Jeremy Steckel, guitarist in Ohio-based Christian post-hardcore outfit Wolves at the Gate, believes there’s plenty of talent in beauty in today’s heavy music scene. Steckel was kind enough to contribute a guest column to Audio Ink Radio, in which he offers his thoughts on the state of modern heavy music and why he believes it holds such promise. Wolves at the Gate release their Solid State Records debut, called “Captors,” tomorrow (July 3), and for more information on the release, visit the band’s official website. Find Steckel on Twitter here.
Greetings, my friends. I’ve read quite a few of these op-ed articles on music throughout the years, and most of them tend to be slanted towards what’s wrong with the scene, who’s doing what the wrong way and on and on. My goal for this brief train of thought isn’t to bash the scene or complain about what band I hate so much it makes me want to quit music forever, because honestly, who really enjoys that anyway? Instead, I’ll attempt to touch on a few ideas and things I’ve been thinking about recently in regards to the heavy music scene.
My band, Wolves at the Gate, started in April of 2008 at Cedarville University in tiny Cedarville, Ohio, where there’s cornfields on cornfields on cornfields. A few of us decided to jam out some songs together, because at the time, there were only a few college kids there that enjoyed heavy music. Once we found each other, we knew we couldn’t let that passion for loud music go to waste, so we picked up our guitars. Four years later, here we are.
It’s really amazing to look back and see what the scene was like at that time in Ohio and what it is now. Music truly does have a way of evolving and constantly morphing into new things, some more worthwhile than others. When we started playing shows, it was right in the post-the Devil Wears Prada phase in Dayton, Ohio. It seemed like every band we played with wanted to sound like them and become the next big act to “make it.” One thing we learned early on was that if we wanted to actually do this whole band thing, we had to figure out who we were as musicians and what we wanted to communicate both musically and lyrically. It seems to me that this is usually the spot early in a band’s career where they reach a crossroads: What are we going to sound like? What do we want to say? I think the bands that honestly answer these questions and tackle them with intensity are the bands that seem to stick around and often become successful.
Now, obviously, your sound and your message are the core of who you are as a band, and if that “core” isn’t in a good place, people have this unique ability to see right through that and move on rather quickly. When I think of bands that had major influences in my life like Thrice, the Juliana Theory and Underoath, they all had that focus musically and lyrically that really inspired me to pick up the guitar and start writing music.
Contrary to what lots of music and industry people might say, I honestly think there are plenty of bands out there right now that are doing things well. Even if I don’t agree with every aspect of the band, they are blazing new sonic trails and pushing the envelope of what rock and roll in 2012 looks like. Bands like Architects (U.K.), Oh, Sleeper, We Are the Ocean, the Overseer, Make Do and Mend, Every Time I Die, letlive and To Speak if Wolves are some of my current favorites. In their own way, they’re pulling from their influences and making a unique art form all their own, which, to me, is something that all truly great bands learn how do to effectively.
If you’re reading this and looking to start a band/already in a band, I encourage you stop what you’re doing and find out what it is you want to communicate musically and lyrically, and then go for it. Don’t copy other bands. Don’t box yourself into one particular sound. Listen to all different genres of music and get inspired to do something different and unique. One of the greatest things any musician can do is consume all kinds of music; no limitations. In my own life and the lives of the four other guys in my band, I’ve seen that breathe new life into our own element of creating music, and we’ll continue to do that until we call it a day as a band.
The scene is alive and well and ever-evolving. Let’s continue to push the envelope and create something worth leaving behind. (Courtesy photo.)
- Wolves at the Gate Debut New Song, ‘Slaves,’ Off ‘Captors’
- Wolves at the Gate Release Emotional Music Video for ‘Dead Man’
- Wolves at the Gate Join Solid State Records Family