Interview: Relent 11-14-21

(l-r): Chris Castillo, Josh Paccione, Bruce Gonzales, Gaston Flores and Miggy Sanchez of Relent. Photo by Josh Huskin, courtesy of Relent

Interview by Jeremy Costello with Miggy Sanchez of the band Relent.

In what way did your music most evolve from your debut album, Heart Attack, to your new album, Heavy?

We’ve just grown overall, both as artists and as individuals. My favorite thing to see in growth is the willingness to go outside the box and try new things, and for us, that’s exactly what happened with Heavy. It pushed the bar a bit more as far as creativity goes.

From concept to composition and everything in between, what is the creative process like for you guys?

Chris and myself do the majority of the writing for Relent. We tend to brainstorm our ideas in our home studio and then, once the studio time comes, our producers Richard Wicander and Robby Joyner really push the creative envelope and help us bring the songs home. We’ve been writing that way for years, and it seems to be working; Chris and I have been playing together for nearly 15 years, so the chemistry there is something special.

How do you hope the band’s musical style and overall persona leverage your message to a Christian audience? What about for non-Christian audiences?

I think the style itself opens doors for both audiences; it’s a style that’s so much more than your typical rock music. We love that we have the freedom to write a really heavy song or a really hip-hop driven song as well and still be able to not only relay a message but have so many genres of people appreciate it. Most of our touring and live shows take place in secular venues and clubs. For the most part, people know who we are and who we represent, and I think it’s super dope that the style alone seems to take the edge off enough for people to give us a chance and see where we are coming from. We didn’t grow up in church, and most of us haven’t been saved longer than a few years, so we relate to unbelievers in so many ways, and God seems to be utilizing that type of empathy and understanding to all who are willing to hear what we have to say.

Are there any personal stories behind the inspiration for the album’s cover art and/or songs with darker tones like “Heavy” or “LOW” that you can share with us?

The title track, “Heavy,” was really the driving force behind the art. The song tells my wife’s story in regards to her rape and sexual trauma growing up. I’ve seen the toll it has taken on her and how hard it’s been to live with such an event, but I also see that her story will be able to help others who unfortunately have experienced the same thing. The demon on the cover represents the demonic realm that seems to drive these actions that we can’t comprehend a mere human committing. It’s a realm that I believe isn’t talked about enough and is one that has major influence in our society today. I’ve always wanted Relent to be the band that would be as real as possible – to say what others won’t. “Heavy,” I feel, is a just a piece of what’s to come as far as that goes.

What non-personal events, if any, also proved inspirational to the new album in any way? Such as other bands, news stories, et cetera.

Hard to find a non-personal one, really, seeing that where we are at in our world today seems to have a very personal effect on everything we do. But if I had to choose one, it would be the comeback of nu metal’s greatest bands to ever exist and seeing them begin to release new material – bands that we grew up listening to. Super rad to see that and definitely brought us inspiration.

If you had to pick one, what song from the new album is straight-up the most fun to play or sing? There are so many great choices!

Thank you! That’s hard, but if I could choose one, it would be “Ghost.” It’s just a hype song all the way around. I love seeing people’s faces drop when the ending happens. Very fun song to play live.

You’ve publicly talked about how your life turned around after an encounter with Jesus prior to forming this band in 2016. How has your faith grown in that time, and how has it impacted your music and lyrics?

It’s been a journey, to say the least. My love for Jesus is mos def still intact and growing, but it has not been an easy road whatsoever. I’ve personally had to overcome many obstacles concerning my life in regards to things like mental health, church hurt, and depression, to name a few. One thing I’ve stopped doing through hard times and trials is I stopped asking God “why,” and I started asking him “what.” What is it you want me to learn? What can I take away from this? That mentality has mos def fueled my lyrical content, and I am able to spill my heart on paper and in these songs. I’m pretty privileged to have music as an avenue to express these things – I absolutely love that about Relent.

What advice would you give to Christian bands that may be trying to establish themselves today?

Stay close to God. It’s very easy to get lost in this business and begin to put things in his place; fight to make him priority. Secondly, I would say get some thick skin – people are wild. Third, I would say find your sound. Think outside the box; we have so much creative potential inside of us.

What challenges, if any, does your band face when writing lyrics in such a volatile – and often political – social climate? Or does that climate actually make it easier to put pen to pad?

The climate definitely provokes me to say what’s on my mind. I’ve reached a point in my life and career where it doesn’t bother me what people say or think about what I’m writing. I’ve always seemed to find myself in this weird bubble of being too “worldly” for the church and too “holy” for the world. I’m stuck in the middle. I’ll never be able to please everyone, so I just stay focused on being real, and I let those cards fall where they may.

What heights do you hope to see the band reach in the future?

We are very humbled to even be where we are now. It’s amazing to see the fans we have now and the support they have for us. Obviously, we’d love to be able to dominate the industry with music that can stand the test of time, but, indeed, only time will tell.

In a broader sense, what’s an absolute core belief you hope fans and non-fans alike can identify about your band and use for inspiration of their own?

Real. Relent is real, both musically and in our belief. We will never be tied down to some creative cap. We will continue to push the envelope.

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