Thegodmachineis one of the most influential Christian-based metalcore albums to arrive in the past 10 years. It has paved the way for many bands in the metalcore scene--both Christian and mainstream.
At the time of the album's release, metalcore band Phinehas, in the midst of getting a cohesive band line-up, had just signed to rock label Red Cord Records. It was an exciting time for the group.
Phinehas' style of metalcore became very identifiable primarily with their heavy leaning on being guitar-led through killer riffs and intense guitar solos. But another thing that they are known for is their Christian faith. Lead singer Sean McCullough is serious about his faith in Christ. Somthing that's very noticeable in the band's lyrics. And something that hasn't faded over time. I spoke with Sean about Thegodmachine: how it was made, as well as how his faith influenced it.
Thegodmachine marked a historical moment for Phinehas in several ways. Do you have any special memories or moments from that time?
It was a hard time for us, actually, even though it was an exciting time. We're a guitar-driven metal band; We went through three guitarists before landing on Jason Combs as the third. That made the writing process really long.
Then, on top of that, we didn't have a good experience with Red Cord Records, similarly to most bands. But we were the most active on their roster for a long time, which meant we got to do some headlining shows. If we could go back and change anything about that time, it would be to be off that record label. It was a mix of good and bad times overall, though.
Two of the three singles became fan favorites: "Crowns" and "I Am The Lion." Tell us how each song has impacted the band since then?
With "I Am The Lion," a buddy of mine, Chris Kellogg, was hanging out one day with us during a writing session. He came up to me and said, "on your next breakdown, you should say something like 'I am the lion.'" So, I did and that was fun. And then, with "Crowns," filming the music video was a great experience. Music videos are great for putting faces to music and vice-versa.
What was the most important thing you and the band learned from the time of Thegodmachine?
Two things. It is hard; it is completely a grind. But it pays off. Not necessarily talking about money paying off because that it is in hard category. It pays off because we get to meet people, travel across the country, and develop relationships.
Your Christian faith has always been an evident, and some say bold, part of your songwriting in Phinehas. How has your songwriting and evolved over the years and why is your faith so evident?
When it comes to genuine faith, there's a lot that comes with it. People know us by our fruits, right? And how we love each other? Over the years, that's the kind of growth I have strived for. I know I have matured as a person. Faith, though, takes a hold of your identity. It affects everything--or it should--and it's the lens that you see the world through. It will inevitably work its way into songwriting. But ultimately, I just want to be honest. I need to be honest about how my relationship with God is, how I see the American church, how I see other people, my family, and more.
Ryan Adams lives with his family in Montana. He has been NRT's Rock Reporter since 2018. He graduated Boise Bible College in 2017.
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