“Bring your earplugs. You’re gonna need ‘em,” said Garth Lovvorn with his trademark grin. Why? Because Temple of Blood, a heavy metal band whose members are Christians, husbands, fathers, and members of their respective church’s praise bands are going to be kicking off this year’s Singing on the Square series.
On Friday, May 19, Temple of Blood and another metal band known as Contagon (pronounced “contagion”) will be performing on the Limestone County Courthouse Square from 6-8 pm. This year marks a bit of a departure from the norm, but Garth told me there is quite the “metal movement” amongst the youth of Athens, and he wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few hundred who show up.
Before you recoil in horror and fear that this means Athens has been invaded by rock stars whose music and lifestyles are not fit for human consumption, nothing could be further from the truth. Temple was founded in 2001 by Jim Mullis, and Garth has been with them off and on from the beginning. Garth came back full time around two years ago, plays bass and occasionally provides back-up vocals.
“Our songs are biblical,” said Garth, “And sometimes what is biblical is real and raw. Faith is critical to our message and the music we do, and the Bible is a great source for songs.” If you think about what used to happen at the temples of the Old Testament, you can’t escape from the fact that there was a whole lot of blood. He told me that years ago, when the band was first getting started, they would play around other metal bands whose lifestyles were those that would make mamas want to hide their children, and the fact that Temple was different opened up opportunities to get the Word out. “We have people who have come up to us after concerts, or have contacted us through Facebook, that have told us they were touched and encouraged by our music,” he said. Garth also told me that almost all of the famous metal bands have men of faith in them, and in addition, metal bands are famous for their support of the military. Anyone who has ever seen Gene Simmons and KISS do a musical tribute to the members of our armed services knows what I am talking about. “This is about God, this is about country, and this is about America. If you know the words, sing it,” says Simmons as he and the band get the crowd of troops from all the branches on their feet singing “God Bless America.”
“We know this is not for everybody,” says Garth. “We definitely have a niche, and not everyone will like us.” We talked about the fact that music builds community and brings commerce to our city. “Back in the day our band traveled all over the Southeast, and we know that people drive hundreds of miles to hear bands,” said Garth. He added, “We are just some middle-aged guys playing the music we love, and we are not trying to become rock stars.”
We laughed about movies that have been made about bands, and Garth said, “We are a combination of The Blues Brothers, Wayne’s World, and Airheads.” So I asked, “You’re putting the band back together and are on a ‘mission from God?’” (This is probably the most famous line from Blues Brothers.) We laughed again.
“Ok,” I said, “Why should I come to hear you?” “It’s original stuff, and we enjoy what we do. We do ‘hair metal’ for fun,” said Garth. For those of you who have no idea what ‘hair metal’ is, Wikipedia defines it like this: “Glam metal (also known as hair metal and often used synonymously with pop metal) is a subgenre of heavy metal which features pop-influenced hooks and guitar riffs, and borrows from the fashion of 1970s glam rock.”
A further explanation is from the actual use of the word “hair.” If you were around in the 80s or 90s, everyone had “big hair,” whether they were in a glam band or not, which then led to the term “hair metal.” Just take a look at a high school yearbook from that era, and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know if Garth is going to wear a wig, but I do know that he told me with confidence, “If you like 80s heavy metal, you’ll like us.” He also mentioned that they want to showcase Contagon’s music, as well as desiring to make contact with the metal kids who are working hard at El Opry, which is located on Hwy 127 just as you leave Athens proper heading toward Elkmont.
Temple of Blood hopes that if this type of music “resonates” with you, you’ll bring your family as well as your earplugs and join them on May 19 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Limestone County Courthouse Square. It is located at 200 W Washington Street, Athens, AL. The concert will be held rain or shine on the east side, which is Marion Street.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner