David Pierce, director of Steiger International and No Longer Music is my guest today. You can interact with him in the comments section if you want to ask him anything. Great guy. Amazing ministry. From a barge in Amsterdam to the ends of the earth, taking its message of hope to “some of the darkest places imaginable, including closed Islamic countries, terrorist clubs, squatter villages, anarchy festivals, brothels, junkie joints, punk & goth music festivals, Satanist clubs and New Age gatherings.”
David, it was great to have you at our roundtable in Germany. I have a video of you encouraging us all to be courageous and not wimpy. You are pretty hard core. Do you get accused of being rude?
Yes, unfortunately sometimes I have been accused of being rude. I think it’s because I am going deaf from being in so many clubs and so now I don’t realize that I am shouting all the time. I also have the habit of spitting when I speak, which has also been a problem.
You end up in some dark places with your band. Tell us the hairiest experience you have had recently.
I could give many examples, but the most dramatic one that I can think of is when we played for the second time at a hard-core satanic club called the House of Satan in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In spite of the fact that you could taste the darkness when we went there the first time, we knew that Jesus wanted us to go back. The club was packed with a mixture of Gothic kids, Satanists and speed freaks. We played in a cellar that looked like a cave. The cement walls were all painted black and there was only one slow pulsating strobe light, which made you feel like you were on a bad acid trip.
Paul says in I Corinthians 2:1-5 that he preached Christ and Him crucified so that people will not be convinced by human wisdom but by God’s power. I knew that it would be stupid to go in the House of Satan in my own power; I desperately need to see the power of God. That’s why we lift up the cross.
A lot of postmodern ministries and groups working with today’s youth get criticized for not being confrontational enough. You seem to be out on the other spectrum with your hard hitting, full frontal evangelistic ministry. Is that because of the type of people God has called you to?
I don’t think so. I think everyone today is sick of hearing lies all day long and are desperate to hear the truth. Sadly, they are not hearing the truth because often those of us who know the truth remain silent. This seems especially true in the Christian music and art scene.
It seems that when Christians do enter the art scene, they only perform for other Christians. Those who do dare to go before a secular audience often hide their message by speaking in such an obscure code that only Christians recognize it. Or maybe they dare to speak, but they do it in a way that sounds like a bunch of slogans and clichés.
[HEY – KEEP ON READING – ITS JUST GETTING GOOD!]
Is it God’s desire that no one hears the truth? That all they listen to is lies? Is it God’s desire that only Satan has a say in what people are being told at big music festivals, or in the media? Doesn’t God want his name to be lifted up in these dark places? I believe that God’s heart is broken because those in the church who have received artistic gifts from Him are unwilling to speak, and to boldly proclaim the truth outside the church.
Can you imagine an anarchistic band ever saying, “We’re not an anarchistic band. We’re just a band of people who happen to be anarchists. We don’t want to push anarchy on people. We just want people to see anarchy in our lives”? If everyone else can speak clearly and give their ideas without restraint, how come Christians always feel like they have to keep silent, especially when there is so much authority in their message?
Jesus is looking for artists who are willing to tell people the truth, for musicians who are willing to go into these dark places and not hide their message, for people who will live lives of power, not just talk.
Romans 10:14-15 says, “How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
I struggle to understand why so many musicians and artists choose to stay silent. Often, if they get an opportunity to go into secular places, they go underground and speak about social issues or hope that people just pick up on the “vibe.” I just want my work to touch people without having to put it in words, they’ll say. But I think God is looking for artists who will not be ashamed of the good news of Christ. And I have seen the power that comes from not caving in and hiding your message.
How do you describe No Longer Music?
In our show, we start the concert with a lot of craziness that has no real point to it; there are just a lot of bizarre things happening on stage, along with video projections, fire and other special effects. For example, during one song, our base player is strung up by his feet and plays a song upside down.
We do this to develop a relationship with the audience; it shows them that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and gives them a chance to dance and go crazy.
But in the second half, it gets serious. We start the second section by portraying a girl being raped behind a shadowbox in order to convey a sense of the world’s injustice. We use such an intense symbol, because the reality is that people are raped by the world. We do not do anything obscene, but the portrayal of what happens is still very strong, because we want to show people what the world really is like. After that, I pick the girl up and carry her forward, toward the audience. The audience does not know yet that I represent Jesus in the concert. Then I start saying, “I can’t protect you when you’re not by my side… I can’t keep you safe… Don’t hate your life!”
The whole point of this section is to show how passionate God is and how upset he is about our pain and suffering. The concert goes on to show how I die for the girl. Many people still do not realize what is going on, perhaps because I have not used the words “God” or “Jesus,” even forty minutes into the show. We had the crazy part in the beginning, and then it slowly turned into a serious story, but not one time have we said anything blatantly Christian. The reason is that we gear the show toward secular people, so I need to explain to them who Jesus is before I start using Christian words. If I say, “God” or “Jesus” at the beginning of the concert, they will say to themselves, “Oh, I know what this is all about, and I’m not interested.”
Typical Christian words will turn people away immediately, because they have a false idea of Jesus in their head, and the Jesus they reject, you would reject also. As our show progresses and I am killed on stage in place of this girl, I end up covered in stage blood and am put in a clear coffin. Then two people blow fire over the coffin, and, amidst a lot of smoke and light effects, I come up out of it. A lot of people in the audience finally start to get it at this point. Up until then, most just think that it is a crazy concert. But now, the different aspects of the second half start to come together in their minds.
So finally, it clicks in people’s minds that we are talking about Jesus. That is when they start to react. People frequently get really worked up in the audience, especially when I come out of the coffin, because that is typically when God’s power shows up. He comes in such a real way that people feel it. They often say that they feel something like energy, light, heat, electricity, or a life force, because they do not know how else to describe the Holy Spirit.
By this point, the show has lasted almost an hour, and I still haven’t said, “God” or “Jesus.” And I still don’t. Instead, I walk over to the girl and say, “You don’t have to listen to lies anymore.” Then I say it again, “You don’t have to listen to lies anymore! I died in your place. We can be together again.” We embrace, and I say, “You can find your life again.” Then I turn to the audience and tell them, too, “You can find your life again!”
I say, “The world wants to put you in a cage like a rat. Like a rat on a wheel. I don’t want to live in a rat cage. I don’t want to die in a rat cage. I’m so sick of the rat cage. Sick of the rat cage lies. Sick of the rat cage jokes. It’s time to change the road you’re on. It’s time to meet the ultimate life force.”
I don’t use religious words. I don’t even say, “God.” I say, “It’s time to meet the ultimate life force—the one who loved us all along, the one who breaks all the chains. And his name is Jesus.” We have just done an hour show, and the last word I say is, “Jesus.” Because of the way we design the show, many people are thinking, I’m not supposed to like Jesus, but I like him, and I don’t know what to do. I see the truth in this message, and I’m touched, but I’m supposed to be against Jesus. It is confusing and powerful, because people finally get a true picture of who Jesus really is. And thousands of people have come to Jesus at our concerts, because they have seen a true picture of God.
If you want to see a video of what I’m talking about, you can watch this video.
I will see you in Poland in July at SLOT Festival. Where else will you be this year? And how can we pray for you?
Andrew, I really look forward to spending time with you at SLOT. I really appreciate your support and we need to make sure that we spend some time together during the festival.
Right after SLOT, No Longer Music will be doing 4 or 5 concerts in Beruit, Lebanon. Please pray that God’s peace will reign over the city. Also, pray that key people of influence will come to our shows in Beruit and find Jesus. In other words, pray for “Saul”s to come to the concert and become “Paul”s for the country of Lebanon.
In addition to SLOT and Lebanon, No Longer Music will also be going to Turkey, Croatia, Finland, Iceland and the USA in July and August of this year. The detailed schedule of the tour and updated reports and prayer requests can be found on this website: www.timetoact.steiger.org. My personal schedule is located on the Steiger website(http://steiger.org/calendars.htm) and will be updated throughout the summer.
Thanks for having me on your site, Andrew. I hope it hasn’t been too painful!
It was EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL and I was ducking to miss all the virtual spit. Thanks muchly for turning up on the blog. Funny how you are an American who lives in New Zealand and I am a New Zealander who has spent a good deal of his life in USA. Darryl Gardiner (that raving idiot who lives down the road from you . . hi Darryl) says hello and Steve Knight gives a belated hello from 2 years ago.
Blessings on you!