Project 86 is an American Christian rock band from Orange County, California, formed in 1996. Frontman Andrew Schwab’s poetic and introspective lyrics have addressed a wide variety of topics such as conformity and emptiness. Their latest release, Wait for the Siren, was just released independently through a Kickstarter fund. We chatted with Andrew about his roots, lyrical messages, the music industry, and more.
For the record, what’s your name and what do you do in the band?
Andrew Schwab, vocals/songwriter/co-producer
Let’s talk about your roots. I’ve never been to California before. What’s it like there?
Great weather, too many people, too many people acting like they are important, lots of fun things to do!
What do you feel has contributed to your long career as a band? Bands like Haste The Day, Thrice, and Thursday have recently broken up, a band that had been at it for awhile.
It’s definitely hard to do music these days. It is getting harder, too. We owe the longevity to our fans, point blank. They treat us like we are family.
How would you guys say you’ve grown as a musician just from the time-span between your self-titled debut and Wait for The Siren?
Oh man…we were a different band completely back then! When we started we were a post-hardcore band, but now we are a rock band. I think we have grown infinitely since back then, and the sound has evolved, but the heart remains the same…we still want to make unique, intelligent, heavy music that is diverse and creative in lyrical approach.
When appealing to different sets of fan bases, new and old, young and old, what is the thought process when trying to write something that has an appeal to both, but also embodies what Project 86 is?
We don’t think too much about who we are going to appeal to when we are writing music. The approach has always been to make music we like first and foremost. If you worry too much about your audience you can start making music that isn’t honest or authentic.
Are there any songs you guys are most proud of? Like one of those kind of songs that ten years ago you never could have imagined being involved in creating it?
I think Fall, Goliath, Fall from the new album Wait for the Siren is one of the best things this band has ever written. Very proud of that jam.
What are some of the particular messages you tried to get across in the lyrical content of the new record? Are there any topics that you cover on Wait for The Siren that you haven’t in the past?
Great question. The overarching theme is that you can overcome any obstacle if you believe in your cause. There’s a line in the first song that says, “We fight not for the hate of a tyrant but for love of what is behind us.” I love the idea that heart can overcome talent, that the faith of an underdog can defeat a goliath. Another big theme is that heritage does not equal destiny. In other words, it doesn’t matter what kind of family you were born into, it matters what kind of family you make for yourself as an adult. We aren’t bound by our genetics, and even if we were born into less than fortunate circumstances, we can overcome them through character, heart, and belief.
What other bands do you see yourselves touring with in the future? What other bands do you guys recommend for your fans to check out?
We will be hitting the road with 12 Stones this October. You can check our website for details: www.project86.com. We will have to see about future tours. We have played shows in the past with August Burns Red, Haste the Day, Linkin Park, Blindside, 30 Seconds to Mars, Sevendust, and POD. Bands to check out? Good question. I would start with this little band called The Black Keys. They are awesome. And Maybe the new Fiona Apple record.
The music industry has changed significantly since you guys started out. What advice would you give upcoming bands— musically and business-wise?
Get a real job. Ha. No really, it’s very difficult to even make a living playing music today. I would say the only hope is to make unique music that doesn’t sound like everyone else. Be yourself.
Any last words for the fans?
Love you guys. Thanks for the love and support for Wait for the Siren.