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Show no Mercy
In the beginning, we were young and naive. We absolutely had no experience, and we were not looking for a record deal. Troy (my brother) and I were the driving force behind the band. We felt we were called of God to do His work. We had been raised on music all of our lives, playing southern gospel music in churches. We found our calling in the least likely style of music.
We had no idea why the Lord called us into rock music after our many years playing traditional music, but we stepped out on faith and pursued the calling with much vigor. (Romans 11:29, 1 Corinthians 7:20, Philippians 3:14. 2 Timothy 1:9.)
We had been sending demo tapes of the band to the underground fanzines and mags trying to get established as a band. We were called Matrix, a three piece band in which I played bass, Troy played guitar, and we had finally found a steady drummer named Steve Gilbert after the departure of original drummer, Steve Childers. Matrix had been together for almost three years, and we had gone through many band member changes, but had not lost the joy of playing music for the Lord. Since Troy and I had not grown up listening to hard rock music, we imitated no one. We were writing songs that we liked, and were playing live shows the way we felt we should play them.
In Louisville, KY, where we were based, we were the outcast. There was a Christian music scene that did exist, but the "clique" felt as though we were pushing the borders of Christianity with our stage antics. Troy and I knew little about how rock music was suppose to sound, and knew even less of how to perform live on stage. Our influences being Resurrection band, Servant, Keaggy, Norman, Joe English, Petra, and Stonehill, we thought we were doing what they did. I actually realize now that we were very extreme for the time, and I can see why people were shocked at our songs and stage behavior.
From our makeup to our spandex, from leaping off our amps to wearing painted shin guards and hockey masks, I now see that we were not your conventional Christian band in the early 80's. We always had a good crowd in town. I think it was a lot of lost youth who wanted to see if a Christian band could be as wild as one of the mainstream counter parts. The Christians came out to mainly judge us, but seldom would they approach us to condemn us. (I think we appeared dangerous and scary to them.)
We were experimenting with flash pots and explosions almost from day one. After setting a couple of stages on fire and turning a few low ceilings black with the flames, we became selective in our use of pyrotechnics. In the Christian underground, we were becoming the talk of the small community and, to our dismay, the talk of the underground around the country, due in large to our couple of demo tapes. We were already in controversy before we were signed to a record deal.
A reviewer named Chris Yambar, who wrote for the Activist (a publication), had written some very negative and unprofessional things about Matrix. He stated that: "...Troy's solo's even though textbook and trite could be stomached." My vocals, however, could not."His grating, high pitched and harpy screeches come off as tasteless and offensive. On several occasions they do nothing but detract from the music and make one wish that he'd opt for something a little closer to Daniel Band or Bad Company," wrote Yambar.
Being young, we took offense, and felt as though Chris was personally attacking us individually. I was a hothead at the time, and, even though I was a Christian, took more of the attitude that Peter displayed by cutting off a guard's ear in the garden when they came to arrest Jesus, rather than following the loving example that Jesus promoted. Troy and I responded back to Chris instantly with a letter.
I wrote to Chris, saying that, "You are the only one who had discredited our musical abilities and my vocal performance. The best thing you could have done was not to review it at all." I went on to say that, "when our album Show no Mercy is released on Pure Metal Records don't do us any favors. Spare us your expert gift of review. Also, could you send back the "MSMD" tape we sent you. Why keep something that you can't stomach?" ("MSMD" was short for Monkey See Monkey Do, a self-produced demo that we were sending out for reviews.)
Troy wrote a second letter saying, "I've never taken a guitar lesson in my life nor spied a single guitar lead. I played what I felt, not what I read from a book. As for stomaching the vocals, I suggest you put the speaker a little closer to your ear instead of your midsection. Who wants to sound like Bad Company? Are they your heroes?"
Chris responded in his next edition with a positive four long paragraphs on how he came to writing the review that he wrote. Chris had not in fact completely convinced Troy and I that he was not intentionally trashing us. However, we later talked with Chris personally, and we believe now he had no ill intentions.
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