"The difference between [Someone Named Simon] and other bands is that we don't sound like any band out there," says Aaron Sanborn, a 20-year-old producer, keyboardist and visionary who just happens to be Someone Named Simon's lead singer.
This is likely something you've heard before. Sanborn is aware. "I agree that bands say that they are different all the time but the fact is that most of them are not." But, he says, "When people hear SNS the sound automatically draws their attention."
"The only reason we make the statement," offers drummer and co-founder Josh Wheeler, "is because that's what everyone has come up and told us after the shows."
To their credit, the band draws on a myriad of different influences. Guitarist Barak Yaryan was trained in classical and jazz piano, jazz and metal guitar, and admits to listening to Miles Davis. Other band influences include Our Lady Peace, jazz drummer Buddy Rich, Michael W. Smith and Metallica.
So what does the marriage of all of those sounds amount to? "To be honest," says Wheeler, "this is probably the most difficult question I could ever be asked about regarding SNS. It's very difficult to describe our sound because it changes so much from song to song (which is how we like it.) We purposely attempt to write music in such a fashion that the listener has to guess where we are going next."
Again, this is stuff that spouts from many a band today. What may set SNS apart is the fact that they're a ministry-related group that has the musical chops that would see them hold their own on most any stage.
"Writing and performing quality music certainly is one of our goals," says Yaryan. "Growing in our musicianship is also something we strive for--but above that is my loving God in my relationship with him. If that isn't there, then it doesn't matter how new, or different, or quality the music is."
Sanborn concurs, saying, "If we did not work on progressing our knowledge and ability on each of our instruments we would not be able to accomplish the tasks that God has set before us."
Still, the band won't make critical statements about current Christian musicians. Says Wheeler, "I've heard people cut down 'crappy' Christian music or 'crappy' Christian films with their bad acting when not two seconds after I hear the negative I hear a story about how God changed someone's life through the use of that 'crappy' music/movie/book/etc. God can use anyone or anything."
Central to the band's ministry is their attempt to build relationships with listeners and other individuals in everyday life. That may seem a feasible task now, with the band playing coffee houses and churches, in front of an average of 200 people. But the band says they'll continue doing that as long as possible-even if they're playing stadiums.
"We have only a short time before we meet our creator in heaven," says Sanborn. "Our lives are to be spent working on saving lives for Christ."
Wheeler is more enthusiastic. "I would absolutely love to talk to anybody and everybody that I could," he says, "and pray with them and encourage them in their faith. If I could I would talk and pray with every single person in the stadium."
It may be wise to halt the hype machine at this juncture and make light of the fact that SNS has only been together for five months. They have one independent EP to their credit-eight tracks which were recorded without current members Yaryan and bassist Jared Palomar. Their most senior member is 22 years old, and they will embark later this month on a tour that will take them to a total of 11 venues. Playing stadiums may be a long way off. But in the interim, the band is pursuing their vision with intensity.
Someone Named Simon (named after the Biblical character who carried Jesus' cross to Golgotha, by the way) was conceived when Sanborn asked Wheeler to collaborate with him on a recording project. "We were not really sure how it was going to work but we knew God was creating something unique," says Sanborn.
"During the recording sessions we would often talk about our individual dreams and visions that we were aiming to pursue," says Wheeler. "Known to God but unknown to us at the time they lined up with each other."
Yaryan and Palomar soon signed on, and the rest is history in the making.
Understandably, the group isn't clear on where they'll end up a few years down the line. Sanborn says he'd like to start a ministry that is known worldwide. Wheeler says he believes the band will eventually be signed, and go on to play a mixture of large and small venues.
Regardless, this is one band to watch. Check them out at someonenamedsimon.com, and at their MP3.com site. For information on how to get The Downside of Velocity, contact Aaron Sanborn.
- Ben Forrest
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