» Joey/Jeff - Believer
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Interview conducted March 18 2009
Interview published March 20 2009

The wisdom call of Believer has always fascinated me, ever since I first purchased Extraction From Mortality on cassette in '89. Believer are back and I celebrated a moment in prime by conversing with original member and drummer - Joey Daub, and their fresh fountain of knowledge affiliate: Keyboardist & Programmer - Jeff King - about their new album called Gabriel.

We must unite as one, stand and fight as one, overcome stress, and welcome new dimensions of thought and feelings into our lives,. Not even one metal fan should miss out on the sacred mystery that is Believer.

MettleAngel: It is really great to speak with both of you, at the same time. This will give me a perspective on the past, and future mindset for Believer. I am a older fan, and have followed you ever since the R.E.X. years.

  • Joey: Whoah, an older fan, cool!

MettleAngel: Let us begin by focusing on Believer then, and now. When I first heard your debut album - Extraction From Mortality - I was amazed, as this was some killer Christian thrash. Then, the follow-up - Sanity Obscure - was more progressive, but introduced the Classical & Operatic elements with the song: Dies Irae. You were employing female vocals, violins, cellos, and choirs, before it was ever conceived as commonplace. By the time Dimensions came out, Roadrunner records was calling you the "Breed Beyond" linking you with Cynic and Pestilence. Dimensions was definitely, a highly intelligent endeavour, and very experimental album. Flash forward to the present, and you have just released Gabriel, which is a systematic blend of the old, all the while incorporating new elements.

  • Joey: Wow, you really have followed the band. A lot has occurred over the years, no doubt. In the present, Believer is altogether a new band. We are celebrating a new beginning. Obviously, we embrace our past; but, we chose to focus on the here and now.

MettleAngel: In the late '80s, when you were signed to R.E.X. Records, you were considered to be primarily a Christian band. Are you still Christian, even if only in your personal life? When I first listened to Believer, I was a Catholic - Christian. Now, I am no longer either.

  • Joey: Well, yes, and no...this is a difficult subject to approach for us. Ever since we formed Believer, Kurt Bachman and myself despised being limited to a certain belief or style of music. We did not like to be labeled or numbered. Whether it was our personal spiritual journey, or the type of music we played. We were called Thrash/Death Metal/ Technical Death Metal/Etc. The key focus for us then and now is to just encourage people to think for themselves. (Jeff): We see life as being a journey. For us it is never about arriving at the destination. We live in the Now, centering on every aspect of Here & Now. How does one expect to grow or mature, if he is always living in the past; worried about his future?

MettleAngel: Yeah like Kreator say, "labeled and numbered, prospects are grim...". Funny, you should mention that concept, as to this day, the song Stress is still one of my favourite Believer tracks. I love the lyrics and the message: "What's the use of worrying, what good does it do? Will it add a single day to your life? PANIC - no more... WORRY - about what... STRESSING - no need..."

  • Joey: Exactly, Life is for us is always celebrating and enjoying. This is why we don't view ourselves as being a Christian band. We are just a Metal band. I love to drink beer, a lot of beer. Is there anything wrong with that?

MettleAngel: I always say, "use and do not abuse...eat, drink, and be merry!" Believer is definitely a mettle based band! The lyrics on Extraction definitely have a strong Christian connotation. Thankfully, I am able to read between the lines, in order to discover the more in depth insight. I love the songs Unite and Vile Hypocrisy. For the other two releases, I am inspired by the well-written, thought provoking lyrics. You always address serious issues like drug abuse, environmental concerns, the meaning of life,etc.

  • Joey: We always wrote about what was near and dear to our heart. On Extraction, we used Bible based themes and stories to express our intentions, but we did not want to preach. Kurt is the wise one. He has become a doctor, and really done a great deal of research into the mysteries of life. (Jeff): My background is in philosophy. When I received this degree, I did not do it for the purpose of a career, but rather for the love of wisdom in life. I'm especially drawn to the writings of William James.

MettleAngel: I call this a "voracity for veracity" - a hunger for the truth - a never ending journey to wisdom.

  • Joey: As for me, I just a mechanical engineer, a father, and the drummer.

MettleAngel: Wow! What a blend of talent and intellect. You make believers of us all!

  • Joey: There are many pieces in the puzzle. All are intricate and equally important.

MettleAngel: Absolutely, I totally agree. We are all One! "We must all unite as one...", to quote your opening song on Extraction.

  • Joey: In life we all play a part, we all fit in, somehow. It is Believer's intention to leave our lyrics subjective, and open to individual interpretation. We want our listeners to decide for themselves.

MettleAngel: This is a very noble attitude. Although, preaching is not necessarily proselytizing. You are concerned with systematic instruction. Honestly, I never viewed Believer as being one of those annoying 'Turn or Burn' type Christian acts. Your mentality, lyrics, and outright attitude from the interviews I have read were more sincere and level headed. I just caught what I said, "systematic instruction". You can tell I've been playing Pestilence too, in anticipation of their new album, and reformation!

  • Joey: Why should we be punished for being human, having human emotions, and drives. We recall back in the day, being on tour, and being picketed because we were not Christian enough.

MettleAngel: Ignorant fanatics always condemn what they don't understand.

  • Jeff: We just want to create the best music we can, given our talent, and capabilities. (Joey): We honestly feel that Believer should not be held up to standards. Kurt and I are always honest and sincere about who we are. We don't say one thing, then do the other.

MettleAngel: Exactly, there is no vile hypocrisy in the Believer camp.

  • Joey: Where I am in my personal life, should not affect the music I create. We have always written songs which inspire awareness and deep thought.

MettleAngel: This reminds me of the Stop The Madness campaign Roadrunner Records shoved in our face with a depiction of an X over a syringe on every cassette I ever bought from that label. This say no to harder drugs was pure Bull$hit! However, when I read lyrics to your song by the same name, with the cocaine sniffing intro, I know you are sincere. Interestingly enough, I just read The Heroine Diaries by Nikki Sixx. It is quite chilling how at the end of the book, he discusses how he now has a purpose in life, how he truly believes in a Higher Guiding Power, and how he feels he is still alive on a mission to help others turn their lives around. Sometimes you have to go through Hell to find your own piece of Heaven!

  • Joey: That is what I'm saying. Who are we to judge or be judged?

MettleAngel: Or like I say, "There are no victims and no villains." We are all accountable for our own actions. We all need to accept the responsibility for the choices we make. One thing I always admired about Believer was your innovative quality. You were always one step ahead of the game, thinking forward. Did I read somewhere that Believer opened for Therion when they toured the US a few years ago?

  • Jeff: Joey and I were in a melodic female fronted band called Fountain Of Tears, along with ex-members of the band Sacrament. We opened for Therion, which was awesome, but not Believer.

MettleAngel: Man, I love that Sacrament debut - Testimony Of The Apocalypse. I have my original version of that on R.E.X., just like the Believer titles. Hell, as we speak I'm looking right at my cassettes version of all of these, too. I did buy the Retro-Active Records re-issue of the Sacrament debut, just so I could get those Presumed Dead demos. I also picked up the Sardonyx, but was not to impressed. I understand that both Extraction From Mortality and Sanity Obscure were reissued twice. Once by M8 (Millenium Eight Records), then recently by Metal Mind Records. Whereas, Dimensions was Re-issued by Retro-Active and Metal Mind.

  • Joey: We were never too pleased with the M8 versions. They used two demo tracks, which were of poor quality. Kurt and I are perfectionists, and we don't want to release anything not up to par. We are very concerned with the quality of the music and recording. They used those songs without our permission, or consent.

MettleAngel: Those tracks were: The Chosen taken from East Coast Metal, and Vile Hypocrisy (Remix), taken from The Argh!!! Compilation. I actually have both of those on CD, as well.

  • Joey: Yeah, I guess, I'm not too sure, anymore.

MettleAngel: What about the Metal Mind, those were official. They did a good job on the re-masters, right?

  • Joey: These are excellent re-issues. We are very pleased with them. They contacted Kurt and I to contribute liner-notes. The digipaks are really professionally well done.

MettleAngel: I wanted to get those, as well as several other Metal Mind re-masters on gold disc, but they are steep in price, and extremely limited. I decided to just enjoy my original R.E.X. versions, which are major collectors items. The original R.E.X. pressing of Dimensions is very rare, too. I have a great deal of out-of-print Christian Metal, on CD, but I still listen to many of those bands. Actually, I just recently contacted Mark Buchanan from Thresher about their new CD - Here I Am, finally being released. I was the one who wrote the only review for the Totally Possessed demo at Metal-Archives. I will be reviewing the new CD, and hopefully doing an interview with him as well.

  • Joey: Wow, Thresher, another great Pennsylvania band, that is cool.

MettleAngel: Yeah, a bunch of Christian acts are reforming, even England's Seventh Angel have a new CD due this summer. It's all because of My Space. I have always compared Believer to the Canadian thrash act - Sacrifice - musically, and vocally. I was astonished to see you got guitarist Joe Rico to contribute a solo on the A Moment In Prime cut, how did this come about?

  • Joey: Well, we toured with Sacrifice and Bolt Thrower, in the '90s. We all are Sacrifice fans ourselves, so this was a dream come true, for us. The Roadrunner promoters assisted us with attaining this tour. We became close friends with the guys in Sacrifice. So, when it came time to recording Gabriel, and when we thought about who we wanted to contribute to the album, Joe came to mind. He was totally excited to do it, and all for it too. I've heard one track from their forthcoming new album, and it is killer!

MettleAngel: I am a huge Sacrifice fan too. I actually just received my Forward To Termination Long Sleeve shirt in the mail from Marquee Records. I am very excited about their new album. On Gabriel, I think Kurt sounds more like Rob Urbinati, than Schmier of Destruction, to whom he is often compared. Musically, Believer follows that Apocalypse Inside vibe.

  • Joey: Yeah, we actually remarked in the studio, that even though Kurt is older, his voice has become higher.

MettleAngel: Definitely, on Gabriel he has a higher pitch, although, his vocals are still very discernible. I saw and met Sacrifice on tour with Anacrusis. They are another band to whom Believer can be compared. Their style is definitely Metal, but it is so experimental.

  • Joey: I can see that. Kurt was compared to Schmier with the Dimensions album: but I agree, on Gabriel, he definitely has the Rob Urbinati flair.

MettleAngel: You also have Howard Jones of the much hyped Killswitch Engage, contributing his clean vocals to the song - The Brave. I'm not a fan of this band, but I do like his singing on this track.

  • Joey: Have you heard his other band called: Blood Has Been Shed? His vocals are really cool with them.

MettleAngel: I'm not familiar with them either. I admit I was shocked when I first listened to The Brave, I thought perhaps Kurt had been taking lessons. Then I read the liner notes and realized that it was Howard singing. How did you get him to contribute?

  • Joey: We found out that Howard is a fan of Believer. I enjoy his clean style of singing. We got in touch with Roadrunner, and invited him into the studio. He was an intricate factor to our being signed with Metal Blade. He also helped us to get other guest musicians like Deron Miller.

MettleAngel: I'm really impressed with the new album. It is quite an achievement. The press sheet compares you with Voi Vod, Nine Inch Nails, and Tool, I don't necessarily agree with that, but I can see their point of reference, or even nonpoint.

  • Joey: Well, you know they have to list acts, with whom more people are familiar.

MettleAngel: I'd say you have more in line with Tourniquet, Galactic Cowboys or Kings X, than Tool or NIN, but each to his own. The music is really well played. I've noticed the classical elements are less in the forefront. You still have Jim Winters contributing guitar solos, and Scott Laird playing Violin. I must admit I miss Scott's sister Julianne and her soprano vocals. The orchestral arrangements as found on other releases like - Trilogy Of Knowlege, or Dies Irae, are replaced with a more back to basics, stripped down approach, The music is still fast, intense, and brutal, which is a good thing.

  • Jeff: There are more samples, and more experimentation, and basic weird stuff going on.

MettleAngel: Tell me about it!, What is with the Nonsense Mediated Decay track? The narration sounds like it was taken from Fire In The Sky or a Whitley Streiber account like in Communion.

  • Jeff: Yeah, well you never know, right? Actually, it is taken from a short story our friend wrote. We adapted it to the music. This was the first song we started writing, and we knew it would be bizarre. I worked with some strange keyboard arrangements, and unique instrumentations.

MettleAngel: This brings me to the title - Gabriel - what was the reasoning behind this?

  • Jeff: We were throwing around a bunch of titles, and we all liked Gabriel; the name just seemed to fit.

MettleAngel: Traditionally, Gabriel means the Voice Of God. Gabriel is always seen as the divine messenger who visits Mary and Joseph, announcing the birth of Christ, or even the messenger of Mohammad in the Quaran.

  • Jeff: In The Old Testament, Gabriel is also seen as the Angel Of Death.

MettleAngel: There is an air of mystery about him/her. The main being that she is very epicene, and is often portrayed in an androgynous manner. On your album cover art, you have a woman, shadowed in pale, blue light, tattooed, with ram horns; looking like Tim Curry in Legend.

  • Jeff: We wanted to use a girl, with a somewhat sinister, and dark expression. We worked with the artist, and photographer to achieve a rather befitting cover.

All Believer covers stand out, and are easily recognized, so this is no exception. Although, unlike the other albums, there is no song called Gabriel. Speaking of Legend, the ending of the song Medwton...how do you say that anyway?

  • Joey: Think of wan-ton soup...Med-wah.ton...

MettleAngel: At first, I thought there was a typo in the booklet, with a missing vowel, but I realize this is as you intended.

  • Jeff: Maybe, someday, the message behind this song will come about, we'll see.

MettleAngel: As I was saying, that song ends with a real baritone chant, which reminds me of the Dark Crystal, as the Skeksis and urRu's chant in reverence to the Dark Crystal, then become one being, fused. I heard they are making a sequel to this movie.

  • Jeff: You really know your Jim Henson trivia.

MettleAngel: Yeah, my wife and I are really kids at heart. We've been watching the first season of the Muppet Show, regularly, and are about to watch the second. We just watched Pinnochio too, which was just released on DVD. Man, there is some serious typology going on there, talk about heeding Wisdom's Call, but I digress. So what is the effect or sound you are using?

  • Jeff: I sampled a Tibetan Monk chant sound effect.

MettleAngel: That makes sense too. There are so may odd elements going on with Gabriel. When you plan to tour, what songs from this album, would you chose to play live?

  • Joey: All of them! Alright, Nonsense Mediated Decay would present quite a challenge, I suppose, and unless we can get Howard, The Brave would prove difficult, seeing that none of can sing, but as many of the new ones as possible, would be our expectation.

MettleAngel: What about those older classics? Which songs would you opt for in the set list?

  • Joey: It is funny, you should bring this up, as we have actually been taking this into consideration. We want to run a survey, or create a forum on our My Space just to gauge what songs fans want to hear. Then we would have to relearn them, all over again...(laughs).

MettleAngel: Oh C'mon, you're kidding right? How difficult can Stress be to play, with it's reggae vibe? If I were to make a suggestion I would request: Vile Hypocrisy, D.O.S. (Desolation Of Sodom), Blemished Sacrifices, Shadow Of Death, Unite, Wisdom's Call, Not Even One, Singularity, Future Mind, Nonpoint, and the U2 Cover of Like A Song. Some of these songs, you have played live in the past, no doubt?

  • Joey: We'll take that into consideration. We want to get a feel where our fan base is, with older listeners like yourself, and the new iniates. We were younger back then, and more naive', so we would really have to put our hearts into re-learning the older ones. Honestly, I don't think we could do anything from Dimensions.

MettleAngel: Yeah, that is a very cerebral album, and I would not expect the Trilogy, of course. You could lose those Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer intro chimes, if you played Sanity Obscure. Older fans whom I know would definitely love to hear anything from the first two albums. Jeff, since you are the 'new guy", when did you chose to join Believer?

  • Jeff: I myself am a fan of the band, so it was awesome to play with these guys. Initially, I was just going to serve as an advisor, and do the engineering. Kurt and Joey like to have a sense of artistic freedom to write and create, and I did not want to impose. Then, things began to escalate, and a natural progression occured. Kurt assisted Fountain Of Tears, with production, and I began to work more with Believer.

MettleAngel: Jeff, earlier you mentioned that you had a degree in philosphy, but what is your musical background, and how does this work with Believer?

  • Jeff: As Joey has stated, we want to encourage people to think freely for themselves, so they can advance in life. Since, I also work designing webpages, and audio engineering, I lend my talent to Believer. I've always had a proclivity for creating music, and following my artistic path.

MettleAngel: Joey, you said that Kurt was an actual doctor, what precisely does he do?

  • Joey: Yeah Kurt is the brainiac, he is a geneticist, he has his own lab, and is really doing some groundbreaking, fundamental research.

MettleAngel: Wow, that is aweome! I imagine balancing the scientific with the spiritual can present quite a challenge for him. We all have a purpose, and focus on service, in making Mankind more evolved. Jeff and Joey, Thank You so much for indulging my intellectual sense, and keeping Believer alive and active. It was so cool, Joey, to reflect on the past, and my journey with Believer. It was an honour to discuss where Believer is here and now, with an awesome new release.

  • Joey: Dude, it was so cool discussing those times with someone who has followed us, and understands where we are going, you do get us, and we appreciate that! (Jeff): Yeah, Man, it is cool to hear the perspectives of older fans, and discover their path, as well. It was really cool to converse with you. (Joey): We will have to stay in touch, it was a real joy.

MettleAngel: Well, let me know when you are playing live. My Wife and I can drive to Pennsylvania, no problem. It would totally be worth it to finally see you live, and just hang out. Joey, my wife will have a beer with you.

  • Joey/Jeff: Definitely!

MettleAngel: Please pass on my love to Kurt and his family. Let him know that I look forward to meeting one day, discussing the dialectical paradox, String Theory, and quantum physics with him, as well as commending him on all his endeavours, with Believer, and everything else he has accomplished.

  • Joey: Right on Man, we appreciate what you do, as well! You come from your heart, and truly understand the essence of Believer. (Jeff): Yeah, it would be cool to meet you in person, and talk more, thank you again.

See also: review of the album Gabriel

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