Lastest release: Breaker (Facedown)
In 1987, US evangelist and anti-rock campaigner Jimmy Swaggert published a book called Religious Rock n Roll – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, criticising bands for using heavy metal to preach the Gospels. Only months later, Swaggert was busted with a hooker in a motel room, proving him to be even more of a hypocrite than his book suggested was true for groups like Stryper. Even as Christian metal and hardcore bands breech the mainstream 23 years after Swaggert’s blubbering “I have sinned!” speech, Sioux City, Iowa’s For Today still occasionally come up against those who see them as the false prophets Jesus warned of in Matthew.
“Really, it all boils down to that famous quote from the Bible, ‘Watch for a wolf in sheep’s clothing’,” suggests drummer David Morrison. “That’s what a lot of conservative Christians worry about when they say, ‘Oh you say you’re a Christian band, but you play this evil music and people are moshing and you’re all wolves in sheeps’ clothing’. We’ve even had relatives who’ve said they don’t know if they want to let their kids come to see us, because we say we’re a Christian band but the music sounds so scary. But we show them the lyrics and they’re like, ‘OK, this is the same stuff you hear in church. Maybe it’s not so bad!’”
Six years and three albums into their career, For Today’s mission now is as lucid as it was when they first started. In other interviews and in their press releases, vocalist Mattie Montgomery makes it clear that their Christian message is more important than the music they make.
“We use the band as a tool to get the Word out there about Jesus and about the Gospel,” Morrison says. “For us it’s like we were given the gift to play our instruments, and for Mattie it’s to sing. So we felt like we would be wasting that if we were using those for any other reason. We believe in Jesus as the Saviour. We believe He saved us all from having to live hopeless or depressed. All of us come from Christian backgrounds, in the band. Some of the guys were drug dealers, and addicted to stuff, and now everyone has been set free. So we feel like it is our duty to not keep that for ourselves. It’s exciting news that should be for everyone. We like to talk about it when we play.”
With the lingering suspicion that surrounds extreme music to many of those of Christian faith, one could well ask why For Today decided to play metalcore to get their message across instead of some other more acceptable form of music. Morrison explains that they “just [felt] that it was a calling,” and goes on to say that spreading the Word will be their purpose regardless of what the future holds.
“Who knows how long For Today will be a band?” he says. “We’ve been going now for six years, who knows if we’ll be doing that our whole lives, playing metal music? But the goal for us is that whatever we’re doing, whether we’re working in a library or playing in a metal band or we’re a pastor in church, that we’re preaching the Gospel wherever we’re at.”
That includes shows in front of crowds that may not necessarily always be sympathetic to their beliefs. After 2009’s Portraits climbed to #14 on Billboard’s Heetseeker chart, For Today suddenly found their audience had crossed over into the mainstream and they weren’t just hitting the road with other Christian acts anymore. David Morrison says that doesn’t matter. His band will always continue to deliver the same message.
“The last couple of years we’ve definitely been on a lot of mainstream tours where we’ll be the only Christian band,” he says. “So you could say we’re playing to a majority of, secular if you must, crowd who may not even believe or like the things we stand for and preach about. But we don’t change our show or compromise anything for that. We do our thing and talk about what we believe in, and a lot of times we find we’ve had opposition from the Christian bands we’ve toured with but get better respect from the non-Christian bands we tour with. Like some of our best friends are in bands that don’t claim to be Christian. I think they have a lot of respect for people who hold true to what they believe in.”
Some bands have distanced themselves from their links to the Christian scene as their mainstream profile has grown, while others have shifted their identity from a Christian band to a band made up of Christians, as if that’s not the same thing. But that’s not what For Today is about. Morrison is proud of what he is, and what For Today stands for.
“For us it would be like really doing an injustice to ourselves to be like that. We are a band of Christians, not just Christians in a band. We don’t do this solely to play music. The world doesn’t need another band, but the world will always need more people to preach the Gospel.”