-First of all, are you completely satisfied with “A Life To Come”, or are there structures or details that on the nth listen you wish you had recorded or performed differently?
Donny: Each song we finish gives us more experience and skill at production, mixing and songwriting. I learn new concepts with every song, so looking back, I can always see things I would have and could have done differently. If I kept going back to each song that could be "better" I would drive my self insane. We put a lot of hard work into doing our best to make things sound good. I have this mindset when making an album. The first track recorded for this albums was Submit to The Divine. It is the rawest production and performance. Most rhythm guitar tracks on the album are doubled. Not on STTD. Do I wish I had? Yes and No. Yes because ultimately it probably would have made it sound "better" or make the mixing easier. No because I love the way it sounds and how it captures our musicality at that point. It is good to know that you're getting better musically. I never want to become a stagnant musician.
Mike: Honestly, its everything I was hoping for. I love all the music and arrangements and our overall chemistry and mentality in the making of this album was very focused. I think all the lyrics are creative and unique delivering a great message of hope. When listening to the album I also feel a great sense of growth and maturity in it.
-What are the main changes between your new album and your debut? Did it take less time now because you had more experience in the self-recording? Or did it maybe take longer because you needed more time to find better sounds and achieve a heavier production?
Donny: This albums was a lot easier for two reasons. We had more specific musical roles and recorded, mixed and produced a lot more equally. We also got along extremely well. The end of the first album was very heated. I can recall one quarrel for this album, and it was quickly resolved. Another main change is I did not write any of the lyrics on this album.
Mike: I think the biggest change in our new album from the first is simply growth and maturity in the music and songwriting. We definitely refined our sound, not to mention I think the production is much better. Donny has a great ear for music and he showed a lot of positive growth with the mixing of this album. This album was much easier to record then the first simply because we have a much better system now. We know our roles and stuck with what works. Overall, the recording of this album went much smoother then the first.
-There's been a veering toward traditional HM and less Prog Rock structures or am I wrong?
Donny: I am not sure our music fits in a specific genre, it is very flavorful. I am especially influenced by "progressive rock" of the 1970s. Prog rock in my opinion has changed drastically. Another big issue I find is the difference between hard rock and heavy metal. Personally, I just believe in making music, and doing my best to create something that I really enjoy. That to me is what the greatest bands and composers did.
Mike: Yeah I would tend to agree, although I still get a major sense of progressive rock in our sound. The slight change in sound wasn't intentional. We had no set plan on how this album was going to sound. We just put our ideas together and go with it.
-I absolutely love the riffs and the guitar solos, and the vocals are once again magnetic; how were you able to achieve such skillful levels if you don't play live and rehearse not often, being this a hobby so far? Do you find time to practise home often or what?
Donny: I actually just finished my Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance and Education. I practice as often as I can. Hopefully now since I finished school I can practice more consistently. I am more interested at this point in my life at becoming a good pianist. Site reading with piano is a skill I strive to become extremely efficient at.
Mike: Yes, Donny's guitar playing is exceptional. I love every single solo on this album as well as many of the riffs. Vocally, I love the blend of our 2 voices through out the album. It adds a certain dynamic to the songs as you journey through. I think I have grown a lot as a vocalist as well. As far back as I can remember I have always been a drummer and lyricist, but Vocals were something I really had to work at.
-Do you compose together or does each bring his own ideas?
Donny: Mike does the lyrics melody and chords. I write the riff and/or cords. Mike adds drums. We carefully construct bass lines together. That's a short explanation of how it usually works for us.
Mike: The way it usually works is I'll write the lyrics and melody of a song along with a basic foundation for it. From there Donny comes in and we take the music to another level around that foundation. Occasionally Donny will have a riff that he knows would be great for The Finite Beings and I will put lyrics and melody over it. A great example of this is “Submit to the Divine,” which all started with the opening riff of the song and we built it from there. I think it worked really well and I hope we can use that formula more often.
-As usual all the lyrics have a spiritual background, even tho we can't say it's a concept; yet, it seems to me they're more focussed on inner struggles, life conflicts and a wider spectrum of feelings this time...
Donny: Mike's lyrics go beyond the norm. If you can't connect to his lyrics then you have probably haven't truly thought about life much. Regardless on anyone's beliefs or spirituality, they are meaningful and philosophic. I'm actually extremely glad Mike doesn't talk about politics or romance.
Mike: Yes, I love writing about things that are real in my life and a lot of that is struggles and conflict. I usually pray and have conversations with God daily and I express these thoughts through my writing. Its very therapeutic. I pretty much take the pen and with God's guidance transfer my thoughts and ideas on to paper. I believe God gave me a skill for creative writing so I just want to use it to glorify Him. He has done so much in my life it would just seem senseless not to.
-Was it easier to write this sophomore album, “A Life To Come”, or did you feel the urge of surpassing the levels of your debut, so that in the end you worked more to retouch and refine? Did you become more requiring with yourselves or didn't you feel any pressure at all? What was the most challenging part?
-Donny: I think it was easier to work through emotionally and mentally. But musically it was definetly a challenge. I wouldn't say it was easier or harder musically. Having musically challenges is one the greater achievements! It pushes your limits! I felt like this albums helped me grow a lot musically. That may have been "harder", but it was easier because I try gravitate towards growth musically. Mike has been extremely vital in encouraging and helping me create new musical ideas.
Mike: It was definitely easier to write this album because we have both figured out how to work and write together. I didn't feel any sense of pressure. I just had a lot of ideas that I wanted to get out there and share with the world and I was confident with those ideas. Honestly the most challenging part of this album was trying to work on my friendship with Donny while working on this project with him. The first album took a huge toll on our friendship because we both are very strong minded and have a set way of going about things. I felt disrespected with some things that were said and I'm sure Donny had issues with me as well. However, once we worked through it all, the making of this album was very enjoyable and I couldn't be more pleased with this finished product.
-What are your favourite songs and lyrics and why? Also, did any compositions remain out of the track list because they were incomplete or not up to your expectations?
Donny: I think right now my favorite songs are The Hole and For the Weary. I also really like Submit to the Divine. It started with a bass riff that I wrote that I liked so much I knew Mike needed to write over it. One of the tracks on this album, Imaginary Things, is actually an old song from before the first album. It was on a demo we released. Many of the tracks went onto the first album. There are still some songs on there that I would like to do. There is a really cool intro that I would love to develop into a different song, or something similar. Mike always has new ideas though, so it's not like reaching into the past is essential.
Mike: I get asked this all the time and I can never answer it! At this point in my life I don't have any children so in a lot of ways these songs are like my children. Each one has a special place in my heart and I really couldn't pick a favorite. Yes, there were some additional tracks that did not get put on the album. During the period of time where I wasn't sure if Donny wanted to continue with me, I started writing with some other friends. I wrote 2 songs that I was considering to use for The Finite Beings. They were called “Existence” and “Division (Who do I follow?).”
-As The Finite Beings is a ministry, what do you deem more important, the music or the message in the lyrics?
Donny: The message is more important to our souls. Yet the message wouldn't be able to reach certain ears without the music. They are both essential in our ministry.
Mike: Honestly I think they go hand in hand. One compliments the other and they are both important in different ways. If one lacks then the song just isn't at it's full potential. Both are key.
-You are metal missionaries and I'm sure you agree every passage in the Bible was written with a purpose and everyone should read it without listening to what the others have to say about it in order to get one's unbiassed vision. Do you agree?
Donny: This concept when reading the bible is essentially important. However, many people twist the bible into their OWN biased vision. I think the most dangerous person to out spiritually is ourselves. We can convince ourselves that evil is good. Of course you should read the bible with an open heart. But you should also find a church family that represents the bible accurately. Find a church where the people look and act Christlike. See how they live and that can show you what they believe. We are not meant to be alone in our spiritual journey. Listening to elders and other people is extremely wise. The bible actually clearly says that we should listen to wise. Don't get trapped in your own mind.
Yes, I think it is key to keep an open heart with an inquiring mind. The Bible says if you seek Him with all your heart and mind He will find you. I believe that promise. So anyone who is seeking I would encourage them to study the Bible and seek council from people who know it. Then choose to agree or disagree. You might say you have to “Make a Decision” lol.
-Did you never doubt about God's existence? Isn't it possible that the universe has cycles of life and death and everything is gonna repeat endlessly without a real beginning and a real end? How can you confute the mechanic theory of the universe that most scientists agree about?
Donny: Yes I have doubted God's existence. Most people with a working brain do. Maybe the universe does have cycles of life and death, and is infinite. The philosophic idea here is that God is the universe. Anything is "possible", but what is plausible and sensible? These are interesting speculations, but all imagination. You can what if anything. What if life is an illusion? What if life is a movie? What if life is really only a dream. What if we are dead already? What if instead of creating our own explanation of things, we used common sense and evidence to explain our reality. I can take any what if scenario and twist it to prove it wrong. Science does not disprove anything about God or the bible. It supports the existence for God. Atheism is becoming harder to believe in when you look at the scientific facts. The only atheists I see in the media are Anti-Theists. These people are afraid to understand and use hate to justify their ideas. What evidence does anyone have for anything?
How about this questions... Why is there so much sin in the world and why do we even consider it a sin? What does your belief system say about sin? That is the hardest answer because most avoid it. Also, no one can refute Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Just try to do it and back it up with evidence.
Mike: I always believed in a higher power of some kind, but who or what God was was a mystery to me. It wasn't until careful study and experience that I came to know that the Bible was truth. This was also confirmed for me through my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
-Also, do you believe in miracles? How do you explain the fact that the majority of them happens in areas where Christianity is the main religion?
Donny: If you don't believe in miracles you have already pre-decided that there is no God. If a God exists, miracles are completely reasonable and actually sensible. The miracle belief connects to one's theism or atheism.
Mike: I believe we have a God who is capable of anything. I don't limit God and what He can do so yes I believe in all the miracles of the Bible. I also see God's hand in many of the things going on today. I cant explain how or why God operates the way He does and its not really my job to know. I am a “Finite Being” not capable to understand all these things. Someone once told me “It's not the things I don’t understand in the Bible that keep me up at night, It's the things I do understand.” I agree with that concept.
-How do non-believers respond to your albums?
Donny: Most people don't really mind because it isn't like it's modern Jesus rock. Some ignore our music because of the message. Really though I don't feel many people respond to music in general. If this was so, people would be in an uproar from the music that is popular. America doesn't like to use critical thinking much.
I hope our music can stimulate this kind of thinking regardless of them being a believer.
Mike: With each person it's different. I would say it's a wide range of responses, but overall it has been pretty positive. I'm trying to deliver a message of hope, I don't really get concerned with who agrees with what I'm saying and who doesn't. Plus some people just enjoy the music and I'm fine with that. I'm trying to be a light that shines in a genre of music that doesn't want to hear about God, sin, repentance, and the promise of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. It's only expected that some might get offended or disagree. However, if just 1 person out of the thousands of listeners listening to our music gets something out of it, then it's all worth it. I hope God uses this album to reach people that would otherwise never hear it.