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Pillarís Cornerstone Festival Press Conference
July 3, 2003
Interviewed by Steve White
The second day of the Cornerstone Festival Press Tent saw the members of Pillar (Rob Beckley, vocals; Lester Estelle, drums; Noah Henson, guitar; and Kalel, bass) take to the table for a conference led by The Phantom Tollboothís News Director, Steve White. Writers Josh Marihugh and Tony LaFianza also asked questions along with various anonymous members of the press. Thanks to the limitations of audiotape, the identities of the answer-givers got pretty muddled so the band generally speaks with one united voice during this state-of-Pillar news event.--Editor
Steve White: Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, welcome this afternoon. Joining us today, we have Pillar. Why donít you start by telling us what you have been up to lately.
Pillar: We just had a re-release Fireproof on Geffen Records/MCA. We were on Flicker Records and Geffen Records bought us out, and they released it through the Universal Music Group.
White: How did that come about, that whole process?
Pillar: A year ago, we released Fireproof It sold really well, and the mainstream market isnít selling as many records these days. They see the Christian market selling records. They saw a band that was moving a lot of units and they called us up and it worked itself out. It took a long time to get everything going, but we ended up signing with them, and they re-released it in June.
White: Is that something youíve been seeking out, or did it just happen that way?
Pillar: They called us. We never really worried about it. You can go into Virgin and Tower Records now and find us in the rock section. June 10, 2003, is when it was re-released, but the actual process was eight months of going through ďHey, weíre going to sign you, letís do this.Ē It was a nightmare process, but it finally happened.
White: Is there some new work? Did they re-do some stuff on the album?
Pillar: Itís totally repackaged. Itís got a full-length DVD as well. Itís remixed so it sounds a lot better.
White: Is there a single? Are you going to get any radio play?
Pillar: Right now, ďFireproofĒ is being played on active rock radio. Itís slowly climbing its way up, trying to get through all the other big releases. Itís getting played all over now. Itís doing really well.
White: Was Geffen apprehensive at all about the lyrical content? You are pretty up-front about what you are about.
Pillar: They were really cool. They just saw weíre a hardworking band getting it done on our own. They didnít want to change anything about what we do.
Itís the same record that was released on the Christian label. No lyrics were changed or muted. They were content with everything about us.
White: Do the plans give it a pretty good push--a tour to support it, that kind of thing?
Pillar: Eventually. Itís really weird. Weíre used to saying, weíre going to go out on this tour, and we know four months in advance. Weíre trying to get on a fall tour now, and we probably wonít know until August! They are definitely working to try and get us on a tour on a more mainstream level.
They [Geffen] are doing everything a mainstream level should be doing. They said that pretty much, weíre Geffenís number one push right now until Puddle of Mudd comes out with their new album. Theyíll still be pushing us hard then, too. They are doing everything.
White: Will there be a video?
Pillar: Eventually. Soon. We were told we had to wait for rock radio to hit a little harder before they can push video.
White: Does this whole process delay putting out anything new?
Pillar: Hereís the overall outlook on the whole thing. The Christian market makes up two percent of the buying market. To ninety-eight percent of the world, Fireproof is new. All we can say to our fans is, please be patient. We want to record a new record, but weíre all going to wait. The rest of the country doesnít know anything about Pillar yet, so we have to start all over again and re-push it.
There is a new version of a song on there thatís drastically different than the original version, so itís kind of like having a new song.
White: Do you really get the sense that the mainstream labels are looking at the Christian industry, looking for who is selling, that kind of thing?
Pillar: Definitely. They told us they look through the Christian charts for bands that stand out. They want to see who is selling a lot of records. They say if you can sell a lot of records to two percent, then whatís going to happen if we put you in front of everybody? There are, ultimately, still a lot of people out there that are Christians that donít even know Christian music exists. Thatís after saying how far itís come in the last ten years!
People enjoy the music just because itís so positive; itís not dragging them down. They may not understand why that is, but itís definitely more appealing than to just Christians.
White: What are you hearing from the stations that are playing it?
Pillar: Itís been really positive. Every once and a while, weíll hear of a DJ that says, ďWell, this is another Christian band.Ē Weíve heard a couple of those comments, but thatís really it.
It debuted back in late April. Thatís when the impact date for radio was. What they did was get it on a lot of battles-of-the-bands where they play two songs and people call in and say what song they like. We went up against Taproot, Deftones, Anthrax, and on every station, we beat everybody. They had to retire us because we kept winning. It rocked. We had a lot of crazy fans calling in a hundred times a day.
White: What are your summerís plans?
Pillar: Festivals like Cornerstone until August. We played two days ago in Milwaukee at Summer Fest. We shared the stage with Taproot that night, but at Cornerstone, you have to step it up. You have got to play the best you can, or you are not worthy of playing on the Main Stage.
White: Is the album being re-released in the Christian market, too?
Pillar: The old one is being re-stocked with the new one.
White: What about new projects? Will they be treated the same way?
Pillar: That was one of the things that appealed to us about this label. It doesnít have a Christian division. Some have their own in-house Christian division. They didnít have that, which allowed us to stay involved with Flicker Records, who signed us in the first place, and took a chance on us. They are licensing us back to the Christian market.
Tony LaFianza: Regarding those radio battles-of-the-bands, and some of the DJs looking down on ďanother Christian band,Ē is that an attitude you run into, or is it fading out?
Pillar: Itís something weíll probably continue to run into. Itís not going to fade out, but we donít care. And the more Christian bands that come along, I think thereíll be more people with that attitude. Itís just checks and balances.
Yeah, there are going to be people that say it just because itís so cliché in rock íní roll to be anti-god. So that when God starts taking things back over, yeah, itís going to piss some people off, and theyíre going to be, ďOh! A Christian band--this is stupid, this sucks,Ē or whatever. There are going to be those people there, but you just have to take it with a grain of salt. Thatís life. What are you going to do?
Josh Marihugh: Youíve always been one of my favorites lyrically with blatant, strong, Christian messages. Where do you see your lyrics in the future?
Rob Beckley: I donít know. I havenít written one song since the last album. Iíve got melodies, but I havenít written any lyrics. I know this. From the time I became a Christian to the time we did our first album, it was only two years of me being a Christian. So at that time, I was really young and didnít know anything about it. All I knew was that God was in my life and it really changed me.
Between that album and Fireproof, I grew a lot spiritually. And from the time we wrote those songs until now, Iíve grown so much more. I write lyrics off of life experiences, and every song on the Fireproof album was actually me speaking to myself. What am I like? What kind of person am I? You learn how to write from your heart, and Iím going to continue to do that. Itís all going to be about the experiences that I went through, and the things that Godís taught me. I just pray that people get as much out of the songs we have in us as they have out of the songs that weíve already written.
White: You have talked a little bit about some DJs dogging the Christian thing. But at the same time, do you sense openness to spirituality out there? Is it something they are interested in?
Pillar: We havenít done a lot of mainstream stuff yet. Weíve done some stuff where guys come up to us holding a beer and say, ďMan, that was f___ing (sic.) great!Ē So we know there are a lot of people open to our music, but weíre just getting into it, so weíll see.
Weíre totally starting over. Just two days ago, at Summer Fest [Milwaukee, Wisconsin], that was kind of an eye-opening experience. Weíve played environments like that before; it wasnít new to us, it was just more of a reality now because we are being played on mainstream stations. We are playing in front of some people that are pretty tore-up right now. How are they going to respond? [At Summer Fest] we didnít have anybody flipping us off, we didnít have anybody screaming, ďYou suck!Ē It was, overall a pretty positive experience.
But people that weíve talked to backstage, they are pretty open to it. They come up, they think you rock, and they are open to what you have to say, because youíve earned their respect.
White: Is it kind of strange, too, being a new artist again, after having been on the road for a while, and being together as a band for five years?
Pillar: We did shows last year, and there would be 10,000 people there going absolutely crazy, singing every song. Now we go to this little club with some kids who say, ďImpress me,Ē and then at the end of the show, the promoter gives us a hundred dollar bill. So itís definitely different starting over again.
Thatís a very humbling thing, but itís also very real, and itís really good for us to go from playing Creation Fest in front of 30,000 or 40,000 people on Main Stage and we go to the Creepy-Crawl in St. Louis and there are eight kids. Itís definitely interesting starting over. But itís cool. Itís humbling.
Audience: How do you keep it together spiritually, when you are on the road and touring and recording?
Pillar: The same way we do when weíre at home. When you go out to the grocery store, or when you go anywhere, do you change? Is there something different? This is our work environment. Itís who we are. There is no difference between being on the road and being at home. There are struggles, but we have struggles at home, too. Weíve been doing this for a long time, so itís second nature for us. You just read your Bible, pray, remain accountable; our wives keep us in check, for sure. Itís just like anybody else.
Audience: You started out in small town, USA. Do you have any good advice for other bands starting out in the same kind of situation?
Pillar: Thereís a trick to being in a band and making it. Itís all about making people think you are bigger than you really are. When we were in that little town, we were the biggest thing to ever happen to it there for a while.
Youíve got to promote yourself. We did our first CD release party, and we put up so many flyers all over the college campus [that] it was embarrassing to walk around campus. We pasted it, but we had one of the biggest shows that have come through that town.
Itís all about working hard and doing things smart. Plankeye told us the best advice; they were the first band we got to play with on a national level. They said, ďDo the shows that make sense. Play as much as you can, but do the ones that make sense.Ē We played every little town in a fifty-mile radius. Kansas was just covered.
You can play anywhere. Play
churches, schools, just open up the phonebook and call everyplace and ask
to play everywhere. We pretty much just made it our lives. During classes,
weíd sit there and make notes for our band. Every spare second we had we
did something, every day. Even if we didnít know what we were doing, weíd
just try. Thatís the biggest secret, I think, just always working hard
and just trying to do what you can.