If you've listened to Seventh Day Slumber's new album, Closer to Chaos, you'll notice an absence of power ballads. Instead, the band blasts the guitars, much to a rock enthusiast's delight.
Closer to Chaos represents the musical mission statement of Rockfest Records, a new record label totally dedicated to promoting rock bands. Rockfest is the brainchild of SDS frontman Joseph Rojas. And, the new record label is getting noticed. So far, it has signed big-name rock acts Fireflight and The Protest. In my opinion, Rockfest is a much-needed advocate for those who appreciate good ol' fashioned rock and roll.
I had an opportunity to converse with Joseph about Closer to Chaos, Rockfest, music, as well as the future of Christian rock.
Tell us about Closer to Chaos. What's the inspiration behind the new album? How does it feel to release a record under Rockfest, instead of a big name label?
Closer to Chaos is our first release on Rockfest Records. We've never really felt restricted on our other releases; however, something feels different about this one. We felt more free and more confident in our writing. It's really hard to explain. It was almost like a release of built-up music we had lodged inside of us.
Our fans seem to notice the difference as well. The cover of the new album represents the tree of life in the midst of everything falling down around us. We want people to know they can have peace in the middle of their darkest and toughest circumstances. That level of peace can only come from Jesus. He is the only one who can give peace that surpasses all understanding.
Closer to Chaos has a heavier sound than past offerings. Why did you opt for no ballads, similar to "Caroline" and “Found," on this album?
Honestly, we just wanted to give our rock fans a hard rock record without any attempts at writing a radio single or making a song more appealing to fans who aren't into rock as much. We knew we had a worship album coming out this year. And we figured we would save those songs for that record.
Fireflight and The Protest are now with your label, Rockfest Records. How does it feel to have other big names attached to your label?
It's a huge honor to have bands like Fireflight and The Protest on Rockfest. I'm extremely humbled that they would trust me with their ministries. I'm working hard every day to make sure their fans continue to have great music from them. I feel like one of the most appealing things to these bands is the fact that we don't try to control them. We want them to be as authentic and unrestrained as possible when it comes to their music and art. God has a sound and a message for each of us. And I love hearing the different ways God uses His people to relay His message.
Some call rock a dying art. To survive, many bands adapt by changing their sound. Rock to electronic, for example. But, some bands are dedicated to keeping rock alive. What are your thoughts? Would you ever change your sound?
Some would say Seventh Day Slumber is already all over the place. We have had songs on the top of the charts on Rock Radio, Christian Rock Radio, Adult Contemporary, Inspirational, and others. This generation does not discriminate against genres. People's playlists are filled with a plethora of different styles. They may have a rock song right next to a hip hop song than a worship tune. It's pretty amazing. I say, do whatever you want, just be honest about it. People can tell what a forced song sounds like. As far as rock goes, I love it and will continue making rock music as long as people want to hear it.
Ever thought of doing a heavy metal remake of a classic hit? Think "Sound of Silence" by Disturbed or "Zombie" by Bad Wolves. If so, what would you cover and why?
You should listen to our remake of “When The Children Cry” by White Lion. It's from our 2003 album, Pick Up The Pieces. We love doing remakes and I'm sure we will do another one at some point. Any ideas you guys have would be great.
What are some of your favorite artists and music that you listen to and why? Who would you like to work with and why?
All of my favorite rock artists are signed to my label. Wink. Wink. I am pretty stoked about this new Random Hero [Christian rockers] record, Tension. They worked with Kellen McGregor of Memphis May Fire. The record is not only a defining moment for them but a defining moment for rock music. Trust me. As far as who I would love to work with, I would say Mark Hall, the lead singer of Casting Crowns. I've always loved his simple yet honest approach to writing. I know people probably expected a different answer, but that's the truth.
How do you approach your songwriting?
Every song is different. Sometimes I'm moved by a message from a fan. Sometimes I feel the need to address something I'm going through. I even have a list of words and just go down the list looking for something that hits me. I have written choruses and verses in different songs and mashed them together. I just want the song to be impactful and believable. I want you to hear our music and say “I believe that guy.”
What's next? How can we be praying for you?
We will start work on a worship project very soon. Not sure what we will call it, but it will be epic. We also have our Rockfest Summer tour and our Fall Worship tour coming up. Please pray for safety. We had a bus accident that we are still feeling the effects of.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 10 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
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