Early 2000s Christian rock band Justifide is returning with a new record after a 10 year absence, and guitarist Joey Avalos chatted with BREATHEcast to talk nostalgia, music, and the resurrection of his band.
Justifide is putting out their first record since 2003 and are calling it, The Vault Sessions. The album came about when Avalos was digging through a box of CD's after his iPod died. He came across a disc that said "New Songs" on it. It had eight partially finished Justifide songs on it that he totally forgot about. Avalos then reached out to brothers Sambo and Jason Moncivaiz upon finding it because "It brought back a lot of memories."
Justifide, as it was known by then, has been gone since 2003 but lived on a bit as Reform the Resistance with Jason and Sambo. The name and a bit of the focus changed because it did not feel the same without Avalos. The two brothers are still going strong with music and are looking to put out their own record in 2015.
Post Justifide, Avalos played backup guitar for Pillar live, and started a pop soul project called, Stars Go Dim.
Avalos and Pillar's bass player, Kalel, currently own a management company, and were a bit iffy with signing the Monciavaiz brothers because they are friends. "Not many people know Reform the Resistance is Justifide. Why don't we do something special for all these old school Justifide fans" the former guitarist said.
"Let's record these Justifide songs. You guys have an album coming out, lets combine them and make it a two for one."
They are going to do a campaign the first of the year but right now have been trying to reach out to some old fans to draw them in.
"Through this campaign everyone is at least guaranteed four Justifide songs. We found about eight Justifide tunes...if you help us reach our goal markers, we'll release more music. And if you help us reach higher, we'll release more music, we'll write more music."
When asked about how the fan response has been so far, Avalos has been taken aback by the love and support.
"People are really excited. We are doing this for the fans who really do care. It's not like we are getting back together and we are going to tour and do all this stuff," he continued, "We won't be playing any shows. It's like a soft reunion. It's more of a big thank you." However, it's important to note that Justifide is planning to make a pledge on their crowdfunding campaign where a promoter can pledge and they will play a show.
Avalos said "the perfect way to describe this [album] is, it picks up right after 'The Beauty of the Unknown'. It's a bridge between the two bands. It shows the transition. You can hear the influences evolving."
The songs are not b-sides or throwaways, these are legitimate and would have been an album had they continued on. They were demos and poorly recorded, so they tracked and redid them.
"No one has heard these songs except maybe my wife and a couple of close friends," shared Avalos, adding to the mystery of The Vault Sessions.
Looking back fondly at Justifide, Avalos explained that when they got signed, Jason was only 15 and had to have his parents sign forms. The first tour they did was the Alien Youth Tour in 2001 with Skillet and Pillar.
Originally Jason was the drummer and lead singer which is quite an impressive feat, but is also taxing on a performance. During the shows they felt the novelty wear really thin and it became too hard for him to continue on that way. They hired a friend to play drums so Jason could interact with the crowd and be a proper frontman. He would still go back to the kit for a few songs every show to appease the fans who wanted to see it.
The former guitarist said, it was especially hard because Jason had really bad asthma and during that time had to stay in good shape otherwise he could not breathe.
Avalos also said "everything" has changed about Christian music in the last ten years with independent artists and digital music. With the way the industry works now, Justifide is able to put out a project like this because there are options to raise the money and reach out to old fans through social media that did not exist for them before.
With that being said, Avalos does not think he could go back to touring so much and playing as many shows. The energy and passion is not there anymore, he admitted. As far as if he had any regrets, he said maybe in the past they were too "headstrong" and should have listened to people more and would have gone further. "In all sincerity though, I wouldn't change anything. I treasure those times of learning, and growth."
Avalos had some strong words about being a band with a message of truth, and one that tries to convey the gospel in their music.
"I think no matter what your message is, people just want to know you're genuine. Even with some Christians songs, you can tell it feels contrived a little bit. It feels like they are trying to meet the 'Jesus quota'" he said. People would try and reach this level of Christian music, but would not hit true and pour out their heart, he explained. "If you suffer, we suffer with you."
Lastly, Avalos told BC that he was grateful for the wild ride of Justifide and the years leading up to this new project. He is excited to move forward, and reminisced one last time about when they started.
"I wish I could back and feel excited about playing shows. I remember when I was playing with Pillar. I'd be playing with some big arena at an Acquire the Fire event. In high school I couldn't sleep the night before if we played a coffee house." Avalos said he misses those butterflies the most.
To keep up with the latest on Justifide, check back in on their website and social media accounts which can be found here.