Every band is passionate about something. You can be passionate about staying true to your friends and family, achieving goals, or accepting everyone for who they are. For Today is a Christian band signed to Razor & Tie that is extremely passionate about Jesus; anyone who tries to explain this band to someone without mentioning their message is missing the point. Since 2007, For Today has been making a bold proclamation of faith, while bringing some extremely intense dynamics to the table. Like it or not, For Today has commanded the respect of many fellow musicians; and as their summer on this year's Vans Warped Tour approaches, the band is eagerly awaiting the chance to spread their message to each market.
I was fortunate to talk to vocalist Mattie Montgomery over the phone while I was enjoying a quiet evening at my apartment. If you're looking for something radical on this year's Warped Tour, then look no further than For Today.
First off, you have a new album out soon, Immortal. What led for you guys to sign with Razor & Tie, as opposed to other labels?
Razor & Tie is by the far the most dynamic label that were looking to sign us. There were some bigger metal labels that were looking at us; but with Razor & Tie, they have everything from All That Remains and Norma Jean..all the way to Alvin & The Chipmunks, and The Wiggles. It's kind of a cool world to step into with Razor & Tie, in which it's all about music. It's not about hardcore, metalcore, or anything else like that; it's all about the music. We get to be among the ranks with some incredible artists that aren't necessarily in our genre, and the associations that come with being on a label that's not strictly metal is great.
How many albums are you signed on for?
We're signed on for one album with two options. So if we do three albums with them, it means they like us...and if we do only this album with them, it means they didn't like us that much.
Can you give us the background to the first track off the album, "The King"? I think it does a pretty good job of giving the background of what the albums all about.
The whole concept the album is that the gospel of Jesus is immortal. While our band or our genre of music may not last forever, the message we are preaching and the king we are representing WILL last forever. So what the idea was to illustrate that was to find clips of other people preaching the lordship of Jesus and preaching the Cross and the blood of Jesus, and to put those on the album. People from all sorts of theological backgrounds and points in history preaching the same message, about the same man, Jesus of Nazareth; to take all those clips and put them together, to show there is unity and continuity in the message of Jesus.
So that first track is one of two interludes, and that was just about who Jesus is and what he did, and that he is God in the flesh. And what he did is took our sin upon him, so we would not have to face the consequences of that sin. So that's what the song is about.
What people did you take clips from?
It's really hard to remember everyone, but we have clips from people such as Art Katz, John Piper, Benny Hinn, Billy Graham, Corey Russell, Micah Wood, Paul Washer, Reinhard Bonnke.
What was the biggest challenge in writing the album?
I think the biggest challenge was geography. It's funny, being a band from Sioux City, Iowa, not one member of the band actually lives there anymore. I live down in Mobile, AL, and one guy lives in Atlanta, GA, and two others live in Ohio and Oklahoma; so we're all pretty much all over the place, we had to figure out creative ways to overcome the obstacle of geography. We would record songs on Macbooks on tour, and we'd also send emails to each other, and call each other on the phone and talk about particular ideas for parts. We had to get creative while writing the album, while every one of us lives in a different part of the country.
What makes this album stand out from your prior releases?
I think more than anything with this album, we have a refined idea of what makes us who we are. I think every band, especially when they're starting out, is try a bit of everything; and while we still do that to an extent, I think we have been able to get our finger on the pulse on what we do well, and I think we do a pretty good job on this album of really capitalizing on that. While we break some new ground musically, we make sure what we're doing is what works for us.
One of the coolest things about the album is the guest vocalists on this album: Jake Luhrs (August Burns Red), Tommy Green (Sleeping Giant), and Sonny Sandoval (P.O.D.). What reasons did you have for picking these guys up to contribute?
We just love all those guys. There are some other guys we love, respect, and appreciate, but things fell through. We didn't plan this, but to be honest with you, I think it was the plan of the Lord to have these three specific guys on the record. These guys exist to preach the gospel, and they are involved in different ministries outside their platform in their own bands; they have committed their lives to a life of ministry and a lifestyle of preaching the message of Jesus. I think it's cool, and another knot to the theme of the album, is to have these guys on there on an album that's about the gospel of Jesus.
Is there any other things that you'd to explain about the album?
You can't think of anything where there might be some confusion?
I think there are a lot of people that are about our band, and think we're something that we're not. What it really boils down to, is that we're a metalcore band. You don't have to necessarily agree with the message that I preach, but everything has a message; your message might be about drinking and hooking up with girls, it might be about the Devil, or it could be about Straight-Edge and how Hardcore is going to live forever -- our message is about Jesus.
I think it's interesting that everybody will respect our message, until that message is about Jesus Christ. People will go "Oh, that's real cool about how that one guy preached about unity in the scene", but when that message is about how Jesus saved someone from hell, then everyone has a problem with it. I don't necessarily need someone's respect or acceptance...but what I want people to know about this record is that you don't have to believe what I believe, and live the way I live, to hopefully get something out of this record and get touched by this band in one way or another.
You just dropped a video for "Fearless" a couple of days ago. Can you explain that video?
It's a pretty basic concept of light overcoming darkness. We're playing in this factory, and these dark and shadowy figures come closer and closer, till ultimately the light shines from all around us envelops these figures.
Are there plans to shoot any more videos anytime soon?
We're definitely going to do another one. I don't know when we're doing it, but the plan is to get it out quickly.
One of the coolest things that For Today has been up to is the "Fight The Silence" headliner. You brought out Stick To Your Guns, A Skylit Drive, Mychildren Mybride, and I think Make Me Famous? Can you talk about that tour and the reasons for bringing out these bands?
Every band we brought out for a different reason, and all of them were a really cool group to represent all the messages across our scene. Some of the bands are just about partying. Stick To Your Guns is all about believing in yourself, and being the best person you can be; they're about unity, and overcoming adversity. Mychildren Mybride is a christian band, and preach the message of Jesus.
We had a really diverse line-up of bands with a diverse collection of messages. That's what the "Fight The Silence" tour is all about, the message; it's not a band getting on stage and saying absolutely nothing, believing nothing. It was the idea of raising the standard of what it means to be a leader in our scene and our culture.
What were your experiences with the crowds on this tour? What sort of reactions did you see?
There's some of the same old thing. There'd be those people that wants to hear that I have some sort of beef with people, or that i'm emotionally involved with the fact that not everyone agrees with what I say; and it's their right, I can't force them to believe anything, and it's their right to believe or not. And then I'll stand on stage and preach about Jesus and there's those super cool kids who'll yell stuff like "Play another song!" and "God is dead!", but then we just ignore them and move on. I think one of the coolest things about this tour was the maturity and the unity; it was definitely the most fun I've had on a tour, there were so many people that we've connected with and made friendships with.
I caught a live stream of the Milwaukee date, and there's a lot of people that love your live sets and love the music, but would rather hear more music, as opposed to hearing you speak at length. What would you say to those fans?
The reason I speak is not because I believe it's going to persuade people to do anything, or I expect it to do anything. The reason why I speak is because it's what God has told me to do; the way I do it has been commanded by God. To be honest, the way people respond is not up to me, but there's only one voice that matters, and that's God's.
Can we expect another headliner where you invite a more outspoken band on the opposite side of the spectrum lyrically, such as The Acacia Strain or Suicide Silence? I remember August Burns Red bringing out The Acacia Strain as direct support one fall, and it definitely being an experience.
Yeah, I wouldn't have a problem with that. To be honest, and most of those bands would agree, is that they don't necessarily hate God or religion, but it's just that they don't care. They're maybe apathetic towards it, or maybe they hate that people have tried to force it down their throats or control them by using the concepts of God and Jesus; but I find 100 times out of 100, people that look like they hate God...just don't believe he exists. And that's what it boils down to, they can say whatever they want to shock people because they believe he doesn't exist and there's no consequences.
While I obviously don't agree with doing that, my stance is one of passion, zeal, intensity; it's one I've built my life on, because nothing could be more important that is more valuable in my life than my relationship with Jesus. Because of that, my zeal will always overshadow the zeal of one that doesn't believe God exists. And what I mean by that is, while these people may stand on stage and say these really bold things, they're saying it just to shock people; they're not saying it because they're not super passionate about it, they're saying it because they can get away with it because God doesn't exist.
When I stand on stage and I talk about Jesus, I'm fully convinced that it's a life or death situation [spiritually]; if I don't do it, people will die. If you were to put the passion of a band, perhaps maybe a band like Whitechapel against the passion of For Today, there would be no comparing the two; because in all reality, I have built my life on the message of this band. And I can say this, because we're all good friends with the guys in Whitechapel. It's the way I treat my wife, raise my son, do business; everything I do is defined by my relationship with Jesus. These other bands, their life is defined by whatever; whenever they talk about how God isn't real on stage, that's just one thing they talk about, their life isn't defined by that. I can't speak for the whole band, but i'm not too worried about any anti-church band at all, because my zeal for Jesus is greater.
Still in the same topic of touring, you're on Warped Tour this summer. What are your thoughts on being on the tour, and who are you looking forward to seeing?
I was a huge Yellowcard fan as a kid. I started playing drums in small punk rock bands when I was 15. Yellowcard and Senses Fail are both on Warped Tour this year; if no other reason than nostalgia, i'm excited to see those bands. More than anything, I've heard about this kneed among the bands, and how it's this big traveling circus. I'm excited to meet all these bands and develop relationships.
What led for you guys to sign onto Warped as opposed to possibly doing a different summer tour such as the All-Stars tour or Scream It Like You Mean It?
Warped Tour I feel like is the one tour that every band wants to do when they start out. At some point, you're like "Oh man, I'd love to play Warped Tour". I'm finally excited to be on the tour, and it's definitely a no brainer.
What can people expect from your set?
Intensity...passion...fire. We're playing the shortest set we've played in awhile, since we don't have the longest amount of time. We're going to only be able play the songs people want to hear the most; we're going to be able to go harder than we've been able to go. It's going to be awesome, if anyone has seen us before, than they're going to be satisfied with out set.
Are you going to mix up the set as the tour goes on?
We'll see, we've talked about a few different set lists; so we're going to start in Salt Lake City and see how it flows, and then change it down the road if we need to.
After Warped Tour, what's the band up to as far as touring goes?
We're not sure yet, really. Our booking agent is probably planning something, but to be honest, I check our Facebook to see what we're up to, just like everyone else.
Ideally, would you like to be on a headliner in the fall?
That would be great. I know there's a lot of other bands heading out on tour in the fall, so who knows, maybe we'll link up with them.
Now that you're married and you have a kid, will the band's touring frequency dramatically slow down?
Yeah, I think we're going to slow down...I guess we already have. I think we're more intentional about the tours we do being more high profile, such as The Devil Wears Prada U.S. headliner or the Fight The Silence tour. We just gotta make sure that when we do tour, we gotta make it count.
When people come up to you after shows, what do people want to talk about? Is it almost always about Jesus, or do they want to talk about something else?
I mean, it varies so much. Some kids just want a picture or an autograph...then there's people that were planning on killing themselves, and they just needed someone to talk to. We've seen people that are blind and believe Jesus can heal them ask for prayer. There was a kid in North Carolina that had a mother that was deathly ill and had been for years, and he asked if he could get her on the phone and receive prayer. When it comes down to it, it's all about people and relationships; if there's a need, we do our best to meet it.
What's something about you or your music that you've never mentioned in an interview before?
There was a time in my life, a long long time ago, where I called myself the biggest Limp Bizkit fan in the world.
REALLY. Did you have the jeans, and the chain wallet and everything?
Ohhhhhh yeah, I had it all. This was like 6th to 7th grade, haha.
What's a book that you would recommend to everyone that listens to For Today?
THE BIBLE, more specifically the book of John, found in the New Testament; it's in the chronology pertaining to Yahweh, the creator of the universe. Outside of the Bible, there's a book called The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran; I think i've bought it 4 or 5 separate times, for gifts and other things, I think it's that awesome.
This guy is a broken record....And a pretentious ass-hat: "When I stand on stage and I talk about Jesus, I'm fully convinced that it's a life or death situation [spiritually]; if I don't do it, people will die". No I think people will be happy they didn't pay money to hear you spew bullshit from your makeshift podium. People like him are what's wrong with religion
I had never seen an interview with him, and just from this I can at least say he sounds like a nice, civilized, respectful guy who stands for whatever he believes and doesn't care what others think. Pretty cool