[ gma week 2004 | nashville, tn | april 27, 2004 ]
cMW: So what has happened since we last sat down together at last year's See Spot Rock tour?
Matt: Well, a lot has happened. We did the Festival Con Dios, which was a great tour. But the biggest thing that has happened obviously is making a new record, Fight the Tide, which we did in January. We spent all of December writing for the record and trying to decide the direction we were going. Making the record with Tedd T. was a really cool experience for us. So the whole process this time was exciting. So we spent January doing that and now I guess we are here promoting this, then we go on festivals and a Jeremy Camp tour in the Fall.
cMW: With the release of the new album, what are you most excited about people hearing?
Steve: I am excited about the music being new and fresh to us and getting to play new songs live. Some of the songs we are playing now we have been playing for three or four years. They are great songs, and we have a lot of fun with them, but we are kind of outgrowing them a little bit. So bringing fresh new songs into our set is something that we have been starting to do it now, and it has been really refreshing.
cMW: Is there any one song in particular?
Steve: The single "Everything About You" has something that has challenged us as players, and I think Matt has really grown vocally. It has just been a lot of fun. Very intense. Great lyrics. Great groove to the song. It is just something that I have enjoyed — it might be different for the other guys.
Matt: I think all of us really stretched on this record not only as writers, but vocally for me and musically for these guys. Really putting our brains to work this time around. Say It Loud was a compilation of basically all the songs of our five and a half years as an independent band. When you write songs and you are in high school, it is a completely different process — it is an immature process.
This time around, everything was just so intentional. Every bar of every song musically from beginning to end, and every song was really just the focus of our attention. We did not miss one detail. That is why we are really excited about this record because we put everything we had into it, and with every part of it we tried not to let anything go. It is just really who we are right now, and we feel we can hand this to somebody and say, "Man, this is really us now—this is what we are doing—this is what we are trying to portray to the world."
cMW: When I spoke with you last summer, you said that you were hoping to extend the release date to get some extra time from your record label. Did you get extra time and was it helpful?
Chris: We were a little nervous I think, and the anticipation was really growing because we did not have a whole lot of material or a whole lot of time to work on new material in the summer. So we took all of December off, and that was when most of the writing happened. We really made it more of a work ethic where we made set times every week. Sometimes we made it three or four times a week where we would get together all day and just come up with song ideas from scratch and work on song ideas that we have had kickin' around in our heads for a while. That is pretty much where all of the songs from this record came from. I think it paid off, because the time in the studio was very limited. We had only four weeks total in there.
So having the songs and demos before we went in there really helped. And I think the four weeks recording pushed us to really do our best. It is a very short amount of time, and I think we knew we had to give it everything we had in that short amount of time. So I think it stretched us to make a really good record as opposed to getting comfortable knowing that we had weeks and weeks and weeks to do whatever. I think it really gave us a reason to pull everything we had into the performances and into the lyrics and everything else that went into it.
cMW: Do you have any Sophomore jitters?
Chris: Ummmmmm.... Mark?
Mark: Sure. Obviously there is definitely that pressure — "Can they outdo their first record?" Especially, like Chris was just saying, going into it with the very limited amount of time that we had to work on it, and just how busy we were the past year basically stole any of our time we could have worked on it. I think come December, we were really stressing a bit. But it became a very encouraging thing because we felt like we ended up writing some of the best songs we have ever written. And it turned out the best, for lack of a better term, product that we have ever turned out before. I think part of it the pressure — we are a band that works better under pressure and when we are just really motivated to do it right.
The other thing is that I do not think we realized how much we have just grown as a band in the past two years that we have been on the road. We have been around a lot of other bands, And we have just been playing period, every day for two years straight rather than just on the weekends the way it was before. It felt like there was barely any time to do it, but we were more prepared and ready than ever to it if we had to—and we had to. Obviously, God made everything work out—period. We had a lot of people praying and the songs just came.
cMW: Any life lessons learned recently that came about in the lyrics or music?
Matt: Yes, there are so many different ideas that we portray on this record that really just came from personal experiences. There are songs on the record about fighting with people over stupid things and how we should resolve that as Christians—a song called "The Fight Song." There is a song that I wrote called "Change Me" that I wrote which is asking God for more patience as a man; especially with my wife and being the head of the house. And all the pressure of being on the road. Just loving my wife and loving the people around me the way that Christ has called me to do that. Chris wrote a song about death called "Say Goodbye" for his grandma. There are so many different topics and inspirations on this record. There is a really cool song about faith and deeds. A lot of the songs are Scriptural. For some of the songs we literally looked in the Scriptures and decided, "Hey, let's write a song about this and try apply the principle in a different way."
cMW: Why is it called Fight The Tide?
Matt: Actually, it is not a title of a song, it is a line in the song called "Alone." We just thought it would be a cool album title because of what it means to us basically as a band and as individuals and spiritually. In every area of our lives there are people—whether it be in the world or in the church—telling us the things that we should be doing to conform to a certain route. Or things we need to do to be different or better or to sound more like this or act more like that.
But really, Sanctus Real is about being real. The reason we have "Real" in our name is because it is about being real, about being who we are and being relate-able. Not trying to conform to any image that is not really us. That is a struggle sometimes. Fight the Tide is fighting to hold our integrity musically, spiritually and all that as a band. And hopefully come out on the other end doing this 10 years down the road and still be able to be making relevant music being who we are and not having to conform our sound or our lives or our calling to what somebody else thinks it should be as opposed to what God really called us to do.
cMW: Will the any of the songs sound anything like "Beautiful Day?" [appearing on the In The Name Of Love project]
Matt: I think sonically it will sound like that recording because Tedd T. also produced that song. Sonically it has the same edge as that recording did. But writing wise, I don't think there are any songs that sound like that.
cMW: If you could pick any two bands to tour with, who would they be?
Chris: An all-star lineup for me would be Switchfoot and Tree63. Because we have been able to play with both of those bands, and we can just see that they are really about having integrity. I think that their motives are pure, and their drive and passion to write music that has something meaningful to say is very inspiring to us. I remember when we first started the band, I had Switchfoot's first record but at the time I was not into anything like dc Talk or Audio Adrenaline. I never knew much about Christian music, except for like Whiteheart and stuff like that when I was younger. Switchfoot came out and that was right when we started the band, and I looked at them as a huge inspiration. I was thinking to myself, "Man, if these guys can write cool music and have lyrics that really say something, then that is what I want to do." I have seen the difference that they have made, and I think, "Wow. That is what I want to do. That is what we should be striving for."
The guys of Tree63 have a great heart, are awesome musicians and are fun to tour with. They are great songwriters. And I just think those two bands are very challenging for us as songwriters—for us to see them and the songs that they write. I think it would be cool to tour with them.
cMW: What is your favorite venue to play? Favorite city?
Steve: I think Phoenix is a real good market for us. We have a lot of fun there—great crowds always showing up. It's a cool city, too.
Chris: I like Phoenix, too, and anywhere in California.
Matt: The west coast is just good for rock. They love the rock and roll.
Stave: We played the Norva on the See Spot Rock tour in Norfolk, VA. That was a beautiful city and a really cool venue, too. It was a lot of fun so that show stuck out in my head.
Mark: I am going to root for the home team on this one. I still love playing shows back home in Toledo, Ohio. Those shows are so different. Obviously the setting is much more intimate with literally all our friends and family. We have done two CD release parties in a row, and we are working on setting up our third. Each time it has been somewhere between 1200 and 1500 people showing up for it. It is just such a spirit of support and that feeling of being the "hometown heroes" in a sense. We don't deserve it but it is really humbling and enjoyable.
cMW: What about festivals?
Mark: We have not had a whole lot experience with festivals except for last summer, but we just did the Icthus Festival for the second time, and in my opinion it went much better than the first. But my favorite was probably Creation West just because of the scenery behind the stage. The Gorge is such a beautiful area and I really enjoyed it.
Chris: I would have to agree with Mark on that one with Creation West. It was just something really cool about that night. It was very enjoyable. I am looking forward to going back.
cMW: What is your favorite thing about being in a band? What makes you want to continue?
Chris: There are many. One of my favorite things is being in a band with my best friends. And having the opportunity to work with my closest friends and doing something that we all enjoy. And being able to create something new with them through music that has not been done before. That makes it fun and challenging. I like to be challenged, and I think that we are good at challenging each other to be better musicians. And even to be better men of God. I think it is really cool that we can have a support system within the band to help us all grow. We have been doing it for over seven years now and just to see the amount of growth in each of our lives. It is kind of a scary thing to think of how I would be if I did not have these guys in my life. So that is the coolest part to me is just being in a band with these three guys.
Steve: He kind of took my answer. Besides the music and getting to see different cities and cultures and different people all the time. God has truly given us a family away from our own family. We are graced enough to get along as well as we do. Like he said, I don't know what I would do without these guys. They are more brothers now than they are friends. God has really cultivated and blessed our relationship.
Matt: That was a good answer. I think we all feel that way. As well as the music side—creatively—being able to be in a studio. Making something new, like Chris was saying, and being creative. Laying down tracks for the first time and hearing what they sound like coming back at you. Finally hearing the rough mix of all the songs all patched together is just so moving sometimes.
Another thing is spiritually. We feel called to encourage Christians as well as to try to bring non-believers into the Body. Seeing that happen and seeing God's blessings on us in that way and that we are being effective. We have had a lot of people become encouraged and come to Christ and strengthen their walk in Christ because of what we are doing. The encouragement we are able to offer because of the platform we have. It is a blessing to be able to touch people's lives. That to me, aside from all this other stuff, is the reason why we stick together and are a band.
cMW: You actually said to me last summer that we should have another interview when the new album comes out. So is there something I have not asked that you want to share with readers?
Matt: Just as long as they know it comes out June 15th, and like I said it is called Fight the Tide. The first single is called "Everything About You" is coming out this week. Check our website www.SanctusReal.com which will be updated soon. And this Fall we are going to be on tour with Jeremy Camp and Seven Places. We are really excited about that. We hope people will check out the record, and if they liked the last one, they will probably like this one, too. We really worked hard on it. And if they hated the last one, give us another chance.
Chris: I don't think we have done any shameless promotion yet. So maybe I will try for a bit. I know sometimes as a music listener you are really leery about buying a band's second record. It's like you get really attached to the first one, and you are scared to take in new stuff because the first one is so cool or whatever. From my viewpoint being a part of this record I am finally starting to feel as a band that we are at a point where we are expressing exactly where we are musically, and I am excited about it. These are the songs we have been waiting to write for our whole career. I would encourage somebody to give it a listen. If you doubt a second record for a band or you did not really like the first record, I would say check it out.
Mark: I will assure you that we are our own worst critics and if we believe that it is better than the first, it should prove to be so.
- Kim Flanders
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