Who better to tell you what rock music to buy than my 83-year-old grandmother? No one. Introducing the first installment of “Memie’s Music Review.” By the way, she’s thrilled to be taking part ;)!
THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH releases its first new studio album in over two years,OXYGEN:INHALE, today amidst wide acclaim. Already hitting No. 1 on iTunes’ Rock chart and No. 6 on the overall Albums chart, the recording’s lead single “Born This Way” also speeds its way into the Top 35 at Active Rock and becomes a Christian Top 10 Rock hit.
NASCAR also cranks up the song’s volume on ESPN beginning tomorrow and through mid-December as the single continues to roar up the radio charts while picking up nearly a quarter-of-a-million views and 3,700+ likes on YouTube.
MEMPHIS – Caught up with drummer Timmy Braun and guitarist Cord Pool from metal, southern rock outfit Texas Hippie Coalition during the Memphis stop of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest.
Mayhem was a boost for the Texas rockers, who release Ride On on Oct. 7.
“Every single day’s been a new adventure, meeting somebody we didn’t know,” Pool said, “making new friends, making new fans, too.”
Temperatures were scorching on the pavements of Memphis International Raceway and with schools back in session that day, crowds were small.
“We still make a point to go out there and make sure everybody got their money’s worth,” Braun said.
THC isn’t considered in any circles, a Christian project. Talked with the guys about Christianity for another segment of …
Rockers Talk God
TSR: It seems like in rock ‘n’ roll the line is not there anymore. You can be a Christian band without being labeled that. You find that the case? What’s your take on that?
TB: “Before every show, we have a little prayer circle for the whole party that tours with us, and anybody that wants to be involved. Whether you’re a believer or a non-believer, it’s kind of just a meditational, positive energy exchange between everybody, kind of get everybody on the same page before we go on.”
TSR: What does the term “Christian” mean to you?
TB: “I grew up Catholic, so someone that says they’re a Christian, it’s supposed to be to follow the ways of Christ. Unfortunately, I do believe though that some of the most Christian people I know don’t even go to church or even proclaim their faith. They’re some of the best genuine, most real people. I really do think that some people try to put their Christianity out there as an excuse to make them look like they’re good people, really they have something to hide. I think everybody’s going to have different beliefs. I think it’s really all about just treating people with respect, you know, the way you would want to be treated really. And that’s what Jesus wanted, so.”
TSR: Who is Jesus Christ?
CP: “I’m a Christian, so I just consider Him to be God, our higher maker, same thing, the Trinity. We all have different beliefs in the band. In my opinion, Christian, I don’t know what that means … I mean, I am a Christian I guess, but more of just having a relationship with, you know, just a higher maker I guess, for me.”
Talked with Ill Nino guitarist Diego Verduzco at Mayhem last week. We talked humidity, chafing and baby powder. No, really.
But we also talked about Jesus, Christianity and Wes Borland.
Limp Bizkit guitarist Boreland had this to say recently and received some backlash. He retweeted some of the backlash and clarified what he meant.
The tweet: “I’ve found that people who tell you they listen to everything generally aren’t that interested in music.”
He clarified: “Meaning that when you ask people what they listen to and they say: “Oh, you know, I like everything I guess.” that those people aren’t really big music fans. They aren’t obsessed with it. They’re happy to hear whatever happens to be on the radio.”
So I asked Verduzco his thoughts.
“I think that’s pretty accurate. When I was growing up, I found my favorite bands and I followed everything they were doing. I knew exactly where they were on what date. I knew all the B-sides on the albums. I knew where to get the demos or whatever. I feel like, just my opinion, it seems like that might be lacking these days, where fans aren’t as excited or as enthralled as maybe older generations were,” he said.
“Maybe someone says “I like everything” really doesn’t like much, or has a very vague idea of what “everything” is. I could say I like everything, because I genuinely do. I love everything from just classic rock to classical music and I love death metal, black metal and then I like jazz. I vary by emotion or what I’m up to. If I’m at the gym, I’m not playing jazz. If I’m hanging out with buddies, I might be listening to some heavier music. I’m from Santa Ana, California and hip hop and rap was big for me growing up, so I still like to listen to that stuff too. I’m very open to whatever. Myself, I may not know some of the newer things, but I try and find out and if something catches my ear, I definitely go out and check out what it is.”
Rockers Talk God
TSR: How do you define Christianity?
Diego: “I grew up Catholic. I’m Mexican, so we grew up Catholic. So, I went to a Catholic High School, so to me Christianity would be just a belief in Christ as the Savior. That would be my own opinion as to what it is.”
TSR: Who is Jesus?
Diego: “The Son of God, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
TSR: Jesus likes rock ‘n’ roll, right?
Diego: “He’s got to. Hey, if we’re made in God’s image, He’s got to have a sense of humor. He’s got to love rock ‘n’ roll. He shreds on that guitar and wails on the drums. I’m sure.”
Here’s is the full video of my chat with Diego.
MEMPHIS – Americans are spoiled rotten. From our choice of restaurants, shops and even churches on every corner of towns big and small, our options are aplenty.
Same goes for our concerts and tours.
“America’s hard. We’re so spoiled here. We’ve got all these great bands that come and tour,” Ill Nino guitarist Diego Verduzco said from the Memphis stop of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest.
That’s not a bad thing, but it leads to complacency of the modern concert goer. Even at Memphis Mayhem, the crowd was slimmer than it should have been for a loaded lineup that closed with Korn.
“A lot of times, it’s like, you miss your favorite band this week, your second favorite band is coming next week, so don’t worry about it,” Verduzco said.
A crowded market means bands have to reach fans in other ways. And there are plenty of them – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s reaching the audience, and reaching them more personally than ever.
Veruzco joined the 14-year-old band in 2006. Last month, they released “Til Death La Familia,” a seventh studio record.
Vets or not, Verduzco says the band runs their own social media, which really started taking off the year he came onboard.
“A lot of us didn’t have any clue as to how it worked. It was brand new at the time,” Verduzco said. “What I’ve learned personally is you’ve got to be involved with what’s going on at the moment and keep an eye to what’s going on in the future. There’s a lot of other sites out, ReverbNation, that maybe some others don’t pay attention to, but we’ve got to keep at least a toe dipped in the water into each one of these avenues. It’s important. How many people do you know that don’t have a Facebook?”
MEMPHIS – Call Mikey Carvajal a Christian. He’s happy to talk about it with you. He is a follower of Jesus Christ.
But don’t call his nu metal band, Islander, a Christian band. It’s not. In fact, Carvajal is the only Christian in the quartet. And if all four professed Christianity, why label it?
“The Christian music thing, that’s a weird thing to me, the idea,” Carvajal said. “You don’t see Buddhist rock or Hindu rock in Best Buy, so why is there Christian rock? I don’t know, like the term Christian, people view it all these different ways.
“All I know is that I was on my way to Hell – and I know that that’s not a popular thing to believe anymore, in Hell – but I was on my way there and I’ve been forgiven. That’s the only difference. I asked for forgiveness and I believe Christ offers that. That’s not what we’re selling in this band. That’s my personal life.”
That’s what he believes. But Carvajal is a rocker, who happens to be a Christian, not a so-called “Christian” rocker.
Even as his rising band, signed to Victory in Sept. 2013, is taking off to the new nu metal forefront, don’t expect him to go off preaching from the stage. While he admits that since that’s his world view and since he writes the lyrics, his Christianity is going to come through in song.
And whether it’s about Jesus or a hated parent, is rock not rock? The “Christian” rock label could turn some – as silly as that is – away before even giving a band a shot.
“But the other guys’ beliefs aren’t any less important or valid or whatever. I think every band suffers from that,” he said from the Memphis stop of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. “Whatever your singer is singing about, everybody puts that on the whole band. And that’s not a good thing, but that’s just what people do. But yeah, I am a follower of Christ.”
So was Johnny Cash, yet he never got labeled in a separate section of the music store. Nothing expect music gets that treatment.
There are Christian rock Internet radio stations and even a rock show on SiriusXM’s The Message (yet another contemporary “Christian” station) called “The Message: AMPED!.” Maybe rock with a Christian message has to be labeled for reasons such as that or to get on Lifeway’s shelves, but it doesn’t stop there. “Islam” rock isn’t a thing. Why has “Christian” rock become a genre? What if all the members of a band aren’t Christians? Every other music label is inclusive – rap, country, reggae.
How is “Christian” rock a genre, when it’s a club not every band with at least one Christian in it can be in?
“What do you call Korn? Two Christians in a band. It’s not a Christian band,” Carvajal said. “When I go out and eat at a restaurant, I don’t ask if my chef’s a Christian before I eat his meal. I’m just grateful that someone could cook the food well. If I call a plumber to come fix my toilet, I want him to be a good plumber. I don’t care what he believes. It’s the same with music. I want quality music. The stuff I listen to…”
Cue Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who walks by just in time and shouts at his two cents. “Liar,” he joked.
“There’s one of them right there. There’s one of those Christians,” Carvajal said, with a smile pointing back at Welch.
Why can’t rock be liked because it’s good? People like plumbers that unstop pipes, not because he did or did not do his morning Bible study.
Islander is Islander, making a case to join to headlining ranks with an energizing live show and a disc that provides ears with every enjoyable aspect nu metal has to offer, topped by their own brutality.
“It’s not one of those things where it’s a Christian band, it’s not a band with Christians in it and it’s not a non-Christian band,” Carvajal said. “It’s none of it. It’s just a band. And people are always like, ‘Well, what kind of band is it?’ It’s like, when you get in a swimming pool with your friends, you’re just a bunch of friends in the swimming pool. You’re not … when we’re on stage, just look at us like we’re in a swimming pool together. That’s the best way to look at it. Even though we have some different beliefs, we’re all in there, ‘Marco Polo.’”
More on video with Mikey
MEMPHIS – It’s one thing to reinvent a band once. It’s another to reinvent a band multiple times over a 20-year career.
In a whole other ballpark: reinventing a band that fans continue to love.
Korn has managed to do it all and 20 years in is showing no signs of slowing down.
“It’s all about the music now. Everyone is focused. We all have our families. There’s no substance abuse. There’s no bull crap to get in the way,” drummer Ray Luzier said from the Memphis stop of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest.
The catalog is huge and as Luzier pointed out, the focus and 20 years of stage time shows in a still-electric live show that is hard for any newbie or vet to live up to.
Fifteen years ago, it was their party life that was hard to match. The road was the imagined rock ‘n roll lifestyle of drug abuse and life on the edge of any cliff they could find.
Head has left the band, become a Christian and returned. Fieldy found the same faith. And Jonathan and Munky are in their primes of a band that has gone from a Bakersfield vision to every corner of the globe and sold nearly 40 million records. The end doesn’t seem anywhere near. They’re already talking new album.
“This band, 12, 15 years ago, I don’t think I could have been in it,” said Luzier, his eighth year in the group. “I’m one of those weirdos, I’ve never done a drug in my life.”
From Davis’ first “Are you ready,” on 1994’s self-titled debut, to the release of the extended Paradigm Shift: World Tour Edition, the changes have pleased, even when Davis went, for lack of a better term, dub-step on 2011’s Path of Totality. Fans have dug it all.
It’s always been about the music to a large extent, but with kids replacing drugs and water replacing alcohol, the music and the fans are the sole focus of Korn. Luzier is the only member of the band who drinks anything – and that’s red wine.
Their kids are now onstage, throwing sticks and picks and headbanging like their metal-headed fathers.
“People on the other side of the fence are like, ‘What’s it like backstage? What do you guys do?’ To be honest, it’s like Chuck E. Cheese on this tour,” Luzier said, “because there’s pizza and there’s a bunch of kids running around. It’s cool. We’re so into our kids and our families. The value is so much more now.”