Interview with Noah from Bleed the Sky
Interview and pictures by Mike Coles
Conducted on 4/4/06
I wasn't too sure what I was getting my self into when A.T.H. asked me to join and take pictures of them while on tour. Heading down to good ol' Texas (I used to live in Houston back in the day), I thanked God there were only 3 members in the band so I could selfishly have the back "cave" part of the van for my self so I could sleep most of the way down, assuming I wouldn't get any real rest while on this little journey, taking advantage of sleep as much as I could. I can be a real jerk when I'm tired!
Bleed the Sky is the band that asked A.T.H. to join them on this little Texan tour, and to be honest, it wasn't as wild of a tour as I thought it was going to be, meaning we all survived and nobody got arrested; thank God! I wasn't familiar with Bleed the Sky prior to the tour, but after seeing them perform, hearing their music, and over-hearing certain remarks Noah, the vocalist, made about Christian heavy metal and about life in general, I had to get up-close and personal. Here's a little chat with Noah.
The Outcast: Okay, I'm sitting here with Noah, vocalist for Bleed the Sky. Please give me a brief history of the band, it wasn't until this little mini-Texan tour with Annihilate the Hero (I'm their wanna-be roadie / photographer) that I heard you guys.
Noah: We've been together since, I believe since December 2002, so just over three years. Kyle and I were together writing stuff a year before that, if not a bit more. We started out just hanging out and playing around, throwing some ideas for music. As we started writing better stuff, we were like; "This is pretty good. We should try to get more serious about it." We found all the guys we have now and they are first round dudes that we totally lucked out with. Our personalities meshed, the musicianship was there that we were looking for, and we've been touring the shit out of this record ever since it came out.
The Outcast: Why the name Bleed the Sky? What does it represent?
Noah: To be honest the thought process that was put into it was minuet. We were all really drunk and we thought it sounded really cool. But now, to us it means don't ever fucking give up. If you want it bad enough you can have it. A perfect example would be Annihilate the Hero. They got outside of their area, like this, and all of our fans love them. It's a tough name, it sounds like a metal band, but you can make up your own meaning if you want.
The Outcast: Speaking of metal and Kyle, does he write most of the stuff? Listening to you play live the 2nd night of the tour, I could hear a lot of melody and a lot more melodic metal riffs than the nu-metal /hard-core cross-over riffs I was expecting to hear, which I was happy to hear due to not really liking that nu-style of music. I had never heard you guys before all of these shows and finally decided to buy the CD so I could actually listen to it on the way down to the final show. I was really surprised and impressed, so I was happy it was money well spent. Who influenced you guys musically as a whole?
Noah: Some of our stuff that is on our record that some people consider hard-core, if you look back at it, its older metal. Sepultura, if you want to call them breakdowns, and shit like that, they were doing this/that before any hard-core bands were even thinking about it. The low growling and stuff that people consider hard-core, go back and listen to old Deicide. Metal is where all of those styles came from. Kyle and I write the majority of the guitar riffs together, we've always worked well and complimented each other. I'll write something, I'll get to a stuck-point, and then he'll take it and run with it until he gets to a stuck-point, and then it'll come back to me. We just go back and forth with everything.
The Outcast: So both of you are the main song members/song writers?
Noah: To us, there are two types of artists, either creative or reactive. Kyle and I are probably more of the creative elements that come up with the initial riffs, where as Wayne, Austin, Disco and Puck, all those guys are extremely reactive. Once they hear something, they just fucking react to what's there and they make it sound completely different, but always better. So it's like yeah, Kyle and I are the main riff writers so to speak but Austin helps a lot to. He has an excellent sense of rhythm and everything, but our background is straight up metal, grunge, and classic rock.
The Outcast: What do you guys listen to, who are some of your favorites?
Noah: Probably without question our two favorites are Alice in Chains and Pantera. The heaviest of the fuckin' heavy and then the darker side of what grunge had to offer. It wasn't necessarily the heaviest, you know, but they are so fucking dark. Bands like Sound Garden and even older Pearl Jam and stuff like that. On the more metal side stuff like White Zombie, stuff like Clutch, Down, Cannibal Corpse, we take influences from so many different genres that it's hard to really pin-point where we're going from here. What can we do to change it up so people won't get bored with it (the music), so we don't get bored with it, but without losing the edge that we had already, you know?
The Outcast: On top of the melody and the guitar work, I really appreciate the minimal use of the clean vocal approach. There are few bands in my book that can pull off the use of both styles and how they choose to use their vocal arrangements. Some bands can't decide what they are musically and do not really overuse one or the other vocal styles, not having a real balance. Almost as if they aren't sure of themselves, or what style they should use. Do you know what I mean? Also, what kind of training, if any, do you have for your singing abilities?
Noah: Like I said before, one of my favorite things in the world is listening to groups that have really intricate vocal harmonies. If you can sing that is one thing, but to me (pause), the first time I ever heard Alice in Chains, I was fucking blown away. I was like; "No FUCKING way!! Is this possible?" I was just put-back. As far as vocal training, this is the first band to ever front. I've always played guitar and played back-up vocals, but this is the first one to ever front. I played the trumpet for 15 years, I was in church choir, and I was always around music, whether or not it shows in this type of music, it was always there. If I wasn't listening to AC/DC, I was listening to Stabbing Westward. If I wasn't listening to that, I was listening to Robert Palmer, or Michael Jackson. There was always music in my life and within my family.
The Outcast: You hooked up with Nuclear Blast Records, how many records will you be putting out with them?
Noah: We're going to be with Nuclear for 4-6 albums.
The Outcast: Is it a pretty good contract, good people?
Noah: Oh yeah, it's been amazing, especially for us. That was the one record label out of all of them that are around now that we DID NOT shop to because we thought it was out of reach. Fuckin' Meshuggha, In Flames, Soilwork, Dimmu B.; all of those great bands are on this label, so we were like; "No way." We were shopping some of our other favorites, Century Media, Roadrunner, Victory, all those labels. They didn't really shut us down, but said that they weren't all that interested. Then Nuclear......
The Outcast: They got a hold of you guys?
Noah: One of their A&R went and checked us out a few times because they heard some good things. They saw us 4 or 5 times in a row before making a decision and they liked what we had. It was kind of strange how the thing went about and it all happened pretty quick, we were all just like; "Holy shit! We're getting offered a fucking record deal here." The name carries a lot of respect, you know? It isn't the majors, but it's very respectable.
The Outcast: But they are pretty major when it comes to this style of music. They are major in their own department I think.
Noah: They are still independent, but at the same time, like Roadrunner and Metal Blade, these three are the top heavy metal labels (You can count-out Roadrunner my friend!! - Mike!) that are out. Almost every band out there that you can think of are on those labels.
The Outcast: So what prompt you guys to ask Annihilate the Hero to tour with you guys? How did you guys meet/hook up?
Noah: We played this really crappy show in Iowa, it was way out of the way and we weren't really making enough money from it, but we said "fuck it" because there might be people there. My Ruin ended up canceling that night because I think (???) was having problems with (???) (Couldn't hear what was said due to the wind blowing - Mike), but we went ahead and did it. It was just us, A.T.H., and one other band. It was almost like a 600 foot square room, with 2 little speakers, a 4 channel mixer, there was no promotion, there were like 10 kids there, but we walked in and watched these guys and we were all brought-back! We were like; "Holy shit!" It was the right place at the right time type of thing. We were all amazed. We came back out with Silent Civilian and hooked back up with A.T.H. in Peoria, IL., and I remember telling Wayne right after the show; "Enough fucking around, these guys are too good just not to be given opportunities.", you know what I mean? Bands like these need help, let's do that for them. I told Wayne; let's put them on the whole second part of the tour if we can. They (A.T.H.) were so pumped whenever we got them on these shows. It's not often you meet guys that the friendship and the connection is there on a friendly level, and on a musicians level as well. I guarantee we have just as much respect for them as they have for us, as far as on-stage and as people. They are genuine great fucking dudes and they are great musicians. We love hanging out with them, we can shoot the shit, and we can all talk about all the same exact bands, we fucking love them.
The Outcast: Tell me about "Paradigm in Entropy." What exactly is the concept or the message that you are expressing to the listeners. Do you write all the lyrics?
Noah: It has to be something personal to me otherwise I'm just wasting my time. I do like to go to the rest of the guys in the band and say; "What do you guys have for an idea? What can we do? If you guys have ideas, write them down and let me have them." you know? I'll take them and try to make them work. Of course everything I do I seek the bands approval. I ask them to read this (lyrics) while I'm singing along with it and ask them to tell me what they think; note for note, word for word. We'll go back and basically grade it. We'll take a red pen and say; "This word doesn't work, try this word." All the songs on the album to us, it's like everything that this world has stood for, for centuries and centuries, the way it is now, it is a complete 180. It's like; priests are molesting kids in the churches, wars over seas, everything from religion to politics, to relationships, to everything. Everything we grew up with and were taught to respect, it's just done, and it's completely back-wards. Instead of everyone (humanity) walking forward, everyone's got their back and is backing up. Religion is a big thing to us, a couple of the guys are extremely religious, but they are also open-minded.
The Outcast: I read where Kyle and Wayne thank God on their credits.
Noah: It's hard to label it as Christianity or Catholicism or anything like that. They have more like a religious aspect, they pray to whatever God they are talking to, or to whatever God that they obey, and it works for them, and that's cool, but they also understand the meaning behind to a lot of the lyrics I write because the main reason I don't go to church is because I grew up in church. I see the hypocrisy, I see the 2 faced attitude that everyone.... well, not everyone, but the majority of people have that are in church. It's kind of, a lot of it is back and forth, we all have our strong view points about everything and we are all very stubborn. A lot of times when we are sitting down and we are all writing, we'll sit around and talk it out. A lot of stuff is taken out of context, offensive, whatever; to us none of it is offensive. To us it is no different than turning the TV on to CNN and watching bodies all over the fucking street in Iraq, you know? What's more offensive?
The Outcast: While on the subject of members with different beliefs, I understand only 2 of the members in Bleed the Sky smoke marijuana, while the other 3 of you do not. You guys have a shirt that says; "Smoke Fucking Dope." What would the purpose be to have a shirt like this if only 2 of the members smoke dope? Was it a mutual agreement to have this shirt, or in the end was it the 2 stoners' decision?
Noah: (laughter) It was one of the stoners ideas to do it, but to be honest the one who was more behind it than anybody was Kyle; the clean guy in the group. Our merch. sales were not doing well and our designs were kind of week, and stuff like that, so we were like; "Let's just put out a shirt that will make some money." We probably sell ten-fold more shirts than any of the others. We got that from the official 101 live Pantera album where Phil goes; "Smoke fuckin' dope!" Phil is a God to us so we were like let's immortalize that on a t-shirt. It's hilarious! None of us, whether or not we do smoke, have a problem with it or are against it. Although I don't necessarily smoke, I'm all about it whoever wants to smoke, fucking do it. I think it is okay for us to do something like that even if we don't smoke because we're not against it. We do support it. Kyle doesn't drink, Puck doesn't drink a lot, but he smokes a lot of fucking weed, to each their own, you know?
The Outcast: Going to your lyrics, taken from - The Martyr;
"There is no reasoning behind this - All the suffering keeps me stumbling - There is no reason behind this - For all this pain that's still around - Pain that's still around - There is no God, only me."
Do you think this is the reason why most humans deny the existence of God/a God, because of all the suffering in the world? Is this why you deny God, or do not believe in God (asking him and assuming he does not believe in a God/God)?
Noah: It's kind of.... that's one of those things to..... that's one of those songs that I was saying earlier, if taken out of context it could mean one thing, but if you know the whole meaning behind it, it's not that I'm against God, because I do believe in God, I just think he's a cock-sucker. I don't like Him. I know there is a God, I've seen enough in my life to know there is a God, but I just don't fucking like Him. With those lyrics, to me, it just wasn't flat out saying; "There is no God!" to me, that whole fucking song basically, and I'm sure this will open a whole new light to you after reading the lyrics and hearing the song again. That whole song basically is about me walking in on one of my ex's, 5 months pregnant, fucking one of my best friends. After seeing that, I remember walking out of the fucking house and just; "There is no God! If there is a God He would not have let me seen that." If there was a God, we would have engaged by now. If there is a God, bring it, where are you, here's you're fucking chance, let's do this.
The Outcast: In my opinion one of the most beautiful things on this planet, yet is also a curse, is free-will. I think humans in general tend to ruin the image of God and what God stands for.
Noah: I'm not trying to.... I do agree with you 100%. I do think it is one of the most beautiful things but I also think it is one of the most dangerous things. I'm not trying to ruin God by any means by any of the things I say, I'm just expressing how I feel; you know what I mean? You're not trying to bad mouth your mom when you get off the phone with her; "That fucking bitch." You're not trying to persuade anyone that your mom is a fucking bitch, your just expressing your anger. The things I say (in the lyrics) are just the emotions that I felt at that time. I don't walk around with my middle finger up in the air. I don't wear a bunch of fucking pentagram shit, I'm damn sure not a fucking Satanist, you know? I have read the Satanic Bible and I have read the Holy Bible, cover to cover, so I understand everything well enough to make my own fucking judgment. The line you were just talking about; "All the suffering keeps me stumbling." That pertains to so many different things, not just one thing in general. It's hard for me to go to church when you hear about priests molesting little boys, you know?
The Outcast: What were you raised (denomination)?
Noah: I was raised Southern Baptist. You don't hear about Southern Baptist preachers rubbing up on little kids and shit, but you do see a lot of hypocrisy, especially with the drinking and smoking and stuff you know? It's okay for a deacon of a church to walk out to their car and light up a cigarette after church in the parking lot, but if you are an underage kid smoking, you're going to hell, you know? It never made sense to me and I still try and make sense of it.
The Outcast: Going back to the priest thing, I used to be pissed off about that a lot as well, you know, blaming Catholicism and God and what not, but something a friend told me that made sense to me one day is that priests don't become pedophiles, pedophiles become priests.
Noah: That makes a lot of sense.
The Outcast: What better way to destroy the good in something than for evil to disguise in that goods name? If I were evil, I would disguise my self, or carry a "good guy / Christian" image, and then commit random acts of evil in order to destroy that goods name.
Noah: That's a good way of putting it, I never really thought about it that way.
The Outcast: They made me see that whole priest/pedophile thing differently. I can name many people in my family who were sexually abused as children. It also happened to someone else that is VERY, VERY close to me. The guy who did this to this person lives 20 minutes away from me. Do you know how hard it is for me to not go and kill this individual, knowing he was accused but never convicted?
Noah: There was a guy in my town just like that to and he lived right by the grade school.
The Outcast: I don't even consider these people human.
Noah: Their monsters.
The Outcast: They are-they are. Anyone who takes away a child's innocence in my opinion should die.
Noah: There are only 2 (kinds of) people in this world who I think deserve zero mercy, throw them into an open volcano, hang them, I don't give a fuck how you kill them; pedophiles and fucking rapists (pretty much the same thing though, eh? - Mike). If someone breaks into your car they are a fucking thief, but chances are they aren't going to take away that personal innocence, you know what I mean? Women that have been raped and the same goes with women whose husbands or boyfriends beat on them, it's like you're taking away..... It's like beating a good dog, and I don't mean that in a negative sense, or comparing women to dogs, but you may have seen a dog that was raised getting the shit beat out of him, no matter how loving and whatever family you put them into the rest of their lives, they are still going to cower, they'll always walk with their head down. You pick up a fucking broom like you're going to sweep and they cower and pee the floor because they are so scared. It's not fair, people like that are just monsters. Pedophiles and all rapists.... Just shoot them. If you're a rapist and you're guilty, the judge should pull out a gun and shoot them in the head; next, line them up, take care of them. Those are the fucking people who never fucking, NEVER FUCKING recover. You always hear about repeated rapists and repeated pedophiles.
The Outcast: There was an article I was reading in the paper about this guy who got arrested for the SECOND time for child-pornography. I'm like; "Why is there a second time?! There should not be a second time!" They should treat pedophiles/all rapists as murderers, and they don't. They let them off.
Noah: (Saying it really fast) Do you know why, you know why....... Because they look at it like this; because the person that they messed with is still alive, but NO THEY'RE NOT!! They are not the same person. If you talk to most of these people (the victims) they would rather be dead. A lot of people (victims) say; "I wish he would have killed me because I can't even close my eyes without seeing this person any more.
The Outcast: And the women who get impregnated by a rapist, I'm not going to get into it all, but this brings up the whole abortion issue, when is it okay? If I were a woman who got raped and had to carry a child as a reminder, I don't know if I could handle that, you know?
Noah: You better believe I'm going to fucking take care of it myself if a Dr. won't do it. I'll throw myself down a flight of stairs. I'll fucking punch myself in the stomach, whatever the fuck I have to do.
The Outcast: Life is just too complex when it comes to issues such as these. Where does one draw the line? There is no white line.
Noah: But you know what? There used to be, that's the thing. Without really knowing it, that's pretty much what we were going for. That's pretty much our overall concept of the record; there is no white line anymore. What's okay with the government is a sin in the Bible. All these things are completely against each other, when in the beginning everything was together; politics, religion, everything went together. You were crucified for impersonating God. That's the only reason they killed Jesus (well, that, and it was meant/supposed to happen. - Mike) because He claimed to be the Messiah. He was prosecuted in a court of law for that.
The Outcast: What do you think about Jesus Christ and what He stood for and claimed?
Noah: (Brief pause) I think it's possible. (Long pause) I've seen first hand - I've seen a lot of crazy shit. I've seen someone with stigmata, you know? I've witnessed that. Our whole church youth group went to a hospital two hours from where I grew up at in Oklahoma. They said there was a woman in there (hospital) with stigmata and they showed us. You see stuff like that, maybe.... I'm not trying to discredit, by any means, that Jesus was the son of God. It's so hard to say yes or no because my faith isn't in Christianity, but that's not to say He wasn't the Son of God. But at the same time (pauses) ..... It's just so difficult to say man. I don't even know how to start that. The Virgin Mary.... She's a virgin? She's pregnant? There are so many things..... And it's not because I'm a fucking agnostic asshole that I question all this, growing up I wasn't allowed to question this. I was forced; "Watch your forked tongue!" This is what you believe and this is what you do. Now I'm at the age where I can make my own fucking decisions. I can remember ever since I got out of high-school and got out of my house. I've been questioning everything that I grew up knowing, you know, because I never had much of a choice before.
The Outcast: Do you think that maybe some of the metal bands lyrics influenced you to question when you got older and got into this style of music?
Noah: I think it did, but I don't want to say that in an influentially negative way. It definitely showed me that I wasn't really alone. Alice in Chains is a perfect example; they really ride that fence of sacrilege a lot of times, you know, but I've also read interviews with Lance T.; "What does this song that's called; "God am Mean", what exactly does it represent?" The lyrics are pretty intense. It makes you out to be anti-God basically. He said; "Basically what that song is, if I got to sit down at a table with God, or if I could write God a letter and hand it to Him, this is what I would say." It was good to hear stuff like that for me only because at times I felt bad that I was questioning these things, because I grew up in very firm Southern Baptist family, and community. I started questioning these things and initially I felt bad, like I was betraying God, and this and that, but after hearing some of these songs, it made it a little bit easier for me to question because I saw that I wasn't alone. I saw that people that I kind of looked up to had the same feelings that I did. It made it a bit more acceptable for me.
The Outcast: So if a Christian came up to you and handed you a flier that read; "Have you accepted Jesus Christ?" would you; A) calmly tell him sorry but you have different beliefs but begin to discuss each others beliefs B) tell him sorry but you have different beliefs and you walk away or C) tell him to fuck off and die?
Noah: Well, definitely not fuck off and die. Like I said, I still have a lot of friends who are still involved heavily into church and Christianity so I would probably talk to them, and the point that I would stop talking to them, I wouldn't be a dick-head, but that I would stop talking to them is if they weren't open minded and if they kept saying; "You're wrong, you're wrong, you're going to hell!" Okay, then you need not waste your time. If I'm already there, then why are you wasting your time for? See you later. I wouldn't cuss them, I wouldn't fucking hit them in the face, but I really do enjoy sitting down with firm Christian believers that are open-minded because they'll honestly, they do have their faith and they do believe it, but they'll say; "I can see that. I understand why that would be difficult and I can tell you why I believe in this, and in why it is this way." Those are some of the nicest, most genuine people I know. One of my preachers that I grew up with was... he was the type of preacher; "What music do you listen to?" I'd reply; "Alice in Chains." "Do you mind," borrowing the CD. Okay, cool. He was telling us stories about growing up with Zeppelin, AC/DC, and all this stuff. He was only 15 years older than us, he wasn't that old of a guy, and he would say he loved the music but not necessarily the message. He was the type of guy who could see that I wasn't going to go and cut someone's head off and that it wasn't going to make me anti-God, or whatever. He understands as much about the free-will, you know? The Bible pushes free-will and gives man the decision, but to play devils advocate, God sets the rules in opposition of free-will. Free-will is just to live life and careless at times, to have fun, if you fuck up then pick your self up back up and rebuild. Then all the rules say you can't do this or you can do that.
The Outcast: How much free-will is too much/bad?
Noah: Exactly. But I really do enjoy sitting down and talking... Especially like my mother, a really firm Christian woman, but she'll cut me off, you know? I won't have a chance to say; "Okay we're done, you're not listening." She'll say; "Well, let's just change the subject because if you're not going to take what I have to say the way I have to say it then it's not even worth it." Then I'm like; "You're right, cool, let's go eat lunch."
The Outcast: You were talking about Christian metal the other night. Do you actually believe that Christian metal can exist or do you think it is a contradiction to even have metal and Christianity in the same breath?
Noah: I remember when my mother first heard me listen to Living Sacrifice, she said; "Turn that devil garbage off!" I'm like; "Do you realize this entire record is taken from a Baptist hymnal? All the lyrics, did you know that?" She'd be like; "You can't understand anything he's saying." "You can if you read along with lyrics and you're into this style of music." One might not be used to the style and the way that it is being said, but its all there. When I explained it to her (mom) like that she was like; "I don't like the music at all, but as long as it isn't a negative message." I firmly believe that there is Christian metal because metal to me is just a type of music. We're metal, but we're not by any means... we're light-hearted guys, you know, how's that any different than Christians doing the same thing?
The Outcast: This interview is taking place in McAllen, Texas. Where is the next show taking place?
Noah: We've actually got two days off to get back home (Southern California) and then we have a show with Arch Enemy, Chimaira, and God Forbid. Then we're heading up to Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, etc... Usually when we go out we just.... What's the focal point of this tour? Where do we want to hit? Where is it going to be the most beneficial, you know?
The Outcast: Any closing words?
Noah: (Sarcastically) Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll!! (Laughter from the both of us). Thanks so much man, we really fucking appreciate it. I'm glad you enjoyed the record and if you like that, you're going to be blown away with our new shit!