True Liberty: Christian Punks in the City

From the city that has spawned such rock legends as GWAR and Avail comes True Liberty, a Christian punk rock band who are really making a name for themselves all across the country.  Their latest collection of anthems entitled City Of The One has just been released through Wounded Records.  They guys have been on multiple tours, including four visits to the much revered Cornerstone Festival.  Here is an interview conducted with two of the members to find out more about this inspirational collective…

Introduce yourself, what you do in True Liberty, and how long the band has been together?
Hey, this is Aaron. I play drums. Mike, I play guitar and sing…. I guess you could say I’m the face and voice of the band. (sorry, inside joke) The band formed in Oct 2005

Richmond, Virginia seems to have a thriving music scene. What are your impressions of the local music scene and how does True Liberty fit into the scheme of things?
Aaron
:  Seems to have a thriving scene. There are periods when it is phenomenal, other times it is dried up. I knew that Richmond was a big music town, Avail and Gwar and a bunch of other great bands have come out of the RVA. When I moved to Richmond in 2002 it was amazing. Tons of clubs, tons of bands, sometimes as many as 4 huge shows in a week. I remember seeing Mad Sin, Oxymoron, The Business, and The Supersuckers all in the same week! Currently there are a bunch of smaller venues really taking off and hosting some great shows, and with newly re-opened venues like The National, and The Hat Factory, we are getting some bigger shows too. I’d say Richmond is on the rise again as a music city. True Liberty has made its mark, we’ve played most of the venues and with a lot of the local bands, but we have better luck out on the road with things.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title City Of The One?
Aaron
:  I guess I could make something cool sounding up, but not really. But it worked out that way though. I actually was telling a friend of mine about a song I was working on, she asked “which one is it?”   I told her that it was a new one, she didn’t quite hear me. She said “ City of The One? “  No , it’s a new one, I said…..but wait…that’s kind of awesome. We get inspiration from the weirdest places. But this record , like our other ones, is about our lives, our experiences, and our faith.

Tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics on the terrific opening track Revolution?
Aaron
:  I wrote the lyrics to Revolution sitting in church. My pastor was talking giving his testimony. He was talking about his addiction to alcohol and how he was destroying his life, and he became a Christian and started following Jesus, and how his life was never the same again. His story is very similar to mine, and as he poured out his story on stage, I sat there reflecting on my own story and started writing. God has done so much for me and I am amazed at how my life has changed knowing Him; it’s a story that I can not keep to myself.

Please pick two other songs from the new CD and what inspired you to write the lyrics?
Mike: I wrote the song “Home” last year out on tour. My wife and I were going through a tuff time and while we were at Cornerstone I heard someone preach about marriage. I started praying for God to repair the damage in our relationship. I guess the song is less about me being away from her while on tour and more about being away from her in my heart.
Aaron: “Here to stay” is a huge song for me. I wrote it after Mike and I had a pretty intense conflict, and honestly it nearly broke the band up. Of course things worked out and we are still together. But realizing that we should not be fighting each and focusing on our real enemy, its like a song letting the Devil know that we are gonna throw down on him.

Would you consider True Liberty to be a Christian band or ministry? Why or why not?
Aaron & Mike
:  Yes, True Liberty is a Christian band, this band is our ministry. We have our faults, and we have certainly had our moments when we really messed up, but with all our hearts we want this to be a ministry that is used to share the love and truth of Christ with others.
Aaron: My life is centered on Jesus, I can’t imagine spending time in a band, or on anything for that matter, that doesn’t reflect that.

What was the experience like playing Cornerstone and how many times have you played the event?
Aaron & Mike
:  Ahh, Cornerstone. We love it. We have played out at the festival in IL 4 times now, and plan to return again next year. It is truly amazing out there. For us it feels like a family reunion. There are dozens of amazing bands that we love that we get to hang out with and play with every year. We love the fact that you can, as a band, basically just show up and play, thanks to the generator stages. That’s what we did our first year. We had one slot on our labels stage, but when we got there we were given several opportunities to play on other stages. The festival has been huge for us. It encourages us, it lets us know that we are not alone in our struggle to be a Christian band in this world. At home there are not many bands that like us because of what we sing about, but Cornerstone feels like home. We don’t know anywhere else where you can leave $15,000 in gear on the side of a stage overnight and know that it will be there in the morning. It’s a family, and even though we are new on the scene, we feel welcome there.

Have you ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
Aaron & Mike
:  We have not been out to LA yet. We are looking at the option for our summer 2011 tour. We have people in Costa Rica, Argentina, London, and all over trying to get us out to there area. We have families and young children and it’s hard to be out on the road as much as we want to be, but we are working to make bigger tours possible soon.

What could one expect from a live True Liberty show?
Aaron
:  Live we get compared to the Ramones a lot. 20 songs in 30 minuets. Fast, furious, loud and proud. We do a few different types of shows though. We play for churches often where we are allowed to share our testimonies and speak. We do shows for the military at Air Force, Army, and Navy bases that are a thing all on their own and tons of fun. But we love when we get to roll into filthy punk rock dive bars and just tear it up.

How truly punk is it to be Christian? Do you ever have that question asked from secular punk bands?
Aaron
:  The thing is, we are not trying to be a punk Christian band as some kind of gimmick. We were into punk rock before we really new who God was. It’s who we are. We thrive on the energy and the passion in the scene. I grew up playing in punk bands, going to punk shows. I loved the attitude, the sense of family in the scene, and the sense of being part of something bigger than yourself. I felt like I was part of a movement that was going to change the world. But there was a lot of anger and a lot of hurt in the people all around me. I’ve seen bands get up and preach unity, and talk about fighting the real enemy ( society ), we are doing much of the same now, just with a different perspective. We fight against the things and the ruler of this world. Not buying the lies Satan tells us and fighting against him with everything we’ve got, and with God on our side, we can’t lose. The reason for this band is to use what we know and love to reach out to those that are now where we were. The lost, the broken, the hurting, those rejected by society, rejected by their families, we want to show them that God loves them, we want to show them that we love them and that God offers hope.

What is the first punk rock record you ever bought?
Mike
: “Sorry ma, forgot to take out the trash” by The Replacements. That is still one of my favorite albums. Short, fast, hard driving songs
Aaron: “Nevermind the Bullocks “by the Sex Pistols was it for me. I love it. Simple and aggressive. Despite everything that is still one of my favorite all time albums.

What would you like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
Aaron & Mike
:  That God loves them. We don’t want to push our faith on others, and we certainly are not pedaling religion. The biggest thing is that we want everyone to know that no matter what, God loves them. No matter who they are, or what they’ve done, God loves them. And we hope that is the start of something life changing for them.

Any final words of wisdom?
Aaron
:  Support local music, don’t do drugs and be cool, stay in school. But for real, we are always open to talking with anyone that has more questions for us or if anyone wants to talk about anything. Thanks so much Ken and everyone at Highwire Daze for taking time to talk with us.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

True Liberty on Myspace

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