Fallstar is a melodic hardcore band from Portland, Oregon whose powerful tunes and passion for their beliefs are beginning to gain them notice well outside of the Pacific Northwest. On the spiritual side of the spectrum, Fallstar’s debut full-length album is entitled Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter. – a thoroughly enlightened work of sonic art that is absolute mesmerizing to behold. And their record label is basically giving it away for free!!! We recently spoke with one of the Fallstar members to find out more about amazing collective and their spiritual reconciliation through music…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Fallstar, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Bryan Ratzlaff and I play bass for Fallstar. The band has been around for a total of 6 years, but only recently solidified our current line-up.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are from Portland Oregon and the scene here is great. We have a venue that we help run called The Revolution Room a few miles from where we live and we are able to set up shows with bands we already know and bands we meet along the way. It’s really awesome because we get a chance to bring in kids who like all different kinds of music. The local scene and our own fan base is constantly growing, and we couldn’t be happier.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter? Please talk about those three words in particular and how they relate to the album.
Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter. definitely didn’t start out as a concept album, but as it progressed we all noticed a common theme. Every song on the record is about Jesus, which we already knew was the central theme. But underneath that, the album is a collection of stories of how we as a band and individuals have been rescued by our God from some crazy stuff in our lives. This is where the title of the record comes into play. Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter. is a description of the process of coming to God as we have seen in ourselves and in many others. First when we are reconciled to God we give up on trying to do everything without Him, and he welcomes us back instantly and with open arms. Then He starts to polish us up, working out all the kinks making us just like Him. The next step is describing, in a word, the way God brings us back to life. The easiest way to show this idea is with the example of fire. If one is lost and very cold, then comes across a blazing fire, that person knows instantly the difference between having a fire and not. This is the same thing we have noticed with God, as soon as you are set on fire by Him you know exactly what you was missing when you were away .
Please select two songs from the new CD and tell me what the lyrics are about/inspired by?
Two of the songs that really stand out lyrically are “Hunters” and “Windows”. “Hunters” is taken a verse in the bible that says that the violent take heaven by force. This hit all of us really hard because it expresses the urgency with which we chase after the kingdom of heaven. One needs to scrape and claw his or her way to heaven, trying their hardest every day. We are guaranteed heaven when we accept Jesus but those who really want it will take it by force. The other song, “Windows” is another great one because it is written from the point of view who believes there is a God but doesn’t know who He is. It’s a really beautiful progression of a person crying out and God answering them.
What was it like working at with Dan McCall of A Hope From Home and what did he contribute to the overall recording process.
Working with Dan was great. It took us 4 months of 11 hour days to complete the record and Dan was working his butt off the whole time. Not only did he record the album but he did a lot of producing work with us as well. He helped a lot with the vocal harmonies in the songs, he helped clean up some of my bass riffs, and did the same with the drums. We were very lucky to be able to record with him and we love the dude to death.
What is a live Fallstar show like for those of us who have yet to see you play?
The two words I could use to describe it are either wild, or violent. Not violent in the harmful sense, but violent in that we are unbarred, we move with a passion and a fire that is unquenchable. When you come to a show you will see God in one way or another, we won’t shove anything in your face, but He will be there, He is every time.
Have you ever played in the Los Angeles or Orange County area or plan to do so in the future?
Yes we just played The Cobalt Cafe with The Ghost Inside, Sovereign Strength and a few other rad bands in Canoga Park right outside LA in November 2010, and we play the same spot again on March 25th and again sometime in April.
What made you decide to go with the ComeandLive! label and basically give your album away?
The decision to go with ComeandLive! really wasn’t hard for us. It seems like a crazy thing to do, and when we told founder Chad Johnson we were in he even said that we were nuts for agreeing to be a part of the organization. But the reason behind us giving our music away is that we believe it was a gift to us in the first place, simple as that. We will always have our CDs for sale at shows, but you will also always have the option of getting it from ComeandLive.com site free of charge or for a donation.
Being on the Comeandlive! Label, would you consider Fallstar a Christian band or ministry? Why or why not?
Yes I would say that we are a ministry based band. We have a reason for what we do and we stay true to it. Every member of this band has such a wild story of how we ended up here in Fallstar, and each one of us could talk for hours about how much different our lives are since we found God. We have seen that things can be better, and we think it would be wrong to keep that to ourselves.
What was the experience like playing on the Warped Tour and do you think you’ll be on again this year?
Playing Warped Tour is really a dream come true for me, as I’m sure it is for the rest of the band as well. I was 19 the first time Fallstar played, and for a kid who had never even dreamed it as a possibility six months prior, it was pretty surreal. I think there is a very good chance we will be playing again this year. We have a strong base of supporters who are voting for us every day on the Warped Tour Battle of the Bands site, and anybody else who votes would be much appreciated. Even if you aren’t from the Portland area it helps us out a whole lot. Go vote!
Have you ever played Cornerstone? If so, what was that experience like?
We have not played Cornerstone yet. 2011 will be our first year playing and we are really excited about it. ComeandLive has had a stage up these last few years but we didn’t have the means to get out there when it was time. This year there is no way we are going to miss it.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter for the very first time?
We want them to remember that the songs are for them individually. If they ever, even for a second, felt like the lyrics were talking to or about them in any way, it’s because they are. We want them to know that they are loved so much more than they could ever imagine.
Any final words of wisdom?
This is something Chris wrote and put in the liner notes of our CD. “We wrote these songs in the joy and worship of our God, and in this music we hope to give you a glimpse of who He is. Each one of us in this band was once so utterly lost and hopeless, until we put our trust in Jesus. He is God’s son sent to die for the wrongs we did, so we can be reconciled to God. We feel the beauty and peace of that every day and we hope to share that with you.” That’s really the only wisdom any of us know.
Fallstar is Chris Ratzlaff on vocals, Justin Haag on guitar, Bryan Ratzlaff on bass, Jason Brown on guitar, and Cody Carrier on drums.
(Interview by Kenneth Morton – Photo by Kevin Farris)