Tobin Bawinkel and Brandon Good of Flatfoot 56

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When we last met up with Flatfoot 56 it was summer at the Alive Festival.

Today, it’s a bit cooler out… and a smaller, but great venue: The Grog Shop. With Domain Cleveland’s Tim Rader are Tobin Bawinkel (Lead Singer and Guitarist), and Brandon Good (Mandolin/Guitar).

Photos Courtesy of Tim Rader

Tim Rader: Hey guys, thanks for spending time with us again. I want to start off by asking how you go about writing a record.

Tobin Bawinkel: This is good. You caught us a good time. We just got done with writing songs for our next album. It’s all fresh in our mind. It all depends. It can just be a riff, or a lyric, sometimes a riff will just turn into something.

Brandon Good: It’s all by accident sometimes.

Both: We are a completely accidental band! (laughing)

T.B.: Sometimes it’s a birthing process, and it’s hard. We sometimes end up on the ground brawling it out.(laughs)


T.R.: So, does that really happen? You guys get into heated creative arguments?

T.B.: Sometimes that can happen.

B.G.: I think we are pretty good with the give and take, for the most part. It’s really just working with people’s tastes. In the van we listen to very different styles of music. From really folky, to like something really hard and fast. Today we were listening to hip hop.

T.B.: Some of us grimace at certain times. We learn to deal with each others tastes. We try not to shut each other down. We are sharing the van, so we share different tastes in music.


T.R.: Do you guys ever play the old Irish drinking tunes at your shows?

T.B.: Sometimes. We try to stay away from that. It’s a pretty common thing for Celtic Punk bands. So, we try to do different things in our shows. We try to stay away from the common, because other bands do it great. Why retread there, you know? I mean there are a couple, “Amazing Grace” with the bagpipes.. you can’t beat that.


T.R.: I love your take on “I’ll Fly Away”. It was so awesome when you played it.

T.B.: Yeah, we released it as a free download. We’ll be playing that tonight.


T.R.: Your songs tend to tell personal stories a lot. Where do those ideas come from?

T.B.: The roots of Celtic music are based on telling the common man’s story. It’s very important to stick to those roots. All of folk, all of country comes from influences of gaelic music. You wouldn’t have American folk or country music if it wasn’t for the Irish and Scottish immigrants bringing their music here. And all that morphing from there. Becoming so many other styles and genres. Telling stories is important aspect of our music and roots.


T.R.: Speaking of stories, tell me what gave you the inspiration for your song “Courage”.

T.B.: I attribute that to a guy I worked with in my neighborhood. He was a WWII vet and just lost his wife. So, he was a little distraught. He decided to start helping other people in our neighborhood. He brought me along to help out. It’s just a great story about a man with so much to tell us. It’s about his struggles.


T.R.: Tell me a little about “Knuckles Up”.

T.B.: Well, “Knuckles Up”…We grew up on the south side of Chicago. It’s about being there for your friends, and having each others backs. You learn to live with your fists.


T.R.: “Tough Chicago guys”.

T.B.: No, really it’s about not fighting, but there’s another way to handle things. Anyone who’s seen our shows in Chicago know it’s a great scene. Its also though got its drama, and history.


T.R.: There’s one song that really gets me when I hear it. It’s kinda personal to me and I love it. Can you tell me how you wrote “Shiny Eyes”?

T.B.: We were driving through PA, and I was sitting in the back of the van thinking. I was dating this girl at the time, and I wondered what song would I write if I was at the end of my life with her. And we spent our whole lives together, what would our story be. It’s just something I think about, as in our culture the thought of spending your life with someone is disappearing. I wanted to write something, you know like what would they say at my funeral. You know like our story together.


T.R.: That’s really cool, great idea. Again, wonderful song. I’m in a church band, and I like to hear and read about the process that bands use.

T.B.: Well Brandon was the worship leader at our church, and that’s how he joined the band – we knew him before that – we all learned our stuff in church. When you’re writing a record you learn different processes, you need to be a student of song writing and figure out how other people wrote theirs.


T.R.: I don’t know if this happens to you, but do you get bored with playing the same songs. Get feeling like it’s the same old thing sometimes?

T.B.: We found it helps, when you’re with a producer to be a student of music. They help with direction and new ideas.

B.G.: I think it’s been good because they have us try things we wouldn’t normally try. They get you out of the box. I find sometimes my playing not getting anywhere, as a matter of fact I start feeling like I’m going backwards.


T.R.: Yeah, I’ve felt that way…like you aren’t getting anywhere.

B.G.: Yeah, but then something kinda kicks in. There was a thing I found by accident, and it ended up being cool.


T.R.: Are there any bands that inspire you, or that you really get into?

T.B.: (laughs) Oh man, you just opened up a can of worms. (Brandon laughing as well) Just like a lot of different stuff.

B.G.: I’ve been listening to a lot of lately too. One band, Harm’s Way, is really, really heavy. Very angry people. On the other hand I’m listening to a lot of hip hop too. I mean we were even listening to old soul, Otis Redding. Then we’ll go off to something random like 90’s. We were listening to Cake yesterday.

T.B.: We find when we are on the road and playing every night we like to listen to mellower stuff. It just gets to be overwhelming with the heavy all the time. We need a “break” and listen to easier going stuff.

B.G.: We like to listen to a lot of things opposite of what we are doing while we are on tour. We also listen to Ska and reggae. Depending on what types of bands we are touring with.


T.R.: With the amount you listen to ska and reggae. Do you think we’ll hear that influence in your rhythm or in your music?

T.B.: Well, uh, good question, uh…Probably not.

B.G.: I think it’s just something we like to listen to.

T.B.: I think the reggae and soul and such are just for fun. I think they do influence, but like in the simplicity of lyrics and structure. There are such great story telling in those styles. So, in that respect those styles make their way into our music. They teach you how to write a very light hearted song. Just catchy and fun. Sometimes as a band you can get into technicalities, and so into creative elements. And forget how to just write simple stuff. You have to keep things balanced too.

B.G.: (imitating The Joker) “why so serious” (everyone laughs). That’s what it’s like for us a lot of times.

T.B.: We’ll just throw in calypso or island music just to be silly and keep it light. You’re driving through a snow storm…

B.G.: I’m in a snow storm, but I feel like I should be on an island.


T.R.: Last question. Got a title for the upcoming album?

T.B.: Uh, no…we don’t like to name a record until we hear some of the songs first. The album is in pre-production now. We record in January. Hopefully it will be out in June or so.


T.R.: We look forward to it. Oh, Sox or Cubs?

Both: Well, we’re from the south side…SOX!

Justin Bawinkel and Brandon Good of Flatfoot 56

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Four days at the Alive Festival gave Jamie Johnson a chance to sit down with Justin Bawinkel and Brandon Good, from Flatfoot 56, and talk to them for Domain Cleveland. They discussed the band, their history, their music and touring.

Photos Courtesy of Flatfoot 56

Jamie Johnson: How long have you guys been performing?

Justin Bawinkel: We’ve ben together since 2000, so about eleven years now.


J.J.: What motivated you to start the band?

J.B.: Well, we’re brothers, the lead singer, the bass player and myself. My older brother was in a band, and they weren’t taking it seriously enough. So, he just decided to start a band. We didn’t know how to play, he just gave us the bass and drums and told us to learn them. We played as a three-piece for about six months. We added another guy, Josh (Robieson), who played guitar and bag pipes. We played nine years like that. Josh quit about a year and a half ago. We added Brandon on mandolin, then Eric who plays bagpipes. It’s really hard to find people who play both of those. Plus they are both close friends with us. We really like punk and hard rock music. We felt like we really wanted to play in an area that a lot of Christian bands weren’t doing. So, we play bars and clubs, and with regular bands. It’s where we are comfortable really.


J.J.: What is your favorite part about performing?

J.B.: I think interacting with the crowd really. It’s fun to get up there and have a good sweat. Seeing people dancing, having fun. Getting to meet people on the road.

Brandon Good: It’s nice to build relationships with people around the world. Really to become part of someone’s life, to have a positive impact. To complete a mission. Playing music is fun.

J.B.: Touring around, playing music is only like forty-five minutes of the day. The rest is having fun with people, you hope you’re having fun with them.

B.G.: …and a lot of driving…


J.J.: Does the band name Flatfoot 56 having a meaning of it?

J.B.: Yes, it’s ridiculous, but it has a meaning. It comes from our youngest brother, Kyle, playing baseball. His number was 56, and he was flatfooted. So, we used to chant “let’s go flatfoot 56!” When he ran the bases he looked like a duck. We were young, I think I was like 15, and Kyle was 12. Our mom used to tell us to stop it, so we named the band Flatfoot 56.


J.J.: Has your musical style changed?

Both: Yeah!

B.G.: As a fan first, and there’s two records not in print anymore for probably a few reasons. I remember first seeing them when Waves of War came out. Then Knuckles Up came out, that’s when they developed their sound you know. I think it’s gotten better.

J.B.: We started so young that you don’t really know what you like. A lot of people go through styles, you enjoy a style you know? It takes different forms as you mature and change. We try to make each record a little different, but keep the same feel.


J.J.:Who are your musical influences?

B.G.: I think it’s different for every person.

J.B.: We listen to everything.

B.G.: Justin’s favorite band is Justin Beiber.

J.B.: We like old traditional Celtic bands, old 80’s punk bands. The Pogues. A lot of old school english punk, and hardcore bands. We try to keep well rounded.


J.J.: What gave you the idea to add bagpipes and the mandolin?

J.B.: We had a friend who played in a bag and drum band. We were home schooled and he was too. One day he came in and played for us. We just like them, so we added them in. Then we decided to add in the mandolin. Our first mandolin we bought at a flea market. We wrote the first song with it that day. It was on the Knuckles Up album. It was born out of the desire to stand out, to be different.


J.J.: What’s your favorite song to play?

B.G.: I like the harder stuff, like “We Grow Stronger,” and like “Knuckles Up”. Of course I like the happy stuff too.

J.B.: “We Grow Stronger”, “Courage”, and “Hourglass”.

B.G.: I think all of our songs are fun to play and that’s why we play. Also, why our concerts go the way they do.


J.J.: I saw you were at Warped Tour 2010, I might have seen you. I do remember hearing bagpipes. Do you like being on longer tours like that? It was a bummer you’re not there this year.

J.B.: They do that a lot with those tours. They like to change it up so people aren’t like, “I saw them last time”.

B.G.: Warped Tour is cool too because it’s like summer camp for bands. We all meet up and hang out. We watch each other’s shows. We become a like a family.

J.B.: It’s really a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of hard work. You load up at like 7 a.m., and get out on the road. It’s really hot, but if you come in expecting that you’ll have a good time. Long tours are really good, they allow you to get the other bands.


J.J.: Is playing at a Christian event like ‘Alive’ different then playing a mainstream event or venue?

J.B.: Definitely, (Brandon breaks in with “there’s less alcohol”). The mainstream events are a little looser. The people are more into dancing and fighting, and stuff. People are awesome here, they are so nice. There aren’t drunk dudes like screaming “Freebird!”

B.G.: What’s really cool about playing Christian events is that we get a chance to recharge a bit. As believers, when we play a lot of mainstream events we can get drained. It’s not that we don’t enjoy being out there, but it can be difficult.

J.B.: There’s not a lot of hope in a lot of people’s lives. That’s something that will drain you. You just start getting negative in your mindset. So it’s nice to be around fellowship, and kind of get rejuvenated.


J.J.: You interact with the crowd a lot, is that what makes playing fun for you? Is that what makes it worth it to you?

J.B.: We don’t want people to come and just stand there. It’s like “I got punched in the face, but I had fun at your show. It still tingles a bit…” We want them to remember our show. We want people to have fun and let go.


J.J.: What’s it like to be able to travel around and tell people about Jesus?

J.B.: It’s cool! It’s neat because there’s a lot of different viewpoints out there. To meet people with different attitudes about Jesus. It’s good to expeirence other views. It’s nice to break the stereotypes about Christians.

Jamie: Thank you for your time.

Jeff Paulick of Lazarus AD

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LarryMac caught up with lead vocalist/bassist Jeff Paulick of Lazarus A.D. before their latest Cleveland outing. They talked about the tour, the band, the album, what life on the road is REALLY like and the future of music.

LarryMac: How are things in the world of Kenosha, Wisconsin’s own Lazarus A.D.? How’s the tour going?

Jeff Paulick: Tour’s great, fans are great, shows are good, everything else is terrible. The weather has just been brutal; it’s tearing us apart, Bonded by Bond financially, us financially – we already out our trailer hitch off our bus from the weather. It came off, we had to get that fixed and now our bus started on fire yesterday – electrical patch or something shorted out and started on fire so we drove all night without any lights. Yesterday, on the bus, we only had two front headlights. Drove all the way to Cleveland – our manager lives here – got the bus into an RV repair, haven’t heard from them, so we’ll see if it’s done tomorrow. We’ve just been battling, day after day, I’ve gotten three hours of sleep. Every morning I’m up at 9am, calling places to get my shit fixed – it’s just been absolutely terrible. And it’s been terrible outside. This first week, there has literally been a Death Angel following us.


LM : How bad did it suck being on the road for the Super Bowl?

JP: That was really a major concern for us. Luckily, we lucked out – it was a show that was coming with another tour. So we actually played really early in the day, we played at 6 o’clock, the Super Bowl started at 6:30, so we missed like the first quarter. There was bar next door with a massive screen so we got to watch it. We got to watch it, our boys won, that’s all that matters – it was awesome.


LM: So, tell me about growing up as “that thrash band from Wisconsin”.

JP: Nobody ever makes it out of that area, you know what I mean? Even some bands from Chicago, Milwaukee, anything like that. For us to be able to get signed and do what we do, it just doesn’t happen. You know what I mean? So when we were growing up, we weren’t really ever thinking anything like that. We just knew we had a lot of talent and a lot of ambition and we knew we could take it to the next level and we thought we had what it takes to get signed and obviously we proved to everybody we can and now we’re at that next step. Now we’re in with all the big fish and we’re trying to get bigger and better and get on better tours and play to more people and get in the headlining market and just keep driving forward. We’ve got a brand new record that just came out and it’s getting rave reviews , so it’s great. We’re on the ups and hopefully we can continue it.


LM: You guys went the DIY route with The Onslaught and none of the labels were interested until people started talking it up. Do you think that coming from someplace off the beaten path is what made it harder to get people’s attention?

JP: It could be. I just think it got into the wrong hands at certain labels. The one label who did respond to us is the one who ended up signing us a year later. They said “no, we’re not interested” and then, a year later, “yeah, we’re interested”. Makes no sense to me. I guess, especially in these times, they just want to see what you’re capable of on your own. And on that year that we weren’t signed and had the record out, we just continued to do what we do. We toured, we went out as far as Denver, Colorado on our own. Bands don’t do that. We were lucky to be able to do that and show that we were ready to do this and we had big breaks with some gigs at home, opening for Anthrax and stuff like that. We just took it from there and finally they finally took notice. Earache got the Thrashing Like A Maniac compilation, that’s where all of a sudden everyone was like “oh, wait a minute, these guys might be something”. That’s alright. We learned a lot during that period and we used it to our advantage because immediately after we re-released the record we went out and toured with Amon Amarth and Testament and crushed it every night. We weren’t afraid to tour with big guys like that.


LM: Name three bands that helped shape your sound.

JP: Pantera, Testament and Metallica. That’s the three bands I say every time and I’ll say that ‘til the day I die. It’s always gonna be those three bands.


LM: You guys managed to get hooked up, like you said, with some pretty big tours pretty early on. How’d you manage such big opening spots before anybody had heard of you?

JP: Really, it was a lot of luck and our label pulling a lot of strings at the time. They wanted to see what we were capable of, they invested a lot in us, they really thought that we could do something and we got those tours, we had some bigger agents help us out, kind of as favors to the label and whatnot and, like I said, I think we nailed it. When we got out on those tours it wasn’t like we were sucking every night, I mean we were keeping our own with every one of those bands every night and that’s what we do on every tour that we’re on. We’re always looking to be the best band on the tour, no matter who we’re touring with so we love to be friends with all these guys and it’s great, but when you get on stage they’re your enemy. You know what I mean? You’re here to prove that you’re the best band and that’s what we do – we kind of think of it as that competition and just take it day by day…we just want to keep getting on bigger and better tours.


LM: You guys “hit” pretty early. You were opening up for Anthrax like two years after you formed and had a record deal a little after that. What was the best move or luckiest break for Lazarus A.D. as far as getting you guys to where you’re at?

JP: Playing the Loud Park Festival in Japan was definitely the biggest break we’ve ever had. We played to like 10,000 people – it was such a good bang for our buck, just fly over there, play one show, fly out. We sold out all of our merch within a half hour, every piece of it – didn’t matter what it was. People absolutely loved it. I get hit up constantly online by people from Japan just saying how much they loved us. There were people at our hotel the day before we even got there waiting with pictures of us and I had never been to this place in my life. I had no idea the market was there. I knew it was big in Japan, but I had no idea it was that big. We’re hoping we can get back this year and do it again because we’ll get later in the day and just rock it even harder.


LM: How about your biggest mistake, your cautionary tale for other young bands? If you guys could have one “do over”, what would it be?

JP: You have to go with your gut. When you get signed, there’s a lot of things that occur. There’s a lot of politics involved, a lot of “runaround” – things that you may or may not want to do – it comes with any job. But you have to go with your gut at the end of the day. I think there’s too many times where we’ve been led into a bear trap, if you will, where we knew it was going to be and it was. It’s unfortunate sometimes when you have so many people telling you that “this is what you need to do” and in your heart you’re saying “no, that’s not what we should do”. Especially the label and the manager and thee agents, they always want to see you constantly touring – which, we love to tour – but we’re in a recession, you know what I mean? Tickets…these shows are taking major hits and to be an opening band in times like these where CDs aren’t selling and you’re getting no tour support from your label and for them to tell you “you need to go out” and you need to pay $200 a night on a tour where you know you’re not even gonna pay your gas money, let alone get a burger in your stomach every night. I want to do this the rest of my life, but I have to eat too. There have been some tours that we have been on that I knew we did not want to go on, but we still did and we wound up losing our asses. In the beginning, when you’re not signed, you don’t really have a choice, you have to lose your ass – we lost our ass every single time – we never got paid for one show until we got signed, basically, and that’s just how it is. Then once you get signed, then obviously you’ve got to get paid for your shows because you’ve got to keep going and it’s a little different game then. You’ve got to follow your heart – with anything – if your heart and your gut tell you that this is right, do it, and if it’s telling you that it’s wrong, then don’t do it.


LM: For people who haven’t checked you out yet, name two bands that you’d say you either sound like or would recommend yourselves to fans of.

JP: Some newer bands we like…Silosis is a really good band, they’re from the U.K. – they’re really underground, but they shouldn’t be, they’re really really good, they’re kind of very similar to our sound and they’re a bunch of killer musicians and just great songwriters. As far as new bands, I’m really not into a whole lot of new bands. One of the bigger bands I’m into, a like a lot is DevilDriver. I think they’re really, really good, they’re really in your face, very heavy, no bullshit. That’s their kind of attitude, we have a similar attitude – the Pantera attitude, just don’t give a fuck, do whatever you want, play whatever you want.


LM: You’re trying to get somebody hooked on Lazarus A.D. What one song do you play for them?

JP: That’s hard, it depends on what you’re into. Obviously, our first record is very fast, very heavy. I’d definitely pick “Revolution” as the first song that you need to listen to or “Thou Shall Not Fear” off that record. But the new record is definitely more commercially viable and definitely could get to an audience that isn’t so much into the heavier stuff. I’d definitely pick like the song “Black Rivers Flow” or “Casting Forward”, one of those songs. Check it out, you might really like it.


LM: Tell me about the disc, Black Rivers Flow. How are the early returns and why do I need to add it to my music library?

JP: It’s a great record. It’s definitely an evolution from our first. A lot of bands kind of suffer, trying to write the same record twice and they just come up really short. We weren’t looking to do that, we were looking to evolve our sound and move forward with who we are as individuals and as musicians and that’s what came out in the songwriting. It’s definitely a lot different record, there’s a lot more singing involved, a lot more melody, a lot more diversity, a lot better songwriting, stuff like that. We’re just looking to keep progressing like that and I think people need to pick up this record because a damn good record. It might take you three or four spins to get through it if you’re not used to what we’re doing but by that time, you’re just gonna love it.


LM: You already mentioned it: the buzz is about how you guys changed things up, sound-wise, on the new album. Is that you guys going in a new direction, just trying something different on this record or simply evolving and people are making too big a deal out of it?

JP: I think it’s definitely that third one, man. I mean, bands evolve and I think they need to. I say it in every interview: Slayer is the only band that can write the same record over and over. Let ‘em do it, that’s fine, that’s cool, because it’s great for them. But for every other band, don’t do it because it’s going to hurt your career. We’re not that band. We really wanted to evolve with our music. People – these diehard kids that really just want to have fast, retarded music – that’s cool, go for it. Go listen to all the other bands that are gonna do that because that’s not what we’re looking for. We had one record that was like that, great, we still love heavy music – the new record is still really, really heavy, if not heavier…just in a different way. Yeah, we incorporate some melody with the vocals and stuff like that because that’s what we like. It wasn’t a fact of “we can’t sing”, because we can sing. It’s just that on the first one, we had no confidence because we didn’t want to be the singers in the first place. We wanted a fulltime singer, we just never found one because we live in Bumfuck, Nowhere and that’s exactly what it was – no talent surrounded us. We had the most talent that we could find at that time and we ran with it. So now we’re going to take the talent that we have, with our vocals, and we’re gonna improve them. I’m really excited to see what we can do on this next one because, with what we’ve done on the first two, it really leaves the gate open for the third one to literally be anything. I have no idea what it’s going to sound like.


LM: You guys streamed the album online before it dropped. Do you think that helped drum up support or hurt it because the diehards from the first album heard the new stuff and got all pissed and started badmouthing it?

JP: Well, I don’t really know who the diehards are and who they aren’t. I just know that our very close fans, who we keep in touch with, all the ones that we really love, they are 100% supportive of it and they love it. When your closest people…they’re the ones that aren’t going to bullshit you; they’re gonna tell you “I don’t really like that man, I don’t know what you guys were thinking” – it hasn’t been like that, it’s been like “dude, you guys made the right move, I love the way you guys are progressing”. And that’s a good sign. All the reviews have just been great, we haven’t really had a bad review yet online. I just saw a Metal Hammer review and a Kerrang review that are coming out, both 8 out of 10, which is great. We got a Blabbermouth review that was 8 out of 10. You can’t really ask for more coming on a sophomore record, from a band from Wisconsin trying to do what we’re doing.


LM: Streaming albums and behind-the-scenes “Making Of” videos online, you guys have really seemed to reach out to your fans online. Is that the advice you’d give to young bands starting out now?

JP: Absolutely. Viral – that’s the biggest way, the cheapest way, the best way. It’s the future. The labels are trying to get with it, but they’re kind of falling. The problem is that any Tom, Dick and Harry can do what these labels are doing anyway now. Music is going to be free in three or four years – I strongly believe in that. I don’t think labels are going to exist. I think it’s just going to be managers, agents and bands kind of working together the way that they already are. CDs are going to be obsolete, vinyl is going to be the one that takes over as far as your “nostalgia” goes. Just go viral, the future is the internet, spread you music – don’t worry about getting paid for it, just get it into as many hands as you possibly can. Get an email list going, get any kid of viral spread that you can do. That’s the best thing you can do.


LM: So when your fans are spreading it around, you’re not going to be sicking your RIAA lawyers on them or anything?

JP: Absolutely not, I’m not that guy. I don’t make any money from it anyway and it’s not like I’m going to so, to me, I’m ready to embrace this digital age and really move forward with things. I strongly believe that it’s going to be the fans showing up in the venues and buying your merchandise. If you want to buy a CD there, cool – think of it as a t-shirt. We have good ideas for stuff like that. We can’t do it now, because we’re signed but think of it like this in the future: you come to the show and you buy a t-shirt and that’s like the album art – because there’s still going to be album art – you don’t have a CD but you’ve got the album art and then on top of it you get a code that you go and punch in online and you download the record. I think music is going to spread a lot more virally in the future; there are going to be a lot more streaming-based services. I’ve heard a lot of interviews with a lot of top dogs, I’ve read interviews with big-time movie directors and basically what they’re saying is what I’m saying: everybody needs to get used to making less money. That includes the labels, that includes the agents, that includes these promoters, that includes everybody. There’s too much where the artist is doing the most work and receiving the least amount of money – it’s as bad as it has ever been right now as far as that notion is concerned. These clubs are taking way too hard a hit, these promoters are taking too many hard hits, the agents are taking too hard a hit, but the bands are still taking the same hits – so we already know what’s going on, we’re already used to this. Things have a way of leveling out in the end. I really think that’s how it’s gonna end up in the next three or four years.


LM: So what’s next for you guys after this tour wraps up?

JP: We go home for like four days and then we head over to Europe. We’re going with Bonded By Blood for a month-long, co-headlining run, kind of a small bar gig. Just kind of grinding our teeth. We’ve never been to Europe so this is kind of like starting all over again. You’ve gotta go cut you’re your teeth but this is in different country. We’ve had a lot of press over there and the CD has been released over there, back in ’09 so we’re just hoping that the fans will show up for our first time over in Europe. We’re really excited.


LM: The stage is yours. Any parting words?

JP: Just go pick up Black Rivers Flow wherever you can get it: CD store, online, steal it – I don’t give a fuck – just get the music in your hands and spread the word about us, come to our shows. Support us.

Marc Rizzo

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LarryMac caught up with Soulfly (ex-Il Nino) guitarist Marc Rizzo after his stop in Cleveland to promote his second solo album, Legionnaire. Find out what he had to say about the life of a heavy metal guitar player, the best music to pick up chicks with, the inaccuracy of Wikipedia and “Jersey Shore”.

Photos Courtesy of Adrenaline PR

LarryMac: How are things in the world of Marc Rizzo? How’s the album doing? How’s the tour going?

Marc Rizzo: Great! Really good! I released my new record, Legionnaire, last year and we were able to one tour, here in the U.S., for it and basically the rest of 2010 I spent on the road, on tour with Soulfly. So this has been the first break I’ve had from Soulfly to get back out and continue touring for my latest record. The whole month of January, we’re doing a full U.S. tour and it’s going really good.


LM : As a guitar aficionado in your own right, are there any players out there that really impress you? Guys that make you sit up and take notice?

MR: Yeah, there’s a lot of great players out there right now. I’m a big fan of so many different players now. There’s a guy named Andy James I’m a really big fan of. There’s a guy named Ben Woods I’m a big fan of. And I love the Chimaira guys, they’re great guitar players. Rob (Arnold), from Chimaira, is an excellent guitar player. There’s a lot of great players out there that I listen to and respect.


LM: I’ve read that Jimmy Page is the guy that made you want to play guitar. Was there a specific song or riff that got you or just all of it?

MR: Him in general. Probably the first song I ever heard from Zeppelin was “Black Dog” and I was like eight years old when I heard it, so it was a big deal to me – to hear that riff. From that day on, that’s all I wanted to do was play guitar and play like that.


LM: What’s one bit of advice you’d give to somebody who wants to pick it up?

MR: Practice hard. Figure out what you’re gonna do to make a living, as far as a backup plan, and then just play music as much as you can. And if something comes out of it, you’re lucky.


LM: So what was your backup plan?

MR: Me? Just blue-collar, ya know, construction, working jobs, nothing…I didn’t really have much of a backup plan.


LM: Not “professional kickboxer”?

MR: I wish. Amateur, but never professional.


LM: Which do you prefer, your solo stuff or your band work?

MR: I like both. Obviously, Soulfly is a band I grew up listening to, so to get the opportunity to join the band and work with Max Cavalera was a big deal for my career and I love doing it. It’s very rewarding to do. But I love doing my solo stuff, too. They’re both different in their own right. I’m completely fulfilled with doing Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and my solo stuff. I don’t really feel the need to do anything else.


LM: With songwriting, do you find yourself sitting in the hotel room, coming up with something that would be great for the new Soulfly album and thinking to yourself “that’s not going on Soulfly, that’s mine”? Do you find yourself debating what you’re going to do with it?

MR: Sometimes. But it’s more like, when it’s time to make a solo record, I focus on that. Then, when it’s time to make a Soulfly record, I focus on that. I spend a lot of my day practicing, but I don’t really write until it’s like a month or two before. Then, everything I’ve practiced for that year, or those last couple months, I like to incorporate into the writing process.


LM: I won’t put you on the spot and ask who you prefer or what’s harder, but is it different playing in a band like Il Nino, which is more of a group effort, as opposed to Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy, which are so heavily tied to Max and Igor? Is it a different dynamic?

MR: Yeah, totally. I’m grateful for the years I had with Il Nino, looking back now – it’s like eight years ago that I quit – but I obviously wasn’t happy playing that type of music and I was definitely very held back when I was in that band…with taking my guitar playing to the next level. Whereas, ever since I started working with Max, he just gave me all the freedom in the world to just experiment and do whatever I felt like doing. I really came into my own when I started playing with Max, as far as lead guitar and even with the flamenco stuff, he just basically let me run with it, which is amazing, you know, because I was coming into HIS band, whereas Il Nino was a band I was an equal member in – and I was very held back in that band. But with Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, it’s just like “do what you want”.


LM: How about your favorite moment during a song? Do you like crazy solos or are you more about building a good, strong riff? One thing you throw out there for the ladies and say “yeah, that’s me right there”?

MR: (laughs) Probably whenever we do the acoustic stuff. This tour, we’ve been keeping it a little more metal. I didn’t bring the acoustic guitar out; I’ve been doing some classical pieces on the electric guitar, in between songs, just trying to keep it heavy – it’s something we’re trying on this tour. But, in the past, usually the acoustic stuff the chicks seem to like, ’cause it’s got a Latin vibe, its got those types rhythms. It’s cool, ’cause you see the girls dancing to it, which is more important to me than seeing dudes slamdancing. (laughing)


LM: You mentioned the flamenco and the acoustic, what’s your favorite style to play? Is metal just what pays the bills or is that where your heart is?

MR: I think my heart’s really in metal. I love both. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing, is to mix the two together. But I like the show to be high-energy and exciting, so I’m definitely a metal head at heart. But I think the older I get the more I’m doing to try and incorporate the flamenco influence and the Latin jazz stuff and see what happens.


LM: I was looking over your Wikipedia page – it’s always fun to see how much of what’s in there is just crap – and how does a kid from Jersey grow up to be a big AC Milan fan?

MR: I’m Italian. I’m not huge into soccer; I probably like wearing soccer jerseys more than I actually watch soccer, so I guess I was caught wearing an AC Milan jersey – which, obviously, being Italian, I support the Italian teams – so everyone thinks I’m a huge AC Milan fan. Which, if I do support a team, it’s them, but I’m really not that into soccer. I think there was a time, especially during Soulfly, where we all rocked soccer jerseys just ’cause it was stylish.


LM: A-ha! So we have disproven your Wikipedia page!

MR: Yeah, there’s some weird things that people wrote on that. I don’t know where they got it from.


LM: So, does that mean that you don’t actually sit around in your hotel room and eat a whole jar of peanut butter?

MR: No, I don’t know where that came from. I mean, I like peanut butter (laughs) – who doesn’t? – but I’m not sitting around with a jar of peanut butter.


LM: Okay. You’re from Jersey and we’ve established that you’re Italian. What’s your take on “Jersey Shore”?

MR: It’s funny, ’cause I just saw my first episode, finally, yesterday. It’s hysterical, but it’s accurate. It’s funny, I don’t feel the need to watch that show because I know so many people back home that are like that. Everybody on that show reminds me of everybody I know back home. That’s exactly what it’s like on the Jersey shore, all those guido – I know it’s been getting a bad rap because everyone thinks it’s like an Italian thing, but people don’t understand: there’s guidos that are all different races, ya know? (laughing) It’s not just Italians. I mean, I’m Italian and all my friends are Italian kids and they’re all metal heads, so we grew up hating kids like that.


LM: So what’s next after this tour wraps up?

MR: We’re gonna finish the tour at the end of this month. I go home for two days and then we’re flying out to Spain to shoot a video for the new Cavalera Conspiracy single. It’s a big festival we’re playing there, so they’re recording the whole show. We’re gonna do that and then I think, after that, I’m gonna be home for, hopefully, a couple weeks in February, then in March I’m gonna try to do another solo U.S. tour of the places that we didn’t hit. Then probably, after that, the rest of the year is going to be dedicated to Cavalera Conspiracy.


LM: The stage is yours. Any parting words?

MR: Just a big thank you to the Cleveland fans out there. We always have a great time here.


LM: So how come shows in South America – which is largely the Third World – and Europe – where everybody pays a billion dollars in taxes and have crappy lives – do so much better than here in the States – where we have tons of disposable income to go to metal shows?

MR: I don’t know. Everyone’s saying it’s the economy, but I think they’re just not as interested in metal as they used to be. It’s still underground – fans come out and it’s great – but metal in the States is not as mainstream as it is in Europe. In Europe, metal is considered an art form, it’s considered the real deal, metal musicians are treated with tons of respect, the clubs we play are top notch, the equipment is top notch, the festivals that we play – there’s just thousands of people. The fans really respect the bands and the musicians. Whereas, here in the States nowadays, it’s all about reality tv stars and hip-hop is considered an art form; we’re just considered like scumbags: “oh you play heavy metal, you’re a scumbag”. I mean, we’ve studied our instruments. I’ve been playing guitar for 25 years. And it’s still considered not an art form, it’s just loud, crazy music with no skill to it. Metal musicians are some of the most talented musicians that are out there. They’re out there putting it on the line, touring. So they don’t get it here in the States, I think, as much as in Europe. You go to Europe and turn on MTV, you see metal bands and you see rock musicians and the people really respect it and come out and support it.


LM: Here, you turn on MTV and you see the “Jersey Shore”.

MR: (laughing) Yeah, you turn on MTV, you get the “Jersey Shore”. I live in Jersey, I don’t need to turn on MTV and see those people. I see those people when I look out my window.

Bill Bailey interviews Leroy Hamp from War of Ages

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Our own Bill Bailey got the chance to hang out with War of Ages vocalist Leroy Hamp while the band was in town on their Project AK-47 tour. See what Leroy has to say about his own journey both to Christendom and through the Christian music scene. Big thanks to Nathanael Dolesh for transcribing it all.

Bill Bailey: Alright here we go. What’s been your most inspiring moment during your music career?

Leroy Hamp: A few years back, we were playing at…I can’t remember which tour it was…I think it was Terror…anyway, we were doing this tour about 4 or 5 years ago, and this kid walks up to me and asks if he can talk to me for a second. I said sure man. He goes “I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in anything you guys stand for, but my mother just passed away, and the only thing that got me through this trialing time was listening to ‘Heart of a Warrior’.” He’s like “the words you were saying” and whatever else… he goes, “I don’t agree with it religiously and whatever else you’re doing, but it helped me get through it”. I didn’t know what to say. I was like “what do I say to that?” And the only thing I could muster up was like, “I understand your opinion and what you believe in, but the fighting spirit in that song that I’m talking about is the fact that this world is going to rip you apart…but, God is there to heal those wounds and to make you stronger and to turn you into a warrior. That’s the point of that song. You know it’s like your mother is hurting and she’s passing away, but the awesome thing about that is that that’s what molds and shapes you into the warrior spirit that you are. Because if you had no trials or temptations or anything…then we would all be weaklings walking around, mindless beings.” And I was like, “But the fact that we have these trials and these things going on is why we are RAW!, why we are so strong”. That’s the way I explained it to him; it was the only thing I could muster up. “It is God man, I’m sorry, but that’s awesome though that it helped you”.


BB: That’s great. How would you describe the scene in Erie?

LH: Amazing. We’ve been playing that scene for seven, eight years now. In the very beginning it was rough as it is for any band starting out in their home town. And then as time went on, we see new fans; brothers and sisters who were fans of War of Ages…now it’s like, their younger siblings are now fans of War of Ages, or just other kids in school. Like literally, we just played a home show a couple days ago and I did not recognize one kid there. Like maybe a couple, but they’re all new. So Erie has always been diligent and they’ve always come and they’ve always had great crowds and whatnot, and we’re just glad they’re still enjoying the music here seven years later. So it’s awesome, it’s incredible.


BB: What was it like to work with Tim from As I Lay Dying on Arise and Conquer?

LH: It was amazing. Tim’s a great dude. I learned a lot from him as an individual. And the guy can’t say no. He has such a giving spirit. And he knows what he likes, that’s the other thing. We wanted to have him on Eternal to do that album, but he wasn’t able to because of his schedule. But on Arise and Conquer, he’s like “this is what we should do” and whatever, whatever. And if we disagreed with him, he was like “okay, well let’s try your thing” and “what do you think about this?” He was very easy to work with and he had a good mind for what we were looking for, and he was able to adapt and mold into that. And he respected us for who we were and the writers that we were. He enjoyed what we were doing and whatnot so just a great guy to work with, good spirit.


BB: Cool. Where do you see the band heading musically in the future?

LH: We’re a progressing band. Each album is always going to be different than the others. And Eternal for us, was an album that we could bridge into something. And what that something is, no band ever knows. Some bands like what they do and they play that and that’s what albums they come out with. Bands like Cradle of Filth, Hatebreed…those bands are like “this is what we write, this is the way we are, that’s it”. We’re a band that likes to progress. We like to try things; we push the envelope over here, and do that. Both styles of bands are good, but we’re just a progressing one. So Eternal for us was a bridged album. We did a little bit of singing, a little bit of rapping, tried some rhythm stuff, you know, little bits of this and that. And we really enjoy the song “Eternal”, really enjoy “Indecision”, and we want to take those songs, and construct the next album. Which we believe Eternal was a good bridging album to do that with, to where we can maybe add a little bit more rhythm in it, maybe add a bit more of that rhythmic rapping whatever, I don’t know. A big influence of mine has always been Rage Against the Machine. And POD as well, but old, old POD, like Snuff the Punk days and stuff like that. But Rage Against the Machine, I have every one of their albums; I’ve been following them since I was a kid. The one thing I’ve always admired about them is the writing, musically and lyrically. And the way he brings his lines across and whatnot, that’s similar to what…


BB: Especially in today’s times, you know?

LH: Exactly. I don’t wanna be Rage Against the Machine. We wanna be like that as far as coming up with our own thing, doing our own stuff, hopefully making a staple on metal and what we do in it. And so that’s kinda what we’re looking for.


BB: Yeah. How do you guys deal with the whole Christian band stereotype? Do you think it helps you or hurts you guys when playing with other bands?

LH: That’s a loaded question. We have a hard time with the way certain people do certain things. We have an easy time with how other people do things. I think it’s always gonna be a struggle. Especially for us. We’re not a very vocal band, not that we weren’t before. You know at one time we were very vocal, but not a lot of bands were very vocal. And we felt like this was our mission and this is what we’re doing and that’s what it is. But now we try to focus more on like, content; who we are, and why we are this way. If you think about it like this: Christ mingled with prostitutes and the drug addicts of that time and whatever else. So if we are to mingle with those kind of people and be strong and whatnot, how do you mingle with them? I mean if Christ was like, “I’m God, I’m Jesus. I’m here to save you guys. That’s me. Let’s rock, let’s do this,” who’s going to take Him seriously in those times? They’re all gonna be like “get out of here dude. You’re just condemning us” or whatever. So we feel as though we need to live amongst them, and they need to see our hearts. And they need to see who we are and whatnot. So we focus more on that and the things like the after show stuff or the doing our own merch table or hanging out with the kids or whatnot. We feel like, on stage, I can quote scripture all day long and give them 30 seconds between each song of the most passion filled whatever, but then that’s gonna leave them with what? Like a 30 second understanding of what this massive quest of their life is, you know? So I feel as though we can do more with getting them to understand and mentoring them, or creating a follower of Christ and keeping up with that. I feel that there’s a lot more to do there, where most bands I feel like it’s just this whole passion thing. If you listen to the lyrics of “Failure” on our new album, it’s “When voices fade on passion, will your hearts still burn through failure?” Basically what that’s saying is “you’re crazy and passionate right now; that’s awesome; good. But when that fades, ’cause it will, you know when a revival happens and then it’s gone, what’s left there?” Destruction. Pretty much every time in history. After a revival, there’s destruction, cause people take it and run with it. And then there’s profiting and then there’s this and there’s that. And then it’s destroyed. What originally was something so great, is destroyed. So what we would like to do is hopefully grab a little of the passion, but bring this feeling of understand and whatnot into it as well. So I know it’s a loaded question; there’s a lot to give in a couple minutes, but yeah we have a hard time with a lot of ways things are done. We feel like there should be more time and consideration, I mean He’s God, He’s endless. There’s so much to explain about it. How can you possibly do it in 30 minutes on stage, you know? You can, but the full understanding of what God is and who He is is not gonna happen. That takes years of foundation building. I heard one band say “We wanna baptize kids right when they’re saved on stage; we’re gonna save em, baptize em!” I’m like, the kids aren’t gonna even get why they’re getting baptized! They won’t know why they’re doing it. It’s like “cool, we’re getting baptized; we’re saved.” That’s all they’re gonna know. They won’t understand what they’re doing and why it’s cleansing…like where have we gone? (laughs)


BB: What’s the toughest thing would you say about being a Christian and being out on the road and being around all the darkness of the world?

LH: Honestly the toughest thing for us is not so much the darkness; the darkness is where people are at rock bottom. I mean it’s easy to talk to people. They may not agree with you, but it’s cool to just sit there and hang out, and homeless people or whatever, you kinda just hang out and talk to them. There’s a homeless guy I was talking to. He didn’t seem like he was all there, but then all of a sudden, he kinda turned off this whole, “Hey man, I’m trying to get home!” Whatever, blah blah. And he said where he was from, and I’m like cool, what makes you come two/three hundred miles up here? And then he started saying why and whatnot. But I mean, it started getting real. That to me is awesome. The challenge is the different types of Christians. And I’m not gonna lie, we’ve fallen into that, where “you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong!” But no we’re just like, “Do it however you feel led to do it. We’re gonna do it this way.” That’s the hardest part, getting your mind there. You know, focusing on what matters, and not what doesn’t matter.


BB: Okay, are there three pieces of advice that you would give to a younger musician, and what is one thing that really surprised or still surprises you about the music industry?

LH: One thing would be when you’re touring, keep it small. Keep it little; enjoy what you’re doing. Months and months and months of touring early does nothing but burn you out. Keep it small keep it easy; we did that. And young bands these days…there’s so many tours going on and whatnot…keep it small; keep it fun. And the other thing is merch. Merch is the most important thing ’cause that’s what gets you from point A to point B. One shirt, one demo. That’ll get you gas. Don’t go crazy, don’t go into debt, you know. And the other thing I would say is you get your area, your surrounding area, to fall in love with you first. Once you build a good following in your hometown, and then a couple other stronger areas, you got it made. You’ve got something good going on. And then something that surprised me would be the way the music scene actually is. I mean when you’re a garage band writing songs for your first album, you have like this preconceived notion of how being in a band is supposed to be and the tour bus and whatever else. And everybody loves everybody and you’re just like “yyyyeeeaa! kids are going nuts!” (shakes his head) No. That takes years. Sometimes you skyrocket up, but it usually doesn’t last long. It’s like…there’s a lot to it. A lot more to it than I thought.


BB: What are three bands that you think they should require people to listen to in high school before they can graduate?

LH: I would say xDisciplex AD because they were my favorite band; that’s the band that got me doing what I was doing. Rage Against the Machines were life-changing. And number three would have to be…I’m gonna go with a metal band because I just started – not just, but the last few years started listening to metal cause of our guitar players. I would have to say Soilwork. No actually, In Flames. I really like In Flames.


BB: What books and movies would you say have changed your life?

LH: The Barbarian Way is a good book; I love that book. The favorite book that I’ve ever read literally was the key to changing my life: Wild At Heart by John Eldridge. It taught me about being a warrior; it’s what the basis of the song “Heart of a Warrior” was. It taught me to be humble, it taught me to think of life. Like Braveheart, he uses references of Braveheart in it all the time in it. Basically because of that book, I didn’t date anyone for two years and found my wife. So that was a huge book in my life. Then I would also say I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I feel like as a young man, if you’re single or whatever, those three books together create an unstoppable force. There’s other books I’ve read since then that I loved, but those are the three that I would say are very vital to a young man. For a woman, CaptivatingCaptivating is amazing for them as well as I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And The Barbarian Way appeals to them as well. But I would say Captivatingover Wild at Heart, though I think it’s good to read that one as well, but Captivating is the female version of that book. My wife read it and it changed her big time.


BB: What kind of message do you hope fans get out of your music or take away from your shows?

LH: That we’re real. That we’re real dudes trying to hang out and have fun and play music that we love. We’re not putting on a show other than musically. And we are what you get on stage and then when we get offstage, we take the whole band helmet off and put on the regular human being helmet. The bigger we get of course the less time you’re going to have for your fans, but at the same time we hope we’re always real. So I would say the aggression you get on stage – the showmanship, whatever, we try to build the best set possible for a live performance – stays, but you know, off stage it’s hangout time.


BB: Cool. And would you like to send any kind of message to our troops that are serving overseas?

LH: Yeah there’s a funny story with that. We played a bar a couple years ago, and I’m sitting on a bar stool. And this guy walks up to me and shows me his military license; he was a Marine. And I look at it, and nine times out of ten…bald head, I looked like a “tough guy.” Sometimes you get those guys that just wanna fight you. So I’m lookin at him and I’m like “Cool, man”. I thought he was just showing me his military license like he could kick my butt or something. And I look at him and I’m like, “Awesome dude. Thank you for fighting for our country”. And he goes, “I want you to know something”. And I’m like oh boy here we go. He goes, “When we’re all in the plane, I pop on Heart of a Warrior. And then we listen to ‘Strength Within’. And then when I get out of that plane and we jump out and I hit the ground, I kill every ______ ______ I see”. And I go, “That hands down is the most insanely amazing thing I’ve ever heard”. (laughs) I’m like, “that will never be topped”. I gave him a hug and I said, “I hope that you’re killing for us, the right people, but that is amazing, thank you very much!”

BB: Wow. (laughs)

LH: So it’s hard doing what they’re doing being away from their families. I have a lot of friends that are in the military. My wife tried to join the Air Force, but they wouldn’t take her because of her tattoo. But they’re doing something great and they’re working hard. Most of my family is military, and I hope that they continue to keep their hearts right and they continue to fight and keep doing what they’re doing. And that they come back alright.


BB: And then I wanted to see if you wouldn’t mind sharing like a brief testimony of what you’re life was like before you received Christ and the changes he’s made in your life and what your life is like now?

LH: Well before I was a Christian, I was very miserable. You know, which is the ongoing story of every person that’s onstage or offstage; they’re always talking about how miserable they are. But I was pretty miserable. I’d been kidnapped, molested, abused in every way you can think of. My father is not the greatest human being in the world. I didn’t come from a very great home: drugs prevalent, my father recently just left my mother, cheated on her twice, you know that whole spiel…just a very broken situation. I was very hurt by the family life and whatnot, and so my choice was to take it out on the only thing I could control, and that was my aspect of what I believed in. So I took it out on my own body, my own self, and got so depressed and so rock-bottom that I just wanted to commit suicide; I didn’t wanna live anymore. I almost killed someone. I bought a gun ’cause there was this kid picking on me in school; I was very young. And the only way I could get out of it was kill him. So I bought a gun, never got the gun, luckily, thank God, but I was so depressed, so low, that that was the only way that I was gonna protect myself and I didn’t care if I went to jail. I figured I’d kill him, then just kill myself. So all this stuff adding up. There was one day that I was working at Subway. And I nicknamed it “Drugway” ’cause I sold drugs out of the back. And I started sitting there thinking randomly about my two sisters, my brother, and how they’ve always did everything I did. If I smoked, they smoke; if I drank, they drank; if I partied, they partied. And I’m like “you know what, do I really want this life – how miserable I am – for them? And do I want this for myself anymore?” And I basically told myself “no”. Yeah I was sitting right there and I bagged up everything I was doing, all the scale stuff I was figuring out, gave the weed to my friend…which is amazing, ‘gave it to my friend,’ like “here smoke this”. So I just said I’m done. I quit smoking shortly after that. And a lot of it was selfish at the time. I was rock bottom. I felt like if I could just change my life around that I could be cool, I could find friends. A lot of it was just selfish like that. But I started building this foundation of who I was and why I was who I was. Started a band thinking it would be cool. And then it slowly turned into something else as I started getting more understanding of who I was. Then it led into this and that. And honestly, so many people I see become Christian and they become all these things because they want a lifestyle change. The most important thing you can do is your foundation. I don’t care why you changed your life around, I don’t care if you’re not changing your life around…then work on yourself as a human being. You know, and build that foundation and there it’ll turn into something else. So, selfish and whatever reasons I did it in the beginning…I didn’t come from a great family life, but I taught myself everything. Everything, from how to play sports to how to play bass, to how to scream in a band, to how to tour, whatever. I had no one teach me, I learned everything myself. And that’s the kinda man I’ve always been. So I’ve taught myself this, and that’s my relationship with Christ. And then I’ve learned from other people and put people in my life where I could learn from them and understand what the true meaning of this is and whatnot. So build a strong foundation. And basically yeah, that’s it in a nutshell. Very low, low life; low times, and hitting that rock bottom which most people hit…cause people come up to me and ask me all the time whether or not they can be Christian, or “how could you be Christian” and whatnot. To be honest man, it’s a choice. I can’t make anyone Christian. I can’t make anyone understand why I believe what I believe. They probably don’t care. And when you hit rock bottom and you wanna change, you’ll want it. I don’t have to explain it to you, you’re gonna want it.

BB: God kinda helps decide too, you know?

LH: Yeah exactly, and it’s like, I don’t ever wanna convince someone to be a Christian. I don’t ever wanna convince someone to believe in God. They have to do it themselves. Otherwise it’s not gonna last.


BB: That’s awesome. If someone has strong opinions like against the church or organized religion for whatever reason, what would you say to them to encourage them to seek a relationship with Christ?

LH: That’s a hard question. I was kinda discussing a little of it before. It’s like, someone who has a strong opinion against something…I mean, it’s like the government. Making a Democrat a Republican or a Republican a Democrat is not gonna happen. Convincing someone to like the Steelers over the Browns is not gonna happen. Unless they have some unknown reason why they want to make the switch. Someone who has a strong opinion about the church and has a strong opinion about religion…there’s nothing you’re gonna be able to say to be able to change their mind. Their mind is made up. It’s up to them personally…and this is what I’d tell them. I’d be like, “There’s nothing I can say to you to make you change your mind. The only thing that I can do is be me and hangout and be your friend”. There’s a friend of mine that came to last night’s show that used to be a very strong Christian. He has a mural of Christ on his back. Well some things fell apart years back. He basically fell apart and got a tattoo over that of like a decrepit Jesus and then some banner underneath it that says like ‘screw you’ or whatever. He made the switch because something happened. You can’t force anything; you can’t push something on someone. He’s still friends with us. We still love him. He came last night, hung out, knows exactly what we’re about, but he loves us. And hopefully someday that friendship…he’ll understand again or he’ll get it and realize what’s going on. It’s never too late. So for someone who has a strong opinion, which he does…just be his friend. Just hang out. Show him love. Don’t try to convince him of anything. Definitely don’t argue with him. Fall into that and you’re shutting the door right in your face. I see arguing so many times from young bands or even older bands. They’ll just sit there and argue their point of why God exists. You know, “And then the stars…if they were this much closer to this then everybody would burn and whatever”. And it’s just like, they don’t care. Be their friend. Shut up. Just be their friend.


BB: And then my final question is what Bible verse would you say is your most inspirational?

LH: I have lots, but I would say Jude 1:9. I’m pretty sure that’s it: “But not even the archangel Michael spoke blasphemy against Satan.” I feel like with everything that’s going on…I’ve heard so many Christian bands get up on stage and talk about how warrior and whatever they are and how they’re gonna defeat Satan and whatever…not even the archangel Michael spoke blasphemy against Satan. I’m not saying you don’t get up on stage and be strong with who you are and whatever else, and through the power of Christ, you are going to overcome what’s in your life. But I hear so many bands sit there and say, “Hell hath no fury!” and I’m like yeah okay, he may not be able to get you, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to rip apart every single person in your family to get to you. And through years and years of that…here I am in a band doing what I’m doing. Both of my sisters have had kids, my father is now divorcing my mom, there’s all these things going on. Yeah sure, he can’t get me, but that doesn’t mean he’s not gonna attack my Christian family. You know, that doesn’t mean anything. So you just gotta be careful. That speaks volumes to me. I think kids are awesome and they’re getting strong, but you gotta humble yourself a little bit. You sit there and talk about how you’re gonna battle Satan and you’re gonna win…no, you’re not. I’m sorry, you’re not.

BB: Ruler of this world, you know?

LH: Yeah, he rules this; he’s been doing it since the dawn of time. He was given this. He reigns. Now, God reigns over everything, but gave him this world to have dominion over. It’s like and now you’re sitting there telling a being older than…he doesn’t even care about you, it’s his demons that come and bother you. My other thing is, people always go “Satan can’t get me!” It’s like, he doesn’t give a crap about you, he’s busy handling people that are like destroying masses. He’s not omnipresent, he’s one. He doesn’t have the abilities God has. God is omnipresent. He isn’t. You have like that much authority in your own mind and body that you’re doing such great things that you think Satan’s devoting his time to you? No, he’s worried about the world and the antichrist and everything that’s going on with that. He’s not worried about you. So, Jude 1:9 that’s what I would say.


BB: Cool man. Thank you!


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