by Dylan Davidson for Crosswalk Music

Ted Cookerly vocalist from EDL (BTW-that's {{Every Day Life}},) remembers Christian music in its cheesy days of glory. As we sit out under the heat lamps at a hip coffee-house in Newport Beach, California, Ted recalls those catch-phrases from the "Metal years".

Ted laughs out loud, "God's Mosh Pit? I haven't heard that one in years! Remember that Rock the Flock and Jam for the Lamb stuff? Some local mag actually said some of that stuff about {{Every Day Life}}, I couldn't believe it! I guess everything is basically metal in one form or another."

WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF EDL?

"Did you ever play that Kevin Bacon game, where everything goes back to Kevin Bacon in six turns or less? Well, in Christian Alternative, everything goes back to Frontline Music in six turns or less.so the company recently got bought out by a Nashville interest (editor's note: our friends at KMG Records) and they're totally behind EDL. The next album is going to be huge compared to anything else we've done before. We're in a unique place.

WHERE IS RAP-CORE GOING?

"Aside from the fact that POD was doing respectable sales without a label and running that first album out of their garage and doing the best they could, there wasn't a real rap-core scene. EDL came along with national distribution and we kind of started something. People ask me all the time why we didn't sign with Tooth and Nail, but Brandon (Ebel - T&N founder) was never really interested. Because I think the feeling was that rap-core was just a fad and when he couldn't have {{POD}} he decided to not carry any rap-core bands. Now all of a sudden he's gone off and signed {{Blindside}}, which is ok if you want a band that will never play Orange County. Now Metro One signed {{Spoken}} and Sublime signed {{Silage}} and Silvertone is bidding seriously for {{POD}}... which would be totally great for them. (Note from the ed POD recently announced signing with Atlantic.)

I don't know though, we're in like a fourth generation Christian music scene now, and where it was {{Crucified}} for '91 and '92 was {{Focused}}, and '93 was like...whatever..and '94 was {{Plankeye}} and '95 & '96 were like the {{Supertones}} and we've gone like a whole revolution of extremes in Christian musicit's pretty odd. I think that no one really knows where it's going because Christian music especially, tends to wait to see what the rest of the Industry will do first and then follow their lead. I always thought that {{Prodigal Sons}} were a band that got caught in that cycle, when they first came out people were like, "you can't have Christian Techno, you can't have Christian raves" and then they were gone. They ended up getting more interest in the secular market than in the Christian Market and by the time we noticed them, they'd burned themselves out and they were done. To answer your question, then, I have no idea where Rap-core is going."

DO YOU FEEL THAT RAP-CORE IS MORE ALTERNATIVE OR MORE METAL?

"It's so foundational and so alternative and nobody sees that. Like, there's no more metal anymore, it's just 'heavy', like {{Stavesacre}} is heavy music. It's just sung over or rapped over or screamed over.maybe it has horns in it or not. I keep wondering what to do with the new record.

ARE YOU CONFIDENT IN YOUR NEWLY ACQUIRED LABEL ARRANGEMENT?

"I kind of called a bluff with them. I met with the label and.see, {{Every Day Life}} is very Industry-minded, we're not screwing around. When we look at a contract we know what we're looking at. So I called them on something and I pinned them down on where we stood. I said, 'I know why you picked up Frontline, because of the substantial back-catalog, there's some great records in there, so it makes sense, but what are you going to do with EDL's third record?' I'm intelligent enough to know what this is all about. So, they assured me that they loved our band and they were serious about the third record and even about re-signing us directly after our contract is up.

SO, WILL YOU RE-SIGN WITH THE NEW LABEL IF THEY DO SOMETHING GREAT WITH THE NEXT RECORD?

"That's hard to sayyou know, I mean, when we first signed, six months later our label was inept. But we kept playing and touring anyway. We sat through 5 different offers before we signed with Frontline in the beginning, even though most young bands jump at the first one to come along, like three-fourths of the Tooth and Nail roster. It's so depressing to see so many young bands get signed too young and break up after the first or second record. If the punk industry were smart, more bands like {{Ghoti Hook}} would be signed and funded to the max"

WHAT ABOUT TOURING?

"We're waiting on the Mainstream stuff right now. Plus, since we're basically independent right now, the thought of being on the road in the snow somewhere in Illinois with a busted van and knowing that we've got to fix it and we've got to get ourselves back home is too much. Right now we are able to functionally play local shows and turn a nice profit. With the next record we're looking forward to putting on the "really big show", like more props and lights and really make it like worth your seven dollars. I think we've been doing that anyway but I'd like to make it better visually and more entertaining. Like, {{Squad Five-O}} is a great live band and their fans know that they can pay whatever cover and always get a great show, we want to do the same. I mean, {{Driver 8}} is a band I'd pay sixteen or eighteen dollars to see play."

WHAT ABOUT THE LYRICS ON THE SONG "PUSHING"? WHAT'S THAT ABOUT?

"There's a band that Carl and I are really into called "Siv", a New York hardcore band, and they had this song that was like"Soundtrack for Violence" I think, and it was saying, "don't come to my show, don't get in my face, if you came to start something or throw fists, go home.." and as we were driving in the car one day Carl says to me, "this rap-core industry doesn't have an alma-mater, it doesn't have a fight song", so we decided to write one. It's sort of our Mission Statement: "You mess us, you mess with our God, forget you, we don't have to put up with it; leave." So, since the song hit #1 on the Pure Rock Report we're taking a lot of flack for it. I'm just glad we finally beat {{Tourniquet}} 'cause ==Crawl to China== had been on there forever! So, our song gives people a chance to take some pride in things like, "these are my friends, this is my music, this is my God, and if you don't like, too bad." Of course, there's the whole "turn the other cheek thing" and there's not a lot I can do about it. I could say, "yeah, you're right the song's wrong" or something, if it's prideful I'd have to say it's just prideful but I just think it's really cool that we're giving the crowd a unity kind of thing and an opportunity to say "I'm not going to put up with anyone who tries to harsh my scene". So, whether that means calling security and getting you thrown out or just letting you know I don't appreciate you're harshing my favorite band. So, back to the whole "turn the other cheek thing," I mean what about "Jesus saw what a mockery was going on in his Father's temple and went over and knocked stuff over?" Scripturally, I think it can go a lot of ways, but we want it to be known that we're very proud of the Lord we serve and our fans."

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT EDL IS AN ANGRY BAND OR AN ISSUES BAND?

"The hostilities and the emotions they change day to day and show to show. Depending on how I'm feeling or how Carl is playing, the end result of what may have happened five minutes ago or a week from the point of which it's being portrayed, I think this new record is much more intelligent. The last record was all about angst, you know, "forget you, I've got my own agenda" thing. ==American Standard== is more about the unity thing and like "hey, we care". In working with {{Mike Knott}}, we took a chance to sit back and define just what a rap-core song really is. I mean, if we want to add a four part harmony on a song or horns or whatever. I mean, the music on "Pushing"... we prostituted the heck out of that chorus... the words are minute compared to the music of the chorus. That song was where we got intelligent and said, "hey, we have to write a pop song that says "hey, this is what we're about." I don't really feel that it came out angry, as much as it came out centered. We pretty much played the whole realm on the record, from the latch-key kid songs to the little sister who's raped, which is pretty much everything. We wanted to make sure that what we were writing wasn't another "Perseverance" 'cause at the time that song was written, that was us, and since 1992, the album ==Disgruntled== was us. By the time that first record came out we'd pretty much played out all of the anger and angst. The record company said the same thing too, and so we tried to expand on ==American Standard== and with the next record I think you'll see, again, another step towards defining what rap-core really is."

WHAT' S IT LIKE TO BE SITTING IN A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN VIRTUALLY DEFINE A SOUND AND A MOVEMENT JUST BY PUTTING OUT AN ALBUM?

"One of the luxuries of the record company is that they can give us that freedom to wait until we write an album's worth of really great stuff. When they can say, "hey, you've got four good songs here, why don't you wait until you've got six or seven more and if it takes another six months, that's ok." It really helps to be able to hone in on who you are. I think that's why a lot of Alarma artists transcended the 'sophomore jinx' because they were given the chance to define themselves."

DO YOU FIND MORE INSPIRATION IN CHRISTIAN OR IN SECULAR MUSIC?

"I am a Christian music fan. Though, I probably buy one Christian CD for every six I purchase. That's just my own choice. The last Christian CD I bought was {{Dear Ephesus}}. What an incredible record! It's so high-bred and ahead of the time that by their second or third record people will probably go back and buy the first one because they'll "get it" later."

WHERE DO YOU THINK CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS GOING?

"Back in the day, when we first played with the {{Supertones}}, back in '88 and '89, we'd still go to "Fishbone" and "Untouchables" shows. Ska started a long time ago and just recently caught on with the industry. People went from metal and heavy into early grunge which was sort of a cool-down period. Then came three chord punk which was almost poppy and good time then came ska which is all about fun. Heavy is coming back. I mean, in Orange County, even though I'm at a ska show, I'm also really into a ton of heavy bands. The underground thing seems to be back into heavy bands again."

WOULD YOU SAY THAT "AMERICAN STANDARD" WAS MORE OF AN INDUSTRY RECORD THAN DISGRUNTLED?

"Respectfully, ==American Standard== was dumbed down. Not the band, they actually stepped up a little, but lyrically, I dumbed down a notch. Because there are songs like "Ten Little Indians", that chorus is absurd. That is one of the most redundant things I've ever heard in my life. If I had heard another band do that I'd have been disgusted. But when I was writing it for the album, it made sense."

EXPLAIN "TEN LITTLE INDIANS". WHAT'S YOUR MESSAGE THERE?

"It's basically about the time of Colonial America when the English came over for the purpose of religious freedom and trying to define that freedom as Christianity and the end result was polygamy, genocide of the Native Americans, slavery and such. I believe that there are sins that a family can commit that need to be repented for. Therefore, I need to repent for my family's sins. I can't repent for my Grandma, but I can repent as a member of my family. God shines on that, God appreciates that. You are going to Him for fellowship and understanding and He receives that. One of the things that was absurd to me was that I was watching Trinity Broadcasting."

DO YOU DO THIS OFTEN?

"Actually, my Mom does it more than me. I watch it more out of sheer amazement. For all of the validity I hear in their message, I still wonder "why"? I still don't know why Pepsi doesn't advertise on TBN. There's like 80 million viewers there, why aren't you advertising? Who cares if people will think you're a Christian soda company? Have a good time, make some money. Anyway, I'm watching it one day and this guy is saying that one thing Christian schools offer beyond Public schools is focus. I agree. But then he goes on to say that the history books should reflect Christian freedom, not religious freedoms but Christian freedoms. So, I thought about it and I thought, ok, if you're a new Christian and you're excited about it and you want to share your faith and this guy says to you "what religion are you?" and you say, "I'm a Christian"and he says, "Ok, I'm a native American and your ancestors killed my family" and they're learning this in seventh grade. I mean, our Christian forefathers participated in a full-on genocide of peoples and it was absurd to me that my family and anyone's family who can trace their ancestry to colonial America are straight murderers and I had to say that, I had to get that off my chest. There needs to be this level of repentance. America had to apologize for slavery, we had to apologize to the Black man that five of your votes equaled one of ours, and to the women that six of your votes equals one of ours, we had to apologize. I mean, I can't do anything about it now, but if I could, I would have. We need to move on, yes, but it has to begin with the shaking of hands."

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THAT SONG?

"I suspect we might release it as a single. Not to see if it can chart high, I'm not expecting that. But just to stir people up out there and make them upset that it's even being played on the radio. If that happens, the song is doing it's job. Like the ==Disgruntled== cover, every time you pull it out you should say, "I don't like what I'm looking at" and the reason it's disturbing is the reason I'm drawn to it."

SO, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT'S OUT OF BOUNDS FOR AN EDL SONG?

"Well, like I struggle with some things, like, I decided I wanted to by a shirt I saw that said "Rapists should be castrated" and at first I thought, "Love the sinner, hate the sin", but at the same time, if that's my niece or my sister getting raped, you bet I want that guy in the palm of my handsif I'm honest. So, I didn't buy the shirt, because the public format I have as a Christian deems that unacceptable. There's a lot of different avenues that we could go with the new record, but we might not. There's lots of different topics we could cover like child molestation and Catholic Priests who abuse their privilege, but we probably won't. I read a statement that totally blew me away, it said, "The Youth want to change the world and the older we get the more we try to change the Youth." That's one of the most profound things I've ever read. In respect to Christianity it's truelike your reluctance to get saved, I mean in the beginning you couldn't (care less if) at all, like "Oh, God, I'm an atheist, just show me proof" and then it's like that proof is in their heart and then they have to deal with the reluctance of selling themselves out to God or holding back and, like most everyone I know who got saved, was a totally obnoxious "Jesus Freak" getting in people's faces, and as they grow in Christ they learn that there are boundaries in their walk that are complementary to their personality. Within the confines of our own Christianity we decide how gung ho we want to be. As I grow as I Christian, every day I learn more of my boundaries with God. But ultimately that fellowship is still there to get from God, and if I'm not getting it, it's my fault. Like that old bumper sticker, "If you feel far from God, guess who moved?"

IS EDL PLANNING TO STICK AROUND FOR A WHILE THEN?

"We're not going anywhere, we really aren't. We didn't come into this with the idea that we were going to bang out a few albums and then go back to college and try to make a real career for ourselves. I mean, this is a love. Every band says that, but I think there is a certain level of integrity that our band has where we say, "nothing will ever tear us apart." Which is easy to say, but like, last Friday night we were supposed to play an industry show in Orange County and our bass player, 22 years old, has a heart attack. Then the next morning has another one. So, you can say to yourself, "the band that sticks together stays together", but what are you supposed to do when God plays a trump card you never expected? I never expected a 22 year old kid in a band to have a heart attack. I mean, {{Glenn Kaiser}} or some guy in Rez Band maybe but.I mean, that's a testimony to how long they've been around, no disrespectbut, you don't expect the most aggressive alternative pop-core band ever to turn around and say, "our bassist had a heart attack". I don't know what's going to happen to Ox at this time. I mean, whether he has a part in this band or not, I'm sure he'll be around. But that's one of the curves that comes along when you sign that legally binding record contract that says you will put out those five albums no matter what it takes. But, with no disrespect to anyone out there who's doing this but, we're not going to be finished with the five record contract by the time we finish High School. I mean, we've been paying our dues for a long time before we decided we were ready to sign the contract. Nowadays you don't have to pay your dues as much anymore. Just be a hard-core band in Orange County and you can probably get signedbut we opened for {{Raspberry Jam}} and {{Crucified}} and the Clergy and some bands that aren't even around anymore for years before we finally were ready for a deal."

ARE THERE CERTAIN BANDS THAT YOU FEEL LAID THE FOUNDATIONS FOR EDL?

"The Crucified were like the godfathers of Christian rock for us. I mean, this is good company; {{The Altar Boys}}, {{Nobody Special}}, {{Crashdog}}, The {{Crucified}}, those guys were foundational to what's going on now. Back when Christian music first started it was about issues. The lyrics in Rez Band and {{Undercover}} and {{Steve Taylor}} were about issues and then we got into this whole "Jesus is Lord and it's cool to be saved" stuff, which is cool, but, so what? I mean, I had a great conversation with {{Larry Norman}} at TOM Fest and, ironically, he understands us. But we've got Youth Pastors saying, "hey, don't scream so much, don't sing about sexual abuse, and just sing about how Jesus is the King of Kings and I could recommend your band to my group." And that's ok, he's looking out for his kids, that's cool. But at the same time, there is a girl in that youth group who has been abused, who maybe has been raped, and we need to talk about that. It's like how {{MXPX}} gets in trouble for singing about girls, but hey what guy in High School isn't thinking about girls? It's not like he's saying "sleep with her" or anything, he's singing about commitment and that's cool. We're constantly graded as a band by how often we use the name "Jesus" in our lyrics or if we thank God in the credits or not. But, hey, Snoop Doggy Dog thanks God on his record, so is he a good role model and we're not?"


DO YOU SEE EDL AS A "CHRISTIAN BAND" OR ARE YOU FOCUSED MORE AT THE MAINSTREAM?

"It still surprises me that our records sell in the Christian Market. We really don't write our music for Christians but for the non-Christian audience. We have to maintain a level of competition with other bands in Orange County that people in Indiana wouldn't understand, but we do and I'm always really thankful that when we play Creation Fest, the kids know our lyrics and stuff, but I feel that we have no business being there."

WHEN YOU SAY YOU WRITE FOR A SECULAR AUDIENCE WHAT DO YOU MEAN? BECAUSE YOUR RECORDS ARE ONLY AVAILABLE IN CHRISTIAN STORES

"I think that most people would agree that, as we grow as Christians, there's a level of the "World" that we use as an index of what to do and what not to do. Like, I choose not to drink as a Christian and I defined that for myself even before I got saved, so I brought that with me into my Christianity. What we try to do is bring on a message that has a legitimacy that all audiences can identify with. Even if they don't give a rip about our Christianity, we can connect with people. Like the "Aquabats" are a Mormon ska band that I respect because they refrained from doing a radio show about sex like "Love Line" because it went against their beliefs. Like, we have strippers at our shows when we play with secular bands that come up to us and say that they understand our songs and that we connected with them. That's not kudos to us that we're writing stuff that's so general, it's kudos to the fact that, by the grace of God, I can write a lyric that is universal and make a connection. I'm not selling out but there are certain ways of being focused in what you do. Some people will understand and some will not."