Jonestown is a metalcore band out of Syracuse, New York with a strong message and ruthless sound. Their aggressive style is infused with hardcore undertones and edgy vocals. Their message rails against corruption, fear and ignorance in society. The name Jonestown refers to the infamous Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, Africa in 1978. I sat down with Tyler Frisbie, Bobby Backes and Ryan Thurston and spoke with them about their music, message, and style. The following is taken from that conversation.
Rob: What bands have influenced you and inspired you to play music?
Bobby: I grew up on metal. When I was a kid my dad was always jamming and there were always guitars and drums in my house. The bands that made me want to get on stage would be the old hardcore bands that would play at The Wescott Theatre and Planet 505. Bands like Norma Jean, Poison The Well, Nora, and Throwdown. When I went to my first Hellfest that really set it off for me too.
Ryan: Well, the first bands that made me want to play music were Guns N Roses and Pantera. I grew up on that stuff. But then as I got older and started to play music it was more of the metalcore and hardcore bands. If it was on Trustkill Records or Ferret Records I probably listened to it.
Rob: Have there been any changes in style or members in the band?
Bobby: If you play our songs from the first to the newest you can hear the progression. At first, we shied away from breakdowns. We would play the slow, stand out breakdowns like most metalcore bands have. We found how to use the breakdowns in our own way without throwing them in every song, which I feel is boring. I still think that we don’t know our sound one-hundred percent yet but we are still young as a band.
Rob: How would you categorize Jonestown Hardcore, Metalcore, or a mixture? I am not a genre expert! I just know what I like!
Ryan: We are the same man. We like everything and draw influences from it all.
Bobby: Genres are so shotty you can say anyone is anything! But if metalcore is a mix of hardcore and metal than we are true metalcore. Metal and hardcore fans love it.
Rob: Can you tell me more about the song Burn The Page? What influenced you to create that song? Does it draw from Turn The Page?
Bobby: Ha ha….no, no influence from Turn The Page even though it is an awesome song, it just happens to rhyme. The song is about the misuse of religion. Not anti-religion if going to church and reading the Bible is your choice and it makes your life better good for you. But when religion is used as a tool of fear to make children obey and follow without letting them make their own mind. I just think its crazy there is nine year old kids that will kill themselves and you because “God” said so…….I just think that is CRAZY!
Rob: I agree! People do crazy things in the name of religion!
Ryan: They really do. I have no problem with what you choose yourself to believe or not believe, but people should make up their own mind.
Bobby: Like drinking Kool-Aid with poison, hence the name Jonestown.
Rob: Jonestown has a message. It’s one that goes against extremists and societies obsession with fear in religion and government. Does this sound right?
Ryan: I would say that is pretty spot on. In my eyes people need to take a hard look at the things they believe and not just take in everything they are told as the absolute truth. If I told you some crazy facts that seemed almost completely unbelievable,
would you choose to take that as fact with no research or thoughts of your own?
Bobby: But then again we aren’t all about that all the time. We have fun and our song 909 is just about going out to a party and getting wasted.
Rob: What upcoming shows will are you playing?
Ryan: We are playing with The Empire Shall Fall on May 24th and the Exposed Music Fest on February 4th at the California Brew House in Rochester. If people would like tickets they can contact us on Facebook.
Rob: What bands and groups have you been playing with lately that you would like the readers to know about?
Bobby: We have to let people know about Embrace The Massacre, Suspended In Dusk, Broken Tooth Productions, and of course you can hear our song, Burn The Page, on the new Anarchy Hour Podcast!
Vocals: BOB BACKES
Guitar: ROB PIERCE
Guitar: TY FRISBIE
Bass: RYAN THURSTON
Drums: ALEX FRISBIE