[ by kim flanders | witness festival, holtwood, pa | june 12, 2004 ]
cMW: With the release of the new album, what are you most excited about people hearing?
Chuck: Ever since we have been a national band, no one has really known that we are a worship band. I am excited about people hearing that and see[ing] it for the first time. We have done three concert records with vertical lyrics, but this is an actual full out worship record. And I am excited to see people get in their car and get in their houses and to be able to experience the presence of God. I hope we can start hearing reviews of that. It's what I am excited about.
cMW: You have had changes in personnel over the years. How do you decide if it is time to call it quits or keep going?
Chuck: For us, we have had personnel changes, but we have had three of us stay the same for about four years — Ben and Aaron and myself. That has been nice. So when one of those guys has to leave, it is going to be really tough. But we have played as a three-piece a lot. We have just had a hard time finding a guitar player that fit. Other than that, it has been good.
cMW: Why is your new CD titled, "Hold You High"?
Chuck: The song was written just about how in our own lives we want to be found guilty of holding our heads high. We thought it was cool. You always hear about how we want to lift our hands and stuff, and we want to be able to say in our lifestyles that we hold God high. That above all other priorities that we lift him high in our lifestyles.
cMW: What other songs on the album are you excited about?
Chuck: "Hold You High" is probably my favorite song to play live right now. The song that really means a lot to me is the last song on the record. It is called "Jesus Washed." It was written in a really cool quiet time that I had. It is a really simple song about how I just really wanted to worship God in that time and how He has taken my life and completely washed away all my stains. It is just a really honest, simple worship song.
cMW: Not all the songs on the new CD are written by you. How do you make the decision what to include in the CD?
Chuck: It was tough to do because I am a songwriter. I write songs every day. It is tough for me to say that I am going to put other people's songs on my record. But the thing that we wanted to do was to be able to facilitate worship for people. We were not concerned about being cool or trying to be respected within the industry. We wanted to make a record that people, when they put it into their cars, they go, "Oh!" And all of a sudden they start to sing and worship God. And unfortunately with our songs, people are not going to know those right away. So we wanted to incorporate songs that they were familiar with and could worship to with our worship songs. We recorded an old hymn, "It is Well" and we did "God of Wonders." We did a song called "Beautiful One" that most people know. We just wanted to have people worship wherever they are.
cMW: What was different about the process of making this album than the previous three?
Chuck: A worship record has to be more honest. When you are doing a rock and roll record, you write the song and make it right and then you just go in and you make it rock. You turn up an amp, and you just let it rip. You let the song happen and perform it. On a worship record, we noticed a lot of times, just like in a worship setting when you are in church, you do not feel the presence of God as strong as you do other times. Obviously where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of us and we know that. But there were times when we just knew we needed to pray and wait on God because we do not feel like He is really allowing us to perform right now. So it was a test of a spirituality in a sense in the fact that sometimes we had to wait on God. And sometimes it was just natural. Making a worship record to me is just way more honest than making a rock record, way more genuine.
cMW: Honest, meaning...?
Chuck: Soul searching. To me, you cannot come into the studio with unforgiveness in your heart or sin that you have not confessed. When we first started the record, we all got on our knees and prayed and said, "God, we want to be right before you before we make this record." I am not saying that you can't do it. I am not saying that God is not bigger than that. God allows your life to be transparent during a worship time. That is one of the things we realized is how open we were before God when that happened.
cMW: Invade My Soul was your first national release, and won Dove awards and was well received. But some have said that was your best. What is your reaction to that?
Chuck: Honestly I think Invade My Soul was the best record we have done. It was written at a time when I was leading worship at a church and the songs I think really mattered. And people can see through genuine songwriting and can tell when it is really a part of your life. Invade My Soul made a difference in people's lives when they listened to us. We had people come up to us when they listened to it and said that the song "Walk" or the song "Reveal" just ministered to them. Christian music is about that. It is not about being cool. It is not about trying to be the best rock band or the best worship band. It is about writing lyrics and writing melodies that are going to help people either find the presence of God for the first time or sit in the presence of God. That record is a ministry record. We have seen a lot of amazing things happen because of that. And so today it is just hard to top that record. That was a great record and God blessed it and that is why it has been hard to come back after that. A lot of bands do not make their first record to be one of their best, and I think we did. It is discouraging in some senses, but then again at least we had one that we really like and respect.
cMW: With so many bands comprised of believers putting themselves out in the Christian market, do you think this will redefine what people think of today as "Christian music"?
Chuck: I hope so, I mean I really hope that Christian music can be redefined. However, when I read my Bible at night, I don't see Jesus as being cool or accepted, you know? Will the world ever look at Christian music and say, "Hey, that's not that bad"? I hope so, but I just don't think so. When you lift up the name of Jesus, you offend people and you turn people away or you draw them with the Holy Spirit's leading. But in most cases, if someone is totally lost listens to Christian music, they are turned away by it. It is just not their style. Will Christian music ever be accepted or redefined to the audience, the public eye? I think that bands like U2 and the new phase with bands like Switchfoot and P.O.D., I think it is helping. But to be honest, I do not think that the public knows that Switchfoot is a Christian band. They don't have any clue. If they did, I think that their audience wouldn't be as big as it is. I love what those guys are doing and I love that they are staying true to what they believe. I just think it would be so tough for Christian music to be taken seriously. Jesus was not a rock star. He was humble and he was mocked and laughed at and persecuted. If you are a Christian and you say the name of Jesus in your song, I think you're going to be persecuted from that by the world. And to me, that is fine because that is what we do because music will pass away but eternity and souls matter. That is why we do what we do.
cMW: Some people say that when a Christian band gets a mainstream deal, they are "selling out." What do you think?
Chuck: I don't think so. Paul said, "I became all things to win some." Switchfoot — are they as bold on stage as we are? Absolutely not. I mean, we are very bold on stage. I saw Switchfoot in concert a couple months ago and they did not say anything about God. Is that wrong? Absolutely not! Christianity is huge and the body of Christ is a good example. We have got so many different people with so many different personalities and we are all called to do different things. And Switchfoot is not called to do the same things we are called to do. And Jump 5 who is playing [right now], they are not called to do the same things that we are called to do. That is the beauty of the body of Christ. I do not have a problem with it at all, I support those guys 100%. Just like I was talking to the Relient K guys the other day, and they were like, "Dude. How cool is it that we are getting a chance to do some of those things?" I was like, "Dude. We are praying for you bro, I hope it is awesome. I hope you reach a people that we will never reach." A lot of people come up to us and are like, "Man, Switchfoot is just reaching the masses." And I am like, "Well, are they or are they not?" That is not for us to decide, that is God's job. We just do the best we can with what we are given us — the calling he has placed in our lives. And let eternity fall where it may, let the Holy Spirit draw whom He is going to draw, and do the best we can.
cMW: If you got a call from a mainstream label, for your music, what would you do?
Chuck: That is a tough question. If somebody called and said, "Hey, we'll give you a million dollars and we want you to go make a record and we're going to release it mainstream and you're going to go on tour with Coldplay." And if God said, "No," then we would say, "No." I honestly believe that as much as a million dollars and all that stuff and money would be hard to turn down, I'm afraid of God. When I read the Bible, I am afraid of the Lord. I have the fear of the Lord in my life, that's what keeps me motivated to do Christian music. Every morning when I wake up, I realize that I'm going to meet people that are lost and are going to hell, and it's not my job to save them, but it's my job to serve them. One of my friends told me the other day, "Man, we can win whoever we out-serve Christ." Meaning that if we have submissive and humble hearts, then we're going to make a difference in people's lives, we're going to be planting a seed. Getting back to the fear of the Lord, [it] lets me know that money doesn't matter, success doesn't matter, fame doesn't matter. That's why whenever you ask me about Invade My Soul and we have not made a record that's as good since then, that doesn't bother me. That doesn't make my heart sad or hurt, because last night in Springford, Missouri, we sat in front of kids that were ministered to and changed. Ten years from now, that's what is going to matter. In a hundred years from now, when those kids are dead, they're either in hell or in heaven, and that's what matters. My life matters eternally before it matters worldly. That's what I'm about. And that's not a cliché, that's the real deal.
cMW: Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Chuck: I don't have a formula to where I do it. A lot of times, when I'm in an airplane, when I'm in the bus, I have a journal. Like, this morning I was reading Galatians 5 in the airplane. I'll start journaling about it; just kind of listening to what God's telling me. I'm listening to the new delirious? CD right now. I just journaled a couple of pages after I heard this one song. I don't know all of it, but it's like, "You fascinate me, You captivate me." It was just a great worship time, and I just started journaling. Well, that may turn into a song later. Sometimes I'm just singing in my room, worshiping God alone, and all of the sudden a song's burst up. And that's how "Invade My Soul" was written, in a quiet time. I'm very much a quiet-time kind of writer. Very rarely do I go outside and look at a lake and go, "I'm going to write a song today." Normally, it's if I'm sitting with my Bible, or I'm praying, or I'm worshiping God, [and] a song's burst out of it. That's normally the way I write, I'd say ninety-nine percent of the time.
cMW: Do you have any non-creative moments?
Chuck: Oh, absolutely; yeah. And I'm not a forced songwriter; I'm not a guy that's like, "Man, I've got to write a song every day." I think that I write usually either a poem or a song, probably one or two a day, on average. But I don't force them out, and most of them are just, like we talked about, to be worship. Expressions to God. I've got journals full of songs, but only ten of them a year get released. And I allow for other people too. But that's what I do, that's my kind of expression to God.
cMW: How would you define worship?
Chuck: Worship? My pastor says it really well, and I'll give his answer and expound upon it: "Worship is my heart's response to God's revelation of Himself." Which means through scripture, or through prayer, or through quiet time — the way that my heart responds to the great things that God has done for me — is worship. It doesn't mean singing a song, it doesn't mean having a quiet time, it doesn't mean reading your Bible. [However,] those are all things that worship is a part of. We were driving today, and I was blown away, I was worshiping God driving in a car with people. They were laughing, cuttin' up, having a good time. That's worship — the beauty of God's creation. If you see the other bands here — that's worship. Everything that we do in our lives, if done defined by God, is worship! To me, it's a heart response to what God has done, God's revelation of Himself to us. Man, what a beautiful thing — the cross. It makes you worship, you know? You think about the cross, you think about the promises of the Bible and scripture, and it makes me worship. Tonight when I go home, I'll study my Bible when I go to bed. And whether or not I feel goose bumps or not, it's worship to me. My discipline, my obedience, is worship to God. And it's not an arrogant thing, it's just, "I want to be close to God, man. I want to be holy, because You made me holy." That's worship: striving every day to be in Christ's image.
- Kim Flanders
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