A friend and I recently caught up with Tommy, front man of Sleeping Giant, before one of their shows on the Winds of Plague and Stick to Your Guns tour. A very clean cut, straightedge guy, he spoke about worship, ministry, and plans for a new album. It’s rather lengthy – but more than worth the read. After the interview, we were able to witness their incredibly energetic and powerful set. With determination and backing from fans both in and out of the church, Sleeping Giant shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
What type of devotional time do you keep on the road?
For me, every day I have a specific time when re I just hang out with God and talk bout stuff with him. Sometimes I’ll go out and run and come back and write down what I did during the day and take time with him that way. Every day for the most part we get together before everything to make sure everyone’s okay and pray together. It’s a daily thing for us. Sometimes it’s easier than others, sometimes it doesn’t happen. Everyone makes time for it in some way or another throughout the course of the day.
What is your opinion on the church’s current view of hardcore music?
I think we’ve just got to give the church a little time. I can remember, when I was a younger kid I came up in a pretty strict Christian house so music was a big deal to then. Music that was distorted and louder was said to have sounded evil. But now you can turn on about every Christian radio program and find dudes that have tattoos and playing music that was  maybe ten years. So our heart in Sleeping Giant is to create music that is heavy and part of the scene, but then we also write music on purpose that’s worship-driven so that people can say, “oh I can sing that.” Just to write it so that the presence of God is in the sound. With any music, the church seems to be far behind and afraid of stuff on the front but then they eventually catch up. What wasn’t okay ten years ago is suddenly okay. I don’t mean that has a huge criticism but it’s just that what they had a problem with when I was younger is now a hip Christian thing. We need to be careful not to slam stuff, because god is the creator. The enemy wants to counterfeit stuff, but god made it. I wonder if the church would go back and see David dancing in his tent and think that it was demonic and weird. It’s not about how it sounds, it’s about the spirit behind it. We love the Lord and love to worship Him like this. There are people who are starting to recognize that.
Share a testimony that you’ve encountered while touring:
This kid from Portland came down to Facedown Fest. This kid had broken his wrist and walked out to the front of the show and the EMT told him that it was broke and he needed to go to the hospital. Three or four people from our church walked up to him and said, ‘Hey can we pray with you?’ He was an atheist and didn’t believe in God at all. He was like ‘Whatever, dudes.’ They laid their hands on him and he said it hurt real bad for a second and then all of a sudden it was healed. I got it on video – he went over to the EMT’s and it was healed.
We played Tulsa, Oklahoma last summer and in the middle of our set we were talking about God and this kid essentially manifested like a demon and started screaming and hit the floor. A bunch of people started praying for him and he was delivered.
So there are spiritual encounters that we see, but also more basic ones. Like when a person comes up in a Christian home and call themselves Christians, but seeing our set has really encouraged them to really have a relationship with God. I met a kid last night in New York who has a real heart for hardcore, and our music helped him to get clean in areas of his life and no h wants to reach out to kid who are struggling too. We played Toronto last summer and at that show, thirty or forty kids got saved. We do shows all the time – and when it’s good place, I’ll legitimately lead an invitation to get to know God.Last summer I honestly saw hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kids become Christians at our shows. So there’s a whole gamut; we see supernatural stuff, we see normal stuff, and we see people who don’t agree with us. God can do the work; He just wants us to worship Him.
What’s your favorite song to play live?
“O Praise Him.” We’ve only played it a few times on this tour because we want to be respectful of what God’s doing or saying to us during our set. Sometimes it’s merely just a song for people and they don’t receive what we’re doing. So we want to partner with God. When we get to worship together and play “O Praise Him” live, it’s unreal. It’s the only time I feel like we really experience worship. It’s like, we’re done and just giving everything we have. That’s real worship – not saying ‘Hey God, I’m singing, I’m trying to raise my hands. ‘ We give everything and can feel Him move. That’s my favorite time ever.
It’s the type of thing where we want people to touch it or see it. Especially the Christian people that never get a chance to go as crazy as they want to because there’s something holding them back in church or whatever it might be. It’s something that we wanted to unlock in people. That’s what we get a lot – when there’s faith and freedom in a room. David jumped and danced and sang and I don’t get to see that very often. When we can dance in front of the Lord with all our might, that’s true worship. Religion tells people they have to try so hard to worship Him. We rest in Him, and He does the work. We’re really trying to believe that we don’t do that. If we just hang out with Him, He’ll do it. We enjoy worship so we worship and let God do what He’s going to do. When we try to make it happen, it never works. We can’t’ do it ourselves. It so takes him to make that happen. It takes God to love God.
Have you have opportunities to share your beliefs with the bands you’re currently on tour with?
We’ve given out Bibles to some people and had really good conversations. They’ve come to use with questions and curiosity. We witness by listening to Him and being like Him. We’ve been friends with Winds of Plague and Stick to Your Guns for a while. They just allowed us to come out with them – we were one of hundreds of bands that could have been on this tour.
When did you decide to make your band a ministry?
That’s just who I am. The think that set us apart from Christian bands, is that when we started no one ever said anything about God. I was essentially pasturing a church for people who don’t like church in California. Then some friends asked me to sing in their band. I told them that I would sing about God – I don’t care about anything else. So when we started, I was just sharing who I was. I was tired of seeing Christian people acting like they’re ashamed of who He is. I love Him, so these are songs about Him. It emboldened a lot of people [when we started]. If you’re going to be in a band don’t put God’s name eon it if you’re not going to act like a disciple.
Has the fact that you tour with secular bands ever raised questions within the church?
Okay, I’ll be honest. I think there’s a lot of surface level questions and conversations that church people have. But we don’t get approached with that kind of nonsense. I think God has a grace around us saying, ‘You guys are not going to worry about this ridiculous stuff.’ If we seek Him first, we’ll get everything else in the right order. All this stuff that’s illegitimate is all a non-issue. We always want to make the right move, so whenever we receive confirmation from God we pursue it. If He wants us on this tour, we’re going to go on this tour. We do totally want to bless and support the church, but there’s more work to do outside of the church as well.
What are your plans for a new album?
We’re starting to write stuff right now. We just started putting stuff together within the last couple of months. We’re just experimenting a lot and coming up with stuff that’s more in line with our DNA. God’s really been showing Eric some really cool stuff about worship. Like, worship should legitimately we what you would say to God – not talking about yourself or all these other things. He’ son the throne. If you’re literally sitting in heaven before Him, what are you going to say? That’s admiration; that’s worship. When he tells you to say something, then that’s declaration. We don’t just want to sing around Him and talk about ourselves.
Anything you would like to add?
Dude, I don’t even know. I think that Jesus isn’t one – dimensional. That’s something I get confronted with a lot. He is a real person and His life and everything He can offer you is so much bigger than anyone gives Him credit for. We tend to box Him up as, “Healer,” “King,” “Friend,” or “Judge.” But He’s entirely unsearchable. A lot of Christian bands, including us, can get pigeon-holed and then pigeonhole Him. He’ been everywhere and encountered everything. He’s the one who needs to be worshipped or just have someone sit and be silent. I want people to take more time to discover who He really is. I don’t want them simply to call Him their King, but to know. I’ve seen Him, I feel Him. It’s about relationship. I can talk to God – I can tell people what He likes and doesn’t like. For example, He doesn’t think I look good in profanity. He says, “I like you a lot, but when you speak like that you don’t look all that good to me.” It’s bridal – you want to know Him like someone you’re going to marry one day. The most important thing to us is that we can have a real relationship with God. I just think He’s hot, He’s good looking, He’s the King.