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86 Rocks Hard, Speaks Gently on "Kings of the Game" tour
By Andy Argyrakis
Photos by Erika L Carlson
Hard rockers P.O.D., HED (Planet Earth), and Project 86 are currently in the midst of their "Kings of the Game" tour, hitting clubs across the country. Project 86 starts out the show with a 30-minute set featuring selections from their self-titled debut, as well as their current disc Drawing Black Lines. They are followed by HED (Planet Earth) who give an equally long dose of guitar driven rock, although their explicit content may be offensive to some listeners. Following them is P.O.D. who plays well over an hour, showcasing such hits as "Rock the Party," "Southtown," Hollywood" and "Bullet the Blue Sky."
After the tour's stop at Chicago's Rivera Theatre, I boarded Project 86's tour bus to have a one on one chat with lead singer Andrew Schwab. A good part of our conversation focused on the tour and what it takes to balance being a musician by trade and a Christian by faith in an industry not necessarily known for spiritual substance.
Tollbooth: How have you been able to share what you believe to those you've encountered on the tour?
AS: I think the more and more we do this, we've come to the conclusion that it's all about doing it through the art form. We sometimes seek flak from the Christian market because there is no overt Christian message being presented. We believe that every great piece of art is a work from God. If that piece of art leads you to think about something or beg some sort of question, then that is often more effective then spelling something flat out and then have people reject it right away because they don't believe that way.
Tollbooth: What has it been like with you guys and the members of HED on the road?
AS: They have been cool and we respect them. We let them know that we come from a certain perspective and we let them know that they should feel comfortable being themselves around us. They are expressing themselves from their hearts on the stage based on their experiences. If we were narrow minded and not open to that, we would never be able to hang out and talk with them. Instead we spend a lot of time together and have had the chance to talk about God with them. Our job is not to convert them but to love them and show them that Christians can be down to earth, respectful, and loving people. Some kids come out to the show and say things like 'Jesus loves you' to the guys from the group. That's not the way to go about it. Those people should give them a chance to hear where they've been.
Tollbooth: What have been some of the challenges of having your Christian fan base coming to a club or bar setting and getting offended by the atmosphere?
AS: They've got to remember that this is a secular rock show and they shouldn't come expecting church. They need to come with an open mind and be open to the different kinds of messages. As a Christian, my goal is to take it all in and filter out what I know I should not be doing. Christians should think about the things that people at the show might say or do that they may not approve of. They should then just think to themselves 'Why are people acting like this?' rather than judging them for not acting like they do.
Tollbooth: What is the biggest pitfall of getting settled into the rock and roll lifestyle?
AS: Just to give you
an example, on a night off from our tour, us, the guys from HED, and P.O.D.
all went to see the Papa Roach, Eminem, and Limp Bizkit tour. We all went
backstage afterwards and every one in those bands were really cool.
It was interesting to think that the bands on our tour and that tour were
all peers in the current music scene. That's where the subtle temptation
comes in for you to be a part of all that hype and start changing who you
are to fit into that scene more. That night I had a bit of a
Tollbooth: How is the puzzle fitting together between all of your mainstream market success, the continuing of your art form, and pleasing your fans that have been with you from the beginning?
AS: It's hard to walk all of those lines and the hardest thing for me is to keep a fresh perspective on all of those aspects as the band's singer, speaker on stage, and spokesman off stage. I get frustrated easily with the Christian people that are working against us. They need to be supportive of us and our efforts to bring our art form to the mainstream culture instead of pointing their fingers at us telling us we are wrong for what we are doing.
Project 86 will remain on the tour throughout the rest of the fall season, taking a quick break on Saturday, November 18 when they will play at EDAN Productions Mortal reunion concert. The show has garnered national attention since its announcement, and is scheduled to take place at the Wonderland Ballroom in Elgin, IL.