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In person interview with Mattie Montgomery - vocalist for the band For Today
Vans Warped Tour stop at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan
July 6, 2012
by Eldon McGraw
When did you get the bug to start singing?
I really just scream. When I grew up my mom was a classically trained choral vocalist. She actually won a Grammy. I always grew up in an opera house and heard my mom sing. It was always such a show in an beautiful place. Everyone was always dressed up and that always marked me to want to become a performer.
What did you learn from your mom about the music business?
My mom was always concerned more for her family than her career. She would make choir practice revolve around soccer practice. That is something that has really translated. I am married and I have a son now. When we are out on tour I will fly home at least once a week to see them, even if it’s only for a few hours. Really, my mom set an example with her life that it’s really more important for me to be dad and husband that it is to be Mattie Montgomery the rock star or whatever people want to call it. My responsibilities as a husband and father should come before my responsibilities as a musician.
Did your mother instill a religious background in you and is that important?
Yeah, it really is. I don't know if it is from my mom or my own dissatisfaction with the way the world works. I just got more fed up and frustrated with the injustices of the world. It just seems that people are so willing to be led by anything that is put in front of them. It just seems like they just taking in whatever is put in front of them, whether its the new Usher album, new Katy Perry. There is stuff being put in front of them and they are just following it. It’s a scary thing. The more I saw that, the more I thought that there has to be an answer and that's what drove me to Jesus.
When was the moment that you felt you were being spoon fed something musically?
I was probably 14 or 15. I was into heavy music. Bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit. Stuff like “All Day I Dream About Sex,” that Korn song. Then an album or two later, they sing “Inside I feel so hollow.” I began to see that these guys are leading me, but they don't have it figured out. They don't know what they are talking about. Like Fred Durst singing songs that I knew every word to. Then he is at the Playboy Mansion partying and people look up to them and admire them, but that’s not really adding anything to you as a person. I was sick of following people who didn't know,where they were going.
You are obviously a leader. Have you helped lead someone that is on this current Vans Warped Tour? You don't have to give any names.
Yeah. There’s a guy on the tour that just had a child. I sat down with him and we talked for a few minutes and I told him that “you and I are the closest thing to a dad that some of these kids in the audience will ever see.” He looked at me kind of confused. I said “a dad is supposed to be someone that a little girl can look up to and say 'there is the kind of man I want to marry some day' or little boys can say ‘when I grow up, I want to be like him. I wanna do what he does.” That really struck him. He’s been talking everyday about the responsibility of being a father. It has really been a cool thing to sort of change the culture of Warped Tour and hopefully change the culture of our generation.
The temperature today is over 100 degrees and you are performing outside. How much weight do you think you will lose after your performance today?
A couple of pounds, probably a lot.
You mentioned soccer earlier. What kind of sports did you play growing up?
I played soccer for fifteen years. That was my whole life. Way more than music.
How did the discipline of soccer help you in music?
Anything in life, there is mental discipline. As a Christian, there is mental discipline even sending my thoughts to Jesus. My thoughts have to be obedient to the lordship of Jesus. As a musician, as a leader that influences other people, mentally I have to be aware of what's going on around me.
Are you on a mission?
Yes. We live in a nation that has been marked with the phrase “liberty and justice for all.” Justice is something the western civilizations have valued for thousands of years. Justice demands that someone will get what they deserve, good or bad. My job on earth is to make sure justice is served for Jesus. Jesus deserves all honor, glory, and praise. He demands all admiration. He deserves the humble service of love and affection of everyone on planet earth. One heart at a time is my plan to give Jesus the justice he deserves.
What if Jesus appeared on stage at Warped Tour. Would these kids buy it? What would Jesus have to do to make them know it's him?
Obviously there is a stigma attached to Jesus at this point. Jesus has become a cultural phenomenon more than a man. I believe that the glory of Jesus is undeniable. When faced with the reality of the King of Kings, the creator of the entire universe, the original dreamer. He is the creator and sustainer of life itself. I believe when people are faced with that reality, it will be unquestionable. However, in the same breath, there are many people today, if faced with the reality of Jesus, it demands a response, and they said no he is not really real. It’s not an issue of them believing it or not, it’s an issue if they are willing to pay the price. There are many, many, many, bands on this tour that are wearing upside down crosses and 666, but I have spoken to them privately and they have said "I know that there is a God and I know that Jesus is the way to God, but I’m just not willing to give my life to him." When you get down to it, that is the most fundamental objection to people and Jesus.
I know you have a busy schedule, so just a couple of more questions.
No, this is awesome, I love this. We are talking about real stuff now.
I want to elaborate on something you referred to. There are bands on this tour that are having upside down crosses and 666, do you try and be a role model for some of these bands?
That's up to them. I am conscious of the fact that it could happen. I do everything I can to be a person who is worth following. Now that doesn't mean that anyone is necessarily going to follow me. In the event that they do, I want to be someone that is worth following to a place that is good to go.
You are a new father. How has that impacted your life?
To be practical, I am writing a book, a childrens book. I am not going to distribute it, I am paying an illustrator to help me. I’m going to read it to my son every night before he goes to bed. It’s the story where he is the hero.
You know, you could probably sell more childrens books than your albums today with the state of the music industry.
That's probably true.
Were you born in the wrong time as a musician?
No way. There’s no better time for music for me. If we came out with Metalcore 50 years ago, nobody would have like it. This is my favorite kind of music to perform. I wouldn't listen to Core today if I wasn't in Core today. This is not the kind of music I prefer to listen to, but there is no other kind of music that I would rather perform. I love it. Its an exciting time to be a part of it.
Is it nice to have the physical outlet because you are a former athlete?
Yes. It's not sufficient enough to keep us in shape, but it definitely helps. We get up there drenched in sweat for a half hour to forty five minutes a day. I just love the intensity of it. There is that edge, sort of fury that I used to unleash in sports.
What goes through your mind when are performing and you see the kids crowd surfing and being tossed over the barrier?
I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. Theres usually a line of security guards trying to catch those people. I’ve only seen a few people fall on the ground and they have always been alright. Crowd surfing is at your own risk. I hope it works out good for everyone.
What's something you did this week for fun and something you learned.
For fun, I watched the movie “Taken.” Love that movie so much. I learned that often times when you follow God, he doesn't always take you where you think.
Thank you for the interview.
Check out video from For Today.
For more information about For Today, please visit their web site at www.fortodayband.com