Serpent Stomp is a Christian underground hard rock and metal festival that takes place in Tulsa, OK, presented by Mpact Events and Rottweiler Records.
This year’s festival features co-headliners Project 86 & Grave Robber. These heavyweights are support by an unbelievable lineup including Broken Flesh, Rival Choir, Death Therapy, Becoming Saints, and so many more.
Recently, I had the privilege of catching up with Serpent Stomp founder, Jamie Kucinski. I had the opportunity to get to know about the makings of the festival, how bands get on the bill, and most importantly, Jamie’s heart behind the festival and his desire to see God glorified. Check out our conversation below.
First off, tell me a bit about Mpact Events.
Mpact Events was formed 6.5 years ago with one ambition, to open a channel to provide people an opportunity to positively and collectively invest into the children of our community.
What inspired you to start Mpact, and what do you do?
The inspiration for Mpact was a collection of experiences. I was challenged with a very profound question…”What do I have and how can I GIVE it?” Well, God gave me experiences to draw from. I had a pretty tough upbringing and so I took those experiences and brought in empathy for children that are or have been in abusive situations. From there, God gave me a very big mouth and a love for music! So, I took my empathy, ability to speak to others without fear, and music. I first joined them with my wife’s talents and intellect and then we mobilized these ideas into our community beginning with our first event Not So Silent Night event.
How many years will this be for Serpent Stomp? It’s second?
Yep, this is year number TWO.
Let’s first cover the basics: where is it, and when?
Serpent Stomp 2017 is at Enerje Event Center Owasso, OK on Saturday, April 22nd.
It’s all Christian artists and speakers. What’s the idea between this festival?
My buddy TD Benton has a great saying that I’ve taken to heart. He says, “Music is just an excuse for us all to get together.” It’s true.
When music is present, people normally collectively gather.
The basis is this: that I’m an outcast. I was on outcast in the world. I was an outcast growing up. That honestly didn’t change when I became a Christian. In fact, I became more of an outcast. I always felt like I was somewhere “in between.”But, when I was young… man, metal/hard rock/punk rock music was always a place I found solace. Most of the artists were saying the things I simply wished that I could say.
As I worked to live out my faith, I noticed that I encountered a lot of people just like me in that regard: somewhere that didn’t fit with traditional thoughts. Now, take this awesome music and add in a Biblical perspective, and man, you want to talk about a potent combination! There’s just something about this format of music that does what other forums of musical expression cannot. There’s a rawness and passion to it. There’s a boldness to it as well. I mean if rock/metal music was truly set up on rebellion, well, us Christian metalheads are ahead of the curve. We’re forsaking the comfort of our sanctuaries and traditions and going into the corners of this world that most would not dare to touch. We’re bringing the words of our testimony with us when we go. Our message is pretty simple: life can suck but Jesus still saves.
From personal experience though, being somewhere in the middle can be lonely and exhausting. I thought, “How cool would it be if we could bring together a collective gathering for a faith expression and strengthening… even just one day per year?” Well, here we are. We are bringing worship at full volume through our unique form of artistry.
This is our opportunity to speak the same language and strengthen one another. To encourage all the outcasts that WE are not alone in this life. WE have one another. Proverbs 27:17 says it best, “So as iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.”
My prayer is that people come to Serpent Stomp and experience something MORE than a concert. I prayer that they experience community, fellowship, and rejuvenation. I don’t want this to be just a concert.
This is a celebration of the goodness of God in our lives. It is my personal mission to create a forum that brings people together so we can be reminded of this fact. When we leave, we will have sung our hearts out, moshed until we can no longer move, made some new friends and celebrated that our God is still on the throne.
That’s awesome! How do you select the bands that are going to play? I know that Rottweiler Records is heavily involved.
Most of the artists that are booked are based on relationship. I know most every artist that I book. I’ve known Shawn Browning of Rottweiler Records for 4 years now. We’ve worked together on different events and have a great relationship. Shawn and I share a very similar heart for underground music so it’s really a natural progression that we work together on events.
Music style is also key. It would be weird to book a country band next to say… Broken Flesh. [laughs] I love underground music; metal, rock, punk, industrial, etc.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s got to be a complete understanding that this event’s heart is to glorify Jesus Christ. We don’t try to hide that fact. That limits the playing field, so to speak, but this is the most important factor of all of them. I personally believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ in word and deed. It’s not something I do for show or to be liked or accepted. My prayer is that we are always able to select a crop of bands that share the same profession of faith.
It’s pretty rad to have Project 86 on the bill this year! They were one of my “gateway” kind of bands that got me into heavier music and I got into metal shortly after I became a P86 fan.
Man, we’re stoked to welcome Andrew and the crew. I’ve been listening to P86 since Drawing Black Lines.
Same! What was the response like last year, with audience turnout, etc?
We’re not the biggest festival and we understand that. But, big doesn’t always equate “success.” I do know that we had to change venues because we simply would not have fit into last year’s venue again. I will be able to gauge numbers a little more this year also.
I will say that I was completely floored by the response for year one. The excitement, the community, the testimonies. I was completely humbled.
It looks like you have even more bands and speakers on the bill this year. How is Serpent Stomp upping its game this time around?
Well, as stated..we had to move to larger venue! Enerje is a top notch place to host a concert. We have all the bells and whistles of a great show. We’ve added extra bands and extra speakers this year. I am personally excited to welcome Doug Van Pelt of Heaven’s Metal Magazine (HM Magazine) as our keynote speaker. I believe his background and wisdom are perfect for Serpent Stomp.
Of course, Project 86 is one of the most recognized names in the “Christian” rock n roll circles. Grave Robber is set to bring a few surprises.
We’ll see at the end of the night, if my calculated risks worked. [laughs]
What’s your favorite part of organizing/running a festival?
I love watching a simple thought turn into a full blow vision… and then watching that vision become a reality.
What is the most stressful or challenging part?
Personally, I really hate telling artists “No.” I have the wonderful opportunity to explore so much unknown talent. You’d be amazed at how many great bands will never get their proper due. But, yeah, telling bands “No” kinda sucks. If I could do it, I’d put them all on the event.
How have you seen God use this festival to have an impact on your community or people attending the festival?
Some of the subject matter we deal with is not standard Sunday morning fare. We deal with various addictions: pornography, drugs, alcohol, etc. We deal with abuse. We deal with hurt. Truly, if we’re not talking about it in traditional church walls out of saving face or fear, I want to bring it to the table at Serpent Stomp. I will echo Romans 8:1, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
My hope is that we help people understand that Christ loves them right where they’re at. I know he doesn’t want us to stay in our addictions, hurt, etc. but He doesn’t love us any less because of them. Maybe, just maybe we can inspire people on the fringe to come back home. And for those battling, we hope that we can inspire and encourage them to not give up.
How has God changed you through running Serpent Stomp?
Patience! Each and every event helps me grow in patience, allowing God to work and Jamie to take the backseat.
What is your dream for Serpent Stomp for the future?
I hope to take this unique ministry and begin to connect our community of faith. I want to invite people who don’t look, talk, or act like us to come out and see that, in spite of our differences, we have much more in common than we think. I want to build bridges.
I pray that I see God breaking chains in people’s lives moving them from the weights that they are carrying and allowing them to experience freedom in Him.
Simple, pray that God is glorified and His will is done!
Purchase tickets by clicking HERE
or get in touch with Jamie directly
at MpactEvents@yahoo.com or 918-946-1067