Success for Sanctus Real has typically been marked with massive radio singles, including six number one songs and 11 Top 5 hits, albums that have marched up the Billboard sales charts, major tours with some of the biggest names in the business, or draped with various awards, including the Modern Rock Album of the Year Dove Award. But with their newest record, We Need Each Other, the band members feel they have created their most successful album to date because for them, it is just that.
After three records, the guys have finally crafted in their fourth effort the ever-elusive album - definitely not the norm in this season of hit singles. Not that the first single and title track wasn’t infectious enough to climb to Number one in record time, which it did, but the real surprise for the listener lies in the album as a whole.
We Need Each Other representsa startling leap forward in its songwriting, musicianship, and overall production, and for the band, a way to connect to its listeners with a theme worth talking about. Wholeness, family, and unity are what Sanctus Real has always been about, but it has never been penned as effectively. Complete with gut-honest lyrics and feel-good melodies from the opening riff to the closing thought, a strong, unyielding sense of unity and community is woven through the very musical fiber of this much-anticipated new album.
“There’s a real sense of direction and momentum surrounding the band and the new album,” reflects Sanctus Real lead vocalist Matt Hammitt. “The past several months have been an exciting time for us. We feel like we’ve made the best record of our career and are looking forward to sharing these new songs with our fans.”
Since the release of 2006’s critically acclaimed The Face of Love, which feature the number one songs “Don’t Give Up” and “I’m Not Alright,” the band members themselves have grown into a unified whole. “When we made Face of Love, we were going through some personal trials,” recalls Hammitt. “Reaching the other side of that, we were feeling much more light-hearted going into this record. This time around, we [Hammitt, drummer Mark Graalman, and guitarist Chris Rohman] also had a new bass player, Dan Gartley, and a fifth member who is a second guitar player, Pete Prevost. We felt like we were a complete band, having toured together for a couple of years as a unit.”
“I couldn't be more thrilled about the way this record turned out,” notes Rohman. “It's a great reflection of the unity God has blessed us with since The Face Of Love. This time around it was the five of us giving everything we could offer, but from a very restored sense of being.”
Since 1996, Sanctus Real has been performing, touring, and recording — all with joint goals of entertaining and encouraging listeners. Known for its captivating live performances, the band launched the biggest tour of its career this spring as they joined Third Day for a 35-city road trip that hit Arenas in major markets across the country. Not slowing down, Sanctus Real jumped directly from the tour into headline positions on the festival circuit this summer.
Furthermore, Sanctus Real has kicked it up a notch on the new album by forging new musical territory while melding together the trademark Sanctus sound fans know and love. We Need Each Other is Sanctus Real’s most diverse and creative album yet. Featuring not only its most hard-hitting rock songs to date but also its most atmospheric, the band members really challenged one another as musicians to play and sing parts that would be unique and interesting. Writing enough material to fill 10 albums, they crafted lyrics and honed individual parts, even learning new instruments to help capture the emotion and underscore the subject matter.
“There are some spots on this record where I just pushed the limits of what I can do vocally, whether it be on a soft, kind of rustic sounding vocal or whether it be this overdriven, rock high-range kind of vocal,” Hammitt confides. “Every one of us experimented from A to Z with our instruments.”
Graalman adds, “I never realized what a lack of background vocals there were on the last record. Then to hear all the BGVs on this record, it’s like, ‘Wow!’ There was this wall of sound that lends a unique dynamic to our music.”
Sanctus Real, for the first time, also invited musicians outside of the band to make special appearances. With The Face of Love producer, Chris Stevens (tobyMac, Shawn McDonald), back at the production helm, Hammitt is joined by vocalist Katie Herzig on the nostalgic “Half Our Lives,” showing the range and reflection of a band that is maturing as songwriters. EMI CMG Label Group President Peter York offers his screaming bluesy lead guitar licks on the album’s opening track, “Turn On The Lights.”
While there is obvious momentum carrying the music and message of Sanctus Real across the nation and beyond, for the band, it’s all about what kind of legacy they want to leave. “It’s about asking yourself what you’re really living for,” notes Graalman, reflecting on the song “Legacy” that closes the new album. “The older you get, the more you think about what truly matters in life. It is our desire to leave behind a legacy that will point people to Jesus. That especially our closet friends and family, those who know us best, would say that we truly followed the Lord and would be inspired to always do the same.”
And audiences are definitely responding to the musical mission of Sanctus Real. Long before radio launched the lead single and title track, “We Need Each Other,” to the top of the charts, the band had concertgoers immediately singing along to the memorable melody of the song, grasping hold of its message.
The guys in Sanctus Real have arrived in a big way, and not just because they finally decided to put their faces on the cover. There’s a saying in the music business that it all starts with a song. And, for Toledo, OH-based Sanctus Real, the song is synonymous with the message and the outworking of the hope those songs inspire.
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