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| 27 April 2016 | Reply

When the latest disc from Decyfer Down hit my inbox, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had never heard of them.  After spinning the disc, I realized I had to give it a review and hope to see these guys perform live near me.  Lo and behold, a couple weeks later they were scheduled to play about an hour or so from me, so I contacted the powers that be and asked to come out and cover the show and an interview with guitarist and founding member Brandon Mills was offered up.  I accepted without hesitation and anxiously awaited the night to hear some of these kilelr tracks live and to chat with Brandon about the disc, the tour, genre labeling, and more…


Toddstar: Brandon thanks again, we really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.

Brandon: Thanks for having me man.

Toddstar: You guys are out on the City RockFest tour, which is winding down slowly.  What’s the tour been like for you personally?

Brandon: It’s been exciting. It’s a lot of work, a lot of miles, a lot of road, but it’s been really encouraging for us to just see people come out to shows and want to hear the music and it’s been amazing.

Toddstar: That’s personally how about professionally? What’s it like for you guys to be able to come out here and bring your music to the fans?

Brandon: It’s great. We took a little hiatus for about a year and a half ago or so, I actually thought we never would tour again to be honest with you but it’s fun to get back together with the guys, we just put out a new record on April 1st and it’s cool to come out and to be able to support that record and get it in people’s hands and just have another chance I guess.

Toddstar: You are referring to the new record that came out April 1st, The Other Side Of Darkness, came out on Fuel Music.  We gave it a 9 / 10. I couldn’t get enough of it, I still can’t. I was bummed when I couldn’t find it at Best Buy.  I had to pick up my copy tonight.

Brandon: You can send Anthony an email on that one.

Toddstar: Rick made sure it hit my hands and it’s really quality stuff from the top to the bottom. Going through the new tracks, you guys played “Nothing More” tonight which hit me hard. I loved the song the first time I heard it, I still love it. Where does a song like “Nothing More” come from? When you guys sit down and that one pours out…

Brandon: It just comes from real life with us, we’re just a bunch of guys from North Carolina and we have struggles. There’s things in our lives that want to distract us, that want to destroy us whether that’s just addictions, sin, or bad relationships. Any toxin that is poisoning your soul and what you were created to do is what “Nothing More” is about. It’s about getting rid of that and drawing a line in the sand and say, “You know what? I’m going to live for something more, I want more and I want nothing more of those things.” It’s a very open ended song which a lot of our songs are actually. A lot of people can interpret them different ways. That’s what it was for us.

Toddstar: You’ve got other songs on the album that I love. Something like “Beautiful Lies” where it really connects since the guitar playing which is really cool. When you guys are writing, do you ever stop and think, “All right, I need to drop some cool rock guitar parts or something that’s going to highlight me a little bit.” You’re not the singer or the front man.  Everything else aside, do you ever want that?

Brandon: Not really man, not really. We really feed off of each other, whether it’s a guitar riff or a melody or a concept. We tend to just want what’s best for the song. That’s why you won’t hear a ton of solos on our records. We love all that stuff don’t get me wrong, we would love all that but we just want the songs, we just want to make those translate I guess. I don’t know, I’ve never really thought like, “Hey, this is my chance to be in the spotlight or whatever.” To me that is a dangerous attitude to have and personally I don’t think I’m that good.


Toddstar: Fair enough. I think you’re good.

Brandon: There’s always somebody better.

Toddstar: Everybody can be replaced. That’s very true. When it comes to the album again, The Other Side Of Darkness, were there any songs that fought you guys, were hard to get out from top to bottom, from the start to finish?

Brandon: Not really man. This one really I feel like we had a lot built up really where records in the past being on major labels and having to write fifty or sixty songs for people to say yes or no. We didn’t have to go through that process on this record. We were able to really just let it out. There weren’t any filters I guess. There were a couple of things that we did fight, including the production of this record. Just trying to get it right, playing heavy, low music, tuning is always an issue. We self-produced this record; we did it in my studio. We wanted it to be right. We spent a lot of time on that. We fought a little bit at that. Big learning curve but we’re happy with how it turned out.

Toddstar: On the flip side, were there any songs that just rolled out?

Brandon: “Nothing More” was definitely one of those songs. That chorus, it just felt right. That song it really put some wind in our sails. It fired us up because it just fell in our lap then everything just came together. Then it was great process this time around just having created freedom, it was more just about being in a band and being bros with everybody in the band and doing it in our terms. It was enjoyable, it was fun. It’s the way it should be I think.

Toddstar: You would hope so, as you’re doing it for a living.

Brandon: You would hope, but let me tell you man there’s a lot of bands that fighting uphill battles.

Toddstar: I can only imagine especially in this day and age. The music business has changed tenfold since you first started out.

Brandon: Absolutely.

Toddstar: You guys have this new album full of great tracks.  It ends with a beautiful track that completes the flow of the disc and then I find out that it actually came off your first disc.  You guys went back and retouched “Burn Back The Sun.” Of all the songs on that first album, why that one?

Brandon: Easy answer. We were in Little Rock, Arkansas last year and it was actually on the City RockFest tour for last year – it was the first tour we had done in three years. The crowd wanted an encore after our set and we didn’t have any more songs and TJ – he’s so talented, he’s just one of these guys that can just pull something, “I’ll just go out there and sing a song.” I wish I can do that. I feel like I need to rehearse, “Let me go thought it at least once or twice” – he picked up a guitar and he went out and he sang  “Burn Back The Sun” and I’d never heard him even sing the song and dude it was moving and it wasn’t just me that felt that way. The whole room was just struck by that song and you could just feel it. When we were thinking about doing the record, we did a bunch of acoustic songs for some of like our Indiego supporters and we liked it so much that we were like, “Maybe we should put this out.” That’s why it happened and personally I think it’s great, I love it, I love the way it turned out.


Toddstar: Again I didn’t know a whole lot about you guys, then this album got thrown in my lap and I dug it and when I went back and listened to it I actually dig this better than the original. I really do.

Brandon: A lot of people are saying that.

Toddstar: I think it’s a tighter track. I don’t know, maybe it’s because you guys played together for so long.

Brandon: It just really highlights his voice too. He’s a great singer and on the heavy stuff he’s amazing but when it’s stripped down, he still has an element to that as well.

Toddstar: That’s a gift of a real singer. Shifting gears – “Christian Rock.” I hate genre and I music labeling, but Christian Rock’s come a long way, I remember when it was Stryper.

Brandon: That’s the first Christian Rock band I think I heard actually when I was nine years old.

Toddstar: I was probably the same age and the last one that struck me was Since October.

Brandon: I remember those guys.

Toddstar: Now you guys. How do you see Christian Rock still being able to stay mainstream without getting too…? I don’t want to use the word preachy in the wrong connotation but especially in the Rock world, people hear Christian Rock and there’s that, “Oh no” sensation.

Brandon: It’s a stigma, it’s sad really, it’s really stupid. With us in the beginning that was a question that someone asked us, like, “You guys are Christians but are you going to be a mainstream band or a Christian band?” We started thinking about it and we were like, “Oh, we’re just going to be us.” At the time we were playing a ton of mainstream bars in clubs and radio shows but the first label that really pursued us was a Christian label / mainstream label, they had both sides. We ended up going that route. We got branded as a Christian Rock band which whatever, it’s just what it is but to this day, we sing about the things that have affected us and we hope that we can encourage people through some of those things. I don’t think that we sound like a Christian type band or whatever, if there is such a thing. We’re Christian guys, I don’t think our music has a soul, it doesn’t have a soul.

Toddstar: That’s what I picked up from the album. You guys are rooted in your faith, but you weren’t preachy, there was no, “To hell with the devil.” You guys have your faith and you let people know but you’re not preaching to anybody, you’re just saying, “This is what we got.”

Brandon: In this day and age, I just don’t think that’s the way to go about it. When we see people that are like that, that are preachy and condemning and it turns me off. I don’t want to be a part of that; I don’t think that’s not why I believe what I believe man. Love is the answer and that’s the bottom line for me man. We just do what we do and it’s what just comes out naturally for us. We don’t say, “Okay, we’re going to go this direction.” Or whatever, we’re just really singing about what we are in tune with.

Toddstar: When it comes to you, let’s get away from the band, let’s get away from the new disc, professionally, musically, who are some of your influences? Who made you want to pick up that six string and do this?


Brandon: I think it’s probably just rock music in general, early age Zeppelin, Sabbath, just a lot of mainstream stuff but I just dug it and that formed into when all the 90’s when all the grunge stuff hit, that was really huge for me and Metallica. Just the heavy melodic music that was just so good at that time. Out there that’s really what did it for me definitely like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains. I love Stone Temple Pilots and just all that stuff. Once I actually started playing music then more the heavier rock was hitting at the same time.

Toddstar: I’m probably a little older than you then because I was more into like Motley Crue, Ratt, and Poison.

Brandon: That was young for me. I had some Motley Crue tapes and some Guns ‘N Roses tapes and I loved all that stuff too. I loved the music but I didn’t pick up a guitar till a little bit after that. It was really late 80’s, early 90’s for me.

Toddstar: Personally who inspires you?

Brandon: I really like John Foreman, the singer for SwitchFoot musically and his outlook and that bands outlook. Every time I see that band or hear that band, I want to go out and do something. They’re very inspiring and hopeful. That’s what I want to do. They definitely inspire me. People like that.

Toddstar: I know you are busy so I got one more for you. If this all…

Brandon: [laughing] I’m really not. Maybe in about forty five minutes I will be.

Toddstar: Cool. If this all came to a halt for whatever reason, the music industry ceased to exist tomorrow, if you could look over a couple of things in your career that you’re most proud of, what would they be?

Brandon: Just I guess having the chance to even do it. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, we’ve had some successes but really that stuff is cool, I don’t know, it’s a privilege. I guess it’s a privilege to do what we do and there’s been times that I’ve been jaded doing what I do which is sad but I feel like my heart is definitely not there anymore. When you do two hundred and fifty shows a year, it becomes a job and I never wanted it to be that way. No I’m not rabbit trailing here, but just saying that I just would look back and just feel like, “Man, that was privilege to be able to do that.” Even if it was done today, nobody could take that from me. It’s just a joy and the people that we’ve met and have got anything out of our music, that stuff just really fills me in this band. There’s been hundreds and hundreds and thousands probably of emails and people that have, “This song really helped me get through this situation.” I never thought that’s what I would be doing as a kid. I feel like it would be looking back, traveling and been everywhere, there’s a lot of hype to it but to me that’s really what I feel like I would keep deep in my heart.

Toddstar: That’s very cool. That’s probably one of the more humble answers I’ve ever had to that question. A lot of artists talks about their awards or their number one hits. No one ever stops and thinks just, “Thank you God for letting me do this.” I appreciate the honesty. I can tell, no one else will know but I can see that because of your face, it’s real. It’s what’s really there. Thank you so much for taking time out for us, we wish you well on the rest of the tour. Is a new tour going to ramp up after this? Are you guys are thinking of going back out on the road?


Brandon: Not this summer, we may do a few festivals, TJ our singer is having his third child in August, congrats to him, but we are trying to do something in the fall, we’re thinking about putting a little headlining run together with a few other bands. That would be the next thing.

Toddstar: Very cool. Hopefully we can get you in Detroit.

Brandon: That would be cool.

Toddstar: Again, thank you so much for taking your time. I appreciate it.

Brandon: Thank you for having me.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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