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Interview: xlooking forwardx

Originally Published: Friday, November 28, 2008
Written by: Elena

For the record state your name, your band’s name, and instrument you play.

I’m Joshua Chaillou. I play guitar for xlooking forwardx.

Who are your band members, and how long have you guys been together as a band?

My band members are: Justin Chaillou (my brother) on vocals, Kevin Doherty (our cousin) on bass, and Kevin O’Brien on drums. We’ve been a band for a little over 9 years.

For the readers that haven’t listened to xLFx before, how would you describe your band’s music?

Old-School hardcore, with some metal, punk, and new-school thrown in. It’s fast-paced and full of energy.

How and when did you find out about sXe? When did you make the decision to become sXe?

I found out about sXe in late 1995. At first, I made fun of it, largely because I simply didn’t understand it. It didn’t really make sense to me. But as time went on, Justin and Kevin D started looking into it, and decided to claim edge in early 1996. I remember the conversation vividly that turned me around; I had just gotten back from my then-girlfriend’s college, after partying with her for the weekend. It was the first time I had ever done anything of that persuasion, and I was never a big drinker. I certainly didn’t have a problem with it, though. As I was telling Justin about it, he said, “you know, I’m not really into all that.” I asked him “Why not? It’s fun.” He said, “what do you think of the jocks and frat boys up at that college?” I said, “I can’t stand the whole jock and frat boy thing”. He said, “well, when you’re out drinking, you’re just like them.” That statement just froze me. It just hit me all at once; I was acting like something I despised. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My grandfather was the latest in a trend of four consecutive generations of Chaillou fathers that drank themselves to death. My father was the first to break that chain, but my father told Justin and I stories about how alcohol destroyed his parents’ relationship. Although I’ve never touched a drop of alcohol since that conversation, I didn’t officially claim edge until a month or so later, on April 4, 1996.

I know that you guys are a Christian band, and that’s what initially drew me to your music. However, there are quite a few bands out now that are made up of Christians, but don’t like to be viewed as Christian bands, and don’t incorporate their views into their music. Why did you guys choose to be vocal about your beliefs, and how do you feel about bands that aren’t?

God called us to minister, and it just became a natural progression. We didn’t start the band as a ministry, but over time, it became apparent that God had other plans for us. We all have seen the work of God in our lives, and it became clear to us that a lot of the things that kids are going through in life are things that God helped us through. We’re a bit older than most hardcore fans, so we feel a sense of responsibility to pass what we’ve learned in life on to whoever will listen. God has given us everything we have, including the peace we hold in our hearts. So many kids out there don’t have that peace. It’s always been laid on my heart to help people, and telling them about Jesus is the best way I know how.

Regarding bands that are made of Christians that don’t like the label “Christian band”…there was a time where I felt that way years ago. At the time, it seemed prohibitive. But I realized that Christian hardcore kids get the business from others in the scene just for being Christian. In a supposed “open-minded” environment that hardcore was truly always meant to be, it seemed hypocritical. What these kids needed was representation, to show not only Christians that it was cool to be bold about their spirituality, but to show non-Christians that not all of us are stodgy “Bible Thumpers” that want to shove their beliefs down the throats of the world. The stereotypical Christianity that is the unshakable perception of a lot of critics is largely hearsay, and doesn’t at all represent the Jesus Christ I know and love. We just want to set the record straight.

There are so many people involved in hardcore. You have the liberals and the conservatives, the vegetarians and the meat eaters, the atheists and the God-fearing. Differences often lead to division within the scene, making some believe that certain beliefs simply don’t belong. What would you tell someone who thought that Christianity had no place in hardcore?

I would ask them what gives them the right to say that, first of all. I’ve heard this argument before, but as I’ve stated before, the perception of Christianity goes against what Christianity truly is. The gift that God has offered us is an amazing thing, and unfortunately, there have been many over the course of history that haven’t been able to wrap their heads around it. People have done some really stupid things in the name of God, but the same argument can be made about animal rights activists, or even vegetarians.

Hardcore is an open forum. It was set up as a place where ANYONE can come in and speak their minds without fear of reprisal. That anyone would try to exclude any group from the scene is pure arrogance, and goes against everything that hardcore is truly about.

What are your thoughts on women in hardcore?

Honestly, I think it’s awesome. Back when the guys and I got into hardcore in the mid-90s, it was pretty much a “dude fest”, if you will. Things were a bit rougher back then, but my ideal vision of hardcore has always been that it’d be a place where everyone can come to a show and feel accepted. Doors starting opening for women in hardcore in the earlier part of this decade when things started settling down, and to me, hardcore was best around that time. The Baltimore scene was so laid back then. There were no crews, everyone knew each other, and violence was the exception, not the rule. I believe that the scene has regressed a bit since then, with the epidemic of violence that has hit scenes everywhere. I’ve seen girls get hurt at shows, and that truly breaks my heart. Hardcore needs to be restored to where guys and girls alike don’t have to be afraid to come out.

What you gals do with xsisterhoodx is great. Teaching young girls to respect themselves, and not conform to society’s impossible standards is such an important message. We wrote a song about it on our first album back in 2001, called “Equal By Design”. It’s something that we feel strongly about.

A lot of times, guys say that they would love to see more women in the scene and in bands. Yet, most bands are fronted by guys, and most are all male bands. What do you think is the reason for this? Is it that not enough women want to be in bands, or is it that they are being passed over for the guys?

I don’t think they’re being passed over at all, but I don’t think that’s entirely a good thing. I think that sometimes girls are being let into bands as “novelties”, and the problem with that is that when truly talented girls are in bands, they are sometimes viewed as “novelties” themselves. It just makes it tougher for girls to be taken seriously, which I think is the real issue.

Rachel from Most Precious Blood is someone I’ve had a number of conversations with over the years. We played shows with one of her old bands, called The Wage of Sin. For those who are unaware, they were an all-female hardcore band. Let me tell you, those girls could play. Rachel actually helped me shape my guitar sound, introducing me to ways to get the best sound out of my 5150 II amp that I still use today.

Rachel was very well respected in the hardcore community, but even she got a lot of crap from some jerks because she was, well, a “she”. Granted, she was playing in a different era, and I don’t think the type of grief she received would be an issue for girls trying to do the band thing today. My advice to girls that want to play, though, is sharpen your chops. Practice hard, and take it seriously. If you have it together, you will command respect.

What are your thoughts on the current hardcore scene?

I think the scene is in bad shape. It reminds me of how it was in the mid-90s, where shows were so violent, that people were afraid of going, and venues were getting shut down left and right. The difference between now and then is that back then, there were more people who were interested in the community values that hardcore was built upon, and those people were able to rebuild the scene into the most successful era of hardcore. Now, it doesn’t seem like kids these days have any appreciation for the history or the community concept of hardcore. People need to realize that it’s about more than just the music. Until they do, it’s hard to say what direction the scene will go.

What current bands are you listening to ?

I am a music fanatic, and I get into all sorts of genres of music. I haven’t been feeling much heavy stuff lately, though I LOVED the new Metallica CD, and I’ve recently picked up the new Candiria and Mudvayne CDs. I’m really into Brit-pop, and I’ve been feeling the new albums from Snow Patrol and The Myriad. Oh, and I’ve been rocking Relient K like it’s going out of style. Go figure. By the way, I love writing music reviews for all the CDs I find (and I find a LOT of CDs; it’s my addiction), and I post them on my blog at my personal myspace:

What made you guys sign to Facedown Records? Are you happy with the label?

We love Facedown Records. It was a perfect fit for us. Our music focuses greatly on valuing relationships, and Facedown is not only supportive of our message, they are coming from the same place. Jason and the Facedown staff are all friends of ours, and our relationship extends beyond just business. In fact, Jason gets up close and personal with every one of his bands, and he cares about what’s going on in their lives. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another label that is as committed to their bands and their message than Facedown.

What has everyone in the band been up too since the hiatus?

Justin graduated from barber college in September and is now cutting hair for a living. He has two children that are 18mos. and 5 months old. He’s also been working on a hardcore project with some friends of ours, so free time is a precious commodity for him these days. Kevin D got married a little while back, and bought a house in Bel Air. So now we all live within about two miles of each other. He’s been busy with work, too. He’s an alarm installer, and he works some long hours. Kevin O is a manager at a local AT&T; cell phone dealer. He likes longboarding a lot, so he’s always finding trouble to get into. I’ve been working as a sales and marketing director for a copier company, and working on building the online end of their business. I’ve also been putting together a side project that will have more of a 90s post-hardcore sound, like Helmet and Quicksand. I’m pretty excited about it.

When will xLFx be active again? Any plans on new music/tours?

We got together recently and decided to plan on playing four shows next year. We may do more than that if opportunities arise, but it will be hard to find time to do much more. I’ve been approached about doing some new music for xlfx, but I’m not really interested in it right now. I really want to get my side project off the ground, and see where that goes. Touring is pretty well out of the question at this point. We gave our tour van to the guys in Our Corpse Destroyed, an awesome punk band from San Antonio, Texas. I know they’ll put it to good use.

Lastly, if you had the opportunity to tour with three bands of your choice (active or in-active) who be on your lineup, and why?

Helmet, Black Sabbath, and Only Living Witness. These bands fueled my interest in heavy music for years, and are my single greatest musical influences. I can pretty much listen to these bands no matter what mood I’m in, or what I’m feeling at the time.

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