(This is a guest post from David Crowder and Michael Hogan. They are famous musicians that have hilarious senses of humor and apparently kindness too, because they are about to drop the biggest guest post ever.)
Hi. This is Hogan and Crowder, and we want to welcome you to our guest-blog here at SCL. Before we continue, perhaps some introductions are in order? Mike Hogan and David Crowder play in a band together called, conveniently, The David Crowder*Band. It is called this because David is the lead singer, the “front man” if you will, in the band. So right off the bat there should be one thing that is totally obvious: We are awesome at picking band names. There are two other obvious things that we should point out. 1) Note the definite article that starts the band’s name. It is a recent addition, seeing as how for the first 9 years or so we, as a band, concerned ourselves greatly with such quandaries as, “what if we aren’t the only David Crowder Band out there?” The fact is we didn’t want to be presumptuous. And so we were adamant about the definite article’s exclusion. But we’ve been at for a while now without incident, so we felt justified in its formal inclusion. Also, it looked really good in the font we wanted to use on our new website. And 2) There is an asterisk in our name. It is a detail full of mystery and obscurity (this, according to Wikipedia), and we are not going to get into it here.
One other thing – We (the Band) have a new album out. We (Crowder and Hogan) also have a book out in stores. Hence the whole reason we are here, to give you good people a peek inside our brains. Hopefully you will like us. Our self worth is pretty dependent on this, the – you liking us. So without further ado, we present to you a partial list:
STUFF CHRISTIAN BANDS LIKE
# 4. Stories From the Road
There are exactly two things that everyone loves about road trips. One is the soundtrack, that collection of songs that magically comes together through a sacred process of painstaking attention to detail and flow, sweat and prayer, with occasional interruptions provided by the guy in the backseat who just cant take one more minute of the Rattle and Hum import you scored on Craig’s List precisely for this occasion. Truth be told, his addition of Snoop Dogg circa ’93 will only serve to make the playlist more complex and enjoyable. Like the best dinner parties, success comes when everybody involved brings their own dish, flavoring the festivities in ways that a single person acting alone cannot.
The other thing people like are the stories that result from the exceptional group dynamics facilitated by the road, those tales of adventure that you announce to others when you wish to boast about going somewhere cool or recount an anecdote that you are confident everyone will find hilarious. (Note – 90% of the time, your story will not be as funny as you believe it to be, unless you were actually there participating. It is distressing, but a fact nonetheless…) This, the relating of stories and the memories associated with the recalled journey, is not to be confused with the actual process of driving on the trip which usually numbs the mind and body, regardless of the soundtrack. That part sucks.
Christian bands are no different. And since most of us practically live in a state of perpetual road tripping, our soundtracks grow to great lengths and our stories are legend.
Some things we have seen (disclaimer: the follow did not necessarily happen to individuals in our band): Naked guy using the restroom behind a cactus on the side of the road in Arizona; guy almost getting killed by a train while bus was broken down; guy almost dying while riding inside a road case pushed down a hill; guy catching fire on the bus and attempting the “stop, drop, and roll” method of fire extinguishment in a very small hallway; various bathroom misadventures (let your mind wander…); bus driver nearly choking to death on a vitamin whilst driving; etc…
You might notice that the majority of these stories concern near-death experiences. That’s because they make for the best and most dramatic telling. Keep this in mind on your next trip. We aren’t suggesting that you make effort toward getting yourself in trouble, just keep on the lookout.
Oh, and as far as music is concerned, any trip that begins with the song Stuck Between Stations by the Hold Steady is assured success, regardless of how many U2 imports you have on your iPod…
#12. Dotted Eighth Notes
Next time you are sitting in church (provided that you are attending the “contemporary” service, and given you are reading this, it is most assuredly exactly your service of preference (we are not here to judge)), or you are seeing your favorite Christian rock-and-roll act in concert, we want you to call to mind the Irish band, U2. Honestly, it won’t be much of a stretch. There is a large chance that the worship band at your church is actually playing With Or Without You right now during rehearsals. That or, Where The Streets Have No Name. This is fact. And that Christian rock-and-roll band? They lay awake at night with dreams of Bono and Edge and The Elevation Tour in their heads. We all want to be U2.
This is pure, unadulterated honesty that you are reading. And it feels good to say it out loud.
Now, we know full well that Bono and company are well known here at SCL. A quick search revealed no less than 10 entries either directly about or concerning some aspect of U2 and Christian culture. And rightfully so, we suppose. Early U2 records set the template for the last decade of modern worship songs. (Zooropa and Pop? Not so much. But that’s beside the point.) It’s a model that gave us huge choruses that are easy to remember, easy to sing, and easy to teach. It’s a near-perfect delivery system, provided that you aren’t terribly concerned with imparting intellectual and theological complexities beyond, “God is awesome, really, really awesome.” Ok, that last part is not entirely true, but it seems close.
But the real appeal of U2 for Christian bands can’t be chalked up solely to the grandiose nature of the choruses. Think about it: The era of U2 that gave us our modern-worship-song-model is roughly the same era that spawned the stadium-sized choruses from Bon Jovi, Poison, and Motley Crue, not to mention all the countless other also-rans of the time. The grandiose chorus was ubiquitous. The choruses and refrains of these arena rock staples were, melodically speaking, just as catchy and beguiling. But U2 had something that none of those other guys had (this is disregarding the obvious Christian leanings of certain band members):
The dotted eighth note.
Yes, the dotted eighth note must be declared the secret to their power.
There is a dotted eighth note setting on every delay pedal that every guitar player in every Christian band or worship team relies on. The Edge was the first to truly master the precise picking patterns to yield maximum sustain and clarity, with crystalline notes chiming off into the distance, bringing to mind such images as the expansiveness of the American West and bucket loads of cash disseminated by thousands of people who still think it’s a great idea to drop 200 bucks to sit in the nose-bleed section of a stadium to hear Where the Streets Have No Name live. And who are we to fault them for this?
Yes, when it comes to the dotted eighth note, he is the kung fu master. Every other aspiring Christian guitar player is but a young grasshopper. Yet that hasn’t stopped us from flipping the knob on our pedal boards to the proper setting and letting ‘er rip. And who knows, perhaps one day a student will become the teacher. There are a few who have come perilously close.
But let us now issue a lively call to all the worship leaders and bands out there – There are other settings on your delay pedals. U2 is awesome, it’s true. But let us give the quarter note some love. Or the regular eighth note. Or perhaps the triplet eighth. Or even (Heaven help up us) the half note.
Or dare we all agree to turn off the delay pedals long enough to rock out AC/DC style for a song or two? We realize this is crazy talk, but there’s a reason they, the band AC/DC, are one of the biggest rock bands of all time you know. (Hint: it’s because of Back in Black)
We had some friends who were travelling in Europe one summer not long ago, and they found themselves in one of the Nordic countries during a freakishly cold snap. As a result, they all purchased some high fashion/low-cost scarves from the Swedish design warehouse H&M. So, when we all met up with them, not long after, in a country that was decidedly warmer and they were all still wearing their scarves (that were oddly similar to the one Yasser Arafat wore upon his head), we were a little perplexed. Yeah, they looked pretty cool, but the question was – why a scarf when it’s warm? And if its cold outside, wouldn’t a scarf that isn’t paper thin and stringy provide more comfort and protection from the elements? We, a band of Texans, quietly questioned this offering of Swedish design. Are they not the beacon of form and function to the world? Had they missed this one?
But that was before we knew about H&M. Thrifty, throwaway fashion has since become a cornerstone (albeit a perplexing one) of Christian music. Just ask your local metro-sexual worship leader.
But like IKEA, H&M storefronts can prove to be elusive. (Unless you are in NYC, in which case you can’t throw your empty cup of fair trade, independently roasted cup of joe without hitting some hipster on a fixed gear hanging out front of an H&M with a shopping bag full of skinny jeans and pork pie hats.) Hence a tie-in to SCBL #4 – The road story that involves an epic search for an H&M because do they even exist in Ohio? No they don’t. To find one is an adventure!!
#22. British Pubs
Its true. You may rock righteously for the Solid Rock day and night. You might jam for the Lamb. But the allure of cigarettes and Guinness, and sometimes Fish and Chips, is undeniable.
Ok, just so you know, (and to quickly assuage any health-conscious, not to mention, morally incredulous, induced panic) the cigarette thing isn’t as prominent as it once was. This, we think, is a good thing. We all know the repercussions of smoking, (both in terms of one’s physical, and to a degree, dare we say, spiritual health, and on the smell of our breath and wardrobe) so there isn’t any need to go into it here. But you know, some people are rock stars…
And as for the beer? We can all agree on the whole, “drunkenness is a bad – don’t do it” thing. It makes sense. If you abuse alcohol, it will abuse you back, this is undeniable. But here is another thing: A Guinness, in Ireland, is near magical. A Guinness in America is also near magical, but it lacks the subtle complexities of context that one in Ireland has. And if there is a cool British pub within walking distance to a Christian band’s hotel, there is a REALLY good chance that you will find, at minimum, 2 members in it enjoying this magic at some point during the day. They find something comforting and special about the quiet, dark and revered interiors of these places. They might even claim the time spent there in “the community of others” to be practically church-like. And they might be right.
Maybe. Then again, maybe they are just looking for a quiet moment away, and they have located the one place where they are the least likely to be bothered. Who knows?
All things considered, though, the fish and chips might be the deadliest thing mentioned in this whole post. Have you ever seen the amount of grease involved with that dish?
Actually… the grease is sort of spiritual as well. Also, delicious.
Everybody Wants to go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die is in bookstores now! (Click here to get it.)
Or for the more musically inclined…
Church Music is in stores now!