For some, spending months of your life on a bus with two siblings sounds about as enjoyable as sitting through Metallica’s ‘St. Anger’ on repeat. For the Moras, touring together is their dream come true. The young metalcore band from San Antonio, Texas has grown considerably bigger since signing with Victory Records following the independent release of an EP.
Not only have they doubled their Facebook audience, but it’s allowed them to make the all-important distinction of going from part-time hobby to full-time job. It’s given vocalist Gerard Mora and his two brothers and his two friends the opportunity to do what they have wanted to do since they were in high school: spread the gospel through metal.
For them, music is all about finding common ground with a hurting subculture in order to bring rays of light out of the darkness. Here, we talk to vocalist Gerard Mora about that mission, Texas and the perks of being in a band with your blood.
How are you doing?
I’m doing pretty good. Hey, I totally didn’t catch your name on the phone. Was it Sean?
Yeah, Sean. Your’s is Grrrard not Gah-rard, right?
Yeah, everyone gets it wrong. It’s all good.
It’s OK. My last name is Huncherick. I think when a last name is ten letters long, you automatically mispronounce it.
Oh dang. Yeah, everyone just calls me jer-hald or Jared or something. The ‘L’ just magically appears in my name.
My first name is Sean. That’s S-E-A-N. Some people mispronounce it as “seen.” If you want to, I guess you could call me “Seen” for the interview but—
—if you do that, I’ll make you sound really stupid when I edit the interview.
(Laughs) Dude, what have you been up to lately with Darkness Divided?
We just put out a record on the August 19th and that’s been pretty crazy. It’s our first one. To be able to actually record it, get it out and see what people think about it has been an amazing experience.
The fact that we’re able (to release) it was the biggest blessing to us. Then, we’ve played a lot of hometown shows around Texas to promote it. That was cool because we haven’t played in (hometown) San Antonio for a long time.
To have that big break and come back was awesome. Those were really well-promoted shows. There were, like, 500 people there and it was awesome to have friends and families come out there and have a good time.
You mentioned this is the first album you guys have put out. Did you put out any other EPs before you were signed?
Yeah. We did an EP a couple of years ago called Chronicles. We recorded it at Lambesis Studios out in San Diego. That’s been out since June of 2012.
Right on. What was it like working with Victory Records on this album?
They’re awesome. They’re definitely the reason why we were able to afford to get into the studio. We were in studio for six weeks as a part of the record contract. It was a great experience. They’re really supportive. They have the in-house staff that did our music video (and) our studio update videos. They promoted us pretty hard at Mayhem all summer long, and at Warped Tour, handing out samplers.
The cool thing about Victory is that they don’t want to change anything about you. The reason they picked you up was because they like you for the person or the band that you are. They want you to take advantage of the utilities and resources they have to move forward. It’s pretty cool that they like what we’re doing. It’s been a good experience.
That’s good to hear. What were your expectations signing to a label versus the reality?
It has been great. I’m the oldest guy in the band and I’m 21, so we’re all pretty young and don’t know a lot about the music industry. When we got hit up by Victory Records, we were asking everyone like, “Hey, what’s it like being on a record label?” or “What can we expect from a contract?”
I was asking different bands that we’ve played with that are signed, just on different labels. When we went to Chicago for the first time and I met the people at Victory, it was great. We were all nervous about it, (but) they’re really, really cool over there. They were really good about making us feel welcome.
At the beginning of this year, we had 4,000 Facebook Likes and now it’s doubled. I’m not saying we’re a huge band, because that’s definitely not the case. But it becomes a full-time job. You thought you worked hard to get where you’re at now, but you have to work even harder because now you’ve got to pay your bills by hitting the road and touring as much as possible to promote your CD.
It becomes more and more of your life, which is great because that’s what we want to do. But until you’re actually in a full-time touring band, you don’t really realize the amount of effort and work that goes into it, behind the scenes. It’s not just what you see on people’s Instagram accounts.
That’s awesome. How do you promote and push your album while you’re still at home?
We weren’t at home when the album came out. For the last four years, I’ve been our booking agent for this band. I booked all of our tours. I was actually the booking agent for that HM tour for us and Silent Planet. I’ve actually known (HM Owner) David for quite a while now. I definitely was like, “We can’t be home when our record comes out. That’s silly. You’ve got to be out on the road pushing it,” so I booked us a whole string of dates around Texas to help promote. We’re not prideful, so we were just messaging our friends and texting people, “Hey, if you can help, that’s cool. Pick up a record,” reminding them when it’s coming out. I was hitting up a lot of people online and people I went to high school with. We had a little get-together at our house for some of our closer family and friends to say thanks.
We also had the record out a couple of days early so they could pick it up first because they were people that had always supported our band. We played our set for them and had a private barbecue and swimming party.
Maybe you could do an acoustic performance by the pool.
(Laughs) That would have been cool. We’ve thought about that before.
Yeah, we actually have because there are some bands that can pull it off and it’s cool.
That would be rad.
Yeah, I think maybe one day we’ll have an acoustic set. We’re really good buddies with Phinehas, and they have that whole acoustic album because they would go to shows and they’d be canceled or the promoter wouldn’t want to pay them, so whenever they had emergency off days, they’d go and play acoustic sets at random coffee houses. People would throw a couple of bucks in their guitar cases, and that helps out when you’re on the road. It’s always been in the back of our heads but we’ve never really acted on it too much.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the band?
We’ve been a band for four and half years now. We played our first show in April of 2010. Something I always tell people about our band is that me, the guitar player and the bass player are all blood brothers. We’re all (born) a year apart, so we always played music together growing up in church. A little bit before we played our first show, we were just getting into metal. We would play As I Lay Dying covers. At first, all we wanted to do was play one show at a venue. When you’re growing up and you’re playing music in a band, all you want to do is play one show. It’s like, “Ah, dude, let’s play a show at a venue. That would be so awesome.” Then you do it, and it’s like, “Let’s do it again! Let’s do it as much as possible.” You try and get out there as much as possible and have fun while you’re doing it.
In 2012 we decided to get a little bit more serious, but not “super-serious” because some of our guys were still in high school. I was actually at a university studying theology, too. We would tour as much as possible in our breaks. We’ve been going out as much as possible with whomever will book us, promoting our music online as much as possible. Now with the backing from Victory Records, we are able to put out this record. Things are looking pretty sweet from now on.
You mentioned that you went to a university for theology. Did that influence your songwriting?
Yeah, definitely. I really liked learning more about theology. Every time we play a show (or) sit down to write songs, a big theme we have is that we want people to never feel like they’re alone or that their struggles are greater than them or that they can’t get through whatever is ailing them. That’s a theme that we present a lot in our music and on stage.
We’d never force it down anyone’s throat, like, “If you don’t love God, then God doesn’t love you.” It’s more about an open invitation. That’s the cool thing about playing Christian metal: you’re playing metal music, so you’re meeting people that wouldn’t necessarily go to church, but they love the same type of music as you.
In a way, that’s a stepping stone to open up a new relationship with someone. We’re not the type of band to go sit in our van. If you want to talk about whatever, you can hang out with us. We’re there to meet people and to have that relationship with them. That’s definitely something really important to us.
This band started when I was 17. After a couple years, it’s all I ever wanted to do. I was like, “I really want Darkness Divided to be my life. This is how I worship and this is what I feel like God’s calling me to do.” At the same time, you have to have that backup plan. I had this really good Presidential Scholarship to go to a university back home called St. Mary’s. I was like, “Well, I can’t really do anything full-time for Darkness Divided because my little brothers are still at high school.” My brother was a sophomore at the time. I thought God was calling me to learn about what I was talking about when I was on stage. I went to school because if Darkness Divided is really what I want to do, I needed to educate myself. I went for theology back home. That kind of worked out, too.
I lived in San Antonio, still, which is where we’re from. I could practice and I could play shows as much as the guys could, but I was going to school at the same time. School was not my favorite thing in the whole entire world, to be completely honest.
I don’t think it is for anybody.
(Laughs) (For) some people, that’s where they blossom. My mom, (had) straight As her whole entire life. In college, she met my dad. They had this great college experience of falling in love and doing great in school and finding themselves. For me it was like, “Nah, I can barely get myself to wake up in the morning and pretend like I want to go to class.” Not to knock college, because college is awesome and is a great opportunity, but it wasn’t my thing.
I’m glad I did get to go there, though. I hope to finish one day because I did learn a lot about the church and being engrossed with new people who were serious about their faith. They could help me out, teach me to be a better person and to be more knowledgeable about what I stand for. I’m really glad I went for those two and a half years.
What’s it like working with your brothers?
They’re my only two siblings. We have the same sense of humor, so it’s almost like clones. (Laughs) Of course everyone has their tough years when you’re in middle school and all that junk, but we’ve always been really close, especially now since we’re in a band. My brothers are my best friends. There are times where it gets weird for our other buds in the band because whenever we’re at each other, we know what we can say and what we can’t say. We get along really well. I don’t think I could ever be in another band without my brothers in it.
They’re phenomenal musicians. I can say all this because they won’t say it for themselves. They’re really humble. They’re great people and great men of God. I learn a lot from them and I’m inspired by them.
It’s an awesome experience to travel the world with them, to create music that we love together, and to meet people and to tell them about Jesus Christ. It’s been great. Like I said, I can’t picture being in a band with anyone else.
Which came first for the band, metal or hardcore?
Definitely metal. There’s a lot of -core influence in our music, but metal has always been the thing that stands out for us. Everyone has those bands that gets them into the scene. Our guitar player Sebastian listens to Pantera and Slipknot a ton. Me, Joe, and Chris are more into Avenged Sevenfold and As I Lay Dying.
What was the first metal concert you ever went to?
The first metal concert? I think it was the Scream the Prayer Tour in Florida. I think I was 15 or 16. It was the year Haste the Day headlined with Oh Sleeper, Corpus Christi and A Plea for Purging. I think For Today opened that year, which is crazy to think about now because they’re so massive. I didn’t actually go to a show in my hometown until we played one. It was a cool way to get introduced into the scene.
What drew you to the (metal) scene?
I don’t know. I guess playing shows was a big thing for me. Like I said, we wanted to play as much as possible. It was getting in there and actually playing with people (that got me into the scene). I love San Antonio. They have a really good scene. We can have local shows that do really, really well. We played a free all-local show here before and over a thousand kids walk in. It’s really thriving here. When you go to shows, you meet really friendly people. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Upon a Burning Body? They’re from San Antonio. They’re really big on it being a family. I see them all the time. I don’t know them on a personal level or anything, but they’re always going to our local shows whenever they’re in town.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen at a Darkness Divided show?
The craziest thing? That’s a good question. I guess some of the crazier stuff is when people come up to you and feel comfortable talking. You hear about people who are either in need or that want to share their lives with you. Some of the craziest experiences that I can think of are people battling some demons and they want to come talk to us.
I have some buddies that were struggling with depression or something at home and needed someone to talk to. It’s amazing how God works. He works through you to give you the opportunity to reach out to someone, like we’re all called to do.
Something I also consider is, like Ecclesiastes tells us, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I take that to heart because you never know. Something that you’ve gone through? Someone else has gone through it, too. If you go out there and you’re willing to engage someone about something a little bit more personal, if you are going through something, definitely don’t feel like you are alone. There are people that care about you. Don’t be afraid to reach out because that’s the first step in solving problems.
It’s weird because I’m just a normal dude. I don’t ever deny people’s friend requests. I message everyone who messages me back. I really want people to know that people care about them. It starts with you.
I hope you guys keep that up. That personal touch, no matter how big a band gets, is incredibly important.
That’s definitely the reason why we do what we do. It’s to have that connection with someone, maybe bring a little bit of light to their day. I’m not saying that I’m going to be able to save the whole entire world or anything, but I try to make myself as available as possible and so do the rest of the guys.
That’s cool, man. You guys are one of the bands that are definitely very clear about your faith. Is that ever a struggle with the band? Does being so bold with your faith ever hinder you guys?
There are definitely times where we get hate for it or people will see us like, “Oh, you guys are so into your faith. Why are you trying to make money, then?” When we got signed, people just assumed (we) got rich, too.
It’s never been about that for us. We barely make ends meet. People almost view us as hypocrites or something. It can be rough being bold about our faith, but at the same time, it’s why we do what we do. We just played with a band called Suffokate. They’re some cool dudes. They liked our set and everything, but that kind of music draws drunk, satanic people that are angry.
Right before the last song, we invite people to come talk to us. People are yelling that I’m gay and all this stuff like that. I remember thinking, “I’m the one with the microphone and I feel like I’m so much quieter than the guy in front of me yelling at my face” (laughs). But that’s what we’re here for. It’s not to preach to the choir; it’s to help people that may not get this message anywhere else.
It can be rough. I’m not bulletproof or anything, but at the same time, God has put me here for a purpose and that purpose is to be bold. Not in the way of shoving it down anyone’s throat, either.
There’s this line I think about when I think about faith: It is one thing to invite people to go have a conversation with you, and it’s another thing to be judgmental. On top of that, I also want to share my faith through action, to be the example. People see that and maybe not know you’re a Christian, but they see there’s something different about you, maybe by the way you treat people, maybe by the way you talk and in your actions in your day-to-day life. They want to ask you about it, like, “What’s that about?” Being bold about your faith is super important because people can see your example and then want to be more like that.
In the end, that’s really just the love of Christ living through all of us, and they want to have that love of Christ even if they don’t know it at the time. It eventually boils down to that.
Darkness Divided was posted on September 13, 2014 for HM Magazine and authored by Sean Huncherick.