Stick To Your Guns - 03.20.12

Interviewed by
Stick To Your Guns - 03.20.12In the metalcore/hardcore scene, it's real easy to get disenfranchised with the constant flow of bands, especially ones that are all about abusing an ex-girlfriend or self-destruction. When you aren't actually saying anything with your music, don't expect to be respected. Stick To Your Guns has always stood for something, stood for something positive since For What It's Worth came out in 2005. I've had the opportunity to see this band multiple of times throughout the last 4 years, and it's been an absolute pleasure every time. Diamond, the band's brand new album, is without a doubt their defining album -- definitely a strong album lyrically, and definitely gym approved.

I spoke to vocalist Jesse Barnett over the phone a few weeks back, while the band had just started their support slot for For Today's "Fight The Silence" headlining tour. I hope what was said makes you think -- if you do that, I consider this to be a great interview.

First off, how are you man?

Doing well man, just got done with soundcheck

You're currently on tour supporting For Today on their "Fight The Silence" headlining tour. How's that being going for Stick To Your Guns?

It's been going well! I think it's important to note that Stick To Your Guns doesn't come from a Christian background; mostly because for some reason in the Christian community, there's this notion that some people have where they think without God...there's no morals. And I think it's so far fetched and ignorant, because people sometimes act like all you want to do is pillage villages and rape people because you're not a Christian. We're not Christians, but we believe in working towards the greater good and helping those who dont have anything, to meet their basic needs; we also look out to help out non-profit organizations all over the world.

The tour with For Today is an opportunity to not preach the choir; we don't necessarily agree on the same things, and it's convenient to have people to either like what you have to say, or think it's total bullshit, you know? I think that's cool.

...So you've gotten along with For Today and Mychildren Mybride pretty well then, haven't you?

Yeah, absolutely; both those bands are good friends of ours. We don't agree on the same things they have to say, and they don't agree on some things we have to say; that's fine though, because not everyone in a group of friends is going to agree with everything.

How has the crowds been reacting to your crowd, compared to For Today, who has more of a ministry focus?

You know, this tour started in the south, and there's a reason why they call it "The Bible Belt" - don't be a victim of geography; if you're going to be a Christian, believe it on your own terms. I think it's a little bit of a coincidence that you call yourselves Christians, and you live in a place called "The Bible Belt", like there's a reason for that -- it's the culture that's been poured into your heads since the day you were born. I think of that Gandhi quote "I like your Christ, but I don't like your Christians. Your Christians are nothing like your Christ", that's where i'm at with the whole thing right now.

I believe Jesus supposedly was good and brought hope to people, and changed their lives, and so on and so forth. That's our side of the story really. If you're going to be a Christian, believe it on your own terms; people don't like to hear that, but that's how we feel.

One of the biggest things that we believe is that no matter your belief system is or whatever God you worship, don't let that dictate how you treat people. One of the most sensitive subjects to our band is Gay rights. I was just talking to a Christian kid recently, and they generally believe for the most part that all of them are going to hell; some people don't believe that though, that's a generalization.

Yeah, you have that one song on the new album "Life In A Box" that touches on this subject; are you anticipating the questions that are going to come from that song?

Oh, absolutely. What's more important are the stories like the time where we played a church in the middle of Douglasville, GA ("The 7 Venue"):
I said this thing about gays on stage, and we didn't get very many claps for it obviously, because not very many people agree with it. But after the show a kid came up to us almost in tears, because he felt like we were fighting for him because he was Gay, and how he lost a lot of his friends over it. When we get stories like that, all the shit talking is definitely worth it. Letting him know "No, you're not a leper, you don't have a fucking disease. You're just the way you are".

If people have a problem, I don't see why they can't talk to you guys off stage in a civilized manner, you know?

It sucks too, because in situations like these, people are all about "hearts and minds", yet they're telling us what we can and can't do; we understand the concept of it being their venue, but when it's like "Hey, you're a band and we're going to charge you a 25% merch cut AND we're also going to tell you what you can and cannot say on stage"...fuck that nonsense, you know?

Yeah, a 25% merch cut is pretty intense...

Yeah, some places do 20% and 25%, and i've even been to a place that does 30%...

You can't even live off that type of cut!


What about Rocketown in Nashville, TN? Are you still welcome there?

We are. There's a girl there, and she gets it. With the new addition of Josh James on guitar, he used to play guitar in Evergreen Terrace and Casey Jones, so she knew who he was from those bands, so that helps. She just asks that we "tone it down" a little bit, and I can understand that, you know? I'm a little bit passionate, where I say all my words and lyrics when i'm on stage...and sometimes I get carried away and just go "FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK" and I cuss everywhere. I can understand that people don't like that, I try and respect that; when people are respectful to me, I'm respectful right back. What frustrates me is when I walk into a venue and the person running it goes "Here are the rules, follow the rules or get out" -- just speak respectfully to me, you know?

Yeah, its always really interesting with different types of venues. I know George is an Atheist and he's more than willing to be respectful and talk with people about it.

Absolutely. I don't even really call myself an atheist though, because they're so closed minded to the idea of God. The thing is, we just don't know; I wouldn't call myself an agnostic either, because that's just debating whether or not God exists. I want to keep my mind open, because there could be something our minds can't even fathom. There's some people out there where it's like if it was proven that God exists, they still wouldn't believe, and vice versa; I was talking to a couple of my Christian friends and they're like "Yeah, even if there was proof that God didn't exist, I'd still believe". And i'm like, that's so insane, why do we have to be so certain about things that we definitely don't know? Every day and every hour we're all working to try and learn these things.

It's pretty interesting trying to question and sort that out in your head; have you heard about the film that's coming out, Blue Like Jazz?

Yeah, i've checked out the trailer on my iPad from the Apple Trailers app, love that app! If I could do anything else other than music, i'd definitely do anything related to movies, whether it be a critic or something.

It's definitely a great film, I got a chance to see a pre-screening last year. It describes the main characters journey from his bible belt background to Reed College in Portland, which is considered one of the most progressively thinking and open minded colleges in the United States. It's definitely not a preachy film, it just presents a story and allows you to make your own thoughts. I've thought that was the coolest part of the movie.

Moving on though, you have a new album coming out later on in the month, "Diamond". What's the meaning behind the album title?

I wrote a song called "Diamond", and it's the first track on the album. It's an introduction, but it's not intro track, where it's a breakdown for 30 seconds; it's more of a introduction to the theme of the record. When our last album The Hope Division came out, people came and asked us "What's it like to write a concept record?"; that's the thing, we never meant for that. The "Heart" symbol on that album cover sort of became our symbol, and people just assumed it was a concept, you know?

We tried to touch on about a lot of subjects, but this record was me learning to be honest with myself. Just to like everyone experiences early on, you think you know everything, and I've come to realize that I don't know shit...and I need to be OK with that. I need to be able to look and say "I don't know" to certain things. I was so resistent to a lot of ideas and other things in my life, to where things in my life became resistent with me. It's weird, when I start to become honest with myself, I realize "Oh, you're not the person that you preach to be". The more I become honest with myself and realize the person I want to be and become more open-minded, and open hearted to different people, things started to fall into place.

The first line of the whole album says "I know that what's in front of me is a reflection of what's inside of me" and I really find that to be true. When there's chaos and nonsense going around you, and you're like "Fuck, why's this all happening?", that's you projecting things that are going on in your heart and your mind. I know how spiritual that can sound, but that's what I really find to be true. In a lot of hardcore music, people have the whole "We're just trying to get by, man"; I never want to live that live ever, man -- I want to live more than just survive. I want to treat my life like it's my diamond. That's pretty much where the meaning behind the album comes from.

You mentioned that you've been more honest with yourself in writing this album, but how else have you grown as a writer since The Hope Division?

I try to be super straight forward, but at the same time...I want to put a lot of effort into the lyrics, you know? I draw a source of inspiration from lots of things, like movies or books or comics. I don't know if i've grown so much as a writer, but looking back on the first record, I feel like my lyrics have gotten better. I would love to one day be a writer some day. There's some songs that I write where after i'm done writing them, i'm mentally exhausted, because I feel like i'm putting myself into the songs; like i'll write two songs in a day sometimes, and i'll just be drained. I don't want to be the type of writer where I write some specific line with the reasoning being some cool line to chant along with or anything to that effect. I want to let everyone know that this is who I am, and I think a lot of people relate with that, which is awesome, that anyone would pull any inspiration from my writing.

There's a couple of audio clips throughout the album, such as on "Diamond", and "Life In A Box" -- where do these come from?

There's a guy named Jiddu Krishnamurti, and his voice and the way of thinking is so great. He comes from a point where he doesn't try to be a teacher or some sort of leader, he just encourages people to be open minded and be open to conversation. He explains that we need to love our fellow man, because we're both human and we feel the same things, whether you're from the Middle East or America. I've

As for the clip before "Life In A Box", it comes from a clip from a show on Youtube called The Young Turks. The clip at the end where it says "Why don't you run and leave, and find a God that likes you" refers to a reaction to a kid who went to school in the Middle East and they kicked him out once they found out his parents were Gay.

As you mentioned before, Josh James (ex-Casey Jones, Evergreen Terrace) joined the band as a second guitar player. What's the story behind him joining the band?

Well, we met him on Warped Tour 2008, and then we did a tour with Evergreen Terrace not too soon that. But he's always been a real good friend of ours, a real good human being. At one point, he mentioned that he wasn't sure what was really going on with Evergreen Terrace and other people in the band wanted to take a break, so we tried to figure out if we could make it work out to bring him on board with us, since we're not looking to slow down. Fast forward a few months, and things were official. He tour manages us now, he's definitely one of the hardest working people I know.

On your last album, you had a song called "Amber". On this new album, you have a song called "Beyond The Sun". These songs are fairly similar to each other, both in lyrical content and sound. Can you explain the similarities and differences between the two?

They're both fairly similar, yeah. "Amber" is about a girl that killed herself, and "Beyond The Sun" is about a woman who lives in a abusive household who has 8 kids, and has a husband that beats her all the time, and how she wishes she could live 'beyond the sun' and away from the situation. I had a friend who's mom was a social worker, and some of the stories she told me just broke my heart; I don't feel like I need to personally know someone that's in that abusive situation to personally write about it. Women are so important to our world, is ridiculous; no matter how much of a muscle head jock you want to be, women are stronger, they're the future of the world. In the song, there's a lyric that says "Our mothers and sisters are dying" and it's true, we shouldn't allow this stuff to happen.

Once this album comes out, we're going to work with women's shelters and organizations. For instance, sell a t-shirt and all the proceeds from it goes to a particular shelter, or we'll play a few shows and all the proceeds will go to them.

I noticed that a Propaghandi quote was somewhat of an inspiration to "Bringing You Down". What other bands were in heavy rotation when you were writing and recording the album?

Oh man, it's always Propaghandi, definitely one of my favorites bands; I have no doubt they will continue to stay a favorite band of mine until I die. Bon Iver, this new band called Other Lives, and Yohan Johanson are all examples of bands that I really enjoy listening to and I listened to these artists while I was writing this album. I'm into hip-hop and indie music, and I love hardcore music as well; I think it helps our band to have that outside inspiration that's not metal or hardcore, you know? I have so many different emotions and I listen to alot of different stuff to reflect that.

So you guys are on this years All-Stars Tour in the summer?

Yeah, we're not sure if we're supposed to announce that yet, but yeah -- we're on for that. We were in talks for Warped for awhile, but eventually signed onto this tour, which is a July/August tour. I'm not sure who else is on this tour, if I get to play with my friends, great; if not, that's fine too.

"Diamond" is your third album on Sumerian Records. Have you fulfilled your contract with them now, and if so, do you see yourselves looking for a new label?

We are fulfilled, but I don't see ourselves leaving the label, you know? They treat us really well, and we're the only "Hardcore" band on the label, so everything works out for everyone. I have a lot of respect for Ash and what he does for the label; I may not a band like Asking Alexandria's music, but they're good people nonetheless. We see checks from the label, and we really can't ask for much more than that.

What's one book and one band that you'd recommend to anyone that listens to your band and why?

The Story So Far. Those are our dudes, and they're doing so awesome, they're such hard workers. We did the Senses Fail headliner with those guys, and it's rare that we see a band that is just so stoked on the music that they make. We definitely wish them the best of luck, and we'd love to tour with them again soon.

As for a book, i'd recommend Inward Revolution by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Anything else you'd like to add?

Our new album drops the 27th, and we'd like everyone to pick it up. We'd like everyone to do whatever they need to do to listen to it; i'm NOT saying download it, but if that's what you need to do, then do it. Thanks for reading this and taking the time everyone.
Displaying posts 1 - 13 of 13
12:19 PM on 04/13/12
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bcblink's Avatar
Good interview, love this band.
12:46 PM on 04/13/12
Inside of your heart always
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johnnyferris's Avatar
Great interview! I love the things Jesse has to say. Can't wait to see them live again, Diamond is amazing.
01:06 PM on 04/13/12
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absolutecorey's Avatar
Love the interview, I share his views completely.
01:09 PM on 04/13/12
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CastlesXClouds's Avatar
that was really eye opening. great band.
01:42 PM on 04/13/12
Rest is for the dead
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iAMhollyood315's Avatar
interesting interview. I enjoy this band a lot and enjoy the passion and heartfelt lyrics even if I don't agree on their beliefs as I am a christian, but on a humanity level I agree with how people should be treated and things like that. As long as i enjoy the music and connect with the lyrics on some kind of personal level thats all i ask for in music.
03:18 PM on 04/13/12
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decrescendo27's Avatar
awesome band. awesomer dudes.
10:14 PM on 04/13/12
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po0ty's Avatar
" In a lot of hardcore music, people have the whole "We're just trying to get by, man"; I never want to live that live ever, man -- I want to live more than just survive. I want to treat my life like it's my diamond. That's pretty much where the meaning behind the album comes from."

love these guys
04:29 AM on 04/14/12
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Jaimehere's Avatar
Nice repping of TSSF haha

Great interview, Diamond is fucking awesome!
05:05 PM on 04/14/12
"Look mom, no hands!"
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Miketheunicycle's Avatar
few spelling mistakes but igot over it, good interview i like where they went with this conversation
12:52 AM on 04/15/12
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Ihaddreams's Avatar
A few typo's but a fantastic interview nonetheless. Saw these guys on their tour with For Today and I really loved what Jesse said to the crowd, it was something along the lines of "Those little kids outside (it was in downtown disney) are you going to let them grow up in a world of hate? It might be too late for us but it isn't for them", Very inspirational in my opinion. Amazing band.
10:02 AM on 04/15/12
Inside of your heart always
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johnnyferris's Avatar
A few typo's but a fantastic interview nonetheless. Saw these guys on their tour with For Today and I really loved what Jesse said to the crowd, it was something along the lines of "Those little kids outside (it was in downtown disney) are you going to let them grow up in a world of hate? It might be too late for us but it isn't for them", Very inspirational in my opinion. Amazing band.
I was there! I loved what he said at the show too.
01:03 AM on 05/10/12
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