Updated: 07/07/03

Sinai Beach from Riverside have been together for three years and tour incessantly all over the nation. Heavier than all hell with both metal and hardcore influences, the band has gained quite a following in such a short time. I recently interviewed lead voclaist CJ to find out more about this up and coming band.

How long has Sinai Beach been together and give me a brief history of the band.

Weíve been together for about three years. The first year and a half were for fun in high school and the only members we had were Mike Dunlap the drummer, Logan Lambert the guitar player and then me singing. Then we eventually found a bass player Jeff Santo. We did it for a while and it got more serious, so we started looking for another guitar player Ė and a couple months after we got signed, we got Mike Risinger as a second guitar player. We wrote about three or four songs with him plus the ones we already had. Then we recorded the CD and then we went on tour.

Where are you guys from?

Weíre from Riverside, Southern California.

Are you friends with The Beautiful Mistake by any chance?

Yeah, we are. Their first little EP that they put out by themselves, I did some vocals on that. Our drummer and our guitar player were actually in a band with Shawn Grover, the guitar player of Beautiful Mistake. So we all know each other.

How did you wind up getting connected with Facedown Records?

We become friends with a band called Falling Cycle from Riverside and they were signed to Facedown Records. They introduced us to Facedown and then he liked what he saw and he liked the people in the band, so he gave us a chance. And now the relationship between Facedown and us is really good. Itís really good to be on his label.

The first time I saw you guys was with Hatebreed at The Palace. What did you think of that show, playing in such a big venue, and did you get to meet Hatebreed?

I talked to Jamey, the singer of Hatebreed, for about three minutes. I guess he was late to the show, but he seemed to me to be a really nice guy. Playing The Palace was pretty insane for us. We were a little bit nervous, but we were more excited than anything. We were standing behind the stage and they were playing an elevator remake version of some Nine Inch Nails song and it was really funny. And then they stopped playing the song, it went really silent, and we kind of just walked up there. It was a huge stage, we kind of didnít know what to do, but we had a fun time.

What is a live Sinai Beach show like for people who havenít seen you yet?

We like to move around and go off as much as we can. We donít like to go off too much to the point where it doesnít sound good. Our live show is intense and heavy Ė we try to go off as much as we can, but we donít want to go too much off so the music doesnít sound good.

During your show at The Palace you announced that you were a Christian band. I was wondering while on tour, has anyone ever had a problem with that?

No, actually. In Southern California, I love it and itís the hardcore scene I grew up in. Everywhere else seems a little bit more respectful and responsive to messages you talk about. Like we played with Bane and Champion in Oregon. That was a really good show. None of those bands are Christian and I donít know how many Christians were there. I gave our message and was talking about how we were a Christian band and we respect everybody else Ė we do care what people believe but weíre not going to shove out stuff down other peopleís throats. Everybody was really responsive Ė they clapped and respected us cuz we gave them respect. Chris the singer from Champion, he thought it was really cool that we stood up for what we believe in. Southern California is pretty cool Ė but like at the Hatebreed show, I got a lot of F-youís and shut the F up when I was talking about God. But everywhere else is pretty respectful and responsive and itís been really cool.

In your lyrics, you have some pretty strong subject matters you deal with. I picked three songs off the CD at random to talk about just to give people an idea of what you write. First I wanted to talk about the Man Or Animal song.

I got the idea for Man Or Animal Ė I just remember thinking back in school, they would mostly teach the Evolution theory in science class. Theyíd tell us that everyoneís an animal and the only real distinction between man and animal is self-control. I was thinking about that and I thought if the only difference between man and animal is self-control, then thereís no such thing as man, cuz man basically doesnít have self-control. And thatís kind of apparent just by looking at the world and how chaotic it is. But that song is more about self-control in a sexual manner. In this band, everyone in it believes in being pure. Not the fact that everyone has made it. Itís not about that itís wrong to have sex, itís more about people who walk around and donít care about having a relationship Ė they just want to have sex with as many people as they can. Where is the self-control in that? Sometimes my lyrics confuse myself Ė I just kind of get on a tangent Ė but thatís where that song comes from.

Tell me about Candice, the first track on the album.

Thatís a really, really personal one. Itís basically apparent in the song. I was sexually abused when I was a kid by my baby sitter. That song is really, really angry. One of the biggest points is, most of the time when you think about child abuse and sexual molestation, you think about a man doing it to someone. I just want to remind people than women can do bad things too. But that song is about how I felt and like how I realized growing up and having relationships with girls Ė how nervous I am around then just because of some past thing that someone chose to do to me.

Is that something your still dealing with?

Iíve dealt with it a lot over the past year. I never really realized how awkward I was around girls. I started to become a close friend with this one girl, and she made me realize a lot of stuff. How like a girl would sit down and Iíve gradually move away or flinch. Or Iíd get a hug by a girl and Iíd subconsciously flinch. Yeah, I had to deal with it.

And then My Gun Your Bullets. What grim lyrics!

Thatís one of my favorite songs. That song is about suicide Ė like stepping into the mind of a kid that gets made fun of, or doesnít feel loved or accepted. I was made fun of in Junior High. I use to be a dancer, and in Junior High everybody called me like ďfagboyĒ and stuff. But I have to say, about six months ago when I was finishing up writing all the lyrics for our album Ė I was up late one night watching HBO, and there was this special on kids who donít feel accepted. And there was this sixth grader who was going into the seventh grade Ė and he had like eight friends. They just totally ditched him when the next school year came around. They didnít sit with him or want to be his friend anymore. The kid actually tried to slit his wrist and kill himself. He was in the seventh grade! He wasnít successful and his parents found him. He was put on adult doses of Prozac. Itís like this kid is in seventh grade and heís going to take his life because his friends donít accept him because heís not as cool as everyone else. Things like Columbine Ė you donít take guns to school and shoot people if this world is a good place to live in. I donít think I could change this world. I donít think anyone can change this world, because this world is headed to a place itís supposed to go. If everybody took the chance out of the day to make one kid feel accepted or feel loved or to make him feel like heís not a reject, I think the suicide rate or killing rate at school would be dramatically low. I do realize thatís not the only reason of suicide Ė it comes from depression or stuff like that. But thatís where I was coming from and thatís what that song is about.

With your lyrics being so deeply personal, did you ever have any problems expressing them live?

No, not really. When I express them live, I kind of step outside myself. I try not to let it affect myself and kind of act. I donít want to be fake onstage or nothing, but Iím sure I get kind of emotional.

What do you think of Black Metal and other music that uses satanic imagery?

I donít agree with it in any way. We like metal and being that weíre a Christian band, you can look at it first glance and see the contradiction. Like Christian metal, how did that come about? Metal is the type of music that is based on anger. Iím one of the happiest guys I know, but thereís so much that this world needs to realize. The world is becoming a stagnant place and its getting worse and worse. People donít take time out of their day to love kids, or people are molesting people Ė people are getting raped. Or people donít want to think about death Ė they donít want to think beyond whatís now. Everyone is stuck in this pool and they donít want to swim out. And thatís basically where we get our message from. We sit back and we watch this world basically rape itself. We take it into this music and we let it out. But with satanic imagery in songs Ė I donít agree with it any more than I agree with Britney Spears showing a little too much on TV. I think thatís worse in a lot of ways. I mean, kids have enough knowledge to be like ďThatís Satanic, thatís stupid!Ē I donít think that affects our world as much as Britney Spears or Christina Aguliera going on TV every single day telling girls that you have to wear this to look pretty Ė or that if your 20 pounds overweight than I am, then your not pretty. I think that has a lot more decay on our society than Black Metal or satanic imagery. People know to steer clear of big things, but itís the little things I think that makes the biggest impact on our society.

Overall, what kind of feeling do you want to leave a listener with after hearing your music?

For the Christians that listen to our CD, I want them to get something out of it Ė like Iím not perfect, nobodyís perfect. Thereís a lot of Christians out there that are stuck in a comfort zone. They donít live in the real world Ė they donít live in a world that everybody else lives in. Theyíve kind of put up this dome. And I hope that our CD can break that down and make them realize that they are a person, and they need to socialize with people Ė and they need to get out there and love people. And for people that donít believe in God Ė I canít change their beliefs. Iím not going to say I donít care what they believe because I do, because this band has a message. There are two songs on this CD about death, and all I can say is we all have our time Ė and basically the only way we can make people think about life and lifeís answers is to think about death. And by provoking the thought of death, you have to provoke the thought of life after death. Thatís kind of a hard idea to grasp, but basically I want people to think about things a little bit more. I want them to think about God a little more. I want them to think about whatís the point of living Ė when someone dies are they going to be regretful Ė are they going to regret things in their life? When they die, are they going to wish they had a relationship with God? I donít care if people think that Iím cheesy. I donít care if people think I have something stupid that I believe in. All I care is that they think a little bit more. And thatís what I want our CD to do Ė to provoke more thought into people that come across it.

So do you have any messages for fans or people who havenít checked out your band yet?

For people that have been fans for a while, I want to say thank you, and thank you for supporting the local hardcore scene. And for people who havenít checked us out Ė well check us out. If you donít believe in what we believe, thatís cool. Itís all meant for hardcore. And if you do, thatís cool. But if you havenít checked us out, then check us out, and I hope you like it.

A few pics from Facedown Fest 2003


FACEDOWN RECORDS: The Record Label for Sinai Beach!
SINAI BEACH: Their Official Home Page!
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