Christian hardcore band For Today sing the praises of Jesus Christ over heavy, destructive instrumentation. Though some may say religion and faith in the “scene” is detrimental to what hardcore and metal are all about, music brings forth the ability to catch a wider audience in promoting one’s message more so than traditional services and ritual alone.
You may recall that a (now former) member of For Today expressed his disdain and disapproval of a certain segment of the world’s population (gays and lesbians) by posting disparaging comments via social media, comments not approved of or expressly presented by the band as a whole. The group has replaced said member, and like any professional, working group of musicians who want to continue pursuing their dream, For Today now has the difficult task of separating themselves from a mutiny that occurred.
This interview is meant to support a touring band, not to belittle or otherwise attempt to slander a group of guys who are already hurting from the misdeeds of one of their own. Remember, hardcore music is about self-expression, release, and spreading a message. We can’t/won’t always agree on what is said, but whether you agree/disagree and for better/worse, it does provide a medium for thought. I got in contact with vocalist Mattie Montgomery to discuss the band’s formation and music, talk about their current headlining tour, and their plans for the rest of 2013.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! If you could, please introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
Mattie Montgomery – Vocalist – Mobile, AL
Ryan Leitru – Guitarist – Oklahoma City, OK
Brandin Leitru – Bassist – Trenton, OH
Sam Penner – Guitarist – Albuquerque, NM
David Puckett – Drummer – Denver, CO
G- How long has For Today been a group and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click,” and when did you decide to make the jump in becoming a full-time act?
M- For Today started in 2005. While the band has existed for 8+ years, we really “clicked” toward the end of 2007, when I joined the band, just as the band was starting to tour full time. We also got signed to our first record label, Facedown Records, at that point. I think that’s when it really got serious.
G- So tell me a bit about where you are from… How is the hardcore/metal scene in Sioux City, Iowa and how are the responses at your shows?
There really isn’t a hardcore/metal scene in Sioux City, IA. There’s not really ANYTHING in Sioux City, Iowa! Haha.
Like I said, I joined the band just as we started touring full time, so I wasn’t around for much of the local glory of For Today. But the band’s former drummer, David Morrison, was Sioux City’s most successful show promoter. He brought bands like Haste The Day, Chiodos, and A Day To Remember to play in For Today’s backwoods little hometown. So, once For Today took it to the next level and started touring nationally, there wasn’t much of a local scene left, because the city’s main promoter had just gone on the road forever.
G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
M- It’s really diverse. We’ve been influenced by everything from death metal bands to worship bands. We’re sort of always looking for cool ideas that we could shake up and make our own.
G- What is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
M- I write all the lyrics, but generally the two brothers (Ryan and Brandon Leitru) will get together and write most of the music. Ryan will record it on his computer (he’s an audio engineer), and then e-mail it to the rest of us. Then, we all suggest changes to the songs. It’s a group effort, but we couldn’t make it happen without Ryan and Brandon.
G- Back to why we’re here in the first place, can you tell us a bit about your music and songs? As a Christian band, you obviously perform in the name of Jesus Christ, but where else do you find the inspiration to write your new material, topically or otherwise?
M- When I write lyrics, I want to fulfill a need. I will prayerfully consider this question: “What do people in our music scene need to hear?” And then I’ll write that. For example, while considering that question, I thought to myself, “Fear is absolutely crippling our generation—people are afraid of failure, they’re afraid of rejection, they’re afraid of their own potential. Something needs to be said to help address that, and free them from that fear! And, boom: “Fearless,” the first single from our album “Immortal” was born.
G- What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road, and what should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
M- Intensity and aggression. We always call it “going to war.” Many bands stand on stage and just play their music, but when we get up there, we put all our hearts into it. We walk off the stage exhausted and dripping with sweat. But, while we’re up there, our hearts are fully exposed and fully engaged in inspiring the crowd to step up and become the revolution they’ve been waiting for.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you were to select 1 For Today song to give someone who’d never heard the group before to make a new fan, what track would you offer them and why?
M- Probably “Fearless.” (I think “Devastator” deserves an honorable mention though). But, “Fearless” is, I think, the most accurate and complete presentation of who For Today is, musically and spiritually.
G- You’ve shared the stage with some of the most popular acts currently on the metal circuit at this point, but are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could curate a feasible 3-band dream lineup that For Today would be a part of, who would you want to tour with and why?
M- Well, since this is my dream lineup, I’ll go a little outside the box on this one: For Today, Incubus, and Rage Against The Machine haha. I have thought those two bands were rad for as long as I can remember, and I think Zack from Rage and Brandon from Incubus both have hearts that make me think—if they really saw Jesus for the revolutionary, counter-cultural figure He is—they would absolutely love Him.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date with For Today? Where was it and what was it like?
M- It was actually pretty recent. About 2 months ago, in San Antonio, someone stole our van and trailer, with all of our gear in it. We had a whole lighting rig, amps, backdrops, you name it, in that trailer—so it was a VERY expensive loss for us. That night, we were scheduled to headline the House of Blues in Houston. So, we rented two cars, and drove to Houston. That night, 1300 kids came out and (while watching For Today play on borrowed gear, with no light show or backdrop) COMPLETELY lost their minds. It was one of the most insane shows we’ve ever played. At one point, while I was trying to talk, the crowd started chanting “For Today! For Today!” It was such a surreal and incredibly honoring experience.
G- Lastly, as a band that is currently building, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
M- Have fun. Your band may break up tomorrow, or you may keep doing this for 30 years. But either way, if you’re not having fun, you’re wasting your time. Even if you only play 1 show with your band, don’t stress out about “making it,” otherwise, when/if you DO make it, you won’t be able to enjoy it.