For Today are ready to electrify our country with their message of Christianity and metalcore style this April. Vocalist Mattie Montgomery did an extensive interview with us, discussing all things relating to the band’s beliefs and ideologies, tours and personal stories.
Hey Mattie, it’s Matty…(laughs) how are you?
(laughs) Hey Matty, not bad, how are you?
It has been awhile between drinks for you guys and Australia, about three years since you last were here?
Yeah, I think it was and it was an absolute blast. It’s a fond memory we’ve spoken of many times over the last few years. When we went down there I didn’t know what to expect. I can’t revert what city was the first show but it was an eighteen-plus one and we didn’t really do those. So I was a little nervous but as soon as we started playing the crowd exploded. They were signing every word, moshing hard and I just thought, "This is gonna be a fun tour!" It was show much fun, we made so many great friends. If the last time was any indicator as to what to expect now, it’s gonna be a blast.
You guys released ‘Fight the Silence’ two months ago today actually; how has the commercial and critical response been for you guys?
It’s been going really good. This album, to put it bluntly, is the best album we’ve done. We released it and I was really optimistic with the response we were going to get. Just as I thought it was our best work, I hoped a lot of other people felt the same and it seems like they are. You’ll always have the people who like the older stuff better but it seems like a lot of people are responding to it really well. It’s very different, different musically but very different lyrically for me so it was definitely a much more vulnerable record for me. So to see kids responding to that and relating to it really well is awesome.
No, I completely agree with you there. And I really do want to touch base on the lyrics. Human trafficking is such a big issue and to have that the focal point was really impressive. Nowadays it’s more about having sex, partying and drinking so how have you been finding the kids especially responding to that part of the message?
There’s been the response where people are like, "Whoa, I didn’t know this was happening, this needs to stop," and that’s great but on the other side is exactly what’s been happening. People become aware of it but still don’t do anything about it. The idea behind ‘Fight the Silence’ was my attempt at helping the issue. I may not have the money to buy women out of sex-trafficking or to rehabilitate them but I can use what I have: a voice and a platform as the vocalist of For Today and that’s what I’m trying to use. What I want people to do is more than just post a YouTube comment that says, "That’s bad, someone should do something about it," and take personal responsibility. Whether it be a post on Facebook or sharing a video and donating, it all helps. And that’s what I wanted to do, raise awareness and inspire people to help out the situation. Even if it seems small, make your voice hear and turn it into a global outcry.
Definitely. It needs to be more than, "Aw, damn that sucks." It needs to be actual action being taken for change to happen.
Exactly. But like I said, it’s still so good to see people becoming aware and donating or telling their friends but there could always be more done about the issue. There’s a lot of practical and hands-on work to be done to stop the issue.
You also talk on a lot of other topics like poverty in ‘A Call to Arms’ yet there’s still that strong Christian message in there. ‘Pariah’ is the perfect example of the account of a young-man who was martyred for Christian faith in the middle-east and I know that’s put some people off. I have friends who literally don’t get into your music because of the faith message when they’re not religious. How do you react to that idea?
At the end of the day, it’s something I’m very aware of. I can’t make someone believe or care about what I’m doing with the band. It’s not something I can force. But our band is intentional about playing with non-Christian bands and playing non-Christian venues and that’s because while we are Christians we understand that even before we were Christians, we were all humans. And I believe I found something beautiful in my faith in Christ and if there is somebody who doesn’t care about that but they like our music, that’s great!
They can come along and hang out too. There’s unfortunately been a lot of disservice to our fans in the internet that have tried to run people out of our shows or message boards because they aren’t Christians. All because they leave a comment like, "I wish these guys weren’t Christian or preach so much" and then you have a hundred Christian kids jumping down this kids throat with the whole "If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it!" We need to learn that atheist or religious, gay or straight, black or white, we need to learn to be mutually respectful. If you like a band or their music you should feel comfortable at their show and if they say something you don’t agree with then say "Well, I disagree but they’re playing another song now so it’s all good." We talk with bands who say stuff we don’t agree with us but we still love them and tour with them.
I think the idea of not liking a band because of their faith is a symptom of a bigger issue where there’s a culture that doesn’t allow people to respectfully disagree. That’s a great tragedy. The great thing about humanity is that we are all diverse and different, and have dynamic opinions and if we get to a point where we can be dynamic and diverse with each other and our opinions, we’re going to lose the beauty of humanity.
I’d just like to see people grow up and get to the point where they can look past something like religion and find a common bond.
I think you just answered three of my upcoming questions. But I do agree with you and the problem is that it’s happening in a growing scene these days. I’ve always seen religion as a personal thing you hold whereas now it seems every third or fourth band is Christian in some way or form. Religion then becomes something of an economical and domestic endeavour, would you agree with that?
I’d agree in large parts. There are a lot of bands that see the success of a bands like For Today or August Burns Red and The Devil Wears Prada, all bands who hold these religious values and they think that’s what they have to be to get big. They pretend to be spiritual because they see economical gain there. And I wish there were some way for me to show people that this is really what I live for but I guess there’s not. I have seen a lot of bands say stuff like "God bless you, we do this for Jesus!" then off stage there’s no difference between them and everyone else that isn’t religious. But even before we were all in For Today, we lived for our religion. I love Jesus, he saved my life and I’ll go to my grave talking about that. It’s kind of natural it will come in my music as it comes out everywhere else in my life. The way I treat my kids and the way I love my wife. Every aspect of my life is affected by my faith.
It is such a difficult thing for people to discern if what a band says on stage is true or not. People think we claim to be religious as there is some monetary gain from it but give us five minutes of your time to hear our hearts and you’ll find out that this is us. It’s not a show or gimmick, it’s who we are and this is my heart. Singing about my faith is my heart and that’s hard for some people to grasp but in the end I just need to stay true to my heart.
And the flip-side to that is all the bands who walk on stage wearing "666" and inverted crosses on their shirts and they’re all "hail satan" or "fuck religion" when really that in itself is a complete gimmick for attention.
Yeah and we’re actually friends with some of those bands. We just finished a tour with a band called The Plot in You and they’re a great band, they’re great friends of ours. We were out with them for a month and we’ve done multiple tours with Motionless in White who are a band a lot like what you described and were great friends with them. They get up there and it’s all "Screw Christianity!" or Jesus or faith or whatever and maybe they do hate the idea of that but at the end of the day there is so much more we can relate on.
Despite that we’re Christians and they’re atheists we are still both touring musicians, young men and we’re both learning about life and the world. A lot of people expect that we as Christians would be shocked or offended but man, I did that sort of stuff as a kid. I loved to shock and offend people and so it’s not that foreign to me and my history. So when I see it, I’m not afraid or intimidated by it, it’s what they do as theirbusiness. They do it to shock people and get attention and if that’s what you want to do then more power to you (laughs).
Obviously, it’s not something I would endorse but it’s something that a lot of bands are choosing to do and I can’t be mad at that. At the end of the day, my job isn’t to persuade anyone to follow Jesus, that’s not how love or faith works. My job is to love them, and to honour and respect them the way Jesus loved me and hope they reflect that. If they do the same and they like to be around me or hate me then both of that’s awesome.
It hasn’t gotten under our skin before and I don’t think it ever will. It comes with the territory and if were going to play this music then we got to let it run its course.
Now I don’t know if this next question will come off as stereotyping or whatnot, but did you get into the music industry because it is what you felt Jesus and God wanted you to do, like it was the path they were leading you down or was it for the pure love and passion of music?
It’s actually both for me. I started playing music because I loved it. I went to see Madball when I was sixteen or seventeen and I loved it! And I went to Warped Tour at fifteen and I loved bands like Coheed and Cambria, The Used and Poison the Well. I played in a local band and it was awesome; it was something I loved to do with my time and my friends.
I then gave up music because I was a soccer player. I was heading to college on a soccer scholarship so I left music and focused on that for a few years. In college was when I met Jesus and it changed me a lot. So rather then following soccer as my goal, I wanted to put my life in Jesus’ hand and ask "What do you want me to do?" And he ended up leading me back to music and obviously that’s a long story but I originally got into music for the passion and the raw energy it holds. The power of it and the aggression I could release on stage was something that really enthralled me. As I said, I laid that down but Jesus brought me back to it. Even that has changed for me. I used to love that it was just cool to be in a band, to have kids want to be close to me and get my autograph and girls liked that I was in a band; now I just love playing music and show people the same hope I found in Christ. So it’s now a whole new inspiration for me.
It actually just clicked in my head as you were saying that you do in fact play a very aggressive kind of music. Now I’ve had religious school teachers tell me that bands like For Today, Underoath and August Burns Red can’t be religious because it has screaming and drop-tune. Do you still get that back at home when you’ve been in For Today for nearly a decade?
Yeah (laughs)! It seems that modern day culture has tried to equate Christianity with being like a weak, pathetic loser (laughs) to put it bluntly. The men who I saw in my church growing up we’re not much to speak of. They were unintelligent, stupid people who just believed it because it made them feel good about themselves. Unfortunately that’s true for a lot of churches in the state and I suspect in Australia too. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. People say that Christians are just indoctrinated to believe whatever their spoon fed and a lot of the times that’s true. They haven’t really thought or studied it out and the conclusions they come to are pretty weak. But like, my parents indoctrinated me to not put my hand on a hot stove because I’ll burn myself. Just because I outright believed them and was indoctrinated as such doesn’t mean it’s not right. That’s just my little side note I guess that a lot of Christians are indoctrinated, unintelligent, uneducated people but you know what, I love them, they’re my family.
The point I’m trying to get to is that these type of Christains have bought into the lie that to be Christian you need to be passive and just shrug your shoulders at everything and say, "Well, God’s in control I’m just going to sit back and not do anything , not commit to anything or take personal responsibility to better anyone’s life because God’s in control." And I hate that! I guess that’s what our music is about. Our music is fundamentally, as we want it to be, aggressive and make people confront problems in their lives and the world we live in. In doing that, we’re kind of a push in the face of what the general perception of what Christians are to be. Unfortunately a lot of people still think that Christianity is soft and peaceful and passive so we need to play soft, peaceful and passive music. So when they hear music that is forward, aggressive and forceful they can’t fathom that it’s Christian.
See, when I think of Christianity, I think of Jesus and how he was such a revolutionary for his time. So much that the political and religious leaders murdered him. Even if you’re not a Christian you have to see that Jesus as a historical figure was one of the most revolutionary people in human history. And I think there’s something beautiful in that yet I don’t see that same revolutionary attitude and spirit in the church that claims to follow Jesus. That’s something our band are doing right now and pushing for. I want to see people who claim to be Christian be on the cutting edge of social revolution. I want to see those people advocating the poor. I want to see those people laying their lives down to help others and the poor. I want to see that same revolutionary spirit Jesus had played out in his church. I don’t want to see people who hear our music and think it’s not Christian because it’s aggressive and intense anymore because if Jesus were here, people would talk about how aggressive and intense he was.
And that’s exactly what I’m startling to love about For Today, especially with songs like ‘Pariah’ in particular that have that aggression and that forward notion. Another song like that is ‘Break the Cycle’ which features Matty Mullins from Memphis May Fire. I am not exactly sure if it’s about what you were just talking about, but it still holds that aggression and raw power. Can you expand on what the song IS talking about?
You mentioned earlier that people are writing songs about hooking up with chicks and getting drunk and partying. And it’s really interesting because there are those people who are self-destructive and blatantly irresponsible, and in every other culture those kinds of people weren’t given any kind of responsibility. Yet for whatever reason in our modernised culture, we instead of ignoring those people and not giving them any responsibility. We put them on the main stage of Warped tour and the cover of Alternative Press and we make them central figures on our tv shows and movies. These people who are destroying their own lives become central to our culture; it’s such a strange phenomenon as I cannot call any other culture in history that has done that. I think it’s because every other culture has been smart enough to know that we don’t make idiots leaders. But we do. And that’s what that song is about, with words like "the blind leading the blind, leading the blind to their demise" because I see these guys back stage and in their lives, struggling with depression and addiction and these guys don’t have answers for anybody, yet they have the attention of everybody.
It’s such a bad thing for our culture as there is really no help to be found if we keep putting these people in places of leadership who can’t really give any direction. The song’s about these people who are just as blind and as broken as the people they’re expected to lead.
I see what you mean by breaking the cycle of these people’s leadership and how the listeners are coerced into living like them and we then become leaders themselves who lead others into this bad life.
And that is a terrifying thing.
Of course and especially with the younger generation being exposed since brith to it. You have two sons and so they get to grow up in I guess a healthier environment than a lot of other kids. Not saying he is a bad person but if they had been born to Chris Fronzak from Attila, their lives would have been different with many different values.
Oh, definitely (laughs)! It’s in the eye of the beholder which life is better.
Given Attila are a bit of a joke band.
Yeah, exactly and the thing is the Chris actually has a son.
And not a lot of people know that or believe it too. But I guess while we’re talking about family values of sorts, I know from reading interviews and following you on Instagram that you are a very ‘family’ man. To what extent do you take that value, is what I want to know? If a family member was sick for example, would you instantly drop everything; tour, album recording or holiday or whatever to go and see them?
Yeah! I’ve actually done that before, it happened when we were in Australia actually four or five years ago. We left right at the end of a tour in the States to go straight to Australia and during that tour my wife was back home taking care of her mother who was very sick with cancer. And she told me that I needed to stay out on the road, that the kids needed me. And there was this one day, after a show in the van, where I felt the voice of God tell me to go home, that I needed to go home and see my wife. So I told the band, "Hey, i know this crazy, but I think God wants me to go home. I know we have a week left in the states, then we have Australia." I had one-hundred and nineteen dollars with me and so I went online and I found a plane ticket for one-hundred and nineteen dollars and seven cents. I bought that one way ticket home and went to the house. She was down at the store when I arrived so I gave her a call, I didn’t let her know I was at home and over the phone she cried and told me that she needed me home. It was all too much for her, her mother has fallen over that day and it was all too much. So as I said, I didn’t let on that I was at home and I told her I’d see what I could and I’d pray. I walked outside and as she comes around the corner she sees me standing in the driveway and just starts crying and runs into my arms. Six days later her mother passed away and I got to perform at her mother’s funeral. You know, we had Chris, who’s now the lead singer in Like Moths To Flames, fill in for me and I’m just glad I went home.
So to answer your question, yes. I will drop everything for family, I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
Now I think we better wrap this up as we’ve been going for quite awhile now. Thanks so much for your time, Mattie, it’s been great.
Thanks, Matt. Take care, man.
Destroy All Lines and Killyourstereo.com present
With guests PREPARED LIKE A BRIDE
AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2014
Friday 11 April – Uni Bar, Adelaide Lic/AA
Saturday 12 April – Bang, Melbourne 18
Tickets available at the door
Sunday 13 April – Arrow On Swanston, Melbourne AA
Tuesday 15 April – The Basement, Canberra 18
Wednesday 16 April – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle 18
Thursday 17 April – We Come Out At Night, Sydney 18
Tickets available at the door
Friday 18 April – Towradgi Surf Club, Wollongong Lic/AA
Saturday 19 April – The Lair, Sydney Lic/AA
Sunday 20 April – Easterfest, Toowoomba AA
Tickets available from Easterfest on www.easterfest.com