If there were a music industry award for a tireless, endless work ethic and perseverance throughout trying times, it would unequivocally go to Columbia/INO Records' Decyfer Down. The North Carolina-bred band toured endlessly through the front half of this decade, opening for national bands such as Crossfade, Breaking Benjamin and Theory of a Dead Man. Add in "Fight Like This," a charting active rock single, which was featured as a promotional song for Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the aggressive outfit is certainly entering an ascending chapter of its burgeoning career.
While the band has clearly been able to embody its artistic calling, its brand new breakthrough CD Crash almost never happened, given a near tragedy that found the foursome literally fighting for their lives. In addition to the basic perils of the road (including two robberies that resulted in missing equipment), the guys faced an even more alarming accident. While a fender bender could easily be forgotten, it's been much harder to shake visions of the group's tour van veering off the road during an icy snow storm, colliding with a parked car, spinning across three lanes of traffic (with trailer in tow) and crashing against a guard rail.
"After the accident, we all questioned what we were doing because that was just another factor in it being such a big sacrifice to be on the road," guitarist Brandon Mills recalls, also citing the fact that the guys miss their families when they're gone. "When we posted a blog on our MySpace page explaining what happened, it was so encouraging to see a whole page full of thoughts and support from people all over the country--and other countries as well--plus people who told us how much our music meant to them. That really helped us see that we are meant to do this, and even though we still run into obstacles, we're a better band because of it."
As much as Crash is a metaphor for Decyfer Down's ability to rise above its most straining circumstances, it's also a call to action for anyone downtrodden to bounce back from whatever hurdle may hang between where they are and what they hope to achieve. "It's an impact of our ideals and beliefs in today's culture and it's why we have named our album Crash," continues drummer Josh Oliver. "Our life experiences have lead us to where we are right now and circumstances that once affected our lives can no longer control us. This is just a way of expressing and illustrating the scars and the breakthroughs in our lives."
Not only does the disc overflow with ambition, confidence and overall creative excellence, but the aggressive endeavor also finds the players digging in an even more mature lyrical direction that simultaneously meets listeners of any association exactly where they are, while challenging them to make assertive strides towards increased personal fulfillment.
"As has been the band's tradition, Crash is certainly capable of connecting with crowds, if only for the unflinching degree of honesty within the lyrics and the overall vibe of the album," notices fresh faced front man TJ Harris. "As a band, our hope is that listeners will be inspired to explore themselves to an even deeper degrees and that's an energy I continue to feel every time we deliver these songs on stage."
From a strictly musical perspective, Crash comes under the production helm of Paul Ebersold (3 Doors Down, Saliva, Sister Hazel) and further amplifies the band's bone crunching execution, razor sharp riffs, and monstrous melodies. As a result, Decyfer Down maintains a remarkably relevant spot within the active rock scene, evoking the likes of Sevendust, Shinedown, Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Hinder or Seether, while still maintaining its own alternative and inventive stamp.
"We wrote a ton of songs going into these sessions and Paul helped us narrow them down and shape the direction of the disc," shares Josh. "We gained a lot of influence from the bands we were listening to and playing with, plus touring as much as we had really gets you excited about getting back in the studio. The results are some of the hard rock stuff and some of the more ballady stuff, but it's all stepped up into a new level of artistry for us. Paul really stretched us and helped take our musicianship and songwriting to the next level."
The new album is a constant highlight reel of strong songs that help define the group's current direction, but are also remarkably cohesive as an entire body of work. "We worked hard to not have any fillers in this record and we want each song to be as strong as we could possibly make it," Josh confirms. "We come right out in the beginning of the record with some great rock songs and some intimate ballads that come from a very honest part of our lives. We trust those that listen to our record can find hope and purpose for their lives."
After exploring the ten track sonic and thematic exploration, it's clear that Crash will once again find footing with audiences wanting to get their lives on track no matter how derailed it may appear. The group credits bands like P.O.D., Switchfoot, and Flyleaf for inspiring an optimal quality level and sincere lyrical dichotomy to truly stand out from the class of relative newcomers.
"Beyond the maturing process on this record, we want to influence culture more than ever before," echoes Josh. "The way we write songs is based on the things that have inspired our lives the most. The songs throughout Crash speak on a lot of topics that we haven't addressed before and we hope to take a walk through your life--your triumphs, your struggles, maybe even some of your addictions--and confront those to the point where you find yourself being impacted by love, hope and a clear vision of how to move forward."
Members: Chris Clonts, TJ Harris, Josh Oliver, Brandon Mills
Current Record Label: Fair Trade Services
Albums: End Of Grey (2006), Crash (2009)