Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
By Len Nash
In recent months a band from Georgia that goes by the name "The Chariot" inked a deal with Solid State Records. It is a band that has garnered listenership inside of the hardcore music movement and debuted themselves in the underground with a home recorded demo, done in three days, with one microphone, and three songs. What resulted was a kick butt home recording and people soon started to notice. It doesn't hurt to have former Norma Jean vocalist Joshua Scogin, but don't be fooled. Norma Jean and The Chariot are two different breeds. In this interview, Len Nash sat down minutes after The Chariot's Encore 2 stage performance at Cornerstone, Illinois 2004 and chatted with guitarist Keller and drummer Jeff. What resulted was some laughs, seriousness, in-depth talk, in a relaxed manner, and a surprise right off of the bat.
Nash: What's the history behind The Chariot?
Keller: It started probably a year and a half ago. It was just praise and worship and it was just me, Josh, Joey, and this guy named Brian. The line-up kept changing and we didn't really have a goal we were going after. Just for the record there was no beef between Norma Jean and us. It was totally God's will, that's why Josh quit (Norma Jean) like nothing else. We were just rocking out, praying about stuff, we felt like there was a certain direction we needed to be going ministry-wise. We didn't care if we were playing by ourselves or if we were playing for Cornerstone. We went through a line-up change, played a few shows, then Joey, our drummer, quit. Then we got Jeff and Biser. Then we started touring, we've been doing this tour for about a month now. History-wise, it's always been about ministry, that's the reason why we've done so many changes. We want to please God, first and foremost, whatever his will is. It's just become the beginning. We're on Solid State Records now, and starting with recording the last three weeks of August. The CD comes out November 16th. It's called, __Everything is Alive, Everything is Breathing, Nothing is Dead, because Nothing is Bleeding__. We're looking forward to that.
Nash: Any comments from you Jeff?
Jeff: I just think it's a real honor to be in this band. I wasn't always in it from the start, they had the band going for a while. Basically Joey pretty much felt his ministry was elsewhere, there's no beef between Joey (the ex-drummer) and The Chariot at all. We all prayed about it, felt his time was up and he felt like it too. So he left to be a youth pastor and I took over drumming.
Nash: Talking about ministry, what is the key with The Chariot and their ministry?
Keller: We're not perfect, obviously, no one is, we're striving to live our lives pleasing to the Lord and we just want kids to know you don't have to be a stiff Christian. You can dress the same, listen to the same music, you can hang out and have fun, you can go to shows. Christian is a lifestyle, it's not who you are, it's not how you are, it's living a life, pleasing to the Lord, being Christ-like, which just means love God and can't sin. Ministry wise, it's touching kids, we want to see them change, be happy and enjoy life, live the right way, and hopefully make it to heaven.
Nash: How is it being signed to Solid State? They can promote you guys, how do you feel about that?
Keller: Totally different. [It is] not the same Solid State as it was two years ago; it's being ran a lot better, I like it. I used to want to be on it back when I was in no bands, a little loser kid. I always had dreams and knew no one, I was home schooled, so I sat in my room playing guitar all day. It's just a really good label, they're doing a lot for us, they've been awesome so far, I love all of the guys at Solid State and thank God for it.
Nash: As a band all of you guys are Christians, correct?
Keller: Every single one of us. We all go to church in Douglasville, Georgia. It's called LifeLine Ministries. Not that going to church makes a person a Christian, but yeah, we're all Christians, that's first and foremost.
Nash: With all of the guys being Christians. What is your one goal as a band, besides ministry, anything in the "scene" you want to see kind of go away or improve?
Jeff: I think that everybody in the band wants to see the unity that was there a couple of years ago in the scene. You see all of these kids, they have the whole hardcore dancing thing and that's all cool. We support that, we support moshing, it doesn't really matter. Whenever there are fights breaking out, it's totally not right, no one wants to go fight and stuff, and if you do, we just want to kind of speak out against that, because that's not what we're about. We are Christians and everything, I think that even if no one in this band was Christian we'd still be annoyed by the fighting that goes on at some shows, it's just a lot of negativity, that needs to be fixed.
Keller: Don't get naked. (laughs) I think a lot of things need to be changed in the scene. We want to break this mold of everything has to be death or dead or dying, kids afraid not to wear a black shirt. Express yourself not through hardcore music, not through a hardcore scene. Express yourself because, oh I have this dream, I have this idea in my head I want to see lived out, not I can't do that because it's not black, or I can't do that because it's not metal, or it's not dead. Which is a lot of the reason our album is named the way it is, because it's totally against the whole death and dying crap, more of a positive message.
Nash: You guys respect what the kids are doing moshing and all that type of stuff?
Jeff: Yeah, in fact we encourage it, it always been our thing to get the crowd going...
Keller: ...if it's not like beating each other up...
Jeff: As long as it's not like throwing punches and intentionally trying to hurt people, we're all about it. Back in the past we used to do it ourselves (mosh), we know what it's all about, it's just really fun to get in there and mosh it up or dance it up.
Nash: There are some people that wouldn't understand the hardcore scene, the moshing, the screaming, etc. What would you really tell them about the unity of the hardcore scene or anything like that?
Jeff: We would definitely hope they'd understand after seeing us on stage, what we're all about. I think a lot of the older people who are Christians, they're the ones that really don't understand it, they're not as open minded (to hardcore music) then the older ones that don't know Christ or choose not to be Christian for whatever reason...
Keller: ...or if they're in a religious mindset, you can't do this, you got to wear a suit and (dress) shirts, have respect for the lord, they take that in the way you dress, the way you act, so far as you are at church, then go home and do whatever you want to. Being a Christian is a lifestyle.
Jeff: Live the life, walk the walk.
Nash: For the Christians in the hardcore scene that don't know where to walk right now, what do you encourage them to practice in their walk and kind of start doing a little bit more?
Keller: The smartest thing they could do is pick up their Bible off of the shelf, dust it off, and read it.
Jeff: Read more of God's word, just study everyday; we're called to be in his likeness. The best way to be in his likeness is to listen to his word so of course as a band we would want to bring that point forth. Just study God's word, cause that's what he wanted us to do in the first place, that's the reason he put us here on earth.
Keller: The Bible says that God has given us everything we need for life and that comes through hearing and receiving his word.
Nash: What do you see in God's word? How has it helped you along in your life, and grow as a Christian?
Keller: Well.... like I said, the word says that he (God) has given you everything you need for life and the Bible also says, the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God. Incidentally, reading the word through, all of that, and growing in Christ the last few years, it's helped me a lot. I wouldn't make any decision in my life without seeking God's will in it first. The Chariot so far, I know that's God's will, only because I spent so much time in God's word and praying about his will. It's definitely helped me out a whole lot, I would be dead right now if it wasn't for God's word and the salvation in Jesus Christ.
Jeff: Before I was saved, before I even read any of God's word, I felt totally helpless, I think what God's word has done for me in the past couple of years has just given me hope in all things, I think that if anybody truly trusts in God and really gives his word a chance to work in their lives, it's the living word, it's not dead, not just man's word, actually, God's words in written format for our help. If you read it the way you're supposed to, it helps you, it can't do anything other then that. It's (the word) helped me like crazy. I wouldn't even be here right now, like Keller said, "if it wasn't for God's word." It has just comforted me and I know the truth now.
Nash: That's very cool. Going back to the CD name. What is it named again and why is it named that?
Keller: It's called; _Everything is Alive, Everything is Breathing, Nothing is Dead, because Nothing is Bleeding_. It is named that because so far, every single band has a name that has to do with dying, or death, or murder, or something along that. We're not really into the whole dying thing too much; it's not that cool to me. I don't want to die in the next few days, and I don't want to support death. Obviously, we're going to die one day, it doesn't mean that we've got to talk about it like it's happening right now. It's (the new CD) telling kids that they don't have to think that they're about to die, they don't have to live in a mindset of death all the time. I know the scene promotes that a whole, whole, lot. Among other things, kids are just trying to be tough, they think it's cool to say, death, death, die, die, die, whatever... It's a way to show kids that you can be positive and have tough music, still have hardcore music, and you don't have to loose the tough side of it and still be positive, still have a good time, and be happy.
Jeff: The thing is, we're definitely not taking a direct stab at any of the bands that use that. It's more like poking fun, it's there, you can clearly see that there are a lot of bands out there now that include death in the name and all this other stuff. We don't have any beef with any of these bands; there's no band that made us strive to get this album name, we're not like ha ha wouldn't it be fun to get back at these guys. We're totally not like that, we don't try to get back at anybody, there's no beef between us and any other band, ever. We're just here to help the scene out, to preach the good news to people, to do our job as Christians through our own eyes, and to have fun.
Nash: To close it out, what will you say to all of the people who may be reading this?
Keller: Thank you for taking the time to listen to our music on hxcmp3 and purevolume. It means so much, that you'd take the time out of your day, to come to one of our shows, pay money, come talk to us, tell us whatever, hang out with us. Please continue to do so, we love you, thank you so much.
Jeff: Metal's good, Fruity Pebbles rule, just as much.
Nash: Thank you guys, have a good day.
Keller: Thank you too man, thanks for interviewing us and everything man.
Nash: No problem.