Metal act Demon Hunter are more than just your typical scream-filled rock band with guitar licks to break
your bones. With a smart sense of the industry and a passion for Christ, Demon Hunter is one of those bands that just plain makes
us proud. We recently caught up with Demon Hunter's chief songwriter and vocalist Ryan Clark to discuss their fourth
record, Storm The Gates Of Hell...
This interview took place on: November 13, 2007
Jesus freak Hideout: Did you approach the writing process differently for Storm The Gates of Hell than with past records?
Yes. We had more time to write, and fleshed out each song in demo form before we entered the studio- something we had never done
before. In addition to that, we had more time in the studio as well, so I think that helped immensely. I feel like we were more
prepared than we had ever been.
JFH: What was the significance of taking off the entire year from touring, on top of writing and recording Storm The Gates of Hell? Did anything else come out from that time off (besides the resultant record)?
That year enabled us to really put our all into this record. It allowed us the time and attention to make STGOH the very best
that we could. We have very busy lives outside of the band as well, so taking that time off from touring helped us maintain our
sanity. I feel that we function very well as a band because of our ability to dictate our schedule. We don't get burnt out - and
because of that, I could see this band continuing for years and years.
JFH: How has the mainstream response to the bold spiritual themes in your music been?
Great. We don't get much guff about our beliefs. There are, of course, snide remarks made in the occasional album review, but that's
because music journalists are critics first and music lovers second. That's why they usually lead with "Christian Bible thumpers Demon
Hunter..." because they'd rather review our beliefs than our music. But in the larger scope, we've received nothing but respect from
the mainstream- bands and fans alike.
JFH: In explaining "A Thread of Light," you said, among other things, that a lot of Christians
mis-interpret the band and its name and appearance for being evil instead of a light shining in the darkness. Do you have any
encouraging stories about how your music has reached someone in a way that you feel you couldn't have if you were a Christian contemporary act or a college rock band?
I have tons and tons of examples. I have an email folder jam-packed with letters of thanks and encouragement for what we do.
I received one the other day where the guy said something to the effect of "it's ironic that the very medium that pulled me away from
God, would one day draw me back," meaning heavy metal, of course. For people to think what we do can't be positive is completely
ignorant- and really, really insulting to the people that have been touched by Christian metal. People have come to Christ through
what we (and bands like us) do. How can you argue that? Some people live in little bubbles of false security and naivety, and it's
unfortunate that they can't see what's happening on the outside- because it's pretty amazing.
JFH: "Sixteen" was inspired by Christians involved in the Christian music industry that don't seem
to live out their faith. With so many trying to deconstruct the existence of such a genre (perhaps to even throw out accountability?),
what are your thoughts on "Christian music" as a genre and industry?
I think Christianity is (dare I say) bastardized by some Christian bands. Many bands start out with a mission of ministry and as soon
as they go out into the "real world," they find themselves unprepared for the temptations and trials that come their way. I'm not just
talking about young kids either. There are plenty of adults that I've seen fall hard and ruin their lives and the lives of others.
I'll go on record here saying there are some absolutely TERRIBLE people active in the scene, masquerading as Christians- singing "Christ-based" songs to kids every night. I can be a very forgiving person, but I'm also very disgusted by what I know and see in the scene- to the point where I struggle with hate in that area.
JFH: Can you tell us a bit about "Thorns" and where the inspiration came from?
The song is about cutting or self-inflicted pain of any kind really. I wrote it specifically for girls, actually, but I hope it may
reach some males that deal with this as well. The lyrics actually used to say "she" everywhere that there is now a "you."
In actuality, it's not inspired by something specific that I knew or heard about. All I knew is that it seemed to be this
increasingly popular way of dealing with pain for younger kids these days. In essence, it interested me, because I've never dealt
with that sort of thing myself, and I wanted to understand it. All I could think of, was that Christ took on all of our pain so that
we wouldn't have to deal with it. I understand pain, but I also understand that redemption and sacrifice overpower pain.
JFH: How about "No Reason To Exist?"
"No Reason To Exist" is about young adults that have willingly and pridefully taken on a lifestyle of street living.
There is a trend in which kids that come from middle or upper class homes choose to live homeless, jobless and reckless.
It just struck me as insulting- to people who have no choice but to live that way. I think these people see it as a fun and carefree
alternative to living responsibly- and it's easy for them, because if things get REALLY tough, they can just run back to mom and dad's
house. I know enough about this "scene" to know that many of these kids are not living these hard lives out of necessity, but
rather because of the music, fashion and careless attitude that accompanies the lifestyle. It sounds insane, and every last one of
them would argue that those things have nothing to do with it, but if that were the case, they wouldn't all have matching outfits with
hand-sewn Crass and Discharge patches on their sun-bleached black jeans. It's a trend just like anything else- and passing it off as
genuinely victimized lowliness is insulting.
JFH: Is there a track on Storm The Gates Of Hell that has greater personal meaning than the others?
"Lead Us Home" is my favorite, musically. My favorite lyrics would probably be from "Grand Finale," which is a bonus track on the
special edition of the record. They're the most blatantly Christ-centered lyrics I've ever written. I'm not only proud of the
boldness, but the cadence, sharpness and honesty of these lyrics.
JFH: What do you do to keep yourself spiritually grounded - at home and on the road?
Friends and family. Doing my best to maintain my prayer life and time in the Word. I'm also grounded by our fans. They allow me the
ability to stay on top of my spiritual life by communicating with me, and allowing me to communicate with them.
JFH: What has God been teaching you lately?
Patience and humility.
Demon Hunter's Storm The Gates Of Hell is available now!