After delivering their fantastic Rockfest Records debut album Legacy in 2018, The Protest is back again with their new 6-track EP Death Stare. Leading up to the release of the EP, band members shared personal stories on social media about what inspired their musical journeys, gave insight into the new songs, and teased with lyric lines that further built the hype of the much-anticipated release. The EP includes 2 previously released singles, “Greater” and “Show Up to the Showdown.”
Rock On Purpose contributors Matt Durlin and Jessica Walker took some time to talk about this latest project from The Protest.
Matt: My favorite single from this project is “Greater,” because it has a message that reveals the heart of The Protest and resonates as a response to anyone who claims that the band should be doing more, playing for tens of thousands of fans in a stadium every night. The chorus is hooky while the song includes electronic elements blended underneath rhythmic rock and roll guitars.
You say I’m weak that it’s a waste of breath
But your wasting time waiting around for death
If you try to see
This is not for me
I’ve been building up what they try to tear down
Held under the gun but it’s time to speak out
And I just want to say
I don’t do it for the money
I don’t do it for the fame
As long as someone listens I don’t care who knows my name
I don’t do it for the glory
I don’t do it for the game
I do it all to make them see this is all for something Greater than me
Jessica: Both “Greater” and their second single, “Show Up to the Showdown” could be referred to as Christian rock anthems. Like you said, “Greater” reveals the motives and the heart behind why they do what they do; meanwhile, “Show Up to the Showdown” is all about not backing down from challenges.
SHOW UP TO THE SHOWDOWN
SHOW UP TO THE SHOWDOWN
I’ll make it out alive
I’ve got the heart to survive
You know I won’t back down, I’ll stand my ground
Show Up to the Showdown
I was able to be an extra in the theater scenes when they were filming the music video. It was a really neat experience, being able to hear the song and simultaneously “act” in the video, which has so many hilarious scenes that really highlight the guys’ lighter and goofier sides. It also shows how they are able to be unique and creative in their storytelling, in some ways you might not expect from a heavier band!
Matt: The video for “Show Up to the Showdown” was really amazing, and it is so cool to see how they brought fans in to be a part of that! I also enjoyed your piano cover of that song, which you recently released!
Jessica: I had a lot of fun arranging that one for piano! The guys have always encouraged and supported me in that.
Now let’s dive deeper into the new tracks!
The album’s fierce tiger artwork (designed by drummer Jarob Bramlett) ties directly into the kick-off track, “Paper Tiger.” This is the heaviest track on the album, and it’s only fitting that there are multiple screams and growls throughout. The song is about fear not having a hold on our lives, but recognizing its lies— and the power in us to extinguish them. This one is an absolute banger, and I would love to see it live in the future!
Matt: As someone who enjoys heavier music and metalcore, I was pleasantly surprised at the relentless intensity of “Paper Tiger” as well. “Voices” was also very much an in-your-face song, both musically and lyrically. One of the things to which many rock fans can relate is that heavy music allows us to scream back, literally, at anxious and negative thoughts. That’s what this song addresses: drawing a line on allowing the voices or anxiety to take hold.
I’ve got these voices in my head
And I’m of sick of it
I’m tired of living in this hole That I’m sinking in
I’ve had enough, I’ll draw the line, this is where it ends
I’ll break the cycle and find the strength to be whole again
Jessica: I really love seeing how each song has a way of tying into the overall album theme, with each one coming from its own unique angle and sound!
One of the more tame songs, “Hell to Hold You,” is about finding someone worth fighting for. I appreciate how the lyrics leave room for interpretation; this could be about a significant other, or it could be about a relationship with Jesus.
I never knew I needed you till now
A part of me was missing
There’s nothing that can keep me from you now
As long as I’m still breathing
With my heart in your hands
I’m alive again
No matter what we’ve been through
I’d fight hell to hold you
Matt: “The Mountain” brings the album full circle, closing as a fiery stadium rock anthem on which vocalist Josh Bramlett shows off his range. The lyrics talk about a mountain as something daunting to overcome, to fight back against and not be defeated or weighed down by.
It had been three years since The Protest dropped a new project, and though this is just an EP, the quality and musical and lyrical depth on Death Stare is well worth the wait.
Jessica: I am thoroughly impressed with every detail of this EP! Catchy melodies, gnarly guitar riffs, challenging lyrics, and a constant underlying theme of courage.
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