(Band Interview) Knuckle Sucker

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.

(Did you enjoy what you read? Did this article help you? If yes, you can say “Thank you” by sharing 10 Pesos or more at my G-Cash or Paymaya account: Marianito Gonzales – 09163315535. For international friends, you can send it through Paypal: nitoymgonzales@gmail.com)

Rabbit Holes

Many folks (me included) are complaining of the entertainment content they’re consuming. There is too much woke-ness or SJW on social media, TV, movies and comics they usually indulge. While some parts of these movements do have some good things we should consider, the problem is that mostly they have the bad stuff that sometimes goes against our Christian conviction. So as a pop culture nerd myself, I have to stop reading and watching when these things pops up (aside from the profanity and violence it has). I know there is still good and clean content out here but I need to consider Christian content first. So the question is, what stuff will I consume and where would I go when all of these unnecessary and ungodly agendas permeate to those I’m currently enjoying?

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4 Instrumental Hymns Playlist That Will Help You Chillax

When the evening comes and you want to calm yourself and snooze off, . Rather than listen to some New Age or lo-fi beats why not go for instrumental hymns. Open your Spotify app and be ready.Here’s a list of my go to playlist on Spotify that I listen to when I go to sleep. I also recommend these playlist while studying, mediating God’s Word or simply relaxing. So step on the breaks and listen to these familiar tunes.

If their is a song you don’t want to listen the next time you play these playlists, Spotify has a function that enables you to hide and not to play it. Have it on shuffle and immerse yourself with peaceful and godly music.

Instrumental Hymns for Sleep – A playlist created by pianist Sarah Brooks (who is also featured in this playlist) for those who love traditional hymns and piano. Also featured on the list are renditions by Phillip Keveren, Paul Cardall, Chris Springer and many more. Let these calm tunes help you rest and fall asleep.

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(Interview) Robin Ham on Advent

Next month will be Christmas. Yay! But first, let’s prepare ourselves in celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ by observing Advent. But what is Advent anyway? What is the history of Advent and what does it bring to the hearts of the believers? I e-mail pastor Robin Ham, author of the new Advent devotional, Finding Hope Under Bethlehem Skies, to talk about Advent, how celebrate it and about his new book.

Please tell our about yourself.

I’m Robin, I pastor a church called St Paul’s Barrow in a town called Barrow-in-Furness in the north-west of England. I’m married to Zoe and we have five kids. 

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(Interview) Norton Hall Band on Hymns

Photo from Youtube

What did your church sang this Lord’s Day? Did it lift both your soul to worship and your voice to praise the goodness of Christ? Does it prepare your spirit for the weekly servings of God’s Word through the sermon? Does it convey words that you can’t express on how to be thankful for God’s providence? Does it bring you to tears knowing the truth of God through the lyrics of the song? I hope and pray that it’s a blessing to you as you sang either a contemporary worship song or hymns.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) has this group called Norton Hall Band that plays a fresh take on hymns. They have a new album, Still Our Refuge which is the third album they released this year. I reach out with Evan Sams, guitarist of Norton Halls Band to talk about hymns, their band and their new album.

For those who are not familiar with hymns, can you define what a hymn is?

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(Interview) Jerrel Pilarta on Rap Music and Doctrines of Grace

When you hear the word “rap”, what comes to your mind? Probably you’ll think about popular rappers like Francis M. or Gloc 9. You might also think of the message of their songs that you hear on the radio like nationalism, peace and unity.

But do you know there is a Christian artist who raps about the gospel? In fact, he raps about the Doctrines of Grace or Calvinism in his latest EP. I connected with Jerrel Pilarta, an indie gospel rap artist and we talk about Calvinism, rap music and his new release titled TULIP.

How did you came to know Christ?

I grew up in a Christian household, so ever since bata pa ako lagi ko ng naririnig ang Gospel. Pero for me, I believe last 2016 ko lang na fully grasp ang Gospel at natanggap ng buong puso. Nung na realize ko na kahit sobrang makasalan ako, papatawarin pa rin ako ni Jesus if I will repent and accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Dun nag-sink in sakin ang ibig sabihin ng grace.

Who introduced you to the doctrine of grace?

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(Interview) Wolves At The Gate on Church Support for Creatives

Believers are bestowed by God with talents. Each Christians has these gifts that, out of the abundant grace of God, are to be use to further the Kingdom of God. That can be found in the preaching of the gospel for unbelievers and to us, who repented and trusted Christ, as a means to be edify.

So now the question is: how do the body of Christ nurture these Christians who are given talents that resonates and influence others? What kind of support should the church give to believers to help them know utilize it to advance the message of the gospel?

I reach out to Steve Cobucci, guitarist and vocalist of the post hardcore band, Wolves at the Gate to know how their church gives them support as creatives.

Please tell us about your band and how did you came to know the Lord.

Our band has been around since 2008 when we started it in college. We started off playing house shows in town and then eventually got the opportunities to play venues in Ohio & the surrounding states. Eventually we put out our first EP “We Are The Ones” thinking it would be the last thing we would do, but it turned out to be the thing that got us a record deal.

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(Interview) Jonathan Ogden on Creating Concept Albums

I love music. I enjoy listening to albums on Spotify. I like exploring playlists. But I love more is listening an album of an artist or band from the first track down to the last. Reminds me of those days of buying and listening to cassette tapes. More than that, I want to catch the vision of the artist or band for that specific album. Themed or concept album has one message in the strings of songs that it include. That’s what I want to discover and savor it as a music lover. As a believer, I want to see biblical message it want to convey.

In this interview, Jonathan Ogden talks about concept albums, his process of creating a project and how to maintain these project gospel centered. I hope you as an artist or listener will get some great takeaways on our conversation.

Is there an advantage (or disadvantage) for an artist in creating a concept album?

A concept album is definitely a different kind of project compared to a regular album. There’s a little more restriction in terms of what you’re going to create, and making sure that it all relates to the concept. But equally, those kind of restrictions can bring about a lot more creativity sometimes!

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(Interview) Context on Living Out the Faith During the Pandemic

How do bands strive through this pandemic? How did COVID19 affected their music? More importantly, how does God work to a band to bring the gospel message to this world? I reach out to the metal band, Context and asked these questions, about their music and their new album.

Please tell us about yourselves and how you got to know Christ?

We are the band, Context. Each of us came to know Christ in different ways. Kyle grew up in a Christian home by the grace of God. In college, he was challenged to live out his own faith and to take what he learned from his parents and put it into practice. Jam heard the Gospel from Ezekiel 36 while in high school at a local church plant. A few years after Jam had listened to the Gospel, he began a Bible study with a group of men through the Gospel of John. Chow heard the Gospel in John 1 and responded in faith.

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My Favorite Albums and EP’s Released in 2021

As promised, this is my list of 2021 releases that I got hooked into. Like the albums and EP’s that I discovered post, this is the final list. Since my musical taste is all over the place (LOL), you’ll get into different sounds and genre. Nevertheless, these jams are my favorite for this year and I think you’ll like it too.  For some heavier music, I created a separate playlist just in case you’ll be listening to as relaxation and all of a sudden a song will give you rock you out (LOL). If you want a throwback of my favorite picks in 2020, then click here.

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