There's not some glossed over image. We (Guardian) are a real band and we play and we write everything for ourselves we don't have studio musicians come in I think people can see that we're trying to be real in what we do I think that's where the connection with our audience begins.
We've always tried to be approachable We never had that rock and roll mystique. When it comes to Christianity we've learned it's a show-me faith not a tell-me faith You can't distance yourself from people and still hope to communicate anything meaningful You have to get your hands dirty the grind never stops the battle never stops It just never ends and you have to keep pursuing it keep pursuing the truth keep pressing on keep shining your light keep sending up flaresBottle Rocket is a call to an active faith.
"Rock and roll is ridiculous if you think about it..."
-Tony Palacios, Guardian
They say they're very serious about what they do but in the same breath they'll tell you they're not at all serious about the way in which they do it.
Bear with me, this might take some explaining.
Guardian started around 1990. That was when the lineup gelled and the four guys recorded Fire & Love. Music at the time was clawing for a new identity in the post-metal/pre-grunge era that lasted all of about eleven months, up until nirvana's `smells like teen spirit' hit the airwaves.
Guardian's sound has been evolving since the band's inception. They've always stayed current with popular music, refusing to be locked into a particular niche or time period. They had the same philosophy back then that they do now: write songs you can stand behind, and play the kind of music that people want to hear. "Basically we're a rock and roll band" says David Bach,"That's what we listen to, that's what we grew up on, that's what we play."
Buzz, released on Myrrh Records in 1995, reflected a conscious shift from Guardian's previous efforts to an edgier, modern-rock feel, complete with fuzzy, looping guitar riffs, and a clever, ironic undercurrent (an element that surely had nothing to do with the sardonic, subversive influences of producer Steve Taylor). Their new project, Bottle Rocket, is a lot like Buzz, only more so.
That is to say, Bottle Rocket takes what is sonically current, and gives it that extra little twist that makes it hip as opposed to derivative, and credible as opposed to ...well, as opposed to derivative again. Ultimately, what that means is that Bottle Rocket is going to walk across the stage and receive its diploma with the class of `97, but if you peel back the production and just look at the songwriting, you'll see the same four guys who were there in 1990 smiling out at you.
"We take our Christianity very seriously," Tony says,"and we work hard to be skilled musicians, but we never lose sight of the fact that we're in the business of rock and roll, and rock and roll is ridiculous if you think about it. You just can't take that part of it too seriously. At one time we probably went through that phase of wishing we were successful rock stars, but God has slowly squeezed that kind of attitude out of us and shown us that we are just to do the best we can, make the best music we can, and be accountable. Where he takes us, he takes us."
"In the 90's it's raw emotion..."
-Karl Ney , Guardian
The reason Guardian songs don't get covered much is that the guys really are `players' in the best Nashville sense of the word, meaning that they went home after school every day and practiced their music lessons and now they're a little hard to keep up with. Or, to put it another way, they know more than the standard three chords and a key change. They've proved in past years that they can play slick and tight, everything from moody acoustic to frenzied barnstorming romps, so when they dirty the sound a bit and open the ambient spaces in a song as they do on parts of Bottle Rocketalbeit at 90mphyou know it's a creative choice. "A lot of what we're doing has gotten away from being `perfect' and moved toward having emotion really flow through the music," says Karl, "Music overall is shifting away from heavy production. In the 90's it's raw emotion."
"Some of the songs on Bottle Rocket," Dave adds, "are just straight-ahead, aggressive, guitar-driven numbers that we cut live. Tunes like `Revelation' and `Salvation' lend themselves to that raw, live chemistry, and we didn't want to meddle with it by overproducing."
Guardian's live chemistry apparently translates pretty well into Spanish, too. Against the better judgement of people even at their own record company, they recently recorded an album in Spanish. "Now we just got back from a three week tour of South America where we were drawing crowds of thousands and thousands of people," Dave says, "It was just bizarre to us. We never planned or anticipated that kind of response. We would look at each other and think `What are we doing here?' Some of the biggest things that have happened to us have been flukes like that. But in retrospect it's easy to see that it wasn't really a fluke, it was God opening doors that we hadn't even knocked on." So go figure.
"People are hungry for reality..."
-Jamie Rowe, Guardian
Listening to the lyrics on Bottle Rocket is like being held down and tickled by your older brother. You're laughing hysterically, but you know at some point it's going to quit being funny and just hurt. Pride, apathy, materialism, self-righteousness, gossip, guilt, and our collective addiction to diversion are all addressed in good time and with good humor...
loosen your tie, loosen your belt
clear your throat, fidget
cough, cough, fidget
don't scratch, don't break out in a sweat
are we feeling comfortable yet?
-from "Are We Feeling Comfortable Yet"
"We've always leaned toward gut-level type lyrics and gut-level type topics," Tony says, "things that we struggle with and that are part of our own experience as opposed to lyrics that would point the finger at other people. We always figured that if we're honest about ourselves in our lyrics, that other people will be able to see themselves clearly in what we've written, too."
Which isn't to say that Bottle Rocket is all about rebuke. It's about hope and grace and faith and affirmation as well. "Coffee Can," one of many lyrical left turns on the project, was inspired by a recurring dream Tony's mother had shortly before she died of cancer. In the dream she was trying to fly to heaven on a coffee can, but couldn't get it more than a foot or two off the ground. The dream image became a metaphor for the futility of trusting in one's own strength, and consequently a metaphor of the deep need for grace. "My Queen Esther" and "What Does It Take" are each, in their own way, songs about the easing of burdens at the foot of the cross for `those who labor and are heavy laden.' The title cut, "Bottle Rocket," (a 90's version of "This Little Light of Mine") is an encouragement to live out your faith in view of the world.
"We asked a lot of youth pastors what issues their kids were facing that weren't being very well addressed," says Jamie, "and we consciously gravitated toward those topics on this record. We wanted to write songs that were entertaining, but that still had real substance. People are hungry for reality."
Other Bottle Rocket song titles worthy of mention include "Babble On," "Blue Light Special," "Break Me Down," "The Water's Fine," "Hell to Pay," and "Fear The Auctioneer." That should about do it.
"(Guardian) has been around for a number of years now," Dave says in closing, "but it isn't like success has been handed to us on a silver platter. I think that's biblical. Slow growth tends to build character and you have a lot less illusions about what you're doing. It's not about how you feel all the time, it's about being obedient..."
Tony adds, "That's what we've learned over the years together. It's not all glory. Anything of worth done to advance the kingdom of God is going to take a lot of discipline and a lot of persistence. Hopefully we're staying in the middle of that."