A Past Unknown is set to release their powerful album Vainglory on October 22nd. Be sure to check out our glowing review, and keep reading to find out what Grant Lilly (Frontman) has to say about the album, the industry, and what bands he’d most like to play a show with.
Thanks for taking some time to share your heart with the fans. I’m sure you’re pretty ready and excited for the album to get into your fans hands.
Thanks so much for the Interview, we appreciate it so much and really looking forward to the release!
So let’s jump right in. Vainglory has some bold themes throughout. Talk about the process the band entered into in sitting down to write the record.
One thing that changed from the last album was trying to hone in on the sound that we wanted. To Those Perishing was a collection of songs that had been written at different times and I don’t think it really captured the sound we were trying to get. With Vainglory, we were able to sit down and collectively have input on it and capture the melodic sound we wanted. We wrote about half of the new album in the last 2 months before the studio so there was a lot of prayer, especially for vocals, that Jesus would be the center theme but not get repetitive.
Did you sit down with an idea or theme in mind, or did the record flow from what God was/is doing in your lives?
I would say both. Musically, we wanted the album to make sense with the flow and order of the songs so it definitely has a theme throughout the album and I’m a firm believer God helped us write all of it to get it done in time. Lyrically, it starts out with our depravity in the song “Cursed” then ending with “Cured.” So many issues are covered throughout the album that separates us from Christ and ends by embracing Jesus.
What influences (literary or musical) influenced you as the record was coming together?
Musically, there were so many bands that have influenced us in our writing. Listening to bands such as Coldplay, Deftones, Hillsong United, The Ghost Inside, Legend, August Burns Red, Ascend The Hill etc. The range of genres we listen to is so wide, so they all played a part in the writing process. At the same time, we were hoping we could really bring out what we wanted to do with the album and that was to make it very ambient and melodic and Josh Schroeder of Random Awesome studios did such a great job in bringing that out . Lyrically, we wanted to be straight forward with our message and make this album about Jesus and what He has done for us. For me, there have been so many life struggles both before and after giving my life to Jesus, and I really prayed God would help me write this album and get a message out that can reach people for Him. I’m praying He will use it in such a huge way.
As I mentioned above, the lyrical content and message on the album is very bold and straight forward. I know some bands struggle with the distinction between being “Christians in a band” or being “a Christian band.” Talk a little about your heart on this matter.
I have a very strong opinion on this, but it is a very touchy subject in the Christian realm because people are going to have so many opinions on it. I’ll definitely be open about it. Words without actions are dead. If a band is preaching from stage and not living it out and haven’t been truly changed by the power of Jesus, I don’t think they should say a word. Many bands use the name of Christ but have never encountered Christ, it’s just more of a cultural Christianity thing. Bands shouldn’t preach out of obligation but because they have had a life changing encounter with Jesus. If you truly have been changed by Jesus and don’t say anything, why? Wouldn’t you want people to have the best gift ever? Why not be bold about it? At the same time, it goes way deeper than just preaching on a stage, it has to be relational and just as much a part of our off-stage lives. Jesus commands us to go into all nations preaching His name and making disciples and that starts with actually caring about people and where they are at, letting them know that there is hope in Jesus and unlike anything this world has to offer. If we aren’t spreading the Gospel through music and our lives, I think we have it wrong. Music is a means to spread the Gospel and I believe Jesus gives people musical gifts to use for His glory, not just in Hardcore music but in every genre and every aspect of life.
Now on Vainglory there are some amazing guest vocals from Ryan from Fit For A King. Talk a little about how that came together and how you feel the track turned out.
Ryan is a beast. I love Fit For A King and what they are doing and I thought Ryan would be awesome for the part and he did an amazing job. We have talked quite a bit over the last year and a half so when the opportunity came up for a guest spot, I really wanted him on it. We almost didn’t make the deadline but fortunately, we were able to get it accomplished and we were more than happy with the outcome.
Is there a specific song you’re most excited for people to hear?
We all have our favorites, and even though it isn’t my favorite on the album, the song I can’t wait for people to hear is the last song “Cured,” and that’s because of the lyrics. It’s a conversation between a man and God. The first half of the song is the man crying out to God, at the end with no hope, just wanting an answer. In the second half of the song, Jesus answers him with who He is and what He has done. In the studio, I did the last half in one take and I was just so overwhelmed as I was screaming it because it hit home so hard to think about how Jesus came into my life and saved me from so much. I really hope people who are having a hard time hear this song and that God just uses it to heal hurts, break chains and bring people freedom.
Let’s talk a little about the industry. It goes without saying that the musical enterprise is drastically changing. Ventures like Spotify and Kickstarter are, of course, becoming increasingly how fans interact with the bands. Talk a little about what its like to be a band in this new frontier.
I think there are two sides to it. It’s great that there is something like Kickstarter because I think it’s awesome that fans can be a part of a project and donate. On the flip side, I think bands can abuse it as well for some un-needed ventures. Spotify, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc really are a bands best friend in exposing music now. Without the internet, and the hand of Jesus obviously, I don’t think a whole lot of people would know about A Past Unknown.
Did you consider kickstarter or the like for this album, or was it always assumed you’d work through the label (Red Cord)?
It was an idea but that’s really all it was. We actually wanted to fund this album ourselves and use the recording costs more towards marketing and other areas of promotion.
What are your thoughts on the tendency for some to download artists’ work for free?
If the artist has it up for free download, I’m all for it. If not, I’m not for it at all. I think mostly everyone has downloaded something at one point in time but I don’t think people realize how much illegally downloading can hurt a band. I know I didn’t until I saw the effects of it. We have fans all the time say “you should tour with this band, that band, etc” but it’s all numbers to the people that put bands on tours. Illegal downloads don’t count toward those numbers. Fans really can make a difference and buy the album if they really want to see their favorite band succeed. And keep in mind also, if you get an album illegally, you’ve forfeit your right to critique it. Don’t complain about the president if you didn’t vote, and don’t complain about a band’s music if you stole it.
If you could tour with any band on the scene today, who would it be?
August Burns Red
What about if it were any band from any era?
So many.. Probably Led Zepplin, The Beatles, The Who, and the Backstreet Boys.
Is there anything you want to say to fans about where A Past Unknown is heading post-VainGlory? Anything new God is laying on your hearts?
As of right now, we are still undecided. This is our last album with Red Cord Records so we will see how it does and if something comes along after Vainglory that God wants us to pursue, we will decide on it then. Until then, enjoy Vainglory!
Last question… very silly. Who’s better Batman or Superman?
Vainglory comes out October 22nd from Red Cord Records. Be sure to grab a copy from Amazon, iTunes, or check it out on Spotify. Just in case you need convincing, here is the “overall” summary from the album review:
Overall: Vainglory is a powerful and passionate exploration of the eternal plight of mankind. While it doesn’t break new ground musically, the level of artistry A Past Unknown brings to the table is undeniable. Fans of harder music will find an album that is a great balance of brutality and serenity, deserving a serious listen. But, it is the bold and faithful message of the album that will keep you coming back for more and discovering new depth with each subsequent play.