Project 86 is a phrase used to indicate something that has been rejected, an idea that wasn’t considered to be the norm, or going against the current—and that is exactly what Project 86, the band intended to imply with their choice of name. The Christian hardcore band from California set out to be something different. Christian musicians often have the experience of being told that their music isn’t “Christian” enough by older individuals who are accustomed to Christian music meaning politely sung hymns with little spirit (and often little Spirit) behind them. On the flip side of the spectrum, Christian metal bands are often considered a completely different genre than the mainstream metal acts because their lyrics are clean, their band members tend not to engage in the same activities as many of their peers, and their purpose is just a little bit clearer. Project 86 faced all of those negative reactions when they got together in 1996, but they never let that stop them.
Members Andrew Schwab (founding member, who sings vocals), Dustin Lowry (guitar, backing vocals), Cody Driggers (bass, backing vocals), and Ryan Wood (drums) are out to produce music that is honest. Schwab, who produces most of the band’s lyrics, freely admits that he doesn’t want to be viewed as a “positive” band (and many of his early lyrics, which tended to have a fairly cynical feel, certainly bear that out). Instead, he wants them to be remembered as being honest. He tells what he’s really thinking, expresses how he’s really feeling, and doesn’t hide it behind the way he’s “supposed” to feel, think, or act. Schwab isn’t afraid to address controversial issues, either—his songs have covered a wide range of topics and include mentions of pornography and molestation. Through the years, his music has evolved convincingly from a state where he was obviously carrying a heavy burden to a more positive tone that nevertheless remains honest and real.
The heavy rock band, characterized by Schwab’s “loud, eerie, and atmospheric vocal style,” has always a “blisteringly heavy sound” that is often described as being intense. The band has endeavored throughout its career not to fit into any particular box; rather, they make sure that they never produce the same album twice. They’re more interested in that honesty that is at the core of everything they do, an intensity of purpose that has carried them throughout their careers.