Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, the band Philmont strives to take their positive image and music into local and regional venues to help share their views of faith, life, love and whatever else is on their minds.
Philmont began when singer Scott Taube and guitarist Josiah Prince connected after the breakup of their former local outfits. From the start, this new union was marked by equal parts fun and serious commitment to the task at hand. There were long drives home from college every weekend to rehearse, self-booked summer tours to support an ambitious independent release, and then, after bassist Justin Sams joined in 2007, a hard-earned gig at alternative Christian music’s ultimate event, the Cornerstone Festival.
Taube recalls, “The challenge at Cornerstone is to stand out—bands are everywhere—so we plastered all the Port-O-Johns with 11 x 17 Philmont flyers and got up early every day to make sure they hadn’t been covered up. Then we walked around with a CD player and earphone splitters, giving free bracelets to kids if they’d listen to one of our songs and inviting them to the show.”
That same concert caught the attention of EMI/ForeFront Records (tobyMac) who eagerly signed a deal with Philmont a few months later. With one more tweak to the permanent lineup—drummer Todd Davis joined the group and it was time to track "Oh Snap" released in 2009.
Produced by Rob Hawkins (Fireflight, Jackson Waters), the set straddles ferocious and sweet from note to note. It’s an intentional move inspired by the members’ expansive mix of influences from post-metal punk and classical music to bubblegum melodies and ‘90s rock anthems. Excitable opener “I Can’t Stand to Fall” is a finely polished chunka-chunka workout accentuated by frenetic guitars, layered vocals, and a soft acoustic bridge. The lyrical hook of tear down these walls that separate us now well represents Philmont’s overriding goal to always stay on the same page as God in every facet of life.
“It’s really a song to God, asking Him to remove the barriers we put up in this world that distract us from understanding His ways,” Taube says.
Indeed, Philmont’s songwriting angles on Oh Snap are often remarkable, even poetic, as on “My Hippocratic Oath” and “Photosynthetic.” The former parallels a doctor’s promise to always work in the patient’s best interest to God’s offer of salvation.
Accompanied by a rapidly pulsating rhythm and escalating melody, the medical motif never lets up, driving the point home: I can save your heart even though it’s destined to fail . . . I guarantee you’ll never make it out alive without me. “The song begins with someone who is very sick, but the good news is they can be easily and completely healed,” explains Taube. “Who wouldn’t say yes to that option? That’s how it is with Jesus. He offers to save us. We just have to enter into that relationship.”
Equally compelling and easy to rock out with is the fist-pumping jam of “Photosynthetic,” a timely and cautionary courtroom tale for Philmont’s student audience wherein a personal MySpace page becomes evidence of what is really inside someone’s heart: Just point and shoot. That’s all you do to help yourself feel free; murder by photography.
“You’re always judged for what you put online,” Taube says. “A Christian can kill his credibility with compromising photos, swear words in a blog, and so on. It’s hard to make that stuff go away.”
Oh Snap is rounded out by the worshipful “Another Name” (co-written with new artist Chris Taylor), acoustic bonus track “The Ascension,” and perfectly poppy single/video “The Difference” (a co-write with Ben Glover). The latter began with an idea from bassist Justin Sams and takes shape thanks to danceable drumming from Todd Davis. Its theme of anti-complacent Christianity recaps what Philmont feels most passionate about: There’s gotta be a difference. It’s gotta be significant. If You’re really inside changing my life, You would shine. You would be evident if there’s a difference.
“We have a desire to motivate kids in the same way we needed motivating when we were teenagers,” concludes Taube. “People tend to go through the motions instead of going deeper. We want to connect and take them in that direction through an ongoing dialog. That’s what our music and our live shows are all about: audience participation.”