Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Official Web Site
Justifide Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Justifide lyrics)
Keeping it real is central to Justifide, the Ardent Records hard rock power-trio releasing its sophomore effort, The Beauty of the Unknown. Formed when brothers Jason and Sambo Moncivaiz and childhood friend Joey Avalos were still teenagers, the band is uniquely aware of the world around them, the agony and the ecstasy of life in the modern context.
"We try to touch on all of the human experience," singer Jason says of songs on the new album. "Life and death, love and loss. We don't just experience the emotion of joy. There's a lot of other stuff going on in us, too. So not all of our songs are coming from a 'happy' place. And not all of our songs are going to be depressing and sad, we're trying to write about all of life, all of the things we're feeling."
The three young men of Justifide have experienced the brokenness of distressed family relations and, before coming to Christ, responded to these pains by tasting their share of the party lifestyle. When they were still young teens, the Moncivaiz home was stressed to the breaking point, their parents separated and the boys turned often to alcohol and drugs to dull their disappointment.
When their father came home, convinced of the family's need for God, it turned things around for the family as a whole, the individual young men and their friend Joey. Disillusioned by the emptiness and desperation of their lives, faith in Christ more than filled the void.
Music was a natural outlet in their home. Jason began learning classical piano at 8, and moved to drums at 12. Sambo learned bass watching his father play guitar, and came to appreciate jazz players like Charlie Mingus. The band started in the Moncivaiz living room in their native Arizona, where they brought together all their influences to create a lively, current hard-rocking stew, a little hip-hop here for seasoning, a little jazz there for soulful flavoring.
But the music has really always been about ministry, more about expression and communication than entertainment. "It's really about sharing our lives with people," says Sambo. "We've come a long way, we want that story to be an encouragement to people, to be a source of hope in their lives."
Being Justifide hasn't been as simple as following the paths of other Christian rock bands, painting by numbers, as it were. Justifide wants to keep it real. "We want to avoid the boxes," says Jason. "We write about life. Some songs are about a girl and the situations I went through with her. Others, tell people what we've found in Christ, and those songs are about getting people to lift their eyes toward the heavens and away from the world."
Reviews of Justifide's 1999 debut, Life Outside the Toybox, which was produced by White Heart's Billy Smiley, recognized the band's potential and spoke of its promise. "A hearty debut album with boldly Christian lyrics and a sound that can compete with any hardcore band in the mainstream," stated Christianity-Today.com. "The album's young, aggressive sound delivers to the teenager seeking substantial rock with spiritual impact. A must for fans of P.O.D. and Skillet," said Family Christian Stores. Compared as well to Creed and Project 86, others noted the band's maturity, both lyrically and musically, their versatility and high-energy sound.
Built upon the foundation of the grace and love they've found in Christ, Justifide writes songs that express the meaning and joy that comes in living for God, while addressing the all too real issues of young people today. Of the first radio single from The Beauty of the Unknown, "To Live," Jason says, "That's us trying to get across to people what we believe, it's us trying to give people hope. It says that you can have a meaningful life, and have that void filled in your life. Nothing is going to fill that void apart from God."
Of "Pointing Fingers," says Jason, "A lot of people had heard that song on a compilation, and they've really been responding to it live. It's about the hypocrisy we experience among Christians, and the judgmentalism we've felt. The Bible says 'who are you to judge someone else's service?' We answer to God and God alone, so we don't care what others might think of us. God made us, and we're trusting that God will lead us, and show us the way and the truth about what we're meant to be."
The song, "Save the Fakeness," Jason says, is "about people trying to find themselves, they're looking through different things and they keep failing and are getting really frustrated. We're telling them, 'Don't give us a fake answer, we expect you to be real with us.' We're showing them genuine love, we care about you, you can tell us how you're really doing, what's really going on. We're being real, you can be too."
That honest connection with fans is where Justifide fleshes out its ministry. The band responds to fans through e-mail to their website, and is committed to hang with the kids that come out to their shows. It's clear that their honest, aggressive music communicates to young fans. "People have complemented our lyrics and our hearts, saying that we feel genuine to them, that we're not trying to be something we're not. We're just trying to do what we feel we're meant to do, and have fun with it. There's a fine line between art and ministry, and obviously we want to touch as many lives as we're able, but we have to be true to who we are and write music honestly."
"The world says that the more you have the better your life will be, but if that's the end of your hope, that's pretty shallow," says Jason. "You can be the poorest person, and have the joy of Christ in your life and be happier than the richest person on earth. We're saying you can actually live - that you haven't really experienced life until you've experienced the joy of the Creator."