We recently sat down with Christian metal band Every Knee Shall Bow to discuss their most recent release, Slayers of Eden which released March 12th on Rottweiler Records. The album has been received very well by the media and fans alike. Secular online music portal New Transcendence states “…(faith) is the driving force behind an album that comprehensively displays brilliantly constructed mastery of everything from technical and melodic death metal to hard-hitting beat down. On the other, it is the force which results in an equal amount of destruction—the destruction of barriers and borders between the genres the band combines into a unique and immersive sound, and the barriers which stand between religiously inspired faith and devotion and crushing, bone-splitting brutality.” Four of the five band members are brothers ranging in age from 14 to 27. The vocalist and only non-sibling, Chris Hull, is 25.
JesusWired: Guys, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us and let us know more about yourselves, the band and your faith in Christ. We hope this interview opens the eyes of some in the Christian community who tend to be skeptical of Christian music that leans toward the heavy side. At JesusWired, we realize what you’re doing is missionary work. My contention has always been that it’s not about the style of music but, rather, the heart of the individuals behind the music. Worship is not a song; not a style. It’s a frame of mind and a condition of the heart. We want to reveal the hearts of the men behind the “scary music.”
Please introduce yourselves and tell me what you do in the band.
DJ: I’m DJ Wibbelsman and I play the drums.
Cole: I’m Cole Wibbelsman and I play guitar.
Shane: I’m Shane Wibbelsman and I play bass guitar.
Drew: I’m Drew Wibbelsman and I am the lead guitarist with some clean vocals.
Chris: I’m Chris Hull. I’m the vocalist.
JesusWired: How did you guys end up coming together as a band?
DJ: Our Dad got us into metal at a young age and Drew and I just started jamming. Next thing I knew, Cole and Shane wanted to play with us so we started writing songs and looking for a vocalist. We found Chris Hull in November of 2010 and started playing shows a month later.
Drew: DJ and I started to jam together and realized that we instinctively fed off of each other writing music we enjoyed to play and hear. We always wanted to form a band but could never find other musicians in our area. I went to California and tried really hard to start a band, but couldn’t enjoy playing with any other drummers. I ended up back in Arkansas a year later to find that all three of my brothers were growing out their hair and were ready to jam! Within a couple of weeks we wrote our first song later named “No Longer Slaves”…minus the lyrics. Then it took two years to finally get a vocalist.
Chris: The other guys are all brothers, so they’d been playing a bit together for a while, but they’d been trying to find a vocalist. I was working at Domino’s with a friend of DJ’s who one day randomly told me her friend wanted me to be in his band. I got DJ’s contact information and messaged him about it. A little later Drew contacted me and invited me to go to a War of Ages show with them. They picked me up in their dad’s Challenger (all of them including their dad) and all six of us crammed into the Challenger and drove an hour to Little Rock to the show. We had a good time and I went and practiced a few days later. About a month later we played our first show in Little Rock at Vino’s Brew Pup. We’ve been Every Knee Shall Bow ever since.
JesusWired: Where are you based out of?
Chris: I’m out of Little Rock, AR, 2 hours north of Blevins where we practice in Blevins, AR.
Drew: The band is based out of Blevins, Arkansas but our local shows are in Little Rock, Arkansas.
JesusWired: What’s the story behind the Wibbelsman brothers and how did they get so good at such a young age?
Chris: They’re stupid awesome, that’s what.
Cole: I guess it’s just my God-given talent and inspiration from my dad, and big brothers DJ and Drew.
DJ: Our dad exposed us to old school thrash metal like Testament and Exodus from birth. Our parents were also big fans of Tourniquet, whose drummer, Ted Kirkpatrick inspired me to play the drums. Cole picked up a guitar at the age of three and plays every day. Shane always wanted to play guitar but he just never enjoyed it as much as Cole and then we suggested he try the bass. He was a natural. He just started shredding bass riffs playing with his fingers. Drew used to play the drums and even taught me when I started. However, he always had an interest in playing guitar and began taking it more seriously at around twelve. Once I was good enough at drums, we jammed all the time. Moving to Arkansas left us with little to do besides our music so we just excelled.
Shane: Yeah, we got to start at a very young age and just kept practicing.
JesusWired: What is the concept behind the name of your new album, Slayers of Eden? What does that mean?
Cole: That we as humans are still destroying what god gave us.
DJ: If anyone of us were Adam, we would have slayed Eden too! We are the Slayers of Eden! Our iniquities slayed Eden and we have to realize that we threw away something God tried to bless us with. His response was one of unfathomable love and dedication to mankind, His creation! He gave His ONLY Son to die on the cross bearing all of our iniquities, be it malice, hate, lust, lies, greed, homosexuality, adultery, fornication or whatever. Jesus Christ took it upon Himself so we could be washed clean. We just have to let Him take our sins from us. Those sins listed are equally wrong because they separate us from God. We separated ourselves from God when we slayed Eden but it did not end there. So God gave us His Son.
Shane: We are the ones who ate the forbidden fruit and ruined the Garden of Eden. Therefore we are the Slayers of Eden.
Drew: To me, it is a reminder that when left to ourselves we are always going to fall and take God’s blessings for granted.
Chris: The concept for Slayers of Eden came to me when I was thinking of how we continually take the amazing gift that God gave us and basically throw it in His face when we betray Him through sin. I was trying to think of a way to illustrate that picture and the phrase “We are the slayers of Eden” popped into my head. So the title track starts out with the story of the fall of man where we chose to disobey God and rebel in sin. It then ties in to how every time we sin, we are continuing to rebel and be disobedient. Thus, collectively we are the slayers of Eden, and no matter what our sin we ALL need the gift that Jesus gave when He died on the cross to erase and forgive that sin. Several different sins our listed in the song, though it is not an exhaustive list.
JesusWired: What’s your favorite track on the album?
DJ: The Lion’s Teeth
Cole: Slayers of Eden
Shane: Slayers of Eden
Drew: Vigilance of Battle
Chris: Personally my favorite track is Slayers of Eden, followed closely by The Lion’s Teeth.
JesusWired: Who produced the album and what was the experience like?
Chris: Josh Barber (producer of Wrongdoers by Norma Jean) produced, recorded, mixed and mastered Slayers of Eden. For me the experience was phenomenal. It’s what I’ve always dreamed about doing, recording professionally in an awesome studio with a great producer.
Cole: It was a lot of fun.
Shane: Yeah, it was fun and fascinating to see the process.
Drew: It was challenging at times yet really cool.
DJ: The experience was awesome. Tracking drums in such an awesome studio was a blast! Josh did a great job getting the best out of us and our music. We butted heads but that’s to be expected.
JesusWired: When fans come to an Every Knee Shall Bow show, are they going to hear the same technical mastery evidenced on the album or was a lot of cleanup necessary to make the album sound really polished?
Drew: They will hear the album straight up.
DJ: We practice hard and I’d like to say it sounds perfect live but the studio and the stage are very different. Come see us play and let me know what you think.
Chris: We practice a lot to make sure that what we play live is as close as possible to what is on the album.
JesusWired: Describe your typical fan.
Drew: Our typical fan would be somebody that really has a love for music.
Cole: People who love heavy metal.
Shane: Probably a mixture of Black Sabbath and Pantera fans, I’d say.
DJ: I can’t say we have a typical fan, per se. But we have fans that are in youth groups, fans that are bikers, hardcore kids and metal heads of all ages. We even have fans that are Satanists. But that’s why we do what we do – to expose the love of Christ to those who don’t know Him.
Chris: We have a very diverse fan base from people in Central Arkansas, to Mexico to Thailand. It’s humbling and amazing to have so many diverse fans around the country and even the world.
JesusWired: What’s the biggest show you have played so far and how did it go?
DJ: I guess that would be when we played the Underground stage at Cornerstone last year. I just remember seeing a lot of people out there. It went well. We had some technical difficulties but played a tight set. It was awesome!
Shane: Agreed. The Underground stage at the 2012 Cornerstone Festival.
Cole: For me it was probably the first Veritos we played and it went great.
Drew: I think our biggest show would have to be when we opened for A Plea for Purging. It was a sold out show at Downtown Music Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas and we were received very well.
Chris: Our biggest show to date, in my opinion, was when we played in Little Rock with Oh Sleeper and Fit For A King. It was amazingly fun. We had such a good time. And it was awesome to have Micah Kinard, who I look up to as a vocalist and lyricist, watching our set.
JesusWired: What’s the worst experience you ever had while out touring with the band?
DJ: We had a pretty gnarly family argument one time that was not fun, but we worked it out. Touring is always fun so I could really only think of one moment that just was not fun.
Cole: When the bus was breaking down.
Shane: Yeah…tour bus problems.
Chris: Touring can be rough, so any time there’s a conflict in personalities it can be tough. It’s always a blast though regardless because we are all level headed and act like adults, even though some of the band are just kids, and even if there’s an issue between people it gets resolved and we continue to have a good time. It’s especially helpful that we’re a tight knit group of friends and everyone keeps everyone else accountable when it comes to any rift that may arise out on tour.
JesusWired: I hear you might be headed to Mexico City in September. Tell me about that.
DJ: We have an opportunity to play at a festival down there but we need to raise some money before we know for sure that we will be going or not. I know we would love to though.
Chris: Yeah…so that’s not entirely accurate. However, we are looking to head south of the border in the spring. I’m really excited about that. I correspond often with a fan that lives down there and I’m just excited at the possibility of sharing our music and our message with an entirely different culture.
JesusWired: When you’re out there on the road, do you have a methodology behind connecting with people in order to share the message of Christ?
Cole: No. I let The Lord lead the conversation.
Shane: I usually just say what God puts on my mind.
Drew: No, I just keep it real and try to be sensitive to the spirit.
Chris: We all make an effort to talk to people before and after the shows. A lot of times the message comes up and gives us awesome opportunities to have a potentially Christ-centered conversation.
DJ: We focus on bridging the gap with music and sharing whatever the spirit leads us to share. Prayer is the most important part of our ministry.
JesusWired: If you could assemble your own “dream tour,” what bands would you choose to tour with and why?
Chris: That’s tough. But for me I’d have to go with Oh Sleeper, Emery, Norma Jean and a resurrected Underoath. These bands have had the most influence on my life and music.
DJ: As I Lay Dying, Testament, Haste the Day, Oh Sleeper, and us because I love those bands and it would be awesome hanging out with all those dudes.
Cole: As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Testament and Exodus because then we will have big crowds and lots of people to hear our message.
Shane: Iron Maiden, Testament, As I Lay Dying, and Killswitch Engage. All four of these bands bring the same genre of music and same type of stage presence.
Drew: I’m going to go with Iron maiden because they have the same energy as we do, and Killswitch Engage because they are good and fun. And also Testament because they help draw fans who would bring awesome mosh pits.
JesusWired: What’s your favorite band of all time?
DJ: Wow! Hard question, but As I Lay Dying takes it. If you asked favorite album or song you would have gotten a different answer.
Shane: As I Lay Dying
Drew: Really hard to pick one, but I’m thinking Killswitch Engage.
Chris: It changes daily between Oh Sleeper and Emery.
JesusWired: What is currently on repeat in your iPod?
DJ: As I Lay Dying’s Awakened.
Shane: Prevailer by For Today
Drew: Creed. The Weathered album.
Chris: Either Son of the Morning by Oh Sleeper or In Shallow Seas We Sail by Emery. And don’t laugh, but honestly Slayers of Eden gets stuck on repeat a lot too.
JesusWired: What does it mean to you to be a Christian?
Cole: It means everything to me.
DJ: It means to be a follower of Christ. Trying to be Christ-like.
Shane: It means the world to know that there is always someone there to love and protect me throughout my whole life.
Drew: That I am able to have a personal relationship with the One who created me. And that I get to have hope for my future. That I can have peace in the middle of anything I’m faced with.
Chris: For me it means to follow Christ as He leads me; to wherever He leads me; whenever He says. And, while I’m following, to set the best example I can to other as to how He wants us to live. To follow His teaching and reach others when possible. There is nothing more important to me than to be a good example of a follower of Christ. Because, in my opinion (and from what He’s shown me the world’s typical view of a “Christian”), is NOT what being a Christian actually means. I hope that through my actions people will see Christ instead of a hypocritical rules-based drone, the way society typically views Christians.
JesusWired: Do you have a “life verse” and, if so, what is it?
DJ: It is hard to say that I have one life verse or even chapter. I often find myself in different situations requiring different scriptures. I guess I don’t have a life verse but I often find myself reflecting on Romans 12 all the time. It’s important to lay myself down on the altar everyday so God can work through me. But I believe that the Bible is a “life book” that one can call on under any circumstances and find answers to the issues of life. It’s been applicable to life since the first scripture was written a long time ago. Still is now and will always be.
Cole: Romans 10:9
Shane: I’m not sure yet.
Drew: Yes! “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
Chris: I don’t. I personally think that taking one verse and saying “this is my life verse” is too easy of a way to take that out of context of what God is actually saying in the Bible and trying to make our lives fit that one sentence. Personally I prefer being in the word and finding out what God wants to say to me each and every time I open His word.
JesusWired: What are your hopes for the future regarding Every Knee Shall Bow?
DJ: That we follow God’s will, plain and simple.
Cole: To reach as many people as possible; to share the word; and to not let it go to our heads.
Shane: That we can lead as many people to The Lord as possible.
Drew: That we can take our message to the masses.
Chris: I would love to be able to tour with my new brothers full time until I’m too old to be on stage.
JesusWired: Where do you see yourself in twenty years?
DJ: I have no idea. Wherever God has me in twenty years is where I plan to be. There is a lot I would like to see happen but this life is not about me and what I want. I guess I see myself reminding myself of that. (laughs)
Cole: Playing guitar and worshiping God.
Shane: Touring with my favorite bands.
Drew: I hope I’m raptured by then and playing shows in Heaven.
Chris: Hopefully I’m not too old to be on stage and still recording some metal with Every Knee Shall Bow. I also would like to have grown substantially in my Christian walk and, if it’s God’s will, to have met the girl of my dreams, gotten married and had a few awesome little metal heads of our own. If that’s the center of God’s will, that’ll be awesome. But, if not, then where I’m actually AT in 20 years will be awesome too because I believe where I’m at is where God wants me to be.
JesusWired: Once again, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. May God bless your efforts as you seek to glorify Him through your music and use you collectively and individually to affect the lives of those who might never have the chance to hear about the love of Christ through any other means. You are, indeed, shining light in the dark recesses of our world.
Interview conducted by David Coleman on behalf of JesusWired.com