Project 86

By Lee Brown on May-3-2012 | Filed under Interviews | Tags : , , , | Share

Project 86

For over fifteen years Project 86 have proven time and again that they are among that elusive class of musicians able to constantly produce fresh and exciting music that simultaneously defies expectation and yet somehow keeps a signature sound. While every member of the band (past and present) has been a dominant force, it’s hard not to notice front-man Andrew Schwab’s distinct fingerprint. With a highly anticipated (and fully fan funded!) new P86 album on the horizon, I chatted with Andrew about how this new record is different from their last independent release and what greatness fans can expect to be unleashed upon them… soon.

Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Andrew. I know a ton of our readers are excited about the new record! What has it been like going independent again with this album?

It’s really been an adventure, in the best possible way. As some of you know, we did a Kickstarter campaign. The way that the industry model has changed, with direct-to-fan platforms becoming increasingly popular, makes it advantageous for bands on any level to cut out the middle man, so to speak. And it allows you to really connect deeply with the people that follow you. It really kept us on the edge of our seat, as each new backer came through we saw it in real-time. All we can say is that we are so thankful for our fans!

How did it feel similar/different from when you guys first released Songs to Burn Your Bridges By?

It was a completely different time in the industry back then. People still bought CDs in stores, for one thing. For another, the direct-to-fan platforms like Kickstarter were not available. We viewed the STBYBB indie release as simply a transition. I could see us doing another Kickstarter on the next release!

Anything you’d like to say to fans who supported the campaign?

I feel like we have partnered in something that makes you guys more than fans…you are now “lifers” in the P86 camp.

What was it like working with a different crew in the recording process?

Refreshing.  More of the responsibility for this album from top to bottom fell on my shoulders, but I was able to work with a bunch of my friends who really made the album better, each in turn.  Here’s the list:
Rocky Gray (Living Sacrifice, Evanescence)
Blake Martin (A Plea for Purging)
Cody Driggers (The Wedding)
Andrew Welch (Disciple, Capital Lights)
Producer Steve Wilson (Jonezetta, Juliana Theory)
Engineer/Mixer Steve Blackmon (Hank Williams Jr., Living Sacrifice)
Bruce Fitzhugh (Living Sacrifice)
Brian “Head” Welch (Korn)
Scott Davis (The Myriad)
Dustinn Lowry (The Becoming)
I also was able to add some new instrumentation on this record.  We hired a hammered dulcimer player, an Uilleann piper, and a mandolin player.

Over the years you explored many different styles, was there a certain style or sound you were going for with the new album?

I’d say this is a very diverse record. There are some very heavy moments as well as some very moody melodic ones. There’s some hints of Celtic influence, even some slightly psychedelic sounds. Still sounds like P86, but it’s a new sound, for sure. I would say that this album has a spirit that none of our others do. Whereas in the past I’d say there was a darker vibe, a dirge that was present in the sound and lyrics, this one is dominated by a spirit that I can only describe as…overcoming. It’s epic and hopeful without compromising the attitude that has defined our music.

Picket Fence Cartel was possibly the most faith-filled record the band has put out. Where would you say the new album sits in terms of faith-related messages?

They are there on every record we have put out if you have eyes to see. I’ve always wanted to try to approach lyrics a little differently with each release. This time, each song either tells a story or paints a specific image. There are definitely moments where the spiritual message is clear, but for most part, it is metaphorical. There is one song where there is a conversation between Isaac and Abraham as the dad is about to slay his son. It switches voice and perspective…so on the first verse Isaac is staring up at his father as the stars are behind him. His father has a look he has never seen on his face, and is holding a blade high above his head. I tried to give some insight into that story that is fresh. The opening track references David and Goliath, but it is more symbolic than literal. Hope that gives a little insight.

Can we expect more songs like “Destroyer,” or even “To Sand We Return?”

I don’t think we ever try to repeat ourselves with songs. If we do, it just isn’t as cool as the original. I can promise we have songs that are fresh and have a brand new energy!

Is there one track you’re the most excited for fans to hear when the new record drops?

The opening track, tentatively titled “Fall, Goliath, Fall” is my personal favorite.

Speaking of Picket Fence Cartel, when you and I talked last you mentioned that people were sort of upset over the album artwork. You talked about fan comments that it looked like it was made with Corel Paint. While I was a big fan of the curve ball on that one, historically, Project has always had highly artistic album art. I’m sure there is something bold in the works for the new record, any comments on that?

We are still working on the album art as of now. Picket Fence Cartel was very minimalist in approach, which can be effective if it is done the right way. I feel like the words in the layout, the questions asked, did leave the listener thinking, even if it ruffled feathers. I think the worst thing you can do as a music listener is try to pigeon-hole an artist into an expectation that they can only do one type of thing in general. We have always tried to defy that type of thinking.

Project has been around for over 15 years now and still seems to be going strong, do you sit back and wonder if you’ll still be doing this 15 years from now?

Anything is possible. I guess that’s the whole point. I have always tried to take this band one day at a time and just submit it to God. When we first started all we wanted to do is put out a record…

Last question, and I’ll warn you it’s a little silly: Who’s better Superman or Batman?

Which Superman? Which Batman? There have been different incarnations of each. I am a big Dark Knight fan…the original cartoon series.

—–

Keep watching IVM for the review of Project 86′s new album. Sound off in the comments section below about your favorite P86 jam. And, be sure to share this review on all sorts of social media to help get the word out about this epic upcoming release. After all, we were just promised a hammered dulcimer, an Uilleann piper, and a mandolin on a Project 86 album… how could you NOT want to share that!?!

About the author Lee Brown

Lee Brown is Discipleship Pastor at Meadow Park Church in Columbus, OH. He is the author of "Here's How: An Introduction to Practical Discipleship," and is also an adjunct professor and content specialist for Mid-America Christian University. Most importantly, he is a loving husband and father. Lee loves jamming to bands like Blindside, Project 86, Demon Hunter, Spoken, Lecrae, and Lil' Dre. For more about Lee, be sure to visit www.KnightoftheSon.com. View all posts by Lee Brown

22 Responses to 'Project 86'

  1. Dave says:

    Easily one of the best P86 interviews I’ve read in a long time! Well done, Lee!!

  2. Dave says:

    Easily one of the best P86 interviews I’ve read in a long time! Well done, Lee!!

  3. Smacky X says:

    There’s some great insight from Schwab here. It’s hard to know what to expect musically from this new album. His comments about that piqué My curiosity more than they satisfy it.

    • Lucas says:

      Well it’s better that way. It’ll be more of a surprise. :) I, for one, am psyched after reading this interview and I’m not even a huge P86 fan!

    • Smacky X says:

      It’s absolutely better that way! Huge anticipation is building…

    • Lee Brown says:

      The great thing about Project is that they are a band that has never stuck with a style and gotten comfortable. My favorite album is still “… And the Rest Will Follow,” and I would love to hear another album like that, but then “The Kane Mutiny Ep” came out and I was blown away anew. Heck, even their Christmas album is amazing!

  4. Awesome, awesome interview.

  5. John says:

    Great interview!

    I was already looking forward to this but seeing that list of great musicians makes me even more excited. Just remembered I haven’t bought any of their albums yet so I guess I’ll have a lot of catching up to do lol

  6. Brandon says:

    Awesome Interview, Lee. All of Andrew’s comments get me excited for the potential that the new album could have. I am hoping it’s a good one.

  7. jthejust says:

    Picket Fence Cartel was awesome. Hopefully this one is as good, or better. :)

    • Lee Brown says:

      Picket Fence Cartel is decidedly my second favorite album of Project’s. See above. But I’m sure this one will blow me away. The new instrumentation he mentioned alone has me ready to listen to it. Now. Right now. Where’s my time machine, cause this is a good moment for it.

  8. Marcos says:

    The new album seems to be an amazing recording…

  9. Dakota says:

    Awesome review!!!! Im sooo excited for the new record!!

  10. Mic Mike says:

    A band’s switching styles on every album is not a sign of versatility, per se, but rather that what they are currently doing is not working (either with the fans in general, internally, or with the current popular trend that’s out there and said band wants to follow). The greats never had to change to frequently or so drastically. One more reason why the secular scene trumps (for the most part). P86′s debut on Tooth And Nail (?) was their peak, but even then it was a RATM ripoff. Sorry, but true. Then they wanted to be POD/Blindside. And so forth. Nice dudes though, I’m sure, so nothing personal.

    • Lucas says:

      “A band’s switching styles on every album is not a sign of versatility, per se, but rather that what they are currently doing is not working (either with the fans in general, internally, or with the current popular trend that’s out there and said band wants to follow).”

      Don’t know where you got that. Does that mean bands like Thrice, As Cities Burn, and mewithoutYou don’t work? Because those are the bands I can think of that switched their styles up the most drastically. Some artists just like doing something new, granted ACB’s new sound in Come Now Sleep was due to a member change, but I think the best bands know how to do something different every album without forsaking their identity. Project 86, while not my favorite band in the world, has done a fantastic job of doing that with their career. I’m just curious…can you give me examples of bands that are doing it right?

    • Nick says:

      I’m not sure I agree with you about Project 86′ style Mic Mike. I think if you had read some of the background information from the band in “It’s all downhill from here” you would come to realize that the main reason that Project changed their style from “RATM” sound was that they realized that the nu-metal fad was going to sink pretty fast. After that I think the rest of their sound changes were mainly based on the different musical taste of each band member and the push of Atlantic to make them more mainstream during the Truthless Hero debacle. It is fairly evident that Randy Torres and Stephen Dail wanted to go into more of a Rock ‘n Roll direction while Andrew Schwab wanted to steer towards the heavier side of the musical spectrum. I think Rival Factions is clear evidence that Schwab wanted to keep the band together but to do that he had to make concessions on the type of sound the band would have to appease Randy and Stephen. As far as Project 86′s peak, I’ve always thought STBYBB was their watershed moment. It was a blend of both sounds and completely passionate.

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