Girls and God, same difference

alldaydrive

Emo is the key for this Christian band, which maybe shouldn’t be labeled as a Christian band at all.

Emo is the key for this Christian band, which maybe shouldn’t be labeled as a Christian band at all.

Photo By David Robert

Alldaydrive performs Sept. 25 at Club Underground with Sincerely Me and Elk River Etiquette. The band’s Quiet Life EP comes out on Dec. 1. Visit www.alldaydrive.com for more information or to book a show.

Christianity has been a difficult theme to address in modern music; it has led to cheesy bastardizations (e.g., Stryper and DC Talk) in genres that didn’t need the help, and at its preachiest, it doesn’t work on the same level as angry, white boy socialism (Fugazi, Refused, etc.). But perhaps there is a musical equivalent to Roger Ebert’s maxim that it’s not what a film is about but how it’s about it. According to Logan Needham, the band’s bassist, alldaydrive is “a bunch of Christian guys who play really good rock music.” To be more specific, alldaydrive is a group of Christian guys who follow a punk aesthetic and play slow, melodic emo music. And emo is the key.

Joining Needham are Tim Lemaire (guitar, vocals), Joey Lear (guitar, vocals), Steve Lemaire (lead guitar) and Scotty Gerraise (drums).

A brief relationship with Bettie Rocket Records, a Santa Cruz-based Christian punk label, led to the band’s CD High Points and Heartaches, which lives up to its name. After it was recorded, the record label and the distribution company wanted two songs, “Passports” and “Once Again,” removed from the album.

"['Passports'] is a love story. It’s a fun, movie-plot, what-if sort of song. And [our distributor] didn’t like that because of something that had happened to his uncle—his uncle was found dead in a park for smuggling something,” says Lemaire. “We don’t condone smuggling.”

“Then there was another song ['Once Again'] that was actually a prayer, and we used the phrase ‘damn me and just let me die,’ as in just get it over with and let me get on with the rest of existence,” Lemaire continues. “Because it was a Christian distribution company, they didn’t like that word even in the context that it was in.

“It all came down to the fact that they didn’t have the distribution we wanted. We wanted to go mainstream market, they wanted to go Christian market.”

The band decided to pay off and sever its ties with the label and did it in the most punk-rock way possible. “We discussed earlier that we didn’t want to compromise ourselves or our music,” says Needham. “We met [our distributor] in the Santa Cruz Mountains with a big, fat manila envelope, like 4 inches of bills. We got tons of ones and fives just because it was fun to have a massive stack of cash to slide across the table.”

When all is said and done, the result is excellent. The band has created a tight distillation of the emo sound: slow guitar-picking, sweet harmonies, and Lemaire has a croon that sells the sentimentality. Perhaps unsurprisingly, emo is the perfect genre to express spiritual leanings; the generality of the lyrics makes it easy to personalize. Knowing that “Once Again” is a prayer doesn’t change my view that when I hear the lyric, “I need you to forgive me/ so many times I’m not trying,” I hear a man guilty about letting down his woman.

So it would be unfair to categorize them simply as a Christian band. At heart, they are a hard working rock ‘n’ roll band with a unique history and the usual qualities people look for: energy, talent, good songs and a little extra something—as Lemaire explains:

“The funniest thing that happened was this girl said, ‘I took some pictures of your band when you guys were playing.' And she e-mailed them to us. We opened them, and there were six pictures of Scotty setting up and six pictures of him taking down. Not a single picture of us playing or anything else."