I previously wrote a post on my recent discoveries of new music courtesy of Thumper Punk Records. They are kind enough to give me some recommendations. I first ask for bands that sing Reformed inspired songs. One of punk bands they gave is Knuckle Sucker, which hails from Huntsville, Alabama. They call their music doxological punk-rock. Their sound is similar to pop punk bands like MXPX and Reliant K . I reach out for Zach, vocalist and lead song writer of Knuckle Sucker, to talk about punk music and Reformed faith.
Kindly tell something about yourself and how you came to know Christ?
My name is Zach Thornton, and I am the impetus behind the Knuckle Sucker project. I work full-time in the cybersecurity field so Knuckle Sucker is my musical side project.
I was blessed to be born into a Christian family so I was surrounded by the people of God and the teachings of Christ before I can remember. My own personal profession of Faith came when I was 5 years old, and I was baptized. The rest is just a story of sanctification in God’s grace.
So how did you get into punk music? What do you find in punk that appeals to you?
I think my first CD I ever purchased with my own money was “Two Lefts.Don’t Make A Right” by Relient K, so pop/ punk rock has been pivotal part of my personal musical formation.
What are your band’s influences and your favorite artist?
I am only speaking for myself,but I’ve already mentioned how Relient K and a lot of Christian Punk / Rock was a deep influence for me. Additionally, like I mentioned playing so much church music, it would be hard to ignore the influence of modern worship music song structure on my thinking. I think the other category I should mention is Christian heavy music. Living Sacrifice, Underoath, and Norma jean all followed swiftly after RK, though their influence is certainly less pronounced.
I like the DIY culture of punk music. Is it still alive despite the culture embracing the digital age or does it diminished it?
I think it’s a bit of both. Like I mentioned ,I’m not a professional musician or deep into DIY punk circles, but everything was DIY for me and my mates on this project I think the advent of the digital age has opened up a lot of tools for people who want to do DIY, so in a way there’s more and it’s very alive. But with so many more making music,and it’s so easy to create a Bandcamp / SoundCloud and self publish, sometimes I wonder if that’s brought a real dilution of quality. Maybe some would count this project as that dilution! But I think it’s a net positive for the DIY world and Christian music.
As creatives in the line of music, how does spirituality specifically holding on the doctrine of grace help you as you play as a musician? How important is being grounded to the Bible as you write songs?
Abraham Kuyper once said “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”. Since.everything is Christ’s, I think it’s imperative for Christians who make music to apply every word of God to every domain of life, especially music and lyrics. That’s not to say every lyric must come directly from the pages of holy writ, but the scripture must be the foundation and deepest influence of every lyric we write . Kuperian Punk Rock I’ve called it a few times before.
Specifically on the doctrines of grace, believing that God is sovereign over salvation and cannot fail to save certainly influences, how you write about salvation. But it also bleeds into all other practical areas. God cannot fail,his word does not return void, he saves and accomplishes his mission perfectly,he will rule until he puts all his enemies under his feet. These are glorious truths that give us hope and are the whole reason why we sing and play.
You have said as we are chatting online, you once have a struggle in finding good and godly music, can you tell us something about that?
I want to listen to music that glorifies God from musicians who glorify God. Simple as that. However, in the genres I’ve mentioned already Christianity is certainly the exception, not the norm. And even in Christian music or where there are artists who call themselves christian, an examination of their lyrics sometimes gives me a lot of concern as to how Christian they are. Even some of the artists I mentioned as influential I no longer listen to, because they have clearly abandoned the faith.
I kind of suspect it’s hard in our present time as the temptation is always to compromise in order to sell more. Whether it’s to the secular market, where the pagans are not attracted to Christian lyrics, or to the contemporary Christian scene who frequently are not attracted by deep theological truths.
But every now and then you come across an artist who seems to genuinely want to write to the glory of God. My hope in this project was to contribute in my own small way to that list.
You have this album out, Alien Righteousness and I really enjoyed it. So tell us about it and the process in producing that album?
I’ve dinked around for years at writing my own music,just odd demos and low quality recordings. But as I got involved at a local church, I got connected to a couple of really high caliber musicians who were interested in recording / producing music. I sent then some of my pretty rough demos and asked if they wanted to record parts based on those demos. Matt Tucker used to tour with some bigger names awhile back and his own drum studio and tracked all the drums at his house. I worked with Sam on the bass and vocal tracks at his home studio and he laid down all the guitars after that.
All of this was done with equipment we already owned, and nothing that’s in the mega expesive category. Back to the DIY thing,it just really showed me how much can be done at home if you have talented friends!
Any follow up album that is in the way? You mentioned you want to write songs based on the doctrine of grace or TULIP.
That would be interesting. I would love to make more music, especially contributing more to the dearth of solid Christian music we’ve discussed. I’ve demoed out a similar five-track album about the doctrines of Grace, and I’m working on demoing out a sort of post-millennial punk rock Pilgrims progress album.
Not sure if/when they will ever be made though. I’m a lot more.busy with 2 kids.now and not all the original 3 guys go the same church or live in the same town as we did when we made it. But I hope Knuckle Sucker can continue in some form.
Thank you for this opportunity. Kindly invite our readers to check you out.
Yes, and thank you for the opportunity to be included on your blog! Our music is available as Knuckle Sucker, and our album Alien Righteousness on both Spotify and YouTube, or for download at Bandcamp.
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