Most readers will know Aaron Lunsford as the drummer for As Cities Burn, but soon you’ll know him as an author. His first book, Backstage: How I Almost Got Rich Playing Drums in a Christian Hardcore Band will be coming out next week on Sept. 15. Today, HM is proud to premiere an exclusive excerpt from the book. Lunsford has said about the memoir, “I take an unfiltered and brutally honest approach to addressing what it’s like to tour and ‘make it’ as a band, while trying to navigate the expectations of the ‘Christian’ music scene.”

Nothing could have prepared an ambitious group of college dropouts for what awaited them on the road to potential rock stardom. Suicide, depression, extreme poverty, injuries, broken down vans and nervous encounters with supermodels. This is the story of “Christian Hardcore” band, As Cities Burn.

In this exclusive excerpt from his book, which will be published by Bad Christian, Lunsford details part of his experience playing the ever-popular Cornerstone Festival in 2005 with As Cities Burn.

Cornerstone 2005 was a very different experience than our first time, just a year prior. Instead of a 10 a.m. set with modest attendance, we were playing around 5 p.m. to a packed tent. The best part was we had a record out so there were actually some kids who knew the words to the songs. It wasn’t totally insane with kids freaking out. I had to check old YouTube videos before I wrote this section, as to not embellish on how great Cornerstone 2005 was. You can see on the videos that the crowd was relatively mild with a handful of HXC let-me-know-when-the-breakdown-hits-so-I-can-mosh dickheads. But, the tent was full.

Cornerstone 2005 introduced a different type of festival fun to As Cities Burn. This fun included booze, pool parties, hotel rooms and other bands on the fest. Most bands don’t stay on site, so we figured out what hotel some band friends were staying at and followed suit. Think “Christians Gone Wild.” Some people were even so bold to drink on site at the festival. I can’t say I never sipped on a bottle of whiskey in the back of our van behind the stage. It felt so good to break the rules.

You’d be surprised how many people performing at Christian festivals aren’t even Christians. Some of them were there just by circumstance, as in they just happened to be in a band started by a Christian singer or something, and they were just along for the ride. Some of them were fully aware that they were marketing themselves to a Christian market, even though they had no current affiliation with the faith in their life.

I can’t blame them. If I wasn’t a Christian, I would start a Christian band so quick. Since there would be no conviction about selling a product in the name of God, I could freely make millions without any repercussions to my conscience. The joke would be on the wacky youth group kids and their parents. But alas, I am a Christian and have resisted the temptation to sellout to the Christian music industry. Mostly.

Backstage hits stores on Sept. 15.