Email interview with Johnathan of War Of Ages (April 2007)
JoshIVM: Let’s go back in War Of Ages history for a second. How did you guys initially get hooked up with Strike First/Facedown Records?
Johnathan: Our friends in Jesus Wept (at the time xDisciplex AD) were good friends with the team at Facedown records. They told us to hook them up with a demo and put in a good word for us. Strikefirst then became interested in us and gave us a contract. We then started to tour relentlessly and got Facedown to take note of us. That’s when we made the jump from Strike First to Facedown.
JoshIVM: I recently saw you in Owego, NY on your current tour with Scars Of Tomorrow, Across Five Aprils, and xDeathstarx. How has that tour been going so far?
Johnathan: Fantastic!! [We’ve] got a great group of guys all around. Even though we are all different in certain areas of life, the tour has been nothing but fun with these guys. We’ve had some pretty crazy nights as well. One show was low in attendence, so when Scars played, we all took off our shirts and had a huge push pit. It was definatly a sight to remember.
JoshIVM: Had you met your labelmates in xDeathstarx before the tour? I noticed quitea bit of joking back on forth, including onstage banter, between the two bands. You guys seemed like old friends. How has it been touring with them?
Johnathan: We had been out to California and played a couple of shows with them but never toured with them. We just got a real good vibe from them the first couple times we played in their area. They supported us and from there, we got to know each other and ended up on the road together. With some bands, you just click. You could’ve met them 5 minutes ago and it feels like 5 years. It’s also been very encouraging to have another group that serves God. These guys would lift us up in prayer and tell us every night that what we were doing made a difference to people. That just put a good taste in our mouths.
JoshIVM: You’re definitely a band that seems to love to be on the road. Do you have any further touring plans after this one wraps up?
Johnathan: Well, we took two months off for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we are in the studio recording our old album. The label wanted us to do a re-release of the self-titled album (Stirke First album). We will have new artwork, a new song, and a lower tuning on this cd. Should be interesting. Reason two was that our singer, Leroy, is getting married in May. He had to make sure things for his wedding were in order and spend some much needed quality time with his woman. haha! We are now in the works of getting a tour together with Seventh Star for June. We also have multiple festivals we will be playing this summer. It should shape up to be a full summer schedule!
JoshIVM: Any bands that you’d like to tour with that you haven’t had an opportunity to?
Johnathan: Every band member has their favorite band they wish they could tour with, however as a whole we’d have to say God Forbid or Everytime I Die. We enjoy those bands very much and there’s always a possiblity that we could open for them in the later months. Who knows? Maybe Killswitch Engage would give us a buzz!! (crosses fingers)
JoshIVM: Musically speaking, you’re new album “Pride Of The Wicked”, was a showcase of tremendous growth from the first release. Did you guys intentionally expand upon your sound, especially with solo guitar, or is this just what came out in writing sessions?
Johnathan: Growth is always intentional. A band can’t stay in one spot. You always have to have something to kinda stick out or you’ll get sucked in with everyone else. The band as a whole wrote this album opposed to the first album. Leroy and Steve wrote that one. There were different music stand points for both of the albums and they both are equally good in the own manners. When you put two different people together, you’re gonna get something different. Steve obviously had shown growth from the first album because his solo work was amazing on this second album. Steve just has a knack for the shred. He’s such a gifted player. We wanted to keep what the band started out as and expand from that. You’ll see even more growth from our 3rd album.
JoshIVM: Have you guys been writing new material at all, or just enjoying playing this stuff live?
Johnathan: A little of both. We actually hire other people to write the music for us when we are busy…………hahaha sike! We are enjoying playing this stuff live, but we are always aware that new material needs to start coming out. We will come up with a couple of riffs and see where it goes. My philosophy on writing is that after 5 days you can remember your riff within 10 seconds, it’s worth keeping. If not, keep trying.
JoshIVM: The artwork on the new album was awesome! Were you guys involved in the concept for it or was that all Dave Quiggle? Were you happy with how it came out in the end?
Johnathan: We gave Dave a little direction. We told him what the album was going to be about and the kinda name we wanted to for the album. He took those ideas and ran with it. We see it as a modern-day Man-O-War, without all the women wearing next to nothing. haha! Quiggle is just an amazing artist. He is known for his tattoo style artwork and he really stepped out of the box on this album. We get comments all the time about how great it is. All we can say is, “it’s all Quiggle.” Saying we are pleased with it would be an understatment at best. It’s way more than that!
JoshIVM: How has the album been doing for you guys? If I had to guess I’d say you’re one of the top sellers over at Facedown.
Johnathan: This album has done very well for us. We’ve done over 10,000 copies and we few that as a huge accomplishment. Now, we don’t want you to think we tooting our own horn like “look at us, we’re the best band on Facedown!” That’s not the case at all. We worked hard to get the albums out there and are very proud that we’ve stuck with it. To look at your question in another light, this album has been doing wonderful things for people as well. We get people all the time at shows that tell us how our cd has changed their views on life. Maybe they have had a family problem and resolved it or trouble with anger and have calmed down. Kids have even told us that our music has changed their lives. That let’s us know that the album is doing great!
JoshIVM: Your lyrics certainly are bold and very encouraging to those of faith. Do you view your position in War Of Ages as a ministry? What’s your take on the whole Christian band/Christians in a band thing?
Johnathan: Ministry is our primary commitment. We hade an agreement with ourselves that if this band ever becomes anything else, we would stop doing it. Here’s one of our many views on all this; Christians are people just like anybody else. They have a message behind music just like anybody else. The problem comes when you are using God/ Jesus to make a quick buck. We think it’s awesome for people to stand up for Christ in a bold way. All I can tell you is that War of Ages stands for love and loving people. We aren’t perfect, but we try everyday to love people as we think Christ would.
JoshIVM: While on tour, have you been provided opportunities to share about your faith or has God used others to encourage/teach you? Also, do you find it hard to stay strong as a Christian while on tour, away from home/church/etc? If so, what do you guys do to prevent that?
Johnathan: ALL THE TIME!! People offer to have us over for dinner, spend the night, etc. That teaches us to have giving hearts. If people can give so much to us, we should pass that on to someone else. We get to share our faith every night in our music and message. Sometimes kids will come talk to us after a show and we will get a chance to witness to them. It is tempting to give into some of the pleasures of touring. Let’s face it, you can do alot of stuff on tour and get away with it cause you aren’t in the same place for more than one night. We choose not to take that route. We want to leave a positive impact wherever we go. We all miss our home town churches, however when you are on the road, you rely on each other to help keep you strong. We read scripture together and share about what we’ve read in our own time. Accountability is a good way to put it. We’ve found that we sometimes learn more about God when we aren’t in a church, but on the road. Just food for thought.
JoshIVM: Any passage of Scripture that has been influential in your life?
Johnathan: I don’t have one really. I just try to focus on loving others and loving God. I guess I can give you the one in the Beatitudes. Mark 5:8 “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.” That’s powerful to me.
JoshIVM: Is there anything that you guys would request prayer for from our readers?
Johnathan: We always need prayer for safe travel. We also need prayer for communication. Satan can use bad communication skills and really tear something apart. We don’t want to see that happen to us.
JoshIVM: Lyrically there seems to be a consistent addressing of the issue of pride in your newest release. Was that a result of things you were going through or a statement you felt should be made?
Johnathan: Both. Leroy, as does any writer, wrote what was on his heart and what he was dealing with. He wanted to get it out there that pride was something to could destroy or be destroyed. Those living with lots of pride in their life needed to have a reality check. That’s the way we chose to do it.
JoshIVM: In your offtime, what do you like to do? Any hobbies?
Johnathan: Long walks on the beach and pie eating contests……hahaha! I know Steve loves to play golf while he back in town. Leroy really likes to keep up with the current movies. I absolutly LOVE to cook. The kitchen is like a quiet place for me. Sometimes it can get very loud though.
JoshIVM: Would you consider yourself a big movie fan? Do you have any movies that you would recommend for us to check out?
Johnathan: Leroy and Alex are our big movie buffs. So I can’t really speak for them on this one. haha!
JoshIVM: How about while you’re on the road? What do you use to get away from thingswhile you’re a long way from home?
Johnathan: One word. Ipod. 4 out of 5 of us have them and they are great. We have movies, games, and music on them. They are the perfect way to get away. TJ and Leroy also like to read in the van. I get motion sickness if I try to. haha! Blades of Glory and 300 were great movies.
JoshIVM: Ok based on that, what are you currently listening to? Any upcoming albums that you’re looking forward to?
Johnathan: This might seem like a shamelss plug for Facedown Records, but it’s not. They just happen to be two bands we love. Sleeping Giant has a new album out in May that’s gonna be great. Those guys have a really strong passion for what they do. Seventh Star also has an album out in June and we can’t wait for that one. I’ve been listening to the new Bury Your Dead. Love that album. And on the softer side, a Fueled By Ramen artist, The Hush Sound.
JoshIVM: Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview! Anything you want to leave us with?
Johnathan: Here’s something to chew on; The core of Christianity is love. If you can’t do that to people, you seriously need to revaluate your outlook on what it is to be a Christian.