I don’t see a huge benefit to expound

on very difficult and complex topics in 30 seconds between songs,” he says about his “talk less, rock more” approach to heavy metal showmanship. “Unless you’re a headliner and you’ve got, like, a 40-minute spot, there’s not a whole lot of time to talk if you want try to squeeze out 10 songs or less. In general, I think I can summarize in a sentence what our next song is about. If they’re interested they’ll probably be into it. It’s certainly true that we creatively appear just like any other band on the bill. But their interest is probably because they think our music is cool. Our music has to speak for itself to generate that interest.” While they are certainly no strangers to humongous rock festivals worldwide, Lambesis is all business as he humbly explains why As I Lay Dying gets picked for big tours like Mayhem. “We’re essentially there because, for that spot on the tour, we sold the right amount of albums and we generally bring in the right amount of ticket sales. So, they feel like strategically we’re the band to have on that spot on the bill.” Fans of AILD can expect to hear some new songs from the forthcoming album in their sets at the Mayhem shows. “We finished the tracking portion,” says Lambesis. “We still have to organize things and get the album mixed. We still have a lot of work to do. It’s cool being in our position as a band where we have the creative freedom to try working with different producers and where we’re not necessarily getting a huge amount of pressure from the label to take anything a certain direction.” Lambesis seems pleased overall to have had the chance to work with producer Bill Stevenson. “We felt like he had a fresh perspective, but he’s definitely very involved with underground music in a different way. He gets the overall concept.” Concerning details about the new album, Lambesis was open to discuss almost everything

except the title (which, at the time of the interview, wasn’t official). “We have a working title, but we haven’t really announced it yet. We’d hate to announce one thing and change our mind in a week. By comparison to our last full-length, this is very clearly a better record than that. Our fans will always choose which record’s their favorite and that’s their choice. If I were to play our last record, The Powerless Rise, and this one backto-back, I would choose this one, and everybody that’s heard it so far says the same thing.” Lambesis is one of the hardest-working performers and sought-after music makers in the business. His God-given talent and gratitude are inspiring for up-and-comers and veterans alike. The singer explains how he has kept his drive and passion and love for the game. “I wouldn’t be able to stay passionate about it unless there was content,” he says. “I couldn’t just mindlessly sing about topics that I’m not passionate about. To have the opportunity to sort through difficulties from my own life and put them into lyrics and have people relate to it, to me it is a powerful thing. I don’t want to force people to feel like they’re relating to me. I just have to put it out there and wait for the fans to respond. I definitely wanted to write the best music possible. We really thought, as a young band, we would potentially write better and better records. We had that confidence, but I don’t think we ever knew that we’d be able to quit our normal jobs and just exclusively do this. I’m very honored to be in that position. I have a lot of friends that work very, very hard at jobs they don’t necessarily love. I think it’s rare to be in this position.” 



Photo: Charlie Steffens

the devil wears


THE FIFTH ANNUAL ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL WILL KICK OFF WITH PLENTY OF DUST AND SWEAT ON JUNE 30, 2012 IN SAN BERNARDINO, CA, A SPACIOUS DESERT SITE KNOWN FOR ITS TRIPLE-DIGIT SUMMER TEMPERATURES. THIS YEAR’S TOUR WILL HOST SLIPKNOT, SLAYER, MOTORHEAD, ANTHRAX, ASKING ALEXANDRA, AS I LAY DYING AND WHITECHAPEL. ALSO INCLUDED IN THIS LINEUP OF HEAVY-METAL PANDEMONIUM IS THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, WHO WILL BE EMBARKING ON THE SUMMER-LONG U.S. TOUR WHILE TOUTING THE RELEASE OF THEIR FIRST-EVER LIVE CD/DVD, DEAD & ALIVE. IN THIS PACKAGE, TDWP FANS WILL BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE THE BAND’S HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL 2011 DEAD THRONE TOUR ALONG WITH BEHINDTHE-SCENES FOOTAGE FILMED BY THE BAND’S OWN JEREMY DEPOYSTER. Each band selected for the Mayhem Tour is as heavy as they get, and this is evidenced by the scores of metal-loving fans that fill the festival grounds each year. This year The Devil Wears Prada and As I Lay Dying are the only bands with Christian members, but as far as any faith-related differences there may be, Hranica and his bandmates are looking forward to seeing some of the bands they’ve toured alongside over the years. “We haven’t really done a tour like this in a while, and this is our first time doing Mayhem,” says Hranica. “We’ve only heard the greatest things about doing the tour itself. We’ve done European fests where you’ll have bands like Kiss or System of a Down; those huge, huge bands. This is really our first time with a band like Slipknot for an extended period of time.“ “It’s gonna be a little bit different, but at the same time I know that it’s not going to be anything we can’t handle,” Hranica says confidently. “We know what we’re getting into. Everyone in my band really likes Slipknot and Slayer and, shockingly, I’ve never

seen either one of them live, so I’m excited to just be able to watch them. I love Slayer to death. It should be awesome. We haven’t done much with As I Lay Dying in a few years. We’ve done Warped Tour a couple times together and we’ve done some one-offs with them, so it will be cool to see them again. Tim (Lambesis) was on our new record. “We’ve been hitting the road with Whitechapel a lot lately. Late last year we did the North American tour and Whitechapel did support on that. The first time we did a tour with them was back in 2008, and just a couple weeks ago we did South America and Mexico with them, which was awesome. Whitechapel’s a very different band than us in a lot of ways. I’m really excited to be with them again, because they’re really funny and it’s cool to hang out with them.” Longtime original keyboardist James Baney split the band last February. No doubt that TDWP will push on, though Baney’s departure marks the first time a member has left the band since its inception in 2005.

prada: prada: honestly



Photo: Adam Elmakias


“Really the way my faith affects me and the way that I put it in my life doesn’t have anything to do with fronting a band.”

“We parted with James right after the UK tour we did earlier in the year,” explains Hranica. “James is an awesome guy. We definitely did not mean to part on any bad terms or anything like that. I hear he’s doing well. It’s a weird thing playing in a band living with the people for eight months out of the year or whatever. It takes a very precise chemistry for everyone to get along and James was just a little bit on a different page than the rest of us. It really seems like it was the best for everyone to go our separate ways. As far as the band now, we have a friend that plays keyboards with us and tours with us. His name’s John. He’s actually our drum tech’s little brother. He’s a funny kid. As far as replacing – we’re not looking to having somebody enter the band and, you know, become a six-piece again, but we do have someone playing live. We didn’t just put it on an iPod and backtrack it. That’s cheating. And stupid. “Without going to far into detail, the band can very well write keyboards with the five of us and with our production team. Even with John filling in, I think he’s going to help with some of the parts, too. James not being part of the band anymore doesn’t break the band, by any means, and it doesn’t break the sound of the band. The band will continue just as it always has.”

When asked how his faith ties into his songs’ lyrics and personal walk, Hranica shares briefly on the topic, while answering the question with thoughtful consideration. “I try to discipline myself into writing and not being lazy, which is why I write silly little blogs and things like that. I write regardless of lyrics or not. I try to be diligent about it. As far as the way it works into the songs and the lyrics, I like to write with just blatant honesty and when I have a topic in my head that I want to cover, I just do it.” “I see myself as a very normal person and I like to be private,” he admits. “The band and myself are not looking to be heroes and we’re not looking to be those rock star figures. And with that in mind I think I have a very understated relationship with God and my faith. I go to church here at home. Really the way my faith affects me and the way that I put it in my life doesn’t have anything to do with fronting a band.” 



Your telephone voice doesn’t sound at all like your singing voice. Oh yeah. I’ve got a little girly voice. I’ve always had a high-pitched voice (laughs).

How do you get that guttural sound that’s so roaring? I have no idea. I don’t know – really It’s weird. I tried it one night at practice and it sounded cool. Kept going with it. I guess it’s like a callous now.

The new album sounds killer, man. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I’m glad you got to hear it.

How does it feel to be on Warped Tour this year? Oh my gosh, I can’t even explain to you how stoked I am. I was flattered when we got the e-mail. I can’t believe it still.

Who on the tour do you really like? This year I’m really excited to see For Today, Chelsea Grin, Ghost Inside ... those are like the real heavy bands I think are going to be awesome – I’m excited to see this year on Warped Tour.

Why the name, Miss May I? There’s no cool story at all. It’s something we just came up with. I wish we had a cool idea. People love it now.

The new album is out on June 12th. Your big celebration is just to hit the road, right? I guess we can call it a celebration. It’s going to work for us, like clocking in to work. But yeah, when it comes out we’ll for sure pretty much tour non-stop. All the magazines and everyone’s been liking it a lot, so hopefully all the kids like it like all the magazines do.

Are you guys one of those bands who honestly love the road? We definitely love the road, like seeing new places and meeting new people. I guess the road’s more of like a home for us now. I guess the road’s our home, because we’re mainly there all the time. We’ve made it work – touring – because, I think, last year we did a little bit over nine months of touring.

What are some of the most amazing cities you’ve seen? Definitely Rome in Italy was awesome. Sydney, Australia. Denver, Colorado is my favorite city in the United States.

Who plays with your mind when you go play for them? Always in Texas it’s crazy. A surprise that we just found out is Sweden. When we play in Sweden it gets in-sane. I cannot wait to go back to Sweden. It was our first time playing there. It was better than a hometown show. We thought it was a myth. I didn’t know it would be the dream-come-true metal kids. Then we played and it was exactly like we thought it would be. No joke – there were some kids in corpse paint. It was awesome. They’re just normal kids, though. You know how we see goth kids here with, like, spiky hair and stuff? There it’s, “Oh, he’s just a metal kid. But he’s got corpse paint, so he’s a real actual metal kid.”


Wow. They’re fanatical there. What about Japan? We canceled it last year. We’re getting ready to go, actually, in a couple weeks. We’ve never been there yet, so we’re really excited to go. I hear it’s amazing.

They’re off -the-hook nuts for bands like Miss May I. Yeah. We’re doing Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia. Yeah, we’re doing a lot of shows. That should be awesome.

Over there in Singapore they’ll cane you if you get busted doing anything. (laughs) Yeah...

No, seriously. Be on your best behavior over there (laughs). Yep (laughs).

Are there diverse personalities in your band? And do you like to party when you’re on the road, or are you kind of more reserved? Oh, we’re definitely really different. We’re a really reserved band in general. Our idea of partying is everyone getting in sweat pants and watching a movie and like, maybe buy ice cream at the same time. That’s our parties. We’re all pretty much different. I’m definitely the real quiet one – the typical singer guy, whatever. There’s the grumpy one, the guy that doesn’t care, the baby ... the guy who’s the jerk sometimes. We’re like The Seven Dwarfs. Everyone has their own personality.

Why don’t you give me a snapshot of each member in the band? (Levi Benton, lead vocals; Ryan Neff, bass guitar/ clean vocals; Jerod Boyd, drums; Justin Aufdemkamp, lead guitar; B.J. Stead, rhythm guitar) It’s more like, uh, we have one big, all-over personality. For me, I’m like the quiet one. Justin’s the one ... he’s like the one ... I don’t know how to say it and not be rude. Trying to think... What’s a better word than cry baby? He’s the emotional one. Okay. Justin’s the emotional one. Then, like, Ryan’s grumpy. And then B.J. doesn’t care about anything. And then Jerod, who’d be like the funny jokester, jerk one. That’s pretty much all their personalities. We all make it work. All good.

What is the worse meltdown that you guys have ever had on the road? We’ve actually never had a meltdown. We’ve seen bands fight in their buses, but we’ve never really had a meltdown on tour. If anything, it’s like, “Oh, you messed up that one part,” and “I’ll fix it tomorrow.” That’s about as bad as it gets.

That’s pretty good. Hold on to that. Arguing isn’t a requirement. We were never, like, a built band. We didn’t come from other bands. This is our first band. We’re all just five best friends from high school that got a record deal and we’re just happy to be here. So, I think that’s what makes us work a lot, because we all grew up with each other. We were friends for years before we even were in a band.

Before you got signed with Rise Records did you have any regular employment? I had two little jobs in high school. One was I worked at Burger King. Actually I worked there with Justin and Jared. I got a factory job. It’s packing over-size women’s lingerie. No joke. I know it sounds like a punch line, but it’s really a massive factory in our town. It’s the best job to have in high school, because you get paid the best and you really don’t do nothing. It was always closed on the weekends. We were playing shows on the weekends. The factory closed from Thursday to Sunday.

learned to record on the road, so we demoed on the road some. And then we had two weeks to work with a big producer and just work 24 hours a day for two weeks, living at the studio and writing. That was awesome, because we had all the gear we could ever dream of. The guys would write a song, send it to me in another engineering room, and I would record vocals – a rough track of vocals – and send it back to them. We actually got to sit down and be a real band and write the songs and listen back to them and actually do pre-production. We never got to do that. For Monument we basically wrote it and put it on the CD and sent it out. We never listened back to it.

That worked out good for you guys. Yeah, it was great. The only reason I quit there was because we got a record deal. Oh no! I take that back. That’s why Justin quit. I actually got fired. We were doing pranks and I got fired there.

Was there anything signifi cant that happened to you personally in the last year or so that gave you inspiration to pour lyrics onto paper? Yeah. Me and my lady actually split up for a little bit. We’re back together now. We had been together five years and we had a three-month fight because of a bunch of stuff, and I was touring and everything. That definitely helped me do that. And another thing that influenced me is I listen to a lot of hip-hop and stuff. I thought it would be cool to write what a lot of metal bands don’t write about. They usually write about “We hate this so much. I’m gonna breakdown.” We wrote songs about growing up now, money and songs about family and songs that metal bands don’t really write about a lot. I hope the kids can relate to that and see a difference and notice it on our new record.

What kind of pranks were you doing? Well some girl painted stuff on my car, so the next day on break I thought it’d be cool to Saran Wrap her car, so I Saran Wrapped her car, but it was industrial Saran Wrap that I got from the factory, and I guess it meant that I was stealing from the factory since it was the factory’s.

You were running around the car, Saran-Wrapping it? Yeah, but it wasn’t like the Saran Wrap you get from your house. This Saran Wrap was a good four feet wide. It was made for boxes. So I messed her car up. It was awesome (laughs).

At least you got that in. Yeah, yeah (laughs).

Hey, what was it like working with Machine? Was that the fi rst time for you guys? It was the first time working with him, on this record. We were really excited. It’s definitely cool working with somebody new and especially such a major producer who’s done massive bands. He’s not really such a metal guy as he is mainstream. He has that ear that people want. it was definitely really cool. We didn’t want to waste our time going to some big metal producer ‘cause we’re already a metal band. We didn’t want to pay a ton of money for someone to tell us how to write metal stuff. We wanted someone to tell us how to make our metal stuff catchy. You obviously hired him to give you that creative input, right? Oh yeah. Of course. He’s all about the organic and actual feeling. He’s not about data input. It’s not about just putting out a record. It’s about how it feels. So it was really fun. It definitely made us better musicians in the end.

What was it like going back in the studio with the anticipation of having to outdo Your last record, Monument? It was definitely scary, but there were parts of Monument we weren’t really proud of, because we’ve never had time to write an album. Monument we wrote in ten days. Our first CD was basically our EP as a local band that we just put on a professional CD and sold it to people. So, on Monument we didn’t really work on it that long and this one we actually

We hate this. We hate that. Breakdown (laughs). That’s how it is in every metal band. That’s not us, though. I thought on Monument, our CD before, that we weren’t being posers, but we were just trying to be a metal band. We were writing the toughest, meanest lyrics. It just felt fake when we were going onstage; so when Machine was, “Write something you feel,” when we wrote this album, it was a lot easier and a lot more relaxed. So, we felt like a real band writing this record.

What do you think of Jesus Christ? I’m actually a Christian. So, I’m the only Christian in the band.

What do you think about His claims to be “the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me?” I’m a real new Christian. I think, uh ... and it’s thanks to my girlfriend – hopefully soon fiancée. I never really grew up religiously and my family never really talked about that stuff a lot and it was nice to actually open up and see the way and stuff. It made me a lot better person and it’s nice to actually have someone to look up to ... it changes a lot of how you see stuff.

When you guys put out the video for Forgive and Forget a few years back and it became part of the Saw VI soundtrack, at that time did it feel like Miss May I were legit? Yeah. That definitely showed us that this wasn’t going to be a couple tour run. When we signed the record deal in high school we were all ready for college and when we did this we literally thought, “Oh, we’ll sell 10,000 records in a couple years. We’re not going to really do that much. We’re going to see the world and after all that we’re going to quit.” And when we sold over 10,000 records in six months and everything


really picked up ... actually that wasn’t a record label thing. When that music video came out the film company emailed us and cc’d the label in. When that happened we were like, “Wow. Someone that actually works with movie people knows our band and had faith to put us on here.” Two years ago I exceeded my expectations. Ever since then I’ve just been in awe and flabbergasted by everything that’s happened. I’m just thankful every day. We used to play in basements for 30 kids and now we’re playing songs for 5,000 kids a day. I definitely feel blessed and happy where I’m at. I feel like the rest of the band’s not appreciative when they do some interviews. I’m just so much more thankful. I really feel blessed, not just lucky, that I’m here. I wish the guys could see that sometimes, but you never know. Stuff could always change.

I think we pretty much nailed it. Is there anything else you want to add? We end every interview with our slogan: stay metal. Just throw up the horns and stay metal (laughs).

I’m going to. It’s been a pleasure. I hope to see you at Warped Tour. Come out and hang at Warped Tour. It would be great to meet you.

What’s your favorite song on the new record? “Opening Wounds.” I’m pretty sure it’s the third track. That’s my favorite song.

“Well some girl painted stuff on my car, so the next day on break I thought it’d be cool to Saran Wrap her car, so I Saran Wrapped her car, but it was industrial Saran Wrap that I got from the factory, and I guess it meant that I was stealing from the factory since it was the factory’s.” What is it about? It’s about just being beaten down and people telling you that you can’t do stuff. At the end of the day, no matter how many wounds stay open or how many scars they gave you it’s never going to close your dreams and make you stop doing what you want to do. Every song on the CD actually means a lot to me.

What was it or who was it that made you want to be a musician? It was actually The Used. I never went to local shows. As a matter of fact, the first local show I went to was my own band. I actually always went to arena shows, really big production – the real deal. I was a spoiled kid. I was that kid. So I got into The Used when they were on their first CD. That was the big thing. I remember watching their DVD. I just thought that was cool. I never really wanted to be in a band and then I thought, “the frontman – he’s just a cool guy. He’s the coolest one. Everybody knows his name. He’s putting a lot into it. He was crying when he was doing his vocals. I just thought it was cool. We were just skateboarding – just a bunch of friends – and we started covering Underoath and Taking Back Sunday. We never even covered The Used. I was a horrible singer, but I guess they let me play with them. So we played for like, six months, playing in basements, and we actually played Underoath songs that had screaming in it. When the screaming part came up we said, “Who’s going to do this?” I did it and it hurt. And that was our branch into the whole metal world that we didn’t even know. It’s crazy that you asked that, because The Used are on Warped Tour this year. There’s two main stages and we’re actually on the main stage that they’re on. It’s going to be so crazy to see him everyday. Six years ago when I met The Used at a record store I was bawling my eyes out. Now I get to be on the same stage as them.

42 I N T ER M I S S I O N


AUTISM SPEAKS IS AN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO FUNDING RESEARCH INTO THE CAUSES, PREVENTION, TREATMENTS AND CURE FOR AUTISM. ITS GOAL IS TO CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR ALL WHO DEAL WITH THE HARDSHIPS OF THIS DISORDER. Autism Speaks spokesperson, Candi Spitz, is the mother of Brendan and Jaden Spitz, identical twins, who were diagnosed with Autism at the age of 15 months. HM had the opportunity to speak with Candi about her kids and how she helps other families who are afflicted by this highly misunderstood disorder. Candi is married to guitarist Dan Spitz (Anthrax, Red Lamb), who, through the use of music as his vehicle, is dedicated to raising awareness as well.

More children will be diagnosed with Autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. How did Autism Speaks come about and how long has it existed? It was founded by Bob and Suzanne Wright. Bob Wright was the former head of NBC Universal. They had an autistic grandchild. I think it was in 2005 when they decided to found Autism Speaks. And you came on board shortly after your twins were born, right? The boys were not born autistic. From the time they were four months old to until they were eighteen months old, the boys were in major movies. They did the Sam Mendes movie, Away We Go, with Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski, Maggie Gyllenhaal. They did a series of national commercials with Brooke Shields for Volkswagen Routan, that mini-van they had. They were on Law and Order and just tons of TV shows and print ads. They had their own product endorsements. They were completely normal. And around the age of 15 months is when we started having some problems. They became a little picky when it came to eating. They were little fussier than normal. This progressed over a two-month time period. They stopped walking, talking, playing, eating, stopped making eye contact and they would just sit in the corner and rock 24 hours a day. You could wave your hand in front of their faces and call their names. You couldn’t kiss them or hug them. They would just cry. And, by almost 18 months, they were full-blown what we now know is autistic. Did this happen with both boys simultaneously? With both boys, yes. They had a very severe reaction to their 12-month vaccine, which a lot of people attribute to Autism, but it’s never been proven. So when they kind of slowed down we were concerned, but never thought Autism. But then, when this happened at 18 months, we started searching everywhere for what could be causing it. Was it the vaccine? Was it something else? That was our only link at the time, we thought. We didn’t know where to turn. We e-mailed everyone and this was only three and a half years ago. It was more of a stigma then. Our kids were working diligently in the entertainment field and they were babies. Their college had been basically paid for at 17 months. I was doing everything I could to make sure that my kids had a better childhood than I had when I was young. Everything was going to be laid out for them. We were talking to Disney. Then, all of a sudden, this uncontrollable thing stepped in and you’re at the point of saying, “Do I not tell anybody?” That was our first reaction. We let them continue trying to work and I’m going, “Do we just not say anything?” Every minute the kids were asleep I was crying. My kids are gone. They have no idea who I am. They don’t respond to me anymore. One night I stumbled upon the Autism Speaks website. They were the first ones who stepped in and said, “It’s going to be okay. This is the next educated step that you need to take, without getting overly emotional.” So we got them into having them diagnosed – it was obviously Autism – right into very intense therapy for the first, probably, year and a half. I would say 12 hours a day of therapy, seven

days a week. When they weren’t doing therapy we were doing therapy at home. And then we moved from New York to Florida. They have an incredible school for Autism down here. They were in pre-school still. They can go to an incredible school and actually give me somewhat of a break during the day, because I was going to homeschool them. In that year and a half that we were diagnosed so many parents were starting to come out of the woodwork. So many people were starting to hear that we had this and asking us for advice. That’s when I jumped in with Autism Speaks. That was about two years ago. I stepped in here at the Palm Beach Walk Now for Autism Speaks, and most recently, in the last year or so, I got involved with the national side. So I do most their newscasts down here and do all the radio commercials. I do all the billboards. I do a lot of their print in magazines, newspaper ads. I go into the schools in most of South Florida. They’ll call if they’re having bullying problems or Autism awareness problems. I’ll come in and speak to the classes. I took a more active role this year in Autism Speaks. And, of course, he has this music video coming out (giving) incredible awareness that we never could have guessed was going to go as far as it’s gone in a month that it’s been out. We’re both taking a more active role in Autism Speaks. What kind of strains did all this put on your marriage? It put a lot of strains on our marriage. Danny and I have two different personalities. It took a long time to come back together. And I would say almost until last fall, to kind of fall back into “this is what we both have to do as husband and wife to move forward with our kids.” I think the statistic is around 87% right now of families with a special needs child end up divorced, because the stress is just too high. It gets to be just too much to deal with. Even out of our little social group from the school I have three parents that have filed for divorce since Christmas. Do you both have a faith-based approach to living out your marriage? That’s where we’re opposites. Danny is very faith-based. I’m strong in my faith. I’m practical. I have to be the one doing it. I do trust that God is healing my kids and I’ve watched some amazing things happen. Danny is a very strong Christian. Same with Dave Mustaine (Megadeth). Dave Mustaine has laid hands on my kids and prayed over them. He’s done amazing things for my children and I’ve watched changes happen, but, at the same time for me, I need to know I’m not just putting my faith in a higher power to fix this, but that I’m actively working on it. You must see a lot of success stories being involved with Autism Speaks. What have been some of your own with Brendan and Jaden? We’ve had so many, personally and professionally. I see a lot of it that makes me just smile from ear to ear. When they were two they got their first iPod. The therapist had seen them one time and they went through her bag, they took out her iPhone, unlocked it and scrolled through. I didn’t have an iPhone then. She came back two weeks later to start their real therapy. We had just moved here. Same thing: they went right in her bag, got the phone, got to the games, and started playing. Needless to say, we bought them each iPods. It was the best thing we ever did. At two years old they could spell dinosaur. They could spell all these things. Mind you, they were severely low-functioning back then. But yet, on their own, on their iPods, they’d spell the word dinosaur with no prompting. They could then go to the fridge and find magnets and write the word dinosaur on the fridge. They could crack my codes. When they were two years old they could crack codes and buy hundreds of dollars worth of apps. But there are so many things that if people take the time to really pay attention to any of our kids, because they all have

C A N D I S P I T Z 43

some kind of special gift, whatever it happens to be. For our kids it happens to be electronics and it seems to be music, but all of the kids with Autism are so highly intelligent. For them, it’s just trying to figure out how to get it out. A year ago they were on a level of probably a 12-month old, but in the bodies of four-year olds. It’s hard to take them places. It’s hard to do things, but they were small enough to where you could kind of control them. Now at five, they’re not very tall, but they’re getting heavier and I’m a little tiny thing. They can take me down (laughs) if they want to. It was really difficult when they couldn’t express themselves. So the bad behaviors were coming from that. They’re so highly intelligent, but they couldn’t get their point across. They were showing us exactly what they wanted to, but we weren’t getting it. So once the speech started coming a couple months ago, a lot of the negativity in the house went away quickly. There was no aggression, there were no behavioral problems. They, in some way, communicate. They could somehow get their point across. And it’s opened up a whole new world. This year has probably been our most successful year. They just started speaking around Christmas. We had one kid say a few words here and there and then the other kid. Since the day they were born I’ve always said the same thing to them every single night. I would give them three kisses and say “good night, sweet dreams, mommy loves you.” And it was great when they were babies, but then when we lost them and they’re not really there, what do you do? For me I continued to talk to them as if they were there, because you didn’t know what they were getting. And now I’m glad I did. The one night I went to go give them kisses, Brendan looked at me and I gave him a kiss I said “good night,” and did the second one, “sweet dreams,” and he grabbed my face and he said “Mommy loves you,” and I sat there for a second and I’m like, “What?” And he says, “Sweet dreams,” and he did the whole pattern all over again. Danny was home. I was bawling. Everything I had been saying they were getting. And there are so many things that are starting to come out now. This year they’re turning five and if this much has happened between four and five I’m excited to see what the future’s going to hold. For a parent, every victory, no matter how small, is a big deal. When you’re waiting five years to hear “mommy” for the first time... You know, I’ve been waiting five years for anything to come out. It’s so special when it finally comes out. The whole world stops for my kids. Most of my day revolves around them, which, for most parents is true, but for me it’s every little tiny detail. They were singing some songs earlier on the computer. You have to stop whatever you’re doing. “Oh my God. My kids are talking.” redlamboff 



Album reviews



Bryce Avary is the musician you want to hate. For every one of The Rocket Summer’s records, Avary has written and produced every song, played every instrument and sung every song. This, obviously, makes him the entirety of The Rocket Summer, and ostensibly makes him the guy you simultaneously wish you were and the reason you have to hate him by default.

Rating system 05 04 03 02 01 *


Why? As he’s gotten bigger, he’s remained (either purposefully or inadvertently) the sole proprietor of The Rocket Summer, and it’s almost pretentious by nature...That is, of course, until you listen to his music and find yourself singing every song he’s ever written. He’s unapologetically pop, and that same effort continues on his latest release Life Will Write the Words. Listen to it once and you’ll be humming the melodies; listen five times and you’re singing it in the shower and in the car and your co-workers are asking what the heck you’ve been singing every day. Hits like the opener “Run Don’t Stop” are perfect for kicking off a record, and other numbers, like the acoustic “Soldiers,” have well-timed lyrics and a good songwriting flow (even though the song’s metaphor is somewhat banal). The record has multiple pop hits, for sure, but even the introspective tracks that move away from the pop-radio style of the rest of the record (like “Scrapbook” – your token piano and vocals only track of the record, swelling until the full band hits for the last 30 seconds) are still good pieces of work. I have a problem with his almostaudible-weeping-style vocals, but chances are if you’re buying this record, you’ve already gotten over that or embrace it. In which case, you’ll have no problem loving another installment of The Rocket Summer. [AVIATE] DAVID STAGG

46 A L B U M R E V I E W S

FRUHSTUCK QUIET The Polish band with a funny name has moved well past anything quirky with its latest album, conspicuously titled Quiet. Having seen the band on its home turf as well as the HM Magazine Stage at Cornerstone, I knew they could hold their own with a live audience, but I guess I expected the band to always resort to using stilted long arms for visual gimmicks to stand apart. I wasn’t expecting a stellar release to knock my audible socks off. Forget the gimmicks, silly name and all things humorous. Quiet mixes the seriousness throb and gristle of bands like Tool and the melodic sensibility of Collective Soul, The Black Keys, U2 or its cleaned-up clone Delirious? The harder rock influence of King’s X can be heard in the stacked guitar textrues in the tune “BC” and the bassheavy title-track. While all that descriptive nonsense might lead one to believe this band doesn’t know its own identity, the influences remarkably sound natural and seasoned. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that twothirds of the rhythm section – guitarist Marcin Karel and bassist Wojtek Karel – are brothers, as they’re tight and both locked in with drummer Tomasz Kuzbik. Martijn Krale’s smooth vocals are the best part of Fruhstuck’s current sound, though. The band pulls a great hat trick by pulling off a great Zeppelin cover (from the under-appreciated III album) of “That’s The Way.” [YOUNGSIDE] DOUG VAN PELT

CHILDREN 18:3 ON THE RUN It was almost five years that David, Seth and Lee Marie Hostetter broke into the music scene with Tooth & Nail Records as the sibling trio known as Children 18:3. The inventive rock sounds were present from the outset, and subsequent releases revealed an increasing maturity as they gained experience. On The Run is the trio’s third album for T&N, and it’s clear that the Hostetters are now savvy rock veterans comfortable in their artistic skin. Travis Wyrick is at the production helm on this one, so it’s impossible to tell why On The Run sounds so slick and polished. It might be the producer’s touch given his strong resume of working with Disciple, P.O.D. and Pillar. Then again, it could be the consistent touring that have honed Children 18:3 into the tight rock machine they’ve become. Either way, the match-up is ideal for Children 18:3 fans. On the Run is an expansive, inventive rock and roll affair. An impressive modern rock vibe is found on every track, and the band inhabits a variety of moods, themes and styles with an ease few bands can claim. “Jenny” is the arena-ready anthem live crowds will love. “Moment To Moment” kicks things off with a pop punk feel, while “Bandits” ramps up the intensity. “All In Your Head” takes a harder turn with a spoken word approach near album’s end. The promise was always present on Children 18:3’s first two albums, but On The Run is a band realizing exactly what they’re capable of. [TOOTH & NAIL] MATT CONNER

THE OVERSEER WE SEARCH, WE DIG The Overseer is four guys from Bentonville, AR, who play an infectious blend of experimental rock and metal. I drew comparisons to a few of their contemporaries, including Sent by Ravens. Within the first bars of the opening track, “Secrets,” it becomes apparent that The Overseer has the formula down for making really good music. The tracklist on We Search, We Dig could be likened to a summer blowout that doesn’t fizzle out after the fireworks display. “Dreamer” is unrelenting brutality – a pit starter, for sure. The lucky seventh track is “Vulture,” another snarling monster of a song, and within the lyrics of the moody “Estrange” there is a desperate plea for Christ to show His face. Vocalist Anthony Rivera lets it rip throughout the album, incorporating clean vocals with wellyelled screams. You don’t hear any member phoning in their parts on this record. Good stuff. No fluff. [SOLID STATE] CHARLIE STEFFENS

MISS MAY I AT HEART Miss May have released their newest album, At Heart. The band has brought the experience of the road, the passion of their fans and their love for their music in this album. With the Vans Warped Tour coming up, the band is sure to play their heart out all summer. However, what separates this album from the rest of their albums or even other bands from the genre? Glad you asked. Many of the songs with their crisp and finely tuned recordings have a direct message about where the band is heading. With songs like “Hey Mister” and “Leech,” it is clear that the band is leaving the bad behind and moving forward. “Day By Day,” “Second To No One” and “Live This Life” bring some melody to the chaos with each song, letting everyone know that their dreams are not dead. At Heart is a great example of a band that has taken their experiences over the past years and bottled it into an album. If MMI is only just begging to find their motivation and understanding how to express that, the next few years should be very good, as the band is sure to start climbing to the top. [RISE] TONY D. BRYANT

THE LETTER BLACK HANGING ON BY A REMIX I’m a bit partial to remixes. Remixes have the ability to bring out the best elements of a song if they’re done right. So, the opportunity to review the new album by The Letter Black is exciting for me. Hanging On By A Remix is a collection of 12 remixes, done by different artists. And the collection delivers in a powerful, exciting way. The first track, “Away From Me,” is heavy and electronic at the same time, taken from TLB’s Hanging On By A Thread Sessions Vol. 2. The other songs follow the high standard set by the first track and deliver on all the levels you’d expect from a quality remix album. My favorite tracks are “Away From Me,” “Moving On,” “Collapse” and “Moving On” (Yes, there are 2 remixes of this song and both are great). [TOOTH & NAIL] SETH HECOX

Ratings DV


Life Will Write the Words

The Rocket Summer






On the Run

Children 18:3



We Search, We Dig

The Overseer



At Heart

Miss May I



Hanging on By a Remix

The Letter Black



Down with the Ship EP

xLooking Forwardx



Precious Weapons Against Satan’s Devices

The Welcome Wagon







Live at Roepaen





End of September



Star Breather

Day of Vengeance



The Golden Sounds


The Fireflies Were Right


XLOOKING FORWARDX DOWN WITH THE SHIP EP There’s a chance you remember xLooking Forwardx, but for most people reading this magazine, 2005 was a lifetime ago. It also happens to be the lifetime when xLooking Forwardx last released a record, The Path We Tread. Formed in 1999, the Marylanders decided to put out a record for the first time in seven years, but made it no more than 12 minutes long – and that’s with an intro and an outro (The Intro is 30 seconds of a riff, the Outro is the same riff repeated for the same 30 seconds. I suppose they’re “bookends,” but I hate the concept.). The record itself is old-school hardcore, complete with chants, punk rock mentality and some decent riffage. The title track is the best one on this EP – it’s got the best breakdowns and the best songwriting – but if the six full songs on this EP are anything representative of a future for xLooking Forwardx, it would be like looking down a plateau. The best thing about plateaus, though, is you either have to stop, or jump off a cliff. I think that’s a good place for a old-school hardcore band testing the waters with a new EP. [FACEDOWN] DAVID STAGG

THE WELCOME WAGON PRECIOUS WEAPONS AGAINST SATAN’S DEVICES The Welcome Wagon conjures images of campfire guitars and playing music to pass the time, and it’s exactly what their latest release Precious Weapons... sounds like. A married duo, the couple/ band likes to call their songs hymns, only to bolster the “sing-a-long” aesthetic or a collaborative worship experience every time they play a song. (Not to be confused with the audience actually participating in a sing-a-long at their concerts, a la Dashboard Confessional). Hailing from the uberhipster Williamsburg, NY, their music is willfully a little off.The piano doesn’t have to be exactly in tune, the note doesn’t have to fall directly on the key. As for the sound, it’s produced by Sufjan Stevens and sounds exactly like what would happen if Belle and Sebastian and Bright Eyes had a baby. I appreciate the record for what it is: A beautiful 13 songs, a beautiful offering to their Savior, and a trove of songs that should all be in a Wes Anderson movie. [ASTHMATIC KITTY] DAVID STAGG

ALTARS CONCLUSIONS It took a few listens, but the Australianbred Altars’ latest record Conclusions grew on me. The record’s songwriting seemed basic at first, but their basics became controlled chaos: Noise that’s exactly where the songwriters intended it. To space out their onslaught, they put in three minute-and-a-half instrumental guitar tracks, tracks that remind me of the work that Explosions in the Sky (or another ambient guitardriven instrumental band) have been producing. First listen through, “Conclusions’” instrumentals felt more like Altars were writing them in because all the cool kids were doing it. But after listening multiple times, the pieces are a breath of air, they’re well done, and they are part of the story-telling of Conclusions. For the death metal fan, the chug is there, the breakdowns are everywhere, and the noise around it is what makes the record enjoyable. Enjoy the piece as a whole; it’s greater than picking apart each song as a single. [FACEDOWN] DAVID STAGG

WOVENHAND LIVE AT ROEPAEN When Wovenhand (whose name is now one compound word if the lettering here is accurate) tour the U.S., they never come to my state. And maybe yours, too. So, if you’ve been enamored, as have I, of the band’s alt country-turned-European/ Middle Eastern-singer/songwriter-biblicallyimpressionistic-freak-folk squall, Live At Roepaen looks like the closest you’re going to come to witnessing David Eugene Edwards’ mournful, pained, opaquely Gospel-centric allure on stage. And what a stage the band has here: an enormous – or filmed to look that way – cathedral in the Netherlands replete with arches and towering, story-telling glass windows where the group’s ragged looks and drone/ruckus/ gallop/etc. musical dynamic set against such a backdrop makes for much of the fun of watching the video portion of this CD+DVD set. Edwards’ ‘coon skin cap and copious tattoos (he’s not the only Wovenhander who’s generously inked, either) make for riveting viewing as well as he and his cohorts pace themselves through 14 songs from their steadily growing catalog in what may well be intended as one extended conceptual piece, intermittent enthusiastically polite applause notwithstanding. Then, too, far back as his tenure with 16-Horsepower, the majority of Edwards’ writing has drawn from a kind of emotionally post-apocalyptic, Christhaunted Southwestern landscape, where faith comes hard-fought but with an ambiguous glory that allows for a Gothic romanticism. Which is to say it sounds like a concept album, regardless the intent. Though it may be easy to understand the feelings of those for whom Wovehand’s not their cup o’ chai, if you ever “got” them, this package only enhances one’s appreciation. [SOUNDS FAMILYRE/GLITTERHOUSE] JAMIE LEE RAKE


END OF SEPTEMBER S/T I hate making blatant comparisons, but End of September has to know they sound exactly like Evanescence. I would imagine they’ll spend a good amount of time explaining how they’re not, but with their mid2000s palatable “heavy” guitar and a female singer with choral melodies, it’s inevitable. Unfortunately, the melodies aren’t written as well as Amy Lee. The songwriting itself isn’t bad, but honestly, the record feels like it’s been released in the wrong era. It exudes teenage-angst, when you first started to listen to “heavy” music but didn’t know what metal was yet. The lyrics are of the teenager-melancholy variety, too (“Leave me to die here / I cannot escape my soul / I’m on my own / The struggle inside is more than I can survive”). While the production is good, it seems there are just some things in music that should not be repeated. “Rock” guitars with grandiose female vocals seem to be one of them. [ULTERIUM] DAVID STAGG

DAY OF VENGEANCE STAR BREATHER I didn’t like Star Breather the first time I heard it. A lot of the songwriting and guitar work isn’t particularly unique. The melodies were a little off-putting. (After all, it’s hard to write unique metal/metal-core music these days.) But after I listened time and time again, I did end up enjoying some of the songs I thought I hated. The first track, “Majesty,” was one of these. Vocalist Ben Greene uses the tired line “Every knee shall bow / every tongue confess” – which I think should be excommunicated from all metal lyricism – but immediately follows with a hook-y chorus that I found rolling through my head later. The five-piece outfit from Bradenton, a Florida town between Tampa and Sarasota, has a clever version of the classic hymn “It Is Well,” with harmonies that are very unique from the way you’ve heard it done over the years. Although Star Breather is nothing new, at the end of the day, it’s worth a third listen -- but it’s doubtful I’ll be going back to it in my record collection. [RED CORD] DAVID STAGG

THE GOLDEN SOUNDS THE FIREFLIES WERE RIGHT The melodic strains of these guitars are enough to make a Starflyer 59 fan gush with goosebumps ... and the whispery vocals of Todd Evans will evoke similar reactions – but in more of an indie rock yet still sweet pop vocal delivery – like maybe its stated influence, Grandaddy. Drummer Paul Asciutto III uses the iPad as one of the “instruments” used in the song “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” This fits in the infectious ethos of the band that’s too cool for pop and melodic enough to lullaby you to sleep. Thus it’s the perfect coffee shop music – able to balance out the effects of too much caffeine. [METEOR SKY] DOUG VAN PELT

48 B O O K S & R A P H I C N O V EL S


books & graphic novels



“I don’t write this book as a condemnation or as a sermon,” explains Demuth. “The last thing I want to do is provide a ‘how to be the best Christian in ten easy steps’ guide. I pen these words as a fellow struggler who is learning that what we think about God matters, how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters, and how we obey Him in the moment matters. It all matters. Everything.” [ Thomas Nelson ]

Whether you’re in a band yourself or part of a ministry involved with teams, this book can help you on your journey. In this collection of articles, Lane encourages honesty and clear communication from all sides while aiming for the right thing – to be a band that worships, first and foremost. Spiritual, relational, professional, and practical issues relevant for individuals and groups in worship ministry of any kind are addressed head on. [ Hal Leonard ]


In the latest graphic novel (#16) in the series, Rick discovers that there are communities of survivors nearby, and begins to explore a larger world. Turns out the most horrific thing in the Zombie Apocalypse is what survivors are doing to each other. [ Image ]

Grace Is More Amazing Than You Think. Religion is prison. Grace is freedom. Religion is working and struggling to sneak your way into heaven past an angry God. Grace is receiving the gift of salvation that sets you free to serve God and others out of love and gratefulness. But that’s only the beginning. If you’re turned off by the grim face of religion, discover the smiling face of Jesus. No matter what you’ve heard in the past, don’t give up until you read about the life-changing grace most believers never experience. [ Elk Lake Publishing ]


Travis Lofland makes his living as a deckhand and cook on the Bering Sea doing one of the deadliest jobs on the planet: Alaskan king crab fishing. But you don’t have to travel the seven seas to taste the best food the ocean has to offer. In Catch!, Travis shares his secrets for navigating the high seas and making great food that will stick to your ribs. Whether you’re four or ninetyfour, Travis believes that everyone has a bit of fisherman in them. And whether you’re cooking in a galley or on your porch, you’ll find great tips for putting smiles on hungry faces. So fire up the barbecue and call your crew. These recipes will put meat on your bones so you can return to the Bering Sea. Sample chapter titles and recipes include: “Snag a First Date Appetizers: Sure to Impress Chipotle Avocado Brie Melt,” “Soups and Manwiches: Slap a Smile on Your Face Ahi Sandwich” and “Lose the Beer Belly Salads: Dutch Harbor Salmonberry Vinaigrette.” [ Thomas Nelson ]

Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together is not a book of relationship theory – it’s a practical guide that any couple can use to keep the romance alive and the love flowing. Jamillah & David Lamb tell their story with a sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious, honesty. It is the warm, true-to-life style combined with road-tested advice that makes this book on love, relationships, and marriage so unique. This book is like sitting down at the kitchen table and having that couple you admire tell you everything: the good, the not-so-good, and what you need to know to triumph in love while still remaining true to who you are. In Perfect Combination, Jamillah & David take you behind the scenes of a relationship put to the test: working side by side 24/7; the day-to-day financial worries that can stress any pair; and an aching, but ultimately happy journey to having their first child. [ Between the Lines Productions ]




gear G&L ASAT CLASSIC BLUESBOY The G&L ASAT® Classic Bluesboy™ is a factorymodded version of Leo Fender’s final word on the traditional single-cutaway bolt-on guitar, and the semi-hollow version takes it further with G&L’s distinctive twin voice chambers and f-hole added to a beautiful swamp ash body. []

RE-AXE GUITAR STAND Rob Carlton, from East Stroudsburg, PA, who’s gotten a lot of press in these pages, has endorsed his signature model guitar stand – the Re-Axe Guitar Stand. It has diverse uses and ways to protect your guitar from falling over.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL, flight testing & TIME TRAVEL? read it all in the book Desert High HM Editor Doug Van Pelt’s first novel


This particular model is Rob’s own signature series, with his signature on it. It has a non-slip base and is weighted to handle and protect the most precious of guitars. Classic design works on all surfaces; end tables, coffee table, amplifier, bumper, or any other surface you can think of. Easily fits in your Gig Bag, pocket or guitar case. Works with all Acoustic and Electric Guitars, big and small. There’s a video on the site of him showcasing his style, which has been compared to Hendrix for controlled tone and use of feedback. [ ]

G&L FIORANO The Fiorano is a design that sat on the shelf for a long time, but the sketches were uncovered later in Leo Fender’s workshop, and his colleague Paul Gagon set about turning the vision into reality, enlisting Grover Jackson to contribute. It’s the first set-neck, 25½”scale, three-tuners-to-a-side guitar G&L has ever offered. []


50 D V D S & F I L M



HM Magazine Podcast Episode #25 2011


PODCAST.HMMAG.COM ASK YOUR MOM A so-called “clean” comedian doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t delve into “adult humor,” but there is a big lack of profanity in Don Friesen’s 60-minute stand-up performance captured in front of a laughing audience. Friesen knows that putting himself down and his life experiences (growing up, marriage, parenting) translates well to an audience. [ eOne/LOL ] DV

“Men In Black.” Elsewhere, throughout the imagery and audio, Ladd (re?-) discovers his vegetarianism and interests in UFOlogy and seismology. A film from Ladd’s life and occasional musical partner Julie Frith for “Journey To The Son” may come closest to traditional music video, but, even then, it approaches biblical science fiction impressionism. You don’t listen to Bh for the expected, either, now do you? The occasional sight of naked people and Buddhist and Hindu statuary might distress some viewers, but even so, Thirty In 30 stands as a fine compilation album, exploring much of the breadth of Blackhouse’s sonic explorations (and for the metal-inclined, Ladd gets in some tasty guitar riffs and loops, too!). [ Ladd-Frith ] Jamie Lee Rake


A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS Here be a digital documentation of the 2011 Gothicon, held in Cincinatti, OH. While the audio footage is wanting pretty much all over, the subject matter is refreshing, enlightening and, at times, quite profound. The little bits of live performance footage (incl. Dark Valentine, Eric Clayton and Grave Robber) suffer from the same lack of audio beauty, but if I were at this thing, I’d want a copy. Ideal for public access, not so much for retail distribution. [ ] Doug Van Pelt

BLACKHOUSE: THIRTY IN 30 28 years into Blackhouse’s history, there has been little in the way of commemoration of past glories in the development of the act’s Christian (some times more explicitly than others) industrial/ power electronics. Until now. Kind of. In a pique of inspiration, Bh’s Brian Ladd decided to challenge himself by producing 30 videos for his influential promulgator or rhythmic and ambient noisemusic. But, go figure that not only do Ladd’s vid’s span the bulk of Blackhouse’s tenure, they include new numbers, including collaborations with rapper Craig G that prove the versatility of both parties. In the clips themselves, most of the moving is done by the camera over still images, but there’s some effectiveness in that approach, especially when what looks like the shadowy sunglassed & fedora’ed mascot image for old punk & new wave label I.R.S. Records is sneaked into a bevy of historical pictures scenes for a treatment of



gadgets THE BEETLE FENDER EDITION Fender and VW have partnered to create the Beetle Fender Edition. Volkswagen’s iconic coupe is fitted with the awardwinning Fender® Premium Audio system and also incorporates key attributes of the American music icon. This car exudes The Spirit of Rock-N-Roll. Its distinctively painted dashboard features the quintessential sunburst color of Fender instruments. Beetle Fender Edition vehicles are equipped with the 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder TSI© engine. Outside, all Beetle Fender Edition vehicles are painted in Deep Black Metallic and the famous Fender logo. []

MY MUSICAL FRIENDS APP Enrich your child’s musical vocabulary with My Musical Friends, Melody Street’s latest free mobile app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, available now from iTunes and the App Store. The app introduces children to the musical instruments of the orchestra. Viewers instantly become familiar with the different musical characters by interacting with each instrument. The app features individual musical themes for each character and allows users to play the sounds of all the instruments via a virtual keyboard. [ ] [ Price: $0 ]

HENDU ELITE SMOKE STIK The Hendu Elite is a sleek, cutting edge electronic cigarette reflecting not only actor Josh Henderson’s mission to aid others in leaving traditional cigarettes in the past, but also his style. Unlike other electronic cigarettes, which mirror the look of traditional cigarettes, the Hendu Elite is decorated with a glossy, silver stainless steel finish and adorned with a unique, purple jeweled end which illuminates upon inhalation. With purple being one of his favorite colors, Josh adds an extra touch of his own flair to the tasteful design, naming the electronic cigarette after one of his very own nicknames, “Hendu.” [ ] DV

SUNBRITE TV With its awardwinning line of trueoutdoor televisions, featuring advanced technologies to combat glare and moisture, SunBriteTV enables the entire family to enjoy this summer’s sport schedule while soaking up the sunshine! SunBriteTV models can be installed virtually anywhere outdoors – on a wall, hung from a ceiling, or mounted on a pole near a patio, pool, deck or other location. Available in silver or black finish and in screen sizes ranging from 32-65”. [] [ Price: $1495 - $5,995 ]

SPIDERARM IPAD2 STAND If you ever wanted to use your iPad 2 to watch video or something while you relax (or you simply can’t afford to hire a butler to stand there and hold the tablet while you watch), then this multiple mount stand can really meet your needs. Strong, sturdy and adjustable with up to 3 arms. Versatility is the key here (think desk, chair, bed). It’s pretty cool. [ ] [ Setup Ease: A+ | Performance: A+ | Price: $49 ]

CHICBUDS Women today want everything to be a reflection of their style. With chicBuds bridging the gap between fashion and music technology, your favorite gadgets can now be accessorized with your look! Austere ear buds are a thing of the past with the newest addition to the chicBuds collection: ARTS inner-ear buds combine modern design with contemporary patterns and styles. Women can wear Zebra Stripes to mirror their wild side, Pink Leopard to match their summer brights, and Blue Graffiti to capture that edgy, cool vibe. [ ] [ Price: $29 ]

THE SECOND OF A 3-PART SERIES From the book Date Your Wife (Crossway, June 2012)

52 C O LU M N S


Responsibility God gives men enormous responsibility. And the weightiest responsibility he gives to a man is a woman – a wife. It is more weighty than any calling, musical gift or innate natural desire. In this union a man’s ability to cultivate and guard is put to the greatest test. Will the man lay down his life in order that his wife may flourish? That is the question that measures a marriage. In order for the garden of marriage to be properly cultivated and guarded, a man must give more than he’s ever given. Many men avoid this responsibility. Some men abandon this responsibility. A few men appreciate this responsibility. No man can handle this responsibility. It’s your fault. This is the second most important truth to learn about dating your wife: it’s your fault. You are the husband. You are the man. And God has given man the ability to be the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to a marriage. Before you can be the best thing that ever happened to your marriage, you must see that you have always been the worst thing that happened to your marriage. If you want to change a marriage, change the man. Why? Because the man is what is wrong and the man is what, made right, alters the course of everything. Everybody knows there’s something wrong with men. The man problem has been in the news for decades. For decades society has told us that the problem with men is a responsibility problem – that if men acted like men, acted responsibly, things would be better.

Jesus Makes Men New Jesus took responsibility for what wasn’t his fault. Jesus took responsibility for your sin, your mess, your failures. Responsibility: My response to his ability. Responsibility: My response to the one who took responsibility for my mess. The Bible calls this message the gospel. The heart of the gospel is that Jesus took responsibility for what wasn’t his fault, offering men a new life driven by a new power. Jesus doesn’t make men better. Jesus makes men new. That first time I looked at my wife Taylor in that Palo Alto kitchen, my life changed. I fell in love. Everything became new. Looking at Taylor still moves me. But something even greater happens when men look at Jesus. I thought I saw Jesus clearly a long time ago, but the last few years Jesus has stunned me. Everyday he becomes more amazing to me. He is always surprising me. His gospel proves bigger and better with each passing week. Nobody has ever loved me the way Jesus loves me. I deserve none of it. It feels like Jesus has reached into my chest and given me a new heart. The pivot point of my life has changed. I’m not trying so hard to get the world to revolve around me. I feel free.

I disagree. Yes, responsibility is part of the problem. The world is full of irresponsible men.

Men, you will not pursue your wife well until you know the God who pursues you.

C O LU M N S 53


It was like they had their own version of C-3PO on stage with them; he did his job, but nobody wanted him around. The guy was scrawny, maybe a foot shorter than the other members. This was further offset by the towering frontman, Louis. He had a bushy beard that could hide a small bird and, if I remember correctly, a rat tail that to say was unkempt, would really just be stating the obvious. No shoes. I remember that much. And Capri’s, for some reason, but I think he made them himself from cut-off pants. He played bass in the Kick. To call it a memorable concert would be like stating they went for rock ‘n’ roll that show; every concert was memorable and equally unpredictable. I love this band. And there was this little imp getting kicked around by the other members like they were trying to break his spirit for thinking he could hang on their stage. He struggled to play a bass the size of he while Louis DeFabrizio, the force behind the Kick (soon to be Gasoline Heart), gives him a solid, ahem, bandname from behind. My favorite bar rests on 40th street and Pacific Avenue, a block from the ocean. Pacifica – cool hipster staff, excellent and unique martini and cocktail selections, proximity to my bed, and the revolving gourmet butters with orders of house bread. Every drink has a tag next to its title and next to the Downtowner, my fall drink of choice (Maker’s, Amaretto, dash of Sprite and cherry), the tagline is “You know who you are,” the title of Gasoline Heart’s 2006 album. I feel a little bit like a gruff rock star, straddling the worlds of washed up and primacy when I sip its greatness. This is not unlike Louis, and if he didn’t steal such a page from Paul Westerberg (his band name comes from a track from Paul’s 2002 release Mono), he alone would be my hero. My first attempt to check out pre-Gasoline Heart the Kick actually lead to a misguided CD purchase of the band the Kicks, an album quickly abandoned when I realized I mistook the plural for the singular, and altogether inferior radio-rock. I read a concert review for the Kick on a Christian music website – the consensus being they could be a pretty good rock band if the lead singer could just keep his brash mouth shut. This is exactly why I checked them out. Gasoline Heart brought danger to rock ‘n’ roll. They played an amped up version of Tom Petty, with Louis trying to out emote Paul Westerberg for loser of the year. Compared to the search for Driver Eight’s Matt McCartie from the rock ‘n’ roll abyss (whose new band Theft is definitely worth a listen), Louis just wouldn’t go away. He refused to disappear. He first showed up in 1995 with the pioneering Christian emo band Dear Ephesus and, from there, one way or another, Louis has been around with a booze-fueled brand of rock n roll that wouldn’t die. Cornerstone is the Christian music festival center of the universe. Louis is onstage now. He’s strangely giddy, unlike the brooding cynic of last year’s performance. Maybe there was a sale on Beefeater in Bushnell, IL. No, there’s a girl on the side of the stage and she’s decidedly the ethnicity of his wife. Mid-song, he makes it over to her and kisses her cheek, not

missing a strum. Later, for the encore, he tries to pull her out to the mic. It’s like he’s in love for the first time and he doesn’t care who knows. It’s just Louis now. He’s playing an encore. Just him and his electric. He’s singing, but something isn’t right. He stops part way through and before anyone can get a sense of the distress, Louis throws down his guitar. He doesn’t smash it, but he tosses it off like it just failed him by misplaying itself. The strings reverberate through the amp in distorted squalor. Louis storms off, not saying a word. Backstage, he tells me “we have a love/ hate relationship.” I always assumed he meant the guitar. Louis DeFabrizio (I use him interchangeably with Gasoline Heart – the creative force and constant member) is an interesting find in the Christian market. Devil-may-care attitude and highly confrontational lyrics, often pointed towards God, aren’t usually the mainstay of Christian scene aesthetics. I’m not sure how much Louis subscribes to the current Christian scene, more so that I coincidentally discovered him through Christian music channels. He’s a lot like David Bazaan in his blatant discussion of the pitfalls of faith (or lack thereof). From Louis’ more recent lyrical output, I’m not quite sure if he’s abandoned his upbringing (“When we were young, that seems so long ago/We use to sing songs about Jesus, hear myths about streets of gold”), or is just willing to call out a God that didn’t turn out like he was brought up to believe. This is refreshing. This makes Louis, to me, the most Christian of the bunch. Forsaking the sunny-side up Gospel of the youth group scene, Louis tells the real, the relatable story. In one song he simply refers to God as “Big Hands.” Who can’t associate with this view of a giant, out of touch being that we’ve been force-fed –w ho overwhelmingly has been misinterpreted – if only in our darkest, most honest diary hours? Unflinching, calling it like he sees it, Louis is one of my favorite songwriters. We drove to Richmond to see them. Louis is chatty as ever. His sweaty frame is bleeding through a white v-neck from his own merch table. It’s the last of its kind, so I buy it for Eric whose birthday is a week away – off Louis’ back. We talk over the din of mewithoutYou’s set. As filmmakers, we had tried unsuccessfully to gain the rights to a track from GH’s Mono vs. Stereo release, You Know Who You Are, because we couldn’t afford the licensing fees. When Louis released a new EP’s worth of material free from label interference, he generously offered any and every track for my use. “Burn Bright (But Burn Far Away)” became the film’s ethos and a bit of my own. Louis has done that since I’ve known of his music. First it was “All The Way,” the anti-California anthem that hails “We go all the way or we don’t go at all.” Then it was “Burn Bright,” that despite the gut feeling that maybe there is greatness in there, somewhere, to succeed, it’ll have to be out of view of friends – “for some reason they feel sorry for me.” On their most recent, the brilliantly titled Nostalgia Ain’t What It Use To Be, it was the simple but no less impactful call to “be better than what we were.” Eric buys Louis a drink and he gladly accepts. Moments later, he opens a suitcase with extra merch, the soft cotton kind and shows me a bottle of gin secure between the padding. A grin crosses his face as he fills his empty plastic cup, now just ice granules with evidence of coke and whiskey. That’s Louis. He’ll offer me a song, full usage, but keep his liquor to himself. But he won’t go away, I know that much, and I’m expecting he’s penning my next ethos right about now.

continued on page 51

C O LU M N S 55

Guest editorial by Chad Johnson

Devotions with Greg Tucker “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” –Matthew 16:18 Since misery loves company, anyone who’s like me would enjoy standing next to the Apostle Peter. He’s the patron saint of Christians-who-are-definitely-underconstruction. In other words, Peter is one of us.

Torches Together “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” –Proverbs 27:17 It is impossible to grow a Christian apart from close proximity with other Christians. In my life experience, I have never seen this happen. I have met believers who are not part of a church, or if they are, seem to be in the hard soil of self reliance. Being surrounded by other life-giving, life-enjoying, God-exalting Christians is critical for lasting growth. Lately I’ve sensed a recurring story-line through several people I’ve talked with. This chapter is what I think of as despair theology. Despair theology is the place where Christians go when they become uncertain of whether or not they can trust God and/or His Word. It begins with questions which are not inherently wrong, though the long-lasting fruit it produces is often hopeless distrust. This verse is a key to breaking free from a theology of despair. Being around sharp Christians who truly love God and are likely trying hard to love you will begin breaking down Satan’s defeat mechanisms. But simply “being around” is not enough. Engage. Every great marriage begins with engagement. Sharpening happens only when two objects, two humans, interact. I could be wrong, but I felt God led me to write this piece primarily for one person. Someone who needed a loud wake-up reminder. This blog comes as another jolt in a long line of seeming “coincidences.” God will not let you go. He is not offended at your despair, He’s offended by the one continually planting the seed in your heart (the devil). Resist the devil, he will flee. Get back into community with believers serious about the kingdom and righteousness. Do it quickly! All things, including faith, will be added to your life. There is no rock as trustworthy as the Spirit of truth. Prayer: Holy Spirit, I welcome you to bring me in greater contact with sharp Jesus-followers. I welcome Your power to make me a sharp Christian who sharpens others. Do whatever You must to break me free of this false theology and demonic influence. Liberate my mind and my soul. Despair, I come out of agreement with you in Jesus name! Leave my life and never return! You are a lying, thieving thing – unworthy of my time or attention. I was adopted. Bought with a price. If God is willing to trust me, I can surely grow in willingness to trust Him.

Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” in Matthew 16, and Peter declared, “Obviously you’re the Messiah.” But when the Lord followed with, “You’re right, and I’m going to die because of that,” the same man responded defiantly, “Absolutely not!” In one breath he acknowledges Jesus as the all-wise Son of God, but in the next adds, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” He’s illogical. That sounds like me. When Jesus sat to wash the disciples’ feet in John 13, Reunion TourPeter | cont’dblurted out, “You’re not going to wash my feet.” But when it’s explained, “If I don’t, you won’t have any part of me,” Peter jumps to the other extreme and says, “Then give me a bath all over.” He overreacts. That’s familiar, too. How about the time Peter is fishing on a boat with friends? His shirt is off in the hot morning sun, but discovering Jesus on the shore, John 21:7 says Peter jumped in to swim toward him, ...after getting dressed. (Incidentally, the boat arrived just a few moments later.) Peter makes foolish choices.

56 I N D I E R E V I E W S


Volume 2 of the popular Rock Stars on God series. This collection of 25 interviews from the pages of HM Magazine features:

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July 2012 - HM Magazine  
July 2012 - HM Magazine  

The July 2012 issue of HM Magazine featuring As I Lay Dying and The Devil Wears Prada