BREATHEcast chatted with heavy rock/Hip-Hop influenced band Islander about having faith in mainstream music, collaborating with Sonny of P.O.D., and their big single "Coconut Dracula."
BREATHEcast: You guys have a phenomenal sound, and I love how you update things that were popular in the early 2000s. How did you take that nu metal style and bring it to 2014 and make it relevant?
Islander: We never set out to be any sort of genre other than a rock band that writes what we like to hear. We have our influences and those are all over the place between each member. We just want to make honest music that we enjoy and if someone outside of ourselves enjoys it too, then that is wonderful and we are so grateful.
BC: My first take of the band was P.O.D. without the pure rap vocals. Then I saw Sonny was on a track. How has a band such as POD affected you guys, and what does Sonny think of the band?
I: P.O.D. was the band that really got me into heavy music. My brother took me to see them at a small pub in South Carolina when I was about 13. I fell in love with music that night and eventually became friends with P.O.D. from going to their shows. We recorded a hardcore song with Sonny a few years ago and he sent the vocals to us through email to mix into the track in the studio. Once we got signed, we had the opportunity to have him come into the studio with us for the song "Criminals" and it was amazing. He is one of the most legit dudes I've personally met in this crazy industry. He also supported us long before we were ever noticed by a label or anything.
BC: Violence & Destruction is your first album. What are you guys hoping to accomplish with this record, and how does it build upon that first EP?
I: We hope that people see that we made an honest record that is relevant to what is going on around us. There will always be things that are difficult to discuss in this world, but if we keep sweeping those things under the rug, we are eventually going to trip all over it. It connects artistically to our independently released EP "Side Effects of Youth" as well as our "Pains EP." Those two EPs followed subject matter based off of the titles of each, while Violence & Destruction focuses on the root of those things.
BC: What are the overall themes of the album and are they built more upon experiences or observations?
I: Both. I don't believe I can sing about something I can't relate to. Mainly things I've observed from my experiences. In the book of Jeremiah in the scriptures, Jeremiah states that he has become a household joke because he is sharing Christ with people and proclaiming violence and destruction. He then goes on to say that if he holds it inside and doesn't share about Christ, then it burns in his bones like fire and he must speak. It deals with the idea of standing firm even in this crazy world, as well as not tap dancing around the difficult/awkward issues like I previously stated. It's all about true love and discovering where the root of our sin is. The album says "to change the fruit, you've gotta change the root" several times. That is the basic concept.
BC: You guys are listed in places as a Christian band. What kind of message are you guys trying to convey in your music and do you feel have anything to prove because you are "labeled" that way?
I: Several of us in the band are Christians, but not all. When I sit down at a restaurant I don't ask if the chef is a "Christian food artist," I just want the chef to make good food. It's the same for music. I don't listen to music because it agrees with my beliefs. I listen to it because it is good. I don't feel we have anything to prove. I think people just need to ask themselves what they believe instead of thinking music is better because someone believes the same as themselves.
BC: Do you feel it is difficult to sometimes be honest in music when people are expecting or watching for you to say something that strays too far from Christianity?
I: If I am straying from Christianity at all, I would hope someone would keep me accountable about that. I don't have to try to do anything. I came to Christ as I was. He is the one that does the cleaning. It's up to me to yield to his will. Within being honest, I can grow closer to Christ and learn more about who I am through him.
BC: Being a relatively young band. What are some of the struggles, temptations, or problems that you guys come across while on tour?
I: I've heard Sonny say before that you have to go ahead and decide who you want to be. If I didn't have the convictions that I have, I'm sure I could get into a whole lot of dirt. I am not perfect, and stumbling can most definitely happen. I've already tasted sin and have seen how fleeting it is. There is nothing that can compare to the peace that Christ offers.
BC: What's the inspiration behind the music video for "Coconut Dracula" and where was it filmed, the set looks awesome!
I: It was filmed in an abandoned church building. The video deals with the idea of one of the kids having a different nature, one of them accepting that new nature, and the other kid being destructive and unaccepting of that nature. The building was in Gary, Indiana. Other movies have been filmed their like Transformers, Nightmare on Elm Street. It was really cold that day.
BC: Mikey, I've noticed on live performances and in the music video that you present yourself and perform almost as an emcee. You have this swag that a regular rock vocalist might not have. How has hip-hop influenced the sound and presentation of the band?
I: (Haha) I like hip hop. I just groove with the music. I don't think about it that hard.
BC: Tell us a bit about your current tour and upcoming projects.
I: We are hitting the road next week with Nonpoint and then directly after that we are the support for the Pop Evil tour until December 21st. We are staying busy and trying to play as much as possible.
BC: Anything else to add?
I: Thank you...Thank you very much.
Violence & Destruction on July 8, and is the first full length album and Victory Records debut for the band. It was generally well received, and the band's sound can be compared to P.O.D., Rage Against the Machine, and Deftones.