In part one of our interview with Bruce Gonzales, Jr. from the hardcore Christian band Thin Ice, we found out Thin Ice didn’t even exist as a full band when they were signed and that the band is just one of three that Bruce plays bass for these days. In part two, Bruce shares his childhood dream of playing in a band, taking seminary courses, and how Thin Ice presents their faith to the hardcore subculture. Also, if you want to help Thin Ice get on the road this summer, there is a Thin Ice-Prelimary Tour Fundraiser show at The White Rabbit, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX on Friday, April 1 at 9:00pm.
Q: So, where can the hardcore music world find Thin Ice playing?
A: We’re open to wherever. We haven’t played in any churches yet, but wouldn’t be opposed at all. Generally, we play venues where any other hardcore band would play, because there are more opportunities to play. The only explicitly Christian outlet we played has been Cornerstone.
Q: Being a Christian who plays in a band, how does your faith and music intersect?
A: I feel like intentionally making music…music in itself glorifies God…and our lyrics also share our beliefs. In concert, our paradigm hasn’t been to be really vocal from the stage. It isn’t explicitly evangelistic, but there is intentionality in how we interact. You can get a bad rap in some circles for not proclaiming the message from the stage, but we definitely want to do ministry off the stage even if it isn’t spoken from the stage. When the lyrics have an explicit Bible verse in it, like “the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing” and unbelievers are singing along, we hope it will register [it is about Christ]. We are open to sharing, but we don’t necessarily have an agenda on how yet. Sometimes we do pray before the show, and sometimes we don’t. I tend also to trust the lead of the vocalist as the “mouthpiece of the band.”
Q: You are taking some theology courses through Dallas Theological Seminary. How has the impacted you?
A: Theology exists in a cultural context. Theology is something that should be more than academic and really far away. It is good to study but it can’t be too distant; too far away. In one class we had an assignment to explain theology in a culturally relevant way. So, we recorded a song specifically about theology in culture. I may actually end up doing the vocals on it in concert in the future.
People also have misconceptions about God, and they need a good apologetic, which studying theology can help to a degree. I feel a little more equipped to answer questions and respond to accusations, such as “religion only causes war.” It is a common statement and I can interact with those who make those statements.
We are trying to speak to those in a particular cultural setting; actually a subculture of a culture. Subcultures need to be reached too, to infiltrate something that was once not of God and is now marked with Christ.
Q: How have other Christians responded when you talk about being in hardcore music?
A: I haven’t really had any legitimately negative feedback. You know, hardcore is an acquired taste, so it is pretty normal to hear “that’s not my style.” Most have been encouraging.
Q: Are you planning a rock opera based on Lewis Sperry Chafer’s (Dallas Theological Seminary founder) “He that is Spiritual?”
A: No plans for that rock opera.
Q: Do you have plans for vocational ministry or a particular calling?
A: Right now I’m a teacher and I’m in a band. I don’t feel I have a pastoral calling, but want to grow in the knowledge of the Lord. In terms of wanting to lead Bible studies, there is a pastoral/leading aspect…and being sound in doctrine and avoiding false doctrine.
Q: So, what are desires for music in the future?
A: I’ve wanted to be in a band since I was in middle school; it was a dream. I’ve put a lot of my efforts into music and always thought “if it happens, I’m down!” Still…it has been a “Your will be done” thing. I teach math and geometry at Roosevelt here in San Antonio. If something happened to the teaching job, there is no better time to fully commit to the band. I’m single. I’d say let’s get the money and go for it.
Q: Finally, for all the bass players out there, who are your influences?
A: When I first started I was into guys that were really talented, but now making it work for the band is what matters. In hardcore it isn’t musically hard to write for the bass. Basically, you just are heavy and the focus is the lyrics (screaming!).
Early on I focused on Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Victor Wooten (renowned Jazz/jazz fusion player), but now, not so much. Musicianship is something I listen for more with guitar and drums.
I’m pretty impressed with Jason Wisdom from Becoming the Archetype since he plays bass and handles vocals.
Thank you to Bruce for taking the time to share his thoughts.