For quite awhile now I've wanted to interview these guys. They have always impressed me with their musical and lyrical styling and I wanted to get a chance to interview them to enable readers maybe to look past the controversy and actually look and listen to the hearts of the band. This interview was done on June 19, 2001. Bold type is Tantrum of the Muse. Plain text is Neil from Friends Like You. Questions answered by Stephen Mark Sarro (voice and guitar) and Udrick Wise (drums).
You guys have just released a live ep. Is this new material or what?
Stephen Mark Sarro: The new Ep is called the Downtrodden and the Sidhe, its a live ep, with one unreleased bside instrumental from the modernmu$ick(2000)! recording sessions. So your answer would be yes and no.
Is there a reason it came out on a different label?
Stephen : Yeah, takehold never wanted to release it, and we wanted to. Jeremiah from wounded records is going to press it for us, because he offered us a great deal, so why not eh?
Where was the show?
Udrick Wise: Tom Fest 2000.
o.k...Tantrum of the Muse has made it a point to be known as Christians right? You've also put out songs such as "Screw the Christian Industry." How do these two things work themselves out. Basically, why do you have a problem with the Christian Industry?
Udrick: When the christian music industry first started, it was for people who wanted to basically sing about God, and salvation, and sing for christians...because alot of christians were convicted about listening to secular music and still be christians. They wanted to hear stuff that was positive to praise the Lord. That is fine and good. Now, in the year 2001, it has become a place whether we sing about God or not, we start a band, and get signed to a label, and you start playing all of these shows and you might not even be a christian. You are playing church shows, with band members who are half and half. It has become a way to make money, succeeding much quicker, and now we have these "bookstores" that market Christ and basically put him to shame! I can understand at first people wanting to make shirts that wanted to praise Jesus, but its become so capitalistic that they are making money off of their God, their Lord and they cover it up, with excuses about it being a witnessing tool, but their lives aren't matching up with their merchandise.
Stephen: Ya know, Its been a year of growth, and we never wanted to cause confusion. We just wanted to step on toes. I mean sometimes you need to step on toes if you want people to keep walking, because they come to a stand still. It's been a year of growth and thinking back, the song was maybe too powerful of a title, but i think we had to get it off of our chests. I just hate seeing this division of industries seperated by a title, christian, non christian. I just want to play rock and roll, and help people. I dont want to be crucified and disrespected because i am a christian musician.
With covers that have a Flaming Pig's head and a album titled "The Heart is a two-headed sperm" It may seem that you guys are searching for some kind of shock value effect. Is this the case? If not, do you want to fill us in on what is going on with that kind of stuff. I'm sure that it has raised a lot of eye-brows with christian kids at your shows. Are there any misconceptions that you'd like to clear up? Also...how in the world did you get a picture of a flaming pig's head?
Stephen: Shock value? Not at all man. My lyrics are to convict myself and maybe enourage others to look at thier hearts. If it is shock value to you, then I am glad we at least got your attention, maybe that worked for others eh? I got the pig head from a butcher shop for $2, i froze the head for 2 weeks, and then when it came time to do the photo shoot, we took tons of pictures in my bedroom, with the pig head. I created this concept of a morning devotional, with breakfast on the table of a sweaty dirty hog, i just thought it set the mood of the cd, which was obviously a dark mood. I liked the texas chainsaw massacre imagery meets shudder to think's pony express record.The cover image was NOT computer imagery, we actually lit the sucker up in my room. We didnt even mess with the photography, it came out that way...If you thought it looked bad, you should have smelled it!!!!!!
oh man... That is awesome!!! I can't even imagine what that would smell like. Burning hogs head... Mmmm...
All right, ...you guys seem to focus on the more artistic side of musicianship. What is more important to you? The music you play or the lyrics you write?
Stephen: God created music, so everything i say and do should represent his creation as best as can be, with good quality music and good quality lyrics. Everything we do, is important.
Udrick: I feel like they are both equally important. The lyrics are very important because they are expressing the way i feel about certain issues in spiritualality, certain issues in society, and certain issues in my life. The music is important because I have to do it, i am called to do it.
Many Christian bands refer to their music as "worship." Is the music you play "worship" to God, or is it something else. Maybe glorifying to God. I don't know, is there a difference?
Udrick: I have played with alot of christian bands, and barely half of them of them refer to their music as christian. I feel like with us the feelings and the emotions are so layered that when we write songs, what may start out as sorrow or pain and negative emotions, turns into a positive emotions of joy and peace.Stephen: MOST christian bands refer to their music as worship???? Whoa, i must have been in a wierd voodoo coma the last 10 years of my life.
haha... No...I said many... I just was wondering what your take was on music in that regard. It is cool... I agree with you, because you are a Christian playing music, does not mean the music has to be "worship" music...
I know in the past you guys were in the process of working out a split release with Today is the Day. That is no longer going to happen right?
Stephen: TITD , TOTM, and Takehold wanted to do it, but takehold got cold feet, end of story!!!!!!!!!! Steve Austin (TITD) wants to do our next record, and we are thinking about working with him...i think we just might!
Does that have anything to do with a difference in beliefs?
Stephen: Not at all, i have nothing but love and respect for Today Is The Day, and they have the same for us...It just came down to censorship and being fearful of how the little christain hardcore kiddies might take it. Thats alot of pampers to buy man!!!!!!
How do you guys feel about there being a seperate "Christian" Scene? Should there be a seperate scene at all?
Stephen: Well...this is kind of what i was talking about with the song title "screw the christian industry" I think that both industries would have alot more respect if they existed in one big money hungry music store...I think that we as "desperate for success" christian musicians would get somewhere too if it was one industry, signing about 100,000,000 less bands. The whole seperation of talent based on belief is sad!
Now...You guys are looking for a bassist. What happened with Jim? Why did he leave the band?
Udrick: Well, towards the end of Jim's bass saga...there was a conflict of spiritualality with music. He also decided to get married and move to to florida, to start his own buisness, and everything is cool between us all, and we wish him the best.
Stephen: Jim is out of the band for more reasons than i would care to name. I will say this though...Jim has mentioned to people that he has written the songs, and he is TOTM and without him , we are nothing, and i would like to clear up that the intelligent thinking friends and supporters of TOTM know what the truth is! Jim only played on one of the 2 albums, being the SECOND one, and although there are going to be changes, i do not credit ANY OF THEM to be leaning on Jim's departure but because we always explore some new grounds...So I want to thank the fans that stuck by us, in understanding of the situations and kept their faith in TOTM and what TOTM has done and continues to do now, not a member that is not with us any more who wants to fool the world! I love Jim with all of my heart, but i am concerned!!!!
I heard that the bassist from Ghoti Hook was going to take his spot, but now you are still looking for a bassist. What happened with that guy?
Stephen: He R,U,N,N,O,F,T! God will provide my needs, thats all i can say man!!!!
What do you see in the future of T.O.T.M. Are you happy with where you are at or would you like to move on to bigger things?
Stephen: I would like to see us actually get somewhere. We are still setting out to be the loudest band on the planet, so i will be praying and asking God to help us get to where he wants us to go. I will say that i have No regrets with the albums in the past, the members coming, the members going, i love what we have done and i am going to love what i do next even more.
Udrick: Have you ever seen the movie falling down, with Micheal Douglas?
Your last album title gave the impression that you were dissatisfied with the music scene right now? Why?
Udrick: I just feel like there are no good bands. Everything is being regurgitated, and too many 12 yr. olds are getting signed to labels. The quality of music is quickly deminishing.
Stephen: I often sit and dwell on the fact that i once saw a greater and smaller scene of good quality music and now it all went to hell!!!! Sometimes my fans who know where I live stop by and hang out with me, and I give them seminars on good music, and then they go out and buy tons of good 80's music. They say I depress them because the music of the past is better and that they are jealous that i was able to experience it and they didnt., and then we all sit and sulk! Hahaha.
Are there any bands out right now that have your complete respect for what they are doing? Why?
Udrick: A perfect circle, for soo many reasons. I respect Zao, because they understand! Deftones, for making this modern metal thing enjoyable. Few left standing for a very impressive new record and incredible friendships. Narcissus, for loosing weight, and for a great new record and friendships.. Sunny day real Estate, for creating new records that werent like diary. Radiohead, again, so many reasons. Today is the day, for freakin tearing us a new one and for respecting us! U2, "i cant sing but i got soul"!
Stephen: Out of the "scene" bands I would like to say that, Crutch, mewithoutyou, narcissus, fewleftstanding, are just a few of the great things happening out there!!!! Lately i have been listening to alot of the new FewLeftStanding album, "wormwood", i think its great. I have been listning to "i never said i was brave" by MeWithoutYou, and "hope prevails" by Crutch, one of the sickest cds i have heard in a while, total progressive math death metal. Hmmm. i have also been listning to "bloodflowers" by The Cure, i think thats the greatest album of 2000 (next to ours of course) hehe.
If you were forced for whatever reason to stop playing music, what would you be doing?
Stephen: I would be locked up. I would be theatening people and forcing them to lock me away!!!!!! I need this release, TOTM is my sex, its my drugs, its my ritalin...its my void to keep me safe from all of the danger in the world!!! Everyone else spoils their meat, but i keep mine fresh, so i need something to obtain it!
Udrick: I would be pushing grocery carts.
All right man... That is about it.. Is there anything you'd like to leave us with?
Stephen: Again, thank you, the few who believe in us!!!!
Tantrum of the Muse
Wounded Records-for the new ep
Takehold Records-for the albums
We love you all!!!!!! Also, thank you for this interview!!!!!