It's about a minute into the opening track, "We Must Be Gods," on local post-punk indie rock quartet Signals new EP, Hindsight. Phil Yancey's voice is already mostly shredded by the time he obliterates it for good on the line "How will I know what is wrong if I only obey?" Yancey is singing about his faith in Christianity, a cornerstone of the band's music, and his unlikely position of refusing to go along with mainstream Christian music, especially with regards to attempting to convert those not in the church, while fighting off the "Christian Rock" classification.
"We've booked all of our tours ourselves, through Kickstarter we funded our first album, we've funded all of our merch. It's been an investment, for sure. We're an indie rock band, literally. Up until now, everything's been done by us," Yancey explains.
Signals—comprised of Yancey, bassist Ezra Hagberg, guitarist Seanloui Dumas, and drummer Bryce Evanson—releases Hindsight on July 15 at a Club Congress performance headlined by the group. Their unrelenting dedication to musical and spiritual autonomy was there from the start, in 2011. Hagberg says that, "When we started Signals, we already had a lot of material that we'd been working on for a while and we wanted to put that out. We didn't want to wait (for a record label to release the music)."
That sense of urgency is at fire and brimstone levels at this point, but for Signals' music, and Yancey's unblinkingly courageous lyrics, the fire and brimstone is directed internally.
"The lyrics are something that I'm very close gripped on, and it's great that everyone in the band has really gotten behind," Yancey says. (Not all of the band members are involved in the church.) "My goal with the lyrics is to be so honest that it makes everyone a little bit uncomfortable but then shortly after people can relate to it, no matter who you are. I think the majority of people are the same, and people can believe different things, but the way that people relate to one another—there's that struggle, whatever it is—we can all relate to that. Obviously people have different beliefs and that's great and everyone has different stories about how they arrived at that. What I want to do is talk about that. The concept behind Hindsight is an analysis between my past and my future—mistakes that I've made, mistakes that I think I'm still gonna make in the future, and ultimately arriving at, on the record, that if hindsight is foresight, all we have is now. The only thing you have control over is the moment you're in and that gives me a lot of peace. The first song on the record is actually me retelling the story of Adam and Eve, and obviously that's the past. The song is called 'We Must Be Gods.' And we've been called heretics for that title. But, the lyrics are about (people's interpretations of scripture being twisted into) whatever you want to be true—you make yourself a god, no matter what the religion. And you end up ignoring your conscience, how you treat people."
"A lot of people run from their doubts, and we see that a lot in the church," Hagberg adds. "And it's ok to have doubts in your faith. That's what looking at the Garden of Eden is: Since the beginning, we've been trying to make ourselves gods. We're always looking for an excuse to believe that or trying to hide the fact that that's what we're doing."
Yancey continues to conclusion: "The middle of the EP is a look into the first song and applying it to the future. I don't want to be preachy; I want to be honest. 'The Gallows' has no resolve; the third song has no resolve. The final song, 'Hindsight,' is that final analysis of the past and the future and realizing that there's a lot of hope right now. The first three songs are very grim, but hope is the resolve of the EP. It's a song about finding freedom where you're at."
with Kingfisher, Everyone Is Dirty,
Help Me Sleep
7 p.m., Tuesday, July 15
311 E. Congress St.
$5; all ages