We hear this question on an astonishingly consistent basis. The answer is not a simple one, so I thought it would be appropriate to take a few moments to address it in a blog, since this seems to be a point of interest for so many. I find that when people ask us if we are a Christian band, they are really asking one of two questions, so I will address both seperately.
“Do you classify yourselves within the genre of Christian music?”
The short answer is no. We do not choose to use our faith as a means to sell music or advance our career. The Christian music industry targets a very specific crowd. There is a large segment of the population that will not listen to any music that is not labeled as “Christian.” There are entire festivals and radio stations that exist based on this principle. I recognize that the confusion on this subject stems from the fact that we willingly play at some of those festivals and receive airplay from some of those stations. We are infinitely grateful for both opportunities. In the same way that we do not discriminate against a non-Christian audience, we would likewise never discriminate against a Christian audience.
The truth is, we have some lyrics that contain very clear Christian concepts and references (i.e. cross, Jesus, baptism). We did not shy away from these topics in the process of writing our album, and I don’t imagine that we will in the future either. But we are not a worship band. We are more comfortable playing in rock clubs and bars than we are churches. All the same, the lyrics in our songs will always be reflective of what we experience in our lives. We will not compromise truth and honesty either to please the Christian market or to please the mainstream market. Honestly, we wrote like 50 songs for “Home” and just kept the best ones. So while there is a song on the record that says, “It’s not the cross that saves, it’s the man who came and wore it,” we also almost kept a song with the lyric, “She woke up in a bed with a pile of clothes on the floor. He was a coward who got up and crept out of an open door while she slept.” There was another song that contained the lyric “Oh, how I used to love all the benefits of spotlights, sailing deep into the dark night, stealing innocence from girls who said their daddy’s didn’t love them.” These songs just happened to not be as good as the ones that made the cut. We will never shy away from honestly portraying the lives that we have lived, even if that makes people uncomfortable. We cling to the hope that there is some level of redemption to be found in honesty. For better or for worse, you will know the real us. If our lives and beliefs are an encouragement to you, then that is awesome. But if our experiences and mistakes are a warning to you, then is that any less beneficial?
So, if Christian radio, Christian festivals, or Christian music outlets think that their listener base will enjoy or benefit from our music, then we count it a privilege. But we will not EVER define our art based on our personal religious beliefs. There is money to be made in doing so, and we have fought the temptation to cave to that pressure, just so we can eat. But at the end of the day, we would rather have to work other jobs to pay our bills than to whore out our religion for a profit. This is not to say that there is not a place for “Christian” bands. To be sure, there is. We are friends with many musicians who would not be fulfilling their calling if they were not in the Christian music scene. We will gladly support bands that are strictly seeking success in the Christian music world. But that place is not ours. Michelangelo was a brilliant artist; his work was primarily religious in nature. Michelangelo is not remembered as a Christian artist, but simply as an artist. Yet his work still moves and inspires the world.
“Are the individuals in your band Christians?”
There are currently three core members of our band, Mike, Shannon, and David. The three of us are all Christians. We are all active in local churches. I don’t want to speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but because I have discussed the subject with Mike and Shannon extensively, I can say with confidence that our faith is the center of each of our lives. It is my hope that our passion and love that are a direct result of that faith will be evident in everything that we do, musical or otherwise.
That being said, we have not shied away from bringing people on the road with us who are not necessarily on the same page. Currently, our touring crew also includes a bassist, Nate, and a merch person, Courtney. Again, it is not my place to speak on their behalf. But from the talks I have had with each of them on the subject, I have gathered that either because of personal experiences or unanswered questions, they are not in the same place in their journey of faith as the other three of us. And that is okay. We do not want to be so dogmatic or judgmental as to tell anyone that his or her experiences or questions are not valid. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the asking of questions that leads to the eventual solidification of faith. Just because Courtney is not comfortable being super involved in a church or Nate is not comfortable voicing a group prayer does not mean they have nothing to share or bring to the table. Furthermore, just because a person does not maintain the same views as you does not mean that they have nothing valid to say. It is often the people that I disagree with on fundamental levels who open my eyes to new truths. It is my hope that Nate will soon start contributing to this blog as well. He is wise, funny, and occasionally insightful!
I encourage anyone reading this to examine what you believe. Do you follow your religion because your parents or friends do? When is the last time you stopped to evaluate why you do what you do? A faith unchallenged is a house built on the sand.
I hope that this blog clears up any questions that you may have had about our stance on this controversial subject. It is not our goal to offend anyone. If you have any further questions, or would like us to elaborate on some point, feel free to submit comments on this blog, and we will happily respond.