BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Downhere: How to Become 'Wide-Eyed and Mystified'
By Jennifer E. Jones
Nashville, TN How does a band vanish from the spotlight for three years? It’s a mystery to fans, especially for a band like Downhere. In 2003, their sophomore album So Much for Substitutes was a smash hit critically -- letting the world know that Downhere was more than just the group that sang “Protest to Praise.”
“We’ve been on the road this whole time, just under the radar,” reassures Glen Lavender, bass player.
They gave fans an inside look at their life on tour in the DVD While the World Is Asleep that was filmed shortly after recording Substitutes. Last time I saw Downhere, they were travelling in a small van throughout the northern country. It was less than the glamourous rock star lifestyle.
"That was the worst tour we've ever done," drummer Jeremy Theissen laughs. "It was really hard. It was in the dead of winter in Canada in 30 below weather, long drives, crowded van, and no sleep."
It was tough but the band pulled through; now they're reaping the benefits of all their suffering.
Lavender remarks, “We changed record labels in the meantime. We’re now signed with Centricity Records. They really are a label dream-come-true for us. It’s very community and family-oriented.”
Vocalist and guitarist Jason Germain tells CBNmusic that the time outside of the spotlight gave Downhere a chance to write. “We got the best of the last three years,” he says.
The byproduct of those three years is their latest release, Wide-Eyed and Mystified. It’s a nod to the world that in spite of their hardships, they are incredibly grateful that they get to make music for a living.
“A lot of bands after five years of working in the industry and not selling a whole lot of records can get really discouraged, and it’s been really easy for us to get discouraged,” says Marc Martel, singer and guitarist. “But we feel a really strong sense of calling, and we’re using our gifting. That’s enough for us to keep going."
And as for the album's theme?
“[It’s about] coming to Christ like a little child and just being completely amazed by Him everyday and how His mercies are new every morning,” he continues.
“So Much for Substitutes had this prophetic, 'Let’s come out of our comfort zones and go beyond where we’re at,'” says Germain. “There are two ways to be a prophet [or] a truth-teller in the culture. One way is to point at the problems and say, ‘Hey, look, there’s a problem.’ Another way is to just go the opposite direction of the problem. I think on this record we haven’t diverted from our message, but it’s coming from a place of us getting involved in the process. Instead of pointing fingers, we’re going in this direction. It’s an invitation as opposed to a criticism.”
Germain says that Wide-Eyed and Mystified is more about going back to the fundamentals of Sunday School and enjoying a more “childish” view of God. It also defines the Downhere sound.
“We’ve had people saying, ‘You guys have really found your sound on this album… This is who you guys are,” says Lavender.
The first single off of the album, “The More,” is representative of Wide-Eyed’s theme. It is the message Downhere hopes will get imbedded in the hearts of their fans.
Martel explained, "I believe faith is like a muscle. The more you use what little of it you may have, the more it grows in strength. It also goes to say that the opposite is true—the less you exercise it, the more it wanes.
"I look back on my childhood and see a boy with every reason to believe God for all that He says He is. And I did. I look at myself now, and see a man with even more reasons to believe, but also with more reasons to doubt. Being stronger physically, emotionally, and able to take care of myself, it now becomes much more tempting to believe that I am self-sufficient. So wouldn't it be fair to say that the older and wiser a believer becomes, the more faith they need? Or is it more accurate to say that the older and wiser a believer grows, the easier it should get to have complete, unshakeable faith in God? I think that somehow both of these ideas co-exist.
"What I've found to be the crux of this is my relationship with my Creator. When I am enjoying Him, when I'm faithful in the little things, the bigger things that I can't handle are taken care of. I don't have to pretend that I'm self-sufficient."
Wide-Eyed and Mystified (2006)
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