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“We’re not trying to fight God’s battles, because we can’t. But things need to be said, so we said them…” TJ Harris, Decyfer Down.
From the beginning of their existence, scarecrows have served but one purpose—to keep things out. By definition they are not welcoming or attractive. They exist to repel. In 2013, there are scarecrows everywhere…erected by hate, discrimination, fear, apathy… In every political, social and, sadly, religious institution, there are those whose sole purpose has become that of a scarecrow—to keep others away. Those who are different are kept out. Those who don’t wear the correct uniform are ostracized. Those who have been beaten down by life and humanity are further pummeled downwards by those who have redefined themselves in terms of superiority and piety.
And it is there—at the intersection of duty and contempt—that Decyfer Down must raise their voice. “People are scaring other people away,” shares TJ. “All of the tension and persecution is wrapped up in a lot of hate.” As the men of Decyfer Down have watched people in their own communities push others away, they refuse to watch in silence anymore.
Armed with truth, defiant against injustice and guided by love, they have channeled this battle cry against hypocrisy in their first studio project in five years…aptly called, Scarecrow. “This was in God’s timing,” shares TJ. “We just wanted to create music that really resonated. The point is to glorify God through the gifts He’s given us.” That singular focus comes across in each track on the record produced by Paul Ebersold (3 Doors Down, Sister Hazel), who also produced their previous record, Crash. Thematically and stylistically, Scarecrow is clearly at a new level of musical and spiritual maturity.
“The Crash record was all about worlds colliding within our spiritual walk,” TJ shares. “Whether it was addiction or other things we deal with internally, this record is more than what’s within us. This is more about what we see in our churches, the politics that are played, the way people use God’s name in vain. This record is about becoming refocused, reenergized to bring awareness that this is not the way it’s supposed to be.
“God really set us up for the entire record,” TJ continues. “We’re saying exactly what He wants us to say.” While statements like that aren’t rare in Christian culture, Decyfer Down backs it up by allowing their lifestyle to reflect not only their pursuit of God, but also their obedience and honor in His presence. They aren’t singing about the church because it’s an easy target. They’re singing about the church and home and community because that’s where they live. That’s where God is schooling them day in and day out.
“We’ve done everything from touring like crazy and experiencing the highs of going to the Grammys to coming off the road and reestablishing ourselves within our community and families,” TJ shares. “We’re building that network again and getting plugged back into our communities and families. That inspired a lot of the music and a lot of really cool things, but also brought out some darker things we had to deal with.”
Darker things like the story behind the song, “Say Hello,” which tells a chilling true story of an argument gone tragically wrong and an innocent victim landing at the receiving end of a bullet. “This is straight from God’s point of view,” shares TJ. “This girl shocked an entire town, but we’re called to love her still.” Stories like this aren’t told for shock value. Boundaries like loving the unlovable aren’t crossed for the sake of crossing them. Rather, these boundaries and emotional land mines are breached because God has led them to do so.
“We’re not trying to fight God’s battles, because we can’t,” says TJ. “But there are things that need to be said, so we said them.” Things like the folly of societal rules and tradition that have nothing to do with the truth of love and of God…yet too often become monikers for our culture in a world already scorched with skepticism and seething with contempt.
“A lot of people hear something from their pastor but don’t ever see what God actually said,” says TJ. “We get hung up on man-made rules and decisions that scare people. ‘If you do this or don’t do this you’re going to hell.’ People can live in fear their entire lives. God came to set us free…not bind us in fear.”
And that is the heartbeat of this project and this band. All too cognizant of a worldly culture of hypocrisy, self-indulgence, apathy and neglected family structures…Decyfer Down has seen it all. Very often the target of contempt from Christians who don’t buy into the idea of certain styles of music and God going hand in hand, they have walked both fields—those who misunderstand and those of the misunderstood.
Suffice it to say, that realization has come home. No longer satisfied with silence, Decyfer Down is stepping boldly into new territory… challenging a generation held too long in the vice of comfortable, damaging piety to wake up to truth. To wake up to love. To wake up to the fact that they’re missing it. Driven by passion more than agenda, Decyfer Down knows what they’ve been called to do and hope others will hear the heartbeat of God pulsing through each song.
“People need to listen to this with an open mind,” TJ says. “This is deeper lyrically, different stylistically, but it’s exactly what God wants us to do right now. People are living in fear, but God came to set us free. That’s what this is all about. We’re not bound in fear. We have to live in victory.”