Tony Cummings quizzed the band members of militant punk band FALSE IDLE
One of the most intriguing things about the current American rock scene is the unexpected growth of punk rock. As well as the superstar acts like Green Day there are now hundreds of bands slogging it out on the punk rock underground. Just as intriguing, quite a few of these bands are Christian and among the very best are False Idle from Boise, Idaho. Their 'Threat' album, released through Thumper Punk Records, received an enthusiastic thumbs up from the Cross Rhythms reviewer, who wrote, "With typical punk shouted vocals - even managing some harmonies - raw guitar lines and in your face challenging lyrics this is punk at its best. . ."
So who are False Idle? Their origins go back to the earlier punk band uniSEF. Explained singer/guitarist Sef, "Tyler and I had been in the band uniSEF for about five years when we broke up in 2009. After that I swore I would never be in a punk band again. At that point, I had been a worship leader at my church for a couple of years, and decided that I would focus all of my efforts on that. After about a year of that, I started to feel like I had been wasting time that year because I wasn't doing all of what God wanted me to be doing. I was reading my Bible one day and I came across a passage about how we should not be idle. . . and that word stuck out to me, it opened my eyes to my own idleness, and I wanted to change that. I immediately thought of what it might mean if I changed out the word 'idol' for 'idle' in the phrase False Idol. And it instantly meant, at least to me, 'The opposite of being idle' which is what I wanted to be at that point in time. I knew that the name would be easy to remember, because it is a phrase that is used in a different way often. So, I liked it, it worked, so I stuck with it."
False Idle grew out of what was originally intended to be a solo EP, 'Hymns Of Punk Rock Praise'. Explained Sef, "It was an idea that I had been toying with for years. I had always wanted to listen to a punk album that was full of hymn remakes, but was never able to find one. So, when I got to the point when I knew I wanted to start making punk music again, and I didn't have to convince any other band members to go along with one of my crazy ideas, I just went for it. Before I had even started recording the music, I posted a question on hxcchristian.com's forum to find out if anyone else would be interested in having something like what I was thinking about doing. I had a few people reply, but nothing that made me think that anyone really cared. A couple of weeks after that post, I got an email from a guy named David who had been considering starting a record label for Christian punk music. He wanted to know if I would be interested in releasing my hymns EP on his new label. The email was bitter sweet for me. I had always wanted to be in a band that was signed to a label, what musician doesn't want that? At the same time I still felt a little burnt out on trying to make something out of what seemed to be a dead scene for the last 10 years of my life, so I really didn't want to get into another project that I was super serious about. I just wanted to do something fun. After talking to my wife about the proposal, I was convinced to give it one last shot, and boy I sure am glad that I did."
Sef continued, "I did all of the songwriting on the EP, recorded the guitars, bass and vocals. I asked my former uniSEF band mate, Matt L, to come play the drums for the EP. Thankfully he said yes, and did an amazing job. I recruited some friends and family to join me for gang vocals, and even got a little help from Nate Rising (FBS) to do some backup vocal work. I did all of the artwork, and with that False Idle and Thumper Punk Records were born."
'Hymns Of Punk Rock Praise' created considerable interest and within less than a year the band were working on the 'I Refuse' EP. Said bass player Seth W, "The best part about recording the 'I Refuse' EP was the recording process itself. I've been a musician for a long time, but I've never been in a punk rock band before False Idle. I've played in orchestras, led worship at church, and even played saxophone in a jazz combo. But punk rock is a completely different animal. With a lot of music you can anticipate the direction that it's going to head, but what I love the most about punk is how 'purposefully erratic' it is. There's rarely a chord progression that you feel coming, and the tempo and timing always keeps me on my toes. Basically, it's the most fun I've ever had playing music. And honestly, I had a small taste of 'rock stardom' when we started out at Simpul Studios."
Sef added his thoughts about 'I Refuse'. "We were trying to figure out how to release the EP, and had thrown around the idea of a free download, so when Brandon at Indie Vision Music said that he would love to make the EP and exclusive IVM download, that got me really excited about the exposure we might get, as well as it getting the Thumper Punk Records name out there a little more. But I would have to say that, for me, the coolest part of the 'I Refuse' process happened shortly after the EP had been released. I got a phone call from a guy named Jesse who was trying to start up a record label called Veritas Vinyl. He offered to release the EP on 7" vinyl as his first release. Having played in bands for close to 20 years, I had ALWAYS wanted to release a record, but never had the funds to do it. That was a dream come true, and I will be eternally grateful for that."
It's been the release of 'Threat' which has turned out to be a giant stride forward for the band. Explained bass man Seth, "For the most part, Sef was the driving force behind the creative process of the other albums, but with this album we all had a hand in the lyrics and music. I guess we're spoiled to have a frontman that writes concise, yet profound lyrics and amazing music. But each of us contributed with our own strengths. Tyler is the best with the unpredictable melodic stuff and in-your-face lyrics. 'A Tension' was his brainchild, and my favourite on the album. Phil can pitch in guitar parts, ridiculously amazing beats, and just production details like deciding the overall direction of a song. I like pitching in on backup vocals and harmonies, and after playing guitar for many years, bass is all I ever want to play again."
Second guitarist Phil added, "We all brought so much to the table and not just in our individual roles. Tyler gave me drums suggestions, I wrote a few guitar riffs, we all swapped ideas equally." Sef continued, "In addition to the songwriting, as the recording and mixing engineer for the album, I experimented with a lot of new techniques that I had learned since the last release. So once the songwriting process was complete, I had a lot of fun focusing my efforts on the production side of the album. We were also really happy to have the opportunity for it to be professionally mastered by Jason Livermore at Blasting Room studios. So, in short, alongside the great songwriting, a lot of production improvements were made on 'Threat' that gave it that extra kick."
There are several truly memorable tracks on 'Threat'. Phil and Sef
named their favourites. Said Phil, "'Land Of Me' was an old song that
I had written the main riff to a while back. I really liked how it
sounded but was never able to get a full song finished. When we jammed
it out as a band, the rest fell into place really fast and Sef's
lyrics speak truth about how we have become in today's society. We
have to start thinking outside of our own little worlds and reach out
Sef continued, "One of my favourite songs on the album, 'One Cause One Fight', took about six months to actually write. We had the initial idea within minutes, but for some reason had no luck developing the song. We even put it aside for a couple of months because we got pretty frustrated with it. I finally had a lyric concept for the song which somehow gave us what we needed to get back on it and make it one of the fan favourites."
Seth spoke for his bandmates when he attempted to tie down what False Idle are endeavouring to do spiritually. "As a band we just want to give hope to those without. It's so easy in our society to get dragged down by expectations and keeping up with the status quo, but Jesus is the anti-status quo. He said to love those who hate you, and to change your mind away from what is 'normal' to the world, just by knowing him more. So in that sense, we're very much anti-conformity if conforming means to serve ourselves at the expense of others. And personally, within the band, we're about reality in our hearts and lives. We're not always wandering around with smiles plastered on our faces just to LOOK like we've got it all together. Life is messy! But when life does get messy, my bandmates are the ones who hear about it and are the ones who encourage me. I'm pretty sure not every band is like that!"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.