Project 86 performing at Easterfest 2008 in Australia. Visible from left to right are: Randy Torres, Andrew Schwab, and Steven Dail.
|Origin||Orange County, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Alternative metal, Christian rock, nu metal, post-hardcore|
|Labels||Atlantic, BEC, Tooth & Nail|
|Associated acts||Crash Rickshaw, Neon Horse, Starflyer 59|
Mike "Norman" Williams
|Past members||Alex Albert
Project 86 is an American Christian rock band from Orange County, California, formed in 1996. The band has released seven studio albums, which have collectively sold nearly 500,000 units worldwide, two EPs, two DVDs, and one live album. Their music is characterized by a rock/post-hardcore/alternative style. Frontman Andrew Schwab's poetic and introspective lyrics have addressed a wide variety of topics such as conformity and emptiness.
The band was started by Schwab as a way to inspire people to live their lives with hope. In 1998, BEC Recordings released a self-titled debut album that was well received by critics and consumers. Their second release, Drawing Black Lines, garnered attention from mainstream record labels; Atlantic licensed the album from Tooth & Nail Records, the parent company of BEC. The band's third release, Truthless Heroes, was released exclusively by Atlantic, after the band was bought-out of their original deal with Tooth & Nail. The band parted ways with Atlantic shortly after their third release, upon which they had a short stint as an independent. The band then negotiated a new contract with Tooth & Nail, and subsequently released three more albums, the last one being Picket Fence Cartel in summer 2009. After fulfilling their last agreement with T&N, in December 2011 the band announced a Kickstarter campaign via their official website and Facebook page, stating that "the fans are now our record label." Their eighth studio release, Wait for the Siren, was released on August 21, 2012.
1996–1999: Formation and self-titled debut 
According to the official Project 86 documentary "XV," Project 86 was formed in mid 1996 by vocalist Andrew Schwab in Orange County, California. Guitarist Randy Torres, who was a sophomore in high school, was the first member recruited. The original lineup included Schwab, Torres, Ethan Luck (Demon Hunter, Relient K), and bassist Matt Hernandez (Unashamed). Drummer Alex Albert was added when Hernandez left the band after a few rehearsals, then Luck moved to bass from drums. Luck left the band to join The Dingees in Summer 1997, after which high school senior Steven Dail joined in fall 1997.
Schwab comments in a 2004 interview regarding the number 86 in the band name: "The generation before us used that phrase to describe when they would reject or remove something...Project 86 is like the whole idea of being rejected, or separate, or not going along with the current." The group did not travel much initially; they decided to hone their sound and live performances before embarking on tours. In 1997, Project 86 was voted one of the top independent acts of the year by HM magazine readers. At Tomfest the same year, their performance was a big hit and Tooth & Nail Records, became interested and subsequently signed them.
Bryan Carlstrom produced their self-titled debut. He had engineered albums by multi-platinum outfits The Offspring and Alice in Chains as well as producing labelmates Stavesacre . Schwab drew upon personal struggles he was experiencing at the time to write meaningful lyrics. Sonny Sandoval, lead singer of numetal group P.O.D., appeared as a guest performer. The album was released in June 1998 and was well received. It sold over 50,000 copies to date and gained mainstream exposure on MTV shows Road Rules and The Real World.. Project 86 was observed by Allmusic to be the "most daring album at the time for its genre". The success of their debut made Project 86 a top seller for BEC/Tooth and Nail. The band embarked on a pioneering tour called "The Warriors Come Out and Play Tour" in May 1999 with friends POD and Blindside as the middle slot, which drew crowds of 600-1000 across the nation.
2000–2003: Drawing Black Lines and Truthless Heroes 
 The group worked on their sophomore record with producer Garth "GGGarth" Richardson. in Vancouver, BC. Schwab wrote lyrics about a wider variety of issues, rather than just focusing on personal expression with their sophomore release: "The new album deals a lot less with me, and more with the world around us; Issues in people, society, culture". The sound was heavier and more progressive, with more hints of melody as well. As soon as the album was finished it garnered interest from several major labels, and Atlantic records licensed the album for co-release with Tooth and Nail/BEC in March 2000. Drawing Black Lines peaked at No. 37 on Heatseekers, and was well received by critics. By this time, listeners in the band had begin to amass a sizable fanbase. Despite heavy reliance on tour dates and word of mouth to inform people of its release, the album experienced some commercial success when it eventually sold nearly 120,000 copies. Project 86 traveled nationwide with P.O.D., Hed PE, and Linkin Park on the "Kings Of The Game" tour in October 2000. They also played a string of shows with Queensrÿche..
In 2002, Project 86 teamed with Slayer producer Matt Hyde to record their next album. The record was envisioned as a critique of post-9/11 America and the music industry. Formatted as a concept album, it told the story of a character attempting to find fulfillment in modern culture. "Songs were written and assembled with a certain ebb and flow in mind," said Schwab, "I approached the album like writing chapters in a book." The group spent over 14 months recording demos for Atlantic, which invested nearly $1,000,000 in the project when it was all said and done. . Because of the pressure to produce radio singles, the sound of the album was quite different from its previous releases, as was Schwab's cryptic lyrics, which represented the frustrations of being stifled creatively and feeling powerless in the process. 
Some Christians were concerned with the lyrics in Truthless Heroes; in the first track, Little Green Men, Schwab yells "I don't need anybody, I don't need anyone, I don't need your guidance home!". On the other hand, Allmusic writer Bradley Torreano declared it "one of the most topical metal albums of the turn of the century."
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Truthless Heroes was released in September 2002 and peaked at No. 146 on the Billboard 200. Their first and only single, "Hollow Again", peaked at No. 35 on Mainstream Rock Tracks. Atlantic refused to release the second single because they claimed the lyrics conflicted with the Iraq War effort. While lauded by critics for its pounding criticism of the media and entertainment industry, the album proved to be controversial, particularly the promotional website. Additionally, many Christians felt alienated by its dark material; one young fan deemed the album "too depressing". Fans also complained that the record was "overproduced" and lacked the raw energy present in Drawing Black Lines. In a later interview, Schwab expressed disappointment about the record, stating he had "different aspirations for [it] than what came out." The group performed with Taproot on their self-titled tour in fall 2002. In addition, they played shows with 30 Seconds to Mars, Trapt, Blindside, Trust Company, Sevendust, and Finger Eleven.
During this time, Project 86 distanced themselves from the Christian market to a certain extent, due to having more general market opportunities for touring, as well as a natural shift in marketing emphasis from the label. According to Andree Farias of Christianity Today, "Their commitment with Atlantic required them to give precedence to their newfound mainstream audience."  While their first single, "Hollow Again," gained respectable traction at rock radio, Atlantic did not release their second single, "Your Heroes are Dead" to alternative radio due to concerns about the lyrics in light of 9/11. After moderate sales of nearly 75,000 copies, the band parted ways with Atlantic in early 2003.
2003–2006: Songs to Burn Your Bridges By and ...And the Rest Will Follow 
The departure from Atlantic was a big disappointment for the band. "All of the hype about our future successes turned out to be just that – hype, " said Schwab in an interview, "We did not go platinum [...] the record fell short of expectations and did not come close to the impact of our previous effort." The band parted with their management company and did not tour for several months. Project 86 then started an independent label called "Team Black Recordings". Work began on a new album after Hyde was convinced to produce again. Their fourth album, Songs to Burn Your Bridges By, was made available exclusively on their website in Fall 2003.
The following year, Project 86 re-signed with their previous label, Tooth and Nail. Songs to Burn Your Bridges By was re-released in June 2004. The new version included 3 new tracks produced by Aaron Sprinkle and mixed by J.R. McNeely, several new mixes, and featured new artwork. The release peaked at No. 36 on Heatseekers, and was met with positive reviews by critics. According to Schwab, the album was a return to the bands heavier roots, and a means to express the frustrations the band went through during Truthless Heroes. The group performed at Purple Door, a Christian music festival, later that year. When Project 86 played their set, moshers threw mud everywhere and covered the stage and musical equipment. Thousands of dollars worth of musical equipment was damaged.
In Spring 2005, Project 86 reunited with Drawing Black Lines producer Garth Richardson to record their fifth album, ...And the Rest Will Follow. After spending several days recording demos, the band flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, to record at The Farm Studios Compound. The band filmed the entire production and later released a DVD documentary entitled Subject to Change: The Making of ...And the Rest Will Follow. The album marked a spiritual change for the group who felt humbled by their past experiences. "The record is about growing up and becoming a man (or woman) and taking responsibility for your past mistakes," stated Schwab, "[We are] refocusing our goals back to what they were when we started, reaching kids and inspiring them to live lives with hope and purpose.”
To promote the album, Project 86 released a new song on PureVolume every Monday until the release date. ...And the Rest Will Follow was released in September 2005 and debuted at No. 131 on the Billboard 200. Critics were positive about the release. The band began a fall release tour and traveled with Spoken, Number One Gun, The Fold, and Mourning September. In January 2006, a live performance of the single "My Will Be A Dead Man" was broadcast on Attack of the Show!. A collaboration with synth pop group The Echoing Green resulted in a remix of the song "Something We Can't Be". The song appeared on MySpace alongside a remix of "From December" later that year.
2007–2008: Rival Factions, The Kane Mutiny EP, and This Time of Year EP 
In March 2007, Project 86 announced that Alex Albert had parted with the band on friendly terms to pursue other interests. Instead of searching for a full-time replacement, the band recruited Jason Gerkin, formerly of Shiner, to play drums on tour. Production of their sixth album, entitled Rival Factions, followed suit with Deftones producer Ulrich Wild. The album proved to be a large departure from their edgier material by sporting a distinct 1980s sound influenced by goth rock.
The majority of writing took place while the band took a break; Dail got married in the Netherlands, while Schwab and Torres worked in Southern California and Seattle respectively. The men collaborated by emailing MP3s they recorded. In the end, 40 songs were amassed for the new record, but only ten were used. According to Schwab, the album's title was chosen to represent "the tension that exists in everybody [...] the flesh and the spirit." It was also representative of their new musical direction, an attempt to polarize themselves from other heavy rock acts. Similarly to their last record, a documentary was filmed that detailed the recording process, entitled I Want Something You Have: Rival Factions The DVD.
Rival Factions was released in June 2007 and peaked at No. 124 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest debut to date. The record sold 6,000 copies in the first week and was well received by critics, who made favorable comparisons to Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and the Killers. The band proceeded to tour with labelmates MXPX, Showbread, and Sullivan on the summer Tooth & Nail Tour. A performance also took place at the annual Christmas Rock Night event in Ennepetal, Germany that December.
Several tracks were recorded and mixed that were not included on Rival Factions. These songs were compiled with their previous remixes to form an EP. A cover of "Lucretia, My Reflection" by the Sisters of Mercy was also included. The Kane Mutiny EP was released exclusively on iTunes in November 2007. Shortly after its release, the band uploaded a cover of "This Time of the Year" by Brenda Lee on iTunes. "Our version was a little bit more like A Nightmare Before Christmas [sic]," declared Schwab. The single was well received and led Project 86 to build an entire album around the Christmas concept. This Time of Year EP was released in November 2008. Unlike the previous EP, This Time of Year was made available in digital and physical formats. Jason Martin of indie rock outfit Starflyer 59 helped produce both albums.
2009–2012: Picket Fence Cartel and XV Live 
In early 2009, the band returned to the studio with Martin and Ulrich Wild to record their seventh album, Picket Fence Cartel. Time was spent leisurely crafting the album; previous endeavors had been limited by deadlines. "This time around, we said, 'Look, let's not just put out another record,'" said Schwab, "'Let's make sure we get the record to a place that we're happy with it.'" The band focused on a heavy metal sound. However, they did not entirely jettison their 1980s influences as synthesizers percolated several songs. Schwab's lyrics focused on his belief that power and corruption often "run hand-in-hand when it comes to human souls." "The world is teaching us that fame is to be sought after; that recognition will equal success, fortune and, ultimately, peace," he said, "But the search for and attainment of fame and wealth usually destroy us in the end."
The record was released in July 2009 and peaked at No. 137 on the Billboard 200. Critics praised the title for its barrage of heavy rock and spiritually minded lyrics. Later that summer, Project 86 traveled nationwide on the Scream The Prayer Tour with metalcore outfits The Chariot, Haste The Day, and Gwen Stacy. Coming mid-October, Project 86 started the Picket Fence Cartel Tour with Children 18:3, Showbread, The Wedding, and Yearling, and added a second part in spring 2010 with Flatfoot 56 and Wavorly. The band released their first live album, entitled XV Live, in December 2010 to commemorate their 15th anniversary. The album's songs spanned every studio album with the exception of the first. In February 2011, Project 86 went on tour with Disciple. In June 2011, Project 86 headlined the XV Tour with support from Children 18:3 and Write This Down.
Randy Torres, who had been gradually becoming less involved in the band over the previous several albums, decided to officially leave the band in late 2010 to work for Tooth and Nail records, and later, Microsoft. Steven Dail followed suit approximately one year later, citing the need to stop touring and be home with his family.
2012-present: Wait for the Siren 
Project 86 launched a Kickstarter campaign in December 2011 in an effort to "Make the fans the record label" after fulfilling their most recent contract with Tooth and Nail Records. Their eighth studio album titled Wait for the Siren was recorded in January and February 2012.
Featuring all star guest appearances by: Bruce Fitzhugh (Living Sacrifice), Rocky Gray (Evanescence), Brian "Head" Welch (Korn, Love and Death), Andrew Welch (Disciple), Blake Martin (A Plea for Purging) and The Wedding. The new album was produced by Steve Wilson and Andrew Schwab and engineered/mixed by Steve Blackmon.
Described as Andrew Schwab's opus the record promises to be a fresh take on the P86 sound. Schwab said, "On this record I was really able to take the reins of the creative process in a direction I was passionate about. I was able to write songs that pushed me to grow as an artist. It was also insanely fun to have so many of my friends involved in the process and at this point in the game that is what its about. I am really looking forward to people hearing this album." With concert goers noting the new energy of the songs and new band members Scott Davis on drums, Dustin Lowry on guitar and Mikee "Norman" Williams on bass it seems P86 has benefited from a back to basics reinvention.
Wait for the Siren was recorded and produced independently through fan support via the band's 2011-2012 Kickstarter campaign. On May 24, 2012, Project 86 released four preview tracks for the tracks "Fall, Goliath Fall", "Sots", "Off the Grid", and "Take the Hill".
The album was officially released on August 20, 2012.
Musical style 
Project 86's music is characterized by heavy rock and Schwab's "loud, eerie, and atmospheric" vocal style. Their sound has been likened to rock groups Helmet, Rage Against the Machine, and Tool. The moniker "intense" has frequently been used as a description. Rick Anderson of Allmusic called the music "dense and crunchy", while Albuquerque Journal writer Ron Gonzales declared it a "blisteringly heavy sound." Commenting on their musical style, Schwab stated "Our goal as a band has been to never make the same record twice. The only rule is that there are no rules. If there is a rule, it’s that we try not to over-think things, that the music that comes out is honest and real, spontaneous and from our heart.”
When Project 86 released their self-titled record, they were generally acknowledged to be a rapcore band. Schwab has maintained it was never intentional, "I think we got lumped in with that music because we [had] toured with P.O.D. and Linkin Park." According to writer Mark Allan Powell, the music featured "cryptic, down-tuned guitars" and "half-spoken, half-rapped" vocals. Drawing Black Lines saw their style adopt elements of traditional metal, groove metal, and hard rock. The band used their song "Pipedream" as a blueprint to build the album: "We knew that was one of the brightest spots on the album," said Schwab, "I just wanted to take what we did in 'Pipedream' and go further with it". Experimentation with noise occurred in track "Twenty-Three", and would be revisited on their fourth album with "Circuitry".
Truthless Heroes and Songs To Burn Your Bridges By generally focused on a "dark and intense musical direction". The group strayed from the style for their fifth album ...And The Rest Will Follow, opting to flirt with melodies and harmonies. Rival Factions marked a great departure when they embraced 1980s music and utilized keyboards. The band was inspired to write experimental songs after Dail penned "Evil (A Chorus of Resistance)". "[It] was way different than anything we’d done before," stated Torres, "everything after that [had] to be as different as possible from things we’d done prior." Their signature hardcore sound was reinstated for Picket Fence Cartel. "We have had a great time adding more melody along the way," insisted Schwab, "but in our hearts, we still really enjoy playing aggressive songs". Even so, some songs retained synthesizers while others boasted folk influences.
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Project 86 is considered a Christian band and every member professes Christianity. However, they have remained uncomfortable with the assertion. "We're not going to go in there and say 'Hey we're the Christian band.'" stated Schwab in a 2004 interview. "We're going to carry ourselves like a normal band. Hopefully people will like our music and investigate into the band [...] and they will learn our beliefs." In a 2007 interview, he further opined "We always tell people that the goal has been to just write music that we love, and write music hopefully that is challenging and inspiring to people and doesn't sound like everything else out there."
Rock bands have largely influenced the band like the Deftones, Sepultura, Sick of It All, and Snapcase. Torres expressed a particular affinity for The Beatles and Led Zeppelin: "I just love to listen to their albums over and over and pick apart stuff here and there that is amazing," he said, "It is a huge influence on me musically." Dail has revealed The Clash, Fugazi, and Rocket from the Crypt to be personally influential. At an early age, Schwab listened to Slayer, S.O.D., and Metallica. He later discovered East Coast hip hop. During the recording of Rival Factions, the band took heavy influence from post-punk groups like Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Psychedelic Furs, and The Sisters of Mercy. Some of their favorite bands are The Cure, Portishead, Quicksand, Shiner, and Sunny Day Real Estate.
Some musicians have cited Project 86 as an influence. Jessy Ribordy, lead singer and songwriter for alternative rock band Falling Up, has been affected by Schwab's writings. "Andrew’s lyrics have always been a source of inspiration to me,” he told CCM Magazine. “I’ve tried to use more imaginative metaphors and things that are more symbolic, so that the songs can mean more things and have a bigger impact.” 38th Parallel, a short lived Christian rap rock group, also acknowledged the band's influence.
Vocalist Andrew Schwab has remained the band's lead lyricist. Schwab has stated most lyrics are based on his emotions. He also tries to incorporate social commentary from literature. Prominent influences include comic book artist Chris Ware and writers Chris Bachelder, Don DeLillo, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and T. S. Eliot. He has written lyrics around a variety of topics that include alcohol abuse ("One-Armed Man"), conformity ("S.M.C."), emptiness ("Evil (A Chorus of Resistance)"), greed ("Cold and Calculated"), nightlife ("Molotov"), and spirituality ("Chapter 2"). Controversial issues like pornography ("P.S.") and child molestation ("Sioux Lane Spirits") have also been addressed.
According to John DiBase, president of Jesus Freak Hideout, early lyrics reflected "anger, frustration, and often hopelessness." Some journalists interpreted it as cynicism; Sean Richardson writing for The Phoenix called it "overbearing" and hoped "positive vibes" from P.O.D. and Blindside would rub off, while Losey believed it to be a longtime "burden" being carried. "It is easy to give in to these types of [cynical] feelings when you have been wronged,” Schwab told CCM Magazine, "It’s a very selfish mentality that chokes you off from being proactive in your gifts and purpose." Critics have noted that Schwab's later material contains more optimistic perspectives.
Honesty is highly regarded by Schwab; he has stated "I don't want to be known or remembered as a positive band, but as a band that was sort of honest and had a quiet sense of hope." He has sometimes used humor to convey his feelings. "Salem's Suburbs" and "Your Heroes Are Dead" examine how society blindly accepts opinions found on television and the internet. "Caveman Jams" was directed at critics who claimed their music was too aggressive. The song tells how a fan was inspired to leave a life of self-destruction. "That song was written to be funny,” stated Schwab, "[It] was definitely written as a response to some experiences we’ve had as a band over the years, but in such a way that we’re having fun with it. I tried to approach it comically.""
- Current Members
- Andrew Schwab - Vocal (1996-present)
- Dustin Lowery - Guitar (2010-present)
- Mike "Norman" Williams - Bass (2010-present)
- Scott Davis - Drums (2012-present)
- Past members
- Alex Albert - Drums (1996-2007)
- Corey Edelmann - Rhythm Guitar (2000)
- Matt Hernandez - Bass (1996)
- Steven Dail - Bass, Guitar (1997-2010)
- Randy Torres - Guitar, Keyboard, Backing Vocal (1996-2009)
- Ethan Luck - Drums (1996-1997) , Bass (1997)
- Jason Gerkin - Drums (2007-2012)
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions|
|Drawing Black Lines||2000||—||—||—|
|Songs to Burn Your Bridges By||2003||—||14||36|
|...And the Rest Will Follow||2005||131||7||3|
|Picket Fence Cartel||2009||137||7||—|
|Wait for the Siren||2012||127||—||—|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
- 2010: 15.Live
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Pipe Dream"||1998||—||Project 86|
|"One Armed Man"||2000||—||Drawing Black Lines|
|"Hollow Again"||2002||35||Truthless Heroes|
|"The Spy Hunter"||2003||—||Songs to Burn Your Bridges By|
|"My Will Be a Dead Man"||2005||—||...And the Rest Will Follow|
|"All of Me"||—|
|"Evil (A Chorus of Resistance)"||2007||—||Rival Factions|
|"This Time of Year"||2008||—||This Time of Year EP|
|"Destroyer"||2009||—||Picket Fence Cartel|
|"Fall, Goliath, Fall"||2012||—||Wait for the Siren|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
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- Project 86 official website
- Project 86 on Myspace
- Lead singer Andrew Schwab's official website
- Kickstarter campaign