Arizona's alternative rock ensemble Re:Zound scored a secular hit with "Angel" and quickly crowned "MTV's No. 1 Undiscovered Band," but instead of pursuing the mainstream market, the Christian band has decided to focus completely on praise & worship. The band now hosts a worship once a month at Mesa's 5,000-member Living Word Bible Church.Recently, the band’s new single “ Great I Am" offcially released to all Christian radio stations on October 31st.
Lead singer Jason Anderson and guitarist Dustin Carlson share with us their reflection on their commitment to Christian praise and worship.
Interview by: Andy Argyrakis
Talk about the transition from straight ahead Christian rock to praise and worship.
Jason Anderson: Musically, it was really easy. If you listen to our older, heavier Christian rock style and then our praise-and-worship style, you'll see a lot of similarities. Both have a lot of stuff that's very current and cutting edge. The only difference would be the lyrics are more vertical on the praise-and-worship stuff.
Dustin Carlson: Spiritually, the transition was fabulous for us all because I think we finally stepped into what God planned us to do all along. Since we've made that step, a light went off in all of us and a fire went on that's made it exciting ever since.
What made you want to make the change?
Anderson: I'd say it was a lack of peace. Even though we were succeeding with the Christian rock thing, we just weren't loving what we were doing as much when we were starting out. I think there's emptiness whenever you're doing what God's not calling you to do. It's a feeling that you're not as peaceful or happy as you could be. We were missing that joy.
How have you avoided musical complacency, especially when a lot of worship acts are getting stuck in a similar-sounding rut?
Anderson: We've never put ourselves in a position where we felt like we had to be successful with the band thing. We've always just been a group of guys who want to get together and play music from a standpoint of "if nobody wants to listen to it, we're still gonna do it." It's being in that position where we're not relying on crowds or people to dictate what we're going to write or how we need to sound to sell more CDs.
How do you feel worship music's changed over the years?
Anderson: It seems like every five or ten years, something has to push the worship and the church to a different style to keep up with society. If you look back on the 70s, you couldn't get a guitar in church. If you look back on the 80s, you couldn't even get drums in the churches. In the 90s, you couldn't get distortion guitars in. Churches took several steps to be more open-minded. We look forward to a time when church praise & worship is just as exciting and relevant as when they listen to their favorite radio station. The music must be a powerful tool to worship God, and we need to use it at its most relevant point socially.
If you're playing at a conservative church, how do you turn them on to a more contemporary style?
Anderson: People can see your heart. When we get up there, it's a heart issue. They're wondering, Are these people worshiping God? And because we are, they're eventually going to see that. The first couple months we led worship with our church, it was crazy blank expressions on people's faces. But as I would minister out of the Word, share out of Psalms and show them my heart, they could see I was really there to wash their feet. You have to gain their confidence that you can lead them in worship.
What has been your biggest lesson learned from being a worship leader?
Carlson: I learned a long time ago that it isn't about me, or how well a performance I put on. I could fall on stage and slip and embarrass myself, but it's not about me when I'm leading worship. It's about God. Did I help people realize that Jesus opened a door that they can go right through? Are they being led to a closer relationship with the Lord?
What kinds of progress would you like to see in worship music and leadership?
Anderson: We would like to see praise & worship move to the next level in order for it to keep up with relevant music in society. We want to see people worship God the way God intended it—the way Adam had the opportunity to, and the way we now do because of what Jesus did. We need not just to worship God on a one-on-one basis, but also as a corporate community. The words also need to keep up with the music. The sound and lighting need to be of top quality, so people can think about nothing but worshiping God. We hope to provide music and a setting to allow that connection without any distractions.
For more information on Re:Zound, including booking information, visit www.rezound.com.