Anyone who questioned for one second if the heart of rock n’ roll was still beating -under Christian music contexts or otherwise- must not have heard the rollicking romps found within the national debut of DecembeRadio. The recent signees to Slanted Records are just about the most electrified, raucous and riff driven foursome to come about since the original wave of classic rock and are also armed with a message of eternal importance. It’s a lethal combination indeed, one that’s earned the group comparisons to the likes of legends including Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd right up through vintage influenced innovators like The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz and Jet in addition to more modern/progressive rocksters Porcupine Tree and Audioslave.
It’s only fitting that the group made a terrific impact at the 2005 Rock Summit, an industry event drawing national attention and also featuring performances by Stryper, Casting Pearls and Sanctus Real. Though the guys had been refining their sound on the road since 1998, performing everything from covers in club settings (with a heavy leaning towards Hootie and the Blowfish) to worship selections in more ministry-focused environments, DecembeRadio’s sheer grit and passion absolutely entranced those gathered.
“We kind of went into the Rock Summit like everything else we do, mostly because we had not done much industry stuff other than a few showcases,” explains the group’s guitarist Eric Miker. “So that gave us the advantage of not being nervous and not really even knowing who was going to be there, but we got the attention of a lot of DJs and the industry in general to name us ‘Buzz Band of the Year.’”
Perhaps it was the group’s incredibly entertaining live spectacle or maybe it was the members’ down to earth approach on stage that earned them this illustrious honor, along with a spot a few months later on BIILLBOARD Magazine’s “Faces to Watch” cover story as the scales tipped towards 2006. Rather than going in with the intention to impress, the troupe tore into its regularly scheduled program of cutting edge musical expressions with a sincere and mature commitment to ministry not often found in a group of twentysomethings.
“There’s definitely a lot in the set for musicians or any rock n’ roll fan to like- the energy, the guitar solos and the drum solos,” notes lead guitarist Brian Bunn. “But we also try to react to the audience on a deeper level and with a more spiritual mindset. We have a set of worship that brings all that into focus…one of the guys shares a message, and we have a time of prayer. Then we celebrate again at the end and really rock out.”
Considering the players’ tightly sealed cohesion and unbreakable chemistry on stage, DecembeRadio never had a problem catching its ambitious sound in the studio through a string of independent releases. But its recent partnership with Slanted has opened the doors to an all-new method of recording -one that teams them with acclaimed producer Scotty Wilbanks (Third Day, Overflow, NewSong) and a trip to Southern Tracks in Atlanta (allowing them to use the same gear as many of their heroes).
The results have yielded a full-length record for a June 2006 release packed with a slew of single-ready, hook-heavy, infectious jams that unfold as a natural extension of the mind-blowing concert experience. Considering DecembeRadio has its influence pool rooted in the most lauded acts of yesterday while simultaneously keeping its pulse on the alternative sounds of today, the quartet has an obvious appeal to mainstream audiences and is likely to introduce the Christian marketplace to a whole new pedigree of power.
“That’s kind of what we’re hoping for-to be attractive to the unsaved, along with believers who don’t typically listen to Christian music,” explains drummer Boone Daughdrill. “Sometimes Christian music can’t satisfy the needs of someone in their late 20s or early 30s who grew up on the hard rockin’ stuff and finds that attractive, but also experiences a spiritual level through the music. People always say to us ‘you don’t sound like what I usually hear in Christian music,’ and that’s what we’re praying for- to have the Lord use what we’re creating to touch their hearts.”
And that plan is likely to come to fruition thanks to a series of uplifting songs with vertical leanings that encourage listeners to break beyond comfortable boundaries. Take for instance the lead single “Love Found Me,” a feel good southern-tipped trailblazer that traces the transformative power of unashamedly and adventurously living a life in Christ. Take the equally entrancing “Dangerous,” which reminds the faithful to go out with courage to the world around them and be relevant and effective in their witness, even if that means ruffling some feathers along the way.
The more melodic “Least of These” demonstrates the sonic variety on the album while recalling Christ’s command to lead a humble and unselfish life where we’re servants to others -from the child without a home to the lonely widow to the prisoner running out of hope. “Drifter” veers away from those ethereal undertones for a dusty and gusty amplified outpouring calling to light the prodigal son story and the fact that greed never satisfies.
“We’re not out to try to be rock stars…we’re just a bunch of southern boys who want to hang out, have a good time and inspire others,” sums up Bunn. “But we’re not trying to play it safe musically or spiritually. We’re not interested in selling out to the industry to be famous and we’re passionate about being technically on top of our game. We realize each day that without God we’re nothing, and it’s our mission to spread His message through music. Without that, we’d be unhappy and lonely…you’re never going to be happy, find peace or comfort without the fulfillment of Christ in your life.”
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