Saturday, August 8, 2015
If there were a music industry award for a tireless, endless work ethic and perseverance throughout trying times, it would unequivocally go to Columbia/INO Records’ Decyfer Down. The North Carolina-bred band toured endlessly through the last half of the 2000’s, opening for national bands such as Crossfade, Breaking Benjamin, Skillet, Disciple and Theory of a Dead Man. Add in “Fight Like This,” a charting active rock single which was featured as a promotional song for UFC, Fading, a charting CHR single, Crash, which was featured in WWE Smackdown montage, and 7 Christian rock number ones, and you can see how God has used this band and their music to push through boundaries in both music genre and ministry.
While the band has clearly been able to embody its artistic calling, its Grammy nominated breakthrough CD Crash almost never happened, given a near tragedy that found the foursome literally fighting for their lives. In addition to the basic perils of the road (including two robberies that resulted in missing equipment), the guys faced an even more alarming accident. While a fender bender could easily be forgotten, it’s been much harder to shake visions of the group’s tour van veering off the road during an icy snow storm, colliding with a parked car, spinning across three lanes of traffic (with trailer in tow) and crashing against a guard rail.
“After the accident, we all questioned what we were doing because that was just another factor in it being such a big sacrifice to be on the road,” guitarist Brandon Mills recalls, also citing the fact that the guys miss their families when they’re gone. “When we posted a blog on our MySpace page explaining what happened, it was so encouraging to see a whole page full of thoughts and support from people all over the country—and other countries as well—plus people who told us how much our music meant to them. That really helped us see that we are meant to do this, and even though we still run into obstacles, we’re a better band because of it.”
As much as Crash is a metaphor for Decyfer Down’s ability to rise above its most straining circumstances, it’s also a call to action for anyone downtrodden to bounce back from whatever hurdle may hang between where they are and what they hope to achieve. “It’s an impact of our ideals and beliefs in today’s culture and it’s why we have named our album Crash,” continues drummer Josh Oliver. “Our life experiences have lead us to where we are right now and circumstances that once affected our lives can no longer control us. This is just a way of expressing and illustrating the scars and the breakthroughs in our lives.”
From a strictly musical perspective, Crash comes under the production helm of Paul Ebersold (3 Doors Down, Saliva, Sister Hazel) and further amplifies the band’s bone crushing execution, razor sharp riffs, and monstrous melodies. As a result, Decyfer Down maintains a remarkably relevant spot within the active rock scene, evoking the likes of Sevendust, Shinedown, Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Hinder or Seether, while still maintaining its own alternative and inventive stamp.
Four years after the release of Crash, The band had written 90 songs and struggled with the music industry’s need to take more and give less. The band, along with producer Paul Ebersold, decided to go a different direction. “We wanted to write a record as a tribute to the bands that influenced us growing up. The one’s who inspired us to pick up a guitar for the first time.” Says front man TJ Harris. And Scarecrow was born.
Thematically, the album boldly strikes a balance between calling out the prideful while also recognizing a personal need for grace, backing it up with aggressive guitar grit and striking melodies. The record is a throwback with recognizable influences from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Sound Garden, Stone Temple Pilots, and more. Not a record for genre snobs, but for rock enthusiasts.
This third endeavor also finds the players digging in an even more mature lyrical direction that simultaneously meets listeners of any association exactly where they are, while challenging them to take inventory of their own lives and delivering a Christ centered message.
“As has been the band’s tradition, Scarecrow is certainly capable of connecting with crowds, if only for the unflinching degree of honesty within the lyrics and the overall vibe of the album,” notices TJ Harris. “As a band, our hope is that listeners will be inspired to explore themselves to an even deeper degree and that’s an energy I continue to feel every time we deliver these songs on stage.”
Now, in 2015, while writing for a new record, Decyfer Down is on the road again with the likes of Disciple, Seventh Day Slumber, and Nine Lashes with a renewed since of purpose and drive to bring a message of hope through Jesus Christ to all that will listen.