Monday, February 16, 2009

Jav (The Mistake/18 Visions)

I first came across Jav through the wonderful world of If you have never viewed our internet underworld, I would suggest you check it out ( Jav has been in tons of local bands, many of which went on to become huge. Yet despite this, he's always been able to give back to his local community more than anything. Whether through his former bands (18 visions, wrench, the mistake; just to name a few), his stories on notpop (seriously, get with the program.), or his blogs ( and, Jav has always been a welcomed presence in our neck of the woods. So when I decided to do this webzine, one of the first person I thought of asking to interview was him. Hopefully you'll enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Please state your name, the bands you've been in, and what you've been currently up to.

What's up. My full name is Javier Manuel VanHuss. Most know me as Jav. I was in, trying to be in chronological order, Enewetak, 18 Visions, Throwdown, Breakneck (which morphed into Bleeding Through), Wrench, filled in one tour for Poison The Well, The Mistake, Neon Claws. Currently I reside in Costa Mesa with my kid. I teach people how to do hair and am not in an active band, unless you count the Mistake, which simply cannot die.

Haha, well many of us are happy that it won't. What was your life like growing up and when did you get introduced to punk/hardcore?

I was first introduced to punk through a public access video show in Albuquerque, NM when I was in 8th grade, so maybe 1989 or 1990. I think the first videos that grabbed me were the Meatmen and a Rollins spoken word video for "no deposit, no return". Then I discovered Thrasher Magazine and read every fucking word in the music section. In 1990 or so I moved to Costa Mesa and met a couple skaters into metal, then this kid Quey gave me a tape of Gorilla Biscuits and it went from there. So I got into hardcore from skating, because skaters were more into punk back then. Around 1993 or so that changed to skaters wearing polo and listening to hip-hop. But I stuck with the core. I went to my first hardcore show in 1991. Growing up was awesome then because we didn't have the Internet. We had the mail. We had to read about something and then order it. And I couldn't have done anything without Vinyl Solution. That place used to be our Mecca. We only had a handful of kids in our area and we stuck together.

Did you have religious views growing up? Did the bands that influenced you affect those views?

I was baptized Catholic, and my Dad's side of the family was pretty heavy into it. I remember going to midnight mass and having my Aunt tell me stories about the devil. I grew up in the Episcopalian church. My Grandmother sang in the choir in a big cathedral. We had to go every Sunday. I went to Sunday school until I was old enough to go to church with the adults. I eventually became an acolyte, which was like an altar boy. The cathedral was huge, with stained glass and the bishop would come, incense and candles and the blood of Christ. But that church wasn't fire and brimstone. In fact I remember very little being shoved down my throat. It was super relaxed. We even took field trips to Methodist, Lutheran churches and a synagogue. I remember praying once when I was a kid, hands together squeezing my eyes tight. And nothing happened, so I gave up on god.

In 1993 an influx of christian hardcore bands flooded the scene. Led by Unashamed and Focused, but including Bloodshed and a few others. I was heavily into the Ebullition Records scene, and read all of their propaganda regarding how dumb organized religion was. I remember being very anti-religion from then on. Except for a brief stint in 1994 when I thought going to the Krsna temple might offer some insight. All I got was my clothes smelling like weird spices and cool buttons with Krishna's face on them. I started reading the satanic bible, not cause it was "cool" but because it made sense to me.

I had a few experiences over the years that really pushed me away from religion. Being chastised for my views kind of molded me into the hateful human being I am. In a way, what Sam Macpheeters (of Born Against) said about not eating animals explains my view on religion "I'm tired of being the threat in a world of murderers, shit on for giving a shit about a bunch of rats". Its like... people criticize me for wearing upside down crosses, but I would never talk shit to someone for wearing a standard crucifix.

Two years ago I downloaded a membership form to apply for the Church Of Satan. The only reason I never officially joined is that it costs 200 dollars, and I didn't feel like paying that for some cool necklace and membership card. Satanism makes sense to me. I know too much about it to call it a "religion". It is what it is. Anton LaVey was a great man. He was a showman. He was a carney. He knew about psychology. I love reading his books. I also enjoy occult books. The original Necronomicon, however fictional it may be, was a great influence on another band I was in The Hands Of Glory. That shit is fascinating to me.

Could you give a brief explanation on the tenets of Satanism?

The belief system of Satanism can be basically summed up by this: I am my own god. There is no devil, with a pitchfork and horns. Satan is a force of nature. It’s all about believing in your self. It has a lot to do with Social Darwinism too... the strong will overpower the weak. The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth are a set of statements that struck such a nerve with me that I posted them in my house for a number of years. Its basically do whatever you want, and if someone fucks you over, fuck them over harder. If something makes you happy, and isn't hurting anyone else, fucking do it and do it the best you can.

E-Force would be proud. ("Do unto others before they fucking do you." - Excessive Force)

Hahah totally.

How did Satanism's relations with Social Darwinism affect your views on Veganism back then?

That's interesting, because I never drew a correlation. veganism and straightedge are actually opposites of Satanism in a way, because Satanism encourages indulgence. It discourages addiction. It discourages addiction, but if a glass of wine will make you happy, drink up. The idea of not eating animals was introduced to me by a guy named Spencer Eakin who sang for the OC band, Mission Impossible. He is still sxe and vegetarian, since like 1991 I believe. And then the whole earth crisis, hardline scene rose and it appealed to me mostly because the rest of the world hated it. Earth Crisis lyrics still hit home with me, and make me think. I just choose to ignore it because I do what makes me happy, and veganism wouldn't make me happy. I'm selfish. I was still vegetarian for a while after I sold out sxe, and I still support vegetarianism to an extent, but as for it relating to Social Darwinism I suppose I haven't though enough about it to draw a rational conclusion.

Was the hardline movement a big factor in OC hardcore scene back then?

Honestly it was probably one of the most hated parts of hardcore ever. If you loved it, you embraced it. If you hated it, you let everyone know. There were maybe 3 or 4 hardline people in OC: James Hart, Ray Blackmon, Troy Peace, and possibly "crazy" Justin aka Hammer Time. Interestingly, Sean Mutaqi lives in Laguna Beach. He started the hardline movement. He came to my house once when Race Traitor was staying with me. He was wearing a puffy jacket and Shell Toes and it made me nervous that he was there. A lot of the Huntington Beach older sxe guys would yell "vegan reich" at us and stupid shit like that. It was a very divided time. People stood for something finite back then, and lines were clearly drawn. Most kids that went to see Function and Blackspot wouldn't go see Earth Crisis. But me and my friends were into it all. I went to every kind of show. I still have all the old hardline/vegan propaganda and zines. It’s a great memory for me, and I'm proud to have grown up in a time where our ideals caused fistfights.


Did your affiliation with hardline individuals get you lumped in with it, kinda guilty by association?

Most definitely. I was part of the Monster Crew, and because of that people automatically assumed I was "hardline". Hardline itself was such a small percentage of the hardcore scene, especially in oc. In places like Indianapolis and Syracuse it was bigger, But here it was mostly vegan sxe kids. That extra mile just didn't appeal to most. I never agreed with hardlines view on sexuality. Even though it was supposed to be about equality, homosexual activities were considered "unnatural". Actually any sex that wasn't for procreation was. All in all, it was an easy target. People criticized it too much. Like "how can you be hardline and drive a car". Shit like that.

It seems like all your bands have had an anti-religious message to them. Was that intentional or was it just due to the common views of everyone in the band?

That was just a result of surrounding myself with smart, like-minded individuals. I never set out to say "I'm gonna be in a band set out on smashing christianity". But people involved in punk and hardcore have a tendency to be more aware of different sides. With 18 Visions, it was us wanting to be different, dark and somewhat theatrical. James is now a devout christian. With the Mistake, we just wanted to "fuck everything up". We wanted to challenge people. Stir up trouble. It was my goal in that band to have someone try and fight me on stage. Sadly, that has yet to happen, although, I did cause a prayer circle once.

Haha, what's the story behind that?

We played with Sinai Beach once at showcase and I said "I'd rather play with a nazi reggae band than a christian metal band” and some girl yelled SHUT UP from the balcony. I said "fuck you bitch you shut up" or something possibly more offensive. Turns out, it was the singer of Sinai Beach's girlfriend and she had just bought a shirt. She went up to the merch table and asked for her money back. I then said, "Jesus is coming... ON YOUR FACE." A bunch of people went outside and prayed for me. They never came and addressed me directly though, which was disappointing.

(The Mistake)

That actually leads into another question I had. Did you have any other altercations through the years about your religious views?

Not in hardcore. In beauty school a woman told me "there is a place called hell and it’s for people like you" and that incident really had an effect on me. I saw kids throw pennies at Unashamed once. One time I saw my friend Jonny cry because people were making fun of christians, and that effected me too. I try to keep my beliefs to myself. I advertise them, but don't shove them. Like today I'm wearing an upside-down cross and pentagram necklace, but I don't go around yelling at people. With music, you either listen to it or you don't. Zao is one of my favorite bands. Do I care when they sing about god? No. There was an 18v song about a girl sending us a letter telling us she felt bad for us. I wrote the lyrics "don't pray for me, bitch". Then she married one of my friends. Awkward. But no, nobody has tried to fight me for my religious beliefs, ha.

Did your earlier fascination with KC have more to do with the bands or the actual teachings of Krishna Consciousness? Have you taken anything from their teachings that you still practice today?

Well it was the bands that turned me on to it. Shelter and then 108 were definitly influential. I think I like their version of KC than the actual version. Especially 108, cause its still angry and like "fuck your society, we have this". "We found a better way". And that's what I was looking for. But like DMX says in the movie Belly, “You think another motherfucker gonna tell you what's right? Nigga, we born to fuckin die. In the meantime, we get money. Fuck a book." That's basically how I live my life. I do what I think is right. Along the way, I've picked up influences, but no single ideology or book has made me who I am. Parts of Krsna Consciousness make sense to me. But all in all I just think the blue dude was luring me in with six fingers saying, "eat our cheap food, dance around and forget everything else."

How has it been raising a child in a society that has a lot of its foundations based on Christian viewpoints (holidays, beliefs, etc.)?

Its funny because from day one I've made no attempt to hide the fact from her that I don't believe in god. Lately she's been saying "god made everything" and I say "well I don't believe in god, if you want to, go for it". She's also very pro-America hahaha.

(Pro-America. Anti-You.)

Hahaha, really?

She fuckin’ loves America. I think seeing her do the pledge of allegiance at school was a real eye opener. It really made me see how the fact that America is drilled into us from day one. Honestly, I love America too. I just don't like The United States, if that make sense. My mom always let me believe in whatever I wanted. She knows I'm anti-church. She's definitely not. And we have never once argued about it. If my kid wants to be a minister in a church, be a high priestess in the church of Satan, or be a nihilist, ill love her. I might not 100% support her ideas but ill still love her. And I doubt she will 100% support my ideas. Parenting is heavy. Knowing that you're responsible for someone... its brutal. She's a good kid. She stands up for the underdog already. She's going to be tolerant, because of growing up with me and around my ugly/crazy friends.

Do you have any projects in the works? Will we get to see a more continuous version of the Mistake in the near future?

I've tried to get a couple musical projects off the ground with Dan from Teenagers From Outer Space. He just gave me a CD of a song he wrote that sounds like American Nightmare meets Count Me Out. Hardcore with an emotional edge. The Mistake has talked about recording, but with my schedule and Mark being in Throwdown, and Itow wanting to move beyond what we've played, I don't know how realistic that is. I dabbled in dance music with a project called The Hacksaw. I've always been a fan of drum and bass, electroclash and hip-hop. The Hacksaw was mostly me being bored and needing an outlet.

(DJ Jav at the Subject Matter Art Show)

I DJed from 2002 til this past year, at clubs, bars, artshows... djing was awesome because it was me and my records. Very selfish. I dj’d an 80s club for a long time. Making people move was such an unreal experience. Djing bars and artshows was always fun because I could play whatever the fuck I want. A typical set would consist of Morrissey, Interpol, Clikitat Ikatowi, Death From Above 1979... everything.

Well, a lot of us hope you continue with doing bands, considering it seems like everything you touch turns into gold.

I wouldn't say that what I touch turns to gold. But someone once told me "do what you love." I love hardcore, I love music, I love expression. And I've always based my bands off those three things. There's so much more I've wanted to do and tried to do over the years. So many grand ideas. Honestly I think because of age and responsibility, the bulk of my music making has been achieved. I'd say I left a decent legacy, but its not as prolific as I'd have liked. I think the reason I blog so much now is because I don't have that release of being on a stage. So now my words take over where my music left off. I've thought about writing a book. But for now I'll just blog and twitter and teach and parent and try to keep my head above water.

Well, considering for the past five years I've been enjoying all your stories on notpop, I really hope that one day you write a book so more people can enjoy them. It's been a pleasure.

Thanks man.



Monday, February 9, 2009

Rob Fish (108) - PART 1

Four years ago, I had an epiphany. It was about five in the morning one early summer day. I was out of class for the summer and had no reason whatsoever to be up so early. I walked into the other room, sat at the desk that had my record player on it with the handful of records I owned at the time, and began scanning. I felt odd that morning, like something was changing inside of me and I knew exactly what I needed to hear to ring in this new awakening. I found this awakening in the bells that ring at the beginning of the record "Holyname" by 108. I sat there and listened to the record from front to back, and then continued on to "Songs of Separation". I went back to bed soon after that, but ever since then, I've felt an extension of my spiritual side that I didn't have before that morning. I try to figure it out, but I think as all of us in hardcore punk community have experienced at least once, there are moments that don't make sense, they just feel right. Flash forward about a year, and I had the privilege to play with 108. Since then, I have had a little bit of contact with some of the members here and there, but nothing to write home about. Yet the first individuals I thought of when beginning this zine was them, since they had such a profound effect on me.

This first installation of an interview with Rasaraja dasa, better known as Rob Fish, was actually created for something entirely different. This past fall semester, I was taking an Anthropology of Religion class. I had to interview someone from a different spiritual/religious background than me and ask them questions about their views; mainly focusing on such things as the organization, their beliefs, as well as main rituals. I asked Rob if he would be interested in doing this interview with me, but unfortunately both of our schedules did not allow it at the time, but he said he would fill it out anyways. I got the email this morning and felt it was very enlightening and painted a good background for the future interview I was wanting to have with Rob, so I decided to post this anyways....

CYH: Rob Fish is the singer of the hardcore punk band, 108. He has also been in such influental bands as Ressurection and The Judas Factor. After a decade hiatus, 108 has returned back into Rob's life and into all of us who admire the band. 108 was influental in the process of Krishna Consciousness within the hardcore community in the early to mid 90s, and continues to be viewed as a premier band in spiritually conscious bands.

CYH: Please state your given name as well as your spiritual name.

Birth name Robert J. Fish and spiritual name Rasaraja dasa.
CYH: What was your spiritual life like growing up as a child, and when did it start transitioning into what it became later in life?


My father was Jewish and my mother was Roman Catholic. Although I received communion and confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church I was never interested from a theological perspective and by the time of confirmation was rather opposed to the social and institutional aspects of religion. Growing up I was very adverse to the religious experiences I was given access to. I found it to be something born and driven by fear, oppression and a desire for self righteousness. The undeniable sense of self righteousness and judgment on others was very unsettling for me. I knew of my faults, my demons, and they were undeniable in my life.

My interest in Eastern religion was primarily driven due to childhood trauma associated with sexual abuse and clinical depression and understanding/explaining those experiences in the context of karma. Although I have always been intellectually an atheist, or agnostic, from an emotional perspective I found myself leaning towards theism due to my attraction to the stories of Radha and Krishna which first led me to the Hare Krishna group, or ISKCON, from the ages of 15 to 25. During that time my feelings towards social and institutional aspects of religion remained negative but I did spend time living in an ashram and later overseeing a temple which was the first ever Hare Krishna temple outside of India. Although, in many ways, my delving into the group was helpful in terms of distracting or explaining to a degree my early childhood traumas ultimately my discomfort with religious institutions, intellectual rejection of faith and my ability to begin to confront my traumas led me away from the group. So my initial experiences with Gaudiya Theology was a mixed bag for me.

Still my attraction towards the stories of Radha and Krishna led me to delve deeper into the theological roots of the Hare Krishna movement. From there I came to be at odds with the Hare Krishna movement due to my perception that their take on Gaudiya Vaisnavism was in many ways diametrically opposed to the Gaudiya Vaisnava theology and was more of a hindu ized Born Again Christian group dressed in saffron robes.

During the next few years I read many translations of core Gaudiya Vaisnava literature such as Sri-Sri Siksastakam, Raga Vartma Candrika, Madhurya-kadambini, Prema Bhakti Candrika, Sri Stavavali, Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi and Sri Vilapa

Kusumanjali and during my trips to Vridavan, India I spent most of my time visiting and investigating more orthodox Gaudiya Vaisnava groups which led me to the mahant of Radha Kunda, Srila Ananta dasa Babaji Maharaja, who resided at Radha Kunda which is undoubtedly considered the most important and holiest of places for Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

After a year of study, corresponding with Srila Ananta dasa Babaji Maharaja, I took harinama and diksa initiation from him and was then given instruction specific to my siddha pranali.

Are there any specific spiritual/religious groups that you associated with during your life?

ISKCON (1988 – 1997)

CYH: Are you still apart of any of those groups? If so, how do you feel you have grown from it? If not, what made you leave?

No I am not. Like I said above although, in many ways, my delving into the group was helpful in terms of distracting or explaining to a degree my early childhood traumas ultimately my discomfort with religious institutions, intellectual rejection of faith and my ability to begin to confront my traumas led me away from the group.

Are there any specific conversion rituals apart of your current or former religious group?

RF: The former group, ISKCON, has twoconversion rituals. The first, Harinama, is when one vows to no longer have sex, unless for procreation, tonot partake in any intoxication, abstain from eating any meat, fish, chicken eggs and other infavorable foods and not to gamble. The participant also vows to chant 16 rounds, which consists of 108 beads each round, of the Hare Krishna mantra. Later the initaite would recieve brahman initiation, or diksa, which allows one to conduct worship of dieties and requires a meditation discipline at different points of the day. Personally I never took brahman initiaon (diksa) in ISKCON because of my lack of faith.

CYH: Were there any daily rituals performed by your group? If so, what was the most important one out of all of them?


Initially everyone chants harinama (i.e. Hare Krsna maha mantra) on beads. When one receives diksa the daily sadhana, or spiritual practice, looks like the following. Each day one chants the following diksa mantras:

Sri Navadvip Mantra-Smarana

Sri Guru Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Mahaprabhu Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Nityananda Prabhu Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Advaita Prabhu Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Gadadhara Pandita Mantra and Gayatri

Sri SrIvasa Pandita Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Vrndavana Mantra-Smarana

Sri Guru Manjari Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Krsna Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Radha Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Lalita Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Ananga Manjari Mantra and Gayatri

Sri Rupa Manjari Mantra and Gayatri

All mantras are counted on the fingers 10 times with the exception of Gauranga, Krishna and Radha Mantra's and Gayatri which are chanted on diksa mantra beads 108 times.

You also chant 4 rounds of the Panca-Tattva mantra on japa mala (Sri Gauranga Nityananda Sri-Advaitacandra Gadadhara Srivasadi Gaura-bhakta-vrnda) and rounds of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra (minimum of 4 rounds but it is considered best to chant as much as possible with a lakh, or 64 rounds, considered minimum for one advancing in the stages or sadhana.

One also may received a Giridhari, or a stone deity of Krishna from Govardhana Hill (Vrindavana, India). The daily routine starts with Puja. Midway through puja is when one may chant Diksa/Gayatri mantras. One may then do my yogapitha-seva and a simple offering to Giridhari.

Disciples of my Baba practice yogapitha seva in two phases, Navadvip-lila and Radha-Krishna-lila . The meditation is integrated with ones siddha-pranali, which means the channel of siddha-svarupas which is the Vraja-counterpart of ones guru-parampara. When one receives siddha-pranali the guru will instruct the disciple in the Vraja-identities of each of the gurus in the parampara, along with the guru's identity as well as the disciple's identity, revealed to the guru in a divine vision.

The details, or ekadaaa-bhava and the amount of details will vary from tradition to tradition. We receive nama (name), varna (complexion), vastravayasa (age), svabhava (nature), seva (service), kunja (bower) and nivasa (residence). The disciple is instructed on the matter of smarana, commonly beginning with the practice of yogapitha-smarana.

This connects the disciple into an eternal allegiance of servanthood in the spiritual realm, and it is through this channel of associates of Sri Radha-Krishna that the sadhaka then renders his service. Additionally, there may be details on one's names of different relatives such as father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law and husband, and other such relevant information.

The details of sadhana may vary from one lineage to another, but this is the general outline. The roots of these methods of sadhana go back to the associates of Mahaprabhu. Particularly procedures are found in the books of Gopal Guru Gosvami and Dhyanacandra Gosvami. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti encouraged the method of dual

(Gaura/Radha-Krishna) upasana and Narottama dasa Thakura envisioned himself engaged in yogapitha-seva in his songs.

Manjari-seva is discussed in the books of the Gosvamis as well, particularly the works of Sri Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami such as Vilapa Kusumanjali which gets very specific about the various services rendered throughout the day. Also Govinda-lilamrta of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami is an excellent example of an early asta-kaliya-lila meditation.

The self-esteem is gradually established through the practice of mantramayi-upasana, or yogapitha-seva. Step by step, it will help the practitioner to become firmly established in his eternal spiritual identity in ecstatic love of God. There is also a great deal of value in simple identification itself. What I believe I am is almost as important as what I do, and the latter will follow on the former if it is strong enough.

What was this group's and/or your own personal view of death?

Physical death is inevitable. Spiritually one is considered eternal.


I met J.R. (more popularly know as Ryan AKA Lil Ryan) years ago when I first was beginning to get into hardcore punk. We were from neighboring towns and when we first met, he was a left wing atheist if I ever met one. Flash forward a couple years, and he had become a born again Christian. I was always a bit baffled by his transition, because ironically, it was the complete opposite of my own. With the two of us coming from such cosmic opposites, it made sense that we learned quite a bit from each other that we never realized. Though we still disagree on a number of topics, I have always respected Ryan for his kindness and his conviction to what he felt was right. This is an interview I conducted with him a few weeks ago.....

CYH: Please start off with your name, religious/spiritual affiliation, and bands you have or are playing in at the moment.

My name is J.R. Bermuda, I'm a follower of Jesus, (a Christian, whatever that means now a days.) And I play in Sleeping Giant and xDeathstarx.

CYH:What are the main goals that Sleeping Giant and xDeathstarx have as bands?

To convey the real heart of God to kids, and to restore those who are broken and hurting through a real encounter with Jesus.

CYH: Since there are a lot of stereotypes about Christians and Christianity, people's motives are often misunderstood. What is the real heart of God is to you and what effects do you think it will have on people who listen to your bands?

J.R.: The real heart of God is simple. Christians try to dump bullcrap theology all over it, and try to complicate it, but if you study the bible, and have a relationship with God, its so plain to see. God is in the business of making people whole. God desires to make sick people well, he desire to bring happiness and wholeness to people who are desperate and hurt. God desires to love, and be loved. He is accepting, especially to those who don't know/believe/care about him. There is a biblical principal that states that when people worship God, his spirit comes down and does work among us. When you encounter the heart of God, you feel loved, and broken places in your life can get healed. If you meet Jesus, you will never be the same. He can wreck everything and ruin your life.

CYH: You've brought up something I'm very fascinated in with Christianity. You mentioned that an encounter with Jesus can "ruin your life". Is this implying something about how people live their lives without Him? If so, please elaborate.

To some measure yes. Personally, I was one who thought I had my life, my system of ideas, my political stance, my personality all figured out. I thought that I didn't need Jesus. Once I met Jesus, everything changed. I learned that my ideas contradicted themselves, that I had jack crap figured out, and if I was honest with myself, I was a broken pissed off kid who's heart was a total mess. Once I got to know who God was, and fell in love with him, it changed me.

CYH:When I first met you, I can't think of someone who was more atheistic than you. Which of Jesus' teachings pushed you towards Christianity the most? Was there a specific event that this transition occurred?

J.R.:I went to a bible study that these hardcore kids had, and I agreed to go, if anything, to strengthen my argument against Christianity, but what I heard when I got there was something completely different than the money hungry, bigoted Christian stereotypes I was so against. I was taught about a God who wants to heal nations, who didn't pick political sides, who actually engaged his people in relationship, and who loved me even though I was a mess. Some people have this big fancy moment of conversion, but for me, it was more like God gently spoke to me and called me out of my place of self loathing and hate, until I learned to trust him. He said "do you think I'm good enough to love you?" I told him no. But I wanted to believe it. So that started this whole spiritual journey with me.

CYH: What was your family and friend's reactions to this conversion?

They were all pretty shocked. I mean, I was a kid who used to claim that I could talk a christian out of their faith. All the kids a grew up with and were close to at the time couldn't freaking believe it.

CYH:What has been the reaction to your bands when you play shows that are not primarily Christian?

Mostly, kids are really cool. I understand that we talk about our faith a lot on stage, and I do mean a lot, so if kids yell at us to shut the hell up, its fine with me. We played with winds of plague last weekend, and they are a pretty adamant God free band. Some kids were yelling the classic "f*ck you", and a few "God Free Youth"s, but its not a big deal. I even thing we cheered a few of those kids, because we support them too. Even though we don't agree with them, we back them as someone who is important to his friends, family, and important with God. Some christian kids couldn't understand why we would play with them, but those dudes are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. We love them. News flash! Christians can love non Christians!

CYH: Since hardcore has always been affiliated with anti-religious viewpoints, do you feel your bands have a legitimate place in this community?

Yeah, I think so. Hardcore has been about sharing ideas and beliefs, expressing yourself, and standing up for what you base your life on just as much as being affiliated with anti religious views. That's what we are doing.

CYH: What do you say to people within the hardcore community that bring up a lot of the problems with contemporary (as well historical) Christianity, such as the sexist (1 Timothy 2:11-15) and homophobic (1 Corinth 6:9) aspects of the faith?

J.R.: To those people I say that the bible is not an unenlightened book and we are in an enlightened time. The bibles purpose is not means to alienate people. But the bible needs to be understood in its context. The BEST context that I can be understood in is in a relationship with Jesus. But if you are just reading, you have to take the 1st century Hebraic mindset into consideration. The first verse in 1 timothy is talking about how in roman culture, most women were not educated. most men were. And in church at that time, men and women sat in opposite sides of the room. Whenever a point was made, women would discuss it amongst themselves, or ask the closest man. It was written to keep an orderly church service, not oppress woman. Its all about context. The second verse in 1 Corinthians did NOT single out homosexuals, it put homosexuality in a big group along with drunks, prostitutes, and crooked businessmen. And in context, the author was talking more specifically about people who were opposed to the law, not about men who were in relationship with other men. Its all about context. The church takes the bible out of context more than non Christians, which is why the church is in the state it is in now.

CYH: Though the verse in 1 Corinthians does not single out homosexuals by themselves, their existence seems to be viewed as immoral, since as it states after naming off these groups, they will "not inherit the kingdom of God". Since Paul (Corinthians author) was the head of the church, this would make the assumption that this is the ideology of the first Christian churches. Which would understandably make people assume that Christian's views of homosexuals would be unfavorable, yes? And as you stated, a lot of this was historically determined. But do you feel these are views that should be practiced today? Specifically in a "progressive" community such as punk rock?

The bible outlines that homosexuality is a sin, yes. I'm not gonna water it down, and I don't really care that much if someone agrees with it or not. Homosexuality is a sin, but so is stealing, getting drunk, gettin down with your girlfriend, etc. Luckily, God focus was never on sin. And it was his plan to die for us even when we were sinners. Sin was never the point, and I don't believe that God is mostly concerned with how good we are being. He is mostly concerned if we are okay. and obviously, some verses aren't applicable in today's society. Today, women are educated, and they have a extremely important place in ministry today. Yes. Women can be pastors. Haha. I might piss some Christians off with that one. *wink!*

CYH: One more question on the topic, if you don't mind. If God's main concern is based off if we're okay, why would homosexuality, which can arguably be considered as a natural occurrence in nature, as well as such things as abortion, be viewed with such distaste in the Christian hardcore community, as well as the Christian community, in general?

Viewing sin with distaste is one thing, but viewing people, I.E. homosexuals, with distaste or even disgust is not gods heart. The bible also clearly outlines that we are to love people who don't believe in Jesus. When people treat homosexuals like dirt just because they are "sinners" or whatever is wrong. Its not even biblical, and its a product of living in the mindset that you are better than someone else because you are a christian, which is also clearly outlined as a sin. Not only is it sin, it sucks. So if you do it, knock it off, clown shoes! *insert crappy christian catch phrase here*

CYH: Is there anything you think the christian hardcore community can do to become more integrated with the more secular hardcore community?

hang out, be accepting, don't be so critical. Listen to each other. And how about book some shows together!

CYH: Any last words?

Yeah, God loves everybody... except for Loomis.

(This is Loomis.)



Wednesday, December 24, 2008


This is the first post for a newly formed zine entitled, Choose Your Heaven. This zine will discuss the nature of religion in hardcore punk, and what it means for the music and people involved in this community. There will be interviews as well as personal writings from myself as well as others who would like to contribute, as well as interviews with members of the hardcore community.

The purpose of this zine is not to judge any person or any religion. It is to create a constructive conversation about spirituality and hardcore. You will see numerous types of beliefs on this page, as well as the related hard copy zine that will go by the same name. I will keep you updated on the process of the hard copy version and once it is finished, a means to get a copy.

One final note: The comments section will be open to strike conversation on each topic, but, posts degrading or belittling any belief shown will be deleted. So if you're going to make a rude comment, you might as well not bother, or go into depth of why you are against that individual's view.

Thank you and I will be posting interviews in the very near future.

- Kevan Aguilar @ CHOOSE YOUR HEAVEN Zine