In the beginning, there was Holy Soldier…And it was good
by Jeff Kitts
New bands often fall into the very sad category of claiming to be a much-needed alternative to a sorry rock world, in reality they're offering nothing more than play-it-safe drivel. Taking risks is not usually part of a young outfit's curriculum when trying to establish a reputable name for themselves, but some bands possess enough confidence so that not meshing with the rest of the rock community doesn't frighten them a bit. Few bands that have presented an image of strong religious devotion have truly succeeded in the mainstream rock/metal kingdom, but Holy Soldier aren't letting this deter them from making their statement.
"The thing with our beliefs is that we do incorporate it into our music, but we all want people to pay attention to the fact that we're all real people," says Andy Robbins, bassist for the west coast outfit. "We're not coming out and saying 'turn or burn' or 'if you don't believe in what we believe you're gonna burn in hell'--we’re not into that at all. We’re not into being overly preachy or what you would call a cliché Christian band. We don't want to wave banners saying 'you have to realize this about us,' etc. We're just saying that we're real people and that we have wants and desires and needs just as much as the next person. We have our problems that we deal with day to day and the only thing that makes us different is the way we go about handling things. Each member of the band has a personal relationship with Jesus, but we don't want to be labeled as a church-band--we're not a church band. We're just a band that all have a common belief."
Holy Soldier (Jamie Carter--guitar/Michael Cutting--guitar/Terry "The Animal" Russell--drums/Steven Patrick--vocals/Andy Robbins--bass) feel that one of the reasons Christian rock hasn't made a more defined impact in the secular owlrd is the element of apprehension the majority has toward the whole idea.
"I think the biggest misconception as far as Christian music goes is that I think a lot of people are afraid to give it a chance because of the way it's being presented," Andy continues. "A lot of people think 'well, I could never be like that--I could never be as perfect as that guy up on the stage.' That's why we are coming out and saying that we are real people--we feel strongly about what we believe, but we hope to be one of those bands that makes it easier to crossover to the mainstream crowd. We want to get in there and meet our audience and other bands and be able to tell them where we're coming from. And it's no different from where they're coming as far as the music goes--the only difference is that none of us have abusive personalities. Our lifestyles are a little bit different. The last thing we want to do is to freak people out because we're a Christian band, and so far we've had no problem with it on a small level." Holy Soldier is bound to face what no band enjoys--constantly being linked to another, more successful act. With their playing Christian rock, presenting a similar message and being managed by DHM, forever being compared to Stryper seems inevitable. But according to Andy, Holy Soldier is ready to defend themselves.
"Since it's Stryper's former management company, that'll make things a lot easier. We're expecting the comparisons. The Stryper guys are good friends of ours--they've always been there for us. But we basically feel that here is a major difference between us and Stryper--especially musically. We don't plan on starting where they started--as far as being in a band playing churches and stuff. Not that we're not into it, it's just that we feel we're not going to be that successful playing churches for the next ten years. The church is great, the people are great, and they've been very supportive, but we feel that it wouldn't serve a purpose for what we're trying to accomplish. Stryper's image is also changing, they're becoming a little more street, and we feel our images are very different. We also feel that we're different because we don’t' have just one or two main writers in the band." Holy Soldier have channeled their ideas and feelings into their self-titled debut album, originally released through Myrrh Records, but now being issued via A&M Records.
"Myrrh signed us to finance the record, and A&M to distribute it. We only signed with A&M about two months ago. When we signed with Myrrh, there was a possibility of also signing with A&M because they have the right to distribute anything on Myrrh, or to pass on it, or sit on it or to really get behind it. So they really loved the record and the overall package of the band, and they decided to give it a try.
"The record's still basically kind of new to us," Andy says. "We wrote it right before we went into the studio. The songs that we had already were really good, but we wanted it to be fresh and exciting with a little more edge. We also wanted to direct it a little more toward radio. We went up to the studio in Fresno and wrote songs when we finished writing them--we just wrote them and put them on tape."
The members of Holy Soldier are choosing not to blast the scene with their personal beliefs, instead they are presenting their ideas in a more subtle fashion. If you're interested, feel gree to sample what they have to say--if not, just devote your attention to the music.
"The whole record was written on past experiences, and we're just
saying that we've found something that works for us and we're willing
to tell you about it if you want to listen.," Andy says. "If
you want to listen, great--if not, maybe you can enjoy the music. A
lot of people write in their lyrics that they feel strongly about things
like alcohol abuse, murder or drugs, etc.--but our day to day lives
reflect a little more of a positive image. We're disgusted about a lot
of things that we see too, but we write about it in a little more subtle
way. A lot of people find choice words and choice ways to say the same
thing we're saying. You can speak out about something, but you can do
it in a positive way."