I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. ~Jesus

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cory's Top 20 Underground

Where do I start? When I discovered Josh, I saw a picture of him on a skateboard and since I used to skate, I immediately connected. Little did I know that he had an amazing voice and a great collection of music spanning multiple genres with lyrics that are by far, the most creative and intelligent that I can remember. To take it further, I found out that he was giving his newest album at that time (Love and War and The Sea In between) away free for a year. This resulted in more and more people finding out about him, and even though his popularity is exploding, he still remains a sort of non-mainstream artist and rounds out the top of my list. Meet Josh Garrels. One of the most truly blessed musicians I have ever heard.

Michael is one of the people involved with United Pursuit Band, but my first impression was cultivated by watching his solo music video Watchout. In Watchout, I was reminded of the “new waver” period of the 80's, and the video they put together conveyed that really well. What stands out about Michael is his tremendous voice. The music is also really well written and thought out. After delving further in to his collection, I discovered an artist that is really brilliant and one that has a deep passion for Jesus. I was really surprised that he is not more well-known. Here is a link to the aforementioned video. Enjoy!

Steph Macleod is from Scotland and was once a homeless addict. When Jesus broke those chains off his life, he became sold out. His music is very passionate about the Lord and combines soulful singing with great songwriting. His guitar playing is also way up there!

I have been listening to Blind Willie for a while now and he most definitely had to be high on this list. If you've never heard of the Voyager Spacecraft, Blind Willie Johnson is one of the few musicians to be featured on a Voyager Golden Record sent into outer space in hopes of reaching other life forms to show what Earth's culture is like. He has written about 30 commercial recordings and my favorites are Trouble Soon Be Over and Everybody Ought to Treat A Stranger Right. These were recorded in 1927-1930 and hearken back to a time when life was a lot different. You can just hear it in these recordings, which aren't recorded that great, but hey, that's the way it was back then.

Perhaps, the most indie underground music collective ever, Enter The Worship Circle was founded by Ben and Robin Pasley and turned into a group of musicians recording together here and there, making 9 albums that glorify Christ, and some in the most raw way possible (check out Chair and Microphone). With the exception of their album Village Thrift, Enter The Worship Circle has stripped down guitars, djembes, foot stomping and howling vocals, making beautiful songs of worship that will bless you. They, of course, had to make this list.

When I first heard Setting Fires, I wasn't sure what to think. I heard pretty much the closest thing to Pearl Jam since Pearl Jam, mixed in with Creed. They are definitely a grunge-type, tribal rock band that is real hip on rocking your ears off. The lead singer Jesse Chastain is a good songwriter that has a really nice voice, coupled with his guitarist's distinct lead guitar (just enough – no overkill). I hope to hear more from this band in the future, because they really do have something nice going.

Theocracy is one of those bands that defines originality. Even though it seems like the trends in metal now, seem to all run together (core this – core that), these guys make music that defies boundaries. They have tons of progressive changes throughout their songs and one song they've written titled “Mirror Of Souls” is actually a 22 minute epic! Theocracy is interesting because it started out with Matt Smith all alone, singing, playing and writing everything on their first album, and it is solid. Now he has a supporting cast around him and they are wildly talented. I wonder what goes on in the mind of Matt Smith. I would love to do an interview with him someday. Take a listen and you'll understand why.

Forevertree is one of my favorite bands and probably always will be. Their first album Turning is one that reminded me a lot of Alice in Chains (one of my fave bands before Christ) and so I immediately connected. The lead singer Dwayne Johnson is one of the top singers in Christian music today and the other guys round out the band well. They go by the name Stronger now. Check them out!

Bob Desper is a blind man from the Oregon area who made an album called New Sounds in 1974 which is quite a find in folk circles these days. It was recorded in one take with some songs on it improvised on the spot. I like his playing style because it reminds me of my uncle's guitar work (raw and unrefined).

Future of Forestry is one of those absolutely brilliant bands that is on the cusp of mainstream success, if they haven't really arrived there already. In fact, I was almost hesitant to put them on this list, but either way, they are a really, really talented band that more people should know about. When I picked up my first recording of them Travel II, I was blown away by songs like Set Your Sails and Hills Of Indigo Blue. On Travel II, they played on things like a homemade sitar, theremin, Hammond organ, kitchen drawer, and pipe organ... Yeah, you get the idea. They are creative, and they continue to put out good music. Check these guys out for sure!

To Leave A Trace is a band that I heard about while they were running a Kickstarter campaign for their latest record. And though I didn't contribute, I featured them on my blog and here they are today on this list. If there is one word that I can describe this band with, it is heavy. They know how to make the music really heavy and at the same time allow the song to breathe. As far as my opinion goes, they're a band to watch in metal right now.

I found Ronnie Mangrum on Reverbnation as a relatively unknown artist when he was in a band called One Way Home. One thing that stood out at first was Ronnie's deep voice and southern edge. Over time, I grew to really love his music. Songs that I really like by him are How Do You Know and Trust In You. Ronnie's a great songwriter whose lyrics are really solid in Christ and he is also a great guitar player. I hope he keeps making music because he is obviously one person that should be.

I don't know much about The Walking Tree because I just discovered them, but they are from New York and bring a sound that is very alternative, grungy and indie all woven together. These guys have underground written all over them and they are sure to be a hit with the underground crowd.

Tribal is one of the great Australian bands that are making really solid music. I must have watched their studio video “Into The Wild” 10-20 times. It's an entertaining video to watch. They have a fun sound that makes you feel really good. I hope they keep it up because they are really talented.

Here is another band I don't know much about and I am not even sure they're still together. And if not, why does that happen to the really good bands. San Salvador is an Australian band that had to make the list for their solid Reggae sound. They do it really well.

Considered Rubbish was a band that was playing about the same time I played with my band in my old stomping grounds, Nacogdoches, Texas . Sadly, even though it was a pretty small town, we never actually got to meet each other, but I do communicate with their drummer Justin who is now in a band called After The Well. Considered Rubbish was one of those bands that could have easily been more well-known if they had come around in the 90's. Their sound is reminiscent of Chevelle or Silverchair, but distinctively all their own. If you're into the hard rock and grunge sound, then you might like these guys.

Cosyns is the brainchild of a guy from North Carolina named Derek Corzine. What makes this project unique (and ultimately why it made the list) is not only the amazing guitar work involved, but the fact that he uses Morse code in his instrumental guitar playing to convey scriptural lyrics to the listener.

CR 33 is one of those bands that happened long ago and are no longer together. I decided that they should be on here because their sound is solid and is very close to Rage Against The Machine. And when we were in the world, who didn't like Rage Against The Machine?

Lovelite is a husband and wife duo that make surprisingly skillful and refreshing music. Their sound moves between 80's new wave and alternative, and if you were ever a fan of that decade in music, you will most likely enjoy Lovelite. One thing that I really like about them, is the high-quality production and it seems like they take a less than safe approach in trying new things out in their music. It's edgy and pushes limits. This is a band that you should support and have in your music collection because their music is really good.

When I first heard The ChannelSurfers, it was like a flashback to the Red Hot Chili Pepper days. The bass is pumping and the groove is driving and they have even been compared to the Beastie Boys. To my knowledge, these guys put out two albums in the late 90's. The guitarist is quoted as saying, “Though we come from very different church backgrounds, we agree on the essentials – that the Bible is God's Word and that all of life is to be under the lordship of Jesus Christ.” Nice...

Hymns For Selena

I want to share something special that I have recently come across called Hymns For Selena. This is one of the most Christlike stories that I have learned about this year and it has really touched my heart. The story in a nutshell is Josh and Angela Walker were on a mission trip in Guatemala where they fell in love with an orphan named Selena who has cerebral palsy. Their heart was overwhelmed with love for her and they wanted to adopt her and bring her back to the states. But due to changes taking place with international adoption laws they were unable to do that and still haven't been able to after 6 years.
However, the story doesn't end there. They love her, they pray for her and want the best for her so they put together a project comprised of 12 different artists doing 10 hymns in modern fashion. When I listened to the album I discovered a beautiful taste and selection of instruments where the arrangements were obviously well thought out. I was also very surprised at the talent displayed and the high level of production value. The important question for me when looking at an album made by Christians is whether or not the Holy Spirit is involved, and on this one, I definitely felt God present. Overall, the album left me feeling very satisfied and uplifted., and is one of the best I have heard all year.
Please watch the video and go to their website to get involved. The album is available for free on NoiseTrade and I encourage you to go there, download it and leave a tip. 100% of the proceeds go to her foster family in Guatemala to meet her needs.

Download The Album HERE
For More Information, Visit Their Website HERE

The Goldilocks Enigma

The Goldilocks Enigma is a very hard band to pin down genre-wise. One minute you think you are listening to something grungy and then it veers into psychedilic layers with 70's chill mixed in. Overall, it's like a kaleidescope of sound. All over the place. I dig it. I really love it when Christians are different. Let the art be art. It's all for God anyway. He'll dig it, so long as it's done in truth. So back to TGE.... What I gathered from their site is they are a husband and wife band. They have offered all their music free to download. I think I counted 21 tracks there. They have written all the lyrics out for you to check out. If you are familiar with bands like Danielson, Soul Junk and maybe the chilled out bands of the 70's, then you might appreciate The Goldilocks Enigma. Check it out!

United Pursuit: A Band, a Collective, a "Family" in Pursuit of Christ

"Now it happened as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold,many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples." (Matthew 9:10) 
This is not a common example of worship from Scripture, but where can we more find a picture of how to love God than in God loving us? In Matthew, chapter 9, this one-of-many table scenes is given to us. Jesus sits at the table, in the house, and meets with the unwanted. The Pharisees even point out this oddity by questioning, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus teaches us how to love in meeting the sinners at the table. If we want to love Him, then we go where He is and do what He does.  He offers us a place at His table, in humility alongside sinners of which I am the worst, and we are welcomed there by grace-scarred hands. 
United Pursuit Band aims to align themselves with this practice through offering a gathering place in a large warehouse they call home in Knoxville, TN. They have crowd-source provided recording equipment which they use to produce albums. And perhaps the way in which they most invite people to the table is through their live worship nights streamed to the nations.
Their community of hearts after Jesus began in 2006 in what they call the "Banks House" where a group of men and their music met and prayed. They sought the Lord and listened as they let Him develop their vision. After releasing their first quasi-real album, "Fishes and Loaves" they saw a desire explode among their followers and continued to provide intimate music to worship an intimate God. 
Nearly 6 years later, in 2012 after a UK tour, Will Reagan proposed that they set down roots and the band felt the Lord leading them to remain in Knoxville to, "expand our living room."  By expanding their living room they have chosen to let the entire world (whomever has access to streaming internet) into their home, to join them at their 'table' while they enter into the throne room and worship our awesome God. While Reagan and United Pursuit serve melodies and lyrics instead of bread and wine, they serve Jesus to a world hungry for Him. 
They recently released, Simple Gospel, an album recorded at the Fifth Avenue House (their new warehouse home) and as seen in the music videos it is literally just a gathering of people, lifting their hearts and raising their voices, to bow down before our beautiful One.  They encircle an old piano, and stand on what looks like a thrift-store rug; there are exposed beams framing the group, and though the cement floor is cold beyond the rug, their common love for Jesus rises and fills the space with true koinonia- fellowship. This is worship. 

In their title song, "Simple Gospel" the lyrics call us to an original understanding of what Jesus gave us- the taking of our burdens and the giving of His love as He invites us in to a relationship.  
"I wanna know You, Lord, like I know a friend... I'm laying down all my religion. I'm laying down, I wanna know You, Lord. I will rejoice in the simple gospel. I will rejoice, in You LORD!" 
Their video production is an echo of the simplicity in their songs and gives us a glimpse into the recording moments. Hands jet upwards, and soft light from table lamps illuminate the room, the band faces each other as they play, the crowd hugs them in and in one accord hearts pour out through lifted voices. Heads bow down and souls are melted in the Fifth Avenue House, in the presence of the King. 
The album is littered with lyrics that catch the listener up into the reminder that God is good and has a future and hope for His children. One song which is a personal favorite for the present season I'm in sings, 
"You're full of life, you're full of passion. That's how He made you, just let it happen. And He calls each one of us, by our names, to come away. And He whispers to your heart, to let it go and to be alive." 
Andrea Marie is featured on this song, "Let It Happen". She sits humbly behind the dark wood piano, her hair falls around her cheeks, and she plays. The drums and base swell as she repeats, "He whispers to your heart, to let it go and to be alive."  The bodies behind her sway with this freeing truth and the Spirit envelopes the atmosphere with His voice of purpose and provision.  
Even as Jesus sat at the table, in the house, and welcomed those who were willing to experience Him, so this band, this group of regular people trying to humbly worship the Lord of all the earth, offers a space for those who are willing to join in and experience Him too.  United Pursuit, an American band with a heart to enter into simple worship of an extravagant God, has given us an album that opens the door for us into that house with Jesus. The sound is chill, but swells powerfully with emotional crescendos. And the band appears to have an honest desire to bring God, alone, the glory. (That's awesome. We're praying for His glory and your joy in this endeavor, guys.) 
Take a listen and see if they're coming to a city near you. If not, you can always tune in to that live worship night the first Tuesday of every month, or stop by if you're in Tennessee and meet the crew personally. The Fifth Ave House is an open table. 

Reviewed by Katy Collins

A Peek at the Band Physick

 Physick, a band based out of Sugar Hill, Georgia is comprised of Michael Minkoff, Jr. and Phil Hodges. For whatever reason, I feel like I was drawn to this band for a purpose, as I initially clicked on what would be some of my favorite songs they’ve written. Otherwise, I may have been a little more inclined to move on because of their diverse style and approach to music, in which many of the songs did not quickly grab me—and because of my synonymousness with the world, where if a song doesn’t hook in the first five seconds, we move on. However, now that I have some time under my belt listening to them, I have a better appreciation for their writing and depth of contribution to the Christian music industry. Alongside his father, Michael is also the founder of The Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal, Inc., which is a great resource for not only music, but his writings, which as noted in his mission statement, is to “liberate Christian creativity”. Michael has also authored three books, including a book of poetry, which includes the following piece:
Ink Blots
A window keeps blocking
a ponderous moth
whose reflection still
hovers wobbling
on its tattered-sail wings
veined like crumpled leaves.
It’s beating the air on the longing side
of an unbreachable display case;
should be happy to have a desire
untainted by having.
That moth tattoos its delicate dust
in cryptic splotches on the pane,
while I confess to the window,
blind and just,
who suspends these faint records
of relentless failure.
—from The Landfill of Discount Messiahs
The other half of the band, Phil Hodges, studied classical guitar performance, and also claims to be drawn to the "melody, musical composition, and arrangement aspects of the writing"—and it shows. In all honesty, when listening to their music, I get drawn into more of an experience, rather than a performance. At times, one may feel as if they’re listening to jazz, and then other times, indie and prog rock—or even the Beatles; and this could all happen in one song. With four releases available on their Bandcamp page (actually two with Death is Their Shepherd offering three separate components), I find myself being drawn to three songs. In fact, on one, I found myself playing it for everyone I could and just kept hitting the repeat button. Battling Cancer, which is off their Song for Friends album, ministered to and impacted me in a tremendous way—and still does. The other two are Memento Mori and Answer Me.
Songs for Friends is Physick’s first record and their website discusses that it is about “various friends in various circumstances”. For example, in Battling Cancer, they are clearly singing about a friend who is engaged in a war with cancer. Lyrics, like, “I’ve never stared death in the eye” and “You’ve never been more like Christ” just brought goose bumps all over me as I am writing this. The music and the lyrics for this track are authentic and sublime. Death is Their Shepherd is the latest release, and features 21 tracks going over 80 minutes in length. Physick describe the album as being “a fully narrative concept album following the journey of Zakary Adamson as he is led by personified Death through his own memories and human history—exploring the significance and weight of death”. Though highly admirable, Songs for Friends is a little more on the raw side, and the newer material has a more accomplished and monumental feel to it. Overall, I am blessed that I came across these artists and Michael’s Renew the Arts endeavor. I encourage you to take the time to listen to their music, and what they are doing to impact the arts for Christ. These guys are rare birds. 

(information sourced from their Renew the Arts, Facebook and Bandcamp page)
Reviewer:  Cory Enderby

Interview With Jesse Broniste of Traumatone

Tell us a little about Jesse. Where were you raised? Do you have a wife and kids? What was interesting about your life that brought you to this point as a musician?
I was born in Texas (unexpectedly), but spent my childhood around Orange County, CA. My formative years growing up were spent out in the desert in Yucca Valley, CA. about thirty minutes north of Palm Springs. Then I left the desert to go back to Orange County as I still had family there. That’s where I met my wife, Kristen. We were married in 2007 and we have two beautiful boys that just turned 5 and 7. But the foundation of Traumatone was laid in the desert. That’s where I joined my first band and started using music as a creative outlet. I had witnessed a lot of dark stuff throughout my childhood, including my dad’s near death from a drug overdose. That lifestyle caught up to my mom who died when I was 12 years old. That was a couple of years after we moved out to the desert. Our family had already turned to Christ by that point, but too many years of abuse took their toll. After that, various events of heartbreak and anger just fueled that creative outlet. Those years were a tumultuous time that resulted in tons, and tons, and tons of music just exploding out of me. Quite a lot of the music of Traumatone was either written fully or partially during that time, and I’m still making my way through it all the way up to this latest album. In fact, the music for “War”, the opening track on this new album, was written in 1999 when I was 17. There are a lot of life experiences I could talk about. But, obviously, everybody endures trials and heartache all throughout life. And like all artists, I draw from the emotion of those experiences to create.
How did you come up with the name Traumatone?
I actually did not come up with it. One of my best friends, who was in my first band, had come up with it as a mock record label name to put on our EP. I now know there actually was a Traumatone Records, but at the time, it seemed nobody was using it and we liked it. So when that band evolved into the very beginnings of Traumatone, I took the name. As I mentioned, the music was being born out of various what you might call traumatic experiences, and I thought it fit perfectly.
Being that there are probably not too many Jesus-influenced Goth bands out there to tap into for inspiration, what was influential in shaping your sound, secular or otherwise?
Well, I grew up in the heat of the Nu-Metal movement. So, I was heavily influenced at the time by Korn, Deftones, and Rammstein. Usually, when asked to compare my sound to other well-known artists, I wind up referring to that group. Maybe if you threw them into a blender you’d get something like Traumatone. As far as the Christian side, a couple friends of mine used to be a part of an old band called The Terminal Generation. Their “Pop Culture Junkie” album was really big for me.
One thing that sticks out for me about you is that you have consistently put out albums since 2003. Not including your next album, that span covers a 13-year time period. What has driven you to keep going at this for so long?
I would have to say that creative explosion that I mentioned before has been mostly responsible. I’ve just had droves of fully or partially written music for years and I can just keep pulling from it. As a musician, the creative flow doesn’t ever really stop. So, there have been songs that have been written along the way also. But I would put out an EP or album and still have a bunch of songs sitting around that I really liked and wanted to put out. Then it was a matter of trying to see what songs to put together on an album. I would say every Traumatone release is a combination of new and old material with the exception of Demo 2006. That was 4 new songs I had written at that time. As far as the drive, I just recognize that my musical ability and love for it is a gift from God. I also have a strong desire to spread the Gospel. The logical thing to do when seeking what God would have for me, was to combine those two things and run with it.

What was the scene like for Christians playing music when you were first getting started?
At the time, there was a semi-existent underground Christian Goth/Industrial scene. But a lot of the alternative styles of Christian music at that time were still stuck in or coming out of the “Christian version of” phase. So, a lot of it got written off. And to this day, I don’t think the Christian scene knows what to do with it. But there were some churches that were into that scene and could see the effectiveness of the music. My old band would go play at city and youth outreaches and such. You can still find those kinds of things happening today. The alternative would be to go play the clubs, and in that case, you’re basically throwing your hat into the ring with any other band out there as far as exposure, and building a following, and all that stuff that goes with the business.
Do you think it is a much more saturated market now than it was then?
Yes and no. There are a small handful of popular or more highly exposed bands that might be categorized as or at least known to be Christian Rock, or Metal, or whatever. But it feels like it’s a dying breed. It seems a lot of bands are really just trying to blend in. There has been this fight between heavy bands and the Christian label. Not even just heavy bands, but all different styles. Yes, they’re Christians, but don’t call them a Christian band/artist. Well, why not? Are you proclaiming Jesus or not? If so, what good is the message if the message isn’t clearly heard? Lyrics are open to interpretation and so forth. Yes, we should be out and amongst the lost to reach them, but you shouldn’t have to disguise your message in any way to do that. Our identity is in Christ. I say let the music speak for itself. Let your mouth openly speak for Jesus. Let the chips fall where they may. The Spirit will draw who He will draw. Everybody else is still underground and/or not really getting the exposure they should. And you can still find the really strong, outspoken artists out there. Technology has majorly changed everything. Anybody can record music and put it on the internet these days, so there is probably a lot more out there. Just have to really look for it.

Clearly, your music is well-put together and sounds capable in the genre in which it resides. Do you think that being such an outspoken Christian artist has kept you from becoming more popular among the masses—at least within the Goth scene?
Naturally. But we’re talking about a style of music that is not massively popular anyway. As soon as you add the Christian label onto something, it will naturally repel some people even more. Which is why, going back to what I was just saying, a lot of bands don’t want to be labeled as such. But, like I said, my identity is in Christ. I just happen to really like heavy, dark, moody music with minor chords and that’s the sound that naturally comes out of me. I know a lot of people struggle with how you could possibly tie the labels of Christian and Goth together. Maybe even the thought of it seems ridiculous enough that people think it would be cheesy and not even give it a listen. Admittedly, if it's not done right, it could definitely come off as cheesy and do more damage than good. But living in a sinful, fallen world that is awaiting God’s Judgment provides a lot of darker material to draw from. So, I try to make it the best quality I can. I want to make the music good enough that people will want to listen more and open that door for the truth to come in. Traumatone may fall by the wayside, but hopefully it will make enough of a blip on the radar of the underground scene to influence others to continue to reach that genre and create a bridge to people that God deeply loves. Aside from all of that, it can also be very challenging to be a solo artist and find people to come along side you to play your music. I would definitely say I regret not being able to take Traumatone to the masses more and really get a chance to see how people would react. All I can do is trust that if God wills for my music to be a tool he uses in someone's life to bring them to Him, that it will happen one way or another.
You know, I listen to your music and as a fellow musician, I think it’s impressive that you’ve handled most, if not all, of the instruments, programming, etc... Did you have any formal training or is this something that you learned on your own?

First off, I do have to give credit to Steven Adams, who played bass for Traumatone during a brief phase when I actually had a live band. He handled bass on the Absence of Fear album. But, yes, everything else was done by me. I’ve never taken lessons for anything I do. That is why I refer to what I do as a gift from God. I play everything by ear. If I can hear it, I can usually figure it out and play it. Drums are my first instrument that I’ve played as long as I can remember. I picked up bass around 6th grade, and guitar in high school, if I remember right. I’ve always messed around on piano, which translated to keys. My Grandmother used to teach me fun little two part songs that we would play on the piano together. But still no formal training. I come from a line of musicians. My Dad gave me pointers here and there and showed me a couple of chords. After that, I just started playing along to other people’s music. I would buy tablature books and see how chords were being formed. That’s pretty much how I learned everything. As far as the recording aspect, I was fortunate enough to have a studio in our house with a bunch of really old recording equipment. That’s where I first started tinkering around with recording and mixing. Then I just paid attention to things. I would listen to songs in headphones and notice panning, and different levels, and how things were mixed in the background. I learned somewhat how to EQ so instruments would stand out from each other and all that. Programming all came pretty easy. I’m not going to say all my work is perfect or even on par with people who actually know how to do that stuff. But it’s good enough to get the job done, I think.

What is your favorite song that you have ever written? And why?
That’s a really tough question! I have a few favorites. But if I had to narrow it down to one song, I would pick “Cantexist” from Absence of Fear. I like the drive and arrangement of the music. I really like the lyrics and the message. But what really makes that song unique for me is the sample of my old pastor who allowed me to use some sermon excerpts to finish off the song. It’s a very direct, hard hitting song about how all religions don’t agree and therefore do not lead to the same God. Which is a very important thing that people need to consider. People are always too sensitive and scared to talk about religion. But since we’re all going to die, and religion is the only thing that has anything to say about what happens when we die. It’s in everybody’s best interest to talk about it. So that song puts it right out there, and it's definitely one of the pieces I am most proud of.
On the song Loss, from your record Death by Culture, you sing the words “So, in despair, your heart is thickly coated. He tries to speak to you, but you don't care. Your bitterness has left your faith corroded. And now you doubt that He is even there.”. Could you tell us in your own words what this is about?
This song is based on experiences with a couple of different people in my life. One person was a self-described Atheist. He actually had a church past. But he lost a baby daughter and bitterly questioned God about it until he just gave up and decided He wasn’t there at all. Another person seems to hold a grudge against God for tragedies in the past as well. It kind of builds on this mindset that some people have where they think they’re going to be able to die and give God a piece of their mind and/or demand answers when they stand before Him. So, it starts with some kind of personal loss and ends with the truth that anybody who thinks they’re going to argue with God in the end will lose that argument. Hence the title “Loss”.
Do you believe in a literal, burning hell?
I do. I do believe Hell exists and it is a place of eternal torment.
How can one avoid such a place?
The Bible says if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead that you will be saved. Repent from your former ways and trust in Him for salvation.
Do you think that God uses music to reach people?
Absolutely! I believe God uses any and all avenues He can to reach people.
If so, can you tell us one example of how God has used your music?
I will occasionally get emails from around the world. Thankfully, the internet can bring the music to places we can’t go. But I remember exchanging emails with a guy in Brazil who was inspired to use his own musical abilities to reach others for Christ. He was very excited to share the music with some other friends and people he knew who were not saved. I don’t know what came of all that in the end, but I am content to pray and trust that somebody out there somewhere in the world is being influenced to give their life to Christ. Even if the music is being used to do nothing more than plant a seed in one person’s heart to move them closer to salvation, it’s all worth it. That’s what it’s about.

You have stated that this next album could be your final album, at least indefinitely. What does the future hold for Jesse after this?
Well, musically, I will probably continue to write. The last track on the new album is an instrumental piece called “The End” and it represents both the end of one thing, and start of another. There are no lyrics because I don’t really have anything left to say. But the future most likely holds more music in the form of instrumentals. Probably just under my own name, but I haven’t given it too much thought yet. I like to just wind down for a good long time after finishing an album and not give any thought toward what’s next until I feel moved to do so. I’d like to work with other artists. If I ever come across another vocalist that fits my style, I may just get back in the thick of it. One thing I have long said is that I never wanted to do vocals. I express myself best through music. But I could never find a vocalist, and I could hear finished melodies in my head, and I wanted to hear the finished product. So I just did it myself and unintentionally became the voice. Writing lyrics was always been a real struggle for me. I would have to really pray for God to help me find the words that He might use to reach someone. So, I’m putting all that down for sure. I’m involved with the high school ministry at our church, so my playing for the foreseeable future will be with the youth band. Playing and helping guide their skills. Another reason I probably won’t stop writing is because my boys like to watch me play. They bust out their own instruments when they see me sitting down to record. So, I’m just doing the everyday thing and enjoying life with my family.
What is it about faith in Jesus that makes you want to keep following him?
Ha! That answer would require me to write a book! I would say His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. His provision, protection, and guidance. There is a quote at the end of “Cantexist” that points out that all other religious leaders are dead, and that Jesus alone is risen. What does anybody else have to offer me that is better than following Christ? I think anybody who has fully given their life to Christ and followed Him with their whole heart will come to know the truth of what Peter says in John 6:68-69. “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”
Jesus told us that the first and greatest commandment is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. How do you think that a person could actually obey this? What would that look like in the life of a believer?
Give everything you have to God. Put Him above everything, and everyone else. Live your life to glorify Him and be an example of His love in all that you do in your actions, thoughts, behaviors, and speech. Love others. Do these things because you love Him. Not because you feel like you have to do it out of some religious duty. It's a response to what he has already done in showing His love for us.
Is there anything out of all God's creation that just blows you away that he made it?
I don’t think I could honestly narrow it down to one thing. All of creation is beyond description in how amazing it is. The human body is an incredible machine. Anybody for that matter. Cells. The universe. I live in Arizona where we are spoiled with some beautiful scenery in the state. It’s all beyond comprehension when you consider the detail and artistry of His creation. Like the Bible says, it just screams out who He is. Creation really does speak of Him when you consider it.
We want to thank you Jesse for doing this interview and for putting such a good catalogue of music together over the years. And if this is the end of Traumatone, we want you to know that your contribution hasn’t been in vain. May the Lord Jesus richly bless you!
Thank you so very much for the opportunity! I absolutely love and appreciate what you are doing for the underground scene. And I have a feeling the Lord does too! Thank you so much for your support of Traumatone. Your kind words towards my work have been deeply appreciated. Blessings to you as well!

Interviewer:  Cory Enderby  2016  (via email)