1. State your name & what you do in the band?
BEN CRIST – LEAD SINGER / SONGWRITER / GUITARIST
2. Has being able to pen songs that are extremely questioning in nature solved some of the doubt in your mind about God?
I actually don’t think I’m really struggling with extreme doubt about God. I’m more just trying to put a voice to some of the questions that we as a culture may have about God. I wanted to include some really tough questions because I believe we all come to places in our lives where we do want to ask these questions, and I felt that putting these questions in would connect with many listeners. I know that it has inspired much thought and conversation amongst fans and friends. For me personally, I am not really doubting God at this point – it’s more of a doubt in myself sometimes. it’s more about me doubting sometimes that I can actually “live up” to the calling that I feel God has placed on me. And I wonder how I’m gonna get to that point of really “living in abundance” when I often feel like a failure… So this is my journey and I’m learning each day about how God really feels about me. Cause I think we need to realize that these doubts we often have about ourselves – are not really the way God feels about us. They are lies.
3. How has the response been from non-Christians (if any) to the nature of the questioning songs? Has it opened up channels for dialogue with non-believers?
Actually I haven’t gotten into a lot of “in depth” conversations about God with non-christians, that have been provoked by some of these songs. I have gotten a few really encouraging emails and messages on myspace and facebook from people who struggle with extreme doubt in God, who have said that the songs have heavily affected them, and brought them a feeling of peace… That is very encouraging to hear. But I do feel that there are many people that would be impacted by these songs – that have not yet heard the songs. It may be the nature of the “christian music” label – that since it kinda has that label it may be immediately passed by – by some non-believers that would be inspired by it.. I don’t know – we’ll see. But I do feel that I want to connect with a non-believing audience more, and thus inspire more conversation with them. Pretty much al the places we play these days are churches, christian colleges, and christian fests – usually not attended by non-christians.. But I feel that getting the experience playing in these settings is preparation for the future.
4. If you could use your band platform to accomplish one thing, what would it be?
Just basically to bring people to a place of honesty before God. At the end of the day, we want people to have an authentic experience with God. This doesn’t mean it has to happen at a church or Christian event, but we want them to have an authentic experience with God. We feel very blessed if we can assist in this. We believe that is what God has called us to.
5. When do you receive inspiration for writing the songs?
I am constantly getting inspiration for songs. I try to put myself in inspiring situations / relationships / life experiences. Every experience I have is an inspiration for something. It’s all coming into my mind and heart. Every conversation I have with someone, every place I visit, every movie I see – this all gets to my mind and will shape and form my thoughts. Every scripture I read, every sermon I hear – these all shape thought. But I am not constantly writing lyrics. The lyrics usually start flowing once I find a musical piece that inspires me. Once I hear something musical that inspires me – I naturally start hearing melodies and lyrics in my head. At that point I will start to put the two together. I love this process – and am so excited to start writing new songs and see what comes out lyrically next time!
6. What prompted you to write “heavy hearted” ?
Honestly, I was sitting on my bed one friday night feeling kinda depressed. We had been pretty busy on tour and with different things in life, and I found myself at home alone one friday night last january. So I sat down with my guitar and determined that I was gonna write a more “upbeat” song in the key of A. I actually had wanted to write something that sounded kinda poppy and had a nice hook. The word “heavyhearted” was really the first thing that came out. I had that lyric and had placed it from the very beginning. The whole rest of the song didn’t come together for a few months… but yeah – I was basically sitting at home depressed – trying to figure out what the heck I was doing in life haha…
7. How does ministering to others through music help you in your own relationship with God?
Gives me a sense of purpose for sure. When others are deeply affected by something I do – I feel really inspired and blessed to be a part of it. Then, I feel totally blessed that God would use me to do this. The difficult thing is to keep my eyes on God – and not on the ministry… We are all called to be lovers of God FIRST – and ministers of the gospel SECOND… Sometimes, when we discover that God is using us in one way or another – we run headlong after the MINISTRY that he’s given us, instead of continuing to pursue our personal relationship with him. This can lead us to a place of disillusionment – when we end up in a place where we perceive that God is not “advancing” our ministry as much as we would like… This is cause we have to pursue him first.
8. Is there any good testimonies/stories from doing worship shows?
Plenty of amazing testimonies. We’ve been across the country and back – and all up into Eastern Canada. We’ve had so many powerful experiences – it’s impossible to name each one. It seems like we all get heavily impacted at different times pretty often. I know our guitarist Stubbs had a really powerful experience with healing in his life when we were down in Chattanooga, TN in August. I remember a little youth retreat thing we did down in Atlanta in summer 2008 – where our bass player Ben had a really heavy experience. I know I had some pretty intense experiences up at Unified Underground conference in Maryland this past October. So I think it hits all of us at different times, it’s so unpredictable. No show / worship event is the same – and that’s the exciting part!
9. Do you feel that yourself/band have matured as musician since the beginning of the band?
Absolutely. There’s something that comes from playing together so many nights. You just start to gel together as a band – and everyone starts getting inspired by different melodies / chords / rhythms. it’s important to stay inspired – to not wear it out. There’s something important about taking some time off too. We never want to get to the place where the band is a burden or something. We don’t want everyone to get burned out. So there is a balance to it all – but I feel we have become a real “band” especially over this last year. In the beginning, this “band” was more of a personal music project of my own. So it’s awesome to see it come into its own.
10. Any goals for the band in 2010?
Would like to write and record a new album. Not sure if it would be released this year – but maybe late in the year or early 2011. Would like to play some more of the fests that we haven’t gotten to do in the past.. We’ve been incredibly blessed so far – so would just like to see God continue to lead us into whatever we has for us..
11. What musicians/artists would you say inspired yourself/band the most?
Sigur Ros, Jimmy Eat World, Delirious, The Cure… I don’t know – we listen to such a wide range of music. I listen to a lot of hardcore music as well. I think that sometimes plays into my inspiration – maybe lyrically and such…
12. Is there any albums you are excited for in 2010? What album would you say impacted you the most in 2009?
Honestly, my favorite albums in 2009 came from Plea for Purging, Impending Doom, For Today, and August Burns Red – I can listen to those records straight through – without skipping any songs, and I honestly do listen to each of these records on a weekly basis. Those are the ALBUMS that were my favorite of the year – there’s tons of individual SONGS that have heavily impacted me this past year – coming from Coldplay, Colbie Caillat, Bon Iver, Mat Kearney, Switchfoot, Ascend the Hill, The Fray, Kings of Leon, even Taylor Swift!! Haha, but generally I just get hooked on certain songs from these bands – they’re normally not ALBUMS that I will listen to all the way through…Albums that I’m excited about for 2010?? Honestly, I’m not sure what is coming out – but I’m sure there will be some great stuff coming.