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For Christ's Sake

[whitespace] By Patrick Sullivan

CHRISTIAN PUNK hasn't exactly caught fire with Sonoma County hardcore fans, but there is a handful of local bands aiming a musical message of redemption at the crowds in the mosh pit. Among them is the Santa Rosa punk band Covenant, headed up by 15-year-old bass-player and singer Mike Weatherly.

"We just want to play our music for the Lord," Weatherly says. "That's the whole idea, to just play for God. Most of our songs are just about Jesus and how He can be in your personal life."

The four-member band has been around for about two years now, playing for small crowds at local churches and at Montgomery High School. Their inspirations include Dogwood, a Christian punk band from San Diego. But at the mention of MxPx, the Seattle-area Christian punkers who recently signed on with A&M Records (just before the company merged with Geffen), Weatherly's tone gets a bit chilly.

"Yeah, I liked them when back when their music was Christian," he says disdainfully.

As for such non-religious bands as Rancid and NoFx, Weatherly says he and his friends used to listen to them, but not anymore: "We kind of gave up on that stuff because it wasn't Christian," he says.

Some might argue that there's a blatant contradiction between Christian teachings and punk rock's anarchistic spirit, but Weatherly doesn't see it that way. After all, he says, punk rock is about being different, and Christian punks are interested in setting themselves apart from the mainstream secular world. He's also not afraid of being made fun of by punkers contemptuous of religious music.

"It's never happened to me, but if it did, I'd just tell them 'Blessed are the persecuted.'" says Weatherly. "I'd kind of like it."

According to Glenn Rubenstein of the Petaluma band Headboard (which is not a Christian band), Christian music of any kind has yet to make much of an impact in the North Bay.

"But when we go to other areas, like Sacramento and San Jose, it's huge," Rubenstein says. "We sometimes end up playing with a lot of Christian rap and hardcore bands. From a band's perspective, it's nice. You don't have to worry about getting hit with a bottle or anything. The scene is really nice . . . Of course, some people in rock and roll would argue that if you're not pissing someone off, you're doing something wrong."

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From the July 8-14, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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