“Pariah” definitely feels different for you, lyrically.
That song, for me, was probably the most intense to write. It's from the firsthand historical account of a young man who was martyred for his faith. I put myself in his shoes and had to face the questions: Would I make the same decision? Would I stay faithful? Would I be steadfast when the entire neighborhood has come out to see me killed for professing [my faith in] Christ? Or would I back down and get scared of death, pain or the rejection of my family and friends?
Everyone says their new album is their best one. What makes that true in For Today's case?
Lyrically, I spent a lot of time talking about stuff I read in the Bible. Whether that was talking about God or faith or healing, it was stuff I read about in the Bible, so I wrote lyrics about it. I think that was great. But with this album, for the first time, I feel like I had the freedom and the confidence to write lyrics that were less about telling people about what I read in the Bible and just showing people my heart.
It was a much more sincere effort lyrically. It was a much more vulnerable effort lyrically. It wasn't about trying to teach people anything. It was just about showing them, “This is who I am, and this is who God made me.” There's still a testament in that and I hope there's still a power in that. But it's a lot less theoretical and conceptual and a lot more practical. This album will be able to bridge some gaps for people who maybe don't know or care as much about the Bible as we do. The concepts on this album are much more approachable and relevant to people at any place in the spectrum of faith.
You mean it's not your best album because it has more brutal breakdowns than before?
[Laughs.] It also has more brutal breakdowns. I just feel like that's a given at this point. That goes without saying.
You mentioned putting your heart out there, being vulnerable. Given how often you've expressed love toward so many people, it must've been very frustrating for you to suddenly be deemed homophobic or otherwise hateful in the aftermath of Reynolds’ tweets.
It was frustrating, to say the least. That whole thing blindsided me. And it was exasperated by preexisting issues.
The fact that there are people who call themselves Christians but go on the news and picket soldiers' funerals and say stuff like “God Hates Fags?” These people totally dishonor God, and disrespect God and they dishonor and disrespect people who are made in God's image.
There is a bitterness and a polarization that has come and a lot of wounds and defensiveness have developed in the homosexual community toward Christians. That has made them very sensitive toward Christians in general, especially when talking about the issue of homosexuality. I hate it.
We've been put in a situation where the media has made it an “us vs. them” sorta thing. As a result, we've lost our sense of human community.
That is the thing that breaks my heart. Like I mentioned earlier, the guys from Stray From The Path don't agree with or care about anything I stand for, and they are still some of the best friends we've ever had on tour.
I think there's something to be said there in that we are able to respectfully disagree with each other. There are still plenty of other things where we find common ground. At the end of the day, we're all in this world together; we're all in this thing called life together. We've got to do what we can to help each other instead of hurting each other and tearing each other down.
So yes, it was a frustrating thing, and it was a difficult situation for me to go through because I really do love gay people. I have a whole bunch of people I've been friends with for years who are gay men and women. We have all been forced into this new religious/political paradigm where Christians are pitted against homosexuals in this stupid struggle for political dominance. It's really a political issue. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter.
Because I'm a voice to a lot of Christians, I'll say it like this: I would like to see Christians come to a place in which they can be respectful of people, regardless of their sexual orientation. No matter what sexual inclinations a person has or what faith they do or do not ascribe to, as Christians we still must believe they are made in the image of God, and because of that, our love and they deserve our respect and honor. >>>