Ashes and Ivy1
(Source: Hector Guadarrama) Guitarist John Burton (center) and Of Ivy and Ashes play “Jesus metal” to inspire youth.

Listening to music is a way for many students to cope with the stress of going to school. With that in mind, one local Christian hardcore band called Of Ivy and Ashes tries to deliver its music with a positive message.

Hector Guadarrama, a sophomore studying instrumental performance and the bassist for Of Ivy and Ashes, said that while being a part of the band was something he started over the summer, it’s become such a big part of his life that he can’t imagine his life without it.

According to Guadarrama, the band doesn’t “believe in doing covers” of other artists’ music, even though it is influenced by bands like Texas in July and August Burns Red. Instead, the band works together to write new and original music, all with a positive, hopeful message.

Of Ivy and Ashes includes many of the elements one would expect to hear from a hardcore band, but it lacks the vulgar language that sometimes accompanies the genre. Guadarrama jokingly called the band’s music “Jesus metal.”

“There is no swearing, as far as I can tell,” Guadarrama said. “I can’t understand what Sean, our vocalist, says half the time, but I’ve been told that he doesn’t swear.”

Religion and hardcore metal may seem like a juxtaposition to many, but for Guadarrama and the other band members, the unorthodox pair makes sense.

“Some kids feel like they’re closer to Jesus through the message in our music,” Guadarrama said.

John Burton, one of the guitarists for Of Ivy and Ashes, said one of his favorite things about playing in a band is performing original music for a live audience.

“It’s this incredible feeling,” Burton said. “It’s really great to see the kids’ reactions to our music. Just to see the kids jumping around and see the kids’ reactions and singing along is a really cool feeling.”

Burton also said he thinks music can transcend many barriers that words cannot, giving hope to those who feel hopeless and solace to those who feel lost and alone.

“Music speaks where words can’t,” he said. “Creating something that can be universally understood and makes people feel like their emotions are understood when they themselves feel like they don’t understand their emotions is powerful. When you’re playing a show, it seems to bring everyone in the room together. It’s just a really cool, creative atmosphere.”

Sean Ruthven, the vocalist and lyricist for Of Ivy and Ashes, said that for him, playing in the band is all about spreading a positive message.

“It can get lost in all the yelling and screaming in the music, but I like to write my music based on my religion,” he said. “I like to let people know that there’s always hope and there’s always another way out. I’m currently writing lyrics about how suicide is never the answer and that you should always keep an open mind about keeping yourself happy, because it’s never worth it to give up.”

Tyler Bentley, the drummer for Of Ivy and Ashes, said that while there are many reasons for him to play in the band, he enjoys performing and doesn’t mind if the band “goes big” or not. He said he’s in it for the music, not the fame.

“I like the joy of it and having fun,” Bentley said. “The joy of being with a bunch of people that listen to the same music as you is just hard to explain. You have more of a connection. If the band goes big, it goes big. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I just like to play music with my friends . . . If you ever get the chance to be in a band, you should take advantage of it.”

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