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Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Old Timers - Soli Deo Gloria. Punk Rock for The Glory of God

 It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you The Old Timers from South Africa. Lead Vocalist Dave Emerson is someone I count as a dear friend and so to be able to turn the spotlight on his band and the work he is involved in so far away from the land of his birth is really something special.

Dave and Don kindly agreed to do an interview with Soundtrack4Life.

And also on iTunes 
So the big question that has to be asked is how on earth did the band ever get together seeing that you are based in different countries?

OT: Don and Dave met through a mutual friend in Cape Town. Dave and family took a holiday in Don's home town, Port Elizabeth, in early 2011. Things went a bit pear shaped so Don and family offered Dave and his family a place to stay...looking back we can see this was God's plan all along because that time just sealed their friendship. Both guys are big into punk and the JCHC (Jesus Christ Hardcore) movement. Later that year Don sent some tunes over to Dave which he loved and offered to put vocals over. This became The Old-timers demo. Our friend Dusty over at Caustic Fallout loved the demo and was keen to help us put out an album. He contacted friends at Veritas Vinyl and Thumper Punk Records and the three labels agreed to do a full length co-release. At that point in time Matt Lagusis was playing drums for another Thumper Punk Records band, False Idle, and agreed to join team Old-timer as well! That is how our line-up was formed!

How difficult did that make it when the recording of the album began? How exactly did you do it?

OT: The distances involved did make things a little difficult but modern technology helped us a ton. Dave lives just outside Cape Town, 12 hours from Don in Port Elizabeth and countless miles from Matt, who lives in California. Added to that our mixing guy, Sef Idle (uniSef, False Idle), lives in Idaho and it was Mastered by Lan in North Carolina. So the internet played a huge role in putting the album together. Basically Don writes and records the music in Port Elizabeth, it's send over to the states for Matt to record drums too, mixed a bit and send to Dave who records vocals and sends the tracks back to the mixing studio. All the mixing is done by Sef and once we've all listened it over and approved it Lan masters. Its time consuming but very satisfying once it's finished.

Christian Punk Music is something that various elements within the Church frown upon. Why do you think it’s important that people see that at the heart of all you are seeking to do is the glorification of God’s name?

OT: This is something that is super close to our hearts and forms one of the three main purposes of this band – 1) To Glorify God 2) To Bless People & 3) To have fun while doing 1 & 2!! We also named our album 'Soli Deo Gloria' because it means 'To God alone be the glory' and we hope our band and music does just that – brings God glory. So yea this is really important to us! We've both grown up facing opposition to punk from Christians but our argument is that, like every aspect of music, culture and the arts, punk can be redeemed and used for the advancement of the Gospel and God's glory. There are of course certain aspects of the punk lifestyle and mentality that do not fit this purpose but we feel that just as sports, fine art, pop music and fashion can be arenas for Christian outreach, so we can take something we love (punk in this case) and do it in ways which honour God. That's what we're doing with The Old-timers and we hope it's pretty clear to any who would oppose us. All we are doing is taking Paul's advice and 'becoming all things to all men, that by all possible means we might save some' (2 Corinthians 9:22). So far we have not experienced any opposition from Christian or secular circles which we are pretty stoked about.

I like the idea that any proceeds from the sale of the CD go towards Dave’s missionary work in South Africa. Do you want to share a little bit about that?

Dave: I feel super priviledged to serve my God and King in a full time capacity, there is really no way I'd rather spend my time. I moved here to Paarl with my lovely wife Vicky and our young son Elijah in late 2009. We've since had another son as well. So the four of us are here serving at a small but growing church plant and helping with various community outreaches. We work with some of the most poor and desperate people groups in the area such as the homeless, local prison inmates, prostitutes and underpriviledge kids at a rural school. We live fully by faith, all of our financial provision has to come from outside of South Africa due to the kind of visas we have. God has taught us a great deal about trusting Him in the almost three years that we've been here – He has never allowed us to go without. So the support that comes in from the CD release will help us to continue in the mission that God has us on here. We're always thankful for the awesome provision of our loving Father.

In your press release regarding the album you mentioned a number of bands that you have been influenced by would you like to expand on that a little?  What do you make of some of the other Christian Punk bands that are out playing shows and releasing  music, like MxPx for example and also someone like Haley Williams of Paramore (I know they are more poppy Punk than you guys but I’d still value your thoughts).

OT: We all have very diverse and eclectic musical tastes but our focus as The Old-timers was really to create hardcore punk and hence our list of influences were more of that sort. Don was involved in the first wave of punk in South Africa which was very much of the anarcho persuasion, so this comes through in our tunes, Crass still being very much an influence. Dave cut his teeth on pop-punk but came to love the 80's 'american hardcore' sound much more. This was what he was aiming for in his vocals and so obviously Minor Threat were an influence here, since they are the architype. That said we have tried as far as our genre permits to bring something fresh rather than spitting out another copy and paste hardcore punk album. Not sure how well we achieved that!
            We love MxPx, their legendary. Pop punk isn't our cup of tea but we don't hate it, a number of our lable mates on Thumper Punk are more poppy than we are and we support and love 'em. I think we'd just say whatever music you love go make it but be sure to do it for God's glory and not from a selfish motive.

You seem to value a more hardcore punk approach to music rather than a more traditional punk sound (favoured by bands like UK Subs etc). Is there any reason for that or is it just the best way in your mind. It’s like a short sharp shock listening to the album with only one song going over three minutes (‘Family Prayer’ – which is not quite what you expect to hear in a punk song!) and the rest are like this assault on the senses because they are so fast, how vital then are the lyrics? I noticed you are pretty upfront with your faith when it comes to the lyrics. Is that important or should we just listen to the music?

OT: Yea we just prefer our punk short, fast and hard. It's all we've got! The music may be abrassive and obnoxiously fast but the lyrics are definitely important to us. We sing about life and Jesus is a big part of our lives. We've found in Him all the meaning for our lives and eternal salvation...we want to share this with every person we can. We'd like for everyone who hears The Old-timers to be impacted by Christ, we pray that our lyrics would be words of life for thirsty souls.

Best Punk band you have ever seen?

Dave: Flatfoot 56 at Cornerstone (20mins from their set this year at the festival) this year. There were several thousand people and the circle pit was basically the whole tent. They had a seven foot water slide off the stage into the crowd which was probably the most frightening thing I've ever done. Lots and lots of fun at that show
Don: Fuzigish. South Africa's no.1 punk ska band. These guys attract huge crowds and you garenteed to get a show from the guys as each guy is a real character to boot. They have an energy that is worldclass, and their moshpit inducing punk rock are meat grinders.

One band you always wished that you could see live?

Dave: I'd really love to see The Chariot, I just keep hearing about how amazing they are live.
Don: Eish! only one? Brian Setzer then, he is a legend!

Top Five Punk albums?

Dave: It's so hard to only pick five, I mean there are just so many great records out there. But I guess these are the five that I've been most influenced by 1) Hit The Deck - Look Alive. 2) Our Corpse Destroyed – Strength To Strength. 3) The Deal – Cutthroat. 4) One21 – When The Dragon Is Finally Laid To Rest. 5) The Redemption Song – Confessions

Don: As Dave said, to pick 5 is near impossible, but I will list the first 5 that come to mind. 1)Streetdogs - Street Dogs 2)The Jam - In the city 3) X-ray Spex -  Germfree Adolescents 4) Officer Negative - Dead To The World 5) Crucified - The Pillars of Humanity

What is your Soundtrack4Life? (A ten or twelve song compilation that reflects songs that have made and continue to make an influence on your life).

Dave: This is not in order of priority, just as my scattered brain picked 'em out...

2. Voice Of The Mysterons – We are the death of God movement
5. Hit The Deck – Just Enough
10. Five Iron Frenzy – Everywhere I Go

Don: Much the same as Dave, its not in any priority.

2. Anti-Hell Society - I believe in God
4. CircleOne - Gospel
7. Knights of the New Crusade - Witness
8. Manafest - Come Alive

As for The Old Timers album, well it does exactly what it says on the tin! It's hard and fast Punk Rock infused with Biblical pronouncements and passion for One higher than themselves. Go and Get It Now!
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