The Carter Family they "ain't". The members of ForeverAtLast: (from left) Jonathon Hoskins, Aaron Norris, Chris Lantz, Ryan Ames, Anthony Robison and Ryan Tennessen.
Now the bass player for a hard-edged local Christian band, Anthony Robison still can't help but think about what might have been.
"I was supposed to be in a bluegrass band (a while back), but it fell through," he deadpanned. "I was supposed to play the jug and the washboard."
Robison may once have had an ear for traditional acoustic music, but the sound he and his bandmates in ForeverAtLast churn out in their Brazil practice space is quite the opposite.
Founded in August 2005, ForeverAtLast, whose members hail from Brazil, Putnamville and Terre Haute, throw common precepts about "Christian rock"-- as exemplified by the spandex-clad likes of bands such as Stryper and Petra-- out the window.
The band-- Norris, lead vocalist Lantz, keyboardist Ryan Ames, drummer Ryan Tennessen and guitarists Jonathon Hoskins and Aaron Norris-- play "hardcore," a sub-genre of rock characterized by screamed vocals, precision guitar licks and bowel-loosening low end.
"We have a couple of soft songs," said Lantz. "Well, they're hard, but they're soft for us."
It's not a sound you'd expect to hear in a church, but the band's message is unmistakably Christian. For Robison, playing to hardcore audiences allows the band to reach out to non-Christians who wouldn't dream of setting foot in a house of worship.
"There's a lot of people that listen to our music that would never listen to hymns or gospel," he said.
According to Lantz, their music neatly bridges the gap between the church pew and the mosh pit.
"There are a lot of Christian hardcore bands," Lantz said, "but a lot of people who aren't Christian can relate to this style."
After steadily gaining recognition with a string of performances in Kokomo, Lafayette and the Terre Haute area, ForeverAtLast is about to play its biggest show to date.
On July 7, the band will take the stage at the Cornerstone Christian Arts and Music Festival in Bushnell, Ill., a showcase for Christian music of all kinds featuring established national acts alongside unsigned bands like ForeverAtLast.
"It's like a Christian Woodstock," said Robison of the week-long event.
The festival kick-started the careers of multi-platinum Christian rap-rock outfit P.O.D., who inked a record deal after being scouted at Cornerstone, and Lantz is hoping for a similar outcome for ForeverAtLast.
Until the band achieves their goal of signing to a label, Lantz said ForeverAtLast will work on beefing up a growing stockpile of original material.
"Now that we're comfortable with each other, we're gonna write, write, write, write," he said.
In the meantime, area hardcore fans can catch one of the band's upcoming shows. They'll play a free concert at the House of Hope (just east of Staunton on U.S. 40) tonight at 7:30 p.m., and will follow their slot at Cornerstone with a July 14 performance at the Hawaiian Hardcore Bash at The Legacy in Terre Haute, at the corner of 17th and Poplar.
And while the message behind the music is important, they promise not to shove it down anyone's throat.
"We play with secular bands all the time," said Robison. "We're not saying you're wrong or we're right. This is just what we believe."