By Mike Coles
Saviour Machine has been around since 1990 and has been working hard in establishing themselves here in the U.S., as well as in other parts of the world. Thanks to Massacre records helping them out with distribution, and excessive touring, they have gained a strong following in Germany and in other parts of Europe. If youíre open-minded to their message, by all means buy their albums, especially their first release, which is my favorite. This release is exceptional power metal with a touch of a dark gothic influence, while the trilogy apocalyptic concept albums are a bit more orchestrated goth, which took a while to get used to, but are all still exceptional releases.
The Outcast: Why did you decide to go from your debut, which was more metal oriented, to a more gothic/orchestrated musical approach?
Eric: I donít know if it was decision, it was more of a natural progression. I think that the first album which was released in 1993, um, most bands first record takes years to put together, you know? We formed in 1990 and what you hear on Saviour Machine (s/t) is the first three years of the band. We were young and raw and still searching for an identity. You could say weíve had some time to develop and choose the material and that sort of thing.
The Outcast: What bands influenced you guys back then?
Eric: Some of the stronger influences back then were probably some of the same influences today. We came from a background listening to Pink F., Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Led Z., early Genesis........
The Outcast: Have you ever heard Solitude Aeturnus?
Eric: Yeah, they just opened up for us on a tour. We just did 16 dates in Europe and they were our support act on that tour. They were a bunch of great guys, we loved those guys. We spent a lot of time with them. Theyíre a great band. They did one of the best cover versions of "Heaven and Hell" that Iíve ever heard.
The Outcast: What other secular bands have you guys played with?
Eric: Weíve done tours with a lot of black metal acts.
The Outcast: Really!?
Eric: Yeah, overseas. Weíve played with Theater of Tragedy, Alastis,......
The Outcast: Do these bands usually open up for Saviour Machine?
Eric: The tour we did with T.O.T. was a co-headlining thing. It was an interesting tour. Most of the time we play with a lot of secular bands, itís some sort of festival. Weíre probably one of the only Christian bands that get the opportunity to play certain festivals. We played the (I couldnít understand what he said, I believe it was German Ė Mike) open-air festival last year, which is the largest metal festival over in Europe. There were like 40,000 people attending this show. Bands like Slayer, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Motor Head, just about every band you can think of was playing.
The Outcast: Has Saviour Machine, as a whole, ever had any conflicts with any un-holier than thou bands/individuals?
Eric: Major conflicts, nothing on a human level. Nothing thatís tangible. Weíre all personal people and most of the bands you tour with and most professional acts we tour with, you find out that most of the time there are a lot of good people in these bands and they are professionals. Itís hard to get anywhere with an unprofessional attitude, you know? So most of the time you find out that even people who claim to be overly satanic, or more humanistic or that sort of thing, you find that most of the time, regardless of what they are preaching from the stage, these people are really descent, even if they are preaching doom and gloom or that life isnít worth anything, itís interesting. I think that a lot of what comes out of a lot of these quote un-quote black metal acts, a lot of it is mainly a marketing scheme, an image, or some sense of rebellion that has come forth from confusion or misdirection. Itís humanism at its source. Iíve talked to a lot of these bands and Iíve had conversations with them and you find out that they believe somewhat of what they are saying, but in many cases itís their own confusion thatís driving it. Their own discontentment or disillusion and a lot of it, is just anger. Itís a hate filled world and there is a lot of hate to go around. Hate sales, you know?
The Outcast: After you get done playing, do any of the bands youíre touring with realize that youíre a Christian band?
Eric: They already know this before we go on tour with the band.
The Outcast: How do the bands you play with react to your live show?
Eric: Weíve had different reactions with different bands. Most of the time, after you get further into the tour and you get talking, theyíll say; "Before we did this tour we thought that you were going to be these freaky Christians, preaching around to everybody, and we felt really weird to be around you guys, but you guys are really cool. We didnít know what to expect from you musically or visually.", and that sort of thing. Sometimes we get the funny compliments like; "For being a Christian band, you guys are a lot scarier and intense than any black metal band weíve ever seen.", and that sort of thing. Itís kind of funny. In the end weíre all human beings and thereís ways to communicate and appreciate where another person is coming from even if you donít agree with it.
The Outcast: I want to ask you about one of your past concerts. I donít know the entire story, but I recall hearing that at one of your concerts at Cornerstone you started crying. I heard that it was because people didnít really accept/understand the concept and the imagery of Saviour Machine very well and that it was a real emotional time for all of you due to people turning their backs on the band. Would you mind telling me about that incident?
Eric: Actually, that was in 1997. We..... this gets into a long story, but back in 1993, when our first album came out, there was a good buzz about Saviour Machine before we released our first record. The record sold really well in the stores for about six weeks, and shortly after, the controversy started brewing. We had such a backlash of controversy within the first two months that by the end of the third month, 85-90% of Saviour Machine (s/t) had been pulled from Christian retail. That really ended our initial interest into the Christian music world. I guess you could say that we were ahead of our time with the makeup, the imagery, and some of the more impressionistic lyrics and so forth. It was too much for the, letís say the Bible belt, or the mainstream America. The Christian music world was definitely not ready for it here (the U.S.), that it closed the book here. Fortunately God opened a huge door for us over in Europe. Four years later, after the success in the secular market in Europe, a door was opened back here in the states last year in 1997, with the release of Legend, Part One. Shortly after that we were invited to play cornerstone, and actually that concert was the first concert that we have performed here in the U.S. in four years. I guess you could say that towards the end of the show, I was emotionally moved.
The Outcast: Would you agree or disagree that there are a lot of people today and of course in the past, that used/use the word of God or His name for evil purposes?
Eric: Man is corrupt. Man is imperfect. The bottom line is that man has, letís say, destroyed just about everything heís touched since the dawn of time. There are a lot of men in this world, especially in this country, that have absolutely distorted and corrupted the word of God. They have used the name of God to make billions of dollars, you know? Itís not for me to judge them though. Itís a great tragedy.
The Outcast: What Iím also getting to is this. The Bible was written YEARS ago, how do we know that scripture hasnít been tampered with throughout the translations and the years? Catholicism has two extra chapters that the protestant religions donít have in their Bible. How could anyone have faith in a book that was written so long ago, when we see how corrupt man is to begin with?
Eric: I guess you are asking part to one of the most complicated questions, is the word of God Devine? Has Gods sovereignty protected it from mans corruption? I believe that you have to look at that question, and all questions of that nature in two ways. You need to look at it scripturally and spiritually. Actually, you also need to look at it historically. I get this question and questions of that nature, about the validity of the Bible all the time from non-believers. I present it to them historically before I present it to them spiritually. This is the fact; the fact is that the Bible was only put together a little over 500 years ago. Obviously the Old Testament was the Bible of the Jewish people. This was written over 4000 years ago and the New Testament was written shortly there after. I believe that the men, the prophets chosen by God to bring the word of God to the world, in the end it all comes down to a matter of faith. Itís good to have a historical background, the more you know about history the more you can prove the validity of the Bible, especially when it comes to prophecy. The most amazing thing about Bible prophecy is that itís 100% perfect. If you want to look at the Bible as a history book, itís the most profound history book ever written, because every prophecy that was ever written, every prophecy has been fulfilled exactly the way it was predicted to be fulfilled. No self proclaimed prophet in the history of the world can ever claim absolute perfection from his prophecies. Every single prophecy that was ever predicted in the Bible has been fulfilled exactly the way it was predicted, therefore, looking at that as the historical fact everyone should consider if the Bible has been perfectly accurate in its predictions up until now, we should consider that the predictions that are yet to come will continue to be perfect.
The Outcast: Do you ever struggle with your faith or just being a Christian? For instance, since Iím "new" so to speak, I still repeat some of the things I feel I need to change about my self. I sometimes feel like giving up and just turn my back at the things that I have experienced because of my humanity/weaknesses.
Eric: Sure, youíre in a delicate place right now, being new in the spirit and in the word of God. You being a young believer try to seek out true believers, not people who are so doctrinally based or legalistic who are going to sit and judge you for this or that. Seek out people who will stand by you and love you for who you are, and truly do as Christ calls them to do, which is to be there for you. My personal faith isnít that much of a struggle for me. I donít struggle so much with my faith in my walk. My struggles are more doctrinal, or obedience. I struggle to be obedient. To be obedient to everything God has called me to do in this world. I struggle with balance within Saviour Machine, as a husband, a father, a brother, a friend, and that sort of thing. But my faith in God never gets shaky, you know? I really thank God with that because Iíve been blessed with immense faith. I do know several Christians who do struggle with faith at times. I know people that have struggled with faith so much that it becomes such confusion, that it led them away from God. Itís so hard because if the faith isnít there, you donít have much to build on. Faith is the foundation to spiritual survival.
The Outcast: Why do you think people go from one extreme to another, from a Satanist to a Christian and vise-versa?
Eric: Itís a very fine line from one side and the other. Believe it or not, itís much easier for a true Satanist to become a Christian, than an atheist to become a Christian. The reason being is because if youíre a true Satanist, you have to believe in God.
The Outcast: What about the Laveyanís who claim to believe in neither?
Eric: Then they are atheistic or even agnostic. They are taking a humanistic approach. What Iím saying, take example a good friend of mine, Eva O. Are you familiar with her?
The Outcast: Yes, I know who she is and I did have some Christian Death albums that she appeared on. Iíve also read an interview with her not to long ago.
Eric: She has a fascinating testimony. She was absolutely satanic and was very serious about her beliefs. She did a complete 360 and she now uses her life and her music to share the word of God instead of using it to tear it down as she tried to do before.
The Outcast: I read through her interview and read how she struggled with her faith and walk at times. Thatís pretty much how it is for me right now. Just waking up every morning and thinking to my self; "Man, youíre a Christian." Itís just so hard for me to accept something that Iíve been denouncing, blaspheming, etc.. most of my life. Itís just really weird at times.
Eric: But youíre probably like a lot of us who what you hate and what you despise is mans corruption of the word, mans religious creation. Religion is of man, not of God. Thereís a huge difference between religion and true faith and discipleship in Jesus Christ as the messiah. I preach this above all; do not follow the doctrine of man. If youíre following a religion, then you are following a doctrine of man, following mans interpretation of scripture. The word of God is the most powerful thing in the universe, itís between you and God. If you truly are submissive and truly obedient to what God wants to reveal to you in Gods time, not our time, but through patience and perseverance, God will enlighten you and inspire you. He will show you what you need to know, maybe not everything you want to know, but everything that you need to know. I think thatís important for everyone to remember. The most important thing for someone like you to remember is that you are in a delicate place, you may still have a lot of deep emotional anger or hate even. If you still have hate for religion then join the crowd, but you know what, ask God to help take that burden away from you. Hate is a consuming thing. Itís the second most powerful emotion in the world, the first being love. It can confuse you if you donít let it go. There are a lot of things that I still despise in this world, but I try everyday not to hate them. I deal with anger just like anybody else. There are a lot of injustices in the world that make me quite angry. I guess the only thing thatís maybe safe to hate is the evil in this world. Itís a tough thing, love your enemies, but we just need to pray for them, you know?
The Outcast: Do you ever feel like a hypocrite?
Eric: Everyday. Thatís one thing you are going to get from me is an honest interview. Weíre all hypocrites, man, all of us. Every time that Iím disobedient to the word of God I feel like a hypocrite. But Iíd feel heck of a lot more hypocritical if I walked around claiming to be perfect. Though, I donít know if I feel like a hypocrite as much as I feel like, um......
The Outcast: Human?
Eric: Exactly, I feel ashamed and disobedient at times, you know? But that just means I have to work a little harder.
The Outcast: Were you brought up a Christian or have you been a Christian your whole life?
Eric: I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, so I had a heavy legalistic upbringing, heavy fire and brimstone kind of stuff. But at the same time there was a lot of passion and a lot of love. My mother really did a great job bringing up two boys on her own. I thank God that I had the opportunity to have Him as my foundation as a child. Of course as a teenager I flipped out and went my own way. I left the church and certain events in my life consumed me with anger and I cursed God and turned my back on God and anything that had to do with God. I went my own way in selfishness, rebellion, drugs, alcohol, and all kinds of twisted things for many years. After six years of flipping out, I found myself on my knees, realizing that my way was not so good. My way or the worldís way was definitely not the way to make it in this way. Even though I turned my back on God and was very rebellious, I never really lost my faith in God I just turned my back on Him. I thank God that I never did loose my complete faith because in the end, faith is what brought me home; faith, utter confusion, and desperation. Itís funny how most Christians become Christians when they screw up their lives and they have no where else to turn, you know? But itís the truth, itís Gods discipline and itís the way God works. Some of us are stubborn creatures and sometimes we have to find out the hard way that our way isnít the right way. Itís like a father who disciplines his child; you have to allow the child to make mistakes in order for the child to learn.
The Outcast: What do you think about Christians who believe in God just because of the fear of "burning in hell?"
Eric: I donít know if thatís what God wants, but at the same time whatever works, you know? I donít think thatís what God wants on its ultimate level, you know? God wants you to understand His word. He wants you to be filled up with His glory, His grace, His mercy, and he wants to love you and He wants you to love him back. He wants you to grow with Him. I donít think that fear itself should be the complete motivating factor in say someoneís salvation. But I think that it could be a part of it. We should be God fearing, Heís God. If we did not fear the wrath of God, in the end you would be missing a bit of the picture, but itís not the entire picture, thatís for sure.
The Outcast: Do you believe that evil can be used for good and good for evil?
Eric: Well, I believe that a lot of people use good in a lot of evil ways, like we talked about earlier, man using the name of God to fill their greed. Thatís the tragedy, you know? The history of religion is a corrupt thing. The history of Catholicism itself, we could talk about it for months about the history and the religious persecution and all the crimes committed against humanity. All the things that have been done in the history of this world in the name of God, that were absolutely not of God, itís all a part of history, you know? So yes, good can be used in evil ways, there is no doubt about it. But the more profound thing is that evil in this world can be used by God to achieve Gods will. I have to clarify that, but thereís many.... I believe because of Gods divine order in the universe, that many times God allows things to happen as they do, and in the end it achieves something truly divine.
The Outcast: Well, on a more serious note. Do you believe that heavy metal
is the devils music?
Eric: I think thatís crock. The bottom line is that people who say that listen to Country and Western music. Most of the people who say this are old dudes, you know? Itís the same people who said that Elvis Presley was "of the devil." Itís not your scene "old man."
The Outcast: Iíve been asking just about everybody this question, and a couple of satanic bands have said; "Yes, it is."
Eric: Thatís the bottom line; you could take Country music and make it the devils music if the devil is behind it, you know? We choose what we do in this world, you know and thatís the whole thing is; choice. There are people that are so freaked out by music in general that Iíve heard people go to the extreme and say that anything with drums in it is satanic. That drums are the devils instruments. These people are cooky.
The Outcast: Do you ever feel like a host for higher beings?
The Outcast: I mean like say weíre on this earth just to be "played" with. We have the good guys and the bad guys "playing" with humanity, playing with our minds. One of the things I asked my self when I became a Christian was if we were just "puppets" for God, but then I started thinking, if we were puppets, then we wouldnít have that choice to make who we wanted to serve; whether it be Satanism, Christianity, Jewish, Humanism, Agnostic, etc... Puppets have strings and we donít.
Eric: Exactly, you know? The thing that keeps you from being a total puppet is that you actually control the strings. You get that choice on who gets to pull your strings. You do have some choice in the matter. This whole thing is a ride, life is a ride, you could even say itís a game.
The Outcast: Well, thanks for the time. I guess Iíll let you go before the tape runs out, any closing words?
Eric: I donít know do you have any closing questions?
The Outcast: Not really.
Eric: I wish you the best. I encourage you to jump in. Just really get rooted in the Word.