For Today interview

Source: AMP Magazine

Mattie Montgomery joined For Today two years ago. He packed up some belongings, and with ten dollars to his name, traveled to Sioux City, Iowa to meet the other members of For Today for the first time. Since then, Montgomery and the rest of For Today have traveled across country as a Christian metal militia – unapologetic, unashamed and completely outspoken about their beliefs.  The band recently released their next journey, “Portraits,” ten Biblical stories where Montgomery reflects on ancient truths the he still feels holds water today, and are often looked over. For Today are about to embark on the Scream the Prayer tour with Haste the Day, The Chariot and Project 86, among many others, but Montgomery took some time to discuss his words reflected by For Today’s music.

What was the idea behind each track and how they tied together for “Portraits”?

The main idea is one I had for a few years before this album came out. I think there are so many people that are in ministry, whether they’re pastors or speakers, or even just Christians, who think they need to come up with something new. [They think] they need to come up with something outrageous, mind blowing or radical. Like they need a new seminar, or conference, or book, TV series or something. I don’t think that’s what needs to happen. I think we need to be brave and stick with the ancient truths that have been so effective. I think that a ton of them have eternal longing built into them. That’s the basis of the Bible – that everybody is built to be loved, and everybody was built to be powerful, and everybody was built to claim authority over the love around them and long to do that.  I decided that I would write the album from the perspective of people who did that. People who paved the way for us as sons of God now, to walk in all the authority that some of these people did. There’s a song that’s written about Elijah. He’s a man that raised people from the dead. There’s this incredible power from learning from our spiritual fathers and learning to draw confidence from what has already been done to know what is possible for us to do.

How much of the writing is influenced by a more individual spiritual feeling as opposed to preconceived notions of being a Christian?

[This whole] album is written from a place of personal knowledge of God and his character. It’s not written based on what a pastor has taught me. Honestly, I don’t have a pastor that I answer to. I’m not a member of a church, and I haven’t been my entire life. My mother is not a Christian. My father died when I was eight years old. I don’t have this tradition that a lot of other people have when coming into Christianity and religion. Everything I know to be true of God has been tried and tested, and has been proven to be not only true in my life, but in the human spirit that lives in everyone.  So everything that I write is not with the purpose of getting people to join my club, or winning an argument. It’s for explaining to the world that God, that I know personally, is a God that wants to know every single individual personally.

The lyrics themselves are just as aggressive as the music. Is there ever a time when you sit back and say, “Well, if I say this, I may alienate someone”?

Absolutely. Specifically there’s a line in one of our songs called “Joel (The Watchman)” that says, “America. You will be judged.” It sounds to me like that’s the one line that stands out to everyone, like, “That’s so intense.” I can’t apologize for speaking the truth, but I also think there are a lot of Christians running around saying, “Well you need to vote Republican, or God’s going to judge us,” or “you need to not be homosexual because God’s going to judge you. You need to not drink or do drugs because God’s going to judge you.” That sucks because God is not judging us right now. He’s not looking down on the world keeping scorecards of our sins, waiting to beat us up for them when we die. God is actually looking down on the world saying, “No, no, no. I made you for so much more than to be confused. I made you for so much more than to be lost, and to be so hopeless that you’re killing yourself and drowning yourself in drugs in alcohol.” I even wrote in the album’s linear notes that we’re not being judged right now, but we are in a time of favor. That’s actually what Jesus talked about. We shouldn’t be seeing God as this judging, wrathful looking entity that is looking to smite us. I think we should be looking at God as a father watching his children fall apart. That’s one line that I feel is true, and I stand behind its truth. I was kind of worried that people would take it out of context and say, “Oh, well, you guys are so legalistic, so close-minded, condemning, saying that America is being judged,” but we’ll all stand before Jesus being judged. That’s true, but it’s not right now. Right now we’re standing before Jesus as one who contends for on a daily basis, who sticks out for us all the time. [He’s] trying to see the good and the blessed. While the fact that we will be judged is true, it’s not presently going on. That line I think specifically is one I was kind of hesitant to put in the album because I didn’t know how people would take it, and I didn’t want to paint an inaccurate picture of who God is.

Was there ever a time when you were approached on tour in a negative way because of your views?

Something happened like three days ago in Kansas City, and they didn’t wait until after the show. We started talking about God as we played, and throughout the entire set people were holding up middle fingers, cursing God’s name whenever we would take a break. Cursing at us. This guy actually got up on stage and pushed me because he was so upset about what we were standing for, and then another guy came up on the stage and was holding a middle finger up and was grinding it in my face. (Chuckles) We can rejoice in suffering for the sake of Christ, because I don’t think anybody would take abuse for the sake of the Republican Party. I don’t think anyone would get publicly humiliated or threatened, just for an opportunity to talk about what band they think is the best. I think those sorts of things, not only for us, but for all Christians, should be a source of encouragement, because that means that we’re doing something right.  Just as Jesus was killed for being unapologetic for his teaching, I think we can stand toe to toe with persecution just to make him famous

With the successful mix of metal and Christianity in the past few years, has that helped fuel the band along?

It’s kind of trendy to be in a Christian band, and that’s no a good thing. There are a whole lot of kids that will come out to our shows and will just say and agree with everything that’s talked about, because it’s cool or trendy to be in a Christian band. But when you start getting into the roots of what we stand for, when you start getting into self sacrifice, start getting into self denial, start getting into laying down everything that you have in your life just to see Christ, a lot of these kids start to get uncomfortable and begin backing off. From a business perspective, it may be the best time in the history of the world to be in a Christian metal band. It’s also one of the most difficult times to see lives legitimately changed.  A lot of kids are bound and deceived by the rules of religion, thinking that, “I go to church. I own a Bible. I have a cross necklace on, so that’s cool.” We’re actually talking about putting our self in a place to die for the sake of Christ.

What are some of your musical influences?

Bands that I grew up with were As I Laying Dying, Haste the Day. I was a big fan of Zao growing up. None of those bands were really outspoken. Haste the Day would say something, but they were all just unashamed to be Christians. I grew up seeing that, thinking, “As long as I don’t say no, I’m not a Christian, it’s okay.” Then God, recently two or three years ago, really lit a fire under me and pushing me toward him, “Well, a lot of people aren’t really going to ask you if you are Christian, so what are you going to do about that?” While bands like Zao or whoever, were the starting point, and got me thinking, “What can I do as a Christian in this music scene?” there is kind of a new fire in this scene behind the zeal of how we pursue souls.

What is your ultimate goal as a band with this record?

Our ultimate goal as individuals is to meet every single person on the face of this planet [and have them] come to know Jesus Christ. Whether it’s this album, or if it’s through God’s power, we’ll take it wherever we can get it. With this album, even if it’s the last thing we ever do, never tour, never release another album, I hope that what we’ve already done, opens the door for the next generation of bands to be more powerful than us.


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