Headlining Friday’s Winter Frostbite Festival at THE GARAGE is Northern Minnesota’s With A Voice. Though the release of their first full-length album The Witness in the Valley is still almost a week away (February 19), the guys from With A Voice are excited to show off their new material to the Twin Cities. Billed as Christian metalcore, With A Voice made clear in this recent interview that they look beyond labels, shaping their sound to be music with a positive purpose, music that reflects how they try to live day to day. They’re confident the Winter Frostbite Festival will see not only their positivity, but also the rock, in all its full-throated, guitar crunching, and cymbal crashing glory. And, man, do they bring it.
Keep tabs on them on Facebook and their official website or check them out at other upcoming shows:
February 23rd at Joy Christian Center in St. Cloud (Ryan Dezurik memorial benefit)
March 9th at THE GARAGE (Singled Out farewell show)
THE GARAGE: Name, instrument?
Dylan Raftevold, vocals
Michael Gilbert, guitar/clean vocals
Josiah Taves, guitar
Mark Sands, bass
Kord Maurer, drums
THE GARAGE: With A Voice is billed as Christian metalcore. How does that label describe your sound and who are the artists that influence With A Voice?
Kord: Being Christian effects our music more in terms of lyrical content than it does actual sound. We draw most of our influence from Christian / positive bands like Underoath, Confide, and August Burns Red, however, we don’t really believe that a sound makes you Christian. If you’re not living it off-stage, your lyrics and preaching on-stage don’t matter. We try our best to bring the truth, grace, and love of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet, whether at shows or in our daily lives.
THE GARAGE: So, super exciting: Friday is With A Voice’s CD release show! Tell us about it. What’s the album called? What makes it special?
Kord: Unfortunately, due to mix-ups with the record label, the release date got pushed to the 19th after we booked the show, so we won’t have copies of the album with us. However, we’re still stoked to finally play the Garage and show people our new songs! The new album is called The Witness in the Valley, and it covers a wide range of sounds and topics.
Michael: This is our first full-length album, so it’s exciting to add 10 brand new songs to our arsenal. The album will be released on Red Cord Records, a label based out of Rockford, IL.
Dylan: The Witness in the Valley is intended to be highly relatable. It’s filled with stories about certain valleys in life people must endure and overcome. The lyrics were written with the help of friends and family members telling their stories of what they have overcome in their lives. A couple of songs were some things I’ve had to go through as well. This album was written for the listener. I would like them to know that this album is just as much theirs as it is ours.
THE GARAGE: What should the audience expect from your performance this weekend at THE GARAGE? And is there a particular song you’re most excited to play? Why?
Kord: We try to avoid standing still as much as possible and give 100% at all times as far as stage presence goes. I really don’t like to let my drum kit confine me. My favorite to play is either “Foundation” or “Intra Muros,” because we all get to go crazy and make a bunch of noise at the end. It’s a blast.
Dylan: Expect anything to happen, we’ve been getting crazier and crazier. Whatever we feel at that time will happen. My favorite songs to play are “Sincerity” and “Intra Muros” because I love the intensity behind them.
Michael: Our first single, “The Hero I Had” was just released with a lyric video. It’ll be fun to see if anyone has been learning the words. That always makes for a good live experience.
Mark: I’m really excited to play “Sincerity” because it’s my favorite song off of the album. Expect a lot of movement and a lot of crazy stuff to happen.
THE GARAGE: This is getting back to the CD release: What makes a song good? What were you all shooting for when crafting the new album?
Kord: While we were writing, I tried my best to make drum parts that were fun to play and listen to. I took a lot of influence from Aaron Gillespie (Underoath) and Steve Carey (The Color Morale). We usually try to make sure we’re not repeating anything too many times without at least switching up a drum rhythm or adding a harmony.
Dylan: I wanted all of the instrumentals to fit the lyrics. I believe a song is good when any listener can get the message and feel the emotion behind it.
Mark: The meaning behind the songs is a huge part in how good a song is. Not only is it about personal experiences, it’s also about others’ experiences.
THE GARAGE: What do your practices look like?
Kord: We usually mess around and have fun jamming for a minute or two before we take things seriously and run through the set. We’ll run through it without much movement at first to get warmed up, and then we’ll do a full on rehearsal and treat practice like we’re playing a show.
Michael: Practice mainly looks like my smelly garage.
THE GARAGE: Excluding THE GARAGE, what’s your favorite venue to play? Why?
Kord: I always have a lot of fun playing Ojata Records in Grand Forks because it’s great to see my friends having a good time and singing along. GF is pretty much our home.
Dylan: I love The Ember in Grand Forks because the staff there always treats the bands right. The quality of the sound system is an added plus too.
Michael: The New Direction in Fargo, ND is fun. Lots of respect for a DIY venue.
THE GARAGE: This is a different direction, but is there a piece of technology that’s indispensable to you (aside from the obvious, like mics, amps, etc.)?
Kord: Gorilla Tape holds my life together. I have an old shaky cymbal stand that never stays still, but at our last show, we taped it to the floor and the leg of my floor tom. It didn’t move an inch. We also use it to keep my bass drum beaters on, because they have a tendency to fly off no matter how hard I tighten them.
Michael: I’d say my phone. I take care of a lot of the management and some other things related to the band, so it’s nice to be able answer emails on the go.
Mark: Zach Cadwell to keep life hilarious and not boring.
THE GARAGE: Besides you, what local artist deserves more attention?
Kord: Tracings. They’re a Fargo based post-hardcore outfit that writes great music and brings great stage presence. They’re all really great dudes and they’re not afraid to spread The Gospel with love, truth, grace, and respect.
Dylan: Alistair Hennessey. They are so crazy live and are a bunch of really cool, unique dudes.
Michael: Conveyer, those guys rule. We’re playing with them in St. Cloud on Feb. 23rd.
Mark: Zealot. Awesome guys all around and doing big things for only being a band for a year.
THE GARAGE: What are you listening to right now?
Kord: Tiny Moving Parts – This Couch Is Long and Full Of Friendship
Dylan: Every Time I Die – Ex Lives
Michael: The Color Morale’s new song “Learned Behavior”
Mark: Underoath – Anthology
THE GARAGE: Do you have any advice for a fan who wants to start a band?
Kord: Be open-minded about your music and don’t try to achieve a certain sound. You’re not going to get far trying to emulate something that already exists. Don’t limit your influences; branch out and get creative!
Dylan: Do what you want to do; don’t ever try to fit in with a certain scene if that’s not what you want to do. Expect there to be many bumps in the road and take them in stride. Always listen to anyone’s ideas and never take constructive criticism the wrong way.