Christian Rock Band “Close Your Eyes”
Talks to Rocking God’s House!
The band Close Your Eyes are the wonder boys of Victory Records and a great driving force of faith and testimony to the Gospel. Every chord, melody, and beat of the drum is high energy. They consider themselves melodic hardcore, and they add a unique sound to the genre. The band began its quest in Abelene, Texas with an array of members and vocalists who have come and gone, with only one original member intact. Their 2010 Victory Records debut We Will Overcome has sold over 15,000 copies in the US, and the music video for the track “Song for the Broken” has been viewed over 1.2 million times by YouTube viewers. The band cites Christianity as a major influence on their existence; however, in my drummer-to-drummer interview with Jordan Hatfield, he assured me that the band makes it a point not to preach but to just let the music speak for itself.
With two additional album releases under their belt with 2011’s Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts and 2013’s Line in the Sand, the band has built up a very respectable following. They have toured all over the country, playing major festivals such as Cornerstone, Sonshine and touring with big name acts such as A Day To Remember and Underoath on the Scream The Prayer Tour. The sky is the limit for this band that is bringing the Gospel to the masses in a very hard rocking way.
To someone new to your band, could you describe your style of music and what you want to accomplish as an artist?
As far as style, that is a tough question. There are so many genres out there — sub-categories. I just classify it as hard rock punk and melodic hard core. Hard rock for sure. We are faith-based, so to non-believers and new listeners that are not aware that we are a Christian band right off the bat we at least want to spread positivity and hope; and people who really get into it and start to dive into the lyrics will see that everything is faith-centered and goes around God. We like to spread the Word without forcing it down people’s throats and by captivating them with our music — and once in there, they will learn that we are trying to be positive.
I read in your bio that your band got its start from a t-shirt conversation, could you please explain?
I am not specifically aware of it, but I do know that the band was started by Brett Calloway. He is still in the band, he is actually the only original member remaining, and Shane Raymond the singer before we had the singer now Sam Ryder. Those two started the band, and I think what that story is all about is they ran into each other by complimenting each other’s t-shirts and the conversation just went on from there.
So you have been in the band since 2012, what made you decide to take the gig?
[Laughs] To tell you the truth, it was my mom. I was up in Canada at the time, recording an album, and I had been pretty much just making a career as a session musician and fill-in drummer: any kind of music you can think of, aside from the kind of music Close Your Eyes played. So before coming into this band I didn’t really have any experience with this style. My mom called me one day and said that there was this band that was looking for a drummer and it came to me that my mom’s friend ran into Brett’s mom, just of hand they new each other from a long time ago, and Brett’s mom said they were looking for a drummer. Got me hooked up, sent in an audition video, and about two or three days they said okay that’s all we need to see. So I flew down, got together with them, and played our first show together at the Bamboozle festival.
Do you guys feel like you have the whole vocalist vacancy finally filled to fit the group?
Yes, Sam Ryder is awesome, he can do anything, he is incredibly talented. He got in the band about three months after I got in the band. I got in the band about the same time a singer came in named Mikey Sawyer, and that was immediately after Shane left the band, and that guy didn’t last too long so Sam came up and rocked it and the position is considered permanently filled.
Are you a Hatfield of the Hatfield and McCoys family legacy?
Yes, I am. A direct tie as matter of fact. That is my family. [Laughs]
Who are some of your favorite drum influences?
Josh Freese is my biggest influence. The guy can do anything. He plays for Perfect Circle, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Paramore, No Doubt: he can do just about anything and can play with anybody, not just as a drummer that can get by with the music but as a drummer who can mold himself to fit the kind of music he is performing. He has been all over the place. He pretty much inspired me not to just get by with each style of music I was playing but to actually master it.
Also I really like Morgan Rose of Sevendust. I saw him play when I was 18, and he looked so cool. Too many influences to name. But those two are the main ones. Josh Freese in particular.
When you are on the road playing with secular as well as faith-based bands how do you keep your focus on your beliefs with all the temptations surrounding you?
I try and stay pretty true to myself and hold strong in my beliefs. I kind of avoid situations that would really tempt me. I don’t really get into any situations where I have to sacrifice what I morally believe. When we are with other Christian bands, for the most part everybody is just pretty laid back and cool, not too much over the top. We don’t go out and preach or impose our will on non-believers. And when we get with secular bands out there we never really have a problem with staying true to the message that we want to promote while not giving into any temptations out there. It is pretty easy. It gets difficult at times, but if you stay true to yourself and the message, kind of keep pursuing what you are doing for the right reasons, you don’t get into bad situations. But we get along well with both Christian bands and non-Christian bands.