Reconcera is a metal band from Saint Charles, Missouri. The band, self described as “very aggressive, very honest,” has independtly released on self-titled EP in 2013, and recently put out their debut full-length album, Absolve:Vindicate.
Reconcera is: Joshua Smith – Vocals, Jake Roach – Guitar, Chris Spann – Bass, & Josh Roach – Drums
I had a conversation with Joshua just prior to new album’s release. We talked about making music independently, the concept behind the new album, and the spiritual motivation of the band.
Check out their video for “Crucify”
So Josh, let’s talk about you for a minute. How did you get into heavy music to begin with?
My older brother used to take me to concerts when I was 12 or 11. And basically I fell in love with it. I come from a very musical family and I just began to find metal music was kind of interesting so I went on to try to learn how to do screaming and I took some singing lessons and I worked really, really hard on it for years growing up.
So what is the scene like in Saint Charles? Did you see a lot of heavy music growing up?
Well, it used to be when I was younger, but there’s only in St. Charles area maybe three heavy bands I can think of. It’s about 20 minutes or 30 minutes from St. Louis but there’s a lot more in St. Louis. In St. Charles there actually used to be a scene by itself a long time ago. So basically we go down to St. Louis and we play down there and we’ll play basements, backyards, and wherever we can in St. Charles area.
You had an EP come out in 2013.That was all self produced, self recorded?
Yeah, our guitarist was trying to get into recording, and he still is, he’s done a lot he’s gotten really, really good at what he does and he works very diligently on it. Basically, we had very little equipment and we just went for it. We really wanted to make music and we tracked live drums, and he’s only done that maybe a couple times. We had very little recording equipment to work with, but we tried to make it work. We just wanted to put music out there.
For this new record, same thing- all done on your own?
It was, but a lot longer of a process. We all worked really hard, and Jake was upgrading studio equipment and he finally got his whole home project studio which he actually uses for other bands as well. We all sat down and we took a while on the songs. It started out long: about 17 songs. There were quite a few where we trimmed it off because it just didn’t really fit for the kind of concept we were going for. We were trying to find different things that we were happy with, different emotions we wanted to portray in the songs, and recording as well. It took over a year for all of that.
You mean just recording, or how much time did you spend just writing?
It was writing and recording. The one thing of having a guitarist that can record and do a great job at it is it’s awesome that we were tracking a lot of pre-production, a lot of demos, things so we could figure them out as we went. But also the curse of it is we were tracking so many demos there were times where we’d get tunnel vision. Things like that. There was a song that we wrote and we really liked and then a couple months later we would listen to it and go “Oh my gosh, I hate this.” So that happened quite a bit. [Laughs]
How does this new record compare to your first release?
Muscially, when the band first started we just immediately started writing music that kind of started with one song we wrote on Jake and Josh’s couch at like 2 in the morning. It kind of conspired to us writing the next day, and getting a call like “Hey man, I got this great thing I just tracked “ and he’d send it over to me and I’d listen to it and come over the next night and we’d build off of it. But the thing was, we were just wanting to put music out there and we just wanted to start having fun and doing it. Whether it was playing back yards or basements or whatever it might be. And with this new album, there’s a lot of different changes. We worked really hard on actually making the songs sound better. We were just trying to make ourselves better as individuals and better as a band. We’re not the best, we’ll never make it in a sense, we want to keep it on a path of just working hard on that goal, always. But, we worked extremely hard just to make ourselves better, chemistry, the production, everything in between.
I like that, man. Just continually bettering yourselves.
That’s all we want to do.
Right on. So this will be released independently?
Yes it will.
What would you say is one of the biggest challenges of trying to put music out independently?
Funding. [laughs]. It’s nothing new to any person who’s trying to get out there and do what they love, but there’s a lot of people that don’t really understand a lot of the funding that’s involved, the hundreds upon hundreds of hours that’s involved. We wish we could have more flexible jobs to get this done, but there’s times when stuff will get expensive, and we’ll have to work super hard at other jobs to fund this. A lot of sacrifice in our personal lives to make this happen. But you’ve got to give up to go up.
In reading your description on Facebook, I see that you’re a spiritually motivated band with a “passion and a proclamation of hope” can you tell me a bit about that, about how your personal spiritual lives come into your music?
All of us have had our lives saved, or impacted in a huge way in one or another way by, frankly, Jesus. There’s just been a lot of things that’s made us all cross paths and do this. The one thing we want to do is let a lot of those people that are hurting out there know that someone cares about them, someone loves them. We’re all believers. This is what our band is about.We just want to worship God with our music, to glorify Him with our music and we just want to help people as much as we can. That’s our main focus: helping people.
Even in our own personal lives, a lot of us are at different jobs serving people, whether its being a waiter or selling insurance or whatever it might be, it’s all serving and helping people. That kind of goes along with our spiritual lives and it bleeds into our music whether we would want it to or not. But we want it to, because that’s what this is all about. We love our God, and we want to just get out there and help people, and let them know that someone loves them, that someone hasn’t given up on them, and let them know they’re not a mistake. Whether anybody tells them that, they’re not a mistake.
Is there a general theme or concept to this album?
The best way to put it is the album is actually split into two parts. Part 1 is “Absolve” and then part 2 is “Vindicate”. It all centers around a person who is in an extremely broken and dark place in their life. Absolve talks about how this person wants to rip his self from this lifestyle, from the path they’re going down and they want to get out of it, and it talks about the cleansing and walking away from it, no matter how painful it is, or how hard it is. Vindicate talks about this pathway to victory of how this character finally learns to love him or her self and their God. So everything is all centered around love.
Can you tell me a little more about the single “Crucify”?
“Crucify” is actually the first song on the second part, per se, track 7. The song in itself is all about strength. No matter how bad the world tears you apart, or ridicules you, or hates you for what you believe, or what you’re passionate about, keep going, keep walking. When you fall, get up and stand for more. It’s all about strength, determination, and it all ties into that concept. There’s this space between track six and track seven where there’s this transformation where this person is getting stronger. They’re not afraid. This song is not about this certain person, it’s about all of us. Whatever somebody’s passionate about in their life, scream it at the top of your lungs, that’s your right. So, I mean, with the video, us being a spiritual hardcore or metal band, it’s really graphic, but all in all, we want to take a very aggressive stance on it, we didn’t want it to be as subtle. Again, we wanted to let somebody know they’re loved and they matter.
Definitely some striking imagery in that video. How was the experience shooting it?
When we were doing the video it actually took us nine to ten hours to shoot that video. We did it all in a day. For the first three to four hours with my friends beating the crap out of me, it wasn’t very fun [laughs] I was getting dragged through the woods, getting thrown on the ground, I actually got a couple of real bruises. Then we did the performance shots right after, so there was a lot of Red Bull involved in that.
Are you primarily the lyricist, or do the other guys contribute to that as well?
We all kind of work collectively. There’s a few songs that I’ve written and there’s some where mostly the other guys have written. Everything in this band is very collective. I can’t play a lick of guitar, but we’ll all sit down, collaborate on different things. So it’s all kind of a group project.
Looking back say, 10 years, when I go into the Christian bookstore to find metal, there’s only a handful of bands in there, but now there’s way more bands that are way open about their faith and accepted in aggressive music. Is there more general acceptance in the wider metal world for bands with a positive message? Or what kind of reception have you guys gotten with your more openly Christian songs?
I can definitely say that Christian metal in a sense, or spiritual, or whatever it may be has definitely grown over the past ten years. I mean, cause way back in the day you had your bands like Stryper, and all that stuff, but nothing like death metal. You wouldn’t have heard of too many Christian death metal bands. Nowadays people can name a few off the top of their heads. When I was little, I either didn’t notice it, or it just wasn’t in the store besides maybe like, I don’t know, old Skillet or something, though that’s not necessarily metal. There’s just a lot that’s grown over the past ten years and I think it’s wonderful.
But when it comes to acceptance, it kind of depends on where you are and who you’re around. There’s some people who have said “Your music’s not Christian.” And when I talk about “Christian” I mean, we make music to glorify God. We don’t write songs for Christians, we write songs for everybody, but we make music to glorify God. That can kind of tug at your heartstrings when somebody says that because it’s really sad when someone doesn’t see what God is doing in the hardcore and metal scene. It’s just sad when you see some folks that are from an older generation or just completely blind to it. Because all the folks in the metal, hardcore scene, whatever it might be, some of them need help, or need to hear the Gospel as well like we all have. And I don’t think it’s necessarily cool to say we’re not because you don’t like the music.
Yeah it’s interesting, how especially bands in heavy music can get it from all sides, mainstream folks saying Christians don’t have a place in this scene, and a lot of times it’s coming from the Church side saying Christians shouldn’t be in a place like that.
Any touring plans coming up?
We’re looking into doing stuff in 2016. Nothing completely set in stone yet, but we do want to get out on the road and we really want to share our music and meet new people and meet new friends. It’s one of the things we love the most. So definitely something we will be doing next year.
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