This was a very interesting interview (or lack of), to say the least. It happened during the Milwaukee Metal Festival this past summer. It was weird to see Mayhem, Impaled N., Living Sacrifice and Tourniquet perform on the same night, but it was a night that I wasn't going to forget. Semi-drunk, beer in hand, the interview began, next thing I know, interview is over, and I ask them to pray for me.
Interview with Ted and Luke
By Mike Coles - 7/25/98
The Outcast: Okay, I'm sitting here with...
Ted Kirkpatrick: Drums.
Luke Easter: Vocals.
The Outcast: Are you the third vocalist, or second?
The Outcast: So how do you guys feel about tonight? You guys played here before right?
Luke: Yeah, we played in 93. I think it went well. It's obviously not our normal venue, but we like doing these. It's an opportunity...what Tourniquet is about is spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's relevant wherever it's preached, but I think it's got more of an impact in a venue like this where it's more like a hostile environment. You know there's a lot of death metal, some black metal, and hopefully we can be different enough that people will be interested.
Ted: The bottom line is that people are here to hear music, and if the music is cool...we've had people come up to us and have said that they have never heard of Tourniquet, and they couldn't care less if we're Christian or not. If they say, "Wow, your music is really cool.", that's always the first step for somebody to check out the lyrics. Death metal, Satanist or not, we all have days that are frustrating where we're not happy, we're depressed, we hate God, we're angry, you know, whatever. So those are the times when maybe someone remembers a band like Tourniquet.
The Outcast: How does it make you guys feel when someone in the crowd yells, "Hail Satan!?"
Ted: That's fine, no problem. We had periods in our lives when we weren't Christians either. We've all been rebellious in one point in time, so for people to say that, that's fine. A lot of times we've seen the most belligerent people are the first ones who have the deepest needs for God in their lives. People can say, "Hail Satan", or "Death to Christians!", or whatever, and we don't feel the need to say, "Death to black metal!" or say, "You're going to go to hell" or whatever, we're there because God has taught us to try and love people, obviously our love is imperfect, the only one with perfect love is Jesus Christ you know? We're not here to preach at people, we're here to show people that there is something else there.
The Outcast: Why do you think people go from one extreme to the other?
Ted: Well, I think that a lot of times people with a lot of hate and anger in their lives have gone through a lot of pain, and we find it that a lot of times it starts at home with the parents not caring about them, or their going through a divorce, just all kinds of things. Maybe they had a loved one die or just anything that they end up hating God for, you know? Underneath the anger and hate, it's hurt. A lot of times those that have the deepest hurt, they are the ones that have the most vocals about their hatred for God.
The Outcast: What's your guy's definition of a Christian?
Ted: Our definition of a Christian is exactly, well, it's not just our definition, but a biblical definition. What Christ said, is that we are all sinners and we fall in short of the plan that he has for our lives and there's a void inside of us that is there when we are born and that has been there since the start of man that can only be filled through Jesus. That's the meaning of life. People will ask; "Why are we here?" We are here to serve and worship our creator and He's not here to step on us and point at us and say, "Oh, you sinner!" He's here because He loves us and His grace is everlasting. A Christian is a person who has given their life over to Jesus, and seeks to please Him and worship Him and love fellow man. It doesn't mean you have to be a weirdo and sit there and throw Bibles at the crowd or anything like that, it's a very practical life style.
The Outcast: What's your definition of faith?
Ted: Obviously faith in general is that you can't see God. You can't see break pads on your car, but you have faith that if you push down the pedal your not going to slam into another car or whatever.
(Due to the fact I wasn't able to conduct a thorough interview with the guys at Milwaukee, I decided to finish the interview through e-mail. Unfortunately, since I put off getting back to them until the last minute, I was unable to finish this interview, so I put in their bio. sheet. Sorry.)
Long known for their variety in heavy music, Tourniquet has truly produced an album that has something for everyone with their release, Crawl to China, which has everything from hardcore to tender ballads. Yet the three members of Tourniquet-Ted Kirkpatrick, Luke Easter, and Aaron Guerra- have achieved a coherent quality as a band which reflects their deepened relationships with each other and with the Lord.
"To define Tourniquet is to not define us," says founding member and drummer, Ted Kirkpatrick. "It has been our great privilege to not be put in a box. We have had freedom to experiment with new musical sounds because we haven't been confined to one musical style. Yet in the midst of all the variety there will always be a basis for who Tourniquet is - an extremely aggressive, heavy band."
Crawl to China reflects a continuation of the band's long commitment to fine musicianship and to sharing the gospel with those who might not be reached by everyday methods of evangelism. Since the band's beginning in Los Angeles, CA, in 1990, Tourniquet has carried the message of Christ through music with four other full length albums, two EPs, five videos, and a "Best Of" project. The band has been widely recognized by both Christian and secular media, garnering six Dove Award nominations, fifteen #1 metal singles, two CCM Update #1 rock singles, and a #1on the Lord chart with their new title cut, "Crawl to China." They have also been recognized in Modern Drummer, Guitar World, and Guitar for the Practicing Musician, with Kirkpatrick being voted HM magazine's "Favorite Drummer" every year since the band's inception. Tourniquet's aggressive music has been used as a backdrop for equally aggressive visual markets, including MTV Sports and two surfing videos by Eye Spy Productions.
"In order for us to reach the lost, we have to attract people to our music," Ted says, "When they respect us as musicians, the chances are greater that they'll listen to the lyrics. We hear all the time about Christians who use our music as a tool to witness to their non-Christian friends, and they wouldn't dare do that unless they felt good about the music."
Much of the influence for Tourniquet's sound comes from classical music, which Ted Kirkpatrick believes represents "the epitome of what can be achieved with the arrangement of musical notes and rhythms. Bach and Beethoven proved that heavy music can be melodic and emotional, and that both beautiful and ugly sounds combined can produce a complete musical statement. These extremes -beauty and ugliness, cacophonic dissonance and melodic harmony- are what we want to express in our music."
A reputation for uniquely crafted heavy music has helped Tourniquet build on intensely loyal following, with fans often driving or flying long distances just to see the band perform, or to catch one of the band's new acoustic sets. Also known for straight-forward lyrics and unexpected turns of phrases, Tourniquet demonstrates their diversity of expression with a range of lyrical influences spanning everything from Deuteronomy to Edgar Allan Poe. Principle songwriter Ted's way with words garnered him a vote of "Favorite Lyricist" with HM readers in 1994.
From the beginning, Ted based many of his song ideas on medical allegories for spiritual themes, thus the band's name. Technically, a "tourniquet" is a surgical device for arresting hemorrhage by compression of a blood vessel. Ted gives the band's definition: "We believe in a lifelong spiritual process by which a personal God, through the atoning blood, death, and resurrection of His only Son-Jesus Christ-can begin to stop the flow of going through life without knowing and serving our creator. He is our Tourniquet!"
Ted, Luke and Aaron believe that a lifelong spiritual process is something to be taken seriously every day. This is evidenced in the song, "White Knucklin' the Rosary," a sarcasm-laden look at our self-centered prayer lives. Ted explained, "The natural tendency of our sinful nature is to trust in our own flesh and call on God only in times of emergency. We want to encourage people to get back to a daily practice of faith in God, through good times and bad."
Along the same vein is the title cut, "Crawl to China," a song which challenges believers to face their fear of following God's leading and examine their faithfulness in serving him even right here at home. According to Ted, it's all about saying, "God, there are some things I'm not going to understand, but I know your ways are loving and sovereign, and I'll do what you ask." To facilitate Bible study, all of the songs on this album are based on scripture verses, in this case Micah 6:8, which says that God has shown his people the way He wants them to serve Him. "That's what God requires of us," Ted says, "to walk humbly and to show mercy and kindness to those around us."
The members of Tourniquet share this message with everyone they come across, including their producer Bill Metoyer, who also produced such secular metal heavies as Slayer, Six Feet Under, and WASP. In the album credits, he thanks the band for "the challenges they have presented me through the years," and for helping him grow as a sound designer and a person.
Ted had a chance to see the results of a Christian's faithfulness first-hand on a trip to New Guinea to collect butterflies, a surprising lifelong hobby which has carried this heavy-rockin' drummer around the world. Apparently, no American had ever been to the tiny mountain village Ted found himself in, because the natives didn't know what to make of the strange white man they were staring at. But an unknown missionary had brought the Gospel to the people there many years before, and Ted was able to sit down with a beat-up, out-of-tune guitar he found and sing, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" with the handful of believers in the village church. "That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, Ted says, "to see the fantastic effects of a missionary's love for the Lord, and the natives who now know the joy of loving and serving Christ because someone was faithful to God."
Another aspect of Tourniquet's mission to serve God faithfully is caring for his creation. The band members have filled a very active role in fighting animal abuse, appearing in many preservationist and animal rights magazines across the country, and even filming a video from their first album, Stop the Bleeding, for the song, "Ark of Suffering," which shows disturbing scenes of animal abuse interspersed with images of the band performing. The video received air play on MTV with the song for a short time in 1991, in response to hundreds of requests from viewers. Ted also did an educational video with the National Antivivisection Society (NAVS) which detailed alternatives to the common practice of dissecting animals for educational purposes.
"Man has a God-given responsibility 'to have dominion over' the earth, but that doesn't mean 'to dominate,'" notes Ted. "Instead, it implies a sense of stewardship, of watching over something precious that has been put under our care." On Crawl to China, they address the issue of extinction with the song, "Going, Going, Gone..." "We're losing animals that we think we'll always have with us," Ted says. "We can't ignore our responsibility in this as Christians." He also believes that Tourniquet's involvement in the animal rights movement gives them a very unique opportunity to witness, "There are a lot of eastern religion and New Age followers who take part in this movement, "he relates. "We can demonstrate to them that we care about this planet because of the One who made it."
Tourniquet is truly a band with a mission-to use creative heavy music to deliver a message of strong, active faith to the world. "We see what we do as a privilege and a responsibility, "Ted concludes. "We make music that we think people will enjoy, but over all, we make music to carry the message where it hasn't gone before."