Interestingly the last post by Mike was titled "what it's all about" and that's the very subject on which i was intending to write. His contained a wonderful example and reminder for us on this so as a follow on i was hoping to use this blog as a chance to go a little more in depth in to why we're in this band and indeed what it is all about.
This will focus mainly on me and my experiences, a testimony of sorts i guess. That's simply the story i know best to tell and i hope the others maybe will tell you theirs sometime.
Also things may not be ordered quite chronologically correct, that's not a Alejandro Gonzalez style attempt at an artistic approach, i just can't quite remember when it all happened.
So i guess one large requirement for being in a band is a love for music and i don't think that was ever really in doubt with me. There was however a misguidance in my love. After a while of blindly following whatever caught my ears i eventually opened my eyes and found myself in a dark place. i was impressionable and music is influential, if the songs spoke aggressively or with words of assault then so did i, when the songs mentioned sex then my mind started on a path leading my eyes to unclean images and if the song was sad then i was most definitely sad. i'd cry to G-d for help, read in His word how i should be the very opposite to what i am, i would live on without change and blame Him for it all. In the end he asked me for a sacrifice, in comparison to His one so very small and yet in my distorted perception something so hard to do. With G-d's patience come a persistence and for each ounce of gentleness the request had it also had a frequency that made it very hard to ignore. Through gritted teeth i eventually obliged. A full rack of CD's were emptied into a plastic bag and thrown out of my life into a bin. All that remained were a Delirious CD and a DC Talk CD. Don't get me wrong i love those bands and still have those albums to this day but as good as they were they alone could not cover the purpose of variety. "Church music" really did nothing for me and with little knowledge of any other "Christian" music this as far as i could see signaled the end of the relationship between music and me.
At church the following sunday morning i sat through the service despising each uninspired song for everything it was, longing for passion or heart or just some music that meant something (disclaimer - i see now this feeling was partly due to my ignorance, but only partly). After the service i went to talk to my friend Kumar as i usually did. He was keen to tell me about something and with perfect timing spoke of a CD he'd brought of a band that played heavy music, like really heavy, distorted guitars, blast beats and even screaming but they were Christian and their music was Christian. Thinking back now it seems weird how surprised i was by this, it made absolutely no sense to me, like it was unheard of. i'd heard of Christians having feeble attempts at rock but my friend here was describing an uncompromised musical assault. He had a personal CD player, headphones and the relevant disc with him so my introduction could happen there and then and i was hooked, by intrigue more than anything because the music was too heavy for me. Will gave me the URL to a website where i could find other bands defying what Christian music was expected to be and each in their own style. Over the next months i listened and explored these bands, the music grew on me and intrigue became love, i was excited by these bands. i still remember the day my first CD of this new era arrived. It was New Medicines by Dead Poetic and i opened the parcel in the hall of my old house in Southwell with a distinct feeling of excitement, like i understood the new era this marked without really understanding it at all. The collection grew and with it i think i grew too. G-d would talk to me through this music and i felt like something i loved so much had become such a positive influence on me too. Another strong memory for me was the time i first heard mewithoutYou. i listened to them online without really knowing who they were but was immediately excited by them. i remember just dancing round my lounge with no inhibitions solely caught up in the sounds these Phili boys had made. i researched and brought one of their albums with little hesitation. It was Catch for Us the Foxes, their second album. Once it arrived it actually took some getting into but i was so glad i stuck with it as it quickly became my favorite album, a spot in ways it still holds today.
What followed was for me what felt like a very difficult year, in hindsight i think i just blew things out of proportion but it seemed really hard at the time. My parents split up which was just surprising more than anything else but what caused someone as self absorbed as me more pain was the splitting of me and the girl i had been seeing for almost a year. This was my first experience of this kind of "heartbreak" and i didn't respond well to it. i soon found though that how i felt matched so well with Aaron Weiss's (mewithoutYou's vocalist) lyrics and this sort of identification became a comfort. A more in depth study of these songs compelled not just comfort but a challenge as Aaron seemed to see all he had as so unimportant in comparison to knowing G-d. i realised that it didn't matter what i had in this life, it was all from G-d anyway and it was all to be given back to Him.
i was at Grapevine with a few friends one year listening to Andy Hawthorne talk about using music for mission. He was talking about using street music to reach street kids and trying to inspire others to do the same. i had no love for street music myself and though i would commend those who do feel called to reach street kids that didn't feel like my calling. i felt called to do something i wasn't aware (though i was wrong) at the time anyone else in the UK was doing. i at this moment felt called to use the music i love to reach others who love such music but don't love or even Know G-d. There was a call forward for those who wanted to be prayed for at the end of the talk and i stepped forward. i had no experience, no knowledge, no idea quite how to go about any of this but i just wanted to say here i am G-d, use me. i think that was like my commissioning in a weird way and since that He's been teaching me, helping me, leading me and growing me into someone He can use.
In 2007 mewithoutYou announced they were going to tour the UK, i had been waiting ages for this. On the 11th February i went to see them play in Birmingham and got there very early with the hope of meeting Aaron before the show. Somewhat incredibly and beautifully me and the friends i was with not only got to meet Aaron but we got to talk to him for about 2 hours. i told Aaron how much his band meant to me and how his lyrics had helped me. His words of response will stay with me forever, he said to know that his lyrics had helped even one person, to know they'd helped me made not only writing them worth it but made all the difficult experiences and feelings he'd written about and learned worth going through. i think these words sum up our calling, this makes so much sense with what we wanna do in this band. Just as Aaron helped me to be able to say we helped even one person would make everything G-d taught us, everything He'd inspired us to write, all those hours of practice, traveling, playing, writing, praying, talking and anything else. Everything, it would make it all worth it.
We get so much out of this band and we genuinely love it but that's not why we do it. We do it because we feel G-d has given us music, we feel He's given us the ability to write and play it and we want to give that back to Him in worship and we want to use that for Him, to help the people He loves.
Since i felt this calling i have made a lot of mistakes, i've tried to mould people i've played with and bands i've been in into what they were never meant to be. i've tried to force a message from the stage down peoples throats and i've mistaken a need for attention for the calling i thought i was following. To anyone who this has effected i offer so many apologies.
When my band Broken with Remedy split i wasn't sure what G-d was doing. Not like He did, my problem was i didn't know what i was doing, like He did again. i wasn't doing it for Him, it was all for me really and i was making a mess of it. G-d forced this time out for me to reflect on who i was and what i was doing. He helped me grow, made me realise i needed too. Both musically and as a person, i still have a long way to go in both but i've moved from where i was, that i'm sure of. Through this time i kept saying i'm ready G-d and he kept saying not yet. It wasn't till i saw myself for what i was and said there's no way i can ever do this that G-d said now you're ready. Not that i was, i'm still not, but it doesn't matter as i long as i know this, then i can do it in His strength and not mine.
(Early to the Vineyard)