When I saw the announcement for a Silent Planet and Stray from the Path co-headlining tour, I was firstly fascinated by the stylistic diversity, but equally curious to speak with SFTP about their thoughts on the political landscape considering it has been a year since their last release, Only Death is Real. Before one of their shows, I hung out with vocalist Drew Dijorio, guitarist Tom Williams, and drummer Craig Reynolds as we talked mostly about politics, yet also about religion and future plans for the band.
You can check out the full interview below. Also, stay tuned for a Stray from the Path dream tour/setlist piece as well as an interview with co-headliners Silent Planet.
You're on tour with Silent Planet, Kublai Khan, and Greyhaven. I’d say in a way that this lineup is pretty political, kinda liberal leaning, especially with yourselves and some of Kublai Khan’s songs too. Throughout your career, have you guys ever seen a conservative backlash at any of your shows or tours?
Tom: Firstly, yeah I agree that Kublai Khan can be political, but in a different way for sure.
Drew: We’ve been threatened or told of a backlash, but never actually seen anything.
Craig Reynolds: Every song that we do, is always about both sides though. Well maybe not every song, but the main ones like “The House Always Wins.” We’re never fully taking a side in regards to Republican vs Democratic.
Tom: “The House Always Wins” is definitely like a "it’s all fucked" perspective. Our country is operating off amendments that were made by white slave owners three hundred years ago. So, maybe it'd be a good idea if we don’t have to operate off that. Additionally, you have Bernie Sanders drawing hundreds of thousands people in football stadiums, but Hilary Clinton is drawing less people than will be at the show tonight. And then, she won the fucking nomination. From there, that was when we wrote “The House Always Wins” and the song says “we’re fucked no matter who we choose” because it’s all a predetermined kind of thing. Bernie was definitely the hope I had.
As of right now, would you say the metal community is fairly 50/50 split when it comes to left-wing or right-wing leanings?
Tom: I don't think so. Punk and hardcore is a notoriously liberal genre. I’d imagine Silent Planet may have some conservative, Christian fans, which is fine because we’ve played to those kind of people before. I don’t think it’s 50/50 though. Maybe like 90/10.
In regards to political expression in music, I always see the rebuttal of “you’re an artist, not a politician, so stay out of politics.” What is your response to such a comment and how would you show evidence that you’re worthy of speaking politically to the masses?
Tom: I never said we were worthy of it. The people said that we were worthy of it. When we started selling records and tickets, they gave us the permission to do whatever we want. I think the people gave us the stage and we use the stage to speak our opinions and talk about our personal encounters with political or social stuff. That whole phrase is wack. That’s just for people who want things to go in one ear and out the other. That’s why there’s so many bands that are huge and you don’t understand why. Whatever butt rock band is huge has fans who want to hear music, be done with it, and not be challenged. Like I said before, hardcore and punk notoriously challenges the status quo. Honestly, we don’t get that criticism too much though. We got more of that when we put out “Badge & a Bullet.” People thought we were anti-cop. We were never anti-cop. We’re anti-police brutality. The whole “you’re a musician, stay out of politics” thing, you’re a fucking geek and go home. I’ve learned to not give a fuck about that.
Craig: It seems that in the 60’s and 70’s, every musician was political, but no one was as annoyed as they are now. Something changed somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the access to lyrics. You don’t have to buy the CD. You can go online and cherry pick a line from a song and disagree with it.
With politics feeling so heated nowadays, it would seem there’d be a lot of artists getting involved. For those unaware, what other artists do you see taking a stand politically?
Tom: I think Architects’ new album will be that. Stick to Your Guns and Anti-Flag too. Enter Shikari is another one who is bringing the business.
Drew: There’s also a lot of younger bands too that flood my inbox saying they respect what we do and we have caused them to form their own band. Whether or not those bands are big right now, it reminds us that we are doing something worth people’s time because it’s changing people’s minds and they’re standing up for beliefs. I think that’s really cool. And I’m sure as time goes on, they’ll be another band like us or Stick to Your Guns or Enter Shikari.
Tom: Yeah, they could be in the crowd tonight. I feel like the real change starts in these small rooms. Maybe it’s a small thing, but it may lead to one person out there that could become like a Zack de la Rocha [Rage Against the Machine frontman] or Dennis Lyxzen [Refused frontman].
Only Death is Real came out about a year ago, but a lot has since changed and occurred in the political landscape. Considering so many iconic and impactful events have occurred politically and in our society recently, does it make you fueled to already create more music? What aspects in specific over the past year have felt most impactful for you personally?
Tom: Sure, I mean we’re already working on new music. It’s tough because there’s always stuff to write about and stuff is always changing. Personally, the Brett Kavanaugh case was pretty insane. Trump is endorsing these crazy people like Kavanaugh or that diddler, Roy Moore. He was campaigning for [Ted] Cruz to beat Beto [O'Rourke] recently, but two years ago he was shitting on Cruz. It’s all personal interest and he’s not thinking big picture.
Craig: On a worldwide scale, the Brazilian President who just got elected, [Jair] Bolsonaro, said he would rather kill his son than him be gay. It’s a rough climate worldwide.
Drew: It is crazy how all these things have happened since the record came out. You look into these people like who Tom and Craig said, you never know what you’ll find.
Do you still hold optimism or hope in this country?
Craig: I think people will surely get sick of hating everyone.
Tom: We’ll see. As crazy as shit like Charlottesville was, the ‘Unite the Right’ rally that followed in Boston only had like 20 people show up with 12,000 counter-protestors. There was also one in Murfreesboro and there was 100 participants with 20,000 counter-protestors. In Seattle, there was like seven people there for the rally. I was like man, now it’s sad. There’s resistance against things like that and I think it’s uniting a lot of people. It’s unfortunate that certain things have to lead to this, but I think you’ll see that good prevails. I always have that kind of hope that it will. It’s not about being left-wing, it’s about not being a piece of shit. If you like tax cuts, whatever. I just don’t want to have to talk about transgender people losing their rights and not being noticed as people.
The title track on Only Death is Real seems to kinda hint at a more atheist belief. Is that perspective true for the entire band and does that cause tension within a co-headlining a tour with a Christian band like Silent Planet?
Craig: To me, I don’t really think it’s an atheist message. It was more about we are all going to die, so you might as well leave a positive impression on the world, regardless of your beliefs. I don’t think there’s anything in the lyrics that are atheist, but if I had my way there’d be loads of it. No one knows the answers to anything like that, so just let everyone get on with it.
Tom: We definitely are all agnostic or atheist. But we’ve toured with Underoath, Norma Jean, For Today, and now Silent Planet.
Drew: As for you asking about if it will be weird or controversial touring with a band like Silent Planet, even if you have a belief that’s different, it’s still okay to see these bands come together and play shows. It’s not a matter of which side you’re on. You’re an individual and these bands are here for you to find yourself. I always want to see a tour where there’s diversity and we're a band that does that all the time.
Tom: We’re probably gonna play to people that think we suck on this tour. And we might have people who haven’t heard our message before and enjoy our perspective. And honestly some Stray from the Path fans will do the same about Silent Planet. Silent Planet isn’t even a fully Christian band. Only really Garrett [Russell], but he is the voice behind the band. If he is spiritual or has faith or whatever you want to fucking call it, then that’s going to come through the lyrics. But I don’t think Mitch [Stark] is. They just want to write songs and you don’t have to put a stake in the ground and claim it. People can interpret it the way they want to.
What’s next for Stray from the Path after this tour?
Tom: We have a European tour with While She Sleeps and Landmvrks. And then we go into the studio in March.
Drew: Once 2019 hits, there will be a lot more announcements. We have a lot of tour plans for next year.