Call To Preserve are a hardcore band from Florida who have just released an album on Facedown Records. The band play was influenced by acts like Madball, Strongarm, and No Innocent Victim. SMN News spoke with guitarist Harbor Partin about their From Isolation album, the Florida underground scene, and his views on the Christian hardcore scene.
I know you the members of the band got their start playing more punk inspired music. How did the evolution towards hardcore happen?
I think as a band our musical tastes got heavier so we just gravitated towards that type of music. I remember at first I was the only one in the band that wasn’t really into hardcore and I just wanted to play punk, but then I heard bands like American Nightmare who played traditional hardcore and it turned me on to hardcore. Plus as it turns out hardcore is a lot more fun to play, so I guess that probably had something to do with it.
Although your sound is tough, there’s a lot of melody in certain spots. It reminded me of Terror with some Stretch Armstrong thrown in there and a more straight-forward hooky element to it. Can you talk about the writing process?
Yea we all grew up on Stretch Arm Strong so I think that influence definitely came out a little more on this album. When we were writing we worked a lot more on song structure and having parts that would be memorable. When we were picking and choosing what was going to be in a song we were going “ok, what does this part bring to the overall song? ” It made us try some things that I think we might have been to afraid to try before because it wasn’t typical hardcore type stuff, but I think it paid off in the end.
This interview is for a site that is definitely not Christian. We cover everything from Norwegian black metal to bands like Cannibal Corpse and Incantation. What do you have to say to the kid who’s looking at his computer right now and questioning us for covering a band like yours?
I don’t know really know what else to say except to keep an open mind. When it comes down to it, lyrics or and personal beliefs aside, we’re still a hardcore band. I don’t mean to be cliche and say hardcore is about standing up for what you believe in, but it kind of is. Diversity is what has made hardcore great from the beginning. Even in the early days when there were bands that stood up against religion, you had Krishna bands like Cro-Mags that were vocal about their faith. Imagine if no one would’ve listened to Cro-Mags because they didn’t share the same beliefs. Hardcore wouldn’t be the same. So I guess keep that in mind.
Did you guys ever find yourselves in a situation where you’re on a bill with bands that were resistant to playing with you because of your religious beliefs? For example, I’m not Christian but that doesn’t stop me from listening to bands that might be but I there must be people who don’t feel that way.
I suppose there are people who feel that way, but we haven’t encountered too many people like that. We’ve played with all different types of bands and everyone we’ve ever played with has seemed to respect what believe. I think part of the reason is because we’re not a real preachy band. You can look at our lyrics and talk to us and know what we’re about, but we’re really into just playing and letting the music speak for itself. I’m sure there’s tons of bands we play with who aren’t into what we’re about, but I guess not to the point where they wouldn’t want to play with us. There’s a lot of bands I’d like to play with that aren’t Christian, so I don’t see why it couldn’t work the other way too.
Do you think because of the religious overtones, kids who listen to positive hardcore follow the lyrical content closer?
It’s hard to say. I guess we have a lot of positive type songs, but I know with the new album there were a few songs where the outlook isn’t exactly positive. A song like “Sinking Sun” has kind of a bleak outlook to it, just because that was how I felt at the time that I wrote it. I know we talk about a lot of positive stuff, but I hope that anyone could relate to our music, no matter where they are in life.
Which songs on From Isolation are people responding to the most on tour? “Hope For the Fallen” seems like one that would go over really well live.
“Hope for the Fallen” does alright, but I think it’s going to be one of those songs that’s going to do much better once people get more familiar with the new album. I think “Sinking Sun” has probably had the best response out of all them, probably because it’s been on our MySpace for a while now and it’s got that intro in the beginning. Shameless has also gone over really well. It’s probably the heaviest song on the album, possibly the heaviest song we’ve ever written so people tend to react to that song very well.
On the song “Sinking Sun” you have the lyrical refrain, “We come from isolation but we’re never alone.” Who is the “we” in that particular track?
That line is about thinking you’re alone in whatever mess you’ve gotten yourself into and then realizing that it’s not just you who goes through low points in their lives. It’s everyone. You have to face the reality of your decisions by yourself, but it’s kind of a common aspect of being human and we can share the burden of our struggles. “We” is pretty much everyone in the most general sense.
It seems like the Florida hardcore scene is really coming up lately. Can you talk about some of the bands that we should keep our eyes out for?
Yeah Florida Hardcore is pretty dope. One of our favorite bands here has got to be Infected. We’ve known their singer Josh for a long time and has come on the road with us a few times. They played a bunch of our cd release shows and they’re awesome to watch live. They’ve got a real pissed, thrashy, sound. Definitely got that Infest or Seige vibe to them, but darker. Definitely check out Infected. Good dudes and good music.
I loved Strongarm and actually became friends with Nick and Steve from the band years later when I was in a band that was signed to Nick’s label. How important was that band to Christian hardcore and the Florida music scene?
That band was extremely important, especially when it comes to the genre of “spirit filled hardcore.” They were definitely a huge influence on this band, not only the music but also what they stood for and how they stood out in the scene at the time. What stands out about them to me is that they’re music was just as good as any of the other hardcore bands at the time who weren’t Christian and that definitely cemented them as one of the defining Christian hardcore bands. They’re definitely a huge influence on Christian hardcore now as far as their message goes, but I wish more bands actually sounded like them. There’s too few Christian bands who still follow in their footsteps musically and I wish there were more.
How is the tour going with For Today? Are the turn-outs decent and how are the out-of-control gas prices affecting everything?
So far the tour’s been going pretty awesome. Everyone in For Today are awesome dudes and they’re a lot of fun to hang out with. For the most part the turn outs have been great, probably better than decent. There’s always good and bad shows on tour, but even the shows with less kids haven’t been that bad and they’ve all turned to be a good time. Gas is definitely taking its toll, but we’re still surviving. It could be worse because gas has actually gone down since we’ve been on tour, so I guess if gas would’ve gone up instead we’d probably be really hurting right now. So yea, we’re still a pretty broke band, but we’re gonna be ok. This is what we love to do so nothing’s going to stop us.
What’s the best part about being in Call To Preserve and what’s the worst?
The best part is getting to do what I love and travel the country with my best friends. The worst part is that since I’ve decided not to have a real job, I’m broke and I can hardly afford to feed myself. Don’t even ask me how I plan to pay off my student loans because I don’t have an answer.
Name your 5 favorite hardcore albums of all time.
In no particular order:
American Nightmare: Background Music
Dag Nasty: Can I Say
Stretch Armstrong: The Rituals of Life
Give up the Ghost: We’re Down Till We’re Underground
Cro Mags: Age of Quarrel