Onward To Olympas is destined to become the next big band on the Facedown label. Their debut release The World Is Not My Home is filled with compelling musicianship and thought provoking lyrics. On the spiritual side of the spectrum, this dynamic collective from North Carolina is ready to take their message and metallic hardcore tunes onward and upward throughout the entire country. Here is a recent interview we conducted with one of the guys…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Onward To Olympas, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Andrew Higginbotham, and I am a guitarist for Onward To Olympas. I do most of the lead work, and the other guitarist is the one with the pretty voice (laughs). The current line-up of members that make up our band has been together for nearly 2 years now, with the exception of Kramer. He joined the band in January of 2009.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
The band is based out of the Piedmont region of North Carolina. We claim the city of Charlotte, but the members are scattered up the I-85 and I-77 corridor from Mooresville and Kannapolis, to Salisbury and High Point. The scene at one time was huge here, but, it seems things have sort of calmed down in some ways. Great clubs that were once the place to be for concert goers have become a little harder to find, but there are some gems still out there. But, even with things sometimes seeming a little faint, there are still loyal fans that come and rock out. Those people make everything that we do worthwhile.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title The World Is Not My Home?
The idea comes from our purpose as both a band and as people. We are all Christians in this band, and, it is our belief that this world that we live in is only temporary. We also believe that it is our purpose in life to share God’s love, and to let everyone know that our home is not here, but in Heaven. To us, death is not the end of everything, but it is the beginning of an eternity with our Lord.
Pick two songs from the CD and tell me what the lyrics are inspired by.
Unstoppable is an anthem for us as Christians to know that as the body of Christ we are ‘unstoppable’ when it comes to Satan trying to take us down. The battle is over, and according to the scriptures as well as our faith in Christ, we have already won. The song also addresses the idea of “God Free Youth” and how it leads to separation for God, who loves us unconditionally. It states that “standing side by side with the one who died for me” is what Christianity is all about, and through our faith, we can’t be brought down. This song gives an account to that idea, and is a way to get you pumped. Whether you are on a mountain top or in a deep valley, it is good to know that with God, you are unstoppable.
Sink or Swim talks of how an overwhelming sense of hatred can take over a person’s life, and make them feel like they are stuck to a pole with the tide coming in. Every person has experienced anger, and most know how it can just overcome you, controlling your every action. This song describes how to overcome that anger and bitterness, creating “the start of something new.” No one has to live in anger or intense hatred. It is unhealthy and makes life miserable. With forgiveness, which is a staple in the Christian faith, you can put things behind you, and swim on through the journey of life, rather than letting hate and bitterness drag you down like a millstone tied to your foot.
How did you wind up signing to Facedown Records?
After we recorded the record and had it mastered with Jamie King, he sent the album off to some labels to see if anyone was interested in signing us. About a month went by, and we were just still plugging away, trying to stay busy with shows and then one day a MySpace message came from Facedown Records. It was from Jason Dunn himself (owner of Facedown Records). After a short negotiation period (and a lot of pinches to make sure we weren’t dreaming), we signed to Facedown Records in late September of 2009. Facedown was at the very TOP of our list of prospective record labels that we would’ve liked to been a part of, and to have them contact us was nothing short of a dream come true. We are elated to be a part of such a first class organization with great faculty and great bands, and we are looking forward to what this year brings with our freshman release on the label.
The cover art seems perfect for the CD. How much input did you have on the Dave Quiggle artwork?
Our bassist actually came up with the idea for the CD cover, and did some research on it. We took this research, along with scripture from Revelation 21:1-2, where New Jerusalem descends from Heaven. We presented these ideas to Dave, and the result is what you see on the album. He did an amazing job, and we could not be happier with the design.
Would you consider Onward To Olympas a Christian band or ministry? Why or why not?
We consider ourselves to be Christians in a band, and our band has a message that is both positive, and faith-based. Oftentimes the term ‘Christian band’ causes a sort of automatic categorization of any band into one genre that is assumed to be “choir music.” I always find it funny that in any music section in a store, you have Rock, Metal, Rap, Country, and then “Christian,” where every band from Grits to August Burns Red can be found in the same sub-category. We aren’t ashamed to be labeled Christians, and we definitely want that aspect of our music to be up front. But, we do not consider ourselves to be a “ministry-based band” either. We don’t preach to our audience at every show, and we don’t have an alter call at the end. We respect those who do this, but it is just not what we feel led to do. The way we look at it is, most musicians that write their own music choose to talk about what they are passionate about. For some, it is drugs, others relationships or just life in general. We are passionate about our Faith in God, and what He has done in our lives, so this is what we choose to write about. We also talk about relationships, dealing with drug addiction, and even about being “God Free.” But through it all, we just want to share the positive message of Christ through our music, so that it might have an impact on anyone who chooses to listen to us.
How long did it take you to shoot the video for Sink or Swim and is there any story or concept behind the video?
We shot the video over two days in Florida. It was a two location shoot, with underwater shots on the first day near Ocala, and then live action shots on the American Victory WWII merchant vessel in Tampa Bay. The director Drew Russ took the reigns as far as concept goes, and we just did what he thought would be the best for his idea. We also worked with Michael Dalton, who was the videographer for the shoot. They were both great to work with, and the video should be a great one. From what Drew has told us, it’s going to be more of an art-based concept video with lots of filters and neat angles. The underwater shots should be pretty awesome, as they looked cool when we reviewed them on camera. The water on location was very clear, and we were able to a lot of neat things with that location. We are very excited to see what Drew comes up with!
What could one expect from a live Onward To Olympas show?
Except a high energy, full metal onslaught with towering guitar stack and a thunderous tone that hits you right in the chest. We like to think that every performance should bring forth 110% of our focus and energy, and we want to bring everything we’ve got at every performance. Studio magic is great and all, and protools can make a musician out of just about anyone with some computer skills, but, we want to make our recordings come to life. We want to give the audience what they paid for, which is an awesome show, and something to remember even after it is over.
Have you ever played live in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
We have not yet had the chance to travel to LA to play, but we hope to be over that way in the somewhat near future. I personally have never been that far West, and am very anxious to see what the scene is like in one of the biggest cities of the music industry in the US.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing The World Is Not My Home for the very first time?
We want them to hear the message through the music. Of course we’d like the listener to enjoy it enough to want to listen to it again, and maybe even catch themselves humming our tune while walking around town. But, the most important thing that we want to come across through the speakers is that God loves you, and that he is always there for you no matter what.
What was your favorite CD of 2009 and why?
Constellations by August Burns Red. I look up to those guys both musically and as individuals. The album is a great follow up to Messengers, and the songs are so well written. I told JB that I was pleased to hear some lead work on this album! They are one of my favorite bands. I have had the privilege of meeting them a couple of times at shows and they are truly great individuals; very humble and deserving of every accolade they receive.
If you could be a donut, what kind would you be and why?
I think I’d like to be a chocolate covered glazed donut with sprinkles. I like those the best and that would probably best represent what some call my “colorful” personality.
Any final words of wisdom?
Make music that #1 – you enjoy playing, and #2- write from the heart. Music without passion is just noise, and there seems to be a lot of that in the industry today. If you are looking to be picked up by a label, stay persistent and get a GOOD, quality recording of your music. Play as many shows as you can, and get as much exposure as you can. There is no formula to getting “signed,” it all comes down to being noticed by the right person at the right time. If it is meant to be, it will happen in time, just be sure to take those extra steps to make your band stand out from the thousands of others that are striving towards that same goal.
Onward To Olympas on Myspace