rock label Facedown Records turns 20
In May Christian rock label Facedown Records
celebrated its 20th anniversary with Facedown Fest, a three-day event
at the Glass House in Pomona, California. Christian rock may be
considered a niche genre by many, but it is one that is evolving,
growing and thriving. I spoke with Facedown Records founder Jason Dunn
and artist Shane Ochsner of Everything in Slow Motion to learn more.
DB: Tell me about the success of Facedown
JD: I started Facedown in 1997. The first
Facedown Fest was in the Spring of 2000 at the Showcase Theatre in
Corona, California which was an incredible venue that we loved
throwing shows at. I really think that the feel of the Showcase was a
big part of the success of the Fest in the early days. It was
the perfect sized venue for this kind of show, the staff was great and
people just had a good time there. It allowed us to grow every
year from 1 night to 2 nights and then in 2003 we did one night at the
Showcase and took a shot with hosting one night at the Glasshouse in
Pomona (where it is now). Both nights sold out, including the
much larger Glasshouse, so in 2004 we brought both nights there (and
both sold out). Facedown Fest has always been very unique and
since 2000 we have been hosting it almost every year and we get all of
the active bands on the label together to play it as well as reunion
shows from our alumni bands. Southern California has a big scene
for this kind of music, so it's been a perfect location and also very
crucial to the success over the years. It's something that
people look forward to and we always try to make the line-ups exciting
for fans. This year is by far the biggest yet as it's the only
time we've ever done 3 nights in a row. But we wanted to go big
for the label's 20th Anniversary Celebration and I'm honored and
humbled that so many of our past bands are reuniting for special sets
DB How has the genre of Christian rock evolved
over the past 20 years? What kinds of struggles and/or challenges has
JD: Like all music, we've faced challenges
with the way enjoying music has changed over the years. The CD
to digital download and now digital download to streaming changes
stretched the industry and we all had to adapt. Thankfully we
are a small company and we can adapt very quickly. As far as
specific changes to the Christian rock side of things, 20 years ago
there was a healthy network of big festivals every summer that was
pretty much the launching point for a lot of bands and labels back in
the day, including ours. Specifically Cornerstone Festival in
Illinois. Over the years, and due to the recession, attendance
dropped significantly at those festivals and they were forced to throw
in the towel. Many of them felt very exploitative of people's
faith in order to make a buck, so it wasn't a bad thing to see some of
them go, but the scene was truly hit hard when Cornerstone Festival
had to shut down.
DB: Why did Facedown Records sign Shane
Ochsner and his Everything in Slow Motion project?
JD: Shane is one of my favorite people out
there. I met him years ago at a festival in Minnesota called
Sonshine Festival. We chatted for hours and he never even told
me he was in an incredible band called Hands. Eventually he did,
and to this day, Hands is one of my personal favorite bands to ever
work with us. Hands put out 2 full lengths with us and then
disbanded, but at about that time, Shane kept writing music under the
name Everything In Slow Motion, so it was a natural progression for us
to continue working with him on the new project.
DB: Shane please tell me about your childhood.
SO: I grew up in a musical family and was real
attracted to drums and guitar and rock music in general, itís what the
flavor was in our household. I was surrounded by it, influenced by it
and itís always been a thing for me. The drums is what I started on.
My dad used to play in a church band and I would fill in for them
every once in a while. It was fun to bond with my dad in that way too.
I mostly just played in my bedroom with my headphones on to otherís
DB: What is your writing process?
SO: I started seriously writing music when I
was 14 years old. Thatís when I started exploring that creatively and
dabbling in original music, Oddly enough my partner in crime, Josh
Silbernagel, he was a drummer in my band (Hands), weíve been playing
together since we were 14. Itís evolved from what our influences are
and itís funny, when we were younger we were influenced by really
heavy music, heavy metal music or that kind of flavor and as the years
go on and you explore more what youíre capable of and trying to break
the mold a little bit, you start to get experimental and try other
things and naturally I think over the last 15 years itís gotten more
melodic and has expanded on whatever signature sound I can carry for
myself. Itís definitely pushed from heavy to melodic as people do when
they get older.
- Ochsner plays all the instruments on
Everything In Slow Motion. The solo project grew out of Hands because
at one point Silbernagel was unable to come into the studio to track
the drums during a recording session. Silbernagel and Ochsner had
written all the music, so Silbernagel suggested that Ochsner take over
the drums. He did and discovered he really enjoyed being alone and
doing all the work himself. He decided to go solo rather than detract
from Hands. For live performances as Everything In Slow Motion,
Ochsner calls on his friends to fill in on the instruments as needed.
This has led to a ďband bondĒ and he is considering bringing them in
on the writing too. -
DB: What is your biggest challenge as a
Christian rock artist?
SO: Thereís always this internal struggle of
if Iím going to make music I want it to be important and I want it to
leave some sort of trail or lesson or message, I donít want it to
dissolve in a year or go away. I donít want to put out music just to
put out music, I want it to tell a story. As my life changes from 10
years ago, being a heavy Christian, really feeling like Iím called to
do this, all the stuff you generally hear, and growing and moving into
this "I donít know where Iím at," I donít know how I see God or my
faith, itís always a story I want to tell and as the story gets deeper
and has more variables and gets more complicated, I think the
challenging part is delivering that in a way thatís not discouraging
to people, but hopeful. If Iím in a struggle, if Iím trying to figure
out where my headís at, where life is going and where I stand in my
faith, communicating that message through music in a way that can
relate to people in that same boat and not deliver the message of
I think thatís what weíre wired to do. Thatís
how Iíve grown into who I am, through those experiences. Rather than
just having my faith be an emotional thing all the time itís more of
Iím constantly challenging it, Iím constantly looking it in the eye
and saying why should I believe this? A lot of that has produced a
very good foundation as a human being so when I have discussions like
this I can be honest with people and feel comfortable in saying I
donít know, I donít have the answer and Iím constantly searching.
Portraying that in the music, obviously, thereís a very fine line
there. It can discourage people rather than five them any sort of
hope. Thatís the hard part, communicating that message in a way that
is encouraging to people.
DB: To what do you attribute your success?
SO: Itís the right combination of elements.
When we writing when we were younger and even through out Facedown
Records time and up to now the motivation has never been to gain
success, itís never been about popularity or combing our egos. Itís
always been about doing something honest and doing something real and
if it ever becomes anything but that we would hang it up because
whatís the point? I think by taking that approach we have stood out to
people in our sound and in our message with who we are as people. And
taking what some might call musical risks, we never wanted to make the
same record twice, if one record had good success, then typically the
next one should play off that, we never did that, we did what was on
our minds. That has brought us success and obviously being in the
right place and the right time and developing relationships.
If you want to add spirituality into it, given
the type of people that we are and the struggles weíve had with being
in this scene thatís overly heavy - that musical scene was so turn or
burn Christian mentality - thatís what shaped us into being jaded,
skeptical Christians for a long time. I think, deep in my heart, that
God has used us as some kind of vessel for those to get this message
to those people who are in the same boat as we are. However
complicated or deep that is I have no idea.
DB: How has Christian rock grown over the past
SO: I feel slightly disconnected, only because
my role and what Iím doing has drifted from being in the thick of the
touring music scene. Five years ago, six years ago, we were in the van
with everybody else traveling 11 months out of the year. If I look out
it now I see more of a trend of those band turning away, I think the
militant Christian thing is going away in the metal scene, where there
was a solid five years there that were way too intense. That whole
thing has ended now and I feel like I see this trend of bands trying
to flip into that gray area of "weíre not a Christian band, but we
have a slight Christian message and weíre all Christians," like
everyone is trying to remove themselves a little bit from that
DB: Why is Facdown Records and Facedown Fest
important to you?
SO: Itís legacy. Growing up between ages 13 to
18 or 19 - it was right around then we signed to Facedown, I was like
21 or 22 - but all those years that was all we listened to, we just
listened to Facedown Records bands and Solid State Records bands. That
Christian hard-core metal thing, there were a few labels that were the
top of the chain for that and Facedown Records has always been one of
them, so as people growing up just loving that label and buying
everything it has to put out and then later joining that and getting
more involved and being a part of it, people just havenít let it go.
It hasnít died out. Some people know it as this current thing, some
people look at it as nostalgia, but theyíve always had this consistent
group of followers that are devoted to Facedown and me being one of
them, I thin itís one of the best labels out there from a listening
standpoint and as a deal.
Shows are important, but when youíre reuniting
like this itís so much more than the show, the experiences are way
beyond the show, just getting together and practicing and digging in
again and reigniting that fire is such a wonderful experience. Then to
play it and see the people reacting makes you remember, ĎAw man, this
why we did this.í Itís exciting.
Facedown Records is the best. I love that in a
music industry that is so crowded with bullcrap, everything seems so
shallow, they consistently are a label that is filled with amazing
people who genuinely love putting out music and genuinely love giving
people, whether it be bands or the fans, the opportunity to have an
experience. To be in the industry for 20 years with those guys,
especially with now weíre in the digital age with streaming, for them
to survive this long and be able to put on a three-day festival in
Pomona itís truly incredible and thatís what Iím most excited for and
most proud of- thatís the headline.
Hands reunited to play Facedown Fest. The band
recently released a new 7-inch album, but do not have plans for
further recording or touring.
Everything in Slow Motion is working on a new
record to be released this summer or fall and will be playing a few
one-off shows in the meantime.
To discover more artists on Facedown
Records go to
To find out when Everything in Slow Motion
is coming to your town go to everythinginslowmotion.com
To learn about Hands go to https://www.facebook.com/hands/