God Gave Rock and Roll to You: Part 7 - Let It Begin

By in Articles | Comments closed

Let It Begin

I’ve always been one of those guys who shakes his presents. I’ve also been known to ask clever, probing questions in an attempt to sucker a gift giver into accidentally letting an all important hint slip out about what I might be receiving. To be completely honest, I probably find just as much (if not more) satisfaction in figuring out what a gift is before opening it as I do in the actual gift itself. It’s rare that I don’t have at least some notion of what is hidden beneath the wrapping paper. That having been said, there is nothing that compares to the excitement of being completely blindsided by something totally unexpected and awesome.

I think this also holds true when it comes to the way most of us approach new friendships. We size people up and appraise their actions and attitudes. We look to see how they interact with others. Or maybe, if we don’t have the time for all that, we just stalk them on Facebook. We do all of this with the purpose of trying to find out who they “really are” before commencing a relationship that goes beyond the surface level. Most of the time, we have a fairly decent idea of what we’re getting into. However, every once in a while, for better or for worse, the carpet gets yanked out from under our carefully constructed preconceptions. At that point, there is no telling where things will wind up. For my new friend (and hopeful musical co-conspirator) Shane and I, it would be a hitherto unknown shared love of the band Audio Adrenaline that would provide this colloquial tug of the rug.

I had recently discovered this final member of CCM’s Big Three upon the release of their 1999 gold selling album Underdog. Audio A was known for cranking out energetic anthems of faith, hope, and love, with a sound that kept one foot firmly planted in classic rock and the other boldly stepping forward into an eclectic mix of modern pop and alternative sounds. This backdrop of boisterous rock and roll combined perfectly with front man Mark Stuart’s (literally) throat tearing vocals and fired up, “faith-in-action” message in such a way that any listener within earshot was guaranteed to be dealt a healthy dose of amped up inspiration. Audio Adrenaline would pretty much provide the soundtrack to the lives of an entire generation of youth group kids.

Bloom era Audio Adrenaline.
Though he is younger than me, Shane’s introduction to Audio A had come several years earlier as he had been hooked by their 1996 album, Bloom. Nearly every track is a keeper, and it was on this record that the “boys from the buckle of the Bible Belt” first perfected their passionate brand of heartland inspired alternative rock on songs like “Secret”, “Good People”, “I’m Not the King”, and “Glory Land”. They even hit their power-ballad stride with “Man of God”. However, it would be the (Christian) radio smashes “Walk on Water” and “Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus” that would gain AA the most exposure. The latter of which would be the first Christian rock song Shane and I would jam together.


I can clearly remember rocking that simple drumbeat as Shane kicked into the song’s classic, bouncing, bass line. We were both grinning like idiots as we played it over and over again. Looking back, there was a whimsical bit of destiny, or perhaps irony, to the moment as two kids in a small town North Dakota basement rocked along to a song that, while deferring to Christ as supreme, recognizes the individual’s limitless potential proclaiming;


“…I could learn to sing and dance, if I only had the chance I could be a big rock star. I could be anything I wanted to. I could be anything…”


The song and that moment served as some sort of catalyst to an intangible and awesome musical chemistry between us. Translated through the words of a Junior High kid in the late 90’s… It was, like, totally the bomb.

As we eventually started winding down our session we hit the streets of our little town and fell into what I suppose was an inevitable conversation about music, and more music. We both let pour all the pent up thoughts we’d had about the Christian bands we had discovered and had kept to ourselves for the most part. It was so great to finally have someone else to talk to about this stuff! Someone who really got it and was just as excited as you when you exclaimed, “the Supertones are freaking amazing!” For that matter, someone who had actually heard of the bands you were into! We also talked about wanting to start a band of our own someday, though without getting into the specifics.

Not from the first jam session, but this was Shane’s room. Note the parachute pants.

In time the conversation turned to matters of faith. We both came from families who valued and promoted faith within the home. We had both, in our own screwed up adolescent ways begun to adopt this faith for ourselves. We were both frustrated with the things we saw going on around us. We wanted to stand up for what we believed and make a difference. We were looking for a way to live into our faith and creatively express it.

So there it was. We both loved the same types of music and definitely wanted to be in some sort of a band one way or the other, and we both wanted to do something more with our faith. All that was left was for someone to bust the question that both of us secretly wanted to ask. Finally someone, I don’t remember who, got up the guts and called it straight and simple… “Dude! Why don’t we start a Christian band?”

The events that transpired that day were, to me, most definitely both unexpected and totally awesome. I’m pretty sure if you ask Shane he’d say the same thing. That having been said, this would be just the first of many such days over the next 13 years. Believe me when I tell you, we did not have a clue what we were getting ourselves into.


The jam that started it all!