Every year, Jesus People USA (yup, that’s the group’s real
name) puts on the annual Cornerstone Music Festival outside of Chicago. The
event boasts six days(!) of Christian Punk, Christian Metal, Christian Rap and
Christian Hardcore… and I can only assume Christina Ska and Christian
Call it the born again’s answer to Lollapalooza.
In honor of this year’s festival line up, what follows is a
run down two of my two favorite 90’s bands that Jesus took away from me.
THE SMOKING POPES
Though they are now back together, the reason the Smoking Popes
broke up in ‘99 was because singer Josh Caterer decided to embrace
Christianity. Not just show up at church every now and then, but the “I’m-going-to-quit-rock-and-everything-it-stands-for,
turning- my-back-on-everything-I’ve-created-fuck-the-fans” kind of
embrace. A great band cut down way too early. A couple years ago, the band
decided to get back together to play a handful of shows and record a live
album. In an interview around those shows I asked Josh about the whole God
thing and he said he simply wasn’t happy with all the drugs and drinking that
surrounded the band. He became born again and quit rock music all together for
awhile, focusing solely on uplifting religious tunes. Crater slowly got back
into rock through a new band Duvall, then finally realized God probably doesn’t
necessarily hate good music and got the band back together. I caught one of
their comeback shows at The Masquerade in Atlanta and they were amazing (though
Josh did take the opportunity to preach a few times from the mic, making the others
in the band visibly squirm). The Smoking Popes had a decent comeback record
last year, but still not quite as stellar as their earlier efforts.
OK, this one took me by surprise. The Knoxville power pop
band turned out a slew of brilliant records in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
(Though “Sucked Out” is still the only song people remember.) I found
out, like the Smoking Popes, were doing a series of reunion tours last year (which,
by the way makes me feel old as shit when bands I dig are now qualify for
reunion shows). In doing research for an interview, I discovered front man John
Davis had another one of those spiritual awakenings that seem to be going
around, again thanks to booze. Copying off of Josh’s paper, he also started
working exclusively on Christian songs. I finally spoke with Davis in 2008 and
he was super cool, but I chickened out and didn’t ask him about God (so no big
answers for you. Sorry). Like the Smoking Popes, they also had a decent, but
not great comeback record out this year.
AND HERE’S A FEW YOU HE CAN KEEP…
Former Korn guitarist Brian Welch
In his case, I think he’s just using his sudden conversion
to Christianity (I think it’s Christianity) and cult-like new life as an easy
excuse to walk away from a truly crappy band.
The same guy who used to guillotine himself on stage in the
70’s is now a golfer, PTA dad and (gulp) Republican. He’s also found Jesus.
Again, in this case, I think he woke up one day and realized that he was a
washed up irrelevant former rocker whose biggest accomplishment was playing
“School’s Out” on an episode of the Muppet show.
So after given this a little thought, I’m left with two
separate conclusions to the question of why rockers turn to Jesus:
of hard partying and meaningless groupie sex makes you search for a deeper
2. God is actually a roadie, converting the masses, one musician
at a time.