The latest addition from Dreamt Music is a band called ABEL from Poughkeepsie, NY. Their EP The Honest Love is a powerful, compelling effort that Indie music fans are sure to take note of. ABEL has played Cornerstone and plan to tour a good deal in support of their new effort. He is a recent interview we conducted with one of the members of this exciting new entity…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Abel, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Kevin Kneifel and I’m the vocalist and guitarist of the band ABEL. The other members are Alex David on bass guitar and John Rell III on drums. We’ve been a band for about a year now – which seems a lot longer than it really is.
Where is the band from and what is your local music scene like there?
Our band is from Poughkeepsie, NY. We’ve all been in other bands in the Poughkeepsie scene at one point or another–Alex and I were in a different band together for a few years, but we toured a lot more than we played locally. Poughkeepsie is a really interesting place for music. We have The Chance venue, which is pretty much home to all of the bands from around here. I think, as of late, people know Poughkeepsie best for bands like Just Surrender and Matchbook Romance–maybe for companies like Glamour Kills Clothing as well. We’ve got a pretty substantial pop music scene, but there are strong Indie rock and hardcore scenes there if you look in the right places.
How did you wind up signing to Dreamt Music?
Jason from Facedown Records caught wind of us through our good friend and current manager, Josh Niemiera. Josh actually reached out to Jason without telling anyone–so we were pretty floored when he called to tell us that Jason loved the music and was interested in having ABEL join the Dreamt Music roster.
What exactly is The Honest Love (besides the name of the great new Abel EP)?
The Honest Love represents the kind of love we are meant to have for one another. It’s easy to have conditional love–love based on circumstances and what pleases us–but to really care about others the way Jesus Christ did, that’s the kind of unconditional love that every person needs. That’s the kind of love we are trying to convey on this record–as well as how difficult it really is to love each other unconditionally, and how far we fall short of loving like that.
Where did you get the ideas for some of your lyrics on The Honest Love? Please cite two song examples and what they are about?
Most of the songs come from personal experience. The title track, The Honest Love, was written for my girlfriend, and the lyrics are about loving one another with that unconditional love and forgiveness I spoke about before–just framed within the context of our relationship. My Melody is another very personal song. It talks about how we often use the talents God’s given us in futile ways. Ultimately, I believe it’s when we use those talents to praise God that they are being used the right way–and we always see amazing things happen when we overcome our desires to build ourselves up, and use that energy for God instead. I think this band is a good example of that.
Do you consider Abel to be a ministry band? Why or why not?
I definitely do consider this band a ministry. When ABEL started, it’s original intention was to just be something we did to hang out and play music specifically for Christ and for each otherâ€”not necessarily something that was meant to be a full time thing.
Interestingly, it’s under this mindset that we’ve actually done the most as far as professional music is concerned. I think God uses people who have their hearts focused on Him, and it would be wasteful to not use our opportunities to tell people about Christ. We’re not perfect in any way, and it’s easy to lose focus on that goal, but ultimately, that’s what this band is for–praising God, and reaching hearts for Christ.
In this day and age, why do you think there are so many Christian ministry bands?
I think, for a while, there has been a lot of “Christian” bands where all that really means is just “Christians in a band.” In fact, I try to use the word “Christian” lightly when describing bands because that word has so many bad connotations in the realm of professional and independent music. Whether you want to label any band as Christian or not is just something people like to do to give themselves peace of mind–to wrap everything up into an easily digestible package that allows them to dismiss or embrace a band without actually hearing them. Christian music has been about marketing for too long, and I think there is a huge backlash right now because of it.
I think there is an urgency right now in newer Christian music about being upfront about the purpose of that music–it’s almost a “counter professional” revolution. Just look at the bands on Come & Live! They give their records away for free, and tour solely on the donations of the people they play for–specifically for the purpose of telling others about Christ.
Treating a band like a ministry is about being completely honest with your intentions and why you are playing–being forward about your love for Christ, and how Jesus has changed your life. As a ministry, the purpose is not to be big and famous. Christianity shouldn’t be something you use to sell lots of records. If our record blows up and we become a very popular band, then we have a bigger audience to speak to–and more opportunities to minister. If we release a few albums, tour endlessly, and never make a living out of this, then we’ve still done a good thing. The point is speaking openly and connecting with people about who Christ is.
How would you describe your music to a sweet, elderly church lady?
I’d tell her that we are loud rock and roll music with lyrics about how great Jesus is. I’d also ask her if she was familiar with the band Thrice. Everyone knows about Thrice, right?
What was your experience like playing Cornerstone this year?
This was my second year getting to play at the festival–and it was amazing. So many people in one place, treating each other with respect and with love, it’s almost too much to handle. I can hardly remember our performances because I was too busy running around catching up with people I haven’t talked to for a year, and seeing bands I’d never get to see otherwise.
What could one expect from a live Abel show?
I think people can expect a very intense live show. In fact, we’re told quite often that our live set is a lot edgier than our recorded music–which leads to a lot of people comparing us to bands like Brand New and As Cities Burn. I’m okay with that, though, because I love those bands–it’s very flattering.
How close are you to recording a full length CD?
I think people can expect to hear some new music from us before the end of Spring next year. We’ve got a handful of songs written, and a lot of ideas. Plans are to finish writing and record in early 2010.
Has Abel played here in the Los Angeles / Orange County area or do you plan to do so in the future?
We’re hoping to make it out to the west coast soon. We’ve not had the privilege of playing in the Los Angeles area, and I’m looking forward to changing that before the end of next year.
What is the most important thing you’d like a listener to remember after hearing The Honest Love for the very first time?
I’d like them to remember the closing song The World Sings–I’d like them to remember that even though we’re nothing like Christ, knowing Him can give us the strength to overcome anything.
Any final words of wisdom?
Check out the other bands on Dreamt Music. I promise you won’t be disappointed.