Life Outside The Toybox
Jason Moncivaiz – lead vocals, drums
Sambo Moncivaiz – bass
Joey Avalos – guitar
Musically aggressive, lyrically passionate, the three members of Arizona rock band Justifide have taken music’s youthquake movement and set it on its ear.
Meet new Ardent Records band Justifide. Their music is not Latin, but is categorized as hard rock/rap-core/reggae. They’ve been compared to P.O.D. and Creed. Why are they in the Latin Spotlight? Well, first, there’s the obvious — the three guys are hispanic. This leads to the inclusion of Latin licks here and there throughout their music in songs such as their song “Listen” which has a bridge with very much Latin style! They liked the sound so much, they did it again in Spanish! Two bonus tracks on Life Outside the Toybox are in Spanish entitled “Escucha” and “Gozo Nuevo.” “Gozo Nuevo” is the Spanish version of Sweet New
Found Joy.”
In their debut release, LIFE OUTSIDE THE TOYBOX, brothers Sambo and Jason
Moncivaiz are joined by friend Joey Avalos in creating an artful fusion of
hard rock, metal, hip-hop and reggae. The fact that all three bandmates are
still in their teens — Sambo and Joey are 19, Jason is 17 — only fuels the
passion that energizes this eclectic mix. “We’re not going to categorize our
sound,” says Joey Avalos, who plays guitar. “Hopefully every album we record
will sound a little different from the others. We are influenced by so many
styles of music, and our band’s sound is reflection of that.”
Writing all of their own material, band members have searched their life
experiences to create music that speaks straight to the heart of their
generation. Despite their youth, this collaboration has resulted in a gritty
and mature collection that tackles such compelling issues as lust, teen
pregnancy, child abuse and a materialistic society. “We cover all sorts of
emotions in our music,” says lead vocalist/drummer Jason Moncivaiz, “from
music concerning abuse and depression to a happy, laid-back reggae tune.”
This isn’t the stuff of most “teen” music being churned out these days, nor
is the subject matter frequently addressed in the world of Christian music.
But all three Justifide members are devout Christians who, youth
notwithstanding, have seen their lives turned around as a direct result of
their faith. As Jason admits, “we all have been through a lot in our
Christian walks!”
Indeed, while Justifide never preaches, the band certainly knows of what they
sing. Jason and Sambo — (“Sambo” is a family nickname) –grew up in a
Christian home in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. Yet all was not well behind
the proverbial white picket fence, says Jason, “Our parents’ marriage was on
the rocks probably our whole lives,” he reveals, adding that years of
counseling didn’t quite fix everything.
Finally, their parents separated; adrift amid family chaos, Jason and Sambo
turned to the false supports of alcohol, drugs and partying. Then a miracle
happened in the family. Recalls Sambo, who plays bass for the group, “After
all the years of counseling and reading self-help books, my dad finally
started to really understand things. One day out the blue he came home and
basically said he was a broken man. He finally realized that we all are
broken people, and we all need the guidance of Jesus Christ. Without that
wisdom, you’re stuck learning things from the world, and that’s what led us
to our problems to begin with.”
That sudden change of heart had a profound impact on the brothers. “I
understood where he was coming from,” says Sambo. “We started reading books,
too, and we went to counseling.” While the family is now reunited, Sambo
wisely knows such transformations do not happen overnight. “It took years for
me to finally stop going to parties and all that stuff. It’s a whole process of learning; it’s going to take a lifetime.”
Joey Avalos was partying right along with Jason and Sambo. Born and raised in
Arizona, his father’s work schedule kept him away from the family so much,
“my life growing up seemed routine: get up, go to school, come home, play,
and do it again the next day. In my teens, my dad traveled a lot for work, so
it was a hard time for me. Becoming rebellious, Joey says he became adept at
hiding his escapades from his family. “I was getting good at lying,” he
remembers, laughing. “I would say things like, ‘I don’t smoke mom! It’s all
my friends who smoke in the car!’ ”
Joey got a powerful wake-up call one day when, drunk at a party, he passed
out. “I woke up and said, ‘man, this is not what life is all about.’ It was
getting boring — I was sick and tired of it.” Seeing the change in Jason’s
and Sambo’s lives motivated Joey. “It was cool to see them change, and I
wanted to change too,” he says. “I started going to Bible study with them. It
was a slow process, but I’m thankful that I listened to the Lord and turned
my life around.”
It was perhaps inevitable that these three friends who had been through so
much together would form a band. While all three had played music most of
their lives, Jason’s and Sambo’s renewed faith inspired them to create music
that would have a positive impact on people’s lives, while still maintaining
its edge. They invited Joey to join and in 1999, Justifide was born. In the
grand tradition of garage bands everywhere, the threesome honed their hard
rock chops playing coffeehouse gigs picked up by sending out demo tapes.
Before long, word about a tight, aggressive young rock band with conviction
brought offers for bigger gigs at churches and clubs.
Before they knew it, Justifide had a devoted following within Phoenix’s
Christian and secular music scenes. When Grammy-nominated producer Billy
Smiley put out word that he was seeking new bands, someone recommended
Justifide. Now with LIFE OUTSIDE THE TOYBOX, the band takes its energy and
message outside Phoenix and into the world. Using their own lives as a
springboard for their music, Justifide is candid about who they are and where
they’ve been. Opening track “Change,” for example, talks of the negativity so
rampant in society, and the ease with which we so often ignore the suffering
of others. On “9 Out Of 10,” the compelling shout “You don’t own me!” is an
angry bark to the powers of lust. “Breakaway” blends grinding guitars,
melodic strings and a hypnotic rap lyric to confront greed and a
money-conscious society. LIFE OUTSIDE THE TOYBOX is full of raw emotion,
energy… and a little Mariachi influence! Sambo is very heavily influenced by Mariachi music,
which he absolutely loves! He played Mariachi music in high school for a class.
Says Jason, “We write totally from our hearts. It’s pretty much pure passion
— passion for God, because when I think about how good God is, I want to
scream at the top of my lungs.” Known for their dynamic concerts, Justifide
has earned the praise of fans and industry alike. Some of Phoenix’s better
known secular rock bands will travel into the unfamiliar territory of a
Christian church, to see Justifide perform. “Whether they’re Christians or
not, I think fans see the difference our faith makes,” says Jason. “It’s what
happens when you go into a totally dark room and you have one speck of light
— people see the love in our hearts and the love in our faces. We’re totally
genuine; we’re not a fake band. We feel like God has called us to talk to
people one on one, to plant seeds. Hopefully people like our music and take
the lyrics home and listen to us share our lives with them.”
“We’ve already seen that happen, judging by the things we hear when people
come to our shows,” adds Joey. “We just hope it continues to be a positive
influence in people’s lives. Music is like a door — it’s a way people can
walk in and talk to us.” The goal, says Sambo, is to “cross the entire
country and touch as many people as we can — church people, non-Christians,
people who’ve never heard of God. The main goal is to touch as many lives as
we can.” LIFE OUTSIDE THE TOYBOX — it isn’t child’s play. This is music
that’s hard core, real and honest. But it’s also a voice of hope for a new
Justifide is off to an excellent start with their
first single
“The Way.” The song has already reached #5 on the Christian Rock Radio
Charts, and the album has only been out since its release
March 24. Not bad for three teenagers from Arizona!
The Justifide Forum is at:Christian Activities Justifide Forum


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