The Christian-based metalcore band Convictions is no stranger to the heavy music scene. Creating some of the most biblically-charged heavy music since 2012, the band continues to champion its convictions. Often writing about the more messy subjects of life and faith, Convictions is ready to release new music to follow-up their 2019 hit single, "Hurricane."
In fact, Convictions just released their second single, "The Price of Grace," which is a heartbreakingly honest song about the pain of suicide. Their next record is fueled by personal stories using these types of themes.
Michael Felker is the unclean (screams, growls) vocalist and primary songwriter for the band. He's vocal about the importance of mental health, love, and the gospel. He's not ashamed of any of it and it comes through in his music.
I had the honor of talking with Michael about how his personal convictions have been influencing Convictions' upcoming new music.
The song "Hurricane" is about mental health and "The Price of Grace" is about suicide. What other messages or stories have you been writing about for your new music?
"Hurricane" was written about our good buddy, Ray, who was filling in for us. Shortly after our last album, Hope for the Broken, John Fleischmann, who did bass and vocals, had stepped down for health reasons. While touring with Ray, he shared a story with us about his mother's passing and the struggles of that tragic loss. He also struggled with substance abuse and finding his path with God. With the closure, we wrote this new song about these experiences. Each song on the new record is about people's survival stories or personal stories.
What or who are some influences in the songwriting process?
A major influence for us is our new producer Andrew Wade. He's worked with bands like Wage War, The Ghost Inside, and A Day to Remember. He's helped us re-evaluate our songwriting. But, outside his influence, even for myself, I wanted to write something different this time around.
On this next record, every song is a real person's story of survival. I've talked to every person personally and, with their permission, written songs about them. So, those people are also major influences for this record
You're vocal about the importance of mental health, as well as your Christian faith. How does this influence your songwriting?
Mental faith and Christianity are the core foundations of what Convictions is about. Mental health is a re-occurring theme with our new material especially, not that it hasn't in the past. And, we always try to keep our music Christ-centered in one way or another. We don't try to force it, though; the music has to be organic. So, there might be a couple of songs where we don't directly mention Jesus or God, but it's still directed there.
On the topic of faith, you've coined the term "aggressive worship" to describe your music. And, often in the metal scene, the term or label "Christian" has mixed reception. What's the band's stance on that?
That moniker "aggressive worship" was there before I even joined. Basically, it's a description of what we do as artists. Convictions is our form of worship, and that's never going away. The term "Christian" on music is a hot topic. You see bands run with it and then abandon it down the road.
I think a major obstacle in bands using that term is addressing fans' and listeners' expectations. Not everyone is making music for the same reasons. Every band makes its own art and has its own walk with God. Many bands can't live up to mainstream standards because the artists are simply human.
As for Convictions, though, our name speaks for itself. The band formed and didn't feel worthy to write songs about God because of its own convictions, but did it anyway. I see no shame in this choice. But, we all need to have a compassionate heart, really.
Why did you decide to focus on specific people's stories for your new music?
I guess it was a happy accident. I was running out of ideas but didn't want to force something. We had already used so many of our own personal stories. So, to be genuine, I wrote "Hurricane" by stepping into someone else's shoes. It was a growing process for me and it felt right.
Each song is written about one person. It might have another perspective, but it's focused on one person. I went as directly to the source material as possible. These songs are straight to the heart and I love them. I hope people can find hope and peace in relating to them.
2020 came with its own obstacles. What were the most difficult parts of the year for the band and for yourself? And did something good come from it?
Without touring, 2020 brought a lot of financial blows. We were in the middle of touring when concerts began being banned. It also made it hard to try to do much with the band because all the members live in different states. We did a lot of planning online and then got together to do some stuff, but that was about it.
A good thing to come from it was the extra time, especially for songwriting. I got to go back with these new songs and revisit some of these people and such to get more information and material for the lyrics. I don't think I'll have that much extra time again, but it was really good.
Anything else you want to share?
"The Price of Grace" is the second single for our upcoming record. It'll have about seven songs. We'll be releasing another single soon. At that point, we'll provide more information about the upcoming record. I'm very excited about this release. I would even go as far as to say that it could be our best music, yet. We didn't force the heavy for the sake of being heavy rather fit the heavy subjects and themes and it came out so naturally. Some of this is the heaviest music we have done.
How can we be praying for you?
We would love more opportunities to talk with people and to get the word out about our music. We pretty much do everything ourselves, and it can be hard sometimes. Prayers for us to listen to God and see his path for us and to have the strength, courage, and motivation to follow. We're always looking for an audience and trying to stay motivated. Thank you.
Ryan Adams lives with his family in the state of Montana. He has been NRT's Rock Reporter since 2018.
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