(Left to right) Chase Gaddis, Hunter Walls, Daniel McWhorter, Devan Dickerson and Sanders Reid reunite as Jackson metal band The Advocate on Friday, Dec. 30, at Big Sleepy’s. Photo courtesy Steven Smith
If hearing that The Advocate is back together brings a tinge of nostalgia, you're probably a reformed Jackson metal head.
The Advocate formed in 2009 and became a prominent voice in the local heavy-music scene, touring the country and releasing a self-titled EP before breaking up in 2010. For the first time in six years, the band will reunite for a show at Big Sleepy's on Dec. 30.
Vocalist Daniel McWhorter, bassist Hunter Walls, drummer Sanders Reid, and guitarists Chase Gaddis and Devan Dickerson, as well as guitarist Blake Hardman, who will not be at the reunion, became friends through local shows. "The heavier something was, the more it drew us to it; we were troubled teens that needed an outlet," Walls says with a laugh.
The musicians also came together with the goal of sharing their faith through metal. Even coming up in a time when heavier Christian bands were growing in popularity, they encountered a bit of resistance to the idea of faith-based metal, especially in the South, but they weren't concerned with that.
"I don't think there's a wrong way to worship," Walls says. "You can do it however you want to, and that's how we did it the best."
After finishing high school, they decided to tour full time, bringing The Advocate on two national tours: the first headlining with support from Gideon and As Hell Retreats, and the second supporting Before There Was Rosalyn. By 2010, The Advocate was one of the biggest new attractions at the popular Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Ill. While they enjoyed touring, it was undoubtedly hard, Walls says.
"We just saved up our money and did the best we could," he says.
Touring meant sticking to a tight budget—often, they ate off $2 to $3 per day—and Walls describes their van as "a death trap," which caught on fire around Memphis, Tenn., during one leg of a tour.
"It was humiliating and really funny at the same time," he says.
When they weren't touring, they lived in a cramped apartment in Ridgeland, which Walls says helped establish the band's sense of community. Even with the difficulties, he says he has nothing but good memories of his time in The Advocate.
"As horrible as that sounds, I wouldn't trade it for the world," he says.
After a year and a half of touring, the members of The Advocate decided to go their separate ways, playing their last show in December 2010.
"It was heartbreaking," Walls says. "It was something that nobody wanted to do, but we saw bigger and better opportunities for us."
Though the band broke up, the members never left music. Walls plays in Nashville rock band Kid Holiday and is the merchandise manager for Christian artists TobyMac and Chris Tomlin; McWhorter is in Gideon, which is now on Equal Vision Records; Dickerson plays with Jackson hard-rock act Desolate; and Reid plays with local indie-rock band Empty Atlas.
Walls and McWhorter floated the idea of a reunion show after reconnecting in 2015 at Florida music festival Southeast Beast, where Gideon and Walls' previous band, Better Off, were performing.
Walls says: "We were sitting in the van, catching up, and we were just like, 'Dude, let's do it.'"
Once they brought it up to their old band mates, the preparations started. Despite how many years have passed since the group last played together, Walls says he's not worried.
"I'm mostly excited about everything," he says. "For the most part, it's reliving the glory days of your humble beginnings."
The Advocate performs at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 30, at Big Sleepy's (208 W. Capitol St.). They Will Fall, Vera and VOID also perform. Admission is $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Visit bigsleepys.com.