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bleach: we are tomorrow
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For virtually every act in Christian music (especially artists signed to major labels like Word, Sparrow and Forefront), there is a secular equivalent. 38th Parallel is our Linkin Park. Relient K is our Blink 182. Cross Movement is our Wu-Tang. And Bleach has been labelled our Weezer.

The resemblance-especially on the group's latest, Again, For the First Time-is unmistakable. From Bleach's current fondness of anthemic, jingly power-ballads to lead singer Dave Baysinger's voice to the Buddy Holly goggles worn by some of its members, the superficial similarities are stifling. But some are calling AFTFT even better than Weezer's latest, Maladroit. While it wouldn't be wise to suggest that Christian music on any level has eclipsed the secular world in terms of quality it's an interesting note, and a step in the right direction. We spoke with current bassist Jerry Morrison for the latest.

Bleach Band PhotoThe Day the World Stopped Turning
Allan Jackson asked millions via his #1 disc, Drive, so I thought I'd put it to Morrison. "Where were you when the world stopped turning?"

"I was asleep actually," he says. "No lie. I was having a dream that planes we're crashing. I woke up and found out what was going on and it kind of freaked me out."

"I don't think we were writing at the time. I can't really remember. The record wasn't really affected directly [in terms of lyrics] or anything. We knew our record wouldn't be out until almost a year later. I think we're personally affected more than the record was."

Like many, Morrison struggled to find the significance of his work, but concluded that his job was more important than ever. "I struggled with that a lot," he says. "But I also realized that now more than ever, people will be looking for something positive in their lives. People want something with substance. We want to give people music that has something more once they dig in a little."

Again, For the First Time
Bleach on the StageRegardless of the effect of 9/11, the recent history of Bleach has been a tumultuous one. Three former members-two of whom were around when the band formed at Kentucky Christian College left the band. Milam Byers, Jared Byers and Morrison replaced guitarist Brad Ford, drummer Matt Gingrich and bassist Todd Kirby on their respective instruments, and the band left Forefront to sign with Tooth and Nail Records. "We felt that [the album name] pretty much summed up where we were at with the record," says Morrison. New members, new label, and a slightly newer sound. It pretty much felt like a new thing."

Still, he stresses, fans shouldn't be let down by the "new" Bleach. "It is still Bleach," he says. "I think [lead singer Dave Baysinger] has a pretty identifiable voice, so you can't really change the fact that it still sounds like Bleach. We could write country songs and when Dave sings it, it would sound like Bleach."

Of the group's exit from Forefront, Morrison says the move was amicable. "It was a matter of us not really getting them and them not really getting us," he says. "I think they we're maybe hoping we would fit more into this idea they had for us and we didn't really have the same vision. We still have friends there, and there are no hard feelings. I think we could all agree that it was for the best."

Quite obviously, things have worked out well for Tooth and Nail as well. While the label has consistently produced the best "underground" alternative bands in the business, it finally has a mainstream draw to pair with its lone star group, the O.C. Supertones. And the band is enjoying the relaxed atmosphere that T&N offers.

Bleach's Baysinger with the fans"We really do have more artistic freedom there," he says. "There isn't really a pressure to write some radio hit or anything like that. We just do what we do best and they support [us]. I would say our vision and T&N's line up pretty exactly. We both want to be relevant outside of this small bubble of Christian Music, at the same time making quality music for Christians to enjoy."

The Early Years
It seems fitting to end near the beginning. Asked to look back over the six-year evolution of the band, Morrison says, "Hopefully through it all we have gotten better," offering that he thinks the songwriting has improved. "I think for the most part we smile when we listen back. I have more of a discriminating ear, I think, because I wasn't there for all of the older stuff. But I really love a lot of the older songs."

He continues: "There are some [songs] that are cringe-worthy, though." He balks at saying which ones, but you probably have a few in mind already. History will judge some in the Bleach catalogue in the same light as coloured jeans and flannel shirts. Others will be remembered more kindly. And at some point they will all come back into vogue, at which point you will hear them Again…as if For the First Time.
- Ben Forrest
January 2003
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