We recently had the chance to talk with Mattie Montgomery, lead vocalist and frontman vocalist of Razor & Tie metalcore band, For Today. We talked about their new record, fatherhood, the highs and lows of Warped Tour, and what it means to be Christians in the music industry.
IVM: What is your name and what is your role in For Today?
Mattie: Nope, I won’t answer that. Just kidding! I’m Mattie Montgomery, and I am the vocalist in For Today.
IVM: For Today has been around for almost a decade. Can you quickly summarize what has happened throughout those years?
Mattie: The band initially formed in 2005, but I actually didn’t join until 2007. They were just a local band in Western Iowa before that. Around the time I joined the band, they got signed to a label and were started to tour full-time. So, for the last seven years we’ve sort of hit the road tour and never came back. Haha! We are going to tour until we break up or die, or something else happens. We’ll see how that goes! We were touring 300+ days a year during those first few years, it was crazy!
I remember the first time I played San Antonio with the band, there was literally two people who paid to come to that show. And we have a bunch of stories of playing shows where there was literally no one there to watch us. We’d play wherever people would agree to let us setup, plug in and play. We’ve been to Asia, Australia, all over Europe, Central and South America. We’ve basically played in dozens of nations around the world for hundreds of thousands of people. It has been a wild adventure. We were just kids, traveling in a van and playing for whoever would listen to us. To be honest, that is still what we are…but now there is much more people listening!
IVM: What is the meaning behind the name “For Today”?
Mattie: We’ve tried to give it meaning over the years. The band wasn’t always a Christian band in the beginning, I think before I joined only one of them was a Christian. They picked the name because it sounded cool. We’ve kind of tried to base it around the scripture of Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what today may bring.”
But to be totally honest, it didn’t have a real meaning in the beginning.
IVM: What is the number one priority/purpose of the band?
Mattie: To glorify Christ. That’s it! To bring more people to Jesus. It’s that simple!
IVM: You’ve released “Fight the Silence” in early February of this year. What kind of feedback have you received from you fans & your peers?
Mattie: I guess you’ll always get the full spectrum of responses when you release a new album. You’ll always have those who say they prefer your older stuff, but I think the thought behind that is that they want those around them to know that they’ve been listening to your band for a longer time! It seems that many have had a positive response to this new album. We did a signing earlier today, and probably half of those kids hadn’t seen us live until today. Most of them have just started listening to our stuff over the last few months. It’s cool to see these new fans who had never listened to For Today before, who are now starting to check out our music. But also, we’ve had people who have been with us for many years who are saying this is our best album yet. You’ll always have critics, but I think the overall consensus is that this is the most well received For Today album to date. And, I tend to agree with that!
IVM: What was the inspiration specifically for “Fight The Silence”?
Mattie: The song or the album? We basically titled our album after the song we were most excited about! The whole album wasn’t necessary meant to be themed around the subject of human trafficking, which is what the song “Fight The Silence” is about. I wrote that song about the issue of human trafficking. It was something that was really heavy on my heart, and God just really broke my heart about it while I was in the studio. I was literally crying out and asking aloud “What can I do?!?”. I didn’t even know where to start or how to help. No one deserves to be in human trafficking. Then it occurred to me that I may not have ability to grab a few machine guns and kick a few doors down at a brothel in Thailand, but I do have a platform and a voice that I can use. So, I may not have those expertise or millions of dollars to give to help rescue those stuck in human trafficking, but I’m going to use what I have to make an impact. I wrote “Fight The Silence” to help raise awareness, and help point people towards the The A21 Campaign where they can really get their hands dirty in the war against human trafficking. They can give money, volunteer, help spread awareness or find other ways of helping. Every little bit helps! Something as simple as a Facebook post can make a significant impact, or even posting a video to let those around you know that this is actually affecting millions of people worldwide. It’s all part of helping to make a difference. That was our whole mentality behind “Fight The Silence”.
IVM: What sort of music do you find lets you ‘worship’ God the best, or brings you closest to Him?
Mattie: It’s hard to find. I really like instrumental worship music. Basically I like music with no real lyrics, that’s not to say there isn’t someone singing over it (might be singing in the Spirit). I find I am able to worship best with music that doesn’t take my mind captive, follow the verse/chorus/verse/chorus mentality. Let’s just go, and pour out our hearts to God. Sometimes they’ll sing the same line over and over again for 20 minutes, and sometimes they won’t sing anything for 20 minutes. I really love that kind of music, but it can be sort of hard to find sometimes. There is a number of albums and musicians that have really blessed me and the church with music that doesn’t hold your hand and say “This is how we are going to worship God. We are going to sing this line, then sing that line”. You aren’t really thinking about what you are singing, but rather just repeating after someone. Instrumental/spontaneous worship allows me to be free.
IVM: With the rise of your popularity in recent years, how do you stay close to God and not get sucked into worldly desires?
Mattie: How do we as a band stay close to God? The most important thing is fellowship and accountability. I have several fathers in the faith that I am close to and stay in contact with that are faithful to God, their wives and their ministries for decades. And I really admire that. We (my wife, children and I) actually moved to Mobile, Alabama to be joined to my spiritual father Aaron Smith who is a pastor of a church there. If I’m going to be going all over the world and pouring out to these people, I need to have someone that is sort of holding the other end of the rope, so to speak. I need someone to make sure I’m anchored at home and that I’m alright while on tour and understands how it is to be in ministry, and the demands/temptations that may arise. It is someone who is able to hold me accountable to the standards that I’ve been called to live by, but is also able to see and develop my strength and character to become everything that God has called me to be. That has been the most important thing. Other than that, I’ve been studying scripture and spending time in prayer daily, etc. But really, all those things are in the context of fellowship with those I am a part of. It keeps me humble. As cool as I am or as wise as I am, this fellowship and accountability helps to show me that I haven’t reached the pinnacle of all I’ve been called to be.
IVM: Being on Warped Tour which has a huge secular audience, in what ways have you seen God use you and your ministry both on and off the stage?
Mattie: Gosh! Alright, I’ll tell you two stories. The first, we had a girl in Pomona, California who came up during a signing after our set, held out her arms and had cuts everywhere. She said she heard what we had said up on stage and said she promised the next time we’d see her that these cuts would only be scars, that she was done cutting forever. And I was like “That rules!” and we hugged and cried, and it was all powerful. It’s cool and great to see that real and practical impact that we have on someone’s life. It’s easy to get a crowd of people to clap for you when you talk about Jesus, but it’s amazing when you see people making real decisions to change the outlook of their lives because of what they’ve heard from the stage.
The other story, there was a guy in a band on Warped Tour, I don’t want to name names to protect the identity of this individual. One day, I was minding my own business and walking to my bus when he ran up to me, and said “Hey! You’re the guy from For Today, right?”, to which I nodded. He said “We’ve never met, I don’t really know much about you. I don’t know what it is about you, but I just know I need to meet you”. I told him “I tell you what it is about me, his name is Jesus!”. I asked him if he followed Christ, and he said he wasn’t because he had seen religion hurt a lot of people. We sat down and talked for probably about an hour, and I shared my faith story with him, and about the difference between a relationship with the real living God vs a set of rules we force people to comply with. He wound up giving his life to Christ that night. We’ve now been hanging out all throughout the tour and talking. I’m in the process of getting him a bible, and we’ll help him to succeed at this. To me, that was a special thing because I didn’t have to chase this guy down, he came looking for me.
IVM: You’ve recently commented on Tim Lambesis’ recent statements regarding how few people who play in “Christian bands” are actually Christians. Can you give us more insight on that?
Mattie: Here is my insight. If you aren’t sure if guys are serious about their faith, I think it is safe to assume that they’re not. I don’t know why, but it seems it has been acceptable for the past few years for bands to be passable and non-descript about where they stand, but still pass as Christians. I personally think that is ridiculous! If I need to ask where someone stands in their faith, I’m going to assume there are more preoccupied with looking cool and getting along with people. I’m not saying that Christians should be beating others over the head with their faith all the time, but take for example the guys from The Chariot. They are some of the most incredible and wonderful Christian guys I’ve ever met, and they’re always out after shows sharing their hearts with kids and sharing their faith. But you’ll never see them preaching from the stage at all, and that’s fine. I don’t think all bands are obligated to preach from stage, but I think if you have to ask where they stand in their faith, then they are probably not standing at all. I don’t even know what “Christians in a band” means!
IVM: Mattie, has touring become harder now that you’re a father to two young boys?
Mattie: Totally! I said for years before my wife got pregnant that I’d stop touring when we had our first child. When we found out she was pregnant, I was actually out on tour. I sat down with the guys and told them that it would be my last tour with them. She actually pulled me aside a few days later and asked if God had told me to leave the band? I told her no, but that it just made sense. She reminded me of what we’d said for years: We don’t do stuff because it just makes sense, we do it because God tells us to. So, I went back to the guys and told them I didn’t really understand why, but that God didn’t want me to stop touring. I told them that I’d stay until I heard otherwise from God. I thought maybe I’d do a couple more tours, and that would be it. But, that was over 3 years ago! I fly home once a week to visit my family. I don’t want to be gone for the whole eight-weeks of Warped Tour. So, I fly home to make sure I’m still involved in my kids’ lives. I’ll take them to the park, and get to see my wife and take her on some dates too. It’s definitely been way harder with the boys. I know my wife is bearing a bigger burden, which is weighing on me as well while I’m on the road.
IVM: What is your favorite album of the year so far?
Mattie: Neverland by Andy Mineo. It’s so sick. I guess it’s actually an EP. It’s a two way tie between Andy Mineo’s EP and KB’s 100 EP. The two of those came out a few weeks apart. They’re both rap albums, I’m not ashamed of that.
IVM: Thanks for taking the time to stay in touch with your fans at IVM. Is there anything else you’d like to add to this interview?
Mattie: Love you guys! Thank you Indie Vision Music J