Stavesacre is a Southern California-based Christian rock band known for intense live shows, vivid and poetic lyrics, and heavy, complex guitar arrangements. The band's early work was harder and more complex, while its latter work began to include poppier elements. The band's history can be divided neatly into two eras based on guitarists. Their first two albums featured Jeff Bellew; its subsequent work featured Ryan Dennee with a brief two-guitar lineup of Dennee and Neil Samoy.
Stavesacre debuted in the mid-1990s with three well-received studio albums on Seattle-based Tooth & Nail Records, a period when the group was associated with the edgier side of the contemporary Christian music scene. In early interviews, the band members often talked openly and fervently about their faith. The band's name is derived from the stavesacre plant, which is poisonous and used as a parasiticide. Its seeds are known to induce vomiting. Band lore has it that Bellew found the word in a dictionary, and it stuck.
Stavesacre's first three albums were produced by Bryan Carlstrom, a studio engineer known for his enormous collection of gear and his precisely detailed and multi-layered recordings. Combined, the three discs have sold close to 100,000 copies and are often regarded as some of the band's definitive work.
The band had never been immune to bumpy roads and change. Founding drummer Jeremy Moffett left after debut album Friction and was replaced by Sam West. Then, just as the band was to enter the studio to record its third album, Speakeasy, Bellew announced his departure. The band recorded as a four-piece and added Samoy upon embarking on the supporting tour.
Despite strong sales of the album, the band continued to develop dissatisfaction with the Christian music industry -- often feeling pushed into being ministers more than the musicians they regarded themselves as. As the new millennium dawned, this dissatisfaction spilled over into to a well-publicized break from the scene and from Tooth & Nail.
After releasing a Split/EP with Denison Marrs and a live EP recording in Dallas, the band signed with the independent Nitro Records in 2002 and released (stāvz'ā'kər). However, despite strong songwriting, the album was regarded a disappointment by fans and the band itself. Sessions for the disc, headed by producer David Bianco, were poorly recorded and (after the pristine work of Carlstrom) sounded relatively flat. Moreover, the band had chosen to re-record several songs from the Split/EP, and Bianco's changes did not, in some fans' opinions, make them better.
After a grueling tour in support of the album, Samoy announced he was leaving. Stavesacre was back to being a four-piece. The band then sought release from its contract and went independent for the release of a live DVD of a show recorded at The Door in Dallas, Texas. It seemed the band was just marking time.
Fans began buzzing in 2004 when the group released the limited edition four-song Bull Takes Fighter EP, once again produced in part by Carlstrom. Suddenly, the old spark of the group's first three albums was back. In 2005, the band signed a three-record deal with Abacus Recordings, an imprint of Century Media Records, and recorded their fifth full-length studio album in Los Angeles with producer Matt Hyde. Titled How to Live with a Curse, the album was released on April 18, 2006.
The album was one of the band's strongest, on par with its first three discs. But without strong label backing and unable to secure airplay or tour support, sales never materialized.
Stavesacre announced in February 2007 that the band was calling it quits, but would first record new music with original member Jeff Bellew and produce a DVD documentary of their career. That resulted in the release of the Against The Silence EP/DVD documentary in 2009.
In early 2016, Stavesacre announced new music from the band was coming soon.