Project 86: 20 Years of Push, Challenge, and Raw

I have this friend named Josh. I’ve known Josh since 1995. When we first met, I was an addicted, self-absorbed jerk. Some folks who knew me then may not have seen me that way, but I know the junk that lived inside me back then. It was ugly. One of the manifestations of that ugly stuff was how I was strongly opinionated about what was good and what was not. I was the measuring stick. What I liked was good and what I didn’t like was bad. There is no better example of this personal dynamic than in my musical tastes. Basically, the way it worked was that other folks, like Josh, would talk about music they were into and I would immediately dismiss whatever they had to say about that music.

In those first few years I knew Josh, he was drawn to groups like Creed, Project 86, P.O.D., and Every Day Life. Of course, I assumed he had little taste and didn’t know what he was talking about. Thankfully, that didn’t last. In 2003 or so (yes, eight years after meeting Josh), I finally started paying some attention to some of those bands, one of which was Project 86. I was enrolling in one of the music clubs (like BMG or Columbia House) and Drawing Black Lines by P86 was one of the options for the introductory offer and I took the risk. SO glad I did.

I loved the raw authenticity I heard in the album. Project 86 made it’s break in the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) world, but they sang about things that weren’t often fodder for CCM songs. References to suicide attempts and inward contempt were not normal for that milieu. Aside from the subject matter, I was immediately drawn to the intensity of their sound. I was a fan. And for me, their music pulled me in more and more as the next few albums came out. Truthless Heroes, Songs to Burn Bridges By, and …And the Rest Will Follow were all tremendous. …And the Rest Will Follow is one of my favorite albums of all time, period. These guys had lots to say about art, the music “industry,” God, the church, abuse, and various other controversial and/or provocative issues and they said it loudly and intensely.

I’ve never cared as much for their follow up to …And the Rest Will Follow, entitled Rival Factions. There are definitely highlights on the album, but I was honestly spoiled by its predecessor. However, I’ve always loved the song featured on this week’s TS10, The Forces of Radio Have Dropped a Viper in the Rhythm Section. It is so raucous and out of control. I think that’s the appeal for me, especially on an album that feels much more under control otherwise.

If you have followed Tomme Suab for a while and listen to the TS10 on a semi-regular basis, you may have notices there have been a few Project 86 songs featured. Don’t expect that to change. This is a band that has been screaming change and inviting listeners into deep introspection with an emotive and raucous style for two decades now and more of us ought to give them a listen. So, listen to them on the TS10, and if you’re interested in hearing more, click the links in this post or check out their site: www.project86.com.

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