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Members include Alex Albert, drums; Steven Dail, bass; Andrew Schwab, vocals; Randy Torres, guitar. Addresses: Business--Project 86, 2525 Perimeter Place Dr., Ste. 112-A, Nashville, TN 37214. Website--Project 86 Official Website: http://www.project86.com/.
Known for what Ron Gonzalez in the Albuquerque Journal called "a blisteringly heavy sound," Christian rock band Project 86 combines intense playing with lyrics inspired by the members' Christian beliefs. Influenced by hip-hop and heavy metal, as well as by bands like Sepultra and the Deftones, Project 86's music is anything but soft. Although the members of the band consider themselves "spiritual brothers," they also view themselves as "raw rockers," according to a reviewer in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Friends Andrew Schwab, Randy Torres, Alex Albert, and Steven Dail formed the band in Orange County, California, in 1996. In 1998 they released their self-titled debut album, Project 86, on independent label Tooth and Nail Records. Drawing on the speed-punk sound that originated in Southern California, the album was successful enough to earn them a contract with Atlantic Records for their major-label debut, Drawing Black Lines.
Drawing Black Lines was produced by GGGarth, who had also produced albums for bands such as Rage Against the Machine and the Melvins. Campus Life reviewer Chris Lutes praised the album's "rapcore intensity." On the Real Magazine website a reviewer praised the band's combination of hardcore, heavy-metal intensity and positive lyrical undertone, commenting that "this CD gets the job done without having some idiot telling you to break stuff or to kill your friends."
The album sold mainly through word-of-mouth and the band's touring, and had astonishing success for an unpromoted record; within a year, 100,000 copies had been sold. Fans loved the band's combination of hardcore sound and meaningful lyrics, and the band's fan base included both Christian fans and heavy-metal fans. However, this success also brought the inevitable questions from those who wanted the band to fit a neat, easy label: what kind of a band were they? Were they Christian, or were they rockers?
Schwab, who graduated from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, with a degree in communications, told Ron Gonzalez in the Albuquerque Journal that the band did not believe in going to a show and preaching, but relied on their music and lyrics to get the message across. "We're going to carry ourselves like a normal band," Schwab said. "Hopefully people will like our music and investigate into the band. ... and they will learn our beliefs."
In an interview posted on the Decapolis website, Schwab said that many Christians seemed to think that in order to be Christian, the band should have more overtly Christian content in their performances. He disagreed, noting that the best way to "glorify God" is to "put out the best art possible." He said that the insistence that music be preachy resulted from "an ignorance thing---a lack of understanding of how God works. It's a narrowmindedness ... of saying God only works one way. I think if you are Christians, God is going to come out somehow. That doesn't mean it's going to come out in the most obvious way."
Over the years the band has been called anything from "nu-metal" to "political," according to Mike Osegueda in the Fresno Bee. Lead singer Andrew Schwab told Osegueda that this was a natural result of the band's unique sound and outlook: "As soon as you step outside of the boundaries, you're met with skepticism, and we realize that. I think that's the fun challenge of it."
Schwab also told Osegueda that the band disliked the emphasis on marketing and gimmicks that is so prevalent in the music world. "The buying public is tired of ... being fed these prepackaged products that are bands. What we believe in is bands and music. We're not about the gimmicks, not about the hype."
The band has tried to balance their heavy metal sound with deeper messages. Schwab told John Serba in the Grand Rapids Press that they stood outside the heavy metal scene: "There's a lot of that kind of stuff out now, and a lot of it is crap. We don't want to just go out there and beat on things, and make people jump up and down and bang into each other. We try to present deeper messages in subtle ways by tuning into our emotions."
The band continued to defy categorization with their 2002 album Truthless Heroes. For this album, the band departed from the usual formula in order to present a concept album, a structure that was thought to be long-dead. The album's theme is the search for identity. The album includes 17 tracks, arranged like a television program, with four "commercial" skits in between, and with Schwab singing a first-person narrative to bind the tracks together. Schwab told Harmon that the album was "one-third personal commentary, one-third social commentary, and one-third commentary on our views about music as a whole." On the band's website he wrote that the album is "the story of modern civilization; all the answers we are feeding ourselves lead to nowhere. We have nowhere to turn and no one to look to. It is a story about self-loathing, the human void and the role that contemporary pop culture plays in exploiting our own insecurities."
In a Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service article, Rod Harmon praised the album, noting that it "takes the alienation of [Pink Floyd's] The Wall and backs it with a heavy-metal sound," and called it "a bold move" for the group. Schwab told Harmon, "Every band has a stereotype, whether they like it or not. We want to keep evolving and challenging ourselves artistically so that we defy our stereotype. Our last record was more of a metal record, the one before that was hard-core, and this is a rock record. We are at a new place as a band."
Although Timeless Heroes was completed before the Iraq war began, may of the themes in it reflect the uncertain times that led to the war. Schwab told Osegueda, "I think what is productive is asking questions. Saying to ourselves as free-thinking citizens, why are we going to war? Why are we over there?"
In 2004 the band returned to Tooth and Nail Records with Songs to Burn Your Bridges By. On the Punknews website a reviewer commented that "the album's opening barrage" of songs will "pound the listener into submission with aggressive guitar lines and yelled choruses that are so abrasive they're catchy," followed by more melodic tracks.
Schwab summed up the band's philosophy for Serba: "What we're going to do is write the most creative and inspired music we can, and let the chips fall where they may. If people hate us for it, that's fine, but we stuck to our guns. I think it's important for bands to do that." And on the band's website he wrote, "The music we write is the process of self-discovery amidst a musical and cultural landscape that is uninspiring at best. We hope to be a small light of true inspiration in the middle of our new millennium of consumer-friendly art and sound."
by Kelly Winters
Project 86's Career
Formed in 1996; released self-titled debut album, Project 86, 1998; released Drawing Black Lines, 2000; released Truthless Heroes, 2002; released Music to Burn Your Bridges By, 2004.
- Selected discography
- Project 86 Tooth and Nail, 1998.
- Drawing Black Lines Atlantic, 2000.
- Truthless Heroes Atlantic, 2002.
- Music to Burn Your Bridges By Tooth and Nail, 2004.
- Albuquerque Journal, May 28, 2004, p. 20.
- Campus Life, May 2001, p. 22.
- Fresno Bee, March 28, 2003, p. E1.
- Grand Rapids Press, May 4, 2001, p. 12.
- Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, April 18, 2003, p. K3277.
- Wisconsin State Journal, April 6, 2000, p. 18.
- "God's Gift to Music," Gamecock, http://www.dailygamecock.com/news/2002/10/09/TheMix/Gods-Gift.To.Music-293106.shtml (October 21, 2004).
- "Project 86," Punknews, http://www.punknews.org/reviews.php?op=albumreview&id=3034 (October 21, 2004).
- "Project 86," Real Magazine, http://www.realmagazine.com/new/reviews/project86.html (October 21, 2004).
- "Project 86 Interview," Decapolis, http://www.decapolis.com/musicreviews/interviews/project86.shtml (October 21, 2004).
- Project 86 Official Website, http://www.project86.com/ (October 19, 2004).
Project 86 Lyrics
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