An email interview with Josh Engler, lead singer of Abandon, talking about the new record Control, playing last year’s Acquire the Fire, and writing songs with Aaron Gillespie.
Please give your name and duties in the band.
My name is Josh Engler; i am lead vocals, keys, guitar and random percussion elements.
I think the name of your new album, Control, sits in very interesting tension with your band name, Abandon. Where do the two names come from and how do they relate?
The name “Abandon” comes from our desire to deny ourselves and follow Christ.
It is supported by the verse in Matthew 10:38-39, where Jesus says, “Take up your cross and lose your life to follow me.”
The name “Control” is a question of who has it. You or God? Look at the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and the beautiful natural phenomenon that it is; something so wonderful outside of human control. We want the listener to dream about how beautiful the story of their life can be if given to the creator of the Northern Lights.
The two names read together convey a complete thought, Abandon Control.
Speaking of control, you actually had three different producers controlling the sound of this record. Why take this fragmented approach? Did it turn out how you wanted it to?
We were a little worried about having three different producers on the same record at first, but we chose each of them for their musical style and paired them with the different styles of songs we had written. From the formation of our band we have been focused on diversity with our music. We want to listen to our album all the way through and say, those songs are so different from one another but still have a cohesiveness about them. We won’t write a song that we don’t love and want others to hear. We try to keep any listener interested and engaged in the music. One way we do this is that we never write two songs the same way. We are always looking for fresh inspiration and creative elements. We are very happy with the record we have created.
What was it like to write some songs with Aaron Gillespie?
We had a few hours with Aaron Gillespie on this record to try and created music together. All members of Abandon respect Aaron for his art throughout the years, and we were excited to spend some time with him and see if we could write something that would make the final draft of our new album. What happened was quite literally beyond our expectations. In a matter of 2-3 hours we had written two songs and loved both of them. Aaron is so full of this contagious energy and confidence when it comes to songwriting, and it started infecting all of us. The longer we wrote together the more cohesion and confidence we all felt. We are very grateful for the experience with Aaron and would love to write with him again.
You recently played the teen rally tour Acquire the Fire. Tell us about that experience and how it compared to a regular rock tour.
To play Acquire the Fire was an honor because everyone in the band had attended an ATF event prior to joining the band. So, to get to walk on the stage and setup our instruments and perform in front of those crowds was an awesome feeling. It was a little different than a regular tour in that the shows are spread out and involves a lot of travel. We wouldn’t take back the experience at all. Great people to work with, and the students are fun to hang out with in the city between set times. We made a few runs to Starbucks with the kids attending the events and made some friends. Good fun.
What is it that you hope someone takes away from one of your concerts or even one of your records?
In everything that we do as a band and as individuals, we want people to be inspired, to have hope for life and to dream that they can do something great and change the world around them. Through this record and at our shows, if people are moved, and gain a new hope for life, our mission is complete. All we are told to do is wrapped up in one simple phrase; love God and love others.
You are quite openly a “Christian band,” yet this phrase can mean a lot of things to different people. What does it mean for Abandon? I know you talk of being a ministry band, but what exactly is the ministry that you feel called to?
We write songs and music about what inspires us, and our faith does just that. Also, we hold what we feel is a unique opinion about calling ourselves Christians. It is that we should let others call us Christians based upon how we live instead of calling ourselves Christians just to relate ourselves to a certain group of people.
That’s all the questions I’ve got for now. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us or comment on?
We are part of a public school program called “The Emerge Experience” (Emergeexperience.com). We take our music and story into where the students need it the most, at their school. We play a few songs while the students are being seated for an assembly, then a friend of ours, Keith Robinson, tells his story to the students gathered about his youth and what he went through as a student. It inspires the audience, and our hope is to give them hope for life through our music and Keith’s story. We are specifically focused as a band to reach into students’ lives and let them know they were created for a purpose.