From Dealing Drugs to Dealing Hope: An Interview With Relent

Relent is a fast-rising newcomer in the rock world, offering a rock-meets-hip hop sound that is both musically and thematically intense. Their passionate lyrics on the debut album Heart Attack tackle hard topics with a perspective of solidarity and hope.

The band recently dropped the new song “Low” in advance of their re-release of Heart Attack with Rockfest Records (due out May 22). Relent lead singer Miggy Sanchez shared with me a little more about the song, their mission, and what lies ahead.

I wanted to talk about your new single “Low,” which is a killer track. Could you share a little about what the song is about?

I think a lot of the issues we see now in society, depression, suicide, any type of struggle, are worse because we don’t talk about them enough. People kind of isolate themselves. That’s why statistically we see so many suicides, especially now with everything going on. So for me, “Low” is a song where I’m opening up, I’m talking about it, and I’m being real. But I’m also being real about the fact that you can beat this thing. If you listen closely to the bridge of the song, it takes you to this point where it’s like “I’m bigger than this thing, I don’t have to live like this.”

“Low” is definitely a “me too” song. If anyone is looking for someone to relate to, that’s “Low.”

It sounds like the track was born out of personal experience for you. I’d love to hear more about that!

It’s definitely personal experience. I’ve struggled with suicide and depression most of my life now. I’m in my early 30s, so to say that is weird. My first suicide attempt, I was about 11 years old. I didn’t know what suicide was, I was only 11, but I knew in that moment what I was feeling and what I was facing, and I did not want to feel that anymore. So immediately my brain went to try and end it.

It blows my mind, because that was back then. Times have changed since then. So there are kids that are 9, 10 years old that are going through things that I didn’t go through when I was 9 or 10. It boggles my mind and freaks me out a little bit because it’s like man, what are we up against here? So for me I think talking about it, bringing up the subject, is going to take us in the direction we need to go with this thing, fighting it off.

I love that you’re bringing that conversation into the light. I feel like you do that even with the cover art, which is very provocative. What did the conversation look like, discussing what the cover art was going to be?

That was a tough one. I was upfront about it when the label asked “what are you thinking for the artwork?” I was like man, this is what I’m seeing, what I feel. I try to be as real as possible.

Especially because we’re labeled a Christian band, I think naturally people put us in little boxes: you’re going to be X amount creative, and your music’s going to sound like this. And there’s a cap on that. So for me it’s like no, let’s get out of that. We serve a creative God. Let’s be creative with this, let’s be real about it. I think that will relate to people more than anything.

I just wanted to be real. I think that’s the direction we’re headed as far as beating depression and suicide.

I think the cover is fantastic for tying into this theme. You mentioned the label– this is your first release with Rockfest Records. I’d like to hear a little about how you connected with them and what it’s like working with that team?

It’s been absolutely amazing. These people are legit, they are awesome, they have treated us so well. We’ve only been signed a couple months now. Which is wild, everything happened so fast. In January we got a call from Joseph himself, the president of the label. He wanted to set up a meeting. 

Long story short, he’d been watching us do our thing. We’ve always been a band that believes in hard work. We don’t want anything handed to us, we’re going to work our butts off, whatever it takes. We tour constantly, we’re constantly putting stuff out. So we do anything we can to make this happen and leave the rest in God’s hands. And sure enough, God brought up this conversation with Joseph, and now we’re here. It’s so crazy. But they are amazing people, an amazing team that’s backing us up. There’s so much in store. 

I hear rumors you’ll be re-releasing Heart Attack with Rockfest Records. Is that correct?

That is correct! May 22, that drops through Rockfest Records. We released the new album artwork about a month ago that they had redone, and it’s absolutely phenomenal. We’re excited for people to actually hear it. As hardworking as we have been, we know there are a lot of people who haven’t heard about us. So there’s a whole new platform.

For those people who are just hearing about you guys for the first time, what is the Relent story? How did you guys get together and start making music?

We started in 2016. I really got the vision impressed on my heart. I didn’t grow up in church or anything at all– most of us in the band didn’t. I always say we went from dealing drugs to dealing hope. It happened literally almost overnight. Rewind 6 or 7 years ago, I was still very much in the secular scene, I was touring with secular bands, and doing that thing. And my life was a complete mess. Then 6 years ago, I had this encounter with Jesus, and it changed my life.

So I gave up music, like literally gave everything up to follow Him. I didn’t think about writing music or anything. Then 3 years into my walk, God started putting it on my heart to start writing again. And that’s what people are hearing now from Relent. It’s so cool that He would allow me to come back to the thing that I’m most passionate about, which is music. That’s how Relent started, and we’re kind of just rolling with the punches.

I can really hear in your music how your story and your own passion is reflected there. I think fans can hear that too. Are there stories you’ve heard from fans that really stand out to you?

There are tons. There was this one time in Missouri that I distinctly remember. This guy had never heard our album, and it was his first time hearing us live. What’s really dear to my heart is he was so upfront. He said “I got dragged to this festival by a friend, but last night I tried to kill myself.” He started talking about a song. This guy was way older than me, and had probably lived more life than I have. And I should be looking to him for wisdom. But this dude straight up fell in my arms and was weeping. He was like “I tried to kill myself, my marriage is a mess. And that one song, and that one lyric, I felt like I had to talk to you.”

It was crazy. But that’s what we do, that’s why we do this: for life change like that.

Fast forward about a year, this dude’s life has been totally changed. It’s so awesome. If we’re influencing people like that, I’m all about that.

Were there any bands you’ve looked up to who have had a similar impact on you or been an inspiration to you?

I’ve got tons of bands that were an inspiration to me. When it comes to the Christian game, I wasn’t mad into it like we are now. I didn’t listen to a lot of Christian music growing up. But if I had to pick a band that stood out to me, it would be For Today, because I had a personal encounter with them when I was far from being anything godly.

I live in San Antonio, Texas. They were on tour a little over 10 years ago now, and they hadn’t even been signed to Facedown yet. They were on tour with a band called Bringing Down Broadway, they were still fresh to the game. Their music is passionate, their message is powerful, and they just bring it every night. I was in a local band at the time, and we were opening up for them– didn’t know who they were or what they were about. But there was this crazy night of prayer that broke out in the venue after they got off stage. They ended up praying for us, and I was in a circle that they prayed for. Come to find out, 10 years later I’d basically be doing the same thing. I was so appreciative of that moment because I’ve seen what it did for me now, and I understand why they did what they did and what God was trying to do. I hate that it took so long, but it happened.

I reached out to Mattie after all this started taking off. I didn’t get an email back, but I did end up reaching out because I read his book Lovely Things in Ugly Places. That book is what lit the fire in me. God really broke me with that book.

So yeah, if I could say someone that’s inspired me personally, it would go back to them. I don’t think they realize what they did 10 years ago that we’re seeing the fruit of now.

They really have been an incredible voice in this industry.

Yeah, it’s actually on YouTube. If you type in “For Today Prayer White Rabbit,” you’ll see me in the circle that they’re praying over. It’s crazy.

So this is a unique time to be a band, with what’s been happening globally. I wanted to be sure to take time to ask how fans can support you guys in what you’re doing during this weird time where touring is shut down.

It’s definitely difficult. We’re staying prepared as much as possible, we’re at the edge of our seats waiting for this to blow over, because we’re ready to get on the road. In the meantime it’s kind of cool because you get to sit back and take in what’s happening. Not so much the negative stuff, but there is so much positive stuff that is happening on the other side of this that I think we’re missing out on. That’s where I’m sitting personally, just soaking it in. Life’s so short, life’s so precious, and we have so much to live for. I think people are blind to that. So I can’t wait to get on the road and help remind them.

That’s an incredible perspective. Along those lines, if you were talking directly to your listeners or people who might hear your music, what are the core things you’d want to tell them?

If God did it for me, He can do it for you. That’s cliche and cheesy, but if we were to sit down for a couple hours and I told you about my life and what I’ve been through– I’m not saying it’s the worst, people have been through far worse than I have. But there’s so many times where I counted myself out, even when I didn’t know God, and He did it for me. He didn’t let me go. Looking back on it now, He saved me so many times, before I was ever dedicated to Him at all. I’m talking about every addiction I’ve struggled with, every depression, every attempt at suicide, God has shown up in the midst somehow, some way. To the point where it got annoying! I knew “OK God, I know You’re probably going to show up, but I’m going to try this anyway.” And He never let me fall. I think it was for moments like where I get to speak up and have a voice and be like man, if He can do it for me, He can do it for you. Don’t give up. I know it’s hard, but you’re going to be stronger from this.

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