Light The Way

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For the first time ever on IVM, Light The Way gets the interview treatment. Check out my questions and answers with Andrew (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Christian Moore (Guitar), and Christian Appel (Drums) [Evan is missing in action, sorry pal] from Light The Way, below. About the song “Hope”: “For me, Hope is a birds eye view of how sinful we as a human race really are, and at the end of the day, the only thing that really gives me hope that reaches beyond “just living a good life,” is that Jesus forgave me for all of it. That truth gives me a guaranteed promise that stretches beyond death”. If you’ve never heard of this Sacramento, CA. based pop-punk band then drop what you’re doing right this instant and give them a listen wherever you find great digital music.

Ok guys, let me just start this off by saying that IVM has never interviewed one of it’s own bands that really inspired the whole label relaunch back in 2017. It’s crazy that I’ve never interviewed you guys. So here we are and time to set the record straight on all that is Light The Way.

First off, tell me a little bit about yourselves. Where and when did you first start playing your instruments? When did you first join a “band” and what are some of your earliest memories of that time period? Do you have any recordings from your very early bands?

[Andrew] I started playing bass when I was 15. I saved up for an ESP during the summer, and once I got it, I printed out the tabs for Americana by the Offspring, and Revolutions Per Minute by Rise Against and started learning how to play those songs. The first band I joined was a street/garage punk band called the Creeps with some friends in high school. We were terrible and never played a live show, and there are no recordings. The memory that jumps out from that time was the other guys wanting to cover Maxwell Murder by Rancid, and me listening to that bass line at the end and telling them that there was no way I was going to be able to play that! At the end of High School, my good friend Eric and I started jamming, and eventually formed the melodic hardcore band Hands of Hope. It was through this band that I meet most of the dudes I play music with today. Christian Moore played in a local hardcore band called xSolidarityx, and Christian Appel played drums for another hardcore band called Your Pain, My Victory. Christian Moore joined Hands of Hope on vocals, and our friends Corey and Anthony joined on lead guitar and bass. We did have a legit recording from Castle Ultimate Studios (legendary metal/hardcore/punk recording studio on Oakland CA) but we never put vocals to it. Christian Appel has the recordings though! They still rip, being from 2008! A couple of years after Hands of Hope stopped playing shows, Christian Moore started a Pop Punk band called In Our Time, and asked me to play guitar. We recorded two Eps with our friend Corey (the same Corey in Hands of Hope) and they are on bandcamp currently. In Our Time is when I met Evan Sides and immediately asked him and Christian Moore to join Light the Way years later after Christian Appel and I jammed on those first songs.

[Christian Moore] I started playing bass and guitar at 12 years old. I’ve been in a band or writing music ever since then. I pretty much knew right away that playing music would be a huge part of my life. Within a couple years, I had played in a worship band, butt rock-ish metal band, deathcore band, and a few hardcore bands. Some of the bands I’m not afraid to mention are xSOLIDARITYx, a straight edge hardcore band. We had an EP and you could probably find it online somewhere. I played in Hands of Hope with Andrew, it was melodic hardcore. And then Andrew, Evan and I all played in a pop punk band called In Our Time. There’s a couple EPs on bandcamp for that band.

[Christian Appel] I picked up my first pair of drums sticks on June 10th, 1996. My brother Robert bought a child size drum kit for like less than a hundred bucks. He never really used it, but i’d beat on it. From late 1996 to mid 1999, i played in some jam bands with my brother and his friend Josh. My Dad bought me my first drumset in 1998 for my 17th Birthday. It was a used Ludwig kit from the 80’s. I would blast CD’s from Less Than Jake, AFI and The Vandals while drumming. I really wanted to be a fast punk drummer. In late 1999 I joined a band with some college classmates called “I Level With Brad”. It was an attempt to do something like Operation Ivy. later on I tried to start a couple of Ska bands, but those never went anywhere. I ended up starting a Christian Rock band with brother and my friend Matt called “Damascus Road” in 2000. It was my first time playing gigs. We played with some early Bettie Rocket bands, which was very cool. From 2002 to early 2003, I was in a Christian Nu-Metal band called “Holdown”. Throughout 2003, I filled in on drums for my brothers Ska band called “Flip The Switch”. In the spring of 2003 I joined a band called “Sparkstarter” which was a Christian Experimental Hardcore band. We had a side project called “Master Exploder” that sounded like The Locust. In 2005 to 2006 we changed our name to “Sons Of Thunder” and played Southern Rock. In early 2007, I started a Spirit-Filled Hardcore band with some dudes from Church. We where called “Your Pain My Victory”. Our attempted style was Beatdown Hardcore and lasted until 2009. In 2010, “Sparkstarter” got back together to write new music, but it never went anywhere. “Youthquake A.D.” was the Spirit-Filled Melodic Hardcore band is was in for about two years. We tried to get back together in 2014 under the name “Mean Streets”, but it didn’t last. Sometime in 2015, I jammed with Andrew in hopes we could start something in the vien of AFI and Set Your Goals. It wouldn’t be until mid 2016 that we started up with what is now “Light The Way”. I have recordings from all the bands that i’ve been in.

What was the first time that you all got together in a room and laid out music as “Light The Way”? Was that always your chosen band name? If not, what were some of your other names?

[Andrew] I got together with Christian Appel in the summer of 2016 at his house to jam on some songs I’d be tinkering with. I’d always wanted to be in a band with Appel, and I had written some pop punk sounding stuff, and we gave it a shot. I named the “band” before we jammed, and put out some low budget demos I made earlier that year. The only other name I can remember kicking around was For What It’s Worth, but wound up going with Light the Way. We asked Evan to join shortly thereafter and began recording what would become Grace. Christian Moore joined after the Ep came out when we started playing shows.

[Christian Moore] I was the afterthought guy for the band. So one day Andrew called me up and said, “Hey can you come over to Christian Appel’s house with your guitar? We’re going to film a music video and want another guitarist in the video.” Ever since then, I have played with the band on and off. So I wasn’t there for the naming process. And that’s a good thing. Because it would have been named after a planet in Star Wars or something.

[Christian Appel] June 2016 around the time of Fathers Day, Andrew and I worked on a song. The following practice we had Evan come out to play Bass. There was definitely some magic going on. I think from day one, Andrew wanted the name Light The Way.

What were some of your first demo songs called? Do you still have recordings of those demos anywhere?

[Andrew] The three demos I did were called Narcissa, Cause & Effect and So Stoked. The latter appeared on our Ep Dude Lame with new lyrics, and parts of Narcissa went on to be in the songs Black Waves and Brain Rot. I never did anything with Cause & Effect though. I don’t have the files of those demos and I took them down from bandcamp when we started doing legit recordings. A couple dozen people downloaded them, so I know they are out there somewhere!

[Christian Moore] I don’t know. Andrew is the writing dude and comes up with some pretty cool names for things.

[Christian Appel] I only remember the original demo version of “So Stoked”. I do have all of those early demos that Andrew made.

The first time I heard you guys was when “Grace” dropped, which was your very first “official” Ep. Once I heard it, I knew there was something super special about Light The Way and had to be a part of this experience. Relaunching IVM as a label was a no brainer and to help you get your music out into the world made the most amount of sense to me. What was that experience like, of recording “Grace”, hooking up with IVM and then releasing the ep on a national stage? Any solid memories you might have from back then?

[Andrew] We recorded Grace with Robert (Bob) Swanson at Mayhemness Recording Studio in Sacramento CA and had a super good time putting it together. Bob has such a good ear for music, and is the reason our recordings came out sounding as good as they did. Can’t hype that guy up enough! He’s been a staple in Sacramento metal/hardcore/punk for around a decade. If you play heavy/alternative music in Sac, you’ve probably heard of Bob and Mayhemness. We put out Grace ourselves on bandcamp and not long after you got in contact with us about releasing it through IVM. I was a little hesitant at first because I had never worked with a label before, but once I saw your passion for spirit-filled music and your common beliefs, I was sold. We’ve had such a amazing time working with you and being able to move at our own, often times unpredictable, pace. We do this as a hobby, and IVM works with what we want to do!

[Christian Moore] I hadn’t yet joined up with the guys so I heard the EP and was like “dude, this is actually really good.” You know how a friend starts a band and they’re “good for a local band?” Well I felt Light the Way was legitimately good.

[Christian Appel] Hahaha, I remember not being stressed in the studio for this album only. When we had discussed releasing our music through Indie Vision Music, I got really excited. I’ve been a fan of IVM since 2005. I had the pleasure of meeting Brandon Jones shortly after the IVM hiatus. Something that not many people know about, but Brandon was a huge part of getting Take It Back! signed to Facedown Records which made for a great pipe dream possible for us.

You guys followed up “Grace” with “Dude Lame” just a few months later in 2017. The EP further explored the themes on “Grace” with even more catchy, melodic punk/pop punk and even some spoken word and another acoustic tracks at the end. It’s so awesome to see how “Grace” and “Dude, Lame” perfectly complement each other musically and how all those songs mesh so well as a completed work of punk rock. How do you guys feel about the songs on “Dude, Lame”? What are your favorite songs on Dude, Lame and Grace? Are you happy or sad that pumpkin man lost his reign as unofficial mascot of Light The Way? Kidding of course, but seriously, will pumpkin man ever make it back on an album?

[Andrew] If time/money permitted, Grace and Dude Lame probably should have been a short full length. We finished Grace, but didn’t really have enough material for a 20-30 minute set, so Dude Lame came about pretty fast. My favorite songs from those first 2 would have to be Note to Self, So Stoked and Dead Head. Those are the 3 songs that we still have in our set today. I will say this: pumpkin head man WILL return in the future, and (if the other dudes are down with it) in animated form!

[Christian Moore] Dude, Lame is close to my heart because I recorded on it. I love “So Stoked” because it just feels like a melodic hardcore song. “Dead Head” has great lyrics that I know a lot of people caught on to. Andrew didn’t know Grateful Dead fans were called Dead Heads, so that was funny when he found out about that. The Pumpkin Man is cool, but I think the transition from him to really stunning artwork for False Memory Syndrome, I don’t mind that he’s gone.

[Christian Appel] DUDE, LAME!!!! “So Stoked” and “Dead Head” are my favorites on this album. I still think it’s funny that Andrew didn’t know what a Dead Head was. I really like playing “Black Waves” as a song and playing live. “I’m Sorry” is another favorite of mine off of Grace. The Pumpkin Dude was cool and I wish he would come back. Andrew and Myself are both into Jack-O-Lanterns. Not sure if his is connected to AFI? Halloween and the color Orange are a huge part of my childhood. I still collect Jack-O-Lantern stuff every Halloween and it’s common to see it on everything I own.

In 2018 you released your very first official full length album, “False Memory Syndrome”, with one of my favorite songs, “Holy Ghost”. The song gained some traction on a couple radio stations and in fan’s hearts, much like “BRKN” and “So Stoked” did a year prior. How did you guys react to hearing your band was getting some radio play? How do you feel about “Holy Ghost” as a song and single? What does that song mean to you on a personal level and how do the lyrics express that Faith you hold dear?

[Andrew] Hearing your music on the radio & podcasts is one of those amazing moments in life. It’s just awesome, there’s no other way to describe that. Holy Ghost kinda stands out on False Memory Syndrome for me because it has this weird-sounding lead at the beginning that we really hadn’t done before, and paired it with a budget easy core rhythm, and it came out sounding pretty cool. Lyrically, I tried to balance corny analogies with a more personal and serious subject, and I was happy with how it came out. The song really tries to express the feeling of letting God down time and time again, and being able to see yourself the way He sees you, which is a child of His, who He made worthy through His sacrifice, grace and forgiveness.

[Chrisian Moore] I love that song. I think it really showcases Andrew’s lyrical style and captures the heart of the band. I think it has an extremely hopeful message while using imagery and verbiage from horror and paranormal genres. I know all the guys are into that (see Pumpkin Man) so it was a nice blend of serious Christ-centric lyrics while showing the personality of the band.

[Christian Appel] When I heard “Holy Ghost” on Broken FM for the first time, I was so excited. Never in my life nor in any band I’ve ever been in, did we get on the Billboard Charts. We where #29 on the Billboard Charts for Christian Rock Radio. We beat Toby Mac who was #30. I have the proof framed and on my wall to prove it. The song “Holy Ghost” was a bit different than some of our other previous songs. The lyrics are perfect and are a constant pick me up whenever I’m down.

“False Memory Syndrome” had a variety of styles, everything from pop-punk to skate punk to spoken word and even melodic hardcore. While it had a different take on the sound of Light The Way, it was like a fresh look at a band on the rise. What are some of your favorite moments from that album cycle? Any favorite songs that stand out to you?

[Andrew] My favorites from False Memory would have to be But My Mom Says I’m Cool, Holy Ghost, Thrillhouse and Snapping Necks & Cashing Checks.

[Christian Moore] I like the whole record a lot. I have no shame in spinning that thing on the reg. “Still Edge” is cool because it features Andre Favila on guest vocals and he was in my old band xSolidarityx. “Snapping Necks & Cashing Checks” is a very “Andrew” song lyrically. And it has such a catchy yet melancholy thing that makes the record really stick with me. We don’t really play either live, but I’d like to.

[Christian Appel] I remember being super stressed out before the recording and in the studio. I didn’t feel very confedent in myself and these songs. However listening to the album over and over, I’m still in shock that it came out so good. “The Brkn Hearts Club” is our Green Day sounding song and I love it. “Trillhouse” is another song I like and really enjoy playing it live. “But My Mom Says I’m Cool” is another gem I like playing live.

Last year, “Dad Gang” Ep dropped in the summer months. What does that EP mean to you as musicians and songwriters? I think it is some of your strongest material yet. Favorite songs?

[Andrew] I really feel that Dad Gang is the most “complete” sounding Light the Way release. We didn’t really do as many leads on it, and kinda went for a more direct sound and I’m really happy with how it came out. Hope really stands out to me, but I like them all!

[Christian Moore] I think Dad Gang is fun. Since I’m a flake, Andrew wanted to write songs that could be played as a three piece (give me some slack, I’m the only actual dad in the group).

[Christian Appel] “I Liked Old AFI Better” and “Hope” are my two favorite songs off of this album.

You guys yet again hit a grand slam out of the part with the song “Hope” which really took on this whole meaning about being broken before God and having him love us no matter what. How does the song “Hope” connect with you as songwriters and musicians?

[Andrew] For me, Hope is a birds eye view of how sinful we as a human race really are, and at the end of the day, the only thing that really gives me hope that reaches beyond “just living a good life,” is that Jesus forgave me for all of it. That truth gives me a guaranteed promise that stretches beyond death.

[Christian Moore] Legit, “Hope” made me tear up the first time I heard it. Don’t tell the guys, they’ll make fun of me. It’s a song that’s just straight up the gospel message. It’s also, no contest, the poppiest song Light the Way has. And I don’t mean that negatively. It’s so good. I didn’t write the song, but it touches me. So I think it’s the best song Light the Way has.

[Christian Appel] I personally think that the lyrics for “Hope” are just perfect and it’s a song that we can all connect with.

Switching gears here for a second. Let’s get personal and share some fun facts

What are some of your favorite bands as youth and how do you connect with them today? What do you still find yourself listening to this many years later? What are your absolute most favorite records?

[Andrew] I still listen to the bands I listened to in High School. Some of my favorites would be AFI, Yellowcard, the Offspring, Dogwood, Comeback Kid, New Found Glory, Saves the Day, Strike Anywhere and Rise Against, just to name a few from those days. I still throw on their records to this day! My favorite record of all time is AFI’s Sing the Sorrow.

[Christian Moore] I listened to pretty much everything as a kid. I was introduced to hardcore, metal, punk and other underground heavy music styles around the same time I started listening to POD, KJ-52 and other 90s and early 2000s Christian book store type of bands. So I was all over the place. For favorite albums: MMHMM by Relient K is a masterpiece. Some of my favorite other albums are Control by Pedro the Lion, As the World Bleeds by Theocracy, No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical by Showbread and Clarity by Jimmy Eat World.

[Christian Appel] I spent a large amount of my teenage years listening to 90’s Alternative Rock. I was 13 years old when I first heard Green Day’s Dookie album. 15 years old and hearing Rancid …And Out Comes The Wolves album. But my taste in music really changed with the 1997, 3rd Wave Ska trend. Less Than Jake’s Losing Streak album was such a huge influence on me musically. Here I am today in my late 30’s and still listening to Less Than Jake, Rancid, The Vandals, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and so many others.

What bands, artists, or songwriters most influence the work of Light The Way? If you could connect with and band or artist to collaborate with who would it be and why?

[Andrew] Light the Way is just a lump sum of all the pop punk and hardcore I’ve ingested over the years. Some of the current bands that have influenced me would have to be WSTR, Trash Boat, Real Friends, Four Year Strong and bands like that. I’ve always wanted to do something with Josh from Dogwood. We almost made that happen on Grace! So close, but it fell through. I do want to make that happen one day though. Dogwood was such a great band, and one of the few Christian punk bands that wasn’t corny and awkward. Lol

[Christian Moore] My biggest influence with Light the Way is just trying to remember how to play the songs right before shows. “Wait, what key is this song in?”

[Christian Appel] I think musically we’re influenced by Man Overboard, The Story So Far, Dogwood and Blink 182. I’d love to have Josh Kemble of Dogwood do guest Vocals on a song with us. Also it would be cool to have Zack McKim from Take It Back! do guest vocals as well.

Favorite food, go! Favorite eatery!

[Andrew] Taco Bell, and Taco Bell.

[Christian Moore] I like good old American food. I also frequent a mom and pop Thai restaurant. I’ve gone there so much that I befriended the owner. I played music at his daughter’s wedding. One time he gifted me a bass guitar. That was dope. Thai Hut, Carmichael, CA. Go get it.

[Christian Appel] BBQ Chicken.

Last 5 movies you saw and your thoughts, go!

[Andrew] Moneyball – they never won a world series, so I’m mixed. Knives Out – I LOVE mystery, and this one was pretty good. I enjoyed it and I didn’t figure it out till the end. The Rise of Skywalker – at the risk of upsetting fellow Star Wars fans, I will say that I was not a fan and leave it at that. Lol 1917 – some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen, plus the acting and story was super solid. Joker – I still don’t know what to think about that one. Lol

[Christian Moore] Parasite was so dang good. I think I’ve watched it four times since October. Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of rewatching. Lots of Star Wars. I love tracking my movies on Letterboxd. letterboxd.com/cmooremovies

[Christian Appel]
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
The Private Eyes (1980)
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Hot To Trot (1988)
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

I like old Comedies and almost anything having to do with Old Hollywood.

Last concert you went to (pre-quarantine), go!

[Andrew] I saw WSTR with Crooked Teeth, Greyscale and Hot Mulligan in Sacramento.

[Christian Moore] I saw War of Ages and Dens a couple days before quarantine. I was talking to them and just asking how weird it was to be on the road when the virus was spreading quick. I don’t think anyone at that time knew how it would essentially change the world. Can’t wait to hit up another show soon!

[Christian Appel] Facedown Fest 2020!

What concert are you dying to go to and why?

[Andrew] I would love to get my hands on a time machine and see AFI play back in 2003. Also, to snag a copy of their Ep 337 on vinyl, because copies of those are impossible to find!

[Christian Moore] I’d love to go to Furnace Fest, if it still happens. I know it’s not going to happen for me at least. Going cross country is a little much for me. Ha!

[Christian Appel] Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, I’ve never seen them and I like Big Band music.

You guys obviously share a deep connection to your Faith and read from the word of God. How does this impact your role as musicians and just living your daily life? If you could say one thing to your younger self what would that be?

[Andrew] My faith is a part of who I am and it effects everything I do. I am a sinner saved by grace, and am constantly learning what it means to follow Jesus. I have peaks and valleys like most everyone else, but my faith has always kept me grounded. The biggest thing I would tell my younger self is to not stress, worry or be anxious. Life is short, and God is on the throne.

[Christian Moore] My faith has a direct impact on my work in music. I’m a worship director at my church and have been for 10 years. So most of my songwriting and playing involves worship. I would have told my younger self to not be such a jerk.

[Christian Appel] Before I was testing the water of Salvation in Christ Jesus, I made a discussion to only play drums for Gods glory. I would honestly tell my younger self to never stop going after Gods gift of musical talent.

What can fans expect from Light The Way moving forward? Any new music in the works? Are you still going to record at same studio with same producer or are you moving on? What are some song titles you’re currently working on? Any “cover” tracks you’d like to record?

[Andrew] As long as Bob records music, Light the Way will trust him with our songs. He produces amazing recordings, and we wouldn’t think of going to anyone else. We don’t have any new music planned for 2020, but maybe something in 2021. We have a few snippets of songs we’ve tinkered with a little bit, but nothing solid. We’d love to record a Dogwood cover. Not sure which song, but definitely a Dogwood song done with a Light the Way vibe.

[Christian Moore] Ask Andrew. Ha!

[Christian Appel] I’m really looking forward to working on some new stuff. I really want to make drum beats that reflect who I am today as a drummer. We’ve jammed a couple of different songs. One of them has a Man Overboard feel to it and the other had a Green Day type of sound. I would really like to cover Dogwood’s song Faith. Also I think it would be cool to cover AFI’s Third Season.

How can us as music fans best support you in your goals of taking over the world? How can fans best support you financially and keep the Light The Way dream alive?

[Andrew] Lol we just hope that people listen to our music and find the same peace that we have in Jesus – everything else is secondary.

[Christian Moore]
Sending bags of money helps. No, just keep up the support of listening and sharing with friends! Buy some merch if you want!

[Christian Appel] Tell people you know about our music. If and when we have a gig, please come out and sing along.

Thanks again for this interview and make sure to check out Light The Way now wherever find music is sold/streamed. You can also buy “False Memory Syndrome” and “Dude Lame: Deluxe Edition” on Vinyl right here.

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May 31, 2020 12:23 pm

I love these guys and that they’re all about doing everything to God’s glory! (I’m one of those Light the Wayans that has their demo) Great interview, Brandon! I didn’t realize that Andrew and Christian M. were actually in 2 of my favorite bands xSolidarityx and In Our Time! Can’t wait to hear some new tunes! It definitely would be sweet to hear some songs with John (Dogwood) and Zack (Take It Back!) in addition of a cover of AFI’s “third season” and a Dogwood song! God bless you guys in all that you do!

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