Interview with Call To Preserve guitarist Harbor Partin

- Oct 22, 2008 at 04:23PM
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Christian Straight Edge Hardcore band Call To Preserve, have released their Facedown Records debut CD, From Isolation and are out on the road in support of it. With songs about faith, perseverance, loyalty and the straight-edge lifestyle to which they strictly adhere, the quintet lay down some serious thrashing hardcore that offers tons of unforgettable hooks, gang vocals and lots of breakdowns that are guaranteed to please any fan of extreme music. I recently spoke with guitarist Harbor Partin about the band, their message and things in general.

Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Harbor: It's pretty awesome when it all comes together. When we were writing and recording, there were certain songs that we thought would probably do well live, but you never really know for sure. There were a lot of songs on this album that we never played live until we were done recording, so we really didn't know how kids would react to the new songs. Since this tour we're doing now is the first time we've played a lot of these new songs it's cool to see everyone get into what we worked hard on for so long. We just started playing "Shameless" on tour and from the beginning I knew it was going to be one of the best songs to play because it's so easy to get into. It's definitely my favorite song to play off the new album.

The name of the band Call to Preserve is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Harbor: It pretty much happened by accident. Our other guitar player Matt saw this passage in the New Testament of The Bible and there was this headline that said "a Call to Persevere," but he thought it said "a call to preserve," so we ended up calling the band that. Later, we saw that we got it wrong, but we'd already started playing out, so we just stuck with it.

Give us some insight into the CD, From Isolation, and the meaning behind its title?
Harbor: We actually started writing for this record almost 2 years ago and the songs we were writing were very heavy, but it just felt generic to us so most of the songs we wrote around that time we scrapped. After that our drummer started playing drums for Seventh Star full time, so it kept us from writing for a good six months. At the end of last year we finally regrouped and we focused on trying to write some music that was still heavy, but more in the traditional sense, not just having drawn out mosh parts or down tuned breakdowns. We also knew we wanted to have songs that had a melodic edge, so we tried our best to incorporate that into a few of the songs.

As far as the name of the album, when we were picking a title we tried to come up with something that expressed disconnect or separation, but we wanted it to sound original too. I think From Isolation encompasses what the whole album is about pretty well. It sounds a little dark and gloomy, but it suggests that there's a chance to break free from whatever's holding you down.

What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of From Isolation?
Harbor: It's like old Call to Preserve but not. Expect it to be more thought out, more bouncy and more melodic than the last album.

You guys have put a different spin on the hardcore scene. In a genre known for rebellious themes, you have done the exact opposite, adding spiritual even religious themes. Do you think this will sit well with fans of the genre? Has there been any backlash from the Hardcore/Punk community? What about backlash from the religious community?
Harbor: I wouldn't really call our material religious. When I write lyrics, they're usually about personal struggles I have and a lot of times it has to do with my spirituality and my relationship with God, but I'm not trying to sell anyone a system of beliefs or dogma through our songs. I'm just trying to be as honest as possible about how God has worked through my life. That's really my only intention. I do want people to know Jesus, but I think honesty has much more of an impact than any kind of grand scheme or design we could come up with that just feeds people religious rhetoric.

As far as backlash, there really hasn't been much. I think there's always going to be people who won't listen to any kind of band that's labeled as "Christian," but for the most part people are respectful of our beliefs and if they like the music they're going to listen to it. We had a few people from the Christian community express some kind of disapproval because we're not preaching enough or because we're "just another straight edge band," but again, for the most part we've had positive reactions from the Christian community. We're never going to please everyone so we're just going to continue to do what we've been doing because that's who we are.

I know this is hard to sum up in a nutshell, but what is the message you are trying to spread with From Isolation. Do you think you are getting the message through to your fans?
Harbor: Probably that even when we're at our lowest and we feel hopeless, there's still a God who loves us for who we are in spite of our wrongs and our mistakes. And also that there's always a way out, and to look beyond our circumstances. Every day is a new day. Anything else that sounds overtly positive! I think we are getting through to people only because we've had people come and talk to us at shows or message us and tell us how our music has helped them get through something, and that's always awesome to hear.

Are you guys very politically minded?
Harbor: Some of us are. Some of us aren't. I actually just graduated from College with a minor in political science, so I guess you could say I'm politically minded, but I think actually studying political science just made me realize how little I know about everything, so I'm not very inclined to take sides, if you know what I mean. Individually there's a few of us who keep up with politics, but as band we're definitely not a political band.

Do you feel that being Christian Artists keeps you from more mainstream acceptance?
Harbor: I don't really think so. If you look at what's popular in Underground music some of the biggest bands are Christian bands. I think the only thing that would keep us from being accepted by the mainstream is if we had decided to stay in the little Christian culture bubble, but we're a hardcore band, so we want to play with hardcore bands and for hardcore kids, so that's what we're going to do. Plus, at this point we pretty much have no other choice because the Christian Underground scene has gone completely metal and there's no Christian hardcore bands left for us to play with.

What do you see as the strengths of the music you guys play?
Harbor: The biggest strength I see is that it's real. There are no gimmicks. We talk about issues that affect us and things that we believe in. We are not a trend-hopping band. We're just making the music we like and talking about things we care about.

When you are on the road for a while, I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Harbor: We played this show in Johnson City, TN, and the venue had a late show after ours with this band called Costas, which turned out to not really be a band and more of a French techno sex show. I don't even want to go into what a French techno sex show entails, but it is pretty disgusting and I'm pretty sure it scarred our drummer for life. I guess if you wanted to know more about it you could look that band up on the internet, but I wouldn't suggest it, especially if you're at work.

When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Harbor: One time we played a show in Tijuana Mexico with Since the Flood and Seventh Star and we all went across the border in two different vans with Since the Flood in one and Seventh Star in the other. After the show we were driving, following the promoter back towards the border when the Mexican police pull us over. The cop came up to Drew from Seventh Star who was driving the van and starts yelling at him in Spanish. After Drew tries to tell the cop he doesn't speak Spanish, he goes to the next van and then to the promoter. So the promoter gets out, talks to the cops, and the next thing we know, the promoter is being dragged back to the cop car in hand cuffs. At this point we all figure we are going to jail, or are going to be robbed. Then two more cop cars pull up, and there are now a total of six cops there, all of whom have shotguns, and machine guns. After a few minutes of the cops yelling at the promoter, his girlfriend goes back there to talk to the cops and they point a machine gun, right at her head. By now we are all praying, and trying to call our loved ones, because we had no idea what was going to happen. After about 15 minutes of us sitting there they uncuff the promoter, and he walks up to us, and says ok you guys are good to go like nothing ever happened. Apparently, that is a regular occurrence around there, but we were pretty sure we were going to die in the streets of Mexico.

What is the one thing you travel with that you just can’t live without?
Harbor: Definitely my iPod. I don't know what I would do without it. When you're around loud heavy music every night you can get a little burnt out on it, so it's really nice to just put on something mellow when we are driving. If I got some Explosions in the Sky or some Owen, I'm good to go.

How do you maintain that level of energy and exuberance? You sound like you’re ready to go full bore every time you sit at the drums.
Harbor: Yea our drummer is notorious for complaining about how tired he is. I think it's easy to keep our energy every time we play because we love doing it and we love hardcore, so we want to put 100% into everything we do. Of course it is a lot easier when the crowd is into it and you can feed off their energy. Some nights it's incredibly easy and sometimes you have to make yourself go crazy, but we love playing shows and this is what we all want to do right now, so we are going to give it our all.

What is next for Call to Preserve?
Harbor: Right now, we are focusing on getting back on the road and touring as much as possible. We have been on tour for about two and a half weeks now, we just met up with For Today a few days ago and we will be with them until the end of the month. We've got a couple full U.S tours lined up after that, including a few dates in Mexico and Canada. In February we will be doing a full Canadian tour and in April we'll heading to Puerto Rico for a few shows too. After that it'll probably be more touring and hopefully some of those tours will be overseas.  [ END ]
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