Star Scene: Mattie Montgomery

FOR TODAY

Mattie Montgomery’s scene is lifting weights. The For Today singer states: “I love to lift. I go to the gym every day and I love to lift weights. That’s the thing I do to release stress and get away from every day life”.

For Today has built an overwhelmingly supportive following since forming in 2005, and Montgomery has certainly made his permanent mark since joining in 2007. Montgomery explains: “I joined For Today in 2007. They had formed, they weren’t signed and they had never toured before really but their vocalist quit because they were about to tour full time, he wasn’t interested in doing it full time. He was planning to get married so he left the band. And they were looking for a new vocalist and I was playing in a band called Besieged at the time, and so I hit them up and said ‘Hey this is who I am and the band I’m in, would you be interested in giving me a shot as your front man?’ And they were actually were already fans of my band they said ‘We actually have your CD in our van, we would love that’. So that was incredible. So I sort of showed up and we planned to do a 30-day trial run if everything was working out. And that was seven years ago so I think I’m in the band”.

Montgomery’s influences were very similar to the other band members, especially in their diversity. He states: “I have a long list of influences. As a vocalist I loved Deyo. I used to sit in my car and try to sound like him. I used to listen to a band called Mortal Treason out of Tennessee here in the states. I grew up listening to everything from Sum 41 to Deyo, a whole spectrum”. He continues: “I think we sound like extra spicy nachos piled high with every topping you can get because our band – half of us grew up listening to metal, half of us grew up listening to hard-core, and half of us grew up listening to rap and everything is thrown in there. Sometimes we think it would be good to be Comeback Kid because we love them and sometimes we think it’d be good to be Thrice because we love them and sometimes we think it’d be good to be Dillinger Escape Plan because we love them. It sort of all gets mixed up in a pot and For Today comes out”.

As such, For Today have a unique sound, and this is amplified in their latest release, Wake. Montgomery states: “This latest release is probably the most different album that we’ve ever released. We’ve always sort of been a melodic metalcore band, and the guitar players have done sweeps and solos or the shreddy thing. there’s not really much of that this is more technical than any of the others but in a very sort of dark way and I like that. I’m excited about that. It’s definitely the heaviest album we’ve put out and it’s very aggressive. One interviewer I was talking to said I’ve heard your other albums but this one is like a punch in the face. And I said thank you, thank you so much, I appreciate that. This album is a lot more aggressive, even lyrically, it’s a lot darker than anything we’ve written in the past”.

Montgomery feels that this outcome is due to the band growing together and also that he is more comfortable now discussing certain issues. He explains: “I had a specific plan writing this album and that was to recognise some things that people faced, not on their own but as a human collective. Things like depression, abandonment, suicide and addiction.

Instead of saying. ‘If you struggle with depression you have a problem and here is the answer’, I wanted instead of alienating people with our speech, to use inclusive language. I say, ‘WE need to deal with these issues’.

I really put myself in a place emotionally when I was in the studio, I spent some time feeling what I felt like those times in my life, being depressed or feeling abandoned, and I knew what it was like to be in that place. A lot of fans and a lot of people who listen to our music at dealing with those things right now and I wanted to give them songs to attach to that would help them vocalise what was going on inside”.

As a father of two, Montgomery talks from the heart about some of the concerns he raises on Wake. “I think the song that was most challenging is a song called Wasteland, that is about abandonment specifically. It’s probably a tie between that one and a song called Bitter Roots. Wasteland, that song concludes by saying ‘I’m not hopeless, I’m just abandoned, I’m not dead I’m just dead to you’. And I had to face something in Wasteland while I was writing that, and that is quite difficult to face and that is that the cause of a lot of dysfunction in our generation.

It is not chemical imbalances, it is not angry music; the cause of dysfunction in our generation is that a lot of kids have been abandoned by the people who are supposed to love them; that is their parents or whoever was supposed to be taking care of them.

I don’t know what it’s like in Australia but more kids than ever now in the United States are growing up without dads. And it’s like, man, a father is supposed to be reliable, he’s supposed to be there, strong enough to stick it out and to help make a way for you for life. Not only are a lot of kids missing out on experiencing a father who are able to take care of their family but they’re missing out on a father who is even willing to stay to help the family and that’s really hard. And I had to face that, and I grew up without a dad and I had to face the hardship of abandonment and the stress that came along with it and that was really difficult.

And also the song Bitter Roots is exploring bitterness and how that sometimes so quickly creeps in, in the wake of an offence or an attack from somebody. It’s really easy to be the innocent victim but as soon as I try to milk that victim mentality for a bit too long it turns into this bitterness thing that gets me off track in life. It’s funny how those two songs play in together – we can choose to be bitter about our abandonment or we can forgive and try to grow and do better for our kids”.

Montgomery hopes his experiences will help others. He himself found strength in religion. He explains: “I found faith in Jesus. I’m sure there are a million different people with a million different stories but mine – my life probably looked okay to a lot of people but it felt all wrong; it felt like it was falling apart for a long time. I was studying philosophy and world religion at College and I got so desperate that I asked for God’s help. I didn’t know who God was, or where he was, or even if there was a God but I got so desperate one day that I fell on my face and I said, ‘God if you’re real, I want you to show me’. And that was the most dangerous thing that I’ve ever done. And so before that night was over, my entire life had changed. At 10 o’clock that night, before I’d gone to bed, I’d had an experience, an encounter with God, in which the God of all creation had spoken, and was in my life and was actively working to change the course of my destiny. And, as I share my faith in different places, I say please don’t take my word for it, ask God, ask him to prove it and if he doesn’t, then it’s between you and him, it’s not because I didn’t make the persuasive enough argument. I can argue you into it and someone else can argue out of it. No one argued me into it. I’ve had a lot of experiences with God”.

Montgomery doesn’t preach yet advises: “I know that God will answer everybody but I think the problem is a lot of times is people don’t hear it because of the way Christians portray God and the way God speaks. And what I mean is that we make it into this big show, the church, the lights, the fog, the music, it’s all dramatic. But that’s not how it is when God speaks to me. In my experience, it’s me on a walk by myself and what happens is that things in my heart just begin to get settled. Instead of wrestling with this thought or this possibility or this option, I say I know what is truth, I know what it’s in front of me is right, and I find the courage to do. And as simple as that sounds, it’s a still small voice”.

Montgomery concludes: “Hang on, continue listening to that small still voice. Hang on, keep fighting. If there’s anything worth fighting for, this is it. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. This is what you were made for. Keep listening because I know God wants to speak”.

For Today’s new album Awake is released 2nd October 2015 on Nuclear Blast.

About Mary Boukouvalas 837 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

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