Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Faster for the Master Celebrates 8 Years of Headbanging - Who is Steve Richter and Why Should You Care? (Interview)

Faster for The Master is a show that explores all kinds of heavy and fringe music from Righteous Classics to new school heavy. Steve Richter of Austin, TX is the man behind the behemoth. His life-blood is music. He lives it. He breathes it. He eats it. The show is celebrating eight years on the air tonight. We had a chance to catch up with the man behind the righteous metal show and talk a bit about what makes him tick. Check out the interview after the jump.

How did all this craziness get started?

I don’t really know where to start,so I’ll start at the beginning. Use what you want and feel free to ask me to expound on anything. I’m sure I have left out something. It’s just word vomit from key events in my life and how I developed the show.

When I was much younger, I always hung out with older guys and gals in my neighborhood. I had a neighbor and we would play Commodore 64 and listen to "Pyromania," "Shout at the Devil," and KISS records. I was like 8 or 9 years old. I got the bug for heavy music then. I really keyed in on popular music that had ripping guitars and heavy drums with soaring vocals. I started trying to find more and more, even if it was through pop acts like Journey, Rick Springfield, Foreigner, .38 Special and the like. I wanted it heavier though. MTV was on fire at the time and the image became another piece of the puzzle.

How did the Christian angle work it's way into your life?

I was a faithful church goer and very active with my youth group. I went to a United Methodist church, so music was a way of life. We had music time at every youth group meeting and my councilors always took interest in what we were listening to in our daily lives. Around that time, Stryper hit the scene with To Hell With The Devil. That was an album that changed my life. Their image was flashy and kinda over the top, but the music was pretty heavy for my ears. It was a lot of what I liked from the Motley Crue and Def Leppard albums that I was hearing at my friend’s house, but it had a Christian message. I was blown away that i could hear heavy riffs and great songs, but with a message that I loved on a personal level. It was also something I could show my parents who were not big on the Metal music they were hearing.

At this time, I had found what I was searching for musically. I was still in to popular music and I still loved a good hook and song, but now I found it could happen with heavier music. I bought all the Stryper albums I could find and just listened to it all the time. Around that time my neighbor showed me my first really heavy band... Anthrax. I heard them and was floored. Heavy guitars and soaring vocals and generally positive lyrics. I still was in to Stryper, but I started to want to find heavier tunes. Then it happened.

I know where we're going with this. What happened?

I found Metallica. They were it! My friends were letting me borrow tapes to listen to and dub and play on my own. I had found the perfect match of heavy music, great lyrics and amazing songs. This was now my standard in heavy music. I was still listening to Christian music and still going to church, but if i wanted heavy, it was Metallica. I had to know more about this band. I had to experience this live band live. I started to draw their logo and put it on everything, as well as Anthrax and Stryper still. This was middle school for me, so 86-88.

Who did you meet at this time that helped support your love for Christian heavy music?

As I moved in to High School, I met new folks that were in to all kinds of music. That was also when I was really in to band at school. I played trumpet, but i wanted to play drums so bad. I would hang with percussionists all the time. I friended a certain guy that seemed to be in to the same music I was, but with a different edge. His name was Phil Borrero. Phil was my gateway in to Christian heavy music. He knew I liked Metallica and he slipped me a few bands he thought I would like.

He let me listen to Deliverance, Vengeance Rising, Tourniquet and Sacred Warrior. Instantly I was down for this music. It was what I was looking for in the heaviness, intensity and Christian message. Deliverance was my new favorite, with VR a close 2nd. Jimmy’s voice with that fast right hand riffing like James Hetfield was the ticket for me. I had to listen to this band all the time. I would air guitar to them and try and sing just like Jimmy. Their self-titled album was just a game changer albums for me.

I also remember Phil was wearing shirts that no one else had. I mean at that time everyone had Metallica, Motley Crue, Slayer, Bon Jovi shirts, but no one had shirts like Phil’s. He had this one shirt from Deliverance. I believe the front was the grim reaper, but on the back was a phrase that has stuck with me from the first time I saw it. It said “Faster For The Master”. That phrase encompassed all I was in to because my love for Jesus was my life, but heavy music was defining the way I listened to music. I was so happy and I had to tell all my friends. This was the birth of my show, “Faster For The Master.”

How did you share new music with people  and how did they respond to it?

From this point, dubbing tapes and tape trading was really big. It was how I found a lot of new music. A lot of people would make mix tapes and pass them around. It was also a way to show how heavy you were. When I made mix tapes, I tried to figure out what that person was in to and I would pick tunes that sounded like that, but were “blow your mind” type of bands. I also had a cool way to show people my Faith without the stigma of church or Bible thumping that was turning off so many people.

You see, we were coming out of the era of the tele-evangelist times where grown men would go on TV, preach to the masses, but also ask for money openly for their ministry. This was the opposite of what I was used to from my personal church and my friends that I hung around with at church. So Christian Metal was more my speed... literally. Their no-nonsense message of damnation, repentance and hope was what I loved. It helped keep me on my track too through and a formidable time of high school temptations and trappings of social pressures. I was hanging with dudes at school and church that loved heavy music, but also kept a certain standard in living and i just kept getting introduce to knew heavy bands.

I thought this music was top notch and on par with popular metal bands, so it was my duty to show it to my friends. I knew that I was sharing The Word with my friends, but I also knew that some of the folks didn’t really want to hear The Word. So, I keyed mostly on the musicianship of these bands and I had to find the best bands if I was going to get my message through.

Who were some of the bands at the time that were making waves?

Deliverance and Vengeance Rising were really the bands. Deliverance for the folks that liked Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Vengeance for fans of Slayer and the heavier, darker stuff. I found Tourniquet and Believer around this time and I could pretty much “reach” any heavy fan now with these tools. I also heard The Crucified around then and that helped with he punk and hardcore fans. Now, don’t get me wrong. I always had an ear to the secular world and I still followed my favorite bands that way too. My friends liked that I could listen to both Christian and secular bands and I was pretty easy going, too. So, I had a lot of friends that would respect my recommendations.

From there, I just kept finding more and more forms of heavy bands from all the genres and kept sharing with friends. Now I will be honest, some of my friends didn’t really want to hear it, but they did appreciate my fire for these bands. In the early 90s, I was also following the trends of Christian bookstores at this time. The whole, “if you like this, you should listen to this” poster that most people my age always saw when they walked to that certain part of the store. It was key to me and I used it to reach more friends. I didn’t use it as a tool to get people to listen to Christian bands. I used it to open my mind to different genres because some of the bands and styles they listed on the poster I wasn’t familiar with. So I would find new bands to get in to, both Christian and secular. So I guess the poster kinda worked the way it was supposed to, but it also showed me the bands my friends loved.

Talk about some other people who influenced your love for Christian music and the bands?

My friend Walter Hertenberger was someone I met at a local store and he and I hit it off with listening to heavy music and also sharing the bands we loved. He was also a friend of Phil’s. With Walter, he was also a musician and I would hang with him all the time and we would listen to music and he would also play music on guitar and with his band. He and Phil were in a band together along with others from high school. I was stoked to find local musicians that were Christians playing heavy music.

Around this time, Walter introduced me to Eric Shirey. We used to hang with Eric at his store, Pluto Records. Eric was of the same mindset as were were, but listened to more punk, hardcore and electronic heaviness. This broadened my horizon as well. Eric would show us new releases when they came in and it was a fun place to hang out and just talk about life and enjoy music. I guess we were heavy metal hippies like that. Eric also shaped my mindset because he would book shows at his church and local clubs. I first saw P.O.D., Living Sacrifice, Zao, Embodyment, Every Day Life, Training for Utopia, xdisciplex, and many others when he brought them to his church. It was my life for a while, looking forward and helping promote his shows and these bands that I loved so much. I met so many people at these shows that would shape my life. This was my education. I would help the bands load their gear, I would see how live music was produced and I would see how shows were put together. I still do that today with my actual career.the radio show come about?

How did the radio show come about?

So how does all of this equate to a radio show? It’s exactly what my radio show is. I like being random and not sticking to one genre. I have never been restricting in what music I should listen to. If a band hits me, it hits me whether it’s metal, rock, country, rap or whatever. I am very open. I also know my audience. So yeah, Faster for the Master tends to lean towards the extreme music side, but I also like showing folks the best of all genres and also giving bands that I may find from the underground the outlet to show folks a different way of thinking. If you look at bands these days, they work in the influences of all the members of the bands and it works when they work the songs out. I find this exciting. I find this challenging. It’s what I love about music.

My friend Chuck Loesch and I would have discussions at shows about current music and I would tell him about my story. We have similar tastes and are both pretty open minded. We also like to know history of things. Chuck developed shows for Austin radio of 3 hours of heaviness on the local alternative station. His show is a place for local and regional bands to showcase their bands and their styles of heavy. This show is called No Control Radio. This also became his 24/7 streaming Metal station airing commercial free, much like XM radio. This is something a lot of our friends were wanting and he delivered.

Not long after the show was launched, I approached Chuck about doing a show featuring the bands I loved. He said he had been thinking of doing a show and was looking at me to possibly do it. He asked me to put in a treatment. I had no idea how to do this. I had some audio production experience from college, but I didn’t know how to apply it. I got with my friend Ben Jansen to help record my demo. It was a 30 minute treatment of what I would play and how I would incorporate information of the bands. Ben is an audio engineer and A/V business owner.

Share with us more about how the show comes together from a technical standpoint.

Chuck loved it and asked if I could do it every week for 2 hours. I was excited and I said yes, but I was a novice and I had only heard of recording software. I am a die hard Apple person, so I found GarageBand on my MacBook at the time. It seemed pretty easy to use and it seemed intuitive and most of all it was free! Chuck wanted me to use more accepted software, but I didn’t have the money at the time. So I did it on GarageBand and hoped it would work for Chuck. I cut the first 2 hour show and it took me about a day to do.

I used the intro and drops that Chuck’s colleague Jimbo had cut for me at the station. I was blown away because Jimbo also cut drops for all of the terrestrial stations and the programs that I loved on the local stations. This was the wind in my sails because I could see that Chuck was behind my idea all the way now.

I also got the help of my friends Jason Frankhouser to help me cut my beds to talk over and give me pointers on how to record myself. Jason is a killer audio engineer and a great friend so that helped. I also got my friend Greg Anderson to help me with GarageBand since he had experience with it. He and I sat down with GarageBand and he showed me shortcuts and the way to use the software to help streamline my recording process. My wife was supportive of my decision even if it meant it was another thing I put on my plate along with the 2 part time jobs I had. She helped me pick out headphones and my mic to record the show. She also helped me pick some bands for the show since she loves metal as well.

So, after straining my eyes on a tiny MacBook screen and stressing over a deadline and staying up way too late and making a lot of mistakes, I made my first show and turned it in to Chuck. What a lot of people don’t know, I record and produce, engineer my own show every week and then send it to Chuck. He puts some EQ on it to get it to sound like the rest of the programming on his station and then airs the show on Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s also cool that because of Chuck’s connection with the station, the show is also broadcast locally on the HD3 station.

What can people expect when they tune in to Faster for the Master?

There are many ideas I have for the show. Mostly, it’s a platform to introduce bands and labels to all who listen to the show. I also try and keep people up on studio updates, touring announcements and be a genuine partner with the labels and bands that support my show by sharing their social media posts and label announcements.

I always loved reading Heaven’s Metal magazine because Doug always seemed to feature bands I liked and also show me new artists. The other thing I liked about it was that he would interview secular artists and share The Word with them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. It’s very similar to how my experience had been when showing my friends “my bands” with those mix tapes.

This is my show! This is what I want to show. I don’t stray away from the “hey if you like this band, check out this band” formula, but I do it from more of a musical aspect rather than the PMRC aspect. (Ask you parents what that is). Music is universal. I play bands from all over the world, even if they can’t hear my show because of streaming restrictions. I want them to use my show to show how far away their message is getting heard. I want them and their labels to say, “hey, we’re getting played on the air in Texas or America” or whatever. I don’t put limits on the show and it’s been quite rewarding experiencing music from all over the world and seeing how they are spreading their message and what their definition of heavy is to them. This is what music is all about and this is the core of Faster for The Master.

Anything you'd like to share in closing?

I hope you enjoy my randomness of the show and I hope you have found new bands from all over the world that share the same ideas, styles and love for music and God that you have. It helps make the world smaller and foster creativity in this age of using the internet to connect with others. I rely on bands and labels showing me their rosters and the bands that they support, but I also love the requests from the people that support the show. It’s how Faster For The Master can be all of our mixtapes in this digital age.

Gather together and Scream for the Lord every Wednesday night from 10:00 PM to Midnight Central or catch the encore on Sunday during Church Drive Time from noon to 2:00 PM Central. It’s for the bands, the fans and the labels.

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