Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Townhouse Interviews: Stephen Harrison (Stevis Reyvis) of The Chariot

The Chariot's final LP, One Wing (album artwork by my friend Trey Moseley)

The Chariot was a beacon of light in a fairly dark music scene.  They made some of the hardest hitting music I've ever heard, and they did it for The Lord.  Two things that aren't often uttered in the same sentence.  In a word The Chariot was about freedom.  An integral part of that equation was guitarist for The Chariot, Stephen Harrison.  He was kind enough to stop by the Townhouse and answer a few questions.  As a big fan of the band, it's a great honor to have him, so without further ado, here's the Townhouse interview with Stevis Reyvis.  Enjoy!

Evan Jones Who is Stevis Reyvis?

Stephen Harrison Stevis Reyvis is Stephen Rey Harrison, 24 years old, born in Berkeley CA, currently in Atlanta GA.

EJ Are you good at guitar hero?

SH No.  Not even a little bit.

EJ Interesting.  Mind telling readers the story of your guitar playing?  How you started, development, who are some of your influences, etc.?

SH I started playing guitar when I was in 6th grade.  My little sister told my mom to buy me a guitar for Christmas even though I hadn't shown any interest in playing an instrument.  I got it and never wanted to not be playing it, which is funny because I don't have much patience for things that I'm not good at right away.  But yeah I loved it.  No lessons, just kinda tuned the strings to what sounded cool or right to me at the time.  My friend Derek (imagerystorm/the guy who shot the chariot documentary/my roommate) is who really taught me a lot about playing.  The first song I ever learned how to play was a song he wrote called "Insanity" which sounded something like "Last Resort" by Papa Roach.  Then Deftones songs, Foo Fighters songs....all that stuff.  Played through middle school into high school but then I joined a band as a vocalist and stopped playing as much, which is why for playing something like 12 years I'm not that great.  I didn't really have very many guitar influences.  I really liked the blonde guy of From A Second Story Window.  He was such a great live guitarist.  Scottie from Norma Jean too.  I didn't know or care about tone or pedals or any of that, I just liked dudes who looked cool.

EJ Nothing wrong with that.  You're a pretty cool looking dude yourself, so I guess that worked for you.  The Chariot created some of the hardest hitting and raw music I've ever heard.  When I first read about the band, and realized you were Christians, it was hard to believe, and very exciting. What was it like being Christians in what you might describe as an aggressive scene?

SH It was cool. We ran into very few issues because of our faith.  For the most part everyone respected us.  We did our best to keep each other grounded and accountable personally.

EJ I'm not sure I want to call The Chariot a Christian band because I think that limits what the band was.  But I think a band like The Chariot that had the opportunity to show Christ to people that might not have ever experienced Him apart from your music is a wonderful thing.  What was the decision you guys made about how much of your faith you'd share in the music, and how much you'd leave to God and fan interactions?

SH I don't think that title limits the band at all.  It's an accurate description of the heart of the band.  I think sometimes people get hung up on that title because at first glance they think that means our music is only for Christians which isn't the case.  But yeah, there wasn't a conscious decision or a conversation or anything like that about how to display our faith, we just did what came naturally. We're not "preach from the stage" guys therefore that's not what the band was.  We preferred to let God work through our show and let the ministry happen afterwards.

EJ Now the music.  There's a huge array of sounds to be discovered on Chariot albums.  The texture is immense, and it adds dynamics to the genre in a way that I haven't heard from many bands.  Your music has a tangible quality that goes beyond sound sort of like auditory collage along the lines of The Books, but if The Books slammed electric guitars and threw drums around.  Do you agree with this characterization?  Are you familiar with The Books? Terrible question?

SH I'm not familiar, haha.  I'm sorry!

EJ I've seen a lot of references to The Chariot as a hardcore band.  Were ya'll influenced by the original hardcore scene?

SH Yeah definitely.  I'd say all of us as individuals love different eras of hardcore.  I think I'm the one that stayed up to date on more current bands though.

EJ Aside from the sampling and such, there's an array of guitar sounds on Chariot albums. How were some of those discovered?  Would you say you're a pretty experimental guitar player?

SH Not really.  I'm not really into pedals or weird amps.  I just like high volume and cool riffs.  Most of the "weird" or experimental ideas came from Josh.  He had a good way of making a potentially horrible idea turn out great.

EJ Well again, I think your music is very tangible, to the point of being almost visual.  It seems that it went beyond just being influenced by other music.  What else inspired The Chariot's music?

SH We liked to look backwards quite a bit for inspiration rather than what's happening right now. Music from past decades, movies from past decades........vibes.  Sometimes the vibe of a movie or a picture or even like driving through a desert is so strong that you think "yeah I want to write a song that feels like THIS does right now".  I can't really explain it better than that.

EJ I definitely know what you're talking about.  I think that explains it quite a lot actually.  What kind of things did Chariot songs deal with?

SH Coming home, being gone, finishing the race strong, forgiveness, The Lord.

EJ Do you ever watch YouTube videos of your live performances and think, “where'd I get all those sweet moves?”

SH Haha, imagine ACTUALLY thinking that about yourself.  No, but I have seen videos of us playing recently and thought there's no way I could do that now.

EJ Why the decision to break up?

SH Just that time man.  We all had different paths we had to take and it was clear.

EJ Any post-Chariot projects you've got going you care to share? Musically or otherwise?

SH I've been modeling a bit, that's been fun.  I'm also learning how to film and edit footage. Musically I'm working on a lil sumthin.  We've recorded some stuff, shot a video.....not sure when we're gonna release anything yet.

EJ Can't wait to see what you come out with!  I'm sure it'll be great.  Thanks for stopping by the Townhouse!

SH Thank you for having me!

If you're a fan of hardcore music, go listen to The Chariot if you haven't already.  If you're not a fan of hardcore music, still go listen for no other reason than to hear what freedom sounds like.  It's a powerful experience.  Their music can be found wherever you can find music on the interwebs.  And pay attention to Stephen's upcoming projects!

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Evan Jones is a painter, drummer, and avid music lover.