‘Fridays with Alice…’ is beginning a new series called, “Spotlight on the Music”. We will be looking at how Alice Cooper has influenced pastors, musicians, fans, etc. with his music, faith, and philanthropy. We will also be discussing other talking points related to faith, music, community, etc. We are excited about this endeavor and look forward to sharing this journey with you.
In our first interview, Todd from ‘Fridays with Alice…’ sits down with Patrick Shipley, Founder & Bassist of Faith Head. It was a pleasure getting to know him and learning more about the band, their mission, and what’s new on the horizon. Patrick also shared his testimony, some stories about Alice, and the influence music has had on his faith and life. We look forward to talking with him again.
When did you accept Christ?
I accepted Jesus Christ when I was 9 years-old. Like many of my generation that grew up in church we found Jesus early in those days. I felt Him in my heart and could hear His discernment in my mind. It really wasn’t until in my teens I really understood the destructive nature of sin and how it severs your relationship with the Holy Spirit. I rededicated my life to Jesus when I was 16 years-old. When I turned 18 years-old, I wanted to be and was baptized as an adult.
Any specific testimony or story?
Music is a big part of my life and was even as a pre-teen. My father is a piano player and my brother is a guitarist. Growing up in the rural South, music was really the only way we got to discover and learn about the world. We only had the three major television networks, the encyclopedia, the newspaper and whatever magazines our parents would let us buy. There was no internet yet. As a teen I played bass in church and played around the South with a Gospel group. It was fun times. I started preaching at 18 years-old, but I got some bad advice from a trusted friend in my early 20’s.
He told me I needed to live a little and experience the world before I should be telling people how to live their lives. That sent me on about a 7-year journey, much like the prodigal son. Even though I was living a very self-indulgent life style, I know God was with me. I really should be dead.
There’s no need for the gory details but I tried living the sex and rock n’ roll lifestyle. I have never done drugs, none what so ever. All my peers pawned off all their guitars and amps for drugs or strip club money. I worked hard for my musical gear. If I didn’t have gear I couldn’t play and that was the high I was after on stage: applause. It fed my ego and kept me trapped in Satan’s grasp. During those times I did drink enough to float a boat, but I always seemed to be the responsible one. There were very few occasions where I let loose. I did have limits in those days. I credit my parents prayers for keeping me from dying or going to jail.
I don’t share this story often because it’s very painful but it’s a part of my testimony. At the end of my prodigal road, I tried doing one last secular band just for fun. To make a long story short my guitarist at the time was going through a divorce. I was driving him home one afternoon. As we were talking, he told me he just had no hope and he was very depressed. In my mind I knew I needed to tell him he needed Jesus, but my life wasn’t reflective of a believer of Jesus Christ. The only words I could find to tell him were “you need to pray.” That would be the last time I spoke with him, because a few days later he killed himself. I had never been to a funeral of a suicide before. It was a horrible experience. I told myself from that moment on I would never allow myself to be in that position again, to where I couldn’t share the Gospel because my life. Even today I still carry the scar of that on my soul.
I laid down my instruments and waited. I told God, if you want me to play music its only going to be for Him and His kingdom. Three and half years went by until an opportunity presented itself. I was in that Christian Alt-Rock group for a year. When that band disbanded, I joined a Christian metal band which lasted for about a year before it imploded. About a year after that, God gave me the inspiration and vision for Faith Head. The rest is history you can read on our website.
Did Alice’s music influence you as a musician? If so, which songs, style, how, etc?
Before I was a musician, I knew who Alice Cooper was. My uncle had a huge vinyl record collection. The one that always stood out was Alice Coopers “From the Inside” which had a double foldout on the front of his face and on the inside of the hospital was a door flap you could find Alice. On the back was the doors to the hospital with him leaving discharged. It was probably one of the most interesting vinyl covers I have ever seen. As a kid it was like a pop-up book. Those album covers primed me and my curiosity.
The first Alice Cooper album I bought was “Constrictor” which is one of my favorites. It was probably the fourth album I ever bought. Immediately after than bought “School’s Out”. I was hooked after that. Dennis Dunaway had a major influence on my bass playing. I would go as far to say the bassist community had probably under-rated him. If you listen to those earlier albums he was ahead of his time in some areas. Particularly, the “Alley Cat versus the Jets” has a bass intro that was unlike anything at the time. The droning of open notes and strumming of chords on bass to my knowledge hadn’t been done before. You wouldn’t hear anything like that again until Lemmy of Motorhead does it with a distorted bass. I mainly play with my fingers but if I grab a pick my approach goes to this Dunaway/Lemmy style of right-hand technique. Gene Simmons of Kiss imitated it a little as well in the early Kiss albums too if you go back and listen to “Rock and Roll All Night” and “100,000 Years.” But overall the tone of the music and the lyrical approach to song writing influences me as well. I could give you a doctoral thesis on it.
Any specific ‘Alice’ moments to discuss? Is it Christian related (doesn’t have to be of course)?
There are several but one that is special to me I will share. I don’t remember the exact details. Back in the day it was cool to have a killer stereo system. I was blaring out some Alice Cooper in my room. My father heard the song “Second Coming” of the “Love It to Death” album which Bob Ezrin plays this beautiful piano piece. It is a great song about realization of the sinful world we live in and at the end of the song’s perspective changes to the perspective of Christ. Go read the lyrics when you get a chance. We talked about it for a little bit. Shortly thereafter I heard my father playing it on the piano. It’s a special moment for me because we don’t have that many of them between us.
On the early albums it seemed like Alice always had a song pointing to redemption, pointing to God or pointing to a savior. There was gap after “Welcome to my Nightmare” where you didn’t get those songs until the “The Last Temptation” in 1994. I think it was a tithe for Alice to have one song dedicated to the Lord on each album. When “Brutal Planet” came out then I had no doubt that he wasn’t shying away from his Christian worldview anymore.
During my prodigal years, those tithe songs kept me anchored to my faith. I say anchored in the sense of they reminded me of where I was from and who I was from when I tried to redesign my self in to who I thought I wanted to be. The “Second Coming” song’s melody and lyric hung with me all those years. “It would be nice to walk upon the waters and talk again to angels at my side.”
Slayer, Metallica, Danzig and all those that took me to a dark place in my heart I got out of my house. There were certain albums and certain songs that could work me up in to a rage. Therapeutically it might have helped me but spiritually it didn’t. When you turn to something else to deal with your stress other than Christ you’re relying on an idol. I had many idols I needed to get out of my house. When I purged my music collection of all the negative music in it, all the Alice Cooper albums all stayed.
Now that I’ve matured in my faith, I could probably own them again but there’s nothing profitable to owning them again. Some people thought I was crazy, but it made me a more stable person, father, husband and brother for doing it.
How does knowing Alice through Spirit, as a brother in Christ, affect you as a Rock musician?
Knowing that he is out there using his music to point people to the Gospel gives me hope that Faith Head can do the same. As a performer you must have an entertainment element to your stage performance and music but having that underlying message of hope redeems it all. Alice being who he is gives us all someone to look to for inspiration and direction.
The world, including the Christian world, often outcasts rock/metal musicians whether they are Christians or not. How does Alice claiming Christianity help or hurt the movement in your opinion?
I think the biggest benefit to Christianity is Alice keeps the Christian worldview in the public square. He is very bold about it these days. The fact that he gets to interact with people like Rob Zombie and Marylin Mason and live out his faith in front of them is inspiring to me. He gets to live out his faith on the world stage which is awesome.
Obviously, he is a man that plays a character that reflects culture on stage that some believers have issues with, but no one gets mad at an actor for playing a villain in movie or playing the devil on television. If Alice was his true persona on and off stage, then I would have a problem. The church needs to get past this because it doesn’t make sense. There are many things that the church seems to have an issue with that aren’t logical from my perspective.
One of the most illogical issues of the church is the need to ostracize the Christian Rock community. Southern Gospel music is Christian Country. Instead of I lost my dog, my wife and my trailer so I am crying in my booze it’s I found my Jesus. Its completely ridiculous. Instead of the style of music we should be worried about the substance of what’s being said. We still struggle with that “form over substance” issue. I include myself in that criticism because I am just as guilty of it myself. The church should be more critical about what’s being said in the lyrics than what style of music they are being sang to honestly.
There are too many God-or-Girlfriend songs out there. The Alice Cooper song “Brutal Planet” is more a Gospel song than many of the songs you hear on contemporary Christian radio. “Amazing Grace” never says the name of Jesus but is heralded as one of the greatest Christian hymns. I am not saying it isn’t a Gospel song, but I use it as an example of how we as believers should scrutinize the true meaning of the lyrics. I could keep going but beyond this it would become a rant.
Finally, tell us about your music career. How long have you been in Faith Head? What would you like folks listening to this to know about Faith Head. How can they learn more and follow you?
My testimony contains a great of my musical career as you’ve seen thus far. Much of the Faith Head story is documented on our website, but in short, the band really took off in 2017. The inspiration came to me in late 2015 and it took most of 2016 to find the right people. The premise was to write and perform music that glorified God with people I enjoyed and connected with and most importantly were believers. The vision was that simple and God has blessed it.
Our debut album “Are you a Faith Head?” landed at #6 on Metal Pulse Radio’s Top 10 album of the Year in 2016. In 2017 Faith Head was nominated by Independent Artist Magazine for Best Male Artists of the year. The band was featured in the documentary “Metal Missionaries” in September 2017. The group also toured on part of the southeast leg of The Extreme Tour in 2017. We were the first Christian hard rock act to perform at the Gospel Spin Awards in Atlanta, GA in October 2017.
In 2018 we’ve had some turnover in the band, not unlike any other musical group, but we’re still moving forward. God has been good to bless us with opportunities. God opened doors for us to play the Ignite Festival northern Pennsylvania and Nehemiah Fest in Kansas City in September this year. 2019 should be a very busy year for us with our second album coming out in March. Plus, we’re going to try with God’s help to stretch our legs a little further to reach audiences further outside of Southeast region.
For us as individuals Faith Head is a big cost and risk. None of the money from merch sales goes in to our pockets. It all goes back in to keep Faith Head going. All the monthly expenses are paid by the members. We hope God will bless us in 2019 to be self-sustaining. That’s the goal and what we’re praying for in the future.
Our ministry most times is one-on-one with other musicians we share the stage with and when the opportunity presents the audience. The audience gets the Gospel from the music, but we get live out our faith in front of our fellow musicians like Alice. Playing music on stage is a bonus. If you are recent convert to the faith, our music should help you make that transition off the negative music. It will allow you to scratch that heavy music itch without compromising your spiritual health.
A big and cost-free thing the people can do is follow us on Spotify, Apple Music or whatever your streaming source of preference is and follow us on social media. More importantly please engage us on social media. We need to hear from you. Sometimes your comments and words of encouragement get us through some tough times. As musicians we write music in a vacuum and we trust God to inspire us to write what people need to hear from Him. But we’d like to hear from you if our music is helping you get through some tough times too .. like some of Alice’s songs did for me.
To steal a line from Henry Rollins we are nobodies from nowhere. We are a few blessed guys who God has given talent and allows us to do so under the banner of His name. We have no delusions of grandeur. Everything that has happened for us has been because of His will, and not our own. We acknowledge our part is to do the work. We must play the instruments, we must pen the lyrics and create the performances but its all derived from Him. We’re compelled to do it. The minute it’s about me or anyone else or money, its over.
If you stream music, please stream ours. If you download music, please download ours. If you like buying CDs, we’ll be glad to sell you one. We’ve got all types of merch to fuel this ministry. But most importantly share our music with those you think need to hear it.
For more information and to follow Faith Head on Social Media, check out the following:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Faith_Head_Are_You_a_Faith_Head?id=Bohvifdtcsqdw263lh7h3mcqpti
Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?
If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please pray the following prayer:
“God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay. I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen”
If you have just prayed that prayer, we want to celebrate your new victory with you. Please contact us at email@example.com so we can welcome you into the kingdom. We don’t want you to have to walk alone and we have some resources we would like the opportunity to share with you.