Islander frontman puzzled by “Christian” rock label

@brandonspeck Eric Frazier and Mikey Carvajal at Mayhem Memphis.

Eric Frazier and Mikey Carvajal at Mayhem Memphis.


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

1 thought on “Islander frontman puzzled by “Christian” rock label

  1. I enjoy this band. It’s somewhat a guilty mainstream pleasure of mine. The religious elements in the first album are fairly ambigous, in my opinion. I can see why Mike may be puzzled about the “Christian Band” label given. At first. Here we are with Power Under Control, and those religious elements are very hard to miss. He’s still puzzled… Does he read his lyrics? Because just about every song (“Beelzeebub”, anyone?) contains a line or two of religious content. He asks if Korn is also a Christian band since two members are Christian, which is obviously a “no”. But when damn near every song mentions the devil (noun or adjective), you’re gonna get slapped with that label. You should no longer be confused.

    Don’t misunderstand, I am in no way bashing the band due to his religious views, but you can’t really be too surprised at the label applied when your lyrics are written in such a way.

    The being said, I do thoroughly enjoy the band. Power Under Control doesn’t have the same appeal to me that Violence and Destruction did, but it’s not garbage. I’ve been listening to it for the past couple weeks, and there are a lot of parts that get stuck in my head. Mikey’s vocal style is pretty versatile, even if he channels Michael Jackson here and there. The band does a fairly decent job at mixing genres without making it seem like desperate attempts to garner attention. I don’t think this should have been so highly rated, but it’s not the dog turd others are saying.

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